Frozen Rust: Oliver Clean Up

I woke up with a start in the morning thinking, “I have GOT to get some Evapo-Rust.”

While the majority of my Remington Rand KMC’s problems were caused by greasy gunk and easily corrected with strategically applied denatured alcohol, this Oliver is a whole nuther kettle of fish. The Oliver seems to be frozen in rust and corrosion and dust. The space bar and keys and ribbon vibrator are stiff stiff stiff. The under belly has large crusty patches of rust. Most troubling: the escapement and starwheel (I think those are the terms) were frozen solid.

The denatured alcohol cut through the greasy clumpy gunk on my Remington Rand beautifully, but I needed something that would remove crusty rusted areas and penetrate the seized-up problem areas.

I am inspired by Richard Polt’s amazing restoration of a Sholes Visible and he used Evapo-Rust  for the rusty stuff.  I went off to the auto supply store and picked up some super fine #0000 grade steel wool, Evapo-Rust and a can of PB Blaster penetrating catalyst.


I set up my card table outside – just reading the ingredients of the PB Blaster can was enough to put me into liver failure. The Evapo-Rust is billed as “biodegradable and non-toxic”. I didn’t notice any fumes. The PB Blaster on the other hand was pretty fumey.

I wrapped an Evapo-Rust saturated paper towel around a rusty crusty section and covered it with Cling Wrap to protect it from evaporation.


I then carefully dabbed PB Blaster throughout the moving and should-be-moving parts, concentrating on the frozen escapement and starwheel and ribbon vibrator area. I was very careful not to get any PB Blaster on painted areas. It’s a pretty powerful solvent.

I think H. R. Giger must have owned an Oliver at some point.

I think H. R. Giger must have owned an Oliver at some point.

I left the Evapo-Rust and PB Blaster to do their magic and went inside to clean up the top plate of the Oliver.

I used Soft Scrub (another Richard Polt recommendation) to clean carefully around the decals.  I used Q-tips, old undershirt rags and my finger tips to carefully apply the soft scrub.





Flip side of the top plate - before cleaning

Sorry, this isn’t the after – this is the flip side of the top plate – before cleaning.  Looks like Batman’s mask.

The flip side of the top plate was a marvel – virgin paint shining and undulating. This little Oliver was quite a looker back in the day.  The picture above shows the flip side before cleaning – just a little dust.

After cleaning. It still is dirty - more brown gunk coming off on the t-shirt. I will need to do a second pass.

After cleaning. It doesn’t gleam the way the back side does, but it’s pretty clean.

It is still dirty after cleaning – more brown gunk coming off on the t-shirt. I will need to do more passes.

I have lots of fun automotive polishing supplies. Way down the line, I want to carefully experiment with different products. But first, I want to make this machine functional.

I checked on the typewriter outside and yay! I could get the starwheel and escapement to rotate.

I spent the evening picking through the Oliver, cleaning up dirt and polishing off rust. I threw the bell and the carriage band hook grabber thing with the pigtail into an Evapo-Rust bath for the night.

Evapo-Rust bath overnight

Evapo-Rust bath overnight

I took the machine outside to the porch and liberally applied PB Blaster to the machine guts (I think that’s the technical term) and went to bed.

I have got to get a better work lamp.

I have got to get a better work lamp.

The Oliver Has Landed – Hard

A package showed up today.  It was marked “Fragile” and had some mysterious puncture wounds.


Hurray!  It’s our long-awaited little Oliver!


Veiled beauty

I dragged her out to the back patio and gave her a good look.


She is magnificent. I am not worthy.

She was filthy – I could see families of dust bunnies in the cracks, so I took off the front plate.



Fortunately we have a convenient hand-held air compressor with lots of attachments. It’s cheaper in the long run than canned compressed air.


I removed the carriage as well (thanks to a very helpful Martin Rice video).  The carriage was very sticky and hung up on areas of rust, but I was able to gently wiggle it free from the body.

I blew the dust and debris out from the body. I then carefully wiped down the body with warm water and little dish soap.

Inventory of Ills

The Oliver looks fairly complete, but has a few issues:

  1. Missing draw band. This is not a big  problem; I can replace that thanks to another Martin Rice video about Oliver draw band replacement.
  2. Missing draw band hook. I can probably fabricate a hook as Tony Mindling did with his Oliver.
  3. Sticky keys. These should respond to gentle cleaning
  4. Lots of rust. I may need to make a run to the auto parts store for some Evapo-Rust.  I have some naval jelly, so I’ll try that first. I just need to be careful around the paint.
  5. Broken mainspring.  I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but I am unable to wind the mainspring without it giving a sad little snap and losing tension. Fortunately, Tony Mindling had a mainspring problem with his Oliver that he was able to fix. I will refer to his post.
  6. Bent right tower. At some point in her travels west, this Oliver landed hard on her right tower. She arrived today with alarmingly little packing, so she suffered a bit on her trip. The type bars seem OK, but the right U shape band is bent as is the pencil holder. I’m unable to fully retract the pencil holder and keys are hitting the tower band.  I am going to remove the U shaped band and do some careful bending of the band and the pencil holder.
  7. Frozen carriage. This seems unrelated to the draw band. It may be a rust issue. I hope.

The right tower is bent – it’s a bit shorter than the left. The pencil holder can’t return to its upright position.

There's a fair amount of rust underneath and parts that seems like they should move, don't move.

There’s a fair amount of rust underneath and parts that seems like they should move, don’t move. That oval loop in the center is completely crusted over. I feel like it should be moving freely.

Despite all her flaws, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon cleaning and tinkering with our new Oliver. She is very special, what you might call a “terrible beauty”.  Our new Oliver No. 9 is quite a beauty, but, boy, is she in terrible shape. I think that I am up to the task.

A New Baby on the Way

We’re expecting an ancient Oliver No. 9 any day now.

Since we dragged our Remington Rand KMC in from the curb, I’ve developed a taste for typewriters.  My eyes, previously closed, are now open to a world of machines full of mystery and adventure.

I have been lurking around online auctions, ogling typewriters.  And I found a new typewriter: a nonfunctional Oliver No. 9.  It should arrive some time in the next few days.

It fit all my special criteria:

  • Beautiful
  • Weird
  • Old
  • Broken

That last item was most important to me: I wanted something that I could spend happy hours fixing and cleaning – a project I could cut my teeth on. According to the seller’s description, the carriage doesn’t move and some of the keys are stuck, but I am hoping that a drawband replacement and deep cleaning will remedy the situation. And I couldn’t resist that little pot-bellied Printype mascot.

My daughter and I are very excited.  We enjoyed researching and repairing our Remington Rand KMC so much.   Here is another mechanical creature in need of some gentle attention.


This is a picture from the seller – looks pretty good!