Rebuilt Typewriters

From Typewriter Wiki
Revision as of 18:46, 28 April 2022 by Cerafuki (talk | contribs) (→‎What are Rebuilt Typewriters?: -- small edits to page and minor corrections)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

What are Rebuilt Typewriters?

"Rebuilding" is the process of taking something, like a typewriter or another mechanical object, and tearing it down nearly completely, so that it can be fixed, cleaned, readjusted, and then reassembling it. Because typewriters were used heavily in offices, many underwent this process to extend their longevity. Heavy daily use on a precision machine takes its toll, so typewriter companies and typewriter shops offered rebuilding services to give tired typewriters a facelift and address any chronic issues that may be caused by worn out parts. Oftentimes, this process involved a cosmetic change as well, including new paint, and rarely, new features that could be easily added (e.g. key-set tabulator, new keys, or new type slugs).

Who rebuilt typewriters?

Typewriters were rebuilt by the factories that made them, or small, independent repair shops. You can tell if a machine was rebuilt by a factory by looking for a rebuild decal. Oftentimes, large companies would stick a sticker or a decal that showed if a machine was rebuilt. Occasionally, you can find a new serial number on the machine as well, stamped in the same place as the old one. Two examples of companies that rebuilt machines were Remington and Woodstock. Remington often rebuilt Remington Standard No. 10s, Remington Standard No. 12s and their derivatives, stamped them with a new serial number, and put a "Rebuilt by Remington Typewriter Co., Ilion NY" decal on the back frame. Woodstock survived the Great Depression by rebuilding typewriters instead of manufacturing new ones. These machines are usually Woodstock 5s and 5Ns from the 20's. Rebuilt Woodstock machines are characterized by a friction-fit cover placed over the type basket and under the ribbon spool towers, and a (easily destroyed) yellow sticker on the back left of the frame that says, "Rebuilt by Woodstock Typewriter Co. Chicago, IL" on it. Typewriters that were rebuilt by independent shops, on the other hand, are often just given a new coat of paint, new decals, and new keys with the dealer tag of the shop secured somewhere on the machine, usually in a very visible place. Each shop had a different process, so rebuilt machines by repair shops vary from place to place.

How can I tell if my typewriter is rebuilt?

The best way to know if a typewriter was rebuilt is to know what different machines looked like fresh out of the factory. Usually, rebuilt machines are built from the 20's to the 30's, and rebuilt in the late-30s and 1940s. Rebuilding became big during the Great Depression, WWII, and immediate postwar area as it was much cheaper and far more accessible than buying a new typewriter. Rebuilt typewriters come in many colors and configurations. Rebuilt typewriters are often repainted in a new color not offered in the factory to make them look more modern-- this was often crinkle beige or grey. As well, less-ornate, more generic-looking decals are often applied to replace the ones painted over. Keytops are often replaced as well. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is not.

Are rebuilt machines bad?

Certainly not! Rebuilt machines have been gone through before and often write quite well, not least in part because they have been serviced and had worn-out parts replaced. However, rebuilt machines are not usually desirable by collectors because they were altered from their original look. Some people think that the keys don't look right because they were changed out, or maybe the machine is the wrong color and missing the original decals. Rebuilt machines are the same quality as most other typewriters, so if you find one you like don't shy away because it was rebuilt!