Acquisition: Remington Streamliner 196X Portable Typewriter in Metallic Mint Blue

On March 11, 2023, I’d gotten a nice deal on a Remington Streamline portable typewriter in a generally uncontested online auction. I was certainly taking a small chance on a typewriter only by a few photos and the label “untested”, but I couldn’t resist the mint blue color which seemed like it would be a close match to my TWSBI Eco T fountain pen and my custom General Fireproofing 20 gauge steel desk

Yesterday, the typewriter arrived, and today I took a short break to open it up and give it a short test drive. In addition to the fantastic news that the machine is in stunning shape, its color is about as perfect a match to the pen and the desk as one could ask!

Close up of the Remington Streamliner logo in black and red on the typewriter's hood on which sits a matching mint blue TWSBI Eco T fountain pen with red ink.

View of a working desk area featuring a silver/glass topped mint blue desk on which sits a matching colored portable typewriter, a fountain pen and a stack of Post-it notes. In the background is a card index filing cabinet and a barrister bookcase full of books.

Overall

The overall condition was beyond my dreams for this vintage and with some plastic portions. The typewriter only has a few signs of use and wear with some paint worn off at the corners of the back and on the right hand side where the platen knob meets the body. A bit of the “R” on the top Remington logo is worn off and seems to be thermally printed on, so I wouldn’t recommend heavy scrubbing, harsh abrasives, or caustic chemicals when cleaning the bodies of these for fear of removing the logo all together. These small flaws gives the machine some nice patina and the street cred of some reasonable use as a portable. There’s some small wear to the plastic hood where the two position return lever has rubbed against it. Otherwise it is in about as good a condition as one could hope. 

All the keys worked with some severe stickiness on the “L” key. The smallest of tweaks on the head of the typebar remedied the issue without resorting to cleaning. The margin release wasn’t operating properly, but only because an obvious and easily re-mounted tension wire had become unhooked.

There is some minor grime and dust inside the body which could stand some cleaning, but it’s in great shape right out of the box. I’ll try to spend some time blowing it out and cleaning it up internally while I await some replacement ribbon.

The typewriter itself is has a metal chassis which is permanently screwed into a slightly darker plastic green base. This base dovetails with the plastic lid to create a case with a rubber-like plastic handle. Sadly the lid of the case was badly cracked and splintered into a dozen or so pieces in shipping, so I’m going to consider the lid a total loss. I’ll have to fashion some type of cover to keep the dust (and more importantly the German shepherd fur) out of the internal mechanisms.

On this model, the serial number is imprinted on to the black metal bottom chassis between the “U” and “J” keys when looking down at the typewriter from above. The serial number on my particular machine is AX 16 74 89. Sadly, the Typewriter Database doesn’t have serial numbers for this model or the late 60s or early 70s timespan in which these were made. One model in the database is dated to 1969 with a serial number starting with CX so it’s possible mine may be as early as ’68 or ’69 but sadly without better data, one can’t be sure.

Richard Polt has a Remington Streamliner manual for the 60s available, and though it’s close in broad look and functionality, it’s obviously not for this specific model or year.

Given the time period and the metallic mint paint, I do sort of wish this model also had Positraction, but then I suppose it would have needed to be produced by GM rather than Remington.

Angled view from the right hand side and behind of the Remington Streamliner typewriter with the hood removed to provide a view of the typebasket, typebars, ribbon spools and the platen.

Keys

The keys appear to be thin beige pieces of almost bone-like plastic floating in mid-air but have thicker plastic and metal bases which give them a nice action. There’s a standard back space (curved arrow on the left), a margin release (double arrow on the right), but surprisingly for the age, is missing a dedicated 1/! key. There is no built-in tab functionality.

