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09-6-2021 14:28:06  #1


Have I killed my Underwood 21?

I was given an Underwood 21 - 1961 I think- it was made in Italy anyway.  It was in a bad way.  I had been stored somewhere very damp and the aluminium had corroded badly.  Nothing moved, not carriage, not keys, nothing.  I took the covers off and began to clean it with surgical spirit and penetrating oil.  The carriage wasn't locked- checked that.  After a good deal of work the carriage began to move properly, back space and space bar etc all worked fine.  Then I worked on the basket and got most of the keys moving but they didn't strike the platen.  They all stopped an inch short.  The margins were not locked and the margin override key worked.  Then I got overconfident as I moved the carriage.  It seemed to travel too far and when I pushed it back there was un unhealthy graunching sound.  Now the keys hit the platen- hurrah? but the carriage is entirely stuck.  Carriage return doesn't work, nor does space bar or backspace.  I'm stuck and so's the carriage.  I just started with this out of curiosity but now I'm sort of in love with her.  Can anyone help?

 

09-6-2021 20:34:40  #2


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi Cally

Welcome to the forum. The fact that you use the term surgical spirits indicates to me that you are most probably in England, hence the damp storage location. As a group of typewriter enthusiasts here on the forum, I'm sure we can help you get to the root of your 21's problems. The sound you describe almost sounds like the carriage rack grinding on the escapement pinion as you pushed the carriage. The keys not hitting the platen would indicate the line lock was engaged thus blocking the universal bar from activating the escapement and in turn arresting the type bar movement.

With everything having been so seized up when you got the 21, I'm thinking the issue is possibly to do with the line lock and its engagement to the escapement and carriage rack. When the carriage appeared to move too far, did the rubber part of the platen travel past the type point? Another thought about the sudden noise is the draw cord may have broken or come disconnected and the noise was the mainspring drum spinning out of control, or possibly the spring breaking inside the drum.

A few things to check would be the mainspring drum and the draw cord to see if they are still properly attached and working correctly. As I say, these are just some thoughts which may be worth exploring. If you need pictures of my descriptions, I too have a 21 S/N 917777, which doesn't even register on the typewriter database as it was made in Canada. Please let us know what you find. All the best,

Sky


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)
 

10-6-2021 04:24:38  #3


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi there Sky
Thanks so much for replying and for your helpful message. I am indeed in the UK, in the far south west, sea on both sides of us so it's pretty wet everywhere here! 

You asked- When the carriage appeared to move too far, did the rubber part of the platen travel past the type point?
I'm not sure but I think this might have been the case

And then- Another thought about the sudden noise is the draw cord may have broken or come disconnected and the noise was the mainspring drum spinning out of control, or possibly the spring breaking inside the drum.
Is that the string that I can see underneath?  If so that seems to be intact.

There is a sort of small toothed wheel right in the centre of the carriage assembly underneath and an arm that seems like it should connect with it but it's not really engaging with it.  Is that a possible problem?  I can't include photos but I have taken some here. I'm not sure if this link will work properly but worth a try.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/rsxv9491EQSKkfGg7

Thanks so much for your suggestions.
Cally


 

     Thread Starter
 

10-6-2021 10:52:08  #4


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi Again Cally

Sounds like you're in Cornwall or Devon, my brother and I holidayed in that area a couple of times in the early to mid 1980's. We stayed one night at a B&B in Porkellis, quaint old farmhouse called Dream Cottage. OK, back to your machine.

The link to the pictures works and gives us something to work with. Looking at your pictures, the mainspring and draw cord are present and correct. The small toothed wheel is the escapement. The teeth don't appear to be connected to anything because the pawl assembly is directly under the platen. If you look above the star wheel, you'd see the pinion that is in constant mesh with the carriage rack.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51238199371_10197ae928_z.jpg


Another anomaly that I  found with my 21 is if the paper table and eraser table get dislodged from their proper position, the whole carriage assembly jams up. Not sure why this happens, but make sure this assembly is sitting down against the platen.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51237487627_8212576d4a_z.jpg


Looking at your picture No.4, there is a tube in the center of the picture. This tube is part of what's called the universal bar, or trip mechanism which activates the escapement each time a key is pressed. Right beside the end of the tube, there is a collar on a shaft. This collar is part of the line lock mechanism that prevents the type bars from contacting the platen when the carriage has reached the right margin. Make sure the tube and shaft both move freely, the tube down and up and the shaft side to side.

