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I've finally got a typewriter! My dear husband and daughter decided, that as it was my birthday, they'd buy me the very old Imperial typewriter I'd seen in a charity shop. Left to myself, I think I would have rather gone for a German typewriter on ebay in better shape. But never mind, it was a lovely thought and now I have this typewriter.

But, it is rather old and I don't know how to look after it or get it into working order. It's a huge thing and weighs a ton and a half! From what I've read on the 'net, it was probably made any time between the 1930's and 1950's. All advice gratefully accepted! I'm hoping to use it for my next zine.

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Is there any rust? Can all the hammers be moved to their full extension? I have a 1930s typewriter that I was able to get theoretically working by liberal use of WD-40, taking off the bottom and oiling every hammer and key individually and moving them gently. (It's probably obvious, but do NOT use organic oil... it will become rancid and possibly ruin the typewriter.) The real issue isn't going to be so much the keys/hammers (assuming there is no rust and that they all work), it will be getting a compatible ribbon. The universal ribbons won't work on very old machines. If it still has its original spool, measure the ribbon, then see if one of the universals is close enough in width so that you can cut it off the new spool and install it on the old spool. I've also heard that you can re-ink an old ribbon, but I've never tried that. (Actually, I've never tried re-spooling ribbon either... my super old typewriter is just gathering dust now, it's too heavy to use easily.) Good luck!
i've also read that you can spray the ribbon with wd-4o and get a few more uses out of it. the spray loosens up the ink or something. but, i dunno, i've never tried it.

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