Sunday, June 30, 2019


Somehow, it's been a few months since my last post. I'm going to blame poltergeists, time-traveling Deloreans, and the Soviet Union. Anyhow, onward and upward! Maybe sideward.

I've decided to expand my antiquing into the next relatable thing; tools. Preferably, antique tools I can use to restore other, antique-ier tools and items (and use for around the house if necessary to boot, why not). I'm going to shoot for finding and restoring one tool a week and, most hand tools being considerably simpler than a typewriter, that challenge is most doable. I've already learned some new tricks from cleaning up these tools that should help me be more efficient at restoring typewriters as well, something I always strive for.

First up was an early adjustable wrench. I love the wood handles those older tools had, gives them a special sort of character.

Cost: $6.95

What I Did:

I finally realized that one of the most powerful tools for easy cleaning, and one that I had on hand without realizing it, is a drill press (electrically powered, not hand powered). Turns out, if you have even the slightest bit of imagination (I need to work on that...), you don't have to just use drill bits in said drill press. You can get buffing wheels and wire wheels that fit in it too! I grabbed a steel/brass brush wheel, threw it in, and went to town to clean up the old dirt, grime, and worn down bluing (if that is what it had). Once that was done, I used progressively finer sandpaper, having started at about 200 and working my way up to 800, to really shine up the metal. A final buffing of polish helps keep new rust away.

A bit of gentle sanding on the handle, and a new coat of danish oil, and everything was good to go. Overall, this wrench comes apart into 5 separate pieces in quick succession once you take the bottom nut off; the nut, the wood handle, the main head/handle, the adjustment screw, and the bottom head.

Next came the hand drill. Again, wood really makes these things have much more character than anything else. This guy was pretty rust and at first I didn't' realize the head actually ratcheted.

Cost: $4.95

What I Did:

The drill press with wire brush came in the most handy again here, but I did some other experimenting first. After a liberal dose of evapo-rust gel, which got rid of most of the heavy rust, I took the clutch bit and, using a bolt, washers and a nut, I firmly loaded it into the drill press so that it was spin right round like a record. I then took sandpaper and, as it spun, cleaned up the part with ease, ending again at 800 grit before polishing it.

I could not get the top handle to come off, and the rotating handle is firmly entrenched by design, so I had to carefully work my way around those as I used the drill press brush to clean and buff the metal. A bit of sandpaper and danish oil came into play again. Once it was all said and done, I threw a modern bit in (the clamps are designed for auger bits I think, but the newer bits I have had angles that worked fine) and tried it out on a piece of 2x4. I was surprised at how speedily it drilled through the wood, and with very little effort. We get so accustomed to powered tools, we forget how truly efficient some of these hand tools were designed to be.

This guy has a ratcheting system that can easily switch from one direction to the other; I imagine it came in handy when using auger bits in tight places, or in hard wood.

At the same time that I was working on the hand drill, I also had this being torn asunder; a hand cranked bench grinder. I've got a few worn out screwdrivers (many have snapped dealing with a stuck typerwriter screw), and some dull, cracked chisels.

Cost: $14.95

What I Did:

Taking this grinder apart would be easy normally, but I had to get creative due to some scratched shafts and other damage someone else did to it previously. It's very simple in design, and comes into just a few parts; the handle, the two frame plates which come apart, a single large interior gear, the smaller drive gear the wheel sits on, and the plate you hold the item being grinded on.

Rather than sanding all the old red paint off (especially when it could be lead based), I gently cleaned all the gunk off and just barely smoothed the surface with a bit snad paper and plenty of degreaser to trap any paint particulates. I always wear higher end breather masks just to be on the safe side whenever i'm in the workshop.

I decided on some metallic Cobalt blue, and got to painting. Using the drill press brush I cleaned the screws and nuts up, and got the rust that had formed on the spindles off. A generous helping of new grease was applied before reassembling the machine, and a new grinding wheel I had on hand was put on. I had to finangle the mounting nut that keeps the grinding wheel shaft on, as it wasn't long enough to have two nuts (not only that, but it only had one in the first place). A screw on the other end of it helps lock in in place. I'll need to find a shorter screw in the future, but it works for now.

You can really get cranking on this thing. The large inner gear, in tandem with the small grinder shaft, equals some serious speed. To test it out, I tried to sharpen some dull chisels I had. They turned out ok, with the error being my technique in holding the chisels one handed against the wheel.

I had found the wrench at a local antique store last weekend, and found the grinder and hand drill at a store a couple hours away this weekend. I didn't walk out of that store with just the two tools, however...

Woooaah green betty, bamalam. Olivers tend to be found with frequency in the local area, but never in this shape. Usually their paint is all bubbled or damaged, and the nickel is shot to hell. But this feller caught my eye immediately when I walked into that store; gleaming nickel plating, outstanding paint, white keys, and a very light touch on the action. I had never had the chance to play with an Oliver in this good of shape, and by golly I was not about to leave it behind. 

