Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Oliver Cometh

It's been lost in the garage for at least two years, but a kind offer from a fellow Typospherian has me ready to dive into the restoration of this old green machine. I took a few Polaroids to document the before. 


The keys look nice, but they are spattered with some sort of solvent-based paint that created little grey divots. Cleaning doesn't work. The only option is replacement. The new keys are on the way.


I have the cover in a drawer somewhere. The whole machine might need a new coat of paint and that would lead to new decals. Luckily, you can get them on Etsy from Paul Roberts.


And the nickle plate is in terrible shape. If anyone has some good links to exploded parts catalogs or some suggestions on how to disassemble this machine, please let me know because I need help.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dip and Dunk

When a typewriter is so dirty or filled with dried pineapple juice, you sometimes have to take drastic measures. Soapy, drastic measures.



It's the 'old dip-and-dunk.


Vigorous dunking loosens all the dirt. A rinse with hot, hot water comes next. Then, it's off to the oven for a bit of drying. I think 130° F until all the water has evaporated. Oil (ribbon spool posts, carriage rails, shift linkage, other similar parts) while warm and enjoy a very clean typewriter ready for another 60 years.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Dilemma: Should it Stay or Should it Go?

I had a college professor who like to point out that the real meaning of dilemma was a choice between two equally undesirable outcomes. Dilemma connotatively means any problem, but in this situation it is a true dilemma.

The problem centers around this typewriter.



A once proud and mighty grande dame of the office, this Super Speed is now a decaying wreck. I can only assume that it was stored in dampest, dankest, darkest basement ever dug by human hands. The corrosion is impressive.

Needless to say, to restore this typewriter to its original state would take countless hours and probably more than a few q-tips. This typewriter was a gift. It was free from a very kind person and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I would never get around to fixing it.

Other projects came and went.

Time passed.

And now what do I do with this albatross?


I like the Super Speed. It's attractive typewriter. The horizontal banding breaks up the strong vertical look of this machine. It's very Moderne. The new design came at a time when Smith-Corona was looking to update the look of their office machine. I agree with Alan Seaver when he says, "In my mind, this version of the Super-Speed belongs more to the '30s than the '40s..."

As much as this typewriter looked new, under the ribbon cover everything was very much the same. To the end of the product line Smith-Corona Super Speed used the same ball-bearing design to hang the type bars that had been designed and used on all L.C. Smith machines for the previous 50 years. By the 40s no company was using that technology. Slotted type segments were the norm, but Smith-Corona still hung on to the tradition.


Even with such a great past and good looking design, the realities of the modern day still linger. I can't keep the machine (I need space for new ones) and restoring this machine is not going to happen. What does that leave? I think parting it out and recycling the frame is my only option.

I don't like the idea, but I am in the middle of a dilemma. So much of the typewriter collecting field focuses on salvaging typewriters, but should we be so squeamish about getting rid of common and broken typewriters? Is every machine worth saving? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Japy by Any Other Name

This last week teachers were back at school getting ready for students. I spent today uncovering my classroom typewriters and diagnosing any problems that might have crept up from the heavy use last school year. It's a multi-day project and I hope to have all the machines ready for student use before the start of the school year; August 5th.

The start of a new school year is exciting and all, but a new typewriter is its own type of fun. This is the new typewriter:




The badge says AMC, but under the stolid grey facade is a French-made Japy. I saw this little machine on eBay for a pittance and thought I would snag it. It's in fair condition, but there is something odd going on with some of the key tops.


As you can see they look as if they are melting. Melting? Yes, melting. It's hot here, but not that hot. More on that later.


I'd never seen a Japy person. In the past I had vague ideas of owning a Script or one of the several other re-branded versions out there. I particularly like the Piccola which was a Swissa version of the licensed pattern from which my AMC is based; all of which come from the Patria.


The Patria can best be described as a faimily of typewriters. This design was adopted by several manufacturers across Europe. Japy was one of those manufacturers. Will Davis and Georg Sommeregger have spent considerable time covering the intricacies of the Patria/Swissa/Japy connection here and here.

This AMC/Japy arrived poorly packed and when I opened the case I was disheartened at the state of the carriage. It was stuck in a very unnatural position. I had the inkling that a jolt had caused the unsecured carriage to shift and then jump past the uppercase shift stop.

I tried moving one of the type bars up to the printing point and it aligned with the bottom of the platen. Curses! Undaunted, and with some brute force, I was able to push the carriage back down to a position that looked more normal. I then started looking for the shift stops. In short order I found them and saw that the screw and set nut were in an odd position. 

Loosening the set screw, the carriage dropped down to a normal height. When the carriage over-shifted it bumped past this stop and jammed itself. Luckily it was an easy fix but the type was massively out of alignment. The slow and steady task of dialing in the correct alignment for both uppercase and lowercase type began. Right now it's not perfect, but the carriage is advancing properly, the imprint is more aligned, and it seems as if no lasting damage was done.