Close up of the cream colored keys of the Remington Streamliner keyboard

Ribbon

The machine has the typical larger Remington ribbon cores and this one included a dead, improperly seated ribbon on original metal rings. I swapped these out briefly for a new ribbon, though the plastic hub doesn’t seat as tightly as one would wish for the ribbon advance to work properly. I’ll get some new ribbon and handspool it onto the original cores and we should be off to the races. I’ll note that no metal ribbon covers, which had been standard on earlier models of this make, were present, though its probably just as likely that these were never included on their later models either for weight, functionality, or manufacturing cost reasons.

I’m don’t see any switch or button for the spool reverse, but suspect that the built-in mechanical sensors will operate as expected for Remingtons of this era. If not, it’s easy enough to actuate the switch manually with the hood off.

Also not available on this model is a switch for using two colored ribbons, so I’ll just have to be satisfied with a single color. 

Overhead view from behind of Remington Streamliner typewriter with the hood removed to allow a view into the typebasket featuring all the typebars and pica typeface as well as two plastic ribbon spools.

Other Functionality

 As a later portable, the machine is missing some of the additional niceties of heavier late 50s or early 60s desk models. It does have a “card finger”, though only on the left. The return arm has two positions and a simple friction fit operation—one for use and the other for storage.

The machine has a carriage shift rather than a basket shift. The platen knobs are rather on the small side, and don’t have a typical button for variable line spacing. This line spacing functionality is built into the small switch on the left hand side for single or double spacing, but is labeled as “0” for small adjustments. It doesn’t appear to have a carriage lock of any sort, but does have margin stops and a satisfying bell.

In general, this model is a no-frills portable meant for basic functional typing on the go.

Typeface Sample

The pitch on this machine is 10 characters per inch (pica). The full platen is 85 characters wide.

Since I don’t have a properly inked/fitted ribbon for it yet, I’ll post a typeface sample at a later date. 

Old school 3x5 inch index card in cream with red lines which serves as a type sample. It reads: 196X Serial number: AX 167489 Remington Streamliner Pica typeface; ultra-portable 234567890- qwertyuiop asdfghjkl; zxcvbnm,./ "#$%&'()* QWERTYUIOP ASDFGHJKL:@ ZXCVBNM,.? the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog A VERY BAD QUACK MIGHT JINX ZIPPY FOWLS

Photo Gallery

 

 

 

 

I think I’ve bought yet another typewriter: a late 60s/early 70s Remington Streamliner. I bought it in part because it looks beautiful, but also (I’m not going to lie here) because it’s very similar in color to my mint blue TWSBI Eco-T fountain pen and my General Fireproofing Co. desk

I swear this is my last one for a while… at least until I find a reasonably priced and superb condition late 50s Olympia SM3 preferably in either green or maroon.

Acquisition: 1957 Remington Quiet-Riter with Miracle Tab Manual Typewriter

In my recent typewriter collecting spree, I’ve received what may be the best of the group so far. Immaculately wrapped and boxed, the portable Remington Quiet-Riter arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. With it’s incredibly smooth, quiet action and crisp elite typeface, I can tell it is going to be my daily driver for years to come.

Overall Condition

Having purchased it “untested” as an auction item at bargain basement price, you’re never quite sure what to expect, you just pray for no major escapement damage and go from there. I fully expected to need to fix half a dozen bits and some heavy cleaning as I have with other machines. As it turned out, each part I began testing worked flawlessly and the machine is quite clean!

In general the machine is in near mint condition. There is one tiny brown discoloration spot on the case, but, the case being brown, it’s not very obvious. Beyond this, the case looks like it just came off the factory floor. 

The machine was generally very clean and almost looks like it had been serviced and then not used since. There was some lint and dust on the bottom which wiped off easily and a quick blow out should clear the rest. There are one or two minor signs of wear to the powder coat on the front and a small bit of peeling on the bottom rear, but overall it’s been pretty well loved and probably not seen more than a few years of moderate use.

