Garage Band

The  marathon of holiday events that stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is pounding along, and I am gamely holding my own.  Others may drop out from exhaustion; but I am a solid long-distance runner, and I will win this holiday season.  To that end, I hosted a Holiday Typewriter Open House.

My husband and I like to host a holiday open house at some point in December for family, friends and neighbors.  We’re shy types, but we like people.  Hosting an open house is a shy person’s social dodge: you know most everybody you invite and they know you and your peculiarities. If you’re feeling shy, you don’t have to talk to anybody because you’re “busy” doing party maintenance. You wind up the event and then watch it play out in the safety and comfort of your own home.

When I heard there was a DC-area typewriter meet up in Sterling, VA the same day as our holiday party, I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend the Sterling event. But then I thought, huh, what if—what if I invite the typewriter people over to our open house in Arlington after the Sterling typewriter meet up?  I’ll set a lure with food and drink and tables of typewriters in the garage and see what I can catch. That sounded good to me and my husband, and it was a done deal.  Many thanks to Jonathan Typewriter Posey who publicized both December 14th events on our group’s Facebook page.

In preparation for the open house, I cleaned and organized the garage – no small feat.

I put down some old area rugs to help with sound absorption—typewriters can kick up quite a racket and the garage is a hard, echo-y space.

I borrowed a few tables from neighbors, made some typewriter pads from rug scraps and rug pads, and started to set out my collection of 13 former junkers.

I had intended to ready the collection in the days before the open house, but the path to hell…etc. As I was setting out typewriters the night before the party, the issues of my former junkers began to rear their ugly heads.  These machines don’t get as much exercise as they should, so beyond cold and sticky keys, there were weird behaviors to contend with.

The SCM Coronet Electric needed de-gummifcation of a few keys since it was doing that thing where keys strike over and over and over again.

I popped off the bottom plate, washed the sublever pivot areas with mineral spirits and all was good.

The rebuilt Regal/ Royal 10 was good to go except for the line lock not engaging. It needed a good wipe down of the line lock mechanism underneath so that it rocked cleanly, and all was good.

Next was a Royal KHM that Mr. E sold me at some point.  It was very dirty, but typing like the proverbial champ except that it needed a heavy, “hot” touch to prevent letter piling of certain characters.  It responded to cleaning of the segment and a good workout.

This blue Silent-Super was more problematic.  It was blowing past its left margin on carriage return.  As you may recall, this typewriter has a traumatic past, having been banged around a bit. I think the left margin stop needs to be “formed” some, but I couldn’t fix it enough to reliably catch.  Lesson learned: start testing your typewriters long before a type-in.

My Voss De Luxe was only able to type in red. The ribbon vibrator was catching on a cracked plastic card guide. Oy. Couldn’t fix that on short notice.

And the carriage release button on the Rheinmetall KsT was sticking and not responding to cleaning. Yikes – that’s one of my favorites!

And last but not least, I wanted to have my new Underwood 5 running for the party. I picked it up at Herman’s in October when it was in pretty rough condition.

I did some preliminary cleaning and replaced the platen and feed rollers with polyolefin heat shrink tubing.  It is typing pretty well, but not perfectly. The front feed rollers need another layer of heat shrink for paper to feed well.

The rest of my typewriters were solid and dependable: the pink Silent-Super, Adobe Rose East the Royal QDL, a Torpedo 18a, a Consul 232, a Royal Signet, and a Hermes 3000.

I hung a sign over the front door, turned on the lights and got ready for the guests.

photo credit: Glenn Gravatt

The first to arrive were the typewriter people who had attended the event in Sterling, VA. Then the neighbors and friends came in and then finally the extended family started drifting in.

photo credit: John Askey

photo credit: Glenn Gravatt

A typospherian from Pennsylvania, John A. brought an Oliver 9 with with a detached drawstring and broken mainspring.  He kindly left it with me to play with.  The Oliver has lovely decals and all the bits that often seem to get lost on Olivers: the spool caps, the wooden spool cores, even the little metal drawstring hook.

Favorite moments of the evening:

  • The arrival of the typospherians carrying their typewriters—like the entrance of a conquering army.
  • My husband patiently untangling a few typebars and reassuring a distressed neighbor who thought she had broken the typewriter.
  • A young grandson typing on his great-grandmother’s Regal/Royal 10 that I had repaired. It had been used in the great-grandmother’s shop in Winchester back in the day.
  • My 88 year old father-in-law rattling off his ocho apellidos vascos after meeting a local typewriter enthusiast with Spanish roots.

