I’m a Facebook lurker, and a recent post on the Facebook Mid-Atlantic Typewriter Collectors Group caught my attention. The poster was having trouble finding time to work on a distressed S-C Super-G, so he was giving it away:
I’m making good progress on the Great American Novel, so this typewriter was a nice reward for my hard work. I had initially described my novel as a historical romance, but I think it’s more of a historical comedy. Or maybe a historical comedy-drama. I have the first draft completed, and gosh, it’s funny. The romance scenes are rough. I don’t know if I have the necessary mettle required for romance writing. Here is a sample love scene in the current draft:
There’s a whole lot of tragedy and death in my novel too. I keep killing off major characters because people died a lot in the old days. I am getting a little concerned by the body count. Maybe I’ll let them live. As an author, I am very powerful.
Anyhow, in recognition of my excellent ahead-of-schedule novel-writing progress, I am rewarding myself with a special treat: a broken typewriter.
Tim, the guy who was giving away the Super-G, runs a bike shop near my place.
I drove over and we did a safe, socially-distanced typewriter transfer:
I really didn’t know much about Super-Gs before I got this. I didn’t even know they were made by Smith-Corona. With those racing stripes, the Super-G looks a lot like my brother’s 1972 Saab Sonett III (designed by Sergio Coggiola, who worked at Ghia at one time).
I was thinking maybe the Super-G was an Olivetti. Duh, NOOO. It’s a good ole British-made Skyriter in a sleek Italian-style shell:
This little racing Skyriter, this Formula One Corsair was designed by automotive designers Tjaarda and de Tomaso of Carrozzeria Ghia SpA.
The Super-G I got from Tim is from 1974 by serial number 7YP124855 (7YP Series 1)
So here’s the Super-G on arrival. It was in pretty good shape except the return lever problem, a bent ribbon vibrator, jammed-on spools, gummy typebars and escapement.
The racing stripes on the Super-G are just super excellent—so much classier than painted flames.
With a bent return lever mechanism, there was no communication with the platen, so it wasn’t line spacing. I assumed that the pieces inside were all bent, but I couldn’t see anything. It was time to judiciously dismantle.
To familiarize myself with the typewriter functions, I downloaded a Super-G typewriter users manual from Richard Polt’s manual archive:
I vaguely recalled a blog post by Ted Munk about replacing a teeny return lever on a Skyriter with a larger one from a Corsair. This post came in handy during dismantling:
I downloaded the Smith-Corona 6YC Series Typewriter Repair Manual in PDF format for diagrams and service reference material:
And after removing the return lever, right platen knob, and the platen, I got to this point.
Ugh. This looks weird. What do I do here?
I found this video from Duane at Phoenix Typewriter very helpful in dealing with this plunger assembly:
I removed the plunger assembly, paper tray, carriage feed roller assembly, and page gage assembly. I was finally at a point where I could see what my problem was:
It’s not supposed to look like that. The linespace pawl assembly was sitting on top of the linespace lever arm. That’s bad and wrong. It’s supposed to look like this:
After some careful forming (bending) of the linespace pawl assembly, I got it into a position similar to the diagram:
Now it should line space and the return lever should work properly. I wouldn’t know for sure until I got it back together.
So here’s The Rule: you cannot let a dismantled typewriter become Parts in a Box. Reducing a typewriter to Parts in a Box brings shame onto your entire family. I knew I must work quickly to get it back together. I figured I had about 24 hours after dismantling before the parts became vague and forgettable.
The clock was starting to tick. I had 24 hours to get this typewriter back together. I needed to peel out. Burn rubber. Make tracks.
I get to work. I become one with the machine. I become Super Duper: I am a S-C Skyriter with racing stripes. I am small and unassuming, but fast and driven by vast ambition, full of powerful hidden talents.
It is done. The typewriter is reassembled. It types. I bring honor to my family.
It makes a loud plastic clatter when typing. It makes you feel like you’re really accomplishing something while you’re hammering away. The print baseline rolls like a ship at sea. The typewriter was whacked real bad at some point, and everything’s a little askew. I think maybe I like that.
My tips for dismantling and reassembling:
- Take lots of pictures – you’re going to need them.
- Stay organized with boxes, cups, bags.
- Work on a soft white surface so you can easily see dropped screws and little springs.
- Get a long thin flat head screw driver.
- Magnetize your screwdriver.
- Operate in good light. I use a rechargeable headlamp.
- Download a service manual. For me, the diagrams are invaluable.
- Reassemble a dismantled typewriter as soon as possible to avoid Parts in a Box syndrome.
It’s a sweet ride, this machine.
This typewriter is a generous source of the best band names ever:
After I finish the Great American Novel, I’m going to start a band so I can use one of these names.
Thank you, Tim of bikes@vienna. Regarding bikes, my family has gotten into this YouTube channel Not Just Bikes which is sort of about bicycling and how great life is in the bicycle-friendly Netherlands.