I found a beautiful vintage Smith-Corona Sterling at a local antique shop. It was made in 1946. Included was a mint condition hard case. The condition of this 70 year old gem is beyond belief. The paint and glass keys (which are a deep green) are perfect, and the inner workings are spotless. The platen (type roller) is serviceable, but should be replace due to age.
When I got it home, I discovered a problem with the mechanism that advances the carriage. The space bar was very intermittent in moving the carriage, as were the keys. There was something out of adjustment in the escapement. It did not appear to have anything gummed up or impeding the gears, so it was either a broken part or something just wasn’t right.
I took it to California Typewriter in Berkeley, a well known vintage “last of the era” repair shop. It is run by Ken Alexander, who has been repairing and servicing typewriters for decades. This shop is featured in a documentary titled “California Typewriter”, and has Tom Hanks in it. Basically, it’s a movie about the typewriter and the people who use it..sort of chronicles the “resurgence” of people who have rediscovered the joys of these vintage machines. I did not know this, but there are folks who collect them…all makes and eras and styles. Some have many in their collections, like Hanks..reported to have about 250.
Anyway, I picked up the typewriter after a week..and all is good. Ken said that the mechanism was slightly out of adjustment, and that prevented it from working. A new ribbon was added.
This machine types very well, but it is not as fast as the later era machines. The glass keys are flat disc’s, so you have to be very deliberate in your typing technique. You really can’t go too fast on a vintage typewriter compared to the modern computer keyboard. It’s not the same. However, that is the attraction for those seeking a pleasurable, measured, writing experience.