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Underwood No. 3 Typewriter

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    Posted 8 years ago

    (103 items)

    Well here's something you don't see every day, a mangled mess of rusted metal that used to be a gorgeous old circa 1901 typewriter. I found this mixed in with large boulders and rocks on a neighbour's property. I have no idea how long it's been subjected to the elements, but certainly long enough to create a sad sight. I was shocked to think that somebody would have tossed it out and treated it this way!

    The paint and rubber is still in surprisingly good condition, and even some of the chrome (nickel-plated?) bits look in fairly good condition. I started having ambitions of restoring it back to original condition once I saw these excellent photos online:

    I don't have any delusions of it ever being fully operational again, but with some tedious work I might at least turn it into a great-looking conversation piece. I've found some old repair manuals and parts list illustrations online that should help a lot during dis-assembly and reassembly.

    I've started reading up on various ways to remove rust (chemicals vs. electrolysis) and would sure appreciate any tips on cleaning this typewriter up, and if the effort is even worth it. Is it going to be a case of "if I knew what I was getting into I would've never started!"...?

    For those interested, the serial number is either 90918 or 81606 - just my luck to find one of a handful of units where the number can be read both ways!

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    1. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      I am a bit simplistic in my approach to things and not a full restoration person by any stretch so please take this advice bearing this in mind.... spray the whole thing down with a hose... let it dry, and soak or spray it all out with gun oil to turn the rust into a darker metal looking colour... otherwise the amount of hours you would put in to detailing this would not match what you could pick a similar one up for at a flea market. I think it has great character all gnarled up -- just eliminating the rust look would suffice for me....
    2. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Yeah, I hear you about the time issue! I guess I'm liking the challenge of it all as well - and it's the extra keys at the bottom (below the space bar) that caught my attention. I think those make it a little more rare/valuable?

      Regardless it'll never be worth the time I put into it but I kind of like the idea of a bunch of before-and-after photos of the restoration process; sort of like what you see at car shows when the gorgeous car you're looking at was restored from a rusted heap found in a farmer's field!

      Taking it all apart down to the last screw (and attempting to reassemble it without any parts left over) is such a great way to learn about how these mechanical workhorses operated as well - and very satisfying once you discard all the moments of insanity-inducing frustration!
    3. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      I can see the fun and the challenge of taking it apart to clean it up and restore as best you can-- it is never the same as just going out to buy one somewhere -- something about the story of "the find" that elicits excitement and gives a piece its uniqueness that makes any effort worth the investment. I still have my first trunk that I picked off a garbage truck and it is on the bottom wrung of my trunks but the last I will let go of. You of course must post an "after" pic.... interesting about those bottom keys... seem unique to me too!
    4. rocker-sd rocker-sd, 8 years ago
      I would leave it as-is, and put it in the garden for yard art.
    5. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Our 'preserve the past' philosophies are a bit different rocker-sd...! See my other posting of the "Rotted out Steamer Trunk" to see what happens in relatively short order when an antique is left out in the elements.

      But I'll happily swap you this pre-rusted garden art typewriter for a similar one in excellent condition - that way we both gain and neither of us will feel guilty!
    6. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      There is an interesting element about the fact that it was once a gorgeous machine, then discarded, and now a mangled up mess...interesting to ponder :) I believe there is some art to leaving as is, and art in restoring it. Thanks for sharing!
    7. Virginia.vintage Virginia.vintage, 8 years ago
      Is an amazing machine, love it!
    8. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Jewels, I have given some thought to setting up a blog that documents the adventure of resurrecting this thing from the clutches of the rust-monster. By keeping a public online logbook of work vs. time vs. methods, along with cost expenditures and of course LOTS of photos, it could make for some interesting social discourse on the madness of even trying such a thing and the progressive rewards it might bring that transcend our base values motivated by time and money.

      Yeah, sort of the Existential Renewal of the Discarded Typewriter...!

      And maybe along the way others who are sympathetic to the madness might donate whatever advice and moral support and even parts that may be required to get this thing clickity-clacking again!
    9. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 8 years ago
      Boy do you have your work cut out for you!!! The only thing I can say is maybe in a small spot try some mineral oil. Vegetable oil, WD 40...if you can handle that smell...

      I can tell you that if you are going to do this for resale, don't bother. The hours you will have to put into it won't be worth what you might get for it. Someone else might just want it the way it is, hard to believe, but true!
    10. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      Hi Kydur, I love that, "Existential Renewal of the Discarded Typewriter!" So much to say about that...I will just say, I understand :)
    11. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Shareurpassion, see my reply-comment #8 (above) to Jewels. Sometimes the motivation (and reward) is more than what can be measured with a resale price tag!

      Jewels, thanks for the understanding - it helps to numb the madness!
    12. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      While I was cooking dinner, I was thinking about this typewriter lol, have you read a children's book called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane? It is about a self-absorbed, but beautiful China rabbit who goes on a journey--being lost and broken and brought back to life, wanted to share, this made me think of that :)
    13. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Have never read (nor heard) of that book, but will see if I can find it somewhere online; sounds as philosophical a children's book as The Little Prince.

      Your book title reminded me of another book title: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - which may be just as apt to describe a typewriter rejuvenation journey!

      Strange how one train of thought can jump the tracks and lead to another... Maybe I should rename my yet non-existent blog to "The Curious Case Regarding the Miraculous Journey of the Existential Discarded Typewriter".
    14. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 8 years ago
      I did see that, of course it was after I left my comment...Still laughed!
    15. Alan2310 Alan2310, 8 years ago
      I love better the desk you post the other day, more realist piece to restore.
      REALLY, maybe when you get your retirement, you will have finish this typewriter manually piece by piece and when you done, you realize you got one or two leftover piece, OMG i got start over,don't died on this.
      rocker-sd have a great ideal,leave as it is in garden,Lol :D

      Take care

    16. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Alan, but wouldn't this typewriter (when restored and looking like the one at the link I included in the description) look fantastic on that library desk?! Along with the desk lamp, inkwell, ink nib box, candlestick phone, and trowel letter opener I also posted!
    17. Alan2310 Alan2310, 8 years ago
      I hope you know i was joking with, you know that.
      Because i start many project similar or close, and when it's finish.
      You feel like satisfaction accomplish, and proud to bring something from garbage state to shiny and clean.
      I remember disassembly rusty check writer clean it,and bring back to life.
      Take care

    18. Alan2310 Alan2310, 8 years ago
      Today i just found along the road, a stunning stool,part metal part wood.
      This show some wear on the step, and the step go in and out, so you can has a stool, but also when you pull the step out you can use has a step tool.
      For me i just found a treasure to bring back to life.
      I will post later tonight this thing on the site, for the before and after picture.
    19. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      Ahh love The Little Prince! I own several editions! And yes, Benjamin button...this typewriter aging backwards, interesting! :) Hi share! :) Hi Alan, look forward to seeing your treasure :)

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