For reference, here is my website. I do currently work from home, but would love to open a storefront someday! www.lucasdul.com/typewriters and www.lucasdul.com/typewriter-repair

So allow me to cut to the chase. I love antiquated technology. I am an ADHD tactile person who is somewhat disenthralled by the internet. I like to do things with my hands, I like to feel like I'm doing something physically (if that makes sense?) I type this on my 1988 IBM Model M with enough noise to wake the dead.

I first got started in typewriters in late 2013 or early 2014, repairing them mostly for myself as a topic of interest. I loved to read and write, and had an affinity for old bits of mechanical devices. Over the years, I began to get more into how these machines worked, and the different types, as well as the subtle mechanical differences between models from all eras and countries of origin. That in turn branched off into learning about company history, inventors, metallurgy, typography, and anything else that could possibly relate back to typewriters.

In recent years I have restored many rare and old AF machines from the 1880s to the 1980s (does the 2021 lego typewriter count?) I have also enjoyed my conversations with some of the best of the old generation of techs around the world, and the best of the new. I have serviced customers and clients globally, published about some of my projects, customized one of a kind machines, and even brought the ribbon tin back from the dead.

As a closing note before we begin, I cannot disclose the personal information of my clients. That is all :) take it away!

EDIT: Google typewriter repair in the Chicago area, I should come up as Typewriter Chicago with attached relevant links.

EDIT 2: MORE PROOOOFFF??? Okay, my post was taken down :( sad. www.lucasdul.com/reddit-proof here is the link to a separate page I made on my business website that shows a photo of me with my reddit user, a photo of me with my dealer tags, a photo of me with a machine with my dealer tag (that is used as a badge of service to tell folks it was me who worked on it), and a photo of the machine I wrote about in the Summer 2020 issue of ETCetera Magazine. I still have it, it is one of a kind. I could also track down some typewriter folk here on reddit to validate me maybe? But I think that should suffice. Yes, I can indeed access and make changes to the website I base my business off of. I will continue to answer questions, so hopefully the mods put my post back up and ya'll can be satisfied.

EDIT 3, thanks all! This is a lot of fun, I've never been this popular on social before 😊😊 I'll let it run till tomorrow to get a few more in, ill respond to everyone. Thanks for the amazing repsonses so far!

Final edit: Time to sign off. Honestly I almost don't want to, but it's time for me to get some actual work done! Perhaps I'll be back in the future. I wanted to thank all of you for the amazing engagement and questions, I had a lot of fun, and it is warming to know there are so many people who appreciate and are interested in what I'm doing. I scrolled through to make sure that I didn't miss anyone, and if you have a burning question that keeps you up at night, my DMs are always open. Until next time Reddit!! Thanks for the amazing time.

Comments: 441 • Responses: 108  • Date: 

lynxminx164 karma

My father wrote ten books on an IBM Model D because he absolutely hated the Selectric. Do you understand his point of view?

Lucasdul2306 karma

HELL YES. Your father knew how to WRITE. The Executives were amazing amazing amazing amazing amazing typewriters because they supported PORPORTIONAL LETTER SPACING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I get shivers just thinking about that. Their only drawback was the inability to swap typefaces, but other then that, the print and text is BEAUTIFUL. Especially some of the lesser available typefaces (the names of which currently elude me). Amazing, and considerably reliable. Also easier to service, as they were more traditional typewriters with typebars and not the Selectric Golf Ball Element.

Rusty_Shakalford270 karma

I understood none of this, but the sheer joy and passion of it made me feel happy.

Lucasdul2167 karma

Hahahahaha yes, I am a nerd. Most typewriters are monospaced, meaning each character occupies the same amount of space. A period and the M would both be spaced the same. Proportional spacing is what you're reading right now. The period takes up much less space than the M. The Executive is one of only three (i believe) proportional typewriters. It had six escapement, with the smallest character occupying two units, and the largest occupying around 5. Made for some lovely typography.

FeistyCanoe70 karma

I had no idea there were typewriters that were proportional. That must create a beautiful page!

Lucasdul251 karma

I haven't been able to acquire one yet, but just looking at the work they make makes my mouth water. Is that normal?

FeistyCanoe46 karma

It is for me. I’m a designer and I remember the beauty of well set type. The idea of a proportional typewriter is thrilling. Omg…am I…a nerd too?

Lucasdul235 karma

Uh, I think you might be, but dont worry you're not alone!!!

neoalfa14 karma

We don't kinkshame here.

Lucasdul23 karma

well, I guess beautiful typography is my kink....

PE1NUT5 karma

Proportional fonts are a nice upgrade, but their interword spacing is still fixed. The real mechanical marvels were the typesetting machines. Unfortunately, getting a working Linotype or Monotype may be a bit excessive, and then there's the lead poisoning to worry about...

Lucasdul23 karma

The Linotype machines always amazed me. Most of them got destroyed with the advent of computer typesetting in the 80s. Just heard of a guy who got two of them! Truly wonderful machines...the Verityper was also a magnificent beast, called a cold typesetting machine. It was a typewriter which later had proportional, but also allowed you to switch through multiple typefaces with a dial, based on the brilliant Hammond Typewriter that was invented in 1888. James Hammond was the man!!!

lynxminx19 karma

I thought the Selectrics also supported proportional letter spacing. I took typing in junior high on a Selectric and I must not have noticed....

