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14-9-2019 11:37:30  #1

underwood number 5 restoration


I recently bought a number 5 (1918 - 1925) that a bit rusty and Im trying to clean it up.

Im not after a fully functional typewriter, my main concern is ketting the key action nice and smooth.

The issue I have is accessing the middle part, where the key arms leaver. I have looked at some videos of other underwood 5's but they must have different versions as they have screws where I seem to have rivets.

Can anyone explain or point me to a guide that explains how to get at these parts?



14-9-2019 19:57:11  #2

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

Oh boy, that is a rusty machine there! I think you might need to have some serious skills to get that machine working smoothly! and that if all the pieces are there... I think is quite a challenge to start restoring a machine in that state if is your first project, but good luck! 

User manual 

Repair manual


15-9-2019 00:08:52  #3

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

I agree, buy a bucket of evapo-rust! I'm planning to tackle a Remington 10 this winter, in a similar state, that I picked up as one of a collection of six that was for sale very cheaply. I wanted the Underwood 5, but also ended up with a Royal KMM, Olivetti M44, Olympia 8 and Olympia SG1.
I'm out of the country until Tuesday, but if nobody has replied by then on the question of the key lever fixings, I'll have a look at the two Underwoods I have for comparison.
Good luck with it!


15-9-2019 05:59:40  #4

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

cheers - ill have a look at those manuals. 

Like i say im not too fussed about getting it working so long as the key action is smooth. I actually like the rust to some extent which is why i chose it - its an art project more than a "I want to type on it" thing

     Thread Starter

15-9-2019 06:35:38  #5

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

Ok, a rusty typewriter can give a smooth action. As long as the moving parts are not rusty. If the goal is not restoring it, but to have it more or less moving for some sort of art, then just use a can of WD40, spray it on the segment and on the key-links and voila, a "perfectly running" typewriter. I think if you attempt anything more complicated than that you might end up with missing screws, taking apart things that you wont be able to put together again... if a typewriter is taken down by a person that has no idea what is doing has a biiiiig chance of not been rebuilt again, or not been as fine tuned as before. 


15-9-2019 11:54:06  #6

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

i was told that wd-40 was a big no no?

Also, the problem is that i can access the parts that need cleaning - the lower part of the key bars and the parts that come up vertically are all obstructed by the bar that has the ribbon mount for the ribbon (where the keys strike). As far as I can tell that bar is a welded part of the main frame so i assume you access the key bars by removing the stuff behind the ribbon bar (looks like the gearing for the carrage).

having a person who has no idea what they are doing take it down is the only option - unfortunately we dont have a underwood typewritter repair shop in my town If I can get it back together then so be it, not like its much use in its current state.

     Thread Starter

15-9-2019 15:51:07  #7

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

We all started by experimenting and having a go at our first project. I'm still learning with every job I try to tackle, so as long you are happy with the risk of not getting it all back together in a working state, then have a go! In respect of my planned Remington 10 restoration, I'm thinking of buying another, so I'll have a ready reference for how it should go back together! Good luck with it!
...and yes, WD40 is normally not recommended but I can see how you might use it, purely to get something moving, in place of a proper restoration??


16-9-2019 15:11:10  #8

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

That's right, we all start experimenting, and some of us we have messed up one or two typewriters trying to learn, well, at least me. The beginner instinct tell us to take apart the typewriter, the carriage, whatever is on the way... in order to clean it, and that turns out to be a big no no, in most of the cases.

I have never cleaned a rusty Underwood 5, but many times it is enough some 100% alcohol, ear buds, a brush and patience to make them work smoothly, this seems to be an extreme case, so for extreme cases extreme solutions.

Is wd40 such a crime? with time it tends to gum up the mechanism together with accumulated dust. Yes. I would avoid it in a clean machine, but if is going to be used to free some rusty parts then is great. Then you can always clean it away with white spirit and compressed air...

I would definitively start taking pictures on how you took it apart just in case, or get a twin typewriter to see how it should go, like IanJ ;)

In any case, that typewriter seems to be a piece of cannon fodder to me, I doubt that anything smooth will come out from it, but you can practise and learn from it. I am not sure what kind of art is going to make, so maybe is just fine to throw some wd40 to it, but that is just my opinion.


17-9-2019 12:09:51  #9

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

Im going to turn it into a USB keyboard (and incorporate it into something larger) so smooth key action is important so im going to avoid wd40 for the time being.
My main issue is not so much ruusted up parts that dont moove so much as they just arnt quite smooth enough in their movement.

Accessing the back parts of the key arms where there are one or two hinges on each. I have bought some different tools to hopefully help me reach them without having to take it apart because atm i cant see how i would do that even if I wanted to.


     Thread Starter

18-9-2019 10:48:43  #10

Re: underwood number 5 restoration

Hi Messy
​I've attached photos of the two Underwood 5 typewriters I have. As you can see, they have different fixings on the side of the frame. I'm wondering if what you thought to be rivets are actually fixings with internal threads (possibly not noticeable on your machine because of the amount of rust on it?). They should come apart but will need dismantling from within the frame. It looks as though the connecting rods have grub screws set into sleeves, which fit over the rods. 
​I hope I've captured the fixings you were referring to? Let me know if you need further photos.
Good luck with it!


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