If you space a behind-the-scenes human being like me, then you love to recognize what goes into exactly how stuff works. Or in our case, what goes right into preparing the typewriters for sale and/or servicing.

You are watching: How to clean a vintage typewriter

It’s good to recognize the typewriter clean process. Grasping the work that goes right into serving and repair creates an appreciation for what fine makers these are. And it’s a great reminder the these room not recently manufactured, yet carefully cleaned and also examined vintage items. In actuality, each typewriter requires individualized servicing. Yet there is rather of a process that we go v to get the vintage typewriter in working problem again.

For illustration purposes, we determined a 1957 Remington edge Quiet Riter that remained in decent condition. Uncovered at a neighborhood estate sale, the exterior looked great but us never recognize for certain what we’ll uncover until we obtain it to the shop and also give it a thoroughly inspection.

Most of our typewriters are uncovered through regional online marketplaces, auctions, garage sales, heritage sales, and also hunting second-hand shops. Sometimes they are rather layered in dirt and also grime prefer this Underwood below:

A vintage Underwood manual typewriter wait to it is in brought back to life.

This form of problem is reasonably common so when we discover one in good shape and also only needing a few minor repairs, we’re thrilled!


First points first. Rob uses a systems to clean each vital and the escapement with a Qtip. Ns asked why he didn’t just use a toothbrush and it was due to the fact that the toothbrush spreads the dirt around. Noodle swabs room inexpensive and also can gain into small places. (And yes, we perform buy them in big quantities!)


Everything has to be confirm on a typewriter. He’ll spin the around, turn it upside down, poke and also prod every square inch. Among the key things we inspect is the bell.

Everyone LOVES the sound of a bell when the carriage return it s okay to the end. Interestingly, the bell isn’t constantly the easiest component of the typewriter come fix. Periodically the steel is for this reason old the you get much more of dull *tink* fairly than a pleasant *ding*.

In the case of the 1957 Remington, the bell wasn’t functioning so Rob took apart the earlier metal panel and discovered damaged springs.

The springs on a typewriter are an extremely tiny and also require magnifying glasses and also tweezers to gain them ago into place.

At first, the bell didn’t make any type of sound, then gave a difficult “thunk”. Eventually, he was able to get it to offer out a pass out *ding*. Absolutely not favor it was together a brand brand-new machine, however at the very least it is working.


After the keys and bars are all shiny and also clean, Rob check the continuing to be parts consisting of the margins, tabs, carriage release, drawband, and also anything rather that catches his eye.

Before we perform a type test we have to remove the old ribbon and also install and also a brand-new one.

Rolling a new inked ribbon onto a steel spool.

Most typewriters use a removable ribbon spool so it’s simple in and out. However, some typewriters, specifically Remingtons, use a fixed steel spool. This needs manually winding brand-new ribbon right into the machine. Not challenging – however messy!

Now come the true test…the typing test.

This is wherein we discover how much work actually demands to be excellent on the typewriter. Each typewriter go through several typing tests, with the last one gift recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel for potential buyers to review prior to they purchase.


In this case, as in nearly all the typewriters, number of of the tricks were no striking the paper. Sometimes it’s simple fix, various other times we need to work a small harder to gain the machine to type well. And also every when in awhile, we’re can not to gain it to form at all. (Those typewriters end up being used because that spare parts.)

Repairing few of the metal keys.
Testing the keys again.

Once the secrets are every working, climate it’s time to clean up the roller and also spiffy increase the exterior the the typewriter.

For our digital Smith Corona typewriters, we usually repaint the exterior. These have tendency to it is in our most famous typewriters.

In the case of the 1957 Remington Rand and also other manual typewriters, keeping the verity of the original color is our priority.

Checking the roller.
The final details.

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For a typewriter in great condition once it involves us, this process takes only a couple hours, yet there space some, particularly the really old typewriters, that take a few days that buffing, cleaning, and repair work prior to it’s ready to be placed up on the shop.

Need a vintage typewriter repaired or cleaned?

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