A Herd of Wild Typewriters

I really love Moe’s shop. She has such a superb eye for great junk.

I haven’t been in a couple weeks and Whoa, Nellie!  Moe has a new bevy of beauties to check out. Many have small fixable problems.  I’ll take at least a couple home to work on and then bring them back to Moe’s.

1949 Smith-Corona Silent

S/N: 5S101645
Works great. Comes with a case. A little stinky, but what a sweetie.


1920 Oliver No. 9

S/N: 852922
This Oliver has obviously lived a hard life. Dirty, rusty and corroded.  Drawband broken. Worst of all, it has been dropped on its head so it’s very squashed and typebars won’t move. Of course I want to take it home and clean it. Moe really liked the suggestion.  I think Moe is more likely to sell it if it looked better and actually typed.  However, people stopping in at the shop have been going nuts over this Oliver. We don’t see Olivers often here in California – people are quite struck by its strangeness.


L.C. Smith No. 8

Very rusty, corroded, very dirty. Drawband broken. Pieces in a bag are never a good sign. It should be fine though. Bonus: insane horse decal.


Underwood Noiseless

Love this thing. I want to take it home and play with it and look at its insides.


196x SCM Galaxie

S/N: 6T 540518
The typebars are glued to the segment as if someone poured cement or super glue all over the segment. Perhaps WD-40? Otherwise fine. Looks like a fun clean-up. UPDATE: I took it home for a couple hours yesterday and worked on the Galaxie’s frozen segment with denatured alcohol, gently loosening the keys. One of the key lever linkages had popped off when its typebar was in a frozen state.  Semi-pro tip: move the slug all the way to the platen, grab the linkage with a dental tool and re-attach in this position. Don’t try to re-attach from below; it will only end in tears.  Anyhow, the Galaxie is typing great now. So fun. Sorry, TWDB, no SCM datecode to be found.


1956 Royal Quiet De Luxe

S/N: B317581
Carriage not moving- ooops carriage lock on!  OK – all fine, just a little dirty.  Attractive color. This one will move fast. Has a cute tweedy case.


1940 Royal KMM

S/N: KMM-2590373
Dusty but functional.  Love the greenish-blue keys.  Must take home and clean. I want to compare it to my Remington KMC and see who comes out on top.


Home Dreyfuss Repair

Roia works at Mozo’s, and she is a super nice person.  She caught me on my way in and asked me if I could look at her daughter’s typewriter.  It’s a beautiful Dreyfuss Quiet De Luxe that had been working and then suddenly wasn’t.  I examined the machine. The keys weren’t making it to the platen and the space bar was nonfunctional. It was almost as if I were hitting up against a line lock or a mechanical obstruction.  There was an earring caught under the keys – perhaps something had fallen into the guts?

I told Roia that I wasn’t sure I could fix it, but I would look at it at home.


I brought it home, but I was a little nervous.  I like tinkering with my old junkers, but I have never worked on anyone else’s typewriter.

Amazingly, the internal mechanics of the 1948 QDL are virtually identical to my 1939 Royal Aristocrat with the exception of the margin release mechanism. Time for some comparisons.


click image to vewi larger

click image to view larger

After giving the QDL a quick blow-out to remove animal hair and dust bunnies, I set up the two machines on the dining room table and watched the escapement on key strike side-by-side.

What I noticed was that in the QDL, a pawl (?) or dog(?) in the escapement’s workings wasn’t darting in and out to engage the escapement wheel like it did on the Aristocrat.


I spent the evening pondering this and leafing through the D.E. Fox manual’s repair section on Royal portables.

I have a set of dental-like tools that I picked up at the hardware store for about $5. They are great for spring re-attachment and typewriter investigation.


I very carefully but very unscientifically probed with one of my dental tools around the escapement wheel and dog and then *BOING* the little pawl bounced into sight.  Suddenly the escapement was tripping and the wheel was turning and the typewriter was typing. Dumb luck. I threw a new ribbon in her and went to town:


I want to thank my 1939 Royal Aristocrat for helping me get the QDL running again:


This Dreyfuss QDL is quite a looker in her gray flannel suitiness.  I took some pictures before I returned the QDL to Roia.

Roia was really happy that the QDL made a comeback.  I sent the QDL home to Roia’s with instructions for proper care and feeding à la Type the Clouds.

I then spent a couple hours cleaning the Galaxie and when I dropped off the clean Galaxie at Moe’s, I brought the Oliver home with me for cleaning and repair.  Moe’s shop is closed on Monday and Tuesday so I have a couple days to get this thing sort of clean and mostly running.

I do have my work cut out for me. Look at how rusty and mashed this poor thing is:


5 thoughts on “A Herd of Wild Typewriters

  1. Tyler Anderson says:

    Poor Oliver. It seems that of all typewriter designs, they are most often the most abused. Though this machine has found its savior, and I look forward to seeing it produce more than an “g”!


    • The Oliver is not going to get a full-on W.A.W. treatment, but it should type and be a little cleaner after all’s said and done. I am still so impressed by how durable these ancient things are. It looks like it was run over by a truck, but it will probably still be able to type just fine.


  2. Ahh, you’ve discovered the joys of fixing machines that you don’t have to keep. A great way to gain experience and play with machines without the need to find someplace for them to live or a litterbox for them to poop in. 😀


    • I think it was Leigh W. who wrote recently on the Facebook Antique Typewriter Collectors page something along the lines of “sometimes possessions become more of a burden than a joy.” In regards to typewriters, I want to stay in the realm of joy. I plan to keep my collection in the single digits, but I want to experience as many types of typewriters as possible. Fixing them for Moe is a very pleasant way to experience new typewriters and get my tinkering fix.


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