The End of the Line: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area

Sad to report that we didn’t take any fun typewriter hunting excursions to antique malls in Nevada. I was concerned about the roads between Winnemucca, NV and San Mateo, CA.  There are currently 17 active wild fires burning in California. I worried that we might hit road closures in the Sierra.  It was a bit smoky in parts, but otherwise the roads were fine—congested with weekend traffic but fine.

Outside Reno the smoke was pretty bad
photo: daughter Echevarria

We made it to San Francisco, the City of Year Round Wool.  I love you, Fog.  It was 64° as we crossed the Bay Bridge.

photo: daughter Echevarria

We got to the House Without Parents: Bay Area Edition™ where my son greeted us. We delivered the car and accomplished our primary mission.  The old house smelled vaguely of old typewriters – I added a couple more to the aroma:

I felt like I needed some closure to my Typewriters Across America Experience, so I went out walking in the neighborhood to visit some of my old haunts – various thrifts, Goodwill, antique stores.  I saw a really cool van, but no typewriters:

If this van’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’

I drove down the peninsula to an antique mall that I have been to before and saw some typewriters:

Royal KHM – no price

Very clean and pretty Royal Quiet De Luxe – $295

Smith-Corona Classic 12 – $45

Remington portable – no price

Remington 12 – no price

Three out of the five didn’t have a price, so this wasn’t a very informative typewriter safari.

I was restless, so I decided to head up to San Francisco check out an antique and collectibles mall I had heard about.

When Moe closed her shop in San Mateo, she opened a small display at an antiques and colllectibles collective in SF called Stuff.

I took the train up to San Francisco and hiked over:

150 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

It’s big:  two levels with 17,000 sq ft of display space and 60+ vendors.

I found Moe’s case – a distillation of the pure essence of Mozo’s:

Stuff is full of stuff, and they had typewriters.

Corona Standard portable – $145

Alpina SK24 – $120 “as-is”

Pretty little Remington portable $365

Underwood – $575

Immaculate Adler J3 – $59

The Adler came with the factory control sheet, user manual, cleaning set.  Looks like it has an interesting typeface.

Smith-Corona Sterling Cartridge – $65

Sears The Scholar – $65

Sears Best Medalist Power 12 – $49

Power Return!

Brother Charger 11 – $145

Wizard Truetype (rebranded Brother) – $125

I hadn’t meant to buy anything since I was on foot and on the train.  I ended up with two.  Can you guess which two?

Now I need to drive up to San Francisco to retrieve my loot.

Typewriters of Salt Lake City, Utah: Day 6

I’m a bit late posting this installment of Typewriters Across America because of a lack of internet access this morning.  Better late than never!

Friday we traveled from Salt Lake City, UT to Winnemucca, NV.  Before we left Salt Lake, we decided to try an antique mall.

Capital City Antique Mall
959 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

It is a large and well-organized space:

We immediately saw a typewriter:

Gorgeous Royal Futura 800 – $159

And then we saw a whole shelf of typewriters:

Wowie! Let’s go through these.

Olympia SG3 – $79

IBM Wheelwriter – price unknown

Check out the beautiful badge on this Underwood – pure delight:

Underwood SX – $45

Remington Quiet-Riter – $124.99

The Remington portable below was being sold “as-is” and I was tempted.  I tested it and there didn’t seem to be anything really wrong with it besides the poor condition of the decals and lack of a case.  I took a pass:

Remington portable – $39.99 “as-is” but not broken enough for me.

Remington Noiseless Portable – $129

Royal 550 – $69

Olivetti Praxis 48 -$99

Royal Quiet De Luxe (in what looks like a Smith-Corona case) – $169.99

Royal KMG – $139

Underwood Universal – $169

Kind of banged up Royal Quiet De Luxe $124.99

Royal Arrow – no price

Olympia SF – $129

Smith-Corona Secretarial (?) $65

SCM Classic 12 – $59.99

The Underwood below was being sold in “as-is” condition for $199.99.

Underwood M – $199.99 “as -is”

The number and variety of typewriters at this single antique mall suggests that the supply is good here in Salt Lake and judging by the  prices, the market is healthy and hungry for typewriters.

