About

I am a very indulgent middle-aged mother of two who works from home.  I procrastinate at work by reading celebrity gossip online and puttering around the house.

When my daughter found the Remington typewriter on our neighbor’s curb, I was all “Uh-uh-no-way-Jose.” But then, I locked my eyes upon that metal beast and I was smitten.

What seemed irredeemable found new life in a loving family. I am now a firm believer in mechanical redemption. I thank the internet community of typewriter fans for providing the information I needed to bring our Remington Rand KMC back to life.

Thank you, internet.  Maybe this blog will help someone else.

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43 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Mary – I hope you read these comments. Because there is a type-in coming up very soon – this Friday – in Berkeley. Richard Polt has convinced the long suffering Permillion family to once again host a type-in. The last one was just after Christmas 2013. It would be a treat to meet you there.

    Here is the info from Richard:

    It’s on!

    Once again, Carmen Permillion has kindly offered to host the type-in at California Typewriter, 2362 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley.

    The time will be one week from today, Friday, July 17, 5-7 pm.

    I hope to see lots of you there.

    Like

    • Unfortunately I am going to be out of town that Friday. It’s really killing me that I can’t be there – I would have loved to meet you. You are kind of a rock star in my book. I would have never been able to get my Oliver running without the excellent posts on your blog.

      Like

  2. Mike says:

    Hi – I bought a Smith Corona Galaxie 12 for my daughter, and she loves it. There’s one nagging problem I can’t seem to fix, which is that the paper bail doesn’t rest against the paper on the left side of the platen, it floats about 1/8″ from the platen. I’ve searched high and low and can’t find anything to give me an idea of what’s wrong. I’m very mechanically inclined, but would like to find some guidance before i just start pulling it apart. 🙂 Any guidance or advice? Many thanks,

    Mike

    Like

    • I don’t have a Galaxie 12, but my guess would be that you have a bent piece, missing piece or incorrectly placed piece in your paper bail set up. I always find it helpful to compare dysfunctional typewriters to functional machines and try to spot trouble areas. You may want to consider joining the Facebook Antique Typewriters Collectors group or Typewriter Talk. Both are very friendly and helpful groups. If you take detail pictures of your bail set up and post them to either group, you could request detailed comparison photos of the paper bail area. Good luck!

      Like

  3. marcelobrites says:

    Hi Sir, i bought an Underwood nº5 and in the begining the typewriter works in very well conditions; but someone in my house decide to touch everywhere on the machine; now i have a problem, wich i don’t know how to solve, and don’t know english enouth to understand – if you could, please help me with pics – the machine doesnt advande when i write or even when i press on the space bar. can you help me, please? Thank you so much!

    Like

    • I hope that I can help you. I will translate into Portuguese (via Google Translate):
      Espero que eu possa ajudá-lo. Vou traduzir para Português (via Google Translate) :

      It may be that the draw band (also called the draw string or carriage strap) on the typewriter is broken.
      Pode ser que a banda sorteio ( também chamada a cadeia ou cinta de transporte sorteio ) na máquina de escrever é quebrado

      When you pull gently on the carriage to the left, does the carriage advance with each typed letter?
      Quando você puxa suavemente sobre o carro para a esquerda , faz o avanço carruagem com cada letra digitada ?

      If yes, then your draw band may be broken.
      Se sim, então sua banda empate pode ser quebrado.

      If the carriage band is broken, you may see the broken strap hanging from the bottom of the carriage.
      Se a banda transporte está quebrado , você poderá ver a alça quebrada pendurado no fundo da carruagem.
      broken strap

      You may also see a broken band at the attachment point on the main spring of the typewriter.
      Você também pode ver uma banda quebrado no ponto de fixação na principal fonte da máquina de escrever.
      strap at main spring

      These pictures are from my 1948 Remington standard typewriter. The Underwood standard typewriter is similar.
      Estas imagens são de minha 1948 Remington máquina de escrever padrão . A máquina de escrever padrão Underwood é semelhante.

