Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Typewriter Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 2

This is the second part of a multi-part post about the restoration of an Underwood Universal.

The last time I wrote about this Underwood I felt like it might just be an easy job. I could clean it and be on my way, but the typewriter gods do not look favorably on my enterprise. After looking a little closer I noticed that something was very much amiss with the 3/4 and slash key. You can see the problem below:

I don't know what happened but the entire coordinating linkage is not here. As you can see from this picture it causes the keytop to be "out of alignment" with the other keys. By "out of alignment" I mean completely akimbo. Moreover, the spring is missing on this lever. I have some spares and that will be a fun repair.

In addition to the dodgy 3/4 and slash key, the 'B' is in a similar state, but not nearly as extreme as the former. This linkage is missing a spring as well. We'll get into that repair very soon.

The rubber feet are missing. This is going to be a big problem. The rubber feet on the front had a hole through the center to allow for corresponding pegs to hold the front of the machine with friction. The rear feet seem fairly normal. I will have to find (or craft) something that would work.

This Universal features the Champion keytops that were more comfortable than the glass key variety. Some of the lettering is pretty grimy, and some of it is gone entirely. I would like to fill in the missing paint and probably replace the white lettering on all the keys.

Finally, I look at these decals and I can see how significantly they have flaked. The one on the paper table is particularly bad, but the touch control Touch Tuning is pretty crummy. I can tough them up using a gold pen, but I am on the hunt for gold foil decal paper and a special process. We'll see if there is anything I can find that might make these decals look close to original.

As for this Universal according to Ted's new Typewriter Database (http://www.typewriterdatabase.com) this machine was made between 1936 and 1937. Of course, the deco lines give it away instantly. 

The Universal was one of two new typewriters in the Typemaster line. A more enclosed case made for a safer machine and  reduced dust problems. The more enclosed machine also allowed for an increase in the sound-deadening material; a claim made in period advertising.

On a final note, the difference between a Champion and a Universal in these 1937 models? It's the paint and a tabulator. Universals are crinkle paint with no tabulator. Champions are gloss paint with a tabulator. Interesting, no?


  1. Looks like an annoyingly fiddly job to fix the key - good luck. You might be able to apply fresh paint to the key tops with white enamel and a hypodermic? Just a thought.

  2. I'm looking forward to following this quite closely. Until now I've only done small repairs but I'm going to start looking for machines in dire need of reconditioning. That key looks to be quite the trouble - best of luck!

  3. Ooh, let us know if you find some way to make water-applied decals. There are some I'd like to have made up too. I wonder if anyone has good high-resolution artwork for original-ish decals?

  4. I remember finding somewhere a supplier for some replica decals. I also recall in Yahoo! TYPEWRITERS or the Yahoo portable typewriter group that someone made and had Underwood Universal feet for sale. Some others bought replacements from Pars Express. They sell several rubber bumper feet for speaker enclosures. Then there is always McMaster-Carr.

    Good luck on the key alignment.

  5. Hey , Ryan Adney

    Your blog published on '' Underwood Universal '' that I got tips on business matters. From this blog I seen various advantaged by this your blog . Truly , I loved your blog . Are you going to start new online Business? Get proper Business plan here.

    Thank you many many for your Nice able Blog .

  6. Hi, Very good information. Real friendship can not be separated with diff. cultures and norms but fake ones are easy to shatter. You can know me by best blog about Wood business cards. You can Check out my wooden business cards. I am writing all about on wood business cards.