One of the first things we noticed about our old typewriter after we had hauled it in from the curb was that the carriage did not advance with typing or hitting the space bar. My husband noted a suspicious strip of fabric strapping hanging from under the right carriage:
The suspicious stray threads hanging from under the carriage – that doesn’t look good.
On further investigation we found the other piece of the fabric strap still attached to the mainspring drum on the left side of the carriage.
From the left of the typewriter, you can see the old drawband on the mainspring drum
A quick internet search confirmed our fears: the drawband that pulls the carriage along while typing was broken. I did find some great information on replacing the drawband:
Though the above links describe drawband repair on non-Remington typewriters, the general concept is the same: replace the drawband with something strong and attach it to a wound-up mainspring so that the carriage will be pulled along as you type.
Here’s a video of a gentleman replacing the drawband in an Oliver – I found it very helpful though my Remington Rand set-up was very different:
Replacing My Typewriter Drawband
I removed the old broken drawband from the mainspring drum and laid it out. It was pretty cool looking, like a super tightly woven shoelace. Looks like it should have lasted a million years.
The drawband end that connected to the mainspring
With the two ends laid out, the original drawband was about 25.5 inches long.
Since they probably haven’t manufactured these in about 50 years, I went to my local sporting goods supply shop and bought 80 lb fishing line (I didn’t need 400 yards):
I liked this fishing line because it was braided and looked like it would be easier to knot that regular monofilament.
I cut the fishing line and added knotted loops at both ends, making it 25.5 inches in length.
Made a loop at each end. This braided fishing line was very easy to work with.
Starting on the right side of the typewriter, I attached the first loop to where the old drawband was attached – a little notched projection.
One loop goes on the notched projection under the end of the carriage; this picture was taken after I fed the fishing line through to the mainspring and attached it. I think I made the knot a bit close to the loop. Hope it holds. If not, I’ll film replacing the drawband.
Next, I taped two wooden skewers together to make a tool that I could use to feed the fishing line under the carriage to the mainspring. A huge thank you to Robert Messenger of oztypewriter.blogspot.com who suggested using a wooden meat skewer.
Taped together, my skewer tool is about 20 inches long
Like Robert Messenger, I modified the end of one wooden skewer with a utility knife and slipped the knotted loop over the slit.
I then fed the skewered fishing line straight under the carriage to the mainspring, being careful to feed straight across the back to the mainspring drum.
Loop inserted into a slit cut into skewer. This held the fishing line as I fed it through to the mainspring.
The path the fishing line took. You can see the attached fishing line in white just below my dotted lines.
Once the fishing line was fed through the typewriter to the mainspring, I came to the tricky part: winding up the mainspring and attaching the looped end of the fishing line to it without it unwinding.
I put on disposable gloves for this because it was dirty work and the little teeth of the mainspring drum bit into my fingers. My hands are pretty small, but this was a very tight situation.
I pulled the looped end of the fishing line out of the way for the time being.
I then wound the mainspring clockwise 3.5 turns. It got to a point where it was difficult to turn and hold a grip on it. I kept losing hold of it and it would rapidly unwind and the little teeth of the mainspring bit into my fingers like mad piranhas. On my last attempt, I wound it up clockwise 3.5 turns and with a pair of tweezers, set the fishing line loop onto a hook on the mainspring drum. I let go and the mainspring wound up the extra fishing line, pulling the line taught. There was a enough tension for the carriage to advance with typing. I had a semi-functional typewriter.
I will try to post a video of how I replaced it. Since I am not an expert knot maker, I may have put the knot too close to the right loop. It may come undone; and if I have to replace the drawband again, I’ll film it for posterity.