Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Understanding an Underwood

This is the only Underwood that I have in my home collection and I can't say that I love the touch right now. There is something gumming up the typebar. In reality I can only type about 10 words per minute, but the few bars that are free seem very responsive. The platen is shameful, but I expect that at nearly 77 years old, you wouldn't be tip-top anymore.

You're right, Typecast Ryan. This little typewriter has some classic lines.

I know that Underwood was thinking that having the touch selector move up for a lighter touch and down for a softer touch was a  stroke of genius. Sorry, boys. Up should be more tension. Down should be less tension. Be equating the switch with the sensation tends to mix up me up considering Underwood is alone in this nuttiness.


On a final note, wouldn't The Typebar be a cool name for a vintage-inspired watering hole? Drink names would be fun. I would suggest you try a Dry Ribbon, a Pitted Platen, or the Segmented Shift.


  1. The Typebar!! I like it very much! I would like to try a Olivetti Expresso, or try a nice Triumph Tea... but only if they serve it at 5:00 p.m. with Underwood biscuits.

    Nice little machine. I have one whose paint is a very nice woodgrain effect. The paint is not as pristine as this one, but I recently had it refurbished professionally, and I like it very much.

  2. I love these older Underwood portables. Beautiful machines. I agree about how wacky the touch control is...seems like quite an odd way to arrange it.

    The Typebar seems like a fantastic idea. Now, of course, we will find out in a few months that someone was inspired by this post and had such a place built. And it will be nowhere near any of us...

  3. These ARE nice looking portables. It should be pretty snappy, so there must be something gumming up the works in there.

    1. There is. I will probably try a little lacquer thinner pretty soon. It'll be fine with a little TLC.

  4. I have the older 4B and the typing action is quite snappy with a nice easy touch. I've only typed on a few of the old Underwoods and found them all snappy. I really like their touch.

  5. Nicely preserved decals and paint job. I never saw one before with either touch control (maybe I wasn't looking) or a silver type scale. Keep typing, it should loosen up.

  6. Careful with the lacquer thinner. You wouldn't want to mess up that nice paint or decals. A solvent that is less harsh would be my preference due to the "whoops" factor.

  7. Isn't any "touch control" feature there just to create another bullet point for the brochure? I mean, you want to have to hit the key as lightly as possible and get as firm a smack on the paper as you can, right? Who would want the opposite? It's like having a knob that lets you choose between sharp and fuzzy type and calling it "our exclusive Print Quality-Control feature."

  8. Would you please post pictures of the bell striker? I just acquired a 1936 Underwood universal and the assembly on the back appears to be installed wrong. Many thanks in advance.