While I still have serious doubts about my ability to compete in this year’s NaNoWriMos, I am doing my best to prepare. I’ll probably do most of my writing long hand, since I do not have a good computer set up for long writing sessions (goal #1: obtain a desk), and none of my typewriters are especially functional–or if they are, portable.

To that end, I have decided to bite the bullet and attempt a full cleaning of the Remington Portable #3, since it is my only semi-working portable.

I got this typer in spring of last year. According to the serial number, it is from late 1930. My great aunt and uncle had it collecting dust in their garage, and handed it off to me. It still has the original decals poorly attached, but in one piece.

I have a few complaints about this machine which have kept me from using it on a regular basis:

1. There’s debris in the carriage, under the platen. I’ve used it anyway, just for short typecasts, but I don’t want to use it for long periods for fear of damaging it.

2. It doesn’t have a bar that comes down to hold the paper in place. From the pictures I’ve seen, that seems to be a characteristics of the #3s, but it means that the slugs are really loud when they hit the paper, because the page bounces with ever strike. It’s a minor thing, but while I like the sound of the slugs hitting the page, I don’t like the sound the paper itself makes when it shifts.

3. When I reach the end of a line, I have to hit the carriage return bar, then very carefully turn the platen knob to go to the next line. The uneven line spacing that results drives me batty, and I’m not sure if this is once again a characteristic of the machine or if something is actually broken.

4. The ribbon spools are smaller than average.

5. The ribbon doesn’t always advance on it’s own.

6. There doesn’t appear to be a way to set the margins, and this one will happily type both before the page begins and after it ends.

I’ve learned to deal with numbers 2, 3, and 6 for the most part. My solution for #4 (which I will tackle later this morning) is to cut the ribbon I’m using in half so that I’ll have 2 lengths of 1/2″ ribbon, and to store the second half in a ziplock bag for later use. I might also trim 1/8″ or so off the width of the ribbon, because it is just slightly too thick, or it appears to be. Trimming the length might help just by allowing it to sit more evenly on the spool. Since it peeps over the edge of one or the other of the spools, this might be causing problem #5, and if I can kill two birds with one stone, all the better.

#1 is the real problem, obviously. I haven’t a clue how to remove the carriage, and generally speaking, I’m hesitant to remove anything if I can’t see exactly how to put it back before doing so.

While I can’t move forward with that aspect, I’ve begun doing as thorough a cleaning as I can manage on the rest of it. The outside I cleaned upon receipt, but there were a few areas on the interior that were still quite grungy.  The worst offenders, however, were the type bars, which were covered in an oily black gunge of unknown origin. Soap, hot water, and a toothbrush won’t touch it. If I were a more daring or knowledgeable person (or perhaps just much dumber) I would take apart the type basket and try cleaning each piece with a mild poultice of vinegar and baking soda, since the slightly pitted metal will likely never be entirely clean by mechanical methods. Instead, however, I am doing the only thing that seems to work, which is carefully scraping each slug with dental picks. It makes me nostalgic for my archaeological conservation work in Italy, when we spent hours scraping dirt and mystery substances from 2,000 year old ceramics and 300 year old paintings. Is it weird that I find this sort of thing enjoyable?

Cleaned up
Still very dirty. I’m about 1/3 of the way through.

Once I get 1-5 sorted out, there are a couple of other things I would like to do–there’s some old adhesive residue on one side that I can’t get off. I’m not sure what solvent to try without damaging the paint. I’d also like to reattach the decals, but again, I’m not quite sure what to use. And I want to replace the felt under the type bars, because it’s absolutely disgusting. Those are all rather minor things, however, and I can live with those a little longer than I can the others.

Are your machines in ship shape yet, or are you as behind as I am?

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P.S. The witching Hour comes out on Wednesday!

P.P.S. Were you paying attention, or did you miss it like I did? Saturday was my 5 year blogiversary. Kudos to anyone who as put up with my nonsense for that long. And for the rest of you, I hope you stick around for another five!