So you want to buy a manual typewriter? Here is a little checklist of things to look for when looking at one. And feel free to share with friends.
CHECKLIST: What to look for and test before you buy a manual typewriter.
1) What does the exterior look like? If it’s a portable, what does the case look like? .
If it looks shabby and abused, it will likely need work. Our advice-stay away. If it looks well taken care of, proceed.
2) What does the machine smell like?
If it smells musty and has any sign of mold, be aware that smell may never go away and the mold may be bad for your health. Our advice-walk away if it smells like grandma’s basement.
3) Do all the parts seem to be there?
Look over the machine and see if all the parts are there, turn it upside down and see if anything falls out? If it looks incomplete move on to the next check. If it’s missing something is it major or minor? If it looks like a major part? Our advice is slowly back away and move on.
4) Are there any papers or manuals with the machine?
It is always a good sign to see original paperwork and manuals, this is a sign that the owner cared about the machine-SCORE! Move on to the next check.
5) Are there any stickers from repair shops on the machine of case?
This is also a good sign that they have maintained their machine and that if it has been repaired It was done by a professional-SCORE AGAIN! Move on to the next check.
6) Does the seller know anything about the machines previous ownership?
If the seller knows anything about the machines history, have them write it down or jot it down yourself. The history of the machine is always a selling point in the future. If they don’t know anything, don’t be shocked, much of the history has been lost so anything you can save, please do! Move on to the next check.
7) Does the machine appear to have been worked on before?
If the covers or visible screw heads seem scratched or paint doesn’t seem to match this should throw up red flags that an amateur repair has been attempted. Our advice would be to stay away from a machine like this.
8) Mechanical Check: (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART)
- A) Does the carriage move? And does it make any bad noises when it moves?
- B) Do ALL the keys work?
- C) When you strike the keys does the carriage advance, the ribbon advance work and ribbon vibrator move? (Check to make sure ribbon setting is blue or red and not on white if it has setting)
- D) Does the return arm advance the platen? If you have paper make sure it feeds properly.
- E) With the spacebar advance the carriage from one side to the other making sure there is no slacking or sluggishness. If there is return drum spring may be worn out.
- F) Open the cover and see if you can switch the ribbon advance from one side to the other.
WARNING: Leave it to the professionals.
If the machine shows any issues during the mechanical check don’t have delusions of repairing it yourself. It takes years of experience and specialized tools to work on these machines. Watching a five minute youtube video won’t make you an expert. You are more likely to do more damage to the machine and if you break parts, there is no guarantee that they can be replaced.