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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Typewriter Restoration: When the Need of a Rescue Mission is Great

Writing about the Remington Super-Riter, as I was a post or two ago, reminded me of the Remington Office-Riter I restored a few months back. When I showed the end result to Richard Polt, he remarked that my journalistic instincts had got the better of me, and I had called it an Office-Writer. Indeed, it is almost a completely different machine from the one I bought for $5 at a rubbish recycling depot, where but for my intervention it might have been destined for a fate worse than death. It’s easy to tell it had seen better days:
So here it is stripped down:
All the parts are  sanded and cleaned. This stage of the process also allows for the workings of the machine to get a thorough degreasing and cleaning, and blow-through with an air compressor. It's amazing how much gunk comes out, and how much better the mechanics look - and, more importantly, work.

Now for the priming:
I find the best way is to hang the parts by wire from a line so that they get even coats of paint all over. After the priming, more sanding and more priming, the top colour coats and then glossing:

Finally, the reassembly. If you decide to repaint the paper plate, more often than not this requires removing the platen and paper bail, and sometimes the margins rail and after parts. If removing the platen, take very special note of the arrangement of the assembly of the carriage lever mechanism on the left hand side of the carriage, as this is very often quite difficult to reassemble properly:
This Hermes 3000 arrived with much of its paintwork WORN off (yes, worn, not chipped) and most of the bodywork covered in stubborn carbon paper stains. I've seldom since such a mess. But this is what it looks like now:
Similiar situation with this Olympia SM9:

One of the worst states I've ever seen a typewriter arrive in from an eBay seller was this Triumph. I have renamed it The Conquerer because it overcame an otherwise certain demise:
Richard Polt has carried out many brilliant restoration jobs, and I give as one example this Remington Quiet-Riter Miracle Tab (his photographic skills are also a lot better than mine!):

PS: These typewriters have not been restored for re-sale.


Ted said...

You are a saviour of machines, sir! Very nice work on those restorations - the Hermes looks quite nice in a slightly darker green. (:

Duffy Moon said...

That is a beautiful Remington. I need to try my hand at this again. I've had some limited success on the few machines I've tried repainting. I have an Underwood 18 that's dying to be - uh - dyed.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Ted and Duffy. I think Underwood 18s are always crying out to be dyed ("Why the bright colours on Antares Annabella and not me?"). Five years ago I gave myself a six-month self-funded course in typewriter mechanics and restoration. That basically meant buying lots of cheap Japanese-made machines, taking them completely apart and trying to put them back together again. Invaluable experience!

Tom Lucas said...

I think that you have done an excellent job. What you are doing now, I was doing 30 years ago for a living, working as a typewriter engineer ! Regarding the Remington, we once had one traded in that had obviously suffered a broken spacebar like yours. The owner's ingenious solution ? He had made an EXACT replica in wood ! Sadly, I had to remove it and replace it with a good secondhand one before the machine was sold on ! Best Wishes, Tom Lucas from England.

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you Tom. I confess that spacebar has been glued together and repainted to cover the cracks. I am about to get a wooden spacebar made by a local craftsman, as a woman I know has a fixation about what she calls "paddlepop" typewriters - that is, it turns out, typewriters with wooden spacebars. There's no accounting for taste!

Skyriter said...
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