I think what it really came down to was he wanted to feel himself hitting the paper one letter at a time. The Selectrics don't give you that satisfaction, even though they're faster. He was old enough he started his career on a manual....he ended up giving that machine to me as a toy when I was a kid. You really, really had to punch it. Wish I could remember the model- all I remember is the color, turquoise blue.

He replaced the Executive with a Leading Edge word processor in 1986 and wrote 15 more books on PCs, but I'll always remember him in front of a typewriter. Thanks for responding!

Lucasdul216 karma

No problem, thank you so much for sharing! I love hearing about peoples experiences with these machines. Honestly you have to type pretty damn fast to notice a speed difference. Even the selectric may not be the fastest. The Praxis is damn fast. I peak at 153wpm. On a manual typewriter its about 120. There certainly is a detriment with the higher key travel, but some people could pound along on manuals at close to 200. Mindblowing.

lynxminx9 karma

Dad and I were both north of 110 wpm, pretty sure he was around 130-135. Fast enough to notice the lag.

Lucasdul27 karma

The lag is mostly in the return I feel. The selectric takes it's time. That's where the Praxis shines, it returns fast!

Lucasdul25 karma

That's pretty fast!!

DerpityHerpington3 karma

Here I thought I was fast because I peaked at 90 on a regular keyboard 😐

Lucasdul23 karma

Hey that's pretty good!!! Average is 45

PHETZ109 karma

Dude, this is so cool. My dad was a typewriter mechanic from like 1970-90. I wish he was still around, I know he’d have a ton to ask you about how things have changed in the biz.

To my actual question: You mentioned the Model M is your daily driver when using a computer. Have you tried any of the newer mech switches and, if so, do you have any favourites that could compete with the buckling springs on the M?

Lucasdul275 karma

I will follow up and say things have changed a lot in the biz! Especially from what I hear from older techs, and what I uncover from the archeology of sorts while working. Even older clients. The internet has been an amazing resource to buy, sell, connect, and find parts. There is a flip side, none of these things are made or done anymore, so parts and expertise is hard to come by. Things have gotten a lot more coveted, even in the past 5 years. Key ring remover pliers now fetch $300 apiece. Crazy.

shadow12523 karma

The “springhook” was my favourite tool when I was a Customer Engineer in IBM Office Products group in 1977-1980...

Lucasdul213 karma

I use a snag fixer, but yes! Invaluable

fountsqar8 karma

Wow $300. My father was a CE. I have all sorts of odd specialty tools laying around. I also have an Executive typewriter that I think he restored. He was fixing typewriters when he first started with IBM in the late forties.

Lucasdul23 karma

I know some old IBM guys who have the old tools. I have a pair of IBM pliers sitting around. Never use them because I don't know what they do lol

Lucasdul230 karma

I'm not a keyboard guy, I feel like I'm the wrong person to ask about this lol. I grew up on a cheap Dell keyboard, but I loved it. I wanted something that bridged typewriters more closely with computers. And it was hard to argue with the legacy of the M. With so many keyboards and switch types available, I'm sure there are others out there that I would like, but I feel like the buckling spring is the most tactile.

revfitz99 karma

Have you come across any mechanical DVORAK typewriters, and if so how often do you see them?

Lucasdul2134 karma

I have only seen one DVORAK typewriter, it was a custom mod by a talented IBM selectric tech. Otherwise, they are very rare. I have heard rumors of two manuals out in the wild, but QWERTY was the layout that took the Americas by storm. Keyboard layouts change by languages, and DVORAK was designed to work well with English as it's based on key frequency percentages. It is a tricky modification to do, but not impossible!!

revfitz24 karma

Groovy, I have been using DVORAK on my keyboard for years and was curious how possible it was to find a typewriter. Thank you for the info : D

Lucasdul226 karma

No problem! Forewarning, it wouldn't be a cheap conversion!

DesertTripper17 karma

Is Dvorak worth messing with if one never learned to type the "correct" way, i.e. just using 2-3 fingers on each hand? I can type fairly fast in my own style - I did Mavis Beacon and some other things through the years to try to re-train myself, but have never been able to un-learn my unique system.

Lucasdul216 karma

I'll be honest, there is no real speed difference between the two unless you are at world record speeds around 300wpm, where it would be too slow to move your fingers to another row to type a common letter. Most normal people can get along well on either layout, and will never ever notice a perceivable speed difference.

gazialankus12 karma

Usually (based on a sample of one) if you use dvorak you are already touchtyping so might as well get blank keys 😁

Lucasdul23 karma

My laptop keyboard existed scrambled forever, I touch type, didn't need the letters

Thrashgor90 karma

  • What do you think about the LEGO typewriter?

  • Any chance you get to work on an item from the Tom hanks collection?

