Typewriter Drawband Repair on a Shoestring

It is Labor Day holiday here in the US, and I labored happily over my typewriters.  I tinkered with the Fox No. 24, got stuck and decided to wash my collection of typewriter rags while I thought through the problem.


Clean and ready for typewriter duty

I then read Richard Polt’s very interesting post on his Adler Universal that shows the ease with which the carriage is removed – and that jogged my memory. I needed to take my Lexikon 80 apart and fix the drawband.

The drawband on my Olivetti Lexikon 80 had slipped off recently while I was moving it.  I had replaced the drawband with fishing line not too long ago after it broke, and I worried that the slippery fishing line might slide off the mainspring drum at some point since the drum had no lip to hold the draw string on. Well, it did just that when I was moving it inside after the block party.


Replacement fishing line draw string that slipped off

I decided to try my luck with shoelace since it would be a bit closer to the original draw strap material.  I bought some flat black shoelaces at the grocery – $1.79.


I cut a piece of shoelace about 17 inches long – which is about the length of the original draw band:


I had held onto the Lexikon 80’s two original drawstrap hooks for sentimental reasons. I found them and pried their little jaws open – these secured the old drawstrap.


I made sure that the sharp triangular teeth were poking up – these grab the draw band. I inserted my shoelace and tapped the hooked retainer closed. I repeated this on the other end of my shoelace draw band.

I then removed the cover and carriage from the Lexikon 80 – see Rob Bowker’s great tutorial – and pulled off the old detached draw string. Using a bamboo skewer (I will always be indebted to Robert Messenger for his documentation and use of the bamboo skewer in drawband replacement) and fed the shoelace through to the mainspring.

Here is my shoelace hooked on the right side of the carriage:


And here is the shoelace hooked onto the mainspring drum (I wound the mainspring about 3.5 rotations before attaching the draw strap:


Super classy!  We’ll see if it holds up and doesn’t slip off.

While I was replacing the drawband, I reflected on the typewriter drawbands that I have known:

I like junkier typewriters, so many of my typewriters have had drawband problems.

The Lexikon 80 is happy to be functional again – the new shoelace drawband is very handsome. I had hoped to make more progress on my Fox 24, but overall it was a pleasant holiday spent tinkering with typewriters.

17 thoughts on “Typewriter Drawband Repair on a Shoestring

  1. Tyler Anderson says:

    Shoelace was the first drawstring repair material I ever ended up using (On my Ol’ Royal 10). I have since, ironically enough, begun to appreciate fishing line over it, due to the strength, cheapness, and thinness of the line.


    • I am partial to fishing line as well – the heavy duty line I have been using holds its shape and doesn’t stretch. I just need to class it up a bit – maybe color my green and white line with black Sharpie


  2. Deb says:

    Am in the process of revamping an LC Smith 8. All was going well until I tried to replace the draw band. I tried 60 test fishing line, but couldn’t get it to stay in place since there’s nothing to hold it on the mainspring drum. Still have the ends from the original; however, part of the old draw band had completely disintegrated…do you have an idea of how long the draw band should be for the LC Smith 8? Your posts have been most helpful. Thanks! Maybe I’ll try my hand with the shoe lace!


    • I pulled out my LC Smith 8. Its drawband is about 13 inches long. If you need pictures, let me know.

      I prefer fishing line for drawband repair, but in some cases like the LC Smith and the Lexikon, the fishing line is likely to slip off if the mainspring drum lacks something to hold it on.

      Try to find a shoelace that’s very dense and very flat so that it the bulk of the wound lace doesn’t impede the carriage.

      I use 80lb fishing line for drawbands, but that’s serious overkill. Honestly, I think you could probably get by with a cross grain ribbon.


  3. Deb says:

    Thanks a ton! It’s a real help to know the length since I didn’t really know how many turns to take around the drum. I like the ribbon idea, too; I’d been thinking along those lines myself but didn’t know if it would be durable enough. This is my first draw band repair job, so I’m sort of getting my feet wet, but I’ll give it another whirl and see if I have better success with a shoelace or ribbon.


  4. Steve Clancy says:

    Just picked up a Royal Model 10 (1920) with a broken drawband. Have seen the videos making replacement with fishing line or shoelace. Found a company in Canada (Jacques Coulombe Ltee) which appears to service a drawband for the Royal 590. I called them and, from what I could gather, they do not sell the parts to the general public. I am trying to keep the replacement as close to the original as possible. I have been thinking of using the flat black nylon type strapping material. Do you have any experience with the Royal 10 drawband (measures 5/16″)?


    • I have repaired several broken drawbands, but not the Royal 10’s specifically. I think flat black nylon strapping tape would be ideal for a Royal 10. You want material that is very strong and won’t stretch. The black nylon tape would be very handsome. The original woven drawbands on some old typewriters look like very flat shoelaces. On other old typewriters (usually portables), the draw string looks like a thin waxed cord.

      I am very happy with the fishing line I use because it’s strong, knots easily and doesn’t stretch. It’s a little cheesy-looking (green/white striped) but on the 8 or 9 typewriters (standards and portable) that I have used it on, it hasn’t snapped or stretched.

      I have a friend with a Royal 10 – I could take a picture of the Royal 10 drawband (if you don’t have one on yours for reference).


      • Steve Clancy says:

        Thank you very much for the information.

        A picture of the drawband would be great! I just picked up a nylon dog leash and while it is a little wider than the 5/16″ drawband, it still fits nicely in the groove. It’s funny but I found 5/16″ strapping tape used by Dewalt in wrapping their power tool boxs…..gets expensive if you have to buy the power tool in order to get the tape.

        Thanks again


      • Steve – I assume that you need pictures of the drawband attachment points at the mainspring drum and to the carriage, as well as the route of the drawband through the machine from carriage to mainspring drum. Anything else you need documented?

        The Royal 10 lives at a friend’s shop and they may be closed/out of town through the holiday weekend. There are usually open Tuesdays. I could take pictures of a Royal KMM’s drawband set-up. Let me know if you are interested in those pictures. I have found that drawband replacement is a very similar procedure despite the machine – most machines of most makes and vintages have a similar arrangement.

        I posted about replacing the drawband on my Remington KMC. It may have some useful information for your drawband replacement project. The KMC had a incredibly long drawband – 25 inches! Most drawbands that I have replaced – even on standards – are under 15 inches.


      • Steve Clancy says:

        I also found a business in Quebec, Canada that lists a drawband for the Royal 590 that appears to be very similar to the Royal 10. They sell for $8.10 on the web listing, however when I called them, they told me they only sell to their company…..somewhat confusing, I will have to make another call up there.

        The business is listed as Jacques Coulombe Ltee (514) 255-9769 or 1 (877) 866-5799



  5. Nice instructions! By any chance, do you know what position the carriage should be in as I attach the string? I’m replacing the drawstring on a Remington Rand Deluxe 5, and had the carriage all the way to the right, per some instructions I saw elsewhere. The carriage didn’t move at first, but if I applied pressure on its right side, it’d advance as I typed letters. I then tried pulling the monofilament I’m using taut, and typing advanced the carriage. So it seems either the string needs to be shorter, or the spring tighter?
    Any suggestions would be appreciated!


    • When I replace a drawstring, I usually push the carriage all the way over to the right (if I am facing the machine) so that I can easily access the mainspring drum. Before you attach your monofilament to the mainspring drum, you’ll need to wind the mainspring so that it will have sufficient tension to pull the carriage as you type.

      You may find this Typewriter Talk post helpful: a detailed description of replacing a drawstring on a Remington portable with excellent detail pictures at the bottom of the page:


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