      If your carriage strap is broken, it can be repaired. I wrote about the repair of the carriage strap on my Remington:
      Se a sua alça de transporte está quebrado, ele pode ser reparado . Eu escrevi sobre o reparo da alça de transporte na minha Remington :

      https://myoldtypewriter.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/broken-drawband-repair-on-a-1948-remington-rand-kmc-using-fishing-line/

      Like

      • marcelobrites says:

        Hi Sir! Big Thank you! It was Helpfull! After a few readings in your blog, and with this photos, i realize, and repaired the problem! Applied more tension on the carrirriage.
        I wish to share some photos with you:
        underwood 5
        underwood 5
        underwood 5
        underwood 5
        Mine have a French Keyboard, wich is strange doesn’t have the number 1…i have the realease button that you say you don’t have, but don’t know what is for… i think mine is from 1917, since is the last date on the backside.
        Really thank you for your usefull help and blog!

        Like

      • I am so glad! You must have only needed to wind the main spring for more tension. I am glad your draw strap was not broken.

        You have a very beautiful old No. 5. It looks like it is in wonderful condition despite being 99 years old.

        Many old typewriters do not have a number “1”. People used the lower case “L” for the number “l”.

        You have a margin release button that was missing from mine. It is used when you get to the end of the line, you push the margin release button, and then you can type a few more characters in the line.

        Like

      • marcelobrites says:

        Oh nice! Don’t understand much about typewriters. Mine, now is working very well, i’ve cleaned it very well with caerefull, and nest week i wiil buy oil, that type of oil for instruments, like trumpet, and will put on the mecanics, some of them are slow and need to be lubrificated. Really thank you my friend!

        Like

  4. Achille Toupin says:

    Hello !
    I have read with attention your post about the olivetti praxis 48 you have repaired, in hopes of finding a solution to my problem, but didn’t find what I was looking for…
    I purchased this typewriter a few days ago, but the keys do not work. I can press the letter keys while the motor is on (it works) but it won’t do a thing. The carriage return keys and the space bar key don’t work either. I am pretty desperate now. I oiled every bit I could reach, but the keys simply don’t seem to be connected to anything.
    I hoped you could help me with my problem as you are one of the only people describing this machine online.
    P.S. I come from France and consequently I own the French version of this typewriter. Maybe it would be of some interest :

    Like

    • I love the Praxis 48 – I gave mine to a young man with mechanical interests and will probably get another Praxis 48 to replace it. It’s such a weird and wonderful machine.

      It’s hard to say what could be wrong with your Praxis. It does have an interesting feature: if the machine jams (eg the typebars collide) the keyboard will lock up. Pressing the backspace key unlocks the keyboard. I doubt that your Praxis problem is that simple, but it’ s worth a try.

      Like

  5. Garrad Mathews says:

    This is a shot in the dark, but I happened upon your blog while searching for some ideas of how to repair my Royal Quiet De Luxe. I was hoping you’d be able to help me! I had a key that snapped where the pin connects the key to the striker. I think I managed to fix the key (time will tell), but am now at a loss of how to insert the key back into the machine without taking the entire typewriter apart. I would love to send you some photos to get your opinion!

    Like

    • Hi Garrad – I haven’t run into this type of problem before. I took a look at the DE Fox repair manual that I downloaded as a “Typewriter Hunter” at Typewriter Database (I definitely recommend becoming a Typewriter Hunter as you will have access to extensive documentation at TWDB). Anyhoo – here is a screenshot from the manual:
      Key Levers

      You can post images on a photo sharing service or send images to maryech at g mail d ot c om. I am traveling right now and may be a little slow to respond.

      Like

      • Thanks for the response! I appreciate the image from the repair manual. I had not thought to try to insert the key from the top of the machine instead of the underside… but I am still running into the issue of the bar that runs from side to side that is not allowing me to insert the now bulkier key between it and the slots in which the keys sit. I would prefer to find a spare intact key rather than the bulky one I have repaired, but have not found parts for this particular model of the Quiet De Luxe. I’ve uploaded photos of the underside of the machine and the ugly (but strong!) repair job I have done on the key to this address. Like I said, I am trying to avoid tearing down the entire machine to insert this key but am finding no way of removing that bar on the underside – which is attached to space bar. I’ve spent many, many hours hovered over this machine to come up with a solution but to no avail!

