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05-12-2013 16:12:33  #1


Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

I recently bought a Underwood SX100...probably the newest machine I'd ever purchased, but probably also the worst condition, as it had been left outside to rust so much that the grey metal work was now brown.  Worst of all, the water had pooled over the bottom 1/3 of the key arch (!), rendering them a mass of rusted mess, and none of the keys would budge.

Since I only paid $10 USD for the machine, after some web research I decided to risk an experiment.  It (fortunately!) paid off, and I thought I'd share it here.

We live in an area with a high calcium & lime concentration in the water, so we regularly use food-grade citric acid powder as a pre-rinse in the dishwasher to negate its effects.

So....I found a tub large enough to accomodate the whole machine, filled it with enough hot (read: boiling) water to submerge the machine, and added a cup or so of the citric acid powder.  I then started submersing the parts until the rust was visibly removed.  I started with the carriage & tinwork to be safe & test my process, then moved on to the whole machine.  With the stuck keys, I was able to leave the machine in for about an hour or so until the keys would actually begin to move!  I kept it in, adding more boiling water a liter/quart or so at a time, until I was able to get every key to move, then removed it from the bath.

Three important final steps...each part received a very thorough hot water rinse (using the kitchen sink sprayer), then went in the oven at 200 degrees F until absolutely dry (the rubber parts seemed to tolerate this just fine).  Finally, I sprayed all moving parts with a lubricant to keep rust from re-occuring since the metal was now so fully exposed.  

(FYI, I am in love with Tri-Flow lubricant that my bicycling buddy loaned me.  I used the aerosol, but it also comes in a squirt bottle.  This product is amazing!  It can both loosen stuck parts like WD-40, but it has the staying power of a spray lithium grease, without all the mess.)

At this writing, the machine is back together and awaiting a re-ink on the ribbon, but otherwise works completely free and looks great!  

Moral of the story:  If you have a machine that appears to be intact but rusted beyond repair, don't let this deter you!  It can be done, and it's worth the effort!

I will try to post photos later...

 

05-12-2013 16:36:26  #2


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Can't wait to see the photos. I hope you have before and after shots.

Dunk cleaning typewriters was a common technique used by technicians to clean and degrease machines, but all the articles that I've read on the subject stress the importance of removing the platen first. I wasn't sure from your description if you removed yours or left it on. Of course they were using detergents in the water instead of a descaling solution.

Congratulations on diving into such a task - pun intended.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

10-12-2013 14:18:41  #3


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Thanks Uwe!  Yes, I did remove the platen, forgot to mention that...but I did dunk the rollers separately once removed due to the gunk/buildup, hoping that the acidic water was less damaging than petroleum would be. Appreciated the helpful notes elsewhere on rejuvinating old platens rubber as well...

     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2013 14:49:52  #4


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Not sure if I've mentioned it elsewhere here, but I only use Blow Off Rubber Rejuvinator on my platens. It cleans absolutely everything off of them - quickly - including white out and ink. 

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think you should ever immerse a platen in water because there's a layer of cork under the rubber that would swell and destroy the platen.


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

03-4-2016 17:36:16  #5


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Boy, was I born too late!!  Another old post.  Well, anyway, I could tell stories of machines I practically raised from the dead this way.  Only I would soak them a couple of days in diesel, blow them out, and use automatic transmission fluid and start slowly working the mechanisms until they were free again.  I would have a lot of surface rust, but that would in time wear down.  Some of my finest typewriters have been found in barns, dumpsters, and with a little diesel, tranny fluid, and a little lovin' tender care, that baby will go back to poundin' paper again!!


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

03-4-2016 17:41:07  #6


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Uwe wrote:

Not sure if I've mentioned it elsewhere here, but I only use Blow Off Rubber Rejuvinator on my platens. It cleans absolutely everything off of them - quickly - including white out and ink. 

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think you should ever immerse a platen in water because there's a layer of cork under the rubber that would swell and destroy the platen.

You probably right.  I saw this once on my 1916 Royal 10.  Of course I replaced the platen.
 


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

03-4-2016 19:07:16  #7


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

TypewriterKing wrote:

Only I would soak them a couple of days in diesel, blow them out, and use automatic transmission fluid and start slowly working the mechanisms until they were free again.

Diesel? This is probably the oddest cleaning method I've heard... And that seems to be a trend too. People use alcohol, lighter fluid, brake cleaner, carb cleaner, gasoline, and now diesel. I sometimes feel like I'm suck in the past in the way I use q-tips and light cleaners. 

But how effective is using these "harsh" chemical baths? I don't want cancer or anything (especially since I just moved my operation from my room to the garage because I was inhaling those fumes for hours at a time...) and I don't want to break a law by dumping in a river or having it contaminate the water supply (NJ water is bad enough...). And how and where should I do it?


A high schooler with a lot of typewriters. That's pretty much about it.
 

03-4-2016 22:06:49  #8


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

Stick to the method you're using...


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

03-4-2016 22:32:57  #9


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

As ominous and short as that response is, I think I'll stay with it... (for practical reasons really. I don't feel like risking burning the house down or anything right now)


A high schooler with a lot of typewriters. That's pretty much about it.
 

03-4-2016 23:48:18  #10


Re: Don't be afraid to save a rusted out machine!

I have a detached garage, and I always have a fire extinguisher with me, just in case. I clean my typewriters in a well-ventilated area.  But, really, Diesel has a very high flashpoint (52 degrees celsius--126 degrees fahrenheit).   I did once use gasoline on something else way long time ago, and I stopped because I got sick.  I am always careful about what I use and how I use it.  Don't want to lose my house.  It's not much, but it's mine.


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

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