Scenes from the life of a typewriter repairman

by | Mar 10, 2017 | Smith-Corona | 6 comments

My work as a typewriter repairman (raising funds for WordPlay Cincy) brings interesting experiences my way.

Yesterday, I drove south for a couple of hours into rural Kentucky, enjoying the early spring day. The reason for the trip was my failure to correct all the problems on a couple of Smith-Coronas. Their owner had to bring them up to Cincinnati twice, and it was only fair that I bring them down to him when they were 100% fixed.

The Smith-Coronas’ owner uses them to write notes as he’s studying the Bible. He says that his handwriting is impossible and he doesn’t like using computers more than necessary, so typewriters are a perfect solution. He has built up a small collection of them, and also fixes sewing machines. We had a friendly conversation about technology, religion, and philosophy.

One of the perks of typewriter repair is that people bring you lovely and interesting machines. Here’s simply a beautiful example of an L. C. Smith no. 8, made in 1928 (serial number 805533-10). I’ve cleaned it up for a customer who will be using it in her daughter’s wedding. The platen was replaced at some point, and the typewriter was apparently barely used after that, because the rubber looks untouched. I figured my readers would like to see it.

You, too, can become a typewriter technician and have adventures like this. Dig into your machines, pay attention, practice, read the literature, and ask questions of your fellow typospherians. You may become a lifesaver for people and machines in your area.


  1. Mark

    I am a big fan of those early LC Smiths, what great machines. I have a #2 I use from time to time.
    You gotta love rural Kentucky! Your pictures show a much flatter landscape than the Kentucky I lived in. It's a pretty state though.

  2. Bill M

    Great looking typewriter. I love those old machines with the return lever on the right. I think the first question I had in typing class was why were typewriters made with the return lever on the left when typists use their right hand to return the carriage. I guess it is what a person gets used to.

  3. Rolf Boone

    Nice post, Richard. And I'm envious of the weather in your part of the world. No signs of spring here in the Northwest. Even the natives get sick of the rain.

  4. Richard P

    Do you use your right hand to return the carriage, even on modern machines? I always use my left!

  5. Walter

    So wait… I'm confused… the return lever on the right means you DRAG the carriage as opposed to PUSHING the carriage? Never heard of such blasphemy! I guess you really do learn something new every day. ~TH~

  6. Ted

    The tranquil live of a scholarly typewriter repairman. A person could get used to that (:


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