        Like

  6. John Sacks says:

    Boy, am I glad I found you.

    Recently, I had a need to write a fake old letter, and some labels that appeared to be from the fifties (another, unrelated story) So I went hunting for someone, anyone, who still owned a typewriter. Alas, it was not to be.

    Determined, I started haunting flea markets and such, and was able to acquire two lovely machines;

    1) A Sky-Riter portable in its original funky case. In pretty darn good shape. Workable, if dirty.
    2) A 1957 Royal FPE with a 16″ carriage. Dirtier yet, but not rusty or damaged. It looks like someone got it from Nanas’ estate and stuck it in the garage.

    I’m excited about them both. As an added bonus, any future faux-document forging, or ransom note writing can now be accomplished either at home, or on the lam! I have a feeling, more of these are in my future.

    What’s his point? You are likely wondering.

    Well, I’ve been concerned about trying to open the case of the FP in order to further clean and investigate the works. You have given me a bit more confidence. In your post about the FP, and in particular removing its case, you didn’t sound at all terrified, astonished, or intimidated about the disassembly process. This has encouraged me.

    Should you have any words of advice, or warnings, I’d love to hear about them. Meantime, with an abundance of confidence, and very little competence, I’m going in! I’m looking forward to making this FP a regular daily driver as it were…

    I’m glad to know that I am not the only one fascinated with old typewriters. I’ll look forward to reading more of your blog. Also, I’ll hope for the best with my new machines, and I may just have the nerve to write to you again requesting advice and guidance.

    John

    Like

    • I apologize for the slow response. I am in the midst of a very slow transcontinental move and proceeding at a glacial pace.

      My advice when tinkering with these old machines: take lots of pictures. I can’t tell you how many times I have been saved by photos I have taken while dismantling. I also use ziplock baggies to organize the parts and carefully label everything. Try to take things apart, clean and put back together in one session, as you may start getting foggy on the details if you dismantle and set it aside for a couple weeks. Another bit of advice: place a white sheet under your work table. Those teeny little screws and bolts have a tendency to jump from the table.

      Lastly, create an account at http://typewriterdatabase.com/. It is an invaluable resource, full of pictures and documents that you can access if you are a member.

      Good luck! Have fun with your Skyriter and FP. My little Skyriter is one of my very favorite typewriters.

      Like

  7. Fraser says:

    Hi there, I have brought a Olivetti Lettera 22 that works apart from the little wire or spring that is attached to the bottom of the carriage return lever is missing. I can see where it is supposed to be attached but I am not sure if it was a spring or a wire and where it then attaches to at the other end…

    any idea?

    Like

  8. barbara jaffe says:

    Hi– You’re amazing.

    I have a Corona 4, looks just like yours, but I’m missing the “/ 3/4”
    keycap. Do you know a source for such things? Many thanks!!

    Like

  9. Imogen says:

    Dear Mary (if I may!)…I have a Royal Companion Portable that is exactly the same as the one on your blog. I got it on eBay and it works quite well. In fact the serial number is quite close to the one you show, so I was really happy to read your restoration story. But…where is the ribbon reverse function? This small, obscure question has driven me crazy for years. On the left hand side of the “dashboard” up front, there should be a ribbon reverse lever (on other Royal models). This model doesn’t have a ribbon reverse function that I can find anywhere. My ribbon doesn’t automatically rewind after I finish typing the spool, so I have to manually rewind it by hand. Surely this must not be what Royal intended. Surely I am missing something, or something is broken. I just wonder, with your great attention to detail, whether you have any thoughts on this matter, or whether you have experienced this type of situation (ribbon won’t rewind). I simply can’t find anything on the Web on this one issue for this model. No one has uploaded its original manual, either, so I’ve been in the dark for years. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. By the way I cleaned up my typewriter, inspired by the pictures of how you cleaned up the Royal Companion! Many thanks! – Imogen

    Like

    • Hi Imogen – that sweet little Royal Companion belongs to a friend of a friend and I don’t have it at hand. However, as I vaguely recall, there are little buttons on the right and left side of the machine that when depressed change the direction of the ribbon. I tried to dig up a Royal Companion manual to confirm this, but you are right: they are hard to find. If you don’t have the side buttons of your machine, you may want to pose the question in the Facebook Typewriters Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TypewriterCollectors/. They are friendly and very helpful.

