"My IBM Selectric won't power on."
I hear this statement most every week from someone who owns an IBM Selectric. Usually, the typewriter has been stored for a number of years when the owner decides to get it out and do some typing. That's when the problem occurs. They toggle the power switch to the "On" position only to be met with silence instead of that beautiful hum that IBM Selectrics are known for. One might think that the typewriter may need a new motor. However, that is almost never the case. Instead, the Selectric needs to be serviced (really, it's more refurbishing than anything else), removing all the old lubricant, grease, and grime that has caused the main shaft to become so stiff that the motor cannot turn it. That's a bigger job than one might think.
To get a Selectric back into service, I usually start by soaking the machine with mineral spirits to wash out all the old lubricants and dirt. I do this with a brush, by hand. It's no quick process but is absolutely necessary. Once the machine is clean, I go about lubricating the machine with the appropriate Mobil grease and oil. Every part on the typewriter needs to be able to freely move and good lubrication is essential to that process. At this point, further diagnostics can be done to see what parts may need to be replaced due to wear or abuse. Of course, the IBM Selectric has numerous adjustments that must be checked and made to ensure the typewriter functions correctly.
Of course, that's not the end of the process but just a peek into how I get a Selectric back into a fully functioning typewriter. Usually, there's also old sound insulation that needs to be removed and replaced. The platen that needs to be cleaned and lubricated. The list goes on and on. However, with a little bit of hard work and attention, the IBM Selectric can run and perform as good as it did back when it was new. They are worth saving and I'm happy to help in that process!