Everything functioned as expected save two required adjustments relating to how the slugs strike the platen. The capital letters were striking a tad higher than the lower case, but the adjustment for the UC “on feet” screw on the bottom of the typewriter fixed that issue fairly quickly. There’s also two separate brackets each with two screws that will require adjustment for the caps lock to be properly aligned as well; I’ll take care of that later this week sometime. I notice one or two small screws that could use some fine tuning as well, but I’ll get to that shortly as well. Interestingly there is already a YouTube video for some of these adjustments for this exact year model should anyone need it. Additionally, Theodore Monk has some details for alternate makes/models.

The serial number on the machine is QR3214352 which the Typewriter Database dates specifically to April 1957. This means that this machine will be 67 years old this coming Spring.

The serial number QR3214352 stamped into the metal chassis.
The serial number on the Remington Quiet-Riter can be found stamped into the chassis on the right hand side of the machine on a piece of metal next to the ribbon spool underneath its hood.

Keys

Unlike many early typewriters, this keyboard has a dedicated key for the “1”/”!”  as well as a dedicated caps lock key for the right hand (in addition to the usual one for the left). Also present is a special “Tab” key on the right hand side just below the margin release “M.R.” key.

Close up of the green keys with light green lettering on the keyboard of the Remington Quiet-Riter.

Other Functionality

In addition to some of the standard functionality, including tab settings which became common in the 1950s, this unit has an auto-reverse for the ribbon, 3 type select settings for finger pressure/action, and three line space selections. Richard Polt hosts versions of the Quiet-Riter manual (1955) as well as a parts catalog (1953) a service manual (1953).

Of particular note (and something I’ve never seen on a machine before) is a set of teeth on the platen which have a custom switch for fractional line spacing. This is useful for sub-script and super-script needs. It’s effectuated by pressing down on the line locating lever on the left side near the platen knob which then allows one to rotate the platen up or down the required amount to type the characters. When done, one switches the lever back to set the platen to the original line spacing. This would also have been useful on older machines for creating equal signs with two strikes of the hyphen, but isn’t needed on the Quiet-Riter which has a dedicated “=” key.

While the unit came with an all black ribbon in usable shape, I chose to switch it out with a new blue/black combination. The Quiet-Riter has the larger custom 2cm core rings and spools (and this unit had the original metal rings and covers), so I had to manually remove the plastic cores from the newer ribbon and carefully insert them into the machine so that when the spool empties the mechanical sensor will trip and automatically reverse the ribbon. Of course, given the set up one could also wind their own replacement ribbon as seen here:

Typeface Sample

The pitch on this machine is 12 characters per inch (elite). The full platen is 110 characters wide.

Typed library card catalog card that reads:
1957 Remington Quiet-Riter Miracle Tab 
Serial number: QR 3214352 
Elite typeface; portable; platen 38mm 
1234567890-= !"#$%&'()*+ qwertyuiop
asdfghjkl; 
zxcvbnm,./ QWERTYUIOP ASDFGHJKL:@ ZXCVBNM,.? 
the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog 
A VERY BAD QUACK MIGHT JINX ZIPPY FOWLS

Sound 

Here’s a sound sample of inserting an index card, writing a sentence, and a return on the 1957 Remington Quiet-Riter.

Photo Gallery

A powder coated gray typewriter with green keys sits in its open case on a wooden table. View into the very clean type-basket of the Remington Quiet-Riter View of the top right corner of the Remington Quiet-Riter carriage return with typeface markings that go up to 110 where the margin selector has been set. Oblique angle of the right side of the typewriter. View from the keyboard up into the underside of the open hood of the typewriter featuring several pieces of black felt which help to dampen the noise it makes. Close up view of the steel ribbon spool. A view of the bottom of the typewriter indicating how generally clean the machine is. Close up of the bottom right corner of the machine which has a few small patches of peeling paint, one of the few flaws on the machine. A view of the rear end of the typewriter featuring a painted Remington Rand logo. The open hood of the typewriter featuring the right ribbon spool in front of which is the color selector for either the top color, the bottom color or the stencil setting (middle).