About the only things that need done to it are;

Tune up the spacebar, as it's a bit stiff.
Lightly clean the machine; the nickel gleams but still has some residue of time on it
Blow out the dead insects inhabiting the underside
Install new drawband and ribbon

Everything else is working amazingly. Every now and again I get lapses where I just can't get going with my typewriters, but this little gal just threw me back into drive. I can't wait to get it ready to type like the farm machine it is. Not a speed queen, but rock solid.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring is Nigh

Spring has nearly sprung,
The grass has almost riz,
And North Idaho is certainly where the Fox is.

This season, prepare for a series of posts detailing the tips and tricks I've learned over the years in regards to the vague art of restoring typewriters.

Not relating to that series, but indeed relating to restoration, sometimes you just have to put some new paint on. I found a good color of Rustoleum to paint these horridly corroded type-bars with, and am pleased with the results.

As far as I was ever aware, typebars were generally nickel-plated with a dull finish, and in most cases that seems to be the first plating to go bad.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Standard Folding Typewriter, Cleaned Up

The Standard Folding is nearly done, with just some final adjustments and tuning required for it to work 100% as designed. It is currently able to type, just with some hiccups primarily due to issues with the feed roller and front guide invading one another's space. All in due time, and what not.

Before: I pulled these pictures off the original sale listing


Here you can see the keyboard, and the pharmaceutical keys it has.

After I finish tuning the Standard Folding, I'll have an angry swarm of Fox machines to clean up. This feller just arrived, and will join it's brothers on the bench. I can't keep up with it all.

This Fox was both taken care of and at the same time not taken care of. It's a filthy mess with a few bent parts that's frozen the action up, but yet the carriage is in fully operational condition when removed from the main body (something that is rarely the case). Usually the return lever is out of whack, springs are missing, or the escapement is gummed up.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

How To Build A Standard Folding Typewriter: Part 1

Like the Pheonix (or perhaps, due to the season, the Undead), this blog rises from the beyond to fulfill its promise: to prepare the Typosphere for mechanical surgery.

Today's series focus's on this guy here, the Standard Folding Typewriter:

But we don't care about it already being fully assembled now, do we? No no, lets set this right.

There we go. Torn asunder, all parts cleaned, lets begin. Grab your frame!

You will note that the shift harbor and two spring plates are already attached. We proceed by completing the frame, with the front bar.

Next, we throw on the universal bar assembly which consists of two large harbors and the universal bar plus associated trip bar.

Lovely. Please at this point (because I certainly forgot to) add the shift lock on the left side of the frame. Adding it later as I had to do will be a bit more of a pain.

Now we add the shift keys and associated rod. Slip it in, scew the main screws a bit through, put the nuts on, and tighten the whole thing up.

We now place the carriage support arms into their spots, and run the thick rod through them, the shifting arms, and the universal assembly.

Now we add the shift limiter, which stops the carriage at the appropriate height.

Now, proceed posthaste to the next sub-assembly we need; the key-lever assembly.

You will need to start by making the bottom row first so that you get the spacebar into its spot. From there, place the other two rods into position, and slip one key on at a time through the gaps in the first row. Always remember that on 3 bank machines, the order goes from left to right: QAZWSX and so on.

Place the spacers onto their rods. You will slide the assembly in from the front, carefully, and maneuver it into position. Screw in the rods as they fall into place.

Now we put in the keylever-spring rod. It runs through from the right hand side and screws into the left. Once its in, start attaching the springs.

Go ahead and put the main carriage spring into position.

The arms should now stay up high and out of the way. Next you will add the linkages, remembering that on the left half of the keyboard the opening should be to the left, and on the right, towards the right. Otherwise, they will slip out of place during standard use.

Once they are all in, attach the typebars by connecting them to the proper linkages, and screwing in the two screws on the back of the machine. Do not yet bother with alignment, as that will be better served at the end.

It's starting to come together. Next we throw on the front plate, with the typebar rest attached. Hold the typebars up as you shimmy it into place, and screw it in.

It's starting to look halfway decent. Take a break to thank RoboCop.

We now progress to the carriage assembly. The carriage arms just need to have the gear thrown on, and the ribbon cup added.

The carriage rides on its base without ball bearings; rather, it glides over screw ends and a rail of sorts in the back. This bit goes in, and is the front lock-down.

Now we add the escapement. Don't bother doing it how I did, because in a few steps I'll finally realize I put it in upside down! drat.

Next is the bell ringer.

The ribbon vibrator activator!

The ribbon vibrator!


Ok, too much excitement. Lets put the escapement on properly now.

Next we take the carriage, and the back anchor. Slip the carriage into place, and screw the anchor in.

Now we add the carriage arms.

We proceed to the assembly of the whatchamacallit. Slide the paper bail onto the rod, slip the margin stops onto their appropriate sides, throw the ratchet onto the left side (which has a rounded end for it), and screw the assembly in place while making sure to attach the drawband catch on the right side.

Now its time to add the motor. I use 14lb fishing line to substitute the broken string, but a stronger line would probably be better just because. The plate goes on first, then put on the motor itself and screw it in.

That concludes part 1. Part 2 will primarily see finishing touches done, as well as final adjustments and troubleshooting. The platen and feed roller have both been sent of to California to Mr. Dade for recovering, so I'm hopeful the finished product will look and type like a champ.

Stay tuned!