A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying

A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying
A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying the latest digital.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My First Oliver No. 5 (Finding Answers)

Cross-posted my No. 5 questions on the Yahoo Typewriters group and have received several responses.  Some questions have been resolved, some not.

Did locate the serial number and found that the number on frame and carrier match!  Once I was told where to look I successfully worked down through the grime.  Amazing how you can miss something right in front of you until it is pointed out.

You notice from the two above images that I also solved another question.  Once I cleaned a spot on the metal, I was able to determine that the yellow covering all the nickel plated surfaces was just some sort of deposit.  One suggestion was that it might be years in a smoke filled location?  Maybe so.  It was extremely hard to remove!  Progressed from detergent through stronger cleaners with no affect.  Finally used an auto polish that was not too abrasive successfully.  Promises to be a long job however to complete all the nickle surfaces.  The image below show a single key that I cleaned via the same method.  Strange how everything is yellowed?

Also appears that this same polish will work on restoring the painted finish.....

One concern is that the polish does just that, shines the nickle to a high polish.  Not sure if that is how the Oliver looked when new?  Was it a glossy finish or more muted?  Need to determine before I continue.

On to the missing backspace issue.  This one has me baffled.  This example has none.  From what I can tell there never was one.  Seems like if the backspace had been removed, there would be signs of its previous existence.  I don't see any.

Brian Brumfield was kind enough to post some images of the backspace mechanism on his No. 5.  Thank you Brian.  I have used those images here along with images of my machine with similar views.  Hoping that someone can resolve this issue.  Not sure this typewriter is even fully machined correctly to have a backspace installed from another typewriter.  Guess I need to see one close-up and in person.  If anyone has an Oliver No. 5 in the Kansas City area for comparison purposes, let me know.

Brian Brumfield images:

Image of the same area on my machine:

Brian Blumfield images of how the backspace connects on the rear of the machine:

Image of the same rear area on my machine:

I also have been told that this model came with covers for the ribbon holders.  So, looks like I have still open questions:
  • Did Oliver's come with shiny Nickel, or was it more muted?
  • Did Oliver make any No. 5 machines without a backspace lever?
  • Does someone with more experience on Oliver's think that a backspace lever could be mounted on my machine?
  • Where can I obtain a backspace lever for my machine?
  • Where can I obtain ribbon covers?
More to come............

Oliver No. 5 Typewriter: This model manufactured between 1907 and 1914


  1. I wouldn't know, but a shiny Oliver is better than a nicotine covered yellow Oliver!

  2. 1) Pristine Oliver's seem hard to come by, but the nickle they would have had coming out of the factory would have had a brilliant shine.

    2) The Oliver 5, as with many other machines, was produced for a long enough period of time that advances in its design did occur throughout its years of production. You seem to indeed have the earlier Number 5 which did not have a backspace.

    3) Mounting of the backspace would require certain corrections to the machine to allow for it which i would strongly suggest against, due to the potential for permanent damage. Pushing the carriage back a space by hand takes very little time with practice.

    4) You would have to cannabalize the parts from another machine to get the backspace mechanism

    5) Ribbon covers must also be cannibalized for the most part. However, if one has the wallet for it, reproductions can be found on Ebay.

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  4. Thanks for the response. No, I will not be trying to add the backspace bar. The only reason that I asked that question at all is that I was originally told that ALL Oliver No. 5's came with a backspace bar and therefore I thought it had just been removed at some point. I am starting to work on the clean-up and will post more as that progresses.