Exquisite brown textured hard case with brown rubber edge trim and large tan stitching sitting on a wooden table next to a green plant

Acquisition: 196X Smith-Corona (SCM) Galaxie Deluxe 10 – 6T2V Series Manual Typewriter

I purchased this SCM typewriter through an online auction on 2024-03-02 and received it this morning on 2024-03-07 at 10:00 AM. The seller stated this was a 1969, but the Typewriter Database doesn’t seem to have serial number dating for this range of typewriters which were manufactured between 1966 and 1972. I doubt the seller was in possession of any details to support their 1969 claim.

The machine didn’t come with its original manual, but Richard Polt’s site has a reasonably close one for the Smith-Corona Galaxie line. You have to love the atomic logo on the front and the description “World’s Finest Non-Electric Portable”, which means that at the time, electric machines must have begun taking over the market.

Serial number: 6T2V-146176

Overall condition

The machine is in fairly reasonable shape with some scratches and imperfections. I’ll clean it up and post some additional photos shortly. I’ve already created a stub for it on the Typewriter Database. One of the noticeable bits of “wear” is that what were surely white plastic trim and keys have yellowed with light exposure over the ages. 

There is some body wear and scratching commensurate with age, particularly where the return bar might hit the hood. It sadly didn’t come with a case.

The good news is that it not only works, but works pretty well for the model and age and the $18.00 I paid for it. Just playing with it a bit this afternoon has already given me more joy than the cost of admission. I can’t wait until I’ve given it a complete overhaul.

Keys

Close up of the typewriter's keyboard .

Space bar key is friction fit onto the keyboard and came off pretty easily when I flipped it over for some quick repairs. Fortunately it goes back on quickly.

I think this is the first time I’ve had a typewriter with a dedicated “1” / “!” key rather than relying on the “l” or the usual apostrophe-back space-period combination for those to glyphs.

It came with broken linkages on keys “1”, “T”, and “.”, but these were easily fixed although the “.” was blocked a bit by internal mechanisms. The “T” type-bar was slightly bent, but when back into alignment with a small tweak. All the keys work well though the “.” is a bit sticky, something that should clear itself up once fully cleaned. I suspect that these broken linkages were the reason the last owner gave up the typewriter. Overall, the typewriter has a pretty sharp action and a satisfying snap when typing. I’m including a sound file below.

View of the bottom of the typewriter with its bottom covered removed. several pair of handheld clamps are holding pieces in place and short lengths of dental floss are tied to portions of three different type arms.
A simple “surgery” to fix some broken keys and we’re off to the races.

For the fast typist that occasionally gets stuck with jammed keys, this model has a key unjammer (on the right side indicated with a key that has a down arrow over two opposing right and left slant marks). When pressed, it presumably pushes back on the U-bar which forces the typebars back. I’ll have to take a closer look at the mechanism when I open it up for a deep clean. This allows the typist the ability to keep their hands on the keys during a jam instead of needing to put their hand into the basket and manually fixing it. The key is roughly where the backspace/delete key on a computer keyboard would be, so it’s reasonably usable for the modern typist.

The machine comes with a clever tab, tab set, and tab clear arrangement just above the top row of keys. With the rear carriage open, one can see a row of metal “teeth” which are either switched “on” or “off” to allow the tab mechanism to operate.

The typewriter also has a fantastic “power-space” button to the right of the space bar that allows the carriage to quickly ratchet itself along. I’ve never had a machine that did this and can imagine using it regularly. I can’t wait to get into the internals to see how the mechanics of this work.

Other Features

The rubber feet are in reasonable shape and are still soft/functional. 

View of the bottom of the typewriter which has a sheet of metal that could be removed by unscrewing four screws.

