NSFW- The Naked Lettera 22

After perusing one of the local antique malls recently (on my birthday, actually), tucked way in a quiet corner of the very last vendor booth I happened to spy what I have come to call a “bowling ball bag”.  I knew from experience it would would contain something interesting and it just so happens that I was right.

Racing Stripe Bag

A quick unzipping and there it was….an Olivetti Lettera 22.  And a price tag.  A price tag that stated $25. 

Lettera 22

She was a bit dusty, which is about the norm anymore.  The paint was scuffed in a few places and stained in others… 

In other locations, the paint had somehow gotten mucky.  Like, really mucky. I’m not sure if something had been spilled on it, or if it just didn’t age very well, but the paint was really beyond salvaging.  I mean, if you simply wiped your finger on the body, the paint would slide right off and it just felt sort of sticky.

Mucky paint

Leaving the above picture big so you can see the detail of the jacked paint.  It is discolored, textured, and it was sticky.  Just a nasty situation all around.  What to do, what to do….well, let’s get her broken down first…

And this, folks, is exactly why you move the carriage to the side before you erase any mistakes made typing.  So. Much. Crude.

A few hours, a few rounds of alcohol, and a couple of hundred Q-tips, the inside were sorted easily enough.  Leaving, of course, the paint problem. 

It was obvious that a simple wash wouldn’t help, that whatever had gotten on this poor typer was for keeps.  There was no other option.  It’s time to strip her.

For as long as I can remember, I have been very sensitive to chemical odors, particularly air fresheners and paint strippers.  So I thought that I would roll the dice and go with a more gentle solution that had been getting some pretty solid reviews:

 

I wonder how well it would work?  Whelp, only one way to find out!

I gloved up, slapped on a mask, gathered the stripping supplies and got to work.  

The gel was very easy to work with and went on easy.  I used an old paint brush and had no issues getting an even coat.  Such was the poor condition of the paint that I didn’t even need to wait the recommend 30 minutes.  It took about five and I could even watch it bubble as it worked:

Easy enough.  

There were a few small stubborn spots, but they buffed out easily when I wiped it all down with paper towels before a final washing.

A quick rebuild later and I had myself a naked Lettera 22:

I decided against any sort of sanding or buffing.  I actually like the swirls and scuffs left from the manufacturing process.  So I decided to leave her as-is.

So there it is, a beautifully naked Lettera 22.  Such  a pretty machine and lovely little typer.  Who knew that stripping could be both so fun and so rewarding?

A few notes on this project:

The mucky felt pads were in sad shape and to be honest, a bit gross. 

So I wanted to replace those, too.  But I wasn’t sure what material would be best.  After some pondering, I finally settled on what I think is a very viable solution…cork gasket materiel, that you can get either at your local auto parts store or on amazon.

Easy to work with, not a particularly “modern” addition, relatively durable, and should serve the same purpose that the original felt did with noise/vibration dampening.

Also, Letteras are notoriously fickle machines and tend to be a bit more on the fragile side than other portable typers.  Not being fully confident in the capabilities of the “bowling ball bag” to protect this machine, I wanted to find something a bit more durable.  All it took was a trip to the local Harbor Freight tool store and I had my solution:

On sale, and with coupon, $20 case

Custom fit foam insert should help keep her safe (not pictured is a foam egg-carton sheet that fits on top of her, also included with the case).  And the ability to carry files, and other supplies in the removable admin panel is a nice plus.  Overall, I’m fairly confident that this will make her much more “road worthy”.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back soon for more typer projects!

~Typewriter Fox

 

About Grey Fox

...author, fighter, lover, typewriter fanatic, and unrepentant Fenian bastard. Known to few, hated by many, but still typing the good fight.

View all posts by Grey Fox →