Sunday, March 31, 2019

Remington decal applied

The most satisfying part of repainting; applying the decal on the paper table!

With another few applications of Micro-Sol, the boundary of the decal sheet should become less obvious. The 'Remington' decal was made the same way as before - printed on transparent waterslide transfer sheet in reverse. Carefully fill the black-rimmed letters with gold paint. Then apply the right-way-up, having first used a bit of blank transfer sheet to get the gum/glue on the paper table for adhesion.

Was aiming for Remington Portable color No. 17 (Tan and Pompeiian Red) as shown on the The Classic Typewriter Page (i.e. the definitive source for anything pre-war portable from Remington). Turned out more an ivory than tan, but overall quite a credible looking typewriter with these colors.

Still some adjusting to do, new ribbon - but the machine is very much 'getting there' :)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stripping the panels

Now that the 'wreck' Remington Portable typewriter has come this far, the next step was to take it apart again. Or rather, to take off all the bodywork.

And all the various mounting screws, rods and sundry parts bagged. Keeping these in a little bag per panel or part to mount should prevent trouble later on.

Later a new felt strip will be made for the lifting tray, but first the body-panels were going to be stripped down for a re-paint.

Stripping the old lacquer of a typewriter can be done in many ways I suppose. What worked reasonably so far is lye (drain cleaner) or alternatively acetone. Either way, the key ingredient is time. A bottle of lye is a cheap and reasonably easy way to remove or at least weaken the old lacquer, when handled with care.

The steel parts were placed in a shallow bath of drain cleaner in a stainless steel container (a roasting pan).

Almost immediately the black paint starts to give off. It will however take a few hours for the paint to have softened enough so that it can be brushed off. Warmth also helps a lot - leaving it in the sun for a while, covered with a lid, is a good plan to speed things up.

When using lye, it is of course important to not get any of it on yourself (or anywhere else, for that matter).  It is rather dangerous stuff.  Protective clothing (no bare arms, etc) and gloves can be a good idea. The parts in this case were handled with pliers and a large bowl or basin with water was placed next to the lye bath. When the paint looks like it is crumpled and bits of paint start to drop away, the part was lifted out of the lye with the pliers and placed in the water. This dilutes the remaining lye clinging to the part so that the part can be handled for rinsing and scrubbing.

Some paint will stay on the part, but generally is softened so that it can be sanded down smooth.

One other very important thing is to use the lye method only with the steel parts and not with aluminium. Aluminium would react badly with the strong alkaline. (The Internet has videos...) The top-cover panel of the Remington Portable is an aluminium casting. The part would probably not survive a dip in lye very well.

For that reason, the top-cover was placed in a shallow bath of acetone (in another, old roasting pan) and covered with a plastic bag. Without enclosing the bath, the acetone would evaporate very quickly and not have any effect on the lacquer at all.

With some addition scrubbing and sanding (fine grit sandpaper as well as steel-wool pads), the first batch of parts were prepared for painting.

After cleaning the parts were dried quickly to limit any rust forming. They were then quickly given a coat or two of grey metal-primer with a very light sanding between coats.

The outer frame of the typewriter is the hardest to strip, if only for its size. It does not submerge well in a shallow bath. Also making it difficult to clean is that this part seems to have been given a double layer of paint by the factory. The lacquer on the bottom and the insides of the part drops away fairly quickly. The more important outer surface is much harder to remove unfortunately.  Two different layers seem to peel off (eventually). More sanding to do there still...

Small painting detail of the underside of the paper tray - distinct fingerprints.

Somebody in the London factory of the Remington company had some of that black paint on their hands when they handled this part as it was lacquered, back in 1927.

(The finger prints survived the paint-stripping. Maybe will add some when spraying the machine in its new colour :-)

Some sanding to do still on that outer frame, then to look for paint. Colours!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Continuing Remington Portable refurbishment

Now that it's 'underhand' again, keep going with some next steps in the refurbishment.