The machine seems to be missing a plastic cover on the left side of the carriage, but this doesn’t affect functionality. The clear plastic line indicator which also holds the paper against the platen where the slugs hit the paper has sadly been broken off. There are still extant posts, so perhaps I can manufacture a replacement. One can align the top of the line retainer with lines on one’s paper and then advance to get proper type alignment in any case. This can be done by pushing in the black button in the center of the left platen knob to allow for variable line spacing

The original manufacturer sticker has faded into nothing-ness

The unit came with its original metal ribbon spool, but otherwise didn’t have ribbon, so I’ve replaced it with a blue/green ribbon combination. Ribbon installation was very simple and straightforward. Of note here is that instead of lifting up and back as on many other typewriter models, the hood on this model has two internal arms which allow it to slide forward for easy access to the ribbon and type-basket.

The typewriter with it's hood slid forward to see the type-bars and ribbon inside.

The bell works! 

The center of the type-basket is marked with the phrase “Jeweled Escapement” underneath a crown which includes a small red jewel.

Close up of the type-basket and a crown with a ruby colored jewel.

The machine comes with a page gage on the left side of the platen assembly with markings for several lengths of paper. This cleverly allows one to set the page length of paper one is using, insert the paper, and then as one gets to the bottom of a sheet, lines appear for 2 inches left, 1 inch left, and finally a red line to indicate that one is at the end of the page and will need to quit typing to change sheets. With careful management, this allows the typist to have a consistent page margin at the bottom of their sheets.

Close up of the numbered markings on the edge of the platen which indicate both 1 inches and 11 inches.

The Galaxie Deluxe has line spacing controls for single, double, and even triple spacing.

At the base of the carriage near the right platen knob, there is a metal locking tab that when actuated will center the carriage and place it into a pseudo-locked position for storage or transportation in a case. It prevents the machine from typing or the carriage from moving to the left. Presumably it also disengages the escapement to prevent wear on the teeth during shipping, but I’ll have to check this when I’ve got it opened for cleaning.

Typeface Specimen

This typewriter uses a pica scale and the paper scale has markings up to 83 but will space to 84.

An index card with the typewriter name, serial number, and a sample of all the keys typed out followed by the sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"

Sound

Here’s a sound sample of inserting an index card, writing a sentence, and a return on the Galaxie Deluxe.

Photo Gallery

Hiding inside

One of my favorite parts of used goods is the hidden things one finds inside of them. Here I really only expected the typical pencil eraser bits, but I also found a tiny photo of a boy from what appears to be the early 1970s.

A metal ribbon spool, two small pieces of broken plastic and a tiny tumbnail sized photo of a boy from the 1970s.

 

Type On!

1948 Smith-Corona “Clipper”

Childhood Typewriters

I’ve had a hollow space in my chest where a typewriter wanted to be. I’d had a few inexpensive plastic ones in my childhood before having a really spectacular Smith-Corona, but I thought that through many moves it had been long lost. Until, that is, I visited my parents on spring break this past week. While going through some old papers and boxes, I ran across a dusty, but stunning old jewel from my youth. 

Hiding in a corner of memorabilia was a hard black box which I immediately recognized as my old portable typewriter! I recall my parents having purchased it at a yard sale and bringing it home for us kids to use in 1984. It took a while back then to clean it up, but I used it for a variety of school projects and papers for several years until its use for school papers was later taken over by an electronic Panasonic word processor. Despite the newer technology I still preferred that old typewriter for composing and noodling around.

Ooh, my little pretty one, my pretty one

So, what is this fantastic jewel? It’s a 1948 Smith-Corona “Clipper” 4C (serial number 4C-242370). It’s still in spectacular shape. I had to re-connect the letter “A”s linkage joint, but all the keys still work well, and it’s going to need a new ribbon. The interior is a bit dusty and needs some cleaning, but a short afternoon of tinkering should make quick work of any issues. 

Oblique angle down on the top of a black Smith-Corona Clipper sitting on a brown wooden tabletop.

What’s fascinating is that all of the parts and functionalities of the machine came back to me instantaneously when I touched it. I knew all the small subtleties of sliding in a sheet of paper and aligning it to perfection. All the small niceties like the single/double space switch, the margin adjustments, the lovely bell, the ribbon direction adjustment switch, and even the centering mechanism were right there at my fingertips.