After the antique mall, we drove by the Mormon Temple:

photo: daughter Echevarria

The streets in Salt Lake are incredibly wide, and I’ve read that Brigham Young himself directed them to be built thus so that wagon teams could turn in the streets without “resorting to profanity.”

We then stopped by the Great Salt Lake on our way out of the city.  I have fond childhood memories of a family vacation when we played in the Great Salt Lake. The salinity of the lake is so high that you can’t sink – you just float and bob in the water. This lady gets the Great Salt Lake exactly right.  It’s stinky and buggy, but so fun.

After that we hit the road for Nevada. We raced past salt flats that ran for miles in every direction.

photo: daughter Echevarria

After we entered Nevada, we noticed that it was getting hazier and hazier.  By the time we reached our hotel, the air was gray with smoke.

Fire season is a terrible thing in the western states. In summer and into the early fall,  the vegetation turns dry, the winds begin to blow, and the fires start. Right now there are several active fires burning in California.

In Winnemucca, a smoky haze hung over the town.  The hotel lost wi-fi service while we were there because of fires to the west.  I watched a whole troop of sunburned firefighters check into the hotel.

Parts of the road home through the Sierra today were very smoky, but fortunately we encountered no road closures.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of Typewriters Across America: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area.

Day 5: Typewriters of Wyoming (Continued)

Yesterday we started out in Laramie, WY and ended the day in Salt Lake City, UT.  My daughter and I decided to hit a couple antique malls in Laramie before leaving town. It’s a college town (University of Wyoming) and a pretty big city for Wyoming, so the typewriter prospects were good.

Bart’s Flea Market
2401 Soldier Springs Rd, Laramie, WY 82070

Bart’s is a huge standing flea market that occupies what looks like a former grocery store.

Well, this looks promising:

We were greeted at the door by a raccoon: Howdy, pardner!

There were about 50 separate booths, but among them all we could only find one typewriter:

Brother Select-O-Riter – $69.00

Huh. Well, onto the next antique mall:

SALS Antiques
1575 N 4th St, Ste 107,  Laramie, WY 82072

SALS was conveniently located next to a Goodwill. Looks like another old grocery store.

It was huge (almost as big as Bart’s) and packed with interesting stuff. But no typewriters. Not a single one.

The gentlemen at the counter seemed bemused when I asked about typewriters. They rarely got them and the big ones were hard to sell. He had an old black Underwood (very heavy) at home that was broken that he couldn’t sell. He wished he could sell it to me but he didn’t have it at the store.

Another gentleman in the store told me he had three typewriters, but they were in west Laramie and would I like to come see them? I thanked him and told him no, we were just passing through.

My daughter and I then walked next door to see if there was anything at Goodwill. There were no typewriters at Goodwill.

I took the opportunity to yell at some unsupervised kids who were playing in traffic in front of Goodwill. “YOU KIDS: GET OUT OF THE TRAFFIC,” I yelled. That was deeply satisfying. I could do that all day.

We hopped in the car and headed west.  See those snow covered peaks way off in the distance? Those are the Rocky Mountains.  That’s the only time we saw snow covered peaks all day.  Instead we ascended to high flattish-lumpy desert that got progressively more barren as we climbed.

photo: daughter Echevarria

Up, up, up we went and it became increasingly arid. Alkalai flats and sagebrush began to appear. We saw groups of pronghorn antelope.  Sadly no pictures of the pronghorn, but here are some desert horses hanging out.

photo: daughter Echevarria

Out of nowhere popped an oil refinery – like Gas Town in Mad Max.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had mapped out a first stop at an antique store in Rawlins, WY.  It had a pretty little downtown, but many vacant shop fronts.

301 Plaza
420 W Cedar St, Rawlins, WY 82301

Sadly, our destination had gone out of business:

Back in the car.  Fortunately, I had thrift shops mapped out in Rock Springs, WY which is a largish town with a community college.

We were up at about 7,000-8,000 ft. We crossed the Continental Divide twice (long story)

Rock Springs was a bust in terms of typewriters: one thrift shop was closed and two others had no typewriters.  There were lots of empty store fronts in the historic downtown area.

Back on the road.

photo: daughter Echevarria

We couldn’t get a data connection on my phone to research thrifts and antique stores in towns further down the road.  Fortunately, my husband back in Virginia texted us a list of shops in a town called Evanston, WY, so we made a stop.