One more question, what kind of penetrating oil are you using? Please let us know what you find and we'll go from there. All the best,

Sky


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)
 

10-6-2021 13:52:07  #5


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi there Sky!  Thanks so much for helping me- I'm really grateful.
You guessed right, we are in Cornwall.  The Falmouth area is really nice, especially the Roseland across the water from the port.

The penetrant is benzenesulfonic acid which says it is safe to use around rubber etc.
I took some more photos to try to be clear about which parts are and aren't moving.  The first two ones show the full range of motion of the tube (1). I moved it by pressing the shift keys.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/XsBEEhrD2qXT1Y196

On the numbered image, 1 is what I'm calling the tube- is that what you meant?
2 doesn't move at all.  It's prevented by the tube but it seems pretty jammed anyway.  The bar at 3 doesn't move either although it looks like it should.  4 moves along its bar about 1cm.

Thank you again, all the best.
Cally

     Thread Starter
 

10-6-2021 16:22:29  #6


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi Once Again

It appears as though we have a functional impasse or a malfunction at the junction, the line lock mechanism and the universal bar are jammed together. My suggestion for now is to stand the typewriter on its front edge and drip some sewing machine oil into the tube. This may take a while, but gently work the tube back away from the lone lock bar.

Once the tube is level with its inner core and moving more freely, work some more oil into the various linkages and the saddles of the line lock bar, moving by hand until the collar moves out of the way of the tube. The universal bar is the U-shaped bar that sits just behind the segment and has two arms that come down to the tube we're talking about. Get these two parts moving freely and we'll see what happens from there. All the best,

Sky


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)
 

11-6-2021 00:32:52  #7


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hi Again

Just reading through my description of the universal bar, the word arc or crescent would be a better description.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51239410701_0b14eb9ba2_c.jpg


When the universal bar is in the retracted position, there should be a small amount of clearance between the end of the screw just to the right (as viewed) of the tube and the tab on the tube. It's the contact of the tab with this screw that triggers the escapement to advance the carriage one space. Hope this makes sense. The second picture more clearly shows the two arms connecting the universal bar to the tube.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51238699872_4579e78381_c.jpg

With never having heard of the penetrating solution that you're using, I did a little research and it sounds to me as it would be rather hygroscopic (attracting moisture from the air). On the metal parts, a person might want to look at a product such as Halford's Release Spray which appears to be formulated as a penetrant and a lubricant. There's a Halford's store in Truro if this helps. Anyhow, please let us know what you find out on your 21, 

Sky


We humans go through many computers in our lives, but in their lives, typewriters go through many of us.
In that way, they’re like violins, like ancestral swords. So I use mine with honor and treat them with respect.
I try to leave them in better condition than I met them. I am not their first user, nor will I be their last.
Frederic S. Durbin. (Typewriter mania and the modern writer)
 

11-6-2021 03:31:39  #8


Re: Have I killed my Underwood 21?

Hello again,
I'm just on my way to work but I couldn't prevent myself trying your suggestions before I head out.... So the carriage is no longer completely locked!  Fortunately I'm a sewer so we had plenty of sewing machine oil!  Things are not right, the carriage isn't advancing exactly properly but it feels like huge progress.  When I have some time over the weekend I will work on it properly and let you know how it goes.  As I turned it right side up there was a certain amount of "debris" that fell out...some of it worryingly metallic... But thanks so much. I would have been nowhere without the help.  I'm feeling rather more optimistic about her prospects.  As I said before I expected to tinker about with her and then send her to scrap but I am so invested now that she won't be taken from me even if I never get her to type properly.
Have a great day,
Cally

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