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:
Yes you can swap the long return lever from a Corsair for the vestigal return arm of your early Skyriter!
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.
15 thoughts on “Super Duper: Smith-Corona Super-G”
Wow impressed by your mechanical skills and the positivity. Its nice to see the good side of humanity too, people giving to others. I have a few e.t.s I got for free, not recently though.
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We’re really fortunate that we have a very helpful and generous typewriter group locally.
Great post! The wavy print definitely makes for a lasting story in this case.
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Nice work on the typewriter. You could always write sailing stories fitting for wavy type.
If it were not for taking a lot of digital images during repairs I’d have a huge pile of typewriter parts.
One thing I like better than a head lamp is my Luxo fluorescent magnifier lamp I’ve used for years doing electronics repairs.
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Bill – a lighted magnifier lamp would be so useful, not just for typewriters, but for sewing, crafting, electronics. I am putting a Luxo knock-off on my Mother’s Day wishlist. I might even share it with other members of the family.
Here is one very similar to mine and it costs much less than I paid for mine.
I hope the very very long link works. There are probably LED versions also.
The link works – ooooh – that looks good and the price is right. I might go LED for a cooler light.
My eyes glaze over after about five minutes of techical/mechanical issues. I do fidget and can change a ribbon and tighten a screw here or there. Mostly I just like reading your cooky stories of rescue and restoration. Please do submit an excerpt from your Great American Novel to One Typed Page onetypedpage.wordpress.com We would love it. As a poet I’m not worried someone might steal a poem of mine out in the typosphere — go ahead, make a few bundle off of my poetry – “make my day.” But novelists seem to be protective. Just a short excerpt. – Catalina
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Submitting something to One Typed Page was been on my to-do list. My current novel in-progress is a pretty convoluted story with lots of confusing characters. I don’t know if any of the chapters standing alone would make sense, but I know I could write something that would lend itself better to One Typed Page.
Growing up, we learned that peer pressure = Bad. But I’m going to join Cat and pile on with an OTP plug. I have two reasons. No, three. (1) In my favorite writing textbook, Writing Well, Donald Hall says “when we write, we make a contract: my words are addressed to the outside world; I construct sentences in order to reach someone else.” The exercise of getting ideas across to imagined others, especially daily or thereabouts, can make all writing better (i.e. the novel too). It is for me, I think. (2) As I think Cat mentioned, OTP is wonderful but needs more women’s voices. A lot of women love typewriters and should be more visible actually using them to speak out, says I. (3) Selfishly: You write so well: weave a good story, make me laugh and sometimes recognize a bit of myself in your experiences. I’d love to read more. P.S. I’m ordering the George Saunders book. Thanks for the recommendation. P.P.S. I have a Super G in Mocha Brown. My husband said it reminded him of his Mustang II. I especially like the tire treads in place of feet.
Flattery will get you everywhere 🙂 I now need to figure out what kind of one-page wonder for OTP I can come up with.
Agree – I have a couple “Parts in a Box” machines. On the plus side, in that condition, it’s much easier to justify stealing bits and bobs from the carcass for resurrecting less iffy machines from your own and other’s collections. You’ve already halfway made the decision to give up on it anyway. (:
You have done very well – I feel the Ghias kinda type like Valentines, but the Skyriter internals are fun and easy to diagnose & fix.
Most of the typewriters I bring home are on their last legs anyway, so Parts in a Box is not the most humiliating end for them. I can always use the parts.
Like you, I like working on Smith-Corona portables. Olivettis – not as much.
I enjoyed reading this. I just acquired one of these identical typewriters and it is all working except the arm on the left side falls all the way down and I can’t figure out how to make it stay up like it is supposed to while typing. Do you have any pointers? Thank you!
Hi Bradley! Congrats on your Super-G. There may be a return lever spring that is missing or detached. First off, check to see that this one is there: