A Renewed Ribbon for the Taupe Pancake: Skyriter

My tough little pancake – the Skyriter – had a pretty dried out ribbon when I got her.


I have read that you can sometimes rejuvenate old dried-up typewriter ribbons with WD-40. I could save $7.99 and a trip to the office supply store for this:

This 1/2" black ribbon is compatible with Okidata...and others

This 1/2″ black ribbon is compatible with Okidata…and others

Since I am both cheap and impatient (two qualities that have made me the success I am today), I thought I’d try it.

First I had to find a box to work in.  I found a box outside but first I had to evict two Wubble-Bubbles, Charles and Dope.


Scat, you two.

I then removed the ribbon from the machine, unspooled it and put it in the box.  Then I sprayed the whole tangled mess with WD-40:


I waited about 30 minutes, then wound all the ribbon onto one of the spools very tightly.  I then squirted WD-40 onto the tightly wound spool.  That might have been over-kill.

I then waited about an hour and put the ribbon spool back on the machine and hooked things back up. The first test was very squishy and gray. I had used a lot of WD-40 on the ribbon.  I let the ribbon sit longer and cleaned the type in the meantime with denatured alcohol since it was a little gunky.


After about an hour, the typed page looked better.  It’s a readable charcoal color, but definitely not a true black like a new ribbon would produce.


I’ll keep the WD-40ed ribbon for the time being.  It works.

UPDATE: 2 weeks later: WD-40ed ribbon still typing fine – just fine – not black, but fine.

Another interesting tidbit related to ribbon spools: when I received my Oliver in the mail last month from the eBay seller, there was a mysterious piece of metal rattling around in the box. I put it in a baggie, labeled it “Oliver Mystery Piece”, set it aside, and hoped it wasn’t important.

A couples weeks ago, I brought home my Skyriter and I was cleaning and looking for the serial number when I found an almost identical mysterious piece of metal rattling around loose inside the Skyriter’s case.


It was almost the same as the Oliver’s Mystery Piece except smaller in size.


A typewriter repair specialist on the Typewriter Talk forum identified these as ribbon spool clips that secure the ribbon to the core of the typewriter spool.

I used my newly-identified spool clip to secure my Skyriter ribbon when I replaced the WD-40ed ribbon spool.

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