In addition to being more than 75 years old, the typewriter was very heavily used by its original owner. The chrome or nickel plating is worn through in many places. My goal is to strip away decades of accumulated grime without disturbing the signs of wear and use which to me add character to this old machine.
This is the typewriter out of the box. Every surface is covered with a thick layer of accumulated oil, dust, nicotine and sweat. There is no hint of the original gleam of the chrome and enamel, every surface is clouded with a thick haze of dense grime.
The keyboard is dusty, the keys are grimy and tarnished.
The glass key tops are dirty. Behind the keys, a Bakelite panel that should be glossy is filthy and dull.
These tabulator keys show the effects of years of use followed by decades of neglect.
The metal parts show surface rust, the rubber rollers have deteriorated badly with age.
Dust and tarnish cover all surfaces.
A closer view of decades of crud and smoke residue.
These metal fittings are nickel plated and should shine with a bright finish.
Back of the machine. The serial number is 221091
To clean many years of grime will take hours of work. This is a work in progress and I look forward to being able to show the "after" photos when it is completed.
I put a little dish soap in some warm water and carefully applied and removed this solution with a soft cotton cloth. Here the "1" tabulator key after cleaning, a stark contrast to the uncleaned keys. Below it, the "5" key has the "Reichsmark" symbol.
The lever for selecting the ink ribbon color is heavily soiled with a build-up of oily grime.
A toothbrush and some diluted denture cleaner quickly remove years of crud.
This rubber roller has succumbed to the ravages of time and is now ugly and no longer functional.
I stripped away the old rubber goo and covered the core with heat shrink tubing which I added in layers to build it up to the right size. It is not perfect but it looks great and it works.
Here is the typewriter in a largely unrestored state, set up at an event. From a mechanical standpoint, this antique has some idiosyncrasies and the tabulator function no longer works but on the whole this is still very much useable and it is fun to use. These things were expensive when new and were built to last.
After hours of scrubbing and polishing, the typewriter looks much better. The nickel plating and black enamel gleam brightly. I am very pleased with this machine the way it looks now. There is still a lot of further detail work to be done, grime still lurks in many hidden places and crevices. I may never get this thing absolutely clean. Close inspection reveals many areas that need to be detailed but for now it looks great on my desk.
Back to In Trenches
Back to Living History Articles