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So you want a typewriter? Tips, maintenance, and recommendations.

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Note: this post will be updated as needed, so information may change.
A typewriter is a precision machine designed to print neat, straight, and crisp lines of text quickly and easily.  If it does not do this, it’s not a typewriter.
So you want a typewriter?  You wouldn’t be reading this boring informative article if you didn’t...or maybe you would.  Who am I to judge?  There are a few things to know about these machines, first is the parts of a typewriter, second is how to use them, an third is how to make sure they work.  If you know all this, then scroll down for a list of recommended machines.

But first, here are the big ideas:
1) no water based products like rubbing alcohol.
2) no oil.  No WD40 or anything like that.
3) dirty machines are flushed with cleaner like naphtha and mineral spirits, and are brushed with stiff brushes.
Major Parts of a Typewriter:
The main part is the carriage.  This houses the platen (main roller), and the feed rollers (hold paper against bottom of the platen a…

Paper Bails Vs. Paper Fingers

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Some machines have Bail Rollers, some machines have Paper Fingers, and some machines have both.  So which is better?  Paper Fingers or Bail Rollers?  Obviously the machines with both, such as the Smith-Corona Silent series from the 1930s onward, are the best.  But what about the machines with only one or the other?  I prefer Bail Rollers (obviously I’d prefer both together, but that comes later) due to their quiet nature.  Though, many prefer the Paper Fingers.
So what’s the difference?

Bail Rollers make typing quieter, as they press the paper firmly against the platen, eliminating the sound of slapping paper every time a key is hit.  On smaller machines, however, the paper is sometimes susceptible to jamming itself back onto the paper table and crumpling up.  This is due to the Bail rollers being centered on the platen, because the diameter of the platen is too small to allow them to come forward.  Also, each time the page is inserted into the machine, the user must lift the rolle…

1923 Underwood 3-Bank Portable

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Produced from 1919 to 1929, this machine was in direct response to the Corona 3, which is responsible for beginning the Portable Typewriter market.  The remarkable design of this Underwood came from the genius of Lee Burridge, who’s brother submitted the patents shortly after his death. This typewriter was around the same size and weight as the Corona 3, yet eliminated the need for prior setup. Part of what makes this machine so small is the absence of several usual pieces, such as the left platen knob, right shift key, fourth key bank, bail rollers, and tab.  Later models of this machine began to include more of these features as the market progressed, but from 1919 to the mid 1920s, this was the usual. The machine I have is from 1923, and weighs 8.5 pounds.  It does not have the right CAPS key, but it does have the comb slot, so the change was in progress.  This machine came to me in very good mechanical condition, though it had been dropped on the left side, and sustained some minor d…