Recalled to Life

As I prepared Quin’s Underwood 5 for its return to Modesto, I finished the last items on my to do list. I used a lot of penetrating oil on this typewriter, so I needed to flush out the sticky oil before it started attracting dirt. I flushed everything with liberal amounts of mineral spirits and then gave the typewriter a final blast of air to clear out the steel wool fragments and rusty grit.

I decided to re-do the feet.  I worried that the rubber of the new feet would slowly sink down in height preventing free movement of the back space mechanism under the machine – it hangs low.  I didn’t have any more test tube stoppers, so I added two rubber washers to each foot.  I cut new bolts that go through the rubber feet, sealing the ends with a blob of Sugru. Not great looking, but the resulting feet are about 1″ tall.  Next time I won’t cut my rubber stoppers down in height.

UnderwoodFeet2

The last details: a final cleaning of the slugs, padding the spacebar with a little felt so that it doesn’t clatter so much, and giving the typewriter body a good wax with Renaissance wax.  This Underwood 5 is pretty much ready to go back to Quin.

I tested Quin’s Underwood with a sweet little ditty from Tom Waits. I understand that he’s an Underwood 5 user:

DSC04514

Nobody does lost old-timey sentiment like Tom Waits. That sweet, plaintive matter-of-factness of the last line always kills me.

I may need to do additional shift slide bracket adjustment – I see a little color bleed on my “L”.

I can’t believe that I am doing this, but I am sending the Underwood back to Modesto with plastic ribbon spools.  I know.  It’s a perversion of the form. Quin’s Underwood came with old plastic spools that I discarded – had it really been functional in times recent enough for plastic spools?  I wish that a large lot of old metal spools would show up on eBay, but I am not holding my breath.

Here are a few pictures taken before the return to Modesto.

01Underwood5

03Underwood5

04Underwood5

I printed out the 1929 Underwood 3,4,5 user manual from Richard Polt’s typewriter manuals archive.

Underwood345UsersManual

I wanted Quin to have an optimal typing experience, and that meant she needed a good typewriter pad.  I would have ordered a very nice Jackalope pad from Richard Polt’s site, but he is not shipping until August because he is traveling. So: I went to the carpet store where they gave me an old carpet sample for free.  It was large enough for two typewriter pads, so I cut it in half and sealed the edge with duct tape.  I backed my pads with non-skid material and ta-da:  I had two typewriter pads.  One for me and one for Quin.

homeMadeTypewriterPads

I made a vinyl typewriter cover out of a yard of 54″ wide translucent vinyl.

vinyl

I did a rough fit on the machine and then straightened up my lines.

makingVinylTypewriterCover

A haiku for you / pulled out my sewing machine / four seams and we’re done.

I am really glad I made a vinyl cover for the typewriter because I found out after the fact that Quin has three or four cats.

vinylCover

The Revenant: Return to Modesto

Sunday morning I bundled up the Underwood 5 and all its accessories: care and feeding sheet, user manual, vinyl cover, typewriter pad, and the old feet in a baggie.  I drove out to Modesto where I met Quin in the same parking lot where it all began.

She was overcome with giddy happiness.  She has never used a manual typewriter before, so I gave her a few tips and encouraged her to watch Richard Polt’s short video for typewriter beginners.  Quin is a real natural:

Look at Quin go!

quin

Quin, her poster, and her Underwood 5

Quin made me a beautiful  poster – she’s an art and biology double major.  It says “Fairy Cogmother”.  What a sweet thing! I will have to frame this and put it above my typewriters.

This may sound pushy after receiving such a nice gift, but I suggested to Quin that she include me as a character in her science fiction writing since I am full of PERSONALITY and CHARACTER.  I gave Quin this idea for a character based on me: a space witch who has a mechanical crow as a familiar. Caw! Quin laughed and said of course.

As I drove westward home, I thought a lot about the old Underwood. What a wonderful experience. I may need to get one of my own, but it would have to be in ridiculously bad condition like Quin’s.

There was a hole in my heart, but a new little Underwood flew in from Idaho last week to my home for unwed Underwoods.  Apparently there is an excess of Underwood 3 banks in the woods up north, and I happily brought this one into the fold and hope to rehabilitate it.

3bank

The Underwood three bank came with a bag of interesting pieces. A puzzle!

And then there is this crazy thing that I dragged home on Saturday, the haunted SCM Electra 210 from Moe’s shop:

A haunted Smith-Corona Electra 210 with mysteriously repeating "5" key. Another #typewriterrepair

A video posted by Mary E (@myoldtypewriter) on

 

The whole family enjoys watching this thing.  I will give it a good blow-out and a  degreasing and see where we’re at.  It is very entertaining as it is though.

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9 thoughts on “Recalled to Life

  1. Ah, another Smith-Corona electric! I have a Coronet Automatic 12, and have come to really like it, with its economical cloth ribbon and electric speediness.

    Like

      • I plan on going back to take a pic and see the price. It was on the floor amongst a bunch of other antiques. If I lived closer I would bring it to you to work your magic. Amazed at all the typewriters you have restored.

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