I have been cleaning and tinkering with my Fox No. 24 typewriter for the past few weeks.
Sugru for Key Letters
It look like someone – in a fit of boredom – took a ballpoint and scratched out a couple of the letters on the Fox’s keys. I got some white Sugru at Target for the key tops where the lettering has worn off. Sugru is a self-setting rubber product that is removable. I pressed it into the key letter depressions and scrapped away the excess. It sets in about 24 hours. If I change my mind about the letters later on down the road, I can peel it off.
A testament to her true grit, the Fox was able to type with two broken shifting arms. The broken arms were causing typebar alignment problems though, so they needed to be re-secured. I initially tried to re-attach the broken back corner, front frame section and broken shifting arms with J-B Weld SteelStik. Unfortunately the SteelStik was not “tacky” enough and wasn’t adhering to the pieces of broken cast iron (despite sanding and cleaning), so I used J-B KwikWeld metal epoxy adhesive which is a bit stickier.
I had to remove the shifting arms to glue them because there was considerable sag in the adhesive – the pieces needed support while the adhesive dried.
The rear left corner was a crumbled mess – it’s a bit better now after some J-B Weld, but it could use a good sanding to smooth out irregularities.
The Rust Blackened
There are many areas of bare metal on the painted surfaces. I was torn. Should I use Testor’s model paint which is a great match and very permanent, or should I go with India ink (encre de Chine) which is a great match and less permanent? I went with the India ink and a light coat of Renaissance Wax. Some future owner may want to undo what I have done. I want to be sensitive to the history of the machine and preserve as much vintage authenticity as possible.
Finally, I flushed out the metal internal guts with mineral spirits and compressed air. I was worried about excess PB B’laster attracting dirt and gumming up things down the line.
I mixed myself a stiff drink, fired up a cigar, leaned back, and drank in the physical beauty of this 100-year-old vixen. Make no mistake: this is a 100-year-old typewriter that has suffered catastrophic neglect and damage. However. She is still very fine indeed.
American Fox-es! (spoken with Festrunk brothers’ emphasis)
Model number 24 – somewhat hidden behind the keyboard:
I wish I had better luck removing the cracking layer of yellow varnish/lacquer/shellac around the decals. I tried to Soft Scrub it off, but I wasn’t successful. I will leave it to some future restorer with better products and methods.
The back decal (“The Fox”) has worn off or been painted over:
Lots of luscious curves in back though:
The decal on the left side of the machine is in good condition:
What Does the Fox Say?
The darn thing types like the proverbial champ:
It’s got fun special characters: manicules, pilcrow, section sign and degree characters.
It has a double row of staggered type bars. These are called pin-mounted slugs, right?
The carriage comes off with four loosened screws. You loosen the carriage scale pointer screws, slide the carriage scale pointer over and off; loosen the carriage screws, secure the draw string to the hitching post, and the carriage lifts off.
What a wonderful machine. After spending some time in genuine appreciation, I got down to typing.
Fox on the Run
Here’s a looping six second video of me typing away happily on my quick black Fox.
How about another six second loop?
To Do List
- Continue polishing rusted and corroded parts – there is still so much to clean up. I hope I get that high-capacity ultrasonic tank full of solvent for Christmas 🙂
- Try heat shrink tubing for a couple of the feed rollers which are a bit brittle and disintegrating.
- I need to figure out the line lock set up. My Fox keeps typing at the end of the line, and I think there may be a rust problem that prevents the line lock from engaging. I am looking at the patent documents for clues.
This is what I want for Christmas. Friends and family, please take note:
6 thoughts on “20th Century Fox: Fox No. 24 Typewriter Reassembled”
amazed as always! That Sugru for filling in the letters is a great idea. You win yet another McGuyver award 😀
I wish I could say that I thought of it myself, but I got the idea from the Sugru site:
How to Fix and Replace Worn Off Lettering on Appliance and Metal
I applaud your wonderfully successful efforts. Now I’m just curious what downtrodden machine will get the patented M-O-T Restoration Treatment (c)
I did have one in mind – but I just got outbid on eBay. This is after I tearfully swore that I would never buy off eBay again (after the Fox arrived in pieces).
Great work! I want to go type on my Fox now.
Your Fox 23 at TWDB is in such superb physical condition – I bet it’s a fabulous typer.