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Green and purple Skyriter

It started with my Smith-Corona Skyriter needing a new ribbon. I’d been coping with a pretty dry ribbon, but after some searching I discovered that while the ribbon spool is not the most standard size for typewriters, it is A standard, and TheModernTypewriter on Etsy sells ribbons on those spools. Not only that, they sell them in various colors! I have three typewriters and knew that I didn’t want to go black (or red) with this single-color ribbon, when other options were so close in price. After much agonizing, I went with purple. I’d never replaced a typewriter ribbon before, but I remembered reading in The Typewriter Revolution that replacing one for the first time will often get you covered in ink, so I embraced the chaos and just dove in with ungloved hands as I figured out how it wove into the mechanisms. I might use gloves next time, I had purple fingertips for over a day.

My next project was preventing my Skyriter form stinking up the entire downstairs every time I took it out. MJ and I joked about the smell, but the truth is that nostalgic smell we were noting was actually mildew, and not something I was keen to keep around. So I popped the core mechanism of my Skyriter out for the 100th time (see my post, I’m now the proud owner of a 1950 Smith-Corona Skyriter) and spent over 5 days scraping, scrubbing, and applying Goof Off to the base to remove every scrap of vintage, mildewy felt. Honestly, if I knew it would be this hard I may have tried some of mildew killer or something first, but all the online resources embraced the process of felt replacement, so that’s what I went with.

I then carefully replaced it with some green, sticky-back felt that I had from an earlier art project. At least this part of the project went smoothly!

I may regret using a non-dark color for this some time in the future, especially if I end up using my typewriter oil on it at some point and it drips, but I actually really do like the green peeking out from under as I type.

I was so proud of my accomplishment, but then I smelled mildew again. What?

Oh no.

So, I have some more work to do felt-wise. I’m going to wait a little while though, I’m a bit fumed out from my last round of Goof Off, and I think my family is too! Plus, the mildew smell from the top portion isn’t nearly as offensive.

One of the other things I discovered from this endeavor was that I did a tiny bit of damage with that Goof Off. It’s strong stuff, and while I didn’t think much about removing the paint on the inside, when I finished I decided to do a little touch-up on the outside, and that’s where I ended up causing some marks. Oh no! My poor baby! To make myself feel better, I re-focused on how pleased I was to have cleaned out my old typewriter, and it didn’t matter much how it looked. The blemishes are character-building!

But then I was reading in aforementioned typewriter book about typewriter modding. The author cautioned against making changes to rare typewriters, but non-rare ones? He has several in his collection that he modified himself! As cool as it is, my beloved Skyriter is not a rare typewriter. I don’t need to worry about hurting it. In fact, if I want to continue making this my beloved pal, totally refinishing it may actually be the next logical step! Besides, while I have a morbid fondness for that green/grey crackly paint, I wouldn’t say I actually like it that much. Maybe a whole new green refinish is in it’s future?

The final cleaning I had on my agenda for this round of restoration was the key slugs. Those are the metal parts that hit the ink and paper, and I noticed a few letters being a bit gunky, so I watched a few YouTube videos and then got to work with a toothbrush and some rubbing alcohol. I may do a more thorough job in the future using some of the tips I learned online, but I’m really happy with the result of a once-over for now.

And so with my lovely, tuned up, non-smelly typewriter, I figured we’d go on an adventure. A park was the first thing on my list, but then my plans shifted slightly and I decided to just go to a nearby outdoor cafe. It was a beautiful day, I got to enjoy a nice coffee, and just spend a little time writing.

I’d say the only major remaining annoyance is the space bar. The bottom of the case is a bit warped, so it’s taking a bit more effort than I’d like to engage the space bar. I spent a little time bending the case back and it worked better, and then it went back to the way it was when I took it out for our adventure. I’m not sure what I’ll try next, but while other quirkiness is tolerable, I think the space bar situation will need to be addressed if I’m going to enjoy much writing on it.