This customer’s machine was bought from an antique shop on Vancouver Island, B.C. The platen was shot along with the flat paper rollers, plus the carriage was stuck (along with type bars) so it was difficult to figure out if anything other than hardened rubber and oil was holding this grand beast back from its early days of perfection.
Well, off to J.J. Short goes the platen. The carriage was gooed on the rails pretty good so it took a bit of finesse to get it loose. Once the sheet metal covers came off, I was like . . . huh there is a ton of debris and dust in here. So first thing the shop vac gets to work on the dust. What should have clued me in on things to come was that even the dust was oily shellac and really did not vacuum out all that well.
Into the solvent tank and now that brown goo starts to flow. The first thing I noticed was sand and metal powder (like what you get from the machine shop grinder). The more I clean, the more I’m thinking this typewriter lived in either a foundry or a machine shop. The antique dealer thought they got the typewriter from a marine repair shop that went out of business.
Once degreased and re-oiled things are starting to move. I always let machines sit overnight before testing as sometimes the old oils re-congeal and I’m back with the solvent again. Normally that brown film covering everything from these older machines is cigar and cigarette smoke tar. In this case, the normal cleaning just was not removing enough shellac to free up some of the more necessary components. You know, things like the back spacer, shift mechanism, the tab set mechanism, the bell, every single type bar, the line space lever, the list goes on.
On some of the components I had to remove individually and either use lacquer thinner, or get this, Scrubbing Bubbles, to dissolve this crazy brown stuff. The tab rack was fun, as the brown stuff just ran out of the tab stops like maple syrup. Of course, it did not SMELL like maple syrup.
I had to remove the bell mechanism to get to the back spacer. Usually the interior components under the escapement are well protected from the normal messes. Not so in this case. Other than the now, oh so normal goo, the back spacer just needed to be adjusted for regular 60 to 70 year wear and tear.
The bell was being a bit finicky. While it dinged just fine when I ran it past the margin release, normal operation was pretty wimpy. After goo patrol, I finally realized the bell spring had jumped its track and was a bit too weak to activate the bell clapper. Once I’d spun the spring over twice, it dinged oh so nice!
The shift mechanism worked during the first couple days of de-gooing, and after I’d put all the pretty pieces back together again decided to slow down as I was starting my testing phase. I had to go back with my magic formulas to get the various pivots of the shift mechanism to play nice.
Oh, and with the new platen, the print on paper is soooo marvey (and nicely quiet).