Many. many thanks to Glenn Gravatt and John Askey for taking pictures and proving that this thing really happened.  I lost track of my phone and my head and didn’t take a single photo!

It was not so much a “worlds collide” evening  as a pleasant meshing of the things I love: family and friends and typewriters and food and funny stuff.  We are doing this again—for sure.

The typer hosters. Photo credit: Glenn Gravatt

Party On

In mid-October,  I attended the Typewriter Jamboree at Herman’s in West Virginia.  This is my third time there, and I get so much out of it.  I had a really good time re-connecting with those I’ve met before, meeting new typewriter people, geeking out over interesting typewriters and repairs, laughing my fool head off over typewriter-related antics.  Really, where else would you get all that kind of typewriter-related fun?

Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  It was huge crowd—the biggest group at Herman’s ever, I think. I took a couple pictures absent-mindedly, neither of which capture the event or its energy.  There’s a Twitter feed I enjoy called Uninteresting Photographs and my pictures would not be out of place there. Sorry, people.  This is all I have from what was in reality a very exciting time.

Here’s one picture. This is an awards ceremony, but it looks like Two Turntables and a Microphone with Richard Polt throwing in a funky dance move:

And here is an uninteresting photo of a presentation on 3D printing that was really terrific.

Ok, poor photojournalism notwithstanding, I brought home a couple typewriters: a distressed 1922 Underwood 5 and a super cute made-in-Holland 1962 Royal Signet with typing issues.

The Signet had typebars sticking up on the outer segment that collided with other typebars.

Royal Signet with typebars that stick up

I thought at first that there were bent connectors and tried adjusting the little wires that connect the sublevers with the typebars.  I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled. And then I thought, what if it’s just dirty?  The segment was clean as a whistle, but this area was gummy:

Cleany, cleany, cleany and hey those typebars behaved themselves and quietly returned to their proper homes with each key stroke.

I really enjoy watching Phoenix Typewriter’s typewriter repair videos —they are so relaxing after a long day in the salt mines.  Duane J. uses automotive-strength lacquer thinner in a little squeeze bottle, so I got some of my own:

I cleaned those nooks and crannies very carefully, making sure I didn’t get any lacquer thinner on the exterior paint.

The Underwood 5  from Herman’s that Mr. E gave me for almost nothing will also need an intensive cleaning.

Let’s take a look at this Underwood 5.  Cracked platen: check:

Crusty typebars: check.

Generalized ancient dirt: check.

Dog food stuck in the guts: check. At least I hope that’s dog food.

Yes, this looks like my type of machine. Weirdly, it still sort of types.  I love these old tanks.

The holidaze are fast approaching and as people of my generation (Gen X: the Coolest Generation, the forgotten middle child of generations) say, “Party On!”

On December 14 there’s a DC area meet up at the Sterling, VA public library from 12-3PM.  Following that,  I am hosting a casual drop-in holiday open house from 4PM – 9PM for family, friends, neighbors (Lawful Good) and that unpredictable element, the typoshpherians of the DC area (Chaotic Good).  I think it should be fine—low probability of swearing, fistfights, and police activity.

Many thanks to Jonathan Typewriter Posey who posted the events on the Facebook DC/VA/MD Antique Typewriter Collectors page.  I don’t use Facebook much, so I am indebted to him:

If you are here in the DC area and want to stop in at my place for the Holiday Open House & Typewriter Party, let me know.  I can send details, or you can check the events page if you are a member of the DC/VA/MD group.

The open house provides me with an opportunity to pull out my small collection of mostly portables, many of which don’t get enough exercise and are getting flabby and outta shape.  Here’s a list of typewriters I am going have on hand—most are durable former junkers and will be suitable for a mixed-age audience:

  • 1956 Smith Corona Silent-Super (pink)
  • 1957 Smith Corona Silent-Super (blue)
  • 1964 Voss De Luxe
  • 1963 Hermes 3000
  • 1957 Torpedo 18a
  • 1961 Rheinmetall KsT
  • 1955 Royal QDL
  • 1962 Royal Signet
  • 1967 Consul 232
  • 1937 Royal 10/Regal rebuild
  • 1940 Royal KHM
  • 1970ish SCM Coronet
  • 1922 Underwood 5 (if I can get it running)

I think I have another couple I could dig out, and I hope to have that Underwood 5 up and running. I left my big standards in California with my son, but I wish I had them for the party in Arlington, especially the Remington KMC, the Olympia SG3, the Olivetti Lexikon 80. They are crowd pleasers.

