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 19, 2014

My First Oliver No. 5 (Starting the Clean-Up Process)

I was able to obtain the answers I required to understand the Oliver No. 5 sufficiently, to attempt the clean-up needed that will put the machine back into shape.  For those that do not follow any of the other typewriter groups, I will provide those answers here.
  • Where is the serial number?  See my previous post for both locations on the typewriter.
  • Where is the Backspacer?  Did Oliver make any No. 5 machines without a backspace lever?  Backspace lever was added sometime after the Oliver No. 5 was introduced. (See below)
  • Why is all the bare metal a copper/goldish in color?  No definitive answer on this one.  Some speculation that this was nicotine stains however there was no such smell accompanying the machine.  Discoloration is best described as like a yellowing varnish.
  • Did Oliver's come with shiny Nickel, or was it more muted?  Much of the exposed Nickel plating apparently came shiny.  The remainder of the nickel was more of a satin finish. 
  •  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?  Moot point, I would not put something on the machine which did not originally come from the factory.
  • Where can I obtain ribbon covers?  I did find a place on eBay for reproduction ribbon covers and ordered a pair (See Below).  These repo’s do not have holes in the top as most production covers I have seen on Oliver’s have.  Also not sure the color will match?  We shall see.
Armed with the above knowledge it was time to tackle the work.  As my previous post shows, I was able to remove the yellowing film from the spot on the back of the carrier where the serial number is located.  This was not achieved however without considerable elbow grease.

Starting with the removed carrier, I progressed through a series of methods for removal of the yellowish film.  I will not reveal that method yet because only the carrier has been completed and I want to be sure that my methods do not cause something bad while doing the body of the machine.

The results on the carrier do seem promising as the images show.

Before & After:

More to come............

Oliver No. 5 Year of Manufacture: No. 5 started about serial number 183000 in 1907.  Backspace added about 282,000 approximately 1911. (http://www.sljohnson.net/typewriter/oliver/oliver-serials.html)

Reproduction Ribbon Spool Covers for Oliver Typewriters 3,5,7,9 and 11: Enter this query into eBay for this item from “oliverserviceuk”.  Cost $30.29 + shipping.


  1. I wish you the best of luck in restoring such a wonderfull machine! One quick note of an issue you may end up dealing with, is that the ribbon the Oliver 5 takes is slightly smaller then 1/2 inch, which is the general standard for a majority of other machines. If you try feeding a 1/2 inch through the guide, it will end up more often than not getting bunched up, allowing the keys to tear into a single spot of the ribbon. Just for the future. I recently restored an Oliver 5 myself, and the ribbon issue was a small slap in the face after hours upon hours of tedious work.

  2. wowowwwoww!!! the results are amazing!

  3. Thanks! I believe I have been following your thread about issues with the ribbon width. Sorry to hear about the troubles & hope I do not run into the same issue. I looked around on the internet about this subject and found conflicting views……..
    After I purchased this Oliver I ordered & received a ribbon, set of Oliver named pencils, return cable, & repro Oliver labeled-waxed sealed bottle of typewriter oil. All from the Oliver Typewriter Shop.
    Initial observations of the packaged ribbon indicates a ½” width. We shall see when I get to that point. I will let everyone know how it turns out.

  4. Results do seem to be pretty amazing as far a clean-up goes. Only as good as the underlying metal however as you can see in the images from those spots where the nickel was rusted through........
    Now to find the time to complete cleaning the body of this Oliver. Then if that works out fine, let everyone know my process.

  5. Great progress. One day, I hope to be in your position - I just need to find the right machine. Meanwhile, I wonder if the yellowy film is just protective oil or laquer that's just got a bit old?

  6. Hi Rob, although I do not think that is really what it is (Because of the history of where the typewriter has been), what you suggest is exactly what it reminds me of...... Cosmoline. Used on old military firearms as a protective when stored.