Some stores on the list were closed (either permanently or for the day), but we found one open:

NU2U Thrift Shop
221 10th St Ste 1, Evanston, Wyoming 82930

This thrift shop is housed in what was formerly the post office and court house:

It’s a grand old building, and it was a little jarring to see the racks and shelves jammed into the space.

The old building directory is still up:

There was one typewriter there – a gray and mustard combo:

Singer (rebranded Smith-Corona) electric – $20

Back in the car for our last bit of road to Salt Lake City, I thought about the typewriters I saw (and didn’t see) in Wyoming. I had hoped to find untapped troves of typewriters in wilds of Wyoming.  I saw just three: one in Cheyenne, one in Laramie, and one in Evanston. Was I looking in the wrong places?

More likely I saw few because they are few and far apart.  It’s a state with low population density – second lowest density state after Alaska with 6 residents per square mile.  Few people = few typewriters. And they’re all spread out. It may be that I actually did pretty good spotting three in Wyoming.

We made our way to Salt Lake City, UT descending the Wasatch mountains into the Great Basin.

photo: daughter Echevarria

This morning we’ll try our luck typewriter spotting in Salt Lake City.

Typewriters of Nebraska and Wyoming: the Fourth Day

We stayed the night in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Before leaving yesterday, we decided to check out an antique mall in town.

Railroad Towne Antique Mall
321 W 3rd St, Grand Island, NE 68801

It was packed with stuff – more than 50 vendors and some with multiple booths on three levels:

However, there was only one typewriter in the whole mall: an S-C Sterling with the margins pushed together so it wouldn’t type.  I fixed the margins and pondered the scarcity of typewriters.

S-C Sterling – $35

I worried that we might be approaching bare spots in terms of typewriter populations.

We hopped back in the car and set off down I-80 through beautiful rural Nebraska.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had mapped out another antique mall to hit in North Platte, NE. After my experience in Grand Island, I kept my expectations reasonable.

North Platte has a beautiful historic downtown area. It was bit empty when we visited, but I feel like it’s on the edge of a renaissance.

Red Roof Antiques
304 E 5th St, North Platte, NE 69101

This was a huge antique mall, full of stuff.

Bingo!  Typewriters ahead!

SCM Coronet Electric – $45

I love the pretty red and cream accents on the Royal Quiet De Luxe below:

Royal QDL – $79.95

Corona Standard portable – $69.95

Brother Cassette Correct-O-Riter II – $12.95

I walked into a room in the back and saw a familiar case:

It was a Lettera 22 upside down in its case. It had one of those Krazy Karriages that don’t stop and go wheeee!  I thought to myself, “I need to take custody of this poor broken thing.”

Underwood-Olivetti Lettera 22 – $37.50

It wasn’t until I was paying for it that I noticed that it had a cursive typeface:

I was very happy after that.  I now have a project to play with in San Mateo.  It has a case, so it will be easy to bring on the plane as a carry-on when I return to Virginia.

Thank you, North Platte. That great grain elevator is formidable.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I found out after we left that North Platte is home to Union Pacific’s Bailey Yards, the largest railroad  yard in the world. Whatta town.

We got back in the car continued west on I-80.  Traveling through Nebraska, we hit a thunderstorm.  I eyed the skies nervously for funnel clouds.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Fortunately it was brief and we skirted the edge of a major storm.

As we approached the Nebraska/Wyoming border, the terrain changed and scrubby pine trees began to appear.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Once in Wyoming, we headed for Cheyenne where I had mapped out an antique mall.

Eclectic Elephant
112 W 18th St, Cheyenne, WY 82001

We were definitely headed west.

There were lots of vendors (40+) but unfortunately just one typewriter to be found:

Remington Noiseless portable – $45 – no case top

However, there was just a whole lot of everything else to be taken in:

This Indian maiden with raccoons occupies a special place in my heart:

Dudes: the 70s were a fertile time for facial hair

We checked out of Cheyenne as another storm was threatening to break out. There were tons of people in town and lots of pedestrians on the street. Cheyenne is a happening place.

Back on the road, the foothills of the Rockies began to make their presence known.