I worked this past weekend, organizing my garage which is where I’ll set out tables and typewriters for the open house.

Party On!

Me, the world’s oldest teenager, sings at the top of my lungs:

Grist for the Mill from Herman’s

Last weekend, I drove out from DC to West Virginia to attend the Spring Typewriter Jubilee at Herman’s. About 50 typewriter enthusiasts were getting together, and how could I say no to that kind of good times energy?

I stopped by antique stores on my way out to West Virginia and saw lots of adding machines but not too many typewriters.

Cumberland, MD

I got to Herman’s in West Virginia, and lots of things happened. My recollections of the Typewriter Jubilee are a bit scattered: I remember typewriters and conversations about typewriters and generalized nuttiness.  As often happens at these typewriter festivals, I may have been under the influence of PB B’laster fumes. I took a few pictures with my phone, so that will help as I try to piece together a coherent report of the event.

When I first got to Herman’s, I helped Kansas Typewriter (Alison D.) set up her tent for the night. It was enormous.  The tent package said it could hold up to 40 Boy Scouts.  Here is Alison swooning about halfway through the set-up:

Alison had arrived from Kansas with a trunk-load of cute typewriters. She had this:

It is Adobe Rose‘s twin sister, and now she is mine. I christened her “Adobe Rose East”.

I toured Herman’s fabulous collection:

This is our host, Herman. This is not Gerald Cha:

On Saturday, there was a panel discussion on typewriters:

And there were presentations:

  • Mike B. on ribbons and spools – lots of great information and tips
  • Evan B. on keytop removal and replacement. I wish I had those specialty tools.
  • Jonathan P. on the Hammond—so many twists and turns in this story!
  • Richard P. on the Hogar, a rare Spanish index typewriter

Mike B. and his collection of spool types

Evan uses a 1/2″ punch to cut out his keytop replacement legends. Brilliant!

Of course people brought some gorgeous typewriters to Herman’s.  Nicholas J.  arrived with a carload of beautiful German typewriters.  One of them was this Olympia 8.  Here he is demonstrating how easy it is to remove the carriage:

I was mesmerized by the silken shine of the Olympia and got into a long discussion with Nicholas about his polishing techniques.   He made me a cleaning cloth impregnated with shavings of polishing compounds.

Herman’s wife had wisely skipped town while the Typewriter Jubilee was going down, and Herman’s friend Ginger stepped in to help out in the kitchen.  Ginger eyed the cloth impregnation with some suspicion, but while Nicholas worked she told me about the 15 foot python that was  terrorizing Sabraton. Ginger was mollified after Nicholas cleaned her sink and faucet area and polished it to a mirror finish with his impregnated cloth.

There was also a typewriter beauty contest, and the Olympia 8 tied with this incredible Torpedo.

And there was a speed typing contest.  I was horrified to see Richard P. hauling the Crushed Lettera up to the contest table, but he crushed the competition and got first place in the speed typing contest with the Crushed Lettera.   Big WHEW.

Two of the three editors of the Cold Hard Type volumes (Paradigm Shifts and Escapements) were at the Typewriter Jubilee, and they kindly signed my copies:

I stayed through Sunday morning, and before I left, Herman gave me the requisite fly fishing tutorial. The correct positioning is “11:00 O’Clock, 1:00 O’Clock”.  I now feel confident packing my cooler and heading up to Alaska for salmon.

There are more pictures of the Jubilee on the Antique Typewriter Collectors Facebook group.

Besides Adobe Rose East, what did I bring home?  A bunch of typewriters that need some tender loving care, that’s what. There is a beautiful Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab with a sliding carriage that doesn’t catch. It’s on my work bench and I am making progress – though I have no idea how technicians ever serviced these things.  The escapement is hidden deep and inaccessible under the carriage.

I also got a Consul 232 with a missing ribbon cover. I think I will fashion an artsy replacement out of paper maché.  Though kind of rusty and beat-up, this Consul is amazingly strong and solid for an ultra-portable. Because of its size and condition, I thought it would be sort of rattly – but no, it’s very good typing.