Having completed the biggest task, I looked toward some smaller problems. While deep inside the machine I noticed two springs that were flapping around freely. You can probably guess that they are part of the carriage shift. When the shift key is depressed these springs give a little lift to the carriage. Their job is to lighten the load. 


I had a devil of a time finding where this tail of the spring went until I took this picture. That pivot point looked like it was just the location.


With a quick motion of a needle nose pliers I was able to place it back.


You could have knocked me over with a feather when it fit. The carriage was lightened significantly. I would just be worried about it coming undone again. Thinking on it I came to the conclusion that this spring–and its mate on the other side of the carriage–had jostled loose during shipping.

The fixes are holding, but what about the keys. Here's the picture again.


As to the key tops, that's a mystery. What would cause them to melt like that? The surface is not smooth. They feel rough and the inlaid plastic letters are starting to pop out. Is it be possible that the oils or chemistry of a person's skin could cause plastic to degrade like this? Part of me wants them to look pristine and brand new while a contradictory part wants them to stay just as they are.

As for dating this typewriter the AMC entry in the Typewriter Database doesn't have a sequence for Japy-made machines. If you look at the Japy numbers this serial falls nicely into the 1957-1958 sequence. Given the date on the back of the instruction booklet (1956) I feel pretty comfortable with the assignation.

Apart from the dodgy keys, I really like this little machine. Thankfully the shipping damage din't prove to be permanent. The next step is to clean it up and get it typing. Unfortunately I have quite a backlog here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Removing an Olympia Badge

No, the title of this post is not a metaphor. Although I am gifted in mystical arts of the metaphoric, what I am taking about is far more literal. I wanted to give you a few tips on removing this troublesome little piece of decorative metal.



Olympia badges on the 1950s varieties (SM-2, SM-3, SG-1, etc.) are high-quality aluminum castings that are adhered to the body of the typewriter by four sprue. Each of these four legs are placed in a corresponding hole and the ends deformed. The deformation holds the badge fast and makes for a very strong connection. Come to think of it I have never seen a badge-less Olympia. Quality German engineering.



Removing the badge is not for the faint of heart. You must drill out the deformed end of the sprue just enough to ease the badge from the mounting holes. To do this you need an electric drill and a steady hand.

I used an electric hand drill fitted with a bit only slightly larger than the sprue. Starting slowly, I drilled out the end taking care to only drill enough to get rid of the riveted end. In place of the rivet-like end you will se shiny, bare metal in a slight concavity. This concavity will play an important part in reassembly. 



After the drilling, I took a very thin bladed screw drive and carefully eased the badge out of the mounting holes. The aluminum badge can be bent easily, so make sure that you are prying up near a sprue.



There you go. Your Olympia cover is badge-less and ready for refinishing.

When you want to reinstall the badge, just fit it back together and put four small beads of JB Weld in the concavities made while drilling. After the JBWeld is cured, you can put the felt back and it should be as good as new. This process can also be done for the riveted badge from the back of the machine. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Oh That's Pink-lympia!


So, the painting is done and the color is striking. I like the color, but I might want to sand and do another coat on top of this one. There are a few sanding marks that made their way through the gloss and it's bothering me. Also, a small bubble has turned to a tiny chip that is causing me hours of lost sleep. 

This typewriter is destined for the classroom. The pink was a decision based on several requests from students. Obviously, original pink typewriters like models from Royal or Smith-Corona are too expensive for my budget, so I decided to turn this machine into a pink wonder. 

SM-9s are the perfect customizer's typewriter. The main body panel is one piece and you can remove it without tools. The only other piece of metal I removed was the back panel on the carriage and that came off with just a couple of screws. I left the rugged grey on the bottom because it looks good and goes with everything. In all, it looks pretty slick. The only odd thing is the ribbon color indicators. I was unable to pop them out again (I super-glued them in when I restored it last). The stencil indicator was the only one that came out, so I just painted over the others. I think it works because the tensioner indicator on the left is just a cutout too.

I have been getting better at painting typewriters, but I would really like to get one finished at a body shop. I have a feeling that the paint might be more durable and look a little nicer.

Regardless, I am proud of how it turned out and I know that there will be a line to use this one in the fall.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Typewriter Day 2013

I spent my typewriter day prepping and painting the shell of an SM-9 a color so outrageous that Krylon's description of "watermelon" does not do it justice.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

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!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Clean as a Whistle


The Underwood Universal in my collection had some pretty sluggish type bar segments. I hadn't been able to get them as clean as they needed to be. As such, I had no idea how nice a feel this typewriter had until I was actually able to use it. 

