Silverization and a lesson on privacy

by | Feb 18, 2013 | Olympia | 9 comments

This weekend I cleaned up the Olympia SG1 that I got at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall. It looks army green in this “before” shot, but I found that when I cleaned it with Scrubbing Bubbles, the body panels were actually gray. Gray + the dirt of life = green.

The typewriter had some minor mechanical issues, but mostly needed a thorough cleaning and lube. (As I’ve said before, I love the smell of PB B’laster in the morning.)

The gray paint looked dignified enough when it was thoroughly cleaned and polished, but the typewriter still seemed to lack a certain pizzazz; there were also two completely worn spots in front. Then I got the idea of treating the major panels to sparkly silver spray paint. To do this you have to remove them from the typewriter, remove or mask the trim and logos, and (since it’s winter and too cold to spray paint outside) poison the entire atmosphere of your house and face the well-justified complaints of your wife. But the results ….

This typewriter will eventually be going on sale at WordPlay.

By the way, by reading black typing on a red portion of this typewriter’s ribbon, I was able to get a partial name and address of a woman who either owned this typewriter or received a note written on it — an invitation to “Jester’s Christmas Partytown.” A minute of experimental googling yielded her complete address, her birth year (1930), and a picture of her house — with, presumably, her or her husband at the door!

The person is either looking at the weird Google Maps car, or waiting for the mailman who’s on his way.

Creepy? I’d say so. Lessons to be learned: (a) Pay attention to your used typewriter ribbons. (b) The very concept of privacy is being destroyed in the information age. Typewriters, carefully used, provide one of the few remaining means of communication that can bypass the whole global system of data analysis: a letter carried by a mail carrier like this.


  1. Duffy Moon

    That's awesome on so many levels. The typewriter, the sleuthing, the pics. Excellent work, Richard!

  2. Ted

    sounds like a plot device for a creepy stalker story. :D

    Nice silverization of the SG!

  3. Robert Messenger

    Gee it looks nice in silver. One often has to wonder about the choice of original colour.

  4. Bill M

    The typewriter looks great in silver. If you have a window in your basement; what I used to do (when I lived at home) is put a fan in the window and paint near the fan so it drew the odors out. My cellar window was actually an opening into a crawl space that I managed to ventilate with an old window fan at the outside access panel so the air would move out of the crawl space instead of into the house and reap the wrath of my parents.

  5. Scott K

    That's so…. so….. shiny!

  6. Ton S.

    You did a great paint job on that SG-1, I hope it sells quick.
    That's quite a bizarre story about personal info on the ribbon; it kinda reminds me of the scene in Blade Runner when the Harrison Ford character hunts down a replicant by magnifying an artificial fish scale on the subject's skin and finding a serial number.

  7. notagain

    Very cool silver anvil. That ribbon technique is even easier on carbon. I remember a tv sleuth in the 70's (Columbo?) solving a case that way.

  8. Brian

    Don't forget, the first modern-style surveillance used, and still in effect, was reading people's mail before it got delivered to them….

    My sister says she won't send sensitive info in an email, only over the phone. Excuse me???!!! Hello! WIRETAPPING!

    I trust no one but me and thee, and I'm not so sure about thee…

  9. Ping A

    You make it seem so effortless (the silver re-spraying, I mean). Beautiful work, Richard.


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