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How to Fix & Repair a Typewriter Yourself

Updated July 19, 2017

Using a typewriter to write out your thoughts and ideas is a fun, distraction-free way of creatively writing. You don't need electricity and you won't be distracted by games or the temptation to surf the Web, not to mention not having to plug into a printer to produce your written works. But it can become a frustrating experience if your typewriter stops working properly. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do on your own to fix it before taking it to a professional.

Tap on each key on the typewriter one by one to see if any stick or don't hit the ribbon properly. If you find one that sticks, slightly and gently bend the key from the head to one side. Tap the key again, and if it still sticks, bend it to the other side. The idea is to straighten the key to hit the ink ribbon and fall back into its place.

Unlatch and remove the top covering, exposing the ink ribbon. Unhook the old ribbon in the middle, where the keys hit, and gently pull its spools from the right and left slots. Insert the new ribbon the same way you removed the old one, carefully hooking the ribbon in the middle where the keys hit. Replace and latch the cover.

Flip the typewriter over, exposing all of the gears and keys underneath the unit. Dab sewing machine oil into all of the gears and key joints (the place where the key creates an elbow which extends to the ribbon). Allow the oil to absorb a few minutes and flip the unit back over. Tap on each key individually to let the oil enter all of the mechanisms.

Things You'll Need

  • Typewriter
  • New typewriter ink ribbon
  • Sewing machine oil
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About the Author

Abraham Hovey is a poet and songwriter living in Madison, Wis. He has been a working musician since 1997 and holds a bachelor's degree in history from Western Michigan University.