What gummed up the segments was a mystery, but I got to talking to a gun fan about some of the products sportsmen use to keep their firearms clean. We talked back and forth about what factors would gum up a type bar segment. I argued that metal grit, old oil, and fouling from dust would be the main factors determining whether a type bar segment was sluggish.  With barely a moments hesitation he recommended:


Hoppe's No. 9 is a solvent used for cleaning gun bores. Lead, old powder, and other flotsam falls prey to the power of this kerosene-based cleaner which–to my eye–leaves very little residue. Using a skewer, I placed a few drops of this cleaner in the offending segment. I let it do its work and then came back to clean up what was leftover. I am not one for miracle products, but this stuff worked quite well. There was a black residue that worked its way to the surface of the segments. I wiped this away as it appeared and with time–and regular typing–I was able to get the segments as clean as they were off the line.


The difference between what was there and what came out is the difference between night and day. Lithe and responsive, the keyboard is a joy to use.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Corona Sterling #2A 50886

The work on this Corona Sterling Speedline began a while ago; nearly a year as as the original post (http://www.magicmargin.net/2012/04/another-restoration.html) would have it.

This burgundy beauty has been a challenge. The segments were filled with crud and I was able to get the stuff out with carburetor cleaner. I thought everything was fine, but every time I left it overnight the segments would freeze up again. PB blaster didn't help and I got the sinking suspicion that someone previously tried to unfreeze the segments with oil. The oil worked its way deep into the segment block and just would ooze out after I thought I cleaned it out. I eventually got tired of trying and decided to put the machine away and try again at another date.

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Typewriters came and went and I didn't get to this one. It wasn't until I started the restoration work–and subsequently was delayed–on the Underwood (see http://www.magicmargin.net/2013/01/restoration-its-messy-business-pt-1.html) that I was reminded that I had this beautiful typewriter that needed to be finished. In fact, it was the picture of Tennessee Williams working on the same machine in black that jogged my memory and pushed me to finish it.
I pulled out the machine, found the body panels, and started to work. As I remembered, the segments were still stiff. I cleaned a bit more using alcohol to dissolve the remaining oil in the segment. So far, so good. The type bars are moving freely in the segment slots and there is no sign that the sluggishness will return.

Fully stocked with features, this is a great typewriter. The parallel action is good and the styling is top-notch. I like the Speedlines with crinkle paint, but the glossy ones are really quite svelte. I would prefer to have the black, but the more I look at the burgundy the more I like it. 

This example is a fairly early one coming from 1938 (as the tables tell me) in good shape. There is a small dent on the ribbon cover, but there isn't any chipping.


One thing unusual about Sterlings from this era is the inconsistent appearance of the paper bail. Some machines, like mine, have a bail. Others have fingers. I can't see a pattern whatsoever. I took a look at machines across the Internet and there was nothing leading to a conclusion.


The bail is a charming little device. When you pull the bail back you come to a stop. Wait a half a moment and the bail will move all the way back. It's a fun little addition.

Before I leave you and get to work on the Underwood, I wanted to offer a few more images of this sterling example of a typewriter:



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Typewriter Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 3

The plan was to be farther along with this restoration, but I think I heard a saying about the best laid plans...

I came away from this exploratory surgery with a fairly good idea of what was causing the wayward keytops. Unfortunately, the solution wasn't the button I found deep in the bowels of the typewriter. That would have been too easy.


It was something far more interesting; a pivot point.

The keytop arms of this particular typewriter are very long. The extend all the way into the back of the frame where they pivot. I think this is something well-known to Underwoods. Each bar has a small tab of metal that engages with a comb/pivot plane. An extended "Z" bar-like piece covers these tabs and the pivot comb allowing the arms to stay in place, but also move freely. Small springs add some push to the tops and keep everything aligned. In the picture below, I have removed the retaining bar for ease of viewing.


On this typer, several of the arms had worked their way out of the pivot comb. Their conspicuous absence can be noted above. This small change rendered the typewriter unusable. Here is a better view of the absent key bars:


The metal tabs were intact on both bars. I imagine if they were actually broken I would have a whole set of other problems, but they look good. The loose retaining bar might have contributed to them working out of their locations.

To fix I just formed the metal "Z" a little so there would be a tighter fit. I have yet to reinstall it, but I was thinking that oiling this point might make more trouble than it solves. There is no sign that oil was ever applied here and adding it at this juncture might cause the pivot points work loose even easier.

I am also fairly confident that the springs that are on the underside of the bars are important to alignment because they keep the keytop bar tabs pushed up firmly against the pivot comb. I have a few extras from a very bad donor machine.

I am getting closer to some of the more fun stuff, but without a solid working mechanism all the rest would just be window dressing.

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?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Restoration: It's a Messy Business Pt. 1

Restoration is one of the fun things about collecting typewriters. You can take something that is a little rough and make it shine. I recently obtained an Underwood Universal and while it looks like it's in descent shape, I think it can look a little better.

In a series of posts I am going to take you step-by-step through the restoration process that I use to make this typewriter look awesome.

Let's start by looking at this particular Underwood Universal:












Part of the challenge for this restoration is the decal touch-up. I have a few new techniques I am going to try. I look forward to sharing all my tips and secrets with everyone in the Typosphere.

Next: Evaluation