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:


9 thoughts on “House Call

  1. I hates Clevises! Of note: Classroom Typewriter Project director Ryan A. has been subjecting many machines to the rigors of daily student typing, and he notes that all of his Smith Coronas went offline pretty quickly and ended up in the “broken Clevis” pile. I’m not real sure he even bothers to put them in circulation anymore. Once they pop, they have a tendency to easily pop again.


    • There were so many snapped clevises at the Shop. The segments were very gummy on a couple machines (WD-40?) so I think that was risk factor for snapping. I did find it very satisfying to re-attach the clevises once I figured out a fairly efficient system. The typewriters at the Shop see a lot of action, especially with kids so I am going to scientifically monitor their clevises and see if they re-pop. I sort of love those SCM Galaxies – nice, easy typewriters.


  2. What a great opportunity to spread the typewriter gospel! Your fixes are ingenious, and something we might have to do more of as time passes. Yet I also suspect that makers will find ways of fashioning these parts in the future. Well done!


    • I got very excited when I saw all the typewriters at the Shop.

      If the duct tape doesn’t hold on my broken clevis, I may need to try my hand at using metal rivets to hold the two pieces of the clevis together.


  3. You are a guardian angel for this shop. I hope you’ll enjoy collaborating with them more in the future. (Love on the Run, Flywheel Press, and Porridge Paper—the Lincoln, Nebraska shop that originated the concept—are in my book.)


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