Lucasdul2147 karma

The lego typewriter, boy. I blogged about that one in length, but in short I was very impressed. There were a few areas where I thought the design could have been better, but the overall mechanics (being lego) impressed me. Especially the escapement. A brilliant blend of technics and system that emulated some of the real life mechanical components of the typewriter! Overall aesthetics were cool too, reminded me a lot of some Depression era machines like the Royal Signet.

Yes.

Tinyrobotzlazerbeamz16 karma

Any link to this blog I’m certain the group over at /r/lego would appreciate it

Lucasdul25 karma

Hey, will do!

greenskycity75 karma

My grandfather was the inventor of the golf ball on the selectric for IBM, I've got the 1 millionth Electric Selectric in my den, of course it doesn't work......can you fix it?

https://www.nap.edu/read/4779/chapter/5

https://imgur.com/RoKkuWI

https://imgur.com/6L13Pwq

Lucasdul26 karma

Hell yes I can! Probably. Hit me up, no idea how you wanna get it to me, but it sounds like a badass project! I'm down :)

User_Unknown23347 karma

I would imagine these days it's a very specific profession, do you see a lot of business?

Lucasdul296 karma

I do indeed! I am currently backlogged about six or seven machines. Just had a lady drop off two machines for repair this morning. A lot of writers, enthusiasts, etc use them. Not just collectors!! They're still in professional use.

birdandbear45 karma

Have you ever seen Fringe (sci-fi show)?

There's a typewriter repair shop that's featured several times in the early seasons, along with an old typewriter with an offset Y.

Watching that show, I always wondered if such shops still existed. And I'll never forget the carriage return sound from all those Jr. High reports.

I'm weirdly glad you do what you do!

Lucasdul224 karma

thanks man! I'm living the dream as long as it'll carry me! I have not seen that show, but now I am interested.

ZeroizeMe14 karma

Fringe is an awesome show. When I saw your AMA, I thought the same thing about the typewriter repair shop.

Worth watching the show besides.

Lucasdul210 karma

I gotta check it out!!! Wonder if it's a real shop...maybe I know them....

diffcalculus8 karma

Yea, put the typewriter down and go binge Fringe.

You will not regret it. Then find yourself an IBM Selectric 251

Lucasdul25 karma

HA! thanks for the show rec!

LDPushin_Troglodyte35 karma

How curled is your mustache and how is it in Portlandia these days?

Lucasdul231 karma

I'm 21, too young for a nice curly mustache!!

Jayrodtremonki27 karma

How often does Tom Hanks call you?

Lucasdul233 karma

Tom Hanks is a wonderful person :)

badwhiskey6325 karma

I thought you might enjoy a typewriter story. My wife's father worked for Smith-Corona. There was a bunch of abandoned parts in the warehouse, and he asked his supervisor if he was able to build typewriter from those parts, could he keep it. The supervisor agreed, thinking there was no way to make anything from that mishmash of parts. He did it! That was my wife's high school graduation present, and she used it all through college. We still have it and it still works great. Personally, I grew up near Endicott (home of IBM) and learned to type on a Selectric. Keep up the good work. I'll ask a question just so the mods don't delete this: Do you need any specialized tools to be a typewriter technician?

Lucasdul220 karma

I am absolutely in love with that story! Reminds me of that one Johnny Cash song where he builds a Cadillac by stealing the parts. Excellent story, cherish that machine!!! It is not an easy feat, that's for sure, and takes a special kind of genius.

As far as your question goes, yes and no. I cant seem to find specialized tools, i really just need those keytop removers, but nowadays they are $300 a pair. I did recently aid in the creation of a screwdriver set made by chapman to specifically work on typewriters. Excellent set, and a worthy project. A must have for any typewriter tech! Other than that, I have made do.

fountsqar6 karma

Well, since we’re telling our father’s typewriter stories…

After the war, my father was temporarily assigned to repair IBM typewriters in huge typing pool for the Social Security Administration. The pool consisted of 150 IBM typewriters, 150 Remington and 150 Smith Corona. I imagine the noise was deafening. Each company had one repairman who spent the entire day roaming around fixing machines.

The SSA would only hire typists who were war widows or the wives of disabled veterans.

Lucasdul23 karma

Thanks for the story, that's fascinating!

Efl1234523 karma

I use IBM wheelwriters at work on a daily basis. On one of them sometimes when you press the down arrow it goes down twice instead of just once. How can I fix it?

Lucasdul233 karma

Probably just needs to be cleaned a little, then lubed. Check where the platen ratchets. That is likely the problem area. You could also have an issue with the repeat key sticking.

brodymulligan19 karma

Are you familiar with the musical piece 'the typewriter' by Anderson, for orchestra and typewriter?

What kind of music do you listen to?

Lucasdul226 karma

I listen to a lot of music, I love it. My personal favorite has always been the Illinoise album by Sufjan Stevens.

frightenedbabiespoo3 karma

Thoughts on the new Sufjan tunes that came out a few days ago?

Lucasdul28 karma

I am enjoying his newer album, not as much as his earlier work though. I feel like his style has evolved greatly, which is a good thing, that's growth, it just doesnt hit me like it used to!

