An Old Remington Rand Typewriter at the Curb

My neighbor was getting rid of an old, broken typewriter that he had picked up at a garage sale. My daughter spyed it lying derelict on the curb as we were walking home from school. She begged me to let her bring it home and I reluctantly agreed. Despite the fact that we don’t need any more broken machines in our home, the simple mechanical beauty of the typewriter spoke to me and we hauled it inside. It weighed a ton – probably 25 lbs or more. Initially skeptical, my husband joined our fascinated investigation of the old thing.


On inspection, it was worse than it looked. It seemed irrevocably broken.

Major problems with our curbside rescue:

  1. Broken carriage drawband – my husband noticed some threads hanging from a broken strap under the right side of the carriage. The remainder of the torn drawband was still wound on the mainspring on the left side of the carriage. This resulted in the carriage not advancing when the keys or space bar were struck. Update: read about the fix.
The suspicious stray threads hanging from under the carriage

The suspicious stray threads hanging from under the carriage

  1. Frozen and stuck keys – the internal workings of the typewriter were a gloppy mess of oily dust. Almost all the keys were very sticky, failing to hit the platen roller or failing to return after being struck. A few of the keys were completely frozen, stiff and unmoving. Update: I cleaned them and got them moving again.
  2. Stuck margins – left margin was stuck near the center of the page and I couldn’t seem to adjust either the right or left margins. Update: I learned about KMC and how it works.
  3. Completely dried out typewriter ribbon – it was very crackly and dry. Update: I replaced the ribbon with 1/2″ nylon ribbon from the office supply store.
  4. Bell doesn’t ding as you near the end of the line. Update: I fixed the bell!
  5. Missing T key – the bare stem was rusty and sharp – could be painful typing “the”. Update: Swapped a key.
  6. Dirty type hammers – many of the letters were filled with gunk. Update: cleaned them up and now the type is much crisper.

It has been many years since I have used a manual typewriter. Growing up, we had an old Royal, probably circa 1940 on which I typed out many high school papers. I did not experience electric typewriters until I hit college.

My husband, daughter and I poked at the old typewriter, re-familiarizing ourselves with basic operations. Thanks to the internet, we found lots of general information on manual typewriter operation and soon we were able to identify many of the part names and functions.

Even in its broken state, we had a lot of fun with the typewriter.  We manually pulled left on the carriage to make it advance and typed out faint messages with the keys that worked:

The P and the O worked very well so me typed out "POOP" a lot.

The P and the O worked very well so we typed out “POOP” a lot.



8 thoughts on “An Old Remington Rand Typewriter at the Curb

    • Good to hear that you are preserving your grandmother’s typewriter. Our Remington KMC was our first typewriter and is still one of my all-time favorites – I love its smooth, solid touch.


  1. Michelle says:

    I just purchased this same typewriter for my daughter. We were wondering the year on our typewriter. Model number is J1410983.


  2. John Tapp says:

    I have a 1947 Remington Rand machine that once belonged to the U. S. military. I bought it from an antique store. When I got it home, I fixed exactly the very same problems–only I replaced the entire set of keys with blank keytops. I use it to see how my touch-typing technique is holding out. I used to call this machine “the Blind Bat,” but now, with the gray of the keys and the black of the rest of the typewriter, I call it “Batman.” I’m even thinking of coloring the back of the machine a medium blue to match the Batman cape.


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