Last updated on June 15, 2021
This typewriter was made in 1935 and spent decades gathering dust in a back room. I got it on eBay and have attempted to restore it to the way it might have looked in 1945.
In addition to being more than 75 years old, the typewriter was very heavily used by its original owner. The chrome or nickel plating is worn through in many places. My goal was to strip away decades of accumulated grime without disturbing the signs of wear and use which to me add character to this old machine.
Unrestored, As Found
This was the typewriter as I got it. Every surface was covered with a thick layer of accumulated oil, dust, nicotine and sweat. There was no hint of the original gleam of the chrome and enamel, every surface was clouded with a thick haze of dense grime. Dusty keyboard, dirty keytops, surface rust, tarnish- it was a machine that showed clear signs of years of use followed by decades of neglect.
I put a little dish soap in some warm water and carefully applied and removed this solution with a soft cotton cloth. Here the “1” tabulator key after cleaning, a stark contrast to the uncleaned keys.
Before and after cleaning the ribbon color selector lever using a toothbrush and diluted denture cleaner.
The paper bail rollers had succumbed to the ravages of time. I stripped away the misshapen goo and replaced it with layers of heat shrink tubing.
I cleaned and polished every external part of this machine, but eventually realized that full restoration was going to require more than just cleaning. The old rubber on the platen had lost its bounce over time, and had become hard as glass. The machine also had an infrequent but annoying skipping issue when typing. I eventually took this to a professional typewriter repairman. He repaired the escapement mechanism, adjusted the timing, and sent the platen to J. J. Short to be recovered with new rubber. This machine now types flawlessly again. The new rubber on the platen made a tremendous difference.