Infinitimmy4 karma

Carrie and Lowell is his finest work in my opinion. It harkens back to his earlier stuff, but the musicianship and production are top tier. Also, yay typewriters! Thanks for the AMA.

Lucasdul25 karma

I love that album as well, there are some tracks that I find really beautiful, like Beloved of John, and Blue bucket of gold (I think those are the names)? But for me, illinoise will always be the masterpiece.

PigWars17 karma

Any reason why you exclude the Corona 4 from your repair list?

Lucasdul238 karma

You NOTICED. That little ffff...... uuuu yeah. It's a pos. Finicky, poor access for adjustments, weak components, foolhardy mechanisms, not to mention I got screwed out of a lot of money involving some of those when I first started out. I hate them, they hate me, end of story.

Emotional-Law-672716 karma

Do you use Interrobang at all ‽‽!!‽‽ or ¡¡¿¿??!! I always lose upside down interrobang.

Lucasdul222 karma

I have not! But you can always type a ? and backspace with a ! over it. Or if you dont have !, type a period and backspace an apostrophe over it. For upside down, find a Hispanic typewriter.

Lucasdul211 karma

I am familiar with him, as well as multiple other type artists! I sold a Greek keyboard machine to one a while back and have dabbled in it myself!

NeedPi6 karma

Hey, other question - if you were to design a ‘modern’ typewriter from scratch, what would ‘modern’ typewriter mean to you and what kinds of features would you include?

Lucasdul29 karma

It would be more artistic. I toyed around with the idea of a single element so one could swap type. It would also be portable, I love the Williams design. A non rotary escapement would be fun, glass keytops obviously, maybe octogon, maybe square, a polished metal body with leather accents.... something that looks modern, but is well machined. Who knows?

MadTouretter12 karma

What's your preferred method of dealing with an old, hardened platen?

Chicago here too, btw. I've got an Olivetti Lettera 32 and a Royal O Portable.

Lucasdul214 karma

There is no good way to "rejuvenate" rubber. It is a material that constantly degrades. I replace the rubber via J.J. Short. Generally if it is in good shape and feeds paper well, I leave it alone. It is not something that is always necessary

sucrose_975 karma

This. I have a Hermes Baby with a hardened platen and would love to restore.

Lucasdul26 karma

Not hard to work on at all! Send the platen off for best results. I would not recomend turbo platen. Right now JJ short is really the only place.

brightlights5511 karma

Interesting. I was a IBM OPCE (Office Products Customer Engineer) in the late Seventies but switched to repairing electronic devices (terminals, printers, PCs). It was only after I stopped repairing mechanical typewriters that I realised that the mechanical devices had one major advantage over electronic devices; you could see for the most part what was wrong. Even adjustment and repairs were easier.

Are parts still available for the IBM golfball typewriters?

Lucasdul210 karma

Parts are available! I have a fair bit, and you can still find NOS if you know where to look. I even have a can of the original Topaz Bronze touchup paint! Usually parts machines are the source nowadays.

AtlEngr11 karma

Would it be worth shipping a 1950ish Royal to you for a repair?

Lucasdul226 karma

That is up to you. 1950? Sounds like an FP. An INCREDIBLY fine writing machine. You'd foot the bill both ways, plus the $20 deposit and the repair. One of the best royal standard typewriters ever made! I wrote with one for a few years, sold it sadly last week.

uncleoms200110 karma

What’s a typewriter?

Lucasdul220 karma

But in all seriousness, it's a mechanical machine that is designed to print letters in emulation of printed type by allowing a user to input specific characters. There's too many different types to really group a definition, so it really truly is a machine that writes by typing, where type is what we consider to be a solid impressionable character that delivers ink to a medium in the shape of a legible character.

uncleoms200111 karma

Can I play games on it?

Lucasdul226 karma

Yes! Tic tac toe, hangman, uh.... you can have contests to see how far you can throw them.

uncleoms200118 karma

Then I call you, right? This man’s a genius!

Lucasdul224 karma

Yep!!! I tell all the new owners to throw them lol. The hustle is real!

Lucasdul214 karma

Isn't that the million dollar question my man. A typewriter, well, its...how do I put this.. a machine that writes, by typing.

uncleoms20017 karma

So... like a computer?

Lucasdul212 karma

Yes, and also no. Typewriters are single purpose, and manual typewriters dont need electricity. They are mechanical and operate solely by human input.

lardicus9910 karma

Noticed the medium format film border. What’re you shooting with?

Lucasdul210 karma

Sharp eye! Portra 400 on my Hasselblad 500c. I since sold that camera and got a CM, but miss my C.

Kufat10 karma

Is 3D printing useful for replacement parts for vintage typewriters?

Lucasdul216 karma

Yes, some people use rubberized mediums for feet! A buddy of mine, Steve dade, made the best rubber feet in the business. He passed away recently so a lot of folks are turning to printing. I've also used it to replace a lot of platen knobs.

Delicious-Tachyons3 karma

Sorry about your friend.

Lucasdul23 karma

Thanks, he will be missed

PSteak8 karma

Do you make any scratch in the area of Hollywood prop rentals and consulting?

