The first typewriter I took a bold leap and dove in to clean. It cost me $150 and was a rust bucket. At the bottom you’ll find the after-photos.

Learning, or how to work on your typewriter without screwing everything up 🙂

Whether you have a 1901 Hammond No. 2, or a 1958 Hermes Rocket, I encourage you to explore your machine and get to know it. If there is a problem, study that problem and see if you can work your way backwards to what might be the issue. That’s exactly how I got started.

If you decide to take a bolt step and try to fix a machine yourself, I strongly urge you to consider and take to heart the following lessons I’ve learned -painfully – along the way. I also include links to tools and providers that I have found very useful in my work.

  1. You must have the right tools. The screwdriver you bought from Walmart in 07′ is NOT the right tool. You need gunsmithing screwdrivers or similar bits. Take a look at this awesome graphic Chapman Tools put together. These bits/screwdrivers are designed to break before the screw does, and apply the right amount of torque in the right places. As my good friend over at Time Travel Typewriters says, if you apply a small amount of force and the screw doesn’t turn, then it’s not ready to come out.
  2. Take photos. Lots, and lots of photos. When I am working on any machine, old or new, I take multiple photos of everything I do. This is vital for not only seeing that everything goes back the way it’s supposed to, but also keeping track of the condition and progress in the work.
  3. The third and final rule is this: If you’re not comfortable with the possibility of breaking a screw and completely ruining the machine, it’s probably best you don’t work on it. That’s ok. You’ll get better the more you study the machine.

Here are some tools that I have found to be invaluable.

Some of these are Amazon links, and yes if you purchase something I might get a few wooden nickels from the Empire. I thank you for supporting my longevity.

Chapman Bit Company. Hands down, without question, the best tool company. Very affordable. The company will soon come out with a typewriter repair toolkit and you should wait for that one, but do take a look around. Chapman bits break before your screw breaks, they’re super cheap to replace, and their customer service is excellent. Made in the USA.

Spring Hook Pull/Push Tool. This is absolutely the #1 tool to have. Whether it is indeed pushing, or pulling springs, it’s been ideal for hooking, pushing, and lifting other things. Yes, get the five pack, you will regret not having at least 2 or 3.

Kroil Oil. This is an extremely thin penetrating oil that works quite well on freeing up antique screws that have been rusted in. You must be extremely careful not to put too much torque on the screw or it will break, a lot easier than you think. Kroil is expensive but if you’re looking for the best, here it is.

Deep Creep is similar to another very popular product called PB Blaster, but Deep Creep will not put you in a coma and make the neighborhood angry at you because of the smell. I’m exaggerating but Deep Creep is a great penetrant, cheaper than Kroil oil, but not as bad smelling as PB Blaster.

Evaporust. Hands down, this is the best, most gentle, nontoxic, biodegradable, reuseable!, rust remover I have ever used. Buy a gallon. Buy three gallons. For soaking small parts in a little jar, to large parts in a plastic tub, I’ve had great success with Evaporust.

Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish is an all around, gentle polish for typewriter metal.

Simichrome is a high end, very fine polish when you are dealing with painted objects, polishing around decals, or surfaces which may get abraded or ruined by other polishes. You only need a drop of it. If I have any concern about damage due to polishing, I go with simichrome.

Just need a Ribbon? FJA Projects makes exceptional ribbons in America that fit 95% of typewriters made after 1920.

Pre-1920s Ribbons Unlimited has an impressive stock of ribbons for antique typewriters. They sent me a blue ribbon for a 1907 Hammond No. 12 and it works wonderfully.

Shop paper towels are thicker than normal paper towels, and great for polishing surfaces. They are a little more than normal paper towels.

Bad smells? I have a lot of typewriter cases. I mean..a lot, and they have every smell I ever sniffed in grandmother’s basement. The machines themselves may stink (hint: it’s usually the sound dampening pads inside). Every few months the dog and I go to the park and leave this Ozone machine running for an hour or two. It’s magic. Breaks up odors, just be sure to air out the house afterwards.