Royal Typewriter Gets A Second (or Third) Life

Usually when we are restoring something with a keyboard, it is some kind of old computer or terminal. But [Make it Kozi] wanted an old-fashioned typewriter. The problem is, as he notes, they are nostalgically popular these days, so picking up a working model can be pricey. The answer? Buy a junker and restore it. You can watch the whole process in the video below, too, but nearly the only sound you’ll hear is the clacking of the keys. He doesn’t say a word until around the 14-minute mark. Just warning you if you have it playing in the background!

Of course, even if you can find a $10 typewriter, it probably won’t be the same kind, nor will it have the same problems. However, it is a good bet that any old mechanical typewriter will need many of the same steps.

The first order of business was to clean everything up. He was afraid of breaking springs with a brush, so much of the cleaning was done with an air gun. Even then, some of the linkages were prone to sticking. The keys also needed some very deep cleaning. Soaking the whole thing in a bath looks scary, but with enough air drying, it shouldn’t cause problems.

There were a few stubborn areas where a brush and mineral spirits were a must. Apparently, WD40 leaves a residue that can cause problems later. Once everything was reassembled, there was a problem. The cleaning had bent out the space bar support! Easily fixed, but it shows how hard it is to clean these things no matter how careful you are.

At least a $10 typewriter isn’t much to risk. We lose sleep every time we have to work on our old Selectric. They are pricey and, even for an electric typewriter, complicated. Of course, an electric has a lot more hacking opportunities.

13 thoughts on “Royal Typewriter Gets A Second (or Third) Life

    1. Amongst typewriter enthusiasts (like me), it is a commonly held belief that there is a special place in Hell for people who do this, right next to child molesters and people who talk during a theater performance…

      1. That would be right next to the people who take sewing machines out of their cabinets to make tables from the cabinets and “art” objects from the machines. There’s a slightly hotter spot close by for those who then put the machines out in the yard as “decoration” to rust away into uselessness.

  1. “We lose sleep every time we have to work on our old Selectric.”
    I saw one of those for sale this weekend for $20, with a bag of probably 10 typeballs. I was really tempted to get it, thinking I could flip it. Then I remembered that I don’t get rid of anything and didn’t have space to keep it.

    1. This is why I don’t foster dogs. The organization would call and say, “Good news! We found someone to take Skippy!” And I’d say, “What the *$*#$* are you talking about? They aren’t taking my dog.” I’d have 100 dogs running around ;-)

      The Selectric for $20 would have been hard to pass up though. But they are a bear to work on.

      1. I have two selectric lying around with s bag of balls. I thought i could make it working like teletypes, but it’s design is so weird that is hard to make an interface for it. Don’t buy them unless you want to use them as a regular typewriters

  2. Typewriter collecting and restoring has been a great hobby for me. I am a high school teacher, and I use a typewriter every day for a variety of tasks. Of course, I do have the occasional student who asks where the enter key is on my Olympia SG1…

    1. You’re a teacher who uses a typewriter for (I assume school) tasks? Do you also use carbon paper and a spirt duplicator? Just curious because I think spirit duplicators are neat.

  3. I’m lucky to have Nashville Typewriter nearby for the bigger repair jobs I can’t handle on old manuals. As well as collectors, there’s a growing group of folks who like to have one in their creative arsenal for composition and (pictures made with the various characters striking the page, whatever that’s called).

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