Straightening Bent Typebars on the Oliver No. 9

I have been experimenting with Vine typewriter videos. Vine is a short-form video sharing service similar to YouTube, but the videos are a maximum of six seconds long. It’s a great format for me since I tend to be long-winded and it compels me To. Cut. To. The. Chase.

I described my Vine clips to my son as sort of boring.  He reassured me, saying that if they are boring, then it’s only six seconds of boring. So here is a loop of six seconds of typing ala Oliver:

I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from typing on that rattly old thing.

A couple months ago, my Oliver arrived in a damaged box that had been sealed with a kiss from the eBay seller and not much else. The typebar towers were mashed so much so that the top 3-4 typebars couldn’t move – they were all tangled together and rubbing each other especially on the right. The pencil holder was crumpled down.



So I straightened things out. The typed text in the “before” shot shows the ransom note typed peculiarity of the bent typebars:


The “After” text is not quite straight, but I like the residual wackiness. It’s a 94 year old typewriter with its own personality, dammit.

The nickel plate on the tower guards and pencil holder was in bad shape – more rust than nickel plate on the back, so I threw them into an Evapo-Rust bath.

IMG_3257 IMG_3259

They came out very clean – a lot of bare metal but better than rust:


I bent the tower guards with padded pliers and worked on the typebars themselves with my bare hands. The typebars are very soft and with very gentle force + trial and error, I was able to disentangle them and straighten out the text. I took it very slow and made small, incremental changes.  Though I live next door to the Metal Master Good Neighbor Brian, I would really kick myself if I broke any of these old typebars.

Long story short: I can now type a fairly respectable letter.

Lastly, here’s a bonus Vine video clip.  In six seconds or less, I remove the carriage from my Oliver No. 9:

8 thoughts on “Straightening Bent Typebars on the Oliver No. 9

    • Though finally working, this Oliver is still a work in progress. She still has a very dirty, very rusty carriage I’d love to take apart and clean (if I can get the rusty little screws off)


    • Consider it done, sir. I’ll hunt down a pencil.

      This is such a fun machine. Thank you again for your help in getting it moving again. Now that I have one working, I am on the lookout for another another cheap, broken-down Oliver.


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