Monday, June 10, 2013

Small, Charming. and Very Friendly

You have probably read about Richard's large find; a Coxhead DSJ. If you haven't seen it just imagine a typewriter that looks like it might actually eat you. That's the Coxhead DSJ. The typewriter that came to me in the post a few days bears no resemblance to a carnivorous typer. This little machine is the antithesis of large, ugly, and frightening.

The Underwood Standard Portable 3-bank typewriter is small, charming, and very friendly. Robert Messenger has combed over the history of this small wonder and you can glean all the historical bits you could ever imagine in these few pages:

So, what can I  add to the discussion of this typewriter? This example is in fair shape. I haven't cleaned it yet, but apart from the scratches on the front of the frame everything seems to be in order. I might not have to do any major mechanical repairs. All the renovation might just be cosmetic. I have tackled one small job; ribbon spool knobs.

They sit atop the ribbon spools and act as a shiny beacon becoming all who catch a glimpse to dash themselves against the keys. Think of the siren song from The Odyssey but less mythical. It's an over-the-top reaction that would completely natural if the knobs weren't so tarnished and rusty.

Dauntless, I took out some Mother's Magnesium and Aluminum Polish and started giving these things the Magic Margin treatment.

To the left is the remaining unpolished knob. The rust and tarnish is pretty ugly and hardly the finish you would want to see on a beautiful typewriter like this. When polished you get what you see on the right. Bright and beautiful. I like to create a pad of polishing cloth and move the piece. In this case I quickly rubbed it back and forth keeping in mind that the surface isn't flat. About 15 minutes for both the knobs got the job done.

Was it easy? The polishing was easy. These little knobs are ridiculously tiny. I had a devil of a time holding them, but that was the only hard thing about it. I think that this tiny change made a significant difference.

I have a few more steps to finish up on this machine and it will be ready for a typecast!


  1. You're right! One cute typewriter. I still prefer the design of the Corona 3, though.

  2. Polishing cloth, I should try that.

    This is an early one -- later they changed the design so that the typebars lie in a more pronounced U shape. I think only 10% or so have this early design.

  3. Great job on the knobs.

    Perhaps they could be held in a pin vise. I've done that with similar threaded stem items. Pin vises apply equal pressure around the diameter and generally cannot be hand tightened enough to damage the threads.

  4. So CUUUTE! I like the Underwood 3-banks much more than the folding Coronas. Totally on my want list (:

  5. I love it, great tribute to a great typewriter. Thanks!

  6. It's sooo adorable! Bought one myself recently and I think I'm with Ted on the Corona-thing. What's the serial number?

  7. That's a great photo, which shows well its diminuitive size. Nice job on the polishing. I too have a fetish for shiny ribbon spool knobs. When I decided to acquire a Noiseless, their presence was the criteria for the model selected:

  8. Do you have any pictures of the Coxhead? I can't find any on the web.

  9. Hello Ryan, Thanks for your interest in typewriters and blogging its incredibly helpful in my new found activity of collecting typewriters. I would love to see some of your views on the cleaning and the products you use for cosmetically improving the look of the typewriters in all the surfaces. I do have a question I'd like your opinion as an-enthusiast how do you feel about a painted or covered hermes? Let me just qualify the question some of these typewriter I have are very ugly looking and its too far marked and scuffed to clean. Thanks M an-enthusiast as well