Sholes Visible: softly scrubbing

by | Aug 10, 2012 | Sholes Visible | 14 comments

I finally had a moment to return to the basement haven and work on my Sholes Visible restoration a bit more. Since 1994 I’ve followed the advice in Paul Lippman’s American Typewriters: A Collector’s Encyclopedia: I use Soft Scrub (a gentle liquid abrasive), diluted with water, applying a thin layer of it to the typewriter surface with a fingertip or a damp, clean, cotton rag. On a century-old, neglected typewriter like this, don’t be surprised if you have to wipe it with Soft Scrub literally 50 times. Keep going until your rag isn’t coming up brown anymore. Then you can polish it with Renaissance Wax and Pledge.

Here’s the restored front guide panel. Not like new — imagine gold and blue pinstripes around the diagonal areas — but pretty good. An area where paint chipped off on the upper right has been disguised with permanent black marker.

As for the back of the panel, here’s what it looked like earlier in the summer, and I assumed it was copper or brass.

Now I see that after a little rubbing with fine steel wool, the coppery color starts to come off. It’s just residue from a dirty, greasy century. The plate is actually steel. I also noticed that the letter B has been stamped in the bottom center.

In other news, thanks to Davide in Italy for typing an Italian translation of the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto. It’s now on the Manifesto site along with Fernando Antunes’ Portuguese translation. Other translations are welcome …


  1. Miguel Chávez

    Amazing! I too thought that part was made of bronze or copper; I really look forward to see how this project evolves!

  2. L Casey

    It's all starting to come together. I cannot wait to see this machine restored and fully functional. Hopefully a video demonstration will accompany the typecast?
    Great work. You really do wonders!

  3. Richard P

    Thank you, Ken. Eventually, I trust that I'll be able to provide a video demonstration and a typecast from this baby.

  4. Dwayne F.

    I went back to the first entry on the "Handyman's Special" and came to three conclusions:
    You are far more optimistic than I.
    You are much more patient than I.
    I need to try Soft Scrub on the Barr Universal and the newly acquired Woodstock Electric.

  5. Richard P

    Good luck. If the Barr has wrinkle paint, Soft Scrub is not the thing — try Scrubbing Bubbles.

    My Woodstock Electrite was pretty grimy when I got it, and I must have used up a whole bottle of Soft Scrub on it. But it worked. The underlying paint is nice, thick, glossy stuff.

  6. Dwayne F.

    The Barr is gloss black and mostly dirty with oxidized paint. There are a few random chrome parts that ended up rustier than the rest for whatever reason.

    The Woodstock Electric (that's the paper table label) isn't too bad. It needs a good general clean and lube. A friend of mine, who engineers grid level power distribution systems, likes working on old motors. I'm optimistic about this machine.

  7. Ton S.

    Ooh, that's remarkable progress. Are you starting with those tiny springs soon?

  8. michaeliany

    Not only will this machine look terrific but it will smell awesome too!

  9. Scott K

    OH! That's starting to come up quite beautifully. If only all of these products were available in AU .

  10. schrijfmachine

    Wiping 50 times; that's a lot!! Must be a good work-out.

  11. Richard P

    I look forward to seeing your Woodstock. I have parts of a '20s motor which might possibly be useful if you need them.

  12. Richard P

    I'm not sure. It will be almost impossible to get them nice without dunking them in Evapo-Rust, but in order to do that I may have to dunk the whole typewriter in the stuff, and that's something I'd rather avoid in order to preserve the remaining paint.

  13. Richard P

    I love the smell of napalm — er, Lemon Pledge — in the morning!

  14. tr0x

    Very nice, that metal is now shining :)


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


typewriter revolutionary factory logo




Dept. of Philosophy
Xavier University
3800 Victory Pkwy.
Cincinnati, OH. 45207