Frozen Rust: Oliver Clean Up

I woke up with a start in the morning thinking, “I have GOT to get some Evapo-Rust.”

While the majority of my Remington Rand KMC’s problems were caused by greasy gunk and easily corrected with strategically applied denatured alcohol, this Oliver is a whole nuther kettle of fish. The Oliver seems to be frozen in rust and corrosion and dust. The space bar and keys and ribbon vibrator are stiff stiff stiff. The under belly has large crusty patches of rust. Most troubling: the escapement and starwheel (I think those are the terms) were frozen solid.

The denatured alcohol cut through the greasy clumpy gunk on my Remington Rand beautifully, but I needed something that would remove crusty rusted areas and penetrate the seized-up problem areas.

I am inspired by Richard Polt’s amazing restoration of a Sholes Visible and he used Evapo-Rust  for the rusty stuff.  I went off to the auto supply store and picked up some super fine #0000 grade steel wool, Evapo-Rust and a can of PB Blaster penetrating catalyst.


I set up my card table outside – just reading the ingredients of the PB Blaster can was enough to put me into liver failure. The Evapo-Rust is billed as “biodegradable and non-toxic”. I didn’t notice any fumes. The PB Blaster on the other hand was pretty fumey.

I wrapped an Evapo-Rust saturated paper towel around a rusty crusty section and covered it with Cling Wrap to protect it from evaporation.


I then carefully dabbed PB Blaster throughout the moving and should-be-moving parts, concentrating on the frozen escapement and starwheel and ribbon vibrator area. I was very careful not to get any PB Blaster on painted areas. It’s a pretty powerful solvent.

I think H. R. Giger must have owned an Oliver at some point.

I think H. R. Giger must have owned an Oliver at some point.

I left the Evapo-Rust and PB Blaster to do their magic and went inside to clean up the top plate of the Oliver.

I used Soft Scrub (another Richard Polt recommendation) to clean carefully around the decals.  I used Q-tips, old undershirt rags and my finger tips to carefully apply the soft scrub.





Flip side of the top plate - before cleaning

Sorry, this isn’t the after – this is the flip side of the top plate – before cleaning.  Looks like Batman’s mask.

The flip side of the top plate was a marvel – virgin paint shining and undulating. This little Oliver was quite a looker back in the day.  The picture above shows the flip side before cleaning – just a little dust.

After cleaning. It still is dirty - more brown gunk coming off on the t-shirt. I will need to do a second pass.

After cleaning. It doesn’t gleam the way the back side does, but it’s pretty clean.

It is still dirty after cleaning – more brown gunk coming off on the t-shirt. I will need to do more passes.

I have lots of fun automotive polishing supplies. Way down the line, I want to carefully experiment with different products. But first, I want to make this machine functional.

I checked on the typewriter outside and yay! I could get the starwheel and escapement to rotate.

I spent the evening picking through the Oliver, cleaning up dirt and polishing off rust. I threw the bell and the carriage band hook grabber thing with the pigtail into an Evapo-Rust bath for the night.

Evapo-Rust bath overnight

Evapo-Rust bath overnight

I took the machine outside to the porch and liberally applied PB Blaster to the machine guts (I think that’s the technical term) and went to bed.

I have got to get a better work lamp.

I have got to get a better work lamp.

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