Someone Comes To Town; Someone Leaves Town

With apologies to Cory Doctorow.

I let go of a few typewriters this holiday season, selling my 1959 Hermes 3000 Script machine and giving two others–the 1957 Sears Tower Commander and the 1953 Smith Corona Skyriter–as gifts. I have to say, it felt good to set them free. I love the idea of other people out there getting a little excited to futz around with typewriters.

Of course, such doings opened up space, which I eagerly set out to fill. I shouldn’t say it quite like that. It was more of a case of desirable machines surfacing in my area and me availing myself of opportunities.

Olivetti-Underwood 21

First up is a 1966 Olivetti-Underwood 21, which is essentially the guts of a Studio 44 in a more angular housing. All in all it was in fine shape except for some resistance in the left side keys, which I set about remedying with a flush of mineral spirits. At that time I noticed the space bar was a little finicky so I decided to “form” an arm on the escapement to make it trip sooner, at which point I promptly snapped off the arm.

Blue and gray Olivetti Underwood 21 typewriter
Not the one in my possession but very much like it. Not sure why I haven’t taken any pics yet. Image courtesy of Ted Munk at

Nothing like going in hard without thinking it through.

Needless to say, breaking the tab brought everything to a screeching halt.

Image of a broken escapement of an Olivetti-Underwood 21 typewriter
Aftermath of an unprovoked assault.

After checking in on Typewriter Maintenance and Repair group on Facebook, someone suggested check with a local machine shop to see if I could get it brazed back into working shape. A few phone calls later and I had a candidate close to home, B&M Sheet Metal Shop.

These guys were great, banging it out in the same day! I took the piece home and reinstalled it. After much fiddling I got the escapement working correctly and after much further fiddling, I got the carriage back on and running smoothly.

Turns out the platen and rollers are still soft and the machine is able to keep up with a pretty manic typing pace. I look forward to making some pages on this thing.

Now I’m just waiting on 660 yards of bi-colored ribbon to arrive from Baco Ribbon so I can respool the, um, spools and everything should be good to go!

Editors note: 660 yards of ribbon is a lot of ribbon. Maybe too much? Naaaah.

Western Auto Wizard Automatic (Brother JP-1)

After staying of Facebook Marketplace for several days (just by virtue of being busy), I dipped in there last week and lo and behold someone was selling a Western Auto Wizard Automatic that looked like it was in pretty good shape. I met the seller and inspected the machine and was sold from the get-go.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Brother typewriters out of Japan exported rebranded typewriters to major department stores in the United States. At the time they were considered, like many imports from Japan, cheap and lacking refinement, but I find them similar to the Royal standards from the 1940s in that they’re rock solid and keep on keepin’ on. They’re extremely well engineered.

This machine is built around the Brother JP-1 (v.2) and is a tank that just works. Check it out:

He also had a KMart 200 (built around the same Brother JP-1 (v.2) innards) with no ribbon cover. I said I only wanted the Wizard (because, of course) and he asked how much I’d be willing to pay for both. Ultimately I wound up grabbing the KMart 200 for $5, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.

Kmart 200 1970's typewriter with simulated woodgrain and missing the ribbon cover


On Friday, one of my child’s classmates (they’re both seniors in high school) brought a gift by. It turned out to be yet another version of a rebranded Brother typewriter! This time it was a Montgomery Ward Signature 513. It’s got a wide carriage and all the bells and whistles, including a paper injector! Or as Monkey Wards calls it the Rapid Advance lever. My man picked this up at the local Goodwill bins for $3!

My net reduction in typewriters since December 15 is +1. I think I’m doing it wrong.

This is what an excited typewriter nerd looks like. Check out that Montgomery Ward Signature 513!

I also received that giant spool of ribbon courtesy of Baco Ribbon Supply and am working on a system to get it onto my spools without the whole thing coming unraveled like bubble tape.

More on both of these next time around! Not the bubble tape, just the typewriter stuff.

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