A jarring defect of the machine were the replacement keys for the shift and the 'z'. Purely cosmetic of course, but it did detract from the overall impression. Mainly as a proof of principle, gave the machine quickly printed replacement key-labels. One of the benefits of having multiple typewriters of the same type (excessive, I know), is having a reference. So we had samples of the correct key labels. (Even then only 1 of my 4 machines actually had the original English 'shift key' label.)

From a photograph of these keys, a set of little labels was quickly printed and fitted to the keyboard.

Not 'perfect', but it compares well with the machine as it was, especially the 'z' key:

When properly editing the pictures for the actual repair, i.e. cleaning-up and paying attention to colour matching, then this method should work very well to make the keys blend in.

Another step taken was to tone down the blueish-bright key-rings for the shift keys and shift-lock. These are not nickel, but replacement clip-on rings. They could be chromed, or even aluminium - either way quite hard to get any nickel to adhere to them even with thorough surface scouring. (Better would be to get some original Remington rings, but to purchase yet another machine purely for the shift key rings is a bit too much even for me :-)

With the nickel-plating kit out, also the carriage-lever was given a treatment. This had lost most of its plating. Also thoroughly scoured and polished; clean yet it does show the plate-loss.

So in the plating bath;  ...bubbles...

Result is indeed a shinier carriage handle. The plating seems to accentuate the uneven surface of the part. Perhaps because of differences in growth speed on the old nickel and the underlying casting, but scars and marks are more noticeable now than before. Nevertheless, it is nickel again all over.

And the coin clearly shows where that nickel came from...

Remounted on the machine, together with a better specimen of the line-release lever and some polishing, the typewriter it is starting to look like a machine that could be worked with again.

We may complete the machine yet :)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ultimately reviving the wrecked Portable, perhaps

It was always going to be a slow project, but with a nearly two-year hiatus it's a very slow project indeed.

Finally got around to re-assembling the Remington Portable 2 typewriter that was originally meant to be a parts-donor. (And now also got around to writing another entry on the blog - had half-decided to stop posting. After 5 years, enough machines to continue to type with and no more tinkering - or so I thought.)

Anyways - the machine when bought did not work at all - it was gummed solid with broken linkages, missing parts, and looked like this.

The following year it was given a very deep clean, down to the bare chassis. During the cleaning I made the mistake of leaving it in the fluid a bit too long and not drying quickly enough, and so unfortunately introduced more rust. Blackening of screws does give some corrosion-protection, but not much.

After cleaning away most of that new rust, linkages were fixed and the main assembly put together again. After all that hassle the key-lever for the '6' still refused to align. I must admit this combined with the now rusty black screws discouraged me somewhat and the whole project was shelved.

It was not binned, but sat in storage out of sight. This weekend it was taken out and finally the typewriter was put together again. The unruly key-lever was still annoyingly out of line, but with a length of new hemp cord attached to the carriage, the whole machine did type again. That was encouraging progress - so 'onward' :-)

The machine had received a replacement stop-block for the uppercase alignment out of the spares-box and the carriage stops were aligned. Started to place the uppercase neatly centred on the platen. Then tweaking the lowercase to match the uppercase.

With the top-cover off, the lifting tray was inspected more closely. Comparing with another Portable #2 confirmed that the lifting guides were 'off', looked to have been bent sideways and forward. This machine really must have been mistreated - broken linkages of course already indicated it had been handled 'inexpertly'.

With pliers some 'forming' of the guides and of the prongs on the tray itself, now the tray slides smoothly again. And it no longer fouls the repaired link of the '6' key! Everything sits flat again:

And pops up to type again too:

The left shift keys and the 'z' key still need to be re-mounted with proper lettering. The whole keyboard could benefit from a re-fit, though that would require some special tools ideally. The top row of keys show an odd wave, as if somebody tried to lift the machine by the keys (maybe somebody did just do that...).

Having gotten this far, will now have to see how to finish the machine. Depends a bit on how the keyboard comes out (the shifts have non-Remington keyrings, regrettably), it is going to be either a re-paint or kept in its current 'industrial' look.

Conclusion of it all is (again) that these Remington Portable #2 typewriters are very sturdy and resilient machines!

Still some typewriter-tinkering ahead :-)