This Royal Safari has a broken key lever.  I haven’t played with a Safari before, so that will be an education. If anyone has a parts machine Safari that I can get a key lever from, let me know.

Mr. E told me this Royal KHM has “issues”. Come on in, KHM!

And I got a good and dirty Remington portable – a type I have limited experience with.  This should be a really fun project:

I have some work to do here.  I’m starting with the Underwood portable and Consul 232, and that should keep me busy for a bit.

Typewriter Jamboree at Herman’s

My brain is kind of pickled by pop culture and the internet, so in my failing state, I made this.  I apologize for acting like somebody’s mom who just discovered memes:

I had to do it; her look of knowing approval just kills me.

The big Typewriter Jamboree (AKA the 11th Annual Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Rendezvous hosted by Herman Price AKA Hermanpalooza) was last weekend. Before I set out for Herman’s on Friday, I packed up a couple donations for Wordplay Cincy: a real nice Olympia SM3 and a Lettera 22 with script typeface that I bought in North Platte, Nebraska. The Lettera was very sticky and had the gummy escapement problem that causes the carriage to slide willy-nilly, so I did quick clean.

I hit the road on a beautiful fall day and headed west out of DC.

Into the mountains I went:

I reached Morgantown, WV and then made my way to Herman’s where Friday arrivals were to congregate. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Good grief – the party was already rocking and rolling Friday afternoon.  Porta-Potties at the ready.

This is a beautiful Oliver 9 rehab in fire-engine red:

In the evening I headed out into Morgantown proper which is a nice little college town with a very happening nightlife:

I saw a manhole with my favorite exasperation exclamation.  It is frequently heard coming from me, bent over a typewriter:

Saturday dawned chilly and gray.  The rain started.

It got muddy. Like Woodstock, but with less LSD.

Fortunately we had a huge tent for presentations and vats of hot coffee (courtesy of Mrs. Price who deserves a medal for Extreme Hostessing Skills)

Herman formally welcomed us with jokes. He is very funny – his comedic timing is pro-level.

And then came the presentations: Typewriter First Aid using the gun technique which I ate up.  It was so good – I picked up a bunch of good ideas.

The Brumfield clan brought a slew of typewriters – many from the  Magdalinski Collection of South Bend , IN.  Brian B’s presentation on the incredible work his family did in saving many of the typewriters in the collection was riveting.

I didn’t know much about Royal electrics, but I came away with a new appreciation of them after Ian B’s presentation.  Some of these pictured are extremely rare.

There was a typewriter beauty contest:

Number 88, the Pittsburgh won:

A lot of people came with business cards. I’ll have to make up some for myself.

I talked typewriters with people all day Saturday until I was hoarse. I picked up so many excellent tips on typewriter repair and cleaning. It was a novel feeling, talking typewriters with people equally passionate about the crazy things. There were so many typospherian rock stars in the flesh at the gathering – I felt a bit shy. I was thisclose to asking for pictures with them, but I chickened out.

Saturday evening, mid-sentence in a discussion about Smith Corona 5 series, I felt the abrupt onset of overwhelming exhaustion.  A career introvert, the day had got the best of me and I cratered.  I slunk back to the silence of my hotel room to recover and work through the conversations of the day.

I had to leave early Sunday morning, so I missed the speed typing contest.  However, other attendees posted pictures of the Jamboree on the Facebook Antique Typewriter’s Collectors group page.

Resolutions for next year at Herman’s

  • Plan better so that I can stay for Sunday’s events
  • Talk to all the people I didn’t get a chance to pester this year
  • Get pictures with people
  • Bring business cards with contact information
  • Encourage Herman to open his swimming pool (just kidding!)

Early Sunday I returned to the DC area – a light early snow blanketed the mountains.

I came back with three delightful junkers that were essentially freebies: two Royal 10s and a LC Smith No. 8, all with “issues”.

Thank you, Mr. E and Darcy!

The L.C. Smith No. 8 is a pretty early one, serial number 278424-8.  It’s a 1916 which would make it the earliest No. 8 at TWDB.

Side note:  Typewriter Database Version Epsilon is looking pretty snazzy! It’s so nice to have the mobile and desktop versions united.

