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18-3-2023 11:01:51  #1

Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

Hello Ladies & Gentlemen!

I recently acquired my first typewriter.
It's an Underwood No 5, presumable from 1911.
Yes, it is not rare or special by any means since there should be plenty of them around;
But I don't care. I saw it, fell in love with it's looks and I thought it deserved a good home, so I bought it.

I especially love that it has white keys (black seems more common for the Underwoods), which have an almost ivory look to them.
That Edwardian-Era color scheme of black, gold and the white just speaks to me and I find it very appealing.

Anyway... I am completely new to this, but I ironed out several issues it had to the best of my abilities, replaced the ink ribbon, gave it some love and attention and gave it a cleaning as far as my limited time permitted it.
It already looks nice and shiny, but needs another thorough cleaning later.

The main problem it has is that the tray gets stuck in the upper-case-position once I press one of the shift-keys.
It only returns to the lower-case-position once I hit the caps-lock lever which sits on the bottom right.

This lever is supposed to switch between caps-lock operation and normal shift-keys:
If you set it into caps-lock, after pressing any of the two shift keys, letters will stay upper-case until you hit one of the shift keys again.
If it is set to normal operation, the tray returns to lower-case if you release the shift-key.

Unfortunately, the lever is broken and sits somewhere below the keys (see pictures). I have to reach in between the keys to reach it. It is supposed to be up there where you can reach it.

If the tray is suck in uppercase-position, i can reset it to lowercase by reaching to the caps-lock lever and pressing it down... but this is not practical for typing, of course.

Any help would be appreciated, it would be a shame if this beautiful machine could not be fixed. 



24-4-2023 16:59:47  #2

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

Here's a side-by side view of the same area on my Underwood No. 5. You can see that the shift-lock device is supposed to be higher up, and when active, a pin on the bar connected to the right shift catches on the shift-lock. There is a round bar running under the keyboard connected to the shift lock device (circled in the rightmost image). This is also connected to another piece of metal on the other side at the left shift. There is a screw right next to the shift-lock device (also circled in rightmost image). By removing this screw you can turn the bar connected to the shift-lock and therefore put the shift lock in the correct position. I'm not sure how you achieved a shift lock with your shift lock down there, but I assume it was related to something else in the typewriter. I'm not entirely knowledgeable on this typewriter, so it might be worth waiting for others input on the issue. 

A Royal fangirl, through and through.

25-4-2023 06:49:07  #3

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

Great Work WJC, thanks a lot for four help, it put me on the right track!

And guess what, I guess I fixed the problem.
Or at least I hope I fixed it, but so far everything seems to work as it shoud.

It seems one of the levers connected to the bar of the shift-knob, which you described in your post, was slightly bent, so it did not touch the lever above anymore.
I took some pictures to illustrate this. unfortunately I only have pictures AFTER I bent it back, but I think you guys can see what I mean.

So far, it seems to work flawlessly;
I am only not sure if it will misalign again somewhat in the future, since it is such a small connection the two parts have. There is only a 2 or 3 milimeter wide surface where the two parts meet. 

Is it like this on your typewriter as well?

Next thing I wanted to do is to clean and/or replace some of the Inlays on top of the key, since some of them are slightly miscolored. Maybe it's discoloration from sunlight, maybe just dirt underneath the caps.
Any tips how to proceed?
I thing I could bend open those metal clamps under the caps (which can be seen on your pictures)... but I dont wanna break those small parts.

     Thread Starter

25-4-2023 10:17:00  #4

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

I don’t have many tips for that, and I couldn’t find resources on this forum (though it wouldn’t hurt to search again), so it might be worth it to make another post to ask about this. Failing all else, there should be guides online.

A Royal fangirl, through and through.

25-4-2023 10:17:34  #5

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

And yes, that metal linkage looks as it does on my Underwood.

A Royal fangirl, through and through.

25-4-2023 11:06:54  #6

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

Perfect, that really helps a lot!

     Thread Starter

25-4-2023 11:45:47  #7

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

This article by RobertG may be interesting: Backspace does not erase: Brightening of glass typewriter keys (of the Erika M) ( 

Key caps were often replaced over time, so it may be that the uneven color of your keys is because some are older than others. 

I've not yet tried getting key caps off as I hear it can be a bit challenging - you have to make sure you don't break off the metal tabs on the rings that hold the key cap on. The ideal way is to get a pair of the specialized tools for the job, a key cap remover and installer, but they're hard to find and expensive. Charles Gu started manufacturing replicas a while back, though they're pricey, too. Lucas Dul did a review of them: Type Shop, Ep. 15: The Ultimate Keyring Toolset Guide - YouTube. There are a few other videos you can find on youtube as well.



25-4-2023 19:43:28  #8

Re: Underwood No 5 - caps-lock lever broken?

I recommend leaving the key legends as they are, and not trying to mess with replacing them. The keys on that typewriter look to be in decent condition compared to what one typically finds on an Underwood of this age. Replacing key legends is not an easy task. In addition to the removal and replacement of the keyrings, one has to have replacement legends; and in the case of only doing a few keys, creating replacement key legends that would match the surrounding vintage ones without standing out would be difficult.


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