MAJOR score guys. I just found a Skyriter in epic condition. Usual wear and tear. But it has the original manual and typing instruction booklet, etc. Just bought it. Will have it within a week or so.

Couldn’t wait to tell y’all! Eeee!

Once I get it, I’ll do the photo montage that I did last time. I have a legit working area now, so the lighting should be far better — and consistent. Once I get ‘er cleaned up nice n’ good, I’ll move on to doing the manual!

What Nightmares Are Made From

“Come play with us… for ever and ever and ever and…”

Okay, in all seriousness, nightmares are made of two things: neurons and this Adler J5 that needs to be fixed. I feel like it is laughing at me right now… its big, matte, yellow teeth not-so-gleaming as it grins that evil “Do if you dare” grin.

"Nyahahaha! Come here my little pretties!"

“Nyahahaha! Come here my little pretties!”

ScottK ran an awesome article on a typewriter with a branding that befuddled some of better minds/collectors out there. In this article, there was a healthy dose of epically interesting history. Now… every typewriter has history. That’s a default. Even if you remove company history, even if you remove that massive family tree a company can have… That typewriter you might be fiddling with has had owners more than likely. What did they use it for? Where has it been? What has it talked about? Was it loved? I wonder how many drinks were accidentally spilled on it and the owner suddenly jumped back cursing up a storm to quickly clean up the mess while quietly saying soothing apologies to it?

-coughs- Anyway! Not that I have experience in the last…

Typewriters always have a story to tell. They are, after all, kind of meant to type what is on people’s minds. Heck even “ASDFASDFASDFASDFASDFASDFASDF” has a story! It’s one of the most famous lines in typewriter testing history! “Have you tested it yet?” “No.” “…well?” -types frantically away using only four keys out of the 42 or more- “Yup! It works!” “Awesome! Mark it up by 150%!”

Well, this Adler has some history behind it that makes this project nerve wracking beyond measure: this typewriter is the one my mother wrote love letters to my father on. No, seriously. This is it. Rather cute ones, I have to admit. She’d switch between the typewriter and pristine penmanship — something I do with my own pen pal. (“Pristine penmanship” in my case is questionable.)

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uhm… “And if you’ve bled, you’d be red too!” No, no… that’s not good. Uhm… “No need to dread, I’m here for you.” Wow… I’m horrible at rhyme-scheme poems.

My mom and dad were (I’ll get to the choice of word in a moment) the definition of lovebirds. And my mom still suffers from the syndrome. Why? My dad died when I was 5. Honestly, she’s never really recovered.

My dad ended up keeping practically everything she sent. Letters, notecards, postcards… I learned something about him: He was an absolute Garfield nut. He also enjoyed cream soda, Wolf chili, worked for Coca-Cola, collected large-scale Lionel trains, was a civil war nut, and, well, seemingly an awesome, open-minded guy. (That open-minded bit I would have been extremely grateful for…)

So… in the process of helping my mom move out of the house she has lived in for over 25 years, I was tasked the duty/job of thinning out what we had kept of dad’s things. Just by happening, I found the stack of selected things he had kept that she had sent. My partner was entertaining my mom so I just happened to glance through — mind you, glance not read. To my giddy surprise, I found letters that were clearly typed by this Adler.

Now… family is something that a lot, I feel, take advantage of. Especially those with huge families. My family has always really just been my mom and I. Just us. And my grandfather (my dad’s dad) when he was in a equable mood. And at least 1 cat. When you’re this small of a family, even the smallest things count. This typewriter is part of the family, if you will. Call it a romantic notion, call it what you will.

And family helps family. But oh, my, god, this is stressful!

What is wrong with it? The ribbon won’t shift. That’s the key fixing point.  And honestly, once this thing is working and tuned up, I can already tell it’ll be a fantastic typer. It’s quiet, it’s got a descent touch, it’s responsive, and the bell rings clear. It does sound and feel like there is some metal that is grinding when the keys are pressed… so that’s another thing that needs to be looked into.

The typewriter's equivalent to that annoying query head-tilt that dares you to do something.

The typewriter’s equivalent to that annoying query head-tilt that dares you to do something.

Hopefully this nightmare will become a happy dream. I mean… it couldn’t be that hard to fix it so the ribbon shifts, right?

(Dun, dun, dun… famous last words.)

Smith-Corona Skyriter Restoration Finale

It. Is. Done. I didn’t end up painting it like I said it was going to — that’ll come at a later date. But it is cleaned and put back together! In the process of cleaning the typewriter, I also cleaned the carrying case and the difference is rather startling.


This is a bit of a retrospect, I guess… Working with this typewriter in a rather intimate fashion gave me a good deal of self-confidence to try this with gradually more complicated typewriters. It’s all about studying before you do: the whole “measure twice, cut once” idea. Taking pictures and notes is absolutely key as well.

So, I really feel like this is something everyone should do with an equally simple typewriter — down to even removing the carriage assembly like I did. It isn’t as scary as it sounds for this one, it went back on as easily as it came off. I had to do some adjustments (let’s hear it for digital calipers) so I could get the card holders centered again, but that was a minimal amount of effort. If anything, the most tedious bit was cleaning all the painted bits. (Sangria helped with the monotony… as did Pirates of the Caribbean… and our cat Maze, who believed that I needed a lap warmer…)

Speaking of cleaning, I cleaned anything I could reach. What I didn’t touch were sensitive areas that I felt leery about touching. The things I used for the typewriter itself was Soft Scrub, lent-free rags, q-tips, Dawn, 90-something% alcohol, compressed air, and patience. Patience is key for cleaning in as much as taking the typewriter down into its parts. It doesn’t take much pressure to clean surfaces and if you press too hard, you risk damaging what you might be trying to get clean. As for the carrying case, I just used leather cleaning wipes — many of them. Though the case is faux leather, the wipes cleaned it very well and left the surface looking and feeling fantastic.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the results!WP_20140903_13_35_46_ProIf you notice, I left the repair shop’s sticker on the front. On the bottom of the typewriter is also a repair sticker that gives the date, who I imagine the customer was (or repair person?), and a repair code(?). Being a former framer/preservationist, I protected that from harm since it is part of the typewriter’s history.

Any case, I hope you guys enjoyed this small project. I’ll be posting up another project soon — possibly dealing with the J5 since that needs some TLC! If you guys have any suggestions for a next project, I’m definitely up to hear them.

Y’all have a great day and be safe out there!

Remington-Rand History v2 (NEW and IMPROVED!)

This is where you hear a “sha-wing, sparkle sparkle”. If you don’t, then get your ears checked, please. 😉

This version is decidedly better than the first as it actually shows a lot more. I used a family tree program so you’ll have to pardon the whole “birth” and “death” thing. But here it is! It’s a bit more readable/understandable than the linear mind-mapping.

Remington-Rand History (fixed)

A few notes:

  • The program decided to ignore the fact that Burroughs does have ancestors, two of them in fact: American Arithometer Co. and Burroughs Adding Machine Co. The former was established in 1886 and later renamed — after Burroughs’ death — to the latter in 1904.
  • I used Sperry Rand on purpose. They later reverted back to the use of the simple Sperry Corp., but this was only after jettisoning Remington-Rand Systems and Remington-Rand Machines in 1978. After this Sperry focused entirely on computer development. Prior to this, Sperry Rand did manufacture typewriters.

Hope you guys enjoy! Thanks for reading/viewing, have a great day and be safe out there. Oh and for sure, feedback is welcome. If you want more history, I’ll be more than glad to oblige!

(And now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to sleep now… phew… damn history and it’s addictive nature. Where are those eye drops… I’ll be seeing dates in my dreams…)