There they are…
photo: daughter Echevarria

They’re getting closer – look at those weird rock formations
photo: daughter Echevarria

Wow – we are really getting into the hills.
photo: daughter Echevarria

We beat the storm and made it to Laramie, WY where we stayed the night. Next up: Salt Lake City, UT.

Typewriters of Iowa and Nebraska: Day the Third

Yesterday we continued our drive through scenic Iowa.

photo: daughter Echevarria

The first stop I mapped out for the day was an antique mall in Des Moines, IA.

Brass Armadillo Antique Mall – Des Moines
701 NE 50th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50313

This was another of these huge spaces with a zillion vendor stalls. We combed the rows methodically.

Underwood standard – $60

This poor old Underwood 5 below was completely frozen with rust. The carriage and keys and everything were immobile.  It actually looks better in this picture than it was.   Could be a nice project machine.

Underwood 5 – $48.00

Sears Cutlass – $29

Royal 10 with a broken drawband – $84.99

Remington Rand KMC – $95

I got really excited when I saw the case below from afar.  I got up to it and it was empty.  It’s for a mimeograph machine (and the mimeograph was nowhere to be seen, just the case).

Rotary Neostyle No. 8-F Mimeograph – case only.

Underwood- $59

Toy typewriter – $15

I turned a corner and ran into this chipper fellow. He was at least 18 inches tall.  How I wanted to bring him home.

Facit store display – $225

Taped to his stand was a Facit button that said, “The future is Facit”.  No arguments here.

I did pick up this Facit button for $8.  I plan to wear this to fancy dress-up typewriter events though I will feel like a bit of a fraud.  I don’t own a Facit, and I have never even gotten to play with one.  Maybe somewhere between here and the SF Bay Area I will find a Facit. I hear that they are really nice.

We continued driving through Iowa and then I started seeing billboards for Walnut: Iowa’s Antique City.  Well, heck.  We can’t miss that.  I knew that we couldn’t stay long.  I am trying to stick to a schedule so that I am not driving when the sun gets low in the sky.  We are heading due west, and afternoon sun in the eyes is hard to take.

So we popped into this adorable little antique town in the middle of Iowa.

This seems like the place.

Between the two malls we popped into, we saw only one typewriter and two toy typewriters:

Very clean Remington Monarch – $120

Toy typewriter – $47

We really needed to make tracks, so we hit the road. I wish we had more time to explore more shops.

We hopped back into the car and headed to Nebraska.  Over the Missouri river we went and we crossed the state line.  Next stop: an antique mall in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Aardvark Antique Mall
5800 Arbor Rd, Lincoln, NE 68517

This was another of those enormous big box antique malls.  The lady at the counter said that there were 250 booths at this mall.

This totally makes sense in terms of supply chain dynamics: antique mall and self storage.

I feel like the typewriters at this antique mall need to branch out colorwise:

Brownish-grayish: Royal KHM – $59

Grayish – SC Super Speed – $49.95

Brownish-grayish: Royal HH – $40

Grayish-Tannish – Remington Standard – $19.99

Grayish: Royal KMG – $59.95

Honestly – I do not need to move those speckled cups and open that case because I know what’s in there: a tannish-grayish Sears Communicator.

Sears Communicator – $65

I just about kissed this S-C  Super Sterling when I saw it because it was definitely blue.

Definitely blue: SCM Super Sterling – $36

We took to the road again and arrived safely at our destination of Grand Island, Nebraska. We made it in before ferocious thunderstorms rolled through.

photo: daughter Echevarria

The drive has been very pleasant thanks to typewriter diversions, agreeable company, good weather, polite drivers, and light traffic.  These roads in Iowa and Nebraska run for miles in front of you. We are heading straight west.

Day 2: Typewriters of Indiana and Illinois

We started out yesterday morning in Ohio and made our way into Indiana.  I have never been in this state before, but Indiana is giving Ohio a run for its money in the municipal water storage tank game.

I had a couple antique malls mapped out in Elkhart, IN.

photo: daughter Echevarria

820 Antiques
820 N Ward St, Elkhart, IN 46516

Royal Companion used as a jewelry hanger.

Why not for sale?  Are you fattening it up for…

Oh. OK.

This calls for an Emmett Kelly Sad Clown.

Let’s cleanse our palates with some other typewriters:

A very clean and sweet S-C Sterling – $45

Underwood standard – $40

Here’s the complete package: fun and terrible and somehow impressive in what it can do.

