Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Alive! The 1932 Masspro Typewriter, Back From The Grave

The Masspro lives once more, after sitting for decades in its case in some attic on the east coast. It took the carriage being rebuilt twice to get it right and figure out the reason for the sluggish carriage, but all's well now.

First and foremost, I typed a page on the little machine and would like to say that it is in my most not-humble opinion that these machines are very fine little typers. I don't truly see why there is so much hate out there for the feel or action, or for the overall build quality. Sure, thinner metal was used when able. But it all still works very well, and the parts that needed to be of good quality are. 

It honestly feels just like a Corona 3 to me (which makes sense, since the principle behind the typebars and the escapement is quite literally 99% the same as a Corona 3). I would suggest that, if it had simply come out during a time when 3-bank machines were still all the rage, the Mass Production Company would have done a good job at mass producing its Masspros.

With the machine cleaned, lets take a small tour of this rather hard to find machine.

The keyboard has all the usual symbols, but ensures that there is a key for the right hands pinky (yay for those of us that touch type). Interestingly enough, it also gives the user a few other symbols that arent often found on other 3-banks; a plus sign, a few fractions, and a degree symbol. A very well thought out keyboard.

The machine allows for either 1 or 2 line spacing, by pushing in and turning the knob just below the return lever. You can disengage the ratchet wheel via the small lever in the back, and you will find the small button at the bottom of the side of the carriage is the escapement release, which exactly the same concept as is found on Olivers.

The typebasket. Rather than a solid segment as is found on most machines, this design utilizes folded metal to do so. Very effecient and sturdy in my opinion, it helps make cleaning it out even easier. The machine takes standard size spools. The spool nuts are just to keep the spools in place (unlike on a Corona 3, where they are critical in the function of the ribbon advancement). Though it doesnt have automatic ribbon reversal, it does have conveniently placed levers on each side of the machine that allow you to toggle the ribbon direction. Also of note, this machine only uses the top half of the ribbon. You have to manually flip the ribbon/spools to use the bottom half.

One of the coolest features on this machine, the backspacer is a large lever that you just quickly click in to take the carriage back a space. It works very well, and is incredibly simple in design to the point that nothing could probably stop it from working properly ( unlike some other machines). The platen knob actually also counts as the right side bearing for the platen; there is no rod.

Underneath the machine, we see the spring plate, spacebar connector, and mechanics. The machine cannot function without its feet, as alot of the mechanics need that little bit of clearance to work right.

The escapement is incredibly simple, and works efficiently. I only wish you could adjust the main tension spring.

The margins are very easy to use, and seem sturdy. The bell side marginstop has a problem that causes the bell to ring twice, and causes a bit of drag on the carriage when doing so; I'll need to remedy that someday. These earlier machine have a square logo sticker on the back. Later machines seem to have an oval.

Another cool feature is the automatic carriage lock. It took me a few minutes to figure out what the hell it was, but when I realized that it was independent of any other system, and could only be pushed in by something right up next to it, the notion of it and a case working in conjunction became clear. When you close the case lid, it pushes the lock into the rack, and at the same time throws the escapement away from the undersides rail. A very practical and, honestly, ingenious way to protect the escapement during transit that takes no effort on the users part, and automatically functions no matter what.

That has been your short tour of the Masspro typewriter, a machine that I feel has a bad rap. This machine doesnt even have the ball bearing carriage of later machines, and it works quite smoothly. 

Viva La Masspro.


  1. Wow, shiny! Excellent work getting this little fella typing again (:

  2. Looking good. This is probably the best press the Masspro has gotten for 85 years!

  3. What a beautiful machine - so glad it found a loving home where it could be appreciated.