Up until a few years ago, there was a typewriter repair shop in my area that always felt like "how is that place still in business?" and as far as I understood, the fellow got by in part because occasionally, for a big-budget, super-serious movie, instead of any random old-time, clackety-clack typewriter, they could go to him and be like "we need a period-accurate typewriter that a Des Moines newspaperman would be using in 1939" and he'd hook 'em up for the Spielberg bucks.

Lucasdul24 karma

No, I'm in an odd place to do that, but I know of people who do! I feel like in some areas they aren't quite as accurate, but at the end of the day few people notice. If someone ever hits me up, I'm game. Typewriters rule!

iDontRagequit8 karma

You mentioned youre using a vintage keyboard to type this, are you into mechanical keyboards or would you say you’re particular about the kind of keystrokes you like the most, be it typewriter or modern keyboard?

Lucasdul221 karma

I am very fickle about the feel of my keyboards. I got the IBM because I wanted a nice tactile feel. I HATE those flat laptop pos's. As far as typewriters go, I hates silents. While I like the lower noise, the silencer mechanisms all rely on a deceleration mechanism that I feel negatively impacts the feel. I like a smooth action, a sharp strike, and a quick rebound. 1930s Royal Portables are great, and I LOVE the Olympia SM3.

dali-llama6 karma

What is your favorite typewriter and why do you like it best?

Lucasdul221 karma

Well, I have become the leading expert in the Williams typewriter co. I think it is one of the most unique and beautiful machines ever made.

For typing, I love my Royal P from 1930, and my 50s Olympia SM3. They have that nice smooth feel and sharp rebound that I like, while printing super crispy and clean!

dchq14 karma

Seems amazing for a 21 year old to become the leading expert in a class of typewriters. Good going. Prior to Typewriters what sorts of thing interested you ? Was there another topic you got heavily entrenched in ?

Lucasdul229 karma

Oh god lol. I was OBSESSED with the ocean. Oceanography, marine biology, even shipbuilding. This was all before the age of 10. No sports or video games for me. Only fish. I consumed every YouTube video, book, and documentary. I watched finding Nemo so many times the VHS tape corrupted. It was my dream to become a marine biologist, I loved everything about it. I also had no friends, I mean, no kindergarteners were interested in sea surface currents and migration patterns, or the food sources for chemosythesizing organisms populating the hydrothermal vents. I looked up to Robert Ballard too! The guy who found the titanic (another obsession) For about 12-13 years I kept both freshwater and saltwater tanks. I sold my tank this summer, sad moment, I miss keeping fish considerably. But you know, dreams die out. I also wanted to be an artist but I dont think I have what it takes! I also had a long invested interest in photography! I love film photography :)

aarhus8 karma

This is the best response so far, IMO. I respect OP's current love for all things typewriter, but this one hit me hardest. I think most of us had obsessions when we were young. Myself, I wanted desperately to be an astronaut. (I am not an astronaut today.) It's great to see someone in love with their current pursuit and simultaneously acknowledging they grew up loving something else.

Lucasdul29 karma

Hey thanks for that! And ya know, I still love fish. I'm not going to be a biologist by any stretch, but I'll never stop loving the ocean. Getting rid of that tank wasn't easy. I'm still passionate about it, but just not in a way I can pursue.

Lybychick6 karma

I’m so glad I found you. I have an Olivetti mechanical with electric assist that uses ball technology similar to the IBM Selectric. It dates to the mid 70s and I’ve been told it’s the only machine of it’s type that can use plastic one-use ribbon and cloth reusable ribbon.

My dream is to get her running smoothly again as I love the feel of her action.

Have you worked on any Olivetti’s?

Lucasdul25 karma

I have! They can be tricky, the Olivetti ball system is a little more scarce. I haven't seen ribbons around lately, but I'm sure the old cartridges can be refilled

ansyhrrian6 karma

Can you tell me more about this typewriter that I bought for my daughter? She loves it, although I bought it on a whim from eBay.

https://reddit.com/r/typewriters/comments/kzfnvn/my_new_to_me_1947_i_think_smithcorona_silent_4s/

Lucasdul28 karma

Excellent machine. Very sturdy, reliable, and great to type on. Wartime model, 1940s, serial number would tell you more and that's located on the right side of the frame under the ribbon cover. Very common, I have a beater sitting on a shelf waiting to be serviced and sold. Great first typewriter! Hanks likes these too I hear.

ansyhrrian3 karma

Need to get on that typewriterdatabase internet thing, it would appear. Thank you! Good luck in your ongoing endeavors!

Lucasdul23 karma

Ted munk's site, excellent resource

natestate5 karma

Know anything about the Facit T2?

I recently received one from a relative and did some minor repairs on it. Pretty fun to work on and type on, but the only think I know about it is that it was made in the 60s and is Swedish.

Lucasdul26 karma

Not particularly. Facits are excellent machines, and the favorites of a few of my colleague buddies! Particularly Jack from Tampa Typewriter who would talk your ear off about the facit. The swedes made good typers!

natestate4 karma

Considering it had been sitting in a basement for decades and all I had to do was tighten and lube the levers that cause the gears in the escapement to move (sorry, I know 0 technical terms), I'd say it's a pretty well-made machine.