      Like

      • Imogen says:

        Dear Mary, oh my God, you are amazing. I located the buttons right away when your email popped up, fiddled with it, and YES they are in fact the ribbon reverse buttons! I had inspected the machine everywhere several times but never understood those buttons (and I’ve used the machine for 8 years). From their appearance, it is not obvious that they even have functions. I thought they were screws or studs of some sort. You have completely made my day. I am in awe of your powers of memory and observation! You are definitely the patron saint of vintage typewriters. After reading (and benefiting from) your blog, I took the trouble to make a profile and to upload pictures of my typewriter on http://typewriterdatabase.com/1940-royal-companion.8655.typewriter. In hopes that my contribution will help someone in return. Your blog and the Typewriter Database website helped me in the past with my vintage typewriter questions. Thanks so much! Keep saving old typewriters. – Imogen

        Like

  10. That is so great! I am glad that my foggy memory did not fail me in this case. So glad to hear that you have entered the Typewriter Database community. It has provided me with such good information.

    Like

  11. Dim says:

    Hi, i found an old Adler (image url below) but i have no information about it. There is only one picture of it online, which says something about Hitler’s Secretary and the movie Downfall. Do you happen to know the model or at least the year?
    http://imgur.com/a/w366z

    Like

  12. Evan Noch says:

    I have a few questions about my Oliver #9 that I just obtained. The bell doesn’t seem to “ding” when I get to the end of a line. What might be the cause of that? I replaced the ribbon but not sure I did it properly and how the ribbon is supposed to automatically wind as you type? Does this happen automatically? And when I type lower-case font, it seems that the upper-case keys also touch the paper so that half of the upper-case font also appears. Do you know why this would be the case and how to avoid that? Thanks so much!

    Like

      • Regarding the bell: what should happen is that when you approach the end of a line, the carriage trips a little metal finger under the carriage that in turn raise the handle of the hammer that strikes the bell.

        bell mechanism

        If your bell isn’t ringing, you may be missing one of these parts, or the parts are misaligned or frozen.

        Regarding the ribbon: here are instructions for replacing the ribbon:

        Oliver 9s originally used 9/16 inch ribbon and were wound on little wood cores. I have found that common 1/2 inch ribbon on regular spools works fine as long as the spool spindle is inserted into one of the ribbon spool holes. If your ribbon isn’t moving, check to see if the spool spindles are rotating. If not, the spooling mechanism may not be engaged. There are metal buttons on each side of the typewriter. On the side with the empty spool, the button must be pressed in completely.

        If it’s still not spooling automatically with typing, you may have inserted the ribbon incorrectly or you have dirty, frozen or missing spooling components.

        Regarding the upper and lowercase printing – that’s a tough one to figure out without the typewriter in front of me. Olivers are notorious for having bent typebars because of their unprotected situation. Many have been dropped on their “heads” leading to mangled typebars that print their letters in unusual positions on the page.

        Like

      • Evan Noch says:

        Thank you for your reply! Regarding the bell, yes, I have all of the parts. The hammer and finger are there. My question is, what part of the carriage is supposed to hit the finger? There doesn’t seem to be a part on the carriage that hits the finger on my machine. Also, when the finger is tapped on its right side and deflected left, it turns the rod which lifts the hammer, but not when it is hit on its left. On its left, it just wiggles loosely back and forth. Is this supposed to be the case? It seems that everything on the finger and hammer part are there and functioning properly. It seems that when the carriage is moving towards the right, that the finger should be deflected on its left side and moved left? Just wondering how the mechanics of this are supposed to work.