Buddy-L Easy-Writer 220 with original box – $37

Read T. Munk’s funny blog post about an Easy-Writer 300 »

Pretty Smith-Corona Sterling – $45

Around the corner in Elkhart was another antique mall.

Antiques On Beardsley
816 W Beardsley Ave, Elkhart, IN 46514

This unassuming storefront was the face of an enormous 11,000K sq ft antique mall.

Royal KMG – $65

L.C. Smith No. 8 – $60

I loved this Adler Special and the graceful paddle of a carriage return lever, but it was out of my price range:

Adler Special – $250.00

You are special.

We hit the road again and survived the truck-infested waters of I-94 south of Chicago.

Fake you out: the truck in front of us was being towed; photo: daughter Echevarria

I breathed easier once we left the big city freeways behind and again entered the green farmland of Indiana and Illinois.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had one more antique mall mapped out for the day in Geneseo, IL, a beautiful little town with two enormous windmills.

photo: daughter Echevarria

C & S Antique Mall
705 W Main St, Geneseo, IL 61254

Pretty little Remington portable in working condition – $39

Royal KMG – $38

S-C Super Speed – $59.95

And there were a couple toy typewriters, one with the original box:


$29 with original box

We hopped back in the car, crossed the great Mississippi river and entered beautiful Iowa.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Typewriters of Maumee, Ohio

We set off yesterday in a rain storm and made our way through the misty mountains of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

It was a beautiful drive and we landed in the lush green farmlands of Ohio.  Ohio’s municipal water tank game cannot be beat.

I selected a hotel for our first night based on its proximity to two antique malls with late hours.   As soon as we checked into the hotel, we crossed the street and went to check out the first antique mall.

Great Finds in Maumee
1414 S Reynolds Rd, Maumee, OH

We found three typewriters there:

S-C Clipper with broken drawstring $65

Remington portable $115

S-C Classic 12 $95

And this gal.  She was hanging out with the typewriters


We then walked down the road to an enormous antique mall:

Maumee Antique Mall
1552 S Reynolds Rd, Maumee, OH

It was as big as a Target – really, a Super Target.  A gal who worked there said that there are over 200 vendors in the mall.

My daughter and I were a bit overwhelmed by all of it at first, but we broke it down scientifically and went through each row looking for typewriters. My daughter has a good eye and can spot a typewriter case a mile away, even when grouped with luggage.

We found these beauties:

Sears “The Communicator” – $8

S-C Sterling – $40

Royal KMM wide carriage – $64

Brother AX-24 – $10

I saw a couple without ribbon covers – it might be a contagious condition:

Adler J4 – $44

S-C Corsair: $19.99

A very dirty but very nice S-C Silent – $20

Remington Ten Forty with immobile keys – $69.50

Remington Noiseless – $50

Sears Celebrity – $49.99

Remington Model 17 –  $133

Towards the end of our hunting, we saw this row of typewriters:

Nice, clean Underwood for $65

Royal FP – $22.50

Remington Quiet-Riter – $22.50

Smith-Corona something – $22.50

The floral patterned case is such a lovely and refined touch. I can imagine typing at this typewriter in a peignoir, hair in hot rollers, smoking a Virginia Slims.

So that’s about it for typewriters.  We saw A LOT of other things at the Maumee Antique Mall.

I have always had a thing for these ginormous fork and spoon wall combos.  Too bad they won’t fit in the car.

So, that was Maumee, OH. I was hoping to find a Dayton typewriter in among the Hummel figurines, but no luck.  We will see what the next stop has to offer.

Typewriters across America

The Mission: to drive cross-country to deliver a car, a bunch of junk, and two occupants to California

The Secondary Mission: to document typewriters across the US

My Sweet Ride: 2012 Ford Focus with new tires

The Players: a middle aged mother and a teenager with a playlist full of Panic at the Disco

Ports of Call: Maumee, OH! Coralville, IA! Grand Island, NE! Laramie, WY! Salt Lake City, UT! Winnemucca, NV!

my sick set of wheels

My traveling typewriter will be the  Olivetti Lettera 22 – it’s in fine fettle.  I should swap out the ribbon before we leave.