I saw that you shoot film, too. We have a lot in common.

Lucasdul24 karma

As nerds often do....

dhoffnun5 karma

Ever work on a Selectric?

Lucasdul25 karma

Yes I do! I have serviced a couple of them. Amazing beasts, truly an engineering marvel. Very tricky to get ticking just right.

fleemfleemfleemfleem5 karma

In your opinion is there likely to be a good new typewriter ever brought to market? Not like the plastic thing at Michaels

Lucasdul29 karma

No, not at all. And its complicated why. Royal released that Michaels one as the Royal Classic. I've used it, it sucks. The epoch is bad too.

Back in the day, a good mid sized typewriter like the 1960s Remington Quiet-Riter cost an equivalent 1600$ in today's money. It was solid steel. The Royal Classic retails at around $200. There is no possible way a company can make money on a high quality machine, they simply cost way more to make than people these days are willing to pay. They were the laptops of the era, in price too. Back when the typewriter was the only method of print writing available, the price was justified much like it is for a computer today. All that manufacturing now has to be packed in as cheaply as possible to retail at a fraction of the price in a market that already has plenty of amazing machines.

In short, it isnt going to happen on a commercial scale. I myself have thrown around designs and concepts for a new machine, but they would all need to be hand made, and the price would be outrageous.

helcat4 karma

I have a lovely Blickensderfer No 8. It’s in good shape but most of the keys stick. Would it be insanely expensive to get it working again?

Lucasdul23 karma

Depends on condition. The Blicks are a pain in the ass to adjust. Like seriously. I almost wrote them off entirely because they make me pissed. Sticky keys might just mean its dirty

CriticalGoku4 karma

What kinds of people make up your customer base?

Lucasdul211 karma

Oh boy. Small office workers, authors, poets, artists, business owners, collectors, and anyone who needs or uses typewriters. Even inmates.

kula_shakur4 karma

I was given a Royal Signet 45 recently and can’t find a manual anywhere. Is there a resource for this type of thing? There are so many features that we have no idea how to use.

Lucasdul24 karma

Yes? I believe I have them compiled. Head to the typewriter link above and hit the button that says resources. There should be a whole hose of manuals

JayLime4 karma

Do clients ship typewriters to you? Do typewriters do well in shipping? I worked at UPS and people do not handle with care

Lucasdul26 karma

They must certainly do not handle with care lol. I watched a FedEd driver chuck boxes from the door into the truck. Never had fedex not break a machine. I have people ship from all over the world, it's a gamble for sure, but there are good packing methods. dhl is careful

blfstyk4 karma

I'm a little older than you. My first job (in the '50s) was typing envelopes for advert mailers on a 1930's Underwood exactly like this. I really loved that machine, bitch though it was. I think it weighed more than I did. Is there any chance I could find one today and buy it? I'm sure it would cost much more than the original!

Lucasdul212 karma

Underwood 5, I have had many. You can find them all over, the most mass produced typewriter in the states basically. They made millions! They can be had anywhere from $5 to $500, though I wouldn't pay more than 300 for one in superb shape, and 500 max for absolutely beyond mint. $150 is a fair price to pay for working, and I'd charge about $200 for one I've serviced. I am currently repairing one for a client who does sales. Check out the Vintage Mancave on etsy, he may be selling one, and I may have worked on it.

stucaboose3 karma

Are you hiring?

Lucasdul210 karma

Hahahahaha maybe one day. I don't make enough to pay a fair wage and I don't have a brick and mortar yet. One day I will though, I'm not a socialite and I'd need help with the customer side of things, not to mention some bits of the servicing.

I'm a believer in paying livable wages, yes I'd pay 15$ an hour and not a dot under, even if it meant I had to pay myself that much too! One day I will, but not today. Or tomorrow. Or for a while actually. Local rent is 3k a month!

haley_isadog6 karma

When is the last time you increased rates? $45/hr for a niche specialty, in a city, is way too low.

Lucasdul27 karma

Earlier this year! I'm always afraid of driving people away because I'm too expensive. But thanks for the sentiment! You're one of god knows how many now who think I should up things.

drunkvirgil3 karma

I was just thinking my typewriter might need repairs. It’s a smith corona and for some reason the text isn’t as bold anymore. Is it the ribbon or should I take to for repair?

Lucasdul23 karma

If the type is suddenly not that dark anymore, its probably the ribbon. Unless there was a catastrophe, there should be no reason for the machine to suddenly not print well. There could be a ribbon drive error though, but always check the ribbon first. Spin it around a bit on one spool and type some more. If it is dark again and then fades, the ribbon is not advancing and it needs repair. Otherwise if the spools spin as you type, the machine is fine and the ribbon is not.

FeistyCanoe3 karma

What’s the best model you’d recommend for people who want to start using a typewriter? The main things I’d look for is my fingers not falling between keys and a quieter experience.