        Regarding the ribbon, I will work on this. The button is indeed pressed in on the side of the empty spool, and both spools turn the rods that they sit on. Is there a mechanism that turns the rods from below when the keys are pressed because it doesn’t seem that the rods turn when a key is pressed down.

        And regarding the lower-case keys also imprinting the upper-case keys, the issue is that since the lower-case keys are in the middle of the key between the figure and the caps, when the key is pressed down, it seems to also imprint the upper-case keys. Maybe this is because the ribbon is too wide (though I got the replacement ribbon from a site that said that the ribbon was for the Oliver typewriter). I will check the width tonight. Other than that, the keys do type in a straight line so it doesn’t seem to be as much an issue with the displacement of the keys but more so either with the width of the ribbon or the distance to which the ribbon moves upwards when a key is pressed before striking the paper. Thanks again.

        Like

      • Hi Evan – I took some pictures and have a few comments about the bell and ribbon spooling.

        There is a little projection under the carriage that pushes the “finger” that activates the bell as the carriage nears the end of the line:

        finger pushed down

        Once the carriage clears the projection, the finger swings up causing the hammer to ring the bell.

        finger up

        The finger needs to swing freely. Test the bell by going to the very end of the line (when you can’t type anymore) and pushing down manually on the finger and releasing. The bell hammer should raise, strike, and sound the bell.

        Regarding the ribbon spooling: one of your spool spindles should rotate when typing (which one depends on which button you pushed in):

        spindle

        Underneath the cup is a rod that should be rotating very slowly.

        rod

        And if you flip up the machine and look underneath, you’ll see the spooling gears that are activated by typing.

        spooling gears

        Regarding the lower-case and uppercase printing problem, I am stumped. Without seeing the typewriter in person, it’s hard to say what exactly is going on. Another possibility besides bent typebars is that your carriage or your platen is not seated properly causing a misalignment.

        Like

      • Evan Noch says:

        Hi Mary. Thanks for you reply. Is it possible to send pictures on here or to you by email? Regarding the bell, I think I may be missing the part on the carriage that deflects the finger. The finger and rod and bell seem to be working properly but doesn’t seem like the part is on the carriage. I took a picture to show this. Regarding the spooling, yes I got that to work. I believe that when I press one of those buttons in on the left side, the gear doesn’t move close enough to the mechanism, but on the other side, it works okay. So that seems to be fine. And I took pictures of what I meant by the keys striking upper case and lower case at the same time on the ribbon. So maybe I could send you those pictures? I think it’s an issue with how far the ribbon gets deflected when a key is pressed. So maybe just needs an adjustment because the ribbon seems to be the appropriate width. Thanks again!

        Like

      • You can send pictures to maryech (at) gmail (dot) com.

        I may not be able to answer in a timely way since I am in the process of moving and need to pack up the Oliver.

        Like

  13. I apologize for the slow response. I’d like to take a few follow-up pictures for you detailing the bell mechanism and the ribbon spooling mechanism, but I have been sidetracked in packing the house for a cross-country move. I will try to get pictures and follow-up comments posted tomorrow or Thursday.

    Like

  14. OMARIS O OLMO CRESPO says:

    Hello, I just bought a 1949 Royal Quite Deluxe and I would like to know what products do you recommend for cleaning the outside and the inside. Is not rusted, just some weird web type things around they look like fiber mold. I dont know how to describe it.

    Any suggestions? What have you use before to clean the outside and inside?

    Like

    • Love thoise Royal QDLs!

      Do your keys look like this?
      keys

      If so, I have seen this weird white residue on several 1950s Royals. It may be a chemical precipitate of the plastic keys. I have used Goo Gone with great effectiveness to clean the keys.

      goo gone

      I like to use mineral spirits to clean the internal mechanics. I like to use Scrubbing Bubbles to clean the outside shell of the machine. Here is a blog post about a very dirty Royal QDL:

      Tim’s Royals and Other Visitors

      Like

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