I will begin documenting typewriters here, close to my starting point:

Hospice of Northern Virginia Thrift Store
Falls Church, Virginia

$10 – cartridge style Smith-Corona

I brought the blue Electra 120 home for $10.  It seems to work fine except the ribbon is a bit faint.

Falls Church Antique Annex
Falls Church, Virginia

Cute Remington portable $64 – in working condition

This lovely Dreyfuss Royal QDL is $120 in working condition. It has an interesting keyboard with umlat, circumflex, cedilla, tilde, accents grave and acute, and upside down question mark.  I wonder: is this for Catalan?

After getting briefly distracted by local typewriters, I then focused my attention on packing up junk for the trip and making sure that our ship is seaworthy.

Tales from the Typer recently documented the anxious sense of loss when cellular data is not available on a road trip.  I laughed and nodded, but made a mental note to pick up my TripTik at AAA.

Obviously I am leaving my days of young hip badassery behind and have entered full-on Chico’s territory. I got my AAA TripTik.

So we begin our travels. A journey of 42 hours begins with the slam of a car door.  Onward. I don’t know what we’ll see along the way.

We go until we reach our depot.

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:


A Herd of Wild Typewriters

I really love Moe’s shop. She has such a superb eye for great junk.

I haven’t been in a couple weeks and Whoa, Nellie!  Moe has a new bevy of beauties to check out. Many have small fixable problems.  I’ll take at least a couple home to work on and then bring them back to Moe’s.

1949 Smith-Corona Silent

S/N: 5S101645
Works great. Comes with a case. A little stinky, but what a sweetie.


1920 Oliver No. 9

S/N: 852922
This Oliver has obviously lived a hard life. Dirty, rusty and corroded.  Drawband broken. Worst of all, it has been dropped on its head so it’s very squashed and typebars won’t move. Of course I want to take it home and clean it. Moe really liked the suggestion.  I think Moe is more likely to sell it if it looked better and actually typed.  However, people stopping in at the shop have been going nuts over this Oliver. We don’t see Olivers often here in California – people are quite struck by its strangeness.


L.C. Smith No. 8

Very rusty, corroded, very dirty. Drawband broken. Pieces in a bag are never a good sign. It should be fine though. Bonus: insane horse decal.


Underwood Noiseless

Love this thing. I want to take it home and play with it and look at its insides.


196x SCM Galaxie

S/N: 6T 540518
The typebars are glued to the segment as if someone poured cement or super glue all over the segment. Perhaps WD-40? Otherwise fine. Looks like a fun clean-up. UPDATE: I took it home for a couple hours yesterday and worked on the Galaxie’s frozen segment with denatured alcohol, gently loosening the keys. One of the key lever linkages had popped off when its typebar was in a frozen state.  Semi-pro tip: move the slug all the way to the platen, grab the linkage with a dental tool and re-attach in this position. Don’t try to re-attach from below; it will only end in tears.  Anyhow, the Galaxie is typing great now. So fun. Sorry, TWDB, no SCM datecode to be found.


1956 Royal Quiet De Luxe

S/N: B317581
Carriage not moving- ooops carriage lock on!  OK – all fine, just a little dirty.  Attractive color. This one will move fast. Has a cute tweedy case.


1940 Royal KMM

S/N: KMM-2590373
Dusty but functional.  Love the greenish-blue keys.  Must take home and clean. I want to compare it to my Remington KMC and see who comes out on top.


Home Dreyfuss Repair

Roia works at Mozo’s, and she is a super nice person.  She caught me on my way in and asked me if I could look at her daughter’s typewriter.  It’s a beautiful Dreyfuss Quiet De Luxe that had been working and then suddenly wasn’t.  I examined the machine. The keys weren’t making it to the platen and the space bar was nonfunctional. It was almost as if I were hitting up against a line lock or a mechanical obstruction.  There was an earring caught under the keys – perhaps something had fallen into the guts?

I told Roia that I wasn’t sure I could fix it, but I would look at it at home.


I brought it home, but I was a little nervous.  I like tinkering with my old junkers, but I have never worked on anyone else’s typewriter.

