I didn’t get around to posting on this restored Imperial Good Companion Model 4 last night because I was too tired after a very long day – one in which I felt I had accomplished plenty. I mainly worked on two typewriters – the other I will get to posting on later. But I am really proud of the job I did on the IGC 4 – especially since I set out to fully restore it in one day and achieved that objective within eight hours.
I seem to get a tiny bit better at doing this each time I tackle such an undertaking. But, then, some typewriters are far easier to work with than others. An Imperial Good Companion is one of the most difficult. I could have been a lot more patient with this one, but wanted to see if I could manage a complete makeover in just the one day.
Vital to achieving this goal was help from my son Danny, who is now “full bottle” on how to reassemble the platen-turning and line-spacing mechanism on IGCs. Knowing Danny could get that critical part of the machine back together and working encouraged me to take on this quick turn-around project – which, of course, involved taking out the platen and paper plate, always the most time-consuming part of such a job (most especially with the IGC, or a Hermes Baby).
John Lavery called from Beaudesert just as I was starting this project. Although John worked with Imperials in his younger days, he more or less warned against the undertaking, in particular pointing to the tricky line-spacing mechanism. When I told him Danny was on top of this task, and he was clearly impressed. “Tell him there’s plenty of work for him up here,” John joked.
I have restored a lot of typewriters over the years and have invariably wished I had taken the time to snap some “before” photographs ahead of jumping into the task. But I am always in too much of a hurry to get started to think about doing that. This IGC 4 is one classic example. The reason being that the state this typewriter was in when I received it was beyond words – only images would have sufficed to do some justice to the mess.
Outwardly rust was the most obvious thing – there were splashes of it all over the paintwork, across the paper bail, on the paper support and paper guide, richly on the segment and at least one spring on the carriage release mechanism was a deep red-brown with rust. But as I moved the carriage I could see massive lumps of blackened lint and other bits and pieces of gunk inside the machine.
As with all Good Companions of this vintage, the brand and model labels were made from a thin metal strip and inevitably these peel and snap off at the ends. In this case the figure “4” on the model label and the right side of the “Imperial” brand label were gone. I probably wouldn’t have bothered too much about that this if I hadn't felt the need to completely repaint the typewriter. I liked the original pale green shade, but since it had to be repainted, I settled on a rich cream colour.
At 11am a guy called to say he was bringing over an Imperial Good Companion to give to me, and I never look a gift horse in the mouth, regardless. An hour later he turned up. Although the handle was snapped off, the case gave no hint of the mess I was to find inside.
These are the scans of the labels - you can see where I have "restored" them on the right side of the brand and model labels.
Step-by-step, this was the process I undertook, starting at noon and finishing on the dot of 8pm:
- Took off all six parts of the mask, including the paper plate (which requires taking out the platen).
- Degreased the workings and used a parts cleaner spray to wash out the mechanics and ease off the “glued on” gunk. Once this was done, I used an air compressor to blow said gunk out from all parts, notably under the carriage and the segment. Left the mechanics then to "dry out" again.
- Treated all the rusted parts, mostly with light sanding.
- Scanned in the broken labels on to my computer before stripping them off the metal. I carefully measured and recorded the width of same with my Baco ruler, to ensure I printed them out to the correct size.
- Cleaned, hung out and primed the six parts of the mask.
- Repainted the metal. On a quick-drying day such as yesterday, three light coats and a top layer of gloss over a period of about five hours can be managed.
- While waiting for the paint to dry, placed the scanned broken labels on a Word Document and restored them. Then I printed them out as stickers (the latter method is quicker and suitable for IGCs, as the originals were thin metal strips).
- Restored the mask, working in the reverse order to when I took the parts off – that is, starting with the paper plate (including the paper support and the paper guide), paper bail, and working through to the side and front frame then the ribbon spool cover.
- Helped Danny reassemble the carriage, including the platen, platen-turning and line-spacing mechanism.
- Put new ribbon on the IGC spools, and away I went!