Friday, April 21, 2023

In Which Joe Gets an Underwood 5

Underwood 5
Underwood 5 Blog Article

Underwood 5
Missing decals and discolored keys, her beauty's more than skin-deep -- not bad for 103 years old!

Underwood 5
I love the mechanical details of the manual ribbon wind sprocket!

Underwood 5
A few hours of work and she's starting to shine. Even the bell rings!

Underwood 5
I love how easy it is to access and adjust the spring motor tension.

Underwood 5
The front margin rack with its "backwards" margin scale is distinctive to these Underwoods

Disassembly for cleaning involved removing the paper guide rod, paper pan, paper finger rod and front margin scale bar. Then the right platen knob was removed. Next I removed the left carriage cover which gained me access to the line spacing mechanism. The entire spacing mechanism needed to be removed, to be able to remove the platen rod, then the platen. This then gained me access to the feed rollers underneath; they are hardened and should be replaced, but I cleaned them as best I could with alcohol. I used degreaser, alcohol and careful application of a Scotch-brite pad to remove a century of greasy discoloration. For the plated metal parts I used Never-Dull metal polish (which I first discovered in the US Navy). Type bar linkages and joints were cleaned with alcohol and cotton buds.The surfaces of the keypads were cleaned with buds and a bit of alcohol; they should eventually be removed using a keyring pulling tool (that I currently lack) and new key legends printed and installed.

There's a bit of ribbon lift adjustment needing to be made, and the shifting is a bit wonky at times, something intermittently hangs up when returning to lower case. But all told, it's a fine machine considering the age. I'm amazed at the quality of materials and workmanship that went into these instruments; one reason why they are so highly desired by serious collectors and users of classic typewriters.

Underwood made many refinements in the years since this machine was built, including segment shift by the time the "SS" model had arrived in the 1940s. But this early version is the progenitor. She's not one of those pristine, perfectly-restored "cabinet queens" too precious to use. This one's a typer, a writer's instrument. Written all over her exterior are the signs of years of use. I intend on continuing in that tradition.


Blogger Ted said...

Drago is the character played by Chill Wills in the 1963 John Wayne film "McLintock!". Watch it and you'll see why. (:

8:40 PM  
Blogger RobertG said...

Oo, nice one, a known specimen ;)
Also neat how the re-paint shows it was refurbished and of value when already old. And even tho the decals are gone, the nickel looks incredibly clean! Probably helped by being refurbed and used a long time.

My nr 5 now also has new rubber, and I can agree; grand machinery to type with :-)

8:33 AM  
Blogger Bill M said...

Those old No 5s are fun to use. Congratulations on getting such a fine one.

4:21 AM  

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