Lucasdul28 karma

Quiet? I'd recomend the smith corona silent 5 series. Robust, affordable, reliable, user friendly, and decently soft sounding. There are also noiseless typewriters that sometimes fetch a bigger price. I prefer prewar royals, the keys are expertly placed. Take time learning how to type on a typewriter and you shouldn't have a problem with the fingers between the keys issue. Some of the royal quiet deluxe models aren't too shabby, but those 50s era ones aren't anything special to type on.

rajandatta3 karma

What are some good sources to purchase vintage typewriters?

Lucasdul213 karma

Anyone reputable. I mean, me lol. I can also recomend Gramercy, Berkeley, Messa, and Cambridge typewriter to support brick and mortar. Also Tampa, Nashville, And Stephentown typewriter. There's typewritermuse in LA, Phoenix typewriter, typewriter justice, unplug typewriter co...and a few others I might be forgetting. For canada check out Yeg typewriters. Mexico and spain there is ElGranero typewriter, Mr. And Mrs. Vintage for the UK, northern Europe, and Australia. Also Charlie foxtrot. I'm sure I'm missing some but I know all these guys and they're legit!! Ken from california California typewriter (the tom hanks doc) works at Berkeley now. Stay away from Colombo collection for one. She does bad work, unreliable, overpriced, and rips off good techs like me. Jon posey is a pedophile stay away, but he doesnt sell much. Uhhhh on other guy who was a weasel, typewriter collection or something. Eh, cant avoid them all!

PolyDrew3 karma

I have an underwood 5 (touch master)and can’t figure out how to load the ribbon. The only instructions I can seem to find are for the model 5 open frame model. Can you point me in the right direction?

https://rolls.bublup.com/view/d97b48e5-33c5-49a4-8b05-a2b67c641f19

Lucasdul24 karma

The top lid should either lift up, or possibly the front panel hinge down. The later underwood standards were a little odd. Sometimes you just had to finagle the spools out of there. When installing, make sure the spools wind the direction indicated by the arrows in the cup. Ribbon then always tucks behind the vibrator (or fork) before you pull it through

Greybeard_213 karma

Cool!
Do you have customers who stlll need typewriters in their business, or are they all afficionados/collectors?
(I live in Danmark, and have seen mechanical typewriters being used in anger up until the late 90's - for multi-copy forms - and in ca. 2000 I read about a professional compagny servicing typewriters for freight compagnies who used them for Bills of lading)

Lucasdul23 karma

Last I heard, a lot of big city police departments used them for forms. The contract for the chicago pd is held by a printer repair guy downtown. I've done work for a church who used one for tax forms, business who use them for receipts etc.... I know they can also be found at hospitals, small practices, libraries, media stations... but most widespread professional use remains in the hands of creatives.

Thebatmann583 karma

Have you ever thought about bracing into VCR repair? I heard of you do it right yoy can make loads off of one guy

Lucasdul23 karma

I'm not one for electronics! I can do a little bit, I repaired some appliances, a treadmill, some open reel tape decks and cassette decks, but the inability to see the problems and actions is daunting!

_FFA3 karma

If you had to change careers right now what would you switch to?

A lot of people have idols or heroes they look up to. Who is yours?

Lucasdul26 karma

I'd probably go into welding. I'm good at it, and it makes money. I'd need to go get a certificate though. Fun stuff. Honestly people tell me I'm capable of more, but I enjoyed it. I'd rather do that than some sucky corporate job.

Lucasdul26 karma

Ah, and the second part of your question, yes and no. Not for typewriters, I had people I admired early on, like charlie from typewriter justice and duane from Phoenix typewriter. Great people, super kind.

I also looked up to Grant Imahara from mythbusters. I was always extremely self conscious about being asian when I was younger, and Grant was one of the first people I ever saw that I thought was cool, and made me feel better about myself. I'd say the same about markiplier and Eugene from the try guys. I thought they were cool people, not because they were Asian. Learning they were both also Korean helped me a lot during highschool. I'm now watching Kim's conscience on Netflix, and I can enjoy it without feeling uncomfortable.

GonzoVeritas3 karma

Which model is your favorite?

I really like this one from your site: The 1915 Typo (Imperial Model B) (photo) It's beautiful.

Lucasdul25 karma

Thank you! I traded that machine for one of my favorites. The William's typewriter. I love those, they are my favorite. They're all super work out though and dont type well anymore. For typing I love the Royal P from the 30s, or the Olympia SM3

ClassiqueGTA3 karma

Did you enjoy the LEGO Typewriter build? 😁

Lucasdul23 karma

I very much did! It was a lot of fun and an impressive technic beast! Distracted me from some client projects, but wasn't a huge time commitment:)

jims19733 karma

Assuming you’re working for Tom Hanks as he’s the only one left on earth who still uses a typewriter… is he as nice in person as he appears to be in his rolls?

Lucasdul23 karma

He is not the only one, thousands of people use typewriters, especially in counties with poor access to electricity. Artists, musicians like john Mayer, authors, business people etc.. they all use them. And yes, hanks is a wonderful wonderful person.

