This is the Way the Woodstock Ends

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Calling in reinforcements!

The Woodstock is dead. Sent straight to hell on the road paved with my good intentions.

I’m talking, of course, about my antique typewriter, a lovely piece of mechanical genius mass manufactured in Chicago in the 1930s.

About two months ago, I became the proud owner of the big black standard desktop. It was covered in dirt and grime, and needed a new carriage strap, but overall the thing was in remarkably good shape.

Until I began my amateur restoration project.

As all disasters do, it started off well enough. I cleaned as much of the inner machinery as I could with mineral spirits.  I cleaned each individual typebar with a q-tip.  I wiped and rubbed, scrubbing away dirt and grime until some of the metal parts gleamed.

So far, so good.

The trouble began when I applied a layer of Soft Scrub to the painted body, figuring the gritty cleaner would help take off nearly one hundred years of grime. I was right—it did take off the grime, but a good chunk of the paint came off as well, to say nothing of the beautiful Woodstock decal.

No matter. I found a website that sells replacement decals for antique typewriters, and I figured I could touch up the paint with shoe polish or automotive paint.

But the next evening when I went back into my makeshift workshop, I discovered the first deadly blow. As I’d applied the Soft Scrub, I hadn’t been careful enough.  Much of it had dripped down into the inner workings of the typewriter.  Overnight it had hardened and gummed up the machinery.  The typewriter wouldn’t advance, some of the keys were now difficult to press, and the carriage had to be awkwardly forced forward by hand.

There was no way around it, the insides would have to be cleaned again. And not just from the outside—I had to really get into the guts of the machine.  So I made the mistake that would signal the death blow to my new friend.

Reader, I took the carriage off.

For the typewriter uninitiated, the carriage is the entire top part that contains the mechanism that you feed the paper into, the rollers, the return handle. All the most intricate pieces of the machine are in the carriage.

It’s a bitch to get off. It’s impossible to get back on.

And so this typewriter, who had lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Desert Storm, and 9/11, could not survive my feeble attempt to restore her to her youthful beauty.

The poor old typewriter would click-clack and ding no more.

This is the way the Woodstock ends.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

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