Amazingly, the internal mechanics of the 1948 QDL are virtually identical to my 1939 Royal Aristocrat with the exception of the margin release mechanism. Time for some comparisons.


click image to vewi larger

click image to view larger

After giving the QDL a quick blow-out to remove animal hair and dust bunnies, I set up the two machines on the dining room table and watched the escapement on key strike side-by-side.

What I noticed was that in the QDL, a pawl (?) or dog(?) in the escapement’s workings wasn’t darting in and out to engage the escapement wheel like it did on the Aristocrat.


I spent the evening pondering this and leafing through the D.E. Fox manual’s repair section on Royal portables.

I have a set of dental-like tools that I picked up at the hardware store for about $5. They are great for spring re-attachment and typewriter investigation.


I very carefully but very unscientifically probed with one of my dental tools around the escapement wheel and dog and then *BOING* the little pawl bounced into sight.  Suddenly the escapement was tripping and the wheel was turning and the typewriter was typing. Dumb luck. I threw a new ribbon in her and went to town:


I want to thank my 1939 Royal Aristocrat for helping me get the QDL running again:


This Dreyfuss QDL is quite a looker in her gray flannel suitiness.  I took some pictures before I returned the QDL to Roia.

Roia was really happy that the QDL made a comeback.  I sent the QDL home to Roia’s with instructions for proper care and feeding à la Type the Clouds.

I then spent a couple hours cleaning the Galaxie and when I dropped off the clean Galaxie at Moe’s, I brought the Oliver home with me for cleaning and repair.  Moe’s shop is closed on Monday and Tuesday so I have a couple days to get this thing sort of clean and mostly running.

I do have my work cut out for me. Look at how rusty and mashed this poor thing is:


The Girl from Dresden: Erika M

Foster Typewriter Update: Some weeks ago I swung by my favorite junk shop to check the status of my foster typewriter, the Royal KHM.  Moe the store owner told me that the Royal KHM had sold almost immediately for $50 to a guy who was thrilled with it and was taking it with him to Thailand.  I am pleased on many levels: it went fast; the guy who bought it loved it; and the Royal KHM would now be living abroad. There is at least another 75 years of typing in that Royal KHM and now she gets to see the world.

Another machine that arrived recently at Moe’s is a 1940 Erika M with serial number 867592/M. It’s a beautiful thing (despite a missing key top) and types beautifully. I didn’t bring it home as it is way too clean and functional for my tastes. 🙂



It has a QWERTY key board, but German characters and a £/$ key.


Serial number is located under the space bar: 867592/M which makes it a 1940 Erika M.


There’s a Heidelberg dealer’s label on the inside of the case:


And how did this German girl get here to Moe’s junk store in California? With a QWERTY keyboard. Perhaps this was “war booty” brought home from Germany.  The key tops are different colors suggesting replacement at some point. However, the “Y” is the same color as the German characters. I examined the type slugs carefully and the slugs that may have been replaced seem identical to the other slugs. If re-soldered, whoever re-soldered them did an expert job.


The name Dresden fills me with some sadness, bringing to mind the bombing of the city in 1945.  I recently re-read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five – it’s really more absurd and disturbingly tragic the second time around. Vonnegut drew on his experiences as a POW in Germany and his unlikely survival of the firebombing of Dresden. The events of Dresden haunt both writer and his main character – how do you make sense of an experience like that? How does a city recover from devastation on that scale?

Like a Tralfamadorian, I will turn to happier moments in time: Moe at the junk shop had a 1920 Underwood Models 3,4,5 user manual for me. I don’t have an Underwood, but I would never turn down typewriter ephemera.


Unfortunately, it’s missing its front cover with its machine diagram, so it’s limited in its usefulness.

Happily, it does have the address of Underwood Typewriter Company printed inside (30 Vesey St., NYC) and a nice picture of the building inside the manual.


What does 30 Vesey St. look like today? I like to put that kind of thing into The Google.


It appears that the building still stands and there’s a deli next door. I would love to wander around 30 Vesey and see if there is a forgotten closet full of typewriter-related stuff. Maybe I would find the cover to my Underwood manual.

Also, in other happy news: the Royal Aristocrat is still holding up.  Her JB Weld Steelstik attached key tops are hanging in there.  I sent her across the street to the neighbor’s house where the resident 9 year-old and a bunch of friends did field testing of the machine. I am planning to bring the Aristocrat out for the street block party later in August. We have about twenty kids on the block between the ages of 2 and 12 who will be testing the keys’ structural integrity and typing up a report.