The L.C. Smith was rusted solid – boat anchor/doorstop condition.  I blew out the crud and doused it with PB Blaster penetrant and left it to reek quietly in the garage while I unpacked.

When I came back, I gently tried to move the carriage.  It moved with crusty squeaks.  With patience and petroleum-based penetrants, I gently freed the stiffened parts.   Using my hands and a soft touch, I delicately tried to move the rust-frozen parts that should move: typebars, ribbon vibrator, universal bar, sublevers, carriage return, back space.  I got the letter “T” moving.  The slug met the platen, there was a ba-dump as the escapement did its thing, and the typewriter moved a space.

Here’s the “T” and space bar working it:


Now that I am sure that the LC Smith can type, I want to clean it thoroughly.  I wish I could do the kind of work that Words Are Winged does – he’s amazing. I may do a careful Evapo-rust/cleaning dunk if I can get the keys and platen off.  The platen is soldered on (!) Someone lost the screw and decide to affix the sliding platen holder with a blob of solder. Oh well.  Onward.


*Postscript to Anne ’88: drop me a line at the email address below so I can come pick up your typewriters.

House Call

A little over a week ago, I went down to The Shop at Flywheel Press to drop off the cleaned-up Underwood Jewell and to work on typewriters that needed maintenance before the big Love on the Run Valentine’s Day event.


I brought along a little repair kit with tools, mineral spirits and new ribbons. The ten or so typewriters at the Shop were in “sort of” functional condition. There were a lot of sticky keys. There were some unresponsive keys due to popped linkages. Many of the typewriters needed new ribbons. I brought red and black ribbons that I order in bulk from Oregon.


The Underwood Jewell is back in the harness

There was a SCM Galaxie that was missing a couple key tops. I made some temporary key tops for it so that fingers wouldn’t get stabbed during the Love on the Run event. I used synthetic cork – natural cork was a bit too crumbly.

I cut to the right size and shape with an utility knife:



I bet you can’t tell which two are replacements 🙂

These were temporary for the Valentine’s event. I bought some SCM key tops on eBay and swapped them out. They are a little yellow, but they look better than the cork.


Does anyone need a replacement SCM-style key top?  I have lots left over, so let me know.


The Curse of the Clevis

I believe that the y-shaped linkage that attaches to the individual typebars is called a clevis.  I had seen snapped clevises before on a SCM Galaxie with a cemented segment at Moe’s shop. A couple linkages had popped off because the typebars were immobilized in the segment, possible victims of WD-40 syndrome. Once the typebars were freed with cleaning, I was able to re-attach the linkage (with some difficulty).

This is what I am calling a clevis linkage:


This is how a clevis linkage should attach to a typebar:


Four out of the five Smith-Corona typewriters at the Shop had one or more snapped typebar linkages. I worked on a Pennecrest Concord (a re-badged S-C), two SCM Galaxies, and a Smith-Corona Sterling. I got most of them re-attached before the Love on the Run event.

This Reddit thread has some good advice for re-attachment of popped linkages: take a small, thin screwdriver and insert it into the “Y” of the clevis.  Turn the screwdriver to open the “Y” and move the linkage into position near the hole at the base of the typebar. Get the linkage into position and then rotate your screwdriver so that the “Y’ flattens and the linkage snaps to the typebar. I found it easiest to work from beneath the typewriter for linkages at the bottom of the segment( e.g. “G”) and from above for linkages nearer the top (e.g. “A”)

The Case of the Cloven Clevis

After I re-attached the snapped linkages, I saw that the “M” key on a SCM Galaxie had a broken clevis – it was missing half of the “Y”. What to do?


I think a thin piece of metal and some duct tape are in order. Stay with me here.


I cut the stainless tie strapping to a piece about an inch long.  Using a nail, I punched a hole in the end.


I then attached it to the broken clevis with duct tape.


This is probably the worst looking repair of my short career, but it’s working and the letter “M” types again.  It will get a full workout from kids at camps and classes, so we will see how this holds out over time.

The Love on the Run event at Flywheel Press was a great success:

My daughter and I stopped in at the event. There was a pleasantly diverse crowd of old and young – little tiny kids, college-types, parental-types, retired folks.  It was so gratifying to walk in and see someone typing out love notes on the Underwood Jewell.

My daughter found herself attracted to a script Olivetti Lettera 32.  She typed out a love letter in Cat language: