Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thrifty find!

Look what I found at my local thrift store for $10.00! Woohoo!

I'm a sucker for a typewriter...especially one that looked like it was still in working order. It came with the case, and besides smelling a bit musty as though it's been stored in the garage for a long time and in need of a good cleaning, I thought it was worth seeing if I could indeed get it working.

It's a Remington Quiet Riter Eleven and dates to probably the 1950's. I didn't need to do much to the body of the typewriter itself. All of the keys work, nothing sticks and the rest of the mechanics were in good shape. The only thing that wasn't so great was the ribbon. It was fairly light. Not surprising considering how old the tape could have been. It's a cloth tape and I was surprised that there was any letter image at all when I tested it. So I did a bit of research to find out if a replacement ribbon could be found. Well, yes, it could be (was I really that surprised? No.) But, then I also found out that these fabric ribbons were often inked with an oil based ink, which last a very long time. I wondered whether I could reink it. After a little digging I found some chatter among folks who restore vintage typewriters and learned that some revive the existing ribbons & ink by applying WD-40. Who knew?
So I sat down with a can of WD-40, a few cotton swabs and paper towels and set to work.

I took the spool off and started to unwind the ribbon. I then sprayed a bit of WD-40 in a plastic cup and used the cotton swab to dip into the liquid and wipe it on the ribbon. I found it was easier to lay the ribbon on the paper towel and apply it that way so my hands were a bit freer.

It actually went pretty fast. Once it was applied I rolled the ribbon up again and placed the spool back into the machine. Then came the test!

I love well how my typewriter works! I'm hoping to use some typed phrases for lots of projects down the road. I don't know about typing long passages at this point...it's amazing how different it feels to type on a typewriter again. In high school typing class we used electric typewriters and I had a great Brother electic typewriter all through middle & high school. This one needs more physical force to type. If I press as lightly as needed for a computer keyboard, the manual keys don't have enough momentum to raise the letter up to the paper. We are indeed spoiled in the modern age, and I have a new found appreciation for secretaries  who could sit at this machine and type 85 wpm! Well done ladies! :)

I also found this great 1950s commercial for the Remington Quiet Riter and I just have to share it!


  1. Oh, Melanie! YAY for you!! Good job getting it cleaned and back in working order yourself! I would have passed that job off to my husband! lol I've been keeping my eyes open for one of those treasures but haven't tracked one down yet! I can appreciate the appreciation you must be feeling for it! haha Enjoy! I look forward to seeing those lovely words in your coming projects!...Nancy :o)

  2. What a find! and it works too! I love and appreciate typewriters more now than when I was younger...now I wonder if my dad might have one lying around in the garage...

    1. Sounds like it's time for a treasure hunt! You never know what you might find! :) When we bought our house we found all kinds of little things leftover from the previous owner (she passed in her 90's and was the original owner), in the garage, the basement, closet, and attic space. Some of them are on display in the house now.