1923 Underwood 3-Bank Portable
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 damage. A few springs were missing, the vibrator isn’t working, and the platen wasn’t turning, but all in all, most of the issues were either cosmetic or congealed oil.
Top screw removes it from base
The machine can be removed from the base via the two screws behind the front feet. The typewriter then pulls forward and lifts out. After doing this, I had to clean out all the old eraser crumbs and bits of dust. The clogged typebars were cleaned with some Mineral Spirits. I see a lot of people using Rubbing Alcohol, which may work, but it contains water which rusts metal. Another thing I see people do, is use WD40. That stuff is bad for typewriters, so instead, I used actual Typewriter oil which can be found in old toolkit’s in long forgotten attics. If you don’t have an adventurous spirit, an attic, or your afraid of spiders, gunslick and gun oil work just as well. Dry lubricants tend to work best as they don’t attract dust, but oils can be used as long as the machine is constantly maintained.
After all of that, I polished the paint and decals, replaced the platen set screw, adjusted some stuff here and there, and replaced the ribbon which to my dismay was installed upside down. I hate it when people do that. The red belongs on the bottom, and the spool should wind in the direction that the spoke turns. The vibrator works alright now, it was a little bent, but when typing on red, some of the letters will randomly come out in a bold black. Still working on that.
Other than that, much was just basic maintenance. Still needs a bit of work, but it types! It also has these nifty little fold out paper rests. Very cool, very snappy little machine.
Size comparison to "full function" portable.
It's been a bit since I've posted this page, and I've decided to adjust the issue with the red ribbon vibrator setting. There is a post on the leaver that raises and lowers the vibrator. This post fits into a bracket which moves as keys are hit. Bending this post to the left or to the right will get the vibrator to go higher or lower.
Right side of carriage
the adjusted red type
this note was written on my Royal Portable
and a final nice photo :)