This is a long read so be warned. I’ve repaired a few machines that folks had as luggage on an airplane. Don’t do it. If it does not fit as carry on have it shipped. The damage from shipping a typewriter is WAY LESS than being dropped to the tarmac. This army green baby is a family heirloom and is going to stay that way. It came to me with multiple frame cracks, the front around the keys entirely broken off into pieces, the space bar and several keys mangled, one rear bearing tower sheared off, loose parts in a bag and the tab mechanism in the back cracked in two. On top of that, the carriage was jammed solid and also had sheared parts. I love the challenge!
First, getting the carriage off revealed the bearings themselves were intact. The bearing races were deformed from the fall and required a bit of finesse to get them realigned. I had a nice discussion with Don the welder about what could be welded and what not to risk. The tab tower in the back was too thin a material to weld, so we surmised that if the rear bearing tower could weld up precisely then it could force the tab tower into alignment and we could then settle for epoxy on that piece. The front had been previously welded many years ago. When the machine took a tumble, it broke at each old weld! So this customer shouldn’t feel too bad since this L.C. Smith had already taken a dive and survived. When the typewriter came back from Don’s shop the welds looked great, only needing the requisite grinding and smoothing to prep for painting.
The tab tower indeed came together nicely as soon as the bearing tower was snugged into place. The space bar was so badly mangled I had to completely dismantle its links to get them “straight” again. Actually, the space bar links will never be straight again, just functional.
One of the tab links had previously been replaced with a section of hack saw blade and a couple bent nails. I love how folks use what ever works close at hand. I substituted the hacksaw blade with 1/4 inch stock material for more precise key action.
Back to the welds. The paint I started with bubbled. Darn it, now I start over. I went back to bare metal and started the prep process all over. Not sure what contaminated the surface so I’m making sure everything is very clean this go around. The final black paint, while not perfect, is a nice shiny black that will last the life of the machine. Once the carriage was put back on, it required a few adjustments to the bearing races. I love the L.C. Smith typewriters of that era. Before you reattach the draw band, the carriage just floats back and forth.
Ok, draw band is attached and the real testing begins. Tabs tabulate, check, space bar spaces and backspace backs, check, margin release releases, check, all keys imprint with factory alignment, check, upper/lower case alignment, check, check and check! This beauty is back in service.