Three Underwood Standard 5 typewriters arrived in the shop the same week. So I wound up working on them at the same time. I like the really old Underwood machines for the simplicity and enjoy experiencing the changes Underwood made to this model as the years progressed. These Three Amigos are from 1909, 1916 and 1923.
1909 Underwood 5 (left typewriter in the photo) was spray oiled so needed some time getting degreased in the solvent station. I normally don’t like the heavily oiled machines as it just adds hours to the invoice. This time, oil saved the machine from the terrors of rust. The machine was dismantled to its basics. Off comes the platen, paper rollers, paper tray, paper table and carriage. Out come all the type bars and segment, tabulator assembly, ribbon vibrator and ribbon feed assembly. The spring drum is wound down and the draw band removed. Now there is enough clearance for a good deep cleaning. With fragile key tops, they get covered so no solvent discolors the paper under the glass or old style plastics. Once the cleaning was done everything goes back on the machine in reverse order. When the carriage was re-installed the shift was still hanging up. Turns out I didn’t get all that old oil from the shift pivots. Removed the pivots, a good cleaning, then all started working just fine. Amazing that a machine over a hundred years old just needed a really good cleaning to work again.
1916 Green Underwood 5 (middle typewriter in the photo) is a rebuilt machine that was then painted green. This one had a bit-o-rust and a sluggish carriage. As with the other really old guy this machine was dismantled to access everything. The sonicating water bath is an amazing device we use all week long. We have two; a large tank for typewriter chassis and a small one for nuts and chews. All of the three Amigo Underwoods had the small parts sonicated in the cleaners. It is pretty tedious work hand cleaning each screw, nut, spring and lever. The water bath saves time and cleans much better than I can. Again, all this guy needed was a little rust removal and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
1923 Underwood 5 (right typewriter in the photo) was DIRTY and the paper rollers were desperate for replacement. The carriage on this guy was so gunked up it went straight into the sonicator. The carriage got way cleaner in 10 minutes than I could have done in a half hour. I make my own paper rollers out of acetate stock. A durable and chemical resistant plastic. If you have a hobby table top lathe, it is a simple task duplicating paper rollers. On Underwood machines the hardest part replacing paper rollers is getting the old ones off the shaft. The large rollers come off after loosening the end screw then the collar that holds the middle rollers have a small set screw you loosen. The smaller front rollers have a press fit collar for the inside rollers. They are a real pain in the shaft to get off then back on with out too much damage.
All in all, it was fun working on these old guys all at the same time.