Inmates of the Junk Shop: Typewriters Doing Time

Here’s a look at residents in detention in my neighborhood junk shops near San Francisco. Unfortunately, I did not post bail on any of these beauties. Most of the prices were beyond my current cheap thrills limit. I lucked out with my first six typewriters – they were all free to very affordable.

I had some free time last week, so I decided to go typewriter sightseeing.  There were no typewriters at either Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul so I headed over to the town junk / antique stores. First stop: an antique shop with three typewriters:

196x Underwood 21

There was a huge piece of luggage that looked like it had a typewriter in it. I popped the case to check it out.



Oooh! Italian!


It sort of worked. I was unable to appreciate the fine Olivetti engineering since the keys were so gummy I had to manually return them to the basket with each stroke. The price was a non-starter for me and it was really HUGE for a portable.  This Underwood 21 is about as portable as my KMC – it would be better with wheels.

193X Remington 5
$95.00 – $125.00 (two price tags)


Neat looking typewriter with swell curves. Seemed to work (ribbon dried out so I couldn’t get a type sample), but there was something funky about the margins which I couldn’t figure out and the keys were pretty sticky. I do love the red “Self Starter” button:



1948 Smith-Corona Silent
Price unknown
S/N 4S204446


I love the looks of these, but this one was in terrible, terrible shape. Looks like someone must have sat on the keyboard as I could see the imprint of buttocks on the sunken keys. Carriage string snapped. Bent and gummed up keys.  I didn’t ask the price on this S-C Silent. I feel like I should go back and ask if only to put it in protective custody. When researching the Floating Shift mechanism online, I ran into a website where someone had made jewelry out of a Floating Shift key. 😦

Next stop – thrift shop down a few blocks away.

195X Smith-Corona Silent Super


In great shape and typed well. It had a San Jose business sticker:



193X Underwood Universal


Gorgeous machine in fine typing shape – with those nifty Underwood spool covers.

Now onto one of my walk-to neighborhood junk shops:

1970 Brother Echelon 89
S/N L0963629


This one triggers some heavy 70s nostalgia in me with that simulated wood grain trim – it’s the Country Squire of typewriters. It typed fine, but I wasn’t thrilled with the sound and feel. I do love those big chunky keys though. And the wood grain trim. Ah, the 70s!

And lastly to my favorite walk-to neighborhood store.  This is where I got my Corona Four, Skyriter and Torpedo. The owner is very flexible about pricing.


I could bring a lot of things home from this place if I had less restraint.

Here is a Burroughs cousin for $50:


I spotted this bevy of beauties:


Well, helloo ladies!

They were on a shelf almost out of reach.

196X Smith-Corona Electra 120
S/N 6LE2 -120200



I am generally not an electric typewriter person though I have bitter-sweet memories of the Selectrics of my youth. This Electra 120 is on the fugly side, but she won me over once I plugged her in – so much fun to play with.

1965 Olympia SG3
S/N: 7-1349732
Price: $30


This Olympia is a honey. Large Marge. I am worried that I might bring her home at some point. I kind of love everything about her except I couldn’t get the right margin to work. And she is HUGE – a mountain of a typewriter. I might be able to talk the junk store owner into a price reduction.  I am enamored of the double spacing key.


And she’s just filthy dirty.  I could spend so many happy hours cleaning up this Olympia.

196X Royal FP
No price


I couldn’t test this one as the ribbon was tangled, I couldn’t pop the lid and the left Magic Margin wouldn’t hold.  Another day perhaps.

Update: I stopped in an antique store in next town over yesterday and saw this:

195x Royal Quiet De Luxe
Price: $375.00


Wow – knock out color and very clean. The price is…more than I am budgeting for typewriters right now. The font is beautiful:


That’s all for my sightseeing – I added the Brother Echelon 89 and the Smith-Corona Electra 120 to the Typewriter Database as the database didn’t yet have photo examples of these fine machines.

Note: this post is partly inspired by Richard Polt’s Typewriter Safaris – they are very entertaining reads:

The Typewriter Revolution: Photo safari
The Typewriter Revolution: Sunday’s safari
The Typewriter Revolution: January’s safari and guessing game