A More Formal Introduction (SMC Skyriter Restoration Part 1)

Okay, so here’s a more thorough introduction to the 1958 Smith-Corona Skyriter that is going to end up being, I feel, part restoration and part customization. This typewriter is simply a joy to type on — despite its simplicities/limitations (lack of +, =, and tabs; no ribbon selector; special spool size; and slightly awkward paper support).

I’ll start with what it looks like on the outside: the case. I simply love this case and I want to do some work on it. I do have a to-do list, so I’ll post that down below after the galleries.

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As you can tell, some work does need to be done. I’m hoping some basic cleaning will take care most of the filth.

The typewriter itself doesn’t have as many pictures… oddly. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with the case. Maybe it’s because all of the ones I own currently — with this obvious exception — have hard, heavy cases. But the typewriter fits to this case with charm. They both just need cleaning!

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If you’ve looked at the photos, you’ll probably agree this is going to be mostly cleaning. I have an inkling that this was oil dipped. Unfortunately, this was a common practice back in the day as it left the machine in perfect working order. But over time it gummed things up, makes keys stick and dirt just clings to everything! I am literally going to have to strip this down as far as I can without destroying it to get all this gunk out. Since it still types, I’m hoping I can skip a few things, but… It is simply gross how dirty it is.

Okay, so, there it is. In all it’s “CLEAN ME!” glory. I love this little sucker. At the motel, I was typing with it everywhere and it is unbelievably quiet. I can’t imagine what it will type like once things are cleaned and Bristol shape. (…sorry, was watching Mary Poppins.)

However… this is where my to-do list comes in and… some ethics. To be frank, I want to do some customizations on it. Paint mostly — as the rest could be considered restoration actions like spring replacements, etc. The ethics comes in in that this is branded in two ways and both are perfectly sound with little to no damage or wear. If I paint it, only one will survive: the name plate. There is a technique I’ve used before in both water colors and penmanship where masking is applied over areas that do not need to be inked/colored. This may work for this… but it certainly doesn’t have any guarantee. But anyway… The to-do list.

To Do:

  • Fix lid (reattach)
  • Tighten paper rest
  • Rebend lid locks
  • Clean case
  • Clean segment
  • Disassemble & deep clean
  • Clean platen (good as-is, for thoroughness)
  • Fix bell! (Carriage gets in the way!)
  • Fix touch adjustment — spring
  • Investigate ribbon direction mechanism
  • Unbend left shift slightly

Okay, that’s the basic list. Notice the painting isn’t included nor another customization: fixing the case up a bit to make a nicer. I’m all for keeping things in their original shape because it’s kind of like holding a piece of history, but… I’m also for making things your own if you can and/or have the ability. So, I’m a bit torn.

Well, I’ll figure it out. It’s a process. And this typewriter is certainly going to be one! Next up will be the Disassembly Guide.

Y’all have a great day and be safe out there! And, as always, thanks for reading.

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