Rear view angle of the carriage return on the Smith-Corona Clipper with a view into the internals featuring the bell. The apparatus could be cleaner and features some use and dust build up on the oiled metal.

Sadly the original key wasn’t with the typewriter’s lock, but it was easily pickable. I’m reasonably sure the key will turn up as I dig through my other childhood memorabilia in the near future. At the worst, I can probably print a new key using a recipe I’ve already found online. I even unearthed a roughly contemporaneous typewriter manual for the Smith-Corona Clipper model

And the best part is that a young 12 year old was drawn to it and immediately wanted to use it and take it home with us, so the typewriter obsession may go on for at least another generation.

I can’t wait to begin using my new (old) tool for thought in my zettelkasten practice. I’m curious to see what the slow down effect of a manual typewriter has on my writing and thinking work. Perhaps the composition of my cards at the end of the day will have the added satisfaction of punching the keys of a fantastic typewriter.

Typed 3 x 5 inch index card. The top title in red ink reads "The Power of Information" with the following quotation: 
No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. --- Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

If nothing else, the Clipper does look quite nice next to my Shaw-Walker card index which is from the same era.

Desk level view of the front of a Shaw-Walker wooden card index tray next to a black typewriter.

Ultra-luxury of the “Clipper”

Just where does the Smith-Corona “Clipper” sit in the pantheon of typewriters? A variety of writers in the 21st century still talk about their love and nostalgia of specific typewriters mentioning the design esthetic of the Olivetti, a remembrance of an old Underwood, or their fondness of a Remington, but I think Tom Hanks sums things up pretty well:

This is what I would suggest: if you wanted the perfect typewriter that will last forever that would be a great conversation piece, I’d say get the Smith-Corona Clipper. That will be as satisfying a typing experience as you will ever have.
—Tom Hanks, actor, producer, typewriter enthusiast and collector, author of Uncommon Type on CBS Sunday Morning: “Tom Hanks, Typewriter Enthusiast” [00:07:30]

Close up of the Clipper logo on a Smith-Corona typewriter. It features a red outline of the small single wing, four engine airplane with the word "Clipper" underneath it  underlined with red waves so as to make the plane appear to be flying over water.

Of course Hanks comes by this analysis naturally as the Clipper typewriter’s namesake is the Boeing 314 Clipper, which appears prominently on the front left panel of the typewriter’s cover. The context and history of some of this airplane have been lost to current generations. Twelve of these air yachts were built by Boeing and operated for a decade between 1938 and 1948. Nine of the airplanes were operated by Pan-Am as transoceanic “one class” ultra-luxury air travel featuring lounges, dining areas with silver service for six-course meals from four-star chefs served by white coated stewards, seats that converted to sleeping bunks for overnight accommodations, and separate male and female dressing rooms for the comfort of elite businesspeople and wealthy travelers in the mid-twentieth century. As an indicator of the exclusivity and expense at the time, a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong on the Clipper was listed for $760, which is equivalent to about $15,000 adjusted for inflation in 2021 (Klaás, 1989, p. 20).

Pan Am’s Clipper service of the 1940s represents the romance of flight in that era in the same way Smith-Corona Clipper represents the romance of typing in the ensuing decades. Most Americans’ nostalgia for the luxury and exotic freedom of airline flight in the 1960s and 1970s was built on this early experience operating the Clipper nearly 20 years before.

Reverse view into the opened Smith-Corona Clipper featuring a close up view of all of the type face and levers. Just visible at the top are a side view of the keys on the front of the typewriter.

Typeface sample

Library card catalog card with the typewriter's year, make, model, serial number and samples of all the slugs and the pangram sentences "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." and "A VERY BAD QUACK MIGHT JINX ZIPPY FOWLS."

 

References

“Tom Hanks, Typewriter Enthusiast.” CBS News Sunday Morning. CBS, October 15, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTtDb73NkNM.

Klaás, M. D. (December 1989). “Clipper Across the Pacific, Part One”. Air Classics. 25 (12).