JustGottaKeepTrying3 karma

I have not used a typewriter since I learned how to type in highschool 30+ years ago. This is the most engaging AMA I have seen and I read every comment. My question, so this stays up is: Do you see yourself staying with this for a long time or will it go the way of your past interests?

Lucasdul24 karma

It's been 7 years, and I fully intend to ride this as far as it will take me! Full send as they say. I'm glad you like the thread, it has been a lot of fun! Definitely the most engagement I've ever had, and that's thanks to all of you!!

ChuckNorrisAteMySock3 karma

How do you keep track of all the little parts?

I've got one I'm trying to oil up; it's a 1951 Underwood, and the keys keep sticking. Where do I put the oil and how do I get it in there? I'm using gun oil for that.

Lucasdul23 karma

I have worked on so many typewriters that I just chuck them all into little boxes. I construct a mental model of a machine, and as long as I'm working within a couple weeks I can remember where everything goes. I'm very visual, so looking at the part often trips the memory of where I took it from.

Also, I would recomend not using oil. That will make things worse usually. Use mineral spirits or naphtha to flush the segment out where the keys pivot, and force it through with compressed air. Work the keys and they should losen up. If they stick up at the page in between the type guide, then gently bend them straight.

sucrose_972 karma

Do you have any recommendations for videos on how to set good margins on paper? (E.g., typing with the aim of having a 1" margin all around.) All of the old people I speak to around this have forgotten, and part of my issue might be the hardened platen on my machine which skews the paper as you roll down.

Lucasdul22 karma

Totally depends on the machine and pitch. Either ten characters per inch, or 12. Rarely 6, 8, 11 etc. Not to get away from myself lol. Feed rollers are a bigger issue if the page is shifting as you type, make sure you align the page at the beginning with the feed release leaver on the right side. As to margins, what is the make and model of your machine?

suparev2 karma

Hi OP, if I wanted to pick up a machine to typewrite short, unique notes to leave people at work or cards, where should I look to buy a machine?

Preferably something that I can find ribbon for easily enough and noob friendly to maintain (bonus for a nice font!).

By the way, hello from /r/FountainPens, hooray for doing things the proper way!

Lucasdul23 karma

Heyyy I love my fountain pens. Any normal typewriter takes a standard half inch ribbon. Older unique machines might take 7/16ths which I also stock. If you want something working well, and tuned well with a guarantee, nab one from a pro type shop like me. Theres Tampa typewriter, Nashville, theres also messa typewriter, Phoenix typewriter, Berkeley typewriter, cambridge typewriter, Gramercy typewriter, and a variety of online vendors like unplug typewriter, mr and mrs vintage, and yeg typewriters.

browntown842 karma

Are you typing this on a typewriter?

Lucasdul22 karma

Yes, I type it on my typewriter then send the document to Reddit HQ via carrier Pidgeon and they input the answers in for me.

Greybeard_212 karma

Addendum:
I hope you have watched Chicago Typewriter

Lucasdul23 karma

I watched the first episode, I liked it. I am korean! And I've been on the hunt for a hangul typewriter for a bit now with no luck. Honestly the episodes were so long I haven't really picked it up. When I was trying to brand my business, I had to go with typewriter Chicago, because the other way around would only bring up the show or the Thompson submachine when searched.

ASilver762 karma

So in other words....you're unemployed?

Never seen a reddit AMA begin with that one before.

Lucasdul22 karma

Hahahaha self employed, but to each their own

Preston2051 karma

How much is a typical service on a typewriter?

Lucasdul22 karma

I charge a $20 deposit fee to assess, and an average service is around 75-150. I am for sure on the low end of things!

JonnathanDepp1 karma

Would it be possible to ship you a typewriter for repair? Asking from LA.

Lucasdul23 karma

Hell yes, though shipping typewriters can get expensive. You cover both to and from. I had a client who shipped from Singapore once. I would recommend you to Bob Marshall from Typewriter Muse who is just outside of L.A. Duane from Phoenix typewriter or Joe Van Cleave might be local also, but I'm not sure if Joe is doing repair work these days. I'll be zooming with him tomorrow so I will have to ask. But if you can't ship to the windy city, hit up Bob and tell him I sent ya!

JonnathanDepp2 karma

Amazing! Thank you!! I have a 1960 Underwood 21, it works pretty well just a bit gummy and I’m terrified of trying to repair it myself lol.

Lucasdul23 karma

60s machines. Ya either love them or hate them. Most of them were made by olivetti at this time after they bought out Underwood

Manaze851 karma

I was handed down a portable Royal Aristocrat that based on the serial number, it looks like it was made in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The ribbon is dry and not sure what to replace it with. Any ideas?

Lucasdul22 karma

Hit up one of my links up top. I guarantee my ribbons. Also check out Ribbons Unlimited. I would be hesitant to recomend FJA since they tend to run dry, I've also had Ribbons Unlimited arrive dry. Amazon or Ebay gets you what you pay for, and all the big office chains are overpriced.

BlackCheezIts-1 karma

[deleted]

Lucasdul22 karma

Mostly on the toxic world of Facebook. I also advertise on Instagram under Typewriter_Chicago_ and Tictok under TypeTech