Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Little Elbow Grease Makes All The Difference

The Remington Standard No. 12 is not an especially collectable typewriter. You can find them all over the place and this one (BZ73012) is from 1926. As you can see it was also pretty dirty. 

The styling is not exactly modern. The decals have a very non-1920s look to them, but Remington stuck with this design for many years. In fact, it was in production for nearly a decade. Keeping the styling of a product for 10 years is a little odd, especially for our modern consumer society. I digress. Interestingly, some 12s still featured the right-hand return, but this version featured a left-handed return.

There was dirt caked everywhere. 

The platen is rubbish. I need to either get it recovered or try Richard's shrink-tubing trick.

Is that a bug? It wouldn't be the first I ever found in a typewriter. After looking at the layers of dirt I was willing to spray it down on the side of the house. The weather was warm and the sun was out, so I had little fears of the thing rusting too badly. It was also easy to see that it had been kept in a damp environment at some point. There was surface rust in some places, but nothing too bad.

Spraying out a typewrter with the hose takes some guts. I've done it before with good success, however, I always have done it on a sunny and warm day. If it's too cloudy things might not dry as you intended. 

Normally, I cover up the keytops, but I wasn't able to tell if these key tops were cloisonné or maybe enamel. They don't have little circles of celluloid covering the letters and I felt confident that there would be no damage from the water. I tested out on one before I committed to the endeavor and it seemed to be pretty water-resistant. 

You can see the pre-existing rust. It is also clear to see that everything is much cleaner. I also had a much better time getting the segments to move properly.

I had taken all the body panels off earlier and started the process of polishing them with Meguiar's cleaner and polish. They were very grimy and it took a while, but the black gloss paint started to shine through.

I think that the final result is stunning.

There is a very old scratch near the screw at the bottom of the type bar scoop. It's old enough to have rusted. Some amateur was probably trying to fix something and mid reinstall the screwdriver slipped and scratched the body panel.

There is one small scuff on the back right that I could not get out. It's small and barely noticable. Strangely, there is a very fancy number two written on the bump-out under the 'e' in Remington. Something like that might have been for inventory control, but it is some sort of enamel paint; shiny and hard. 

Even though it was dirty this 12 was a solid machine to start with. Dirty standards tend to clean up nicely, but if the paint is oxidized you are out of luck. Polishing will make it look better, but it will never look as nice as a good paint job that has been preserved nicely. I can never tell empirically if the paint is good ahead of time. I usually get a gut feeling. 90% of the time my gut is right-on, but there have been times when I was spectacularly wrong.

And remember that a little elbow grease makes all the difference. 

I will leave this brag post with a closeup of my favorite detail of the 12; the margin release.


  1. Very good work. Amazing. I never used a hose on a typewriter. Nice looking typewriter. I hope it types as good as it looks.

  2. Well worth the trouble, I think. If it still types well, I'd nominate it for platen recovery. You could probably get the cost back just renting it out for occasions that call for a touch of class! (Wedding guestbooks comes to mind.)

    The styling may have been out of date by the 20's, but that works in its favor now. When someone says "antique typewriter" this is exactly what I picture: tall and gleaming. Nice work!

  3. Beautiful cleaning job!

    I'd love to see the typeface on this one sometime.

  4. Nice job!

    How does it feel as a typer?

    1. It has a fairly good feel. It can feel a little hollow, but that might be due to age or the platen. I did find it surprisingly pleasant to use.

  5. It might not be very collectible, but it is one of my favorite old typewriters. And yours looks fantastic!

  6. ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh!

    That's all I have to add.

  7. Gosh, that's lovely. Now I've got to add another standard machine to my wish-list.

    Isn't it funny how, once you wipe away the dirt, you start to see yourself in old machines?

    Someone could re-purpose typewriter body panels into black mirrors. (If the keys have already been chopped off, that is.)

    I was pleased to hear from Tom Furrier's site that he's got a source for new platens. Good to know they might be available again if we need them.

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  10. We just found one of these with the right hand return. We are trying to figure out how to release the carriage lock, any help would be appreciated