Five Years Later: update on Using WD-40 to bring an old typewriter ribbon back to life! munk May 1, 2018 From the Desk of Reverend Munk, Typewriter Repair 101, Typewriters In The Corral 22 Comments Original post, and how to re-ink an old typewriter ribbon with WD-40. This 1970 Royal Sprite @TWDB
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I kind of like the yellowed keys. I know it’s not factory original, but I’m a fan of honest wear.
Yeah, me too – but I happen to have a free bottle of Retro-Brite (wife’s a hairstylist and apparently the stuff “expires” for hair purposes after a certain number of months, and i got the old bottle), so might as well show how it’s done at some point. (:
The only use I find for WD-40 around typewriters is to restore ribbons. I do not know where mine are as I switched them around to different machines, but I think about the same time you posted on restoring ribbons I did some. I think the first one I did my still be in use on my Underwood SS.
Good to know that they last 5 years or more.
I’d be interested in seeing a demonstration of ribbon restoration.
I have successly restored old ribbons with applying sewing machine oil. The hardest part is to apply it uniformly without mixing black and red, but the printed result is acceptable. Also oily fingers were the best way for me to clean a Brother keyboard just like this one. I guess mineral oils end up “removing” finger-grease by diluting it.
I’ve used the same. Works!
I also use WD-40 to refresh ribbons for dot matrix printers. Carefully remove the top of the cartridge (they snap on, and can be pried off with a pen knife). Just lightly spray the ribbon in place, and allow to sit a few days to even out. Turn the knob several times so that the ribbon outside the storage box is pulled back all the way.
Nice to see that WD-ribbons stay fine for a while, need to revisit some of my ribbons I soaked a while back :)
On the keytops by the way, was told (by chemistry PhD) that the yellowing/aging of most plastics is from cracks in the material. Lots of small surface cracks. Next to changing the appearance of the plastic of themselves, these micro-cracks collect and trap dirt.
I just unwrapped a never-used typewriter ribbon that had been stored for years and was dried out. Is there anyway to restore the ribbon without unwrapping the whole spool and going through the trouble of rewinding it?
Hello fellow typewriter enthusiasts,
I just came across your super great site! I know that this probably isn’t the right place the post this comment, but that’s just the problem. Is there any place where I can talk to other typewriter people about their (and my) typewriter questions and knowledge without using a post for commenting?
I’m a newbie so there’s probably some place where you can, but I wouldn’t know.
Any help is appreciated,
if you’ve got Facebook, try here:
and for your typewriter reference needs:
Thanks so much, I’ll be sure to try those!
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TYPEWRITTEN!
Just used your WD40 technique last night on an old Skyriter ribbon with awesome results. I let the ribbon dry in the box for two days, and even though I’d strayed enough on it for every inch of the ribbon to be shiny/wet, after two days it had the look of new ribbon and I didn’t have to wipe away any remaining oil.
Now I’m thinking about this: any potential for a more natural alternative to WD40? Has anyone tried (or know of problems with) trying PAM cooking spray, for instance?
Thanks for the great site.
Just found a very old red/black ribbon still sealed in plastic and feel sure it’s dried out. I plan on trying it in my Royal Companion first. If it’s actually dried out my plan is to try sealing the spools (still rolled up but out of the plastic bag) suspended in a mason jar with mineral spirits (paint thinner) in it for a few days. My hope is that the vapor pressure of the fumes will re-energize the ink without the mess of using oily WD-40. I’ll let you know how (or if) it works. If it doesn’t work I guess I’ll try the WD-40 approach.
Very curious – did this work??
Mine do not have reels, is it still possible?
Hey, I used the wd-40 suggestion on a smith corona silent super and it was awesome! Had been thinking about a manual typewriter for a while to converse with young reader grandson on the other side of the continent. Then corona came. I live in syracuse ny and remember the smith corona factory. I ended up with the silent super. Has a couple sticky keys but am working the alignment. The period is downright broke, missing connection on the armature. i sprayed the ribbon and wiped with a rag as I rerolled it ,installed and was extremely pleased. thanks for the tip
So, can I use as-40 technique on Olivetti Lettera 52 cartridge type of ribbon?
Since it’s impossible to find these cartridges anymore, restoring old one is only way to go.
But I think I cannot unwrap it :C
Any suggestions, typewriter veterans?
I don’t know what kind of ribbon that is, but if it is a fabric ribbon, yes. if it’s a plastic ribbon with carbon film, no.
Thank you for quick reply!
I am pretty sure it’s made of nylon.
Well, I will try it I suppose. Honestly, have no other options for now.
Will let you know if it works or no :D
Maybe someone will find it useful.