The typewriter restoration on The Repair Shop on BBC
It was the Start of November 2018, one of the busiest times of the year at Mr and Mrs Vintage Typewriters where we are working long hours to prepare & restore typewriters to be ready & delivered before Christmas day.
While watching a School performance for my daughter, I got a missed call and a voice message was left on my phone. Obviously, and specially those who know me best, I will not let a customer wait a lot before I call back to listen to his/her request, so when the performance was nearly finished, I left the hall and went outside to listen to one of the best voice messages I ever heard as it was someone from the production company that films "The Repair Shop" asking us if we are able to participate as Typewriter Experts for Series 4.
Two years ago, we used to sit down and watch the wonderful craftsmanship on The Repair Shop and how it is indirectly related to our way of solving problems, restoring typewriters and dealing with every issue that faces us.
A Dream? a Target? Don't know how to describe it, but it was a combination of both for sure and added to them our daily perseverance, commitment to excellence, hard work, dedication & most importantly, our drive to think outside of the box during the typewriter restoration process and learn or acquire new skills to be able to return these historical machines into the nearest condition to original.
Back to the phone call, I took a minute to reflect and I called back and all I can remember from that minute, and after a certain process & various phone calls with production team and managers, Joujou & I have been officially invited as guest typewriter experts to film an episode of The Repair Shop in the Weald & Downland Living Museum in Chichester.
Happy? Jolly? Gratified? Blessed? Excited??
Lets say, we have been over the moon at least and the joy and happiness that we felt was unbelievable.
We have been working for long hours during the month of November and full all we got to make sure all our clients are happy and on the same page, we decided to be in our best while filming "The Repair Shop" as there is no excuse not play our top game on National TV & make sure we make a difference on the Typewriter we are going to restore.
Before filming, the team has been so kind to us to make sure everything is ready for us while filming and the least we can say, everyone on the production team was beyond helpful and professional even before we meet them.
The Typewriter that we will be restoring is a Corona 3 folding typewriter that belongs to a nice Lady and was passed to her from her Grand Grand mother through three generations. All we know at this stage is that its a Corona 3 and we sow a small video showing that it is not moving, not typing, No decals, and barely anything desirable about it other than it is a family heirloom and there is desire to return it back to working condition and looking much better than its current state.
Its the First day in the Repair Shop, the day that we will be receiving the Typewriter from the lady and listening to her warm story before starting the restoration process. All I can remember is that I am trying to be cool about it and Joujou was so stressed but excited to start the filming. The team was so kind and helpful and I remember how Suzie Fletcher & Sonnaz were able to relax JouJou with their smiles and Kind words and I was having a small chat with the talented restorers Steve Fetcher, Stephen Kember and Brenton West guiding me on what to expect and how things go during the restoration process.
Now its time to film, and we have been thankful for the help of William Kirk (Will) in welcoming the Lady and asking her questions about the typewriter and the story behind it.
First impression, Typewriter is dull and all decals are scratched and a black tape covering them on the back and front. No identity for the Corona 3 and that was obvious. Secondly, the typewriter carriage was not working and not moving as it should as it felt loosed and not properly connected. Finally, the Case needed to be restored and Later Will returned it to a wonderful condition.
Overall, The Corona 3 was in non usable condition and we decided to start a full typewriter dismantle job in hope we discover the main issue with the carriage. After checking the basic mechanical mechanisms inside the Typewriter, we noticed that the Bridge connecting the two sides of the Inner axes is dislocated and there was a missing screw that connects them. A very tight place, but that was the best challenge to start with while filming, and thankfully, all went perfect as no major damage done and the bridge now is sturdy enough to hold the carriage and allow the movement of the Carriage from side to side.
Second major restoration was the removal of all the Typewriter key slugs. Yes, After the episode, we got many emails and messages on how we have been able to take them out and put back as the Corona 3 is known to have limited space to squeeze hands inside it and its not a direct to the point job. Our answer was always, team work, and as long as it has been built this way, we can re build again.
One of the things that was not mentioned in the tight program transmission is how the tiny and non matching links connecting the keys got disconnected and loose inside the typewriter. We had to take out, re arrange in the right manner and re fit each one to its right key, one mistake, the keys will not take a full strike to the platen and all work needs to be repeated, and no one wants that as its was becoming late and everyone was tired while the talented producer Sian Bantock & the Camera men stayed with us until the last minute. Best part, we have been able to successfully return all keys back after a proper polish and flushing the segment and making sure all keys are properly striking the platen.. a big relief.
This was the first day of filming and we have been scheduled to film the return of the typewriter to the lady at a later date when we are also supposed to finalise the typewriter mechanism and put proper Decals on this beautiful machine.
Second day of filming, the day we have to return the typewriter to the lady and make sure she types on it. We had to Drive as early as 5a.m. from Milton Keynes in the morning to reach as early as possible and film the part when we put new gold decals on the Corona 3. It was the day that Joujou was going to do nearly all the filming as she is the Decals expert, and she was all ready until we noticed that the Hair Dryer in the Barn is not powerful enough to apply the decal. That would be the worst part as we cant deliver a typewriter without the Decals. After a short while, Joujou decided to use a Heat gun, that was a risk, as it would melt all the decal, but with a lot of patience and expertise, Joujou was able to transfer all the decals to the machine on time. I have always stressed that the final results Joujou was able to reach was one of her best ever decal projects from A to Z as she worked a lot to reach such results and needed a lot patience, skill, and knowledge to be able to transfer all the home made gold decals to the Matte finished Metal plates and frame. On the same hand, at least 10 emails and messages sent to us to ask about the full and detailed process as what she have done is not easy specially applying decals on matte finished surfaces.
Now its time for the Talented William Kirk to give us back the folding case of the Corona 3 and the least we could say is that he was able to restore it back to gorgeous condition with his smart ideas and experience.
Finally, its time to return the Corona 3 Typewriter to the lady. Luckily, Jay Blades was there on that day of filming and he was helping us on that day. We knew the Talented Jay Blades from "Money for nothing" as he thankfully asked us once to buy a Typewriter that was on its way to be thrown in the skip.
Its now the last part of filming as The Lady arrived and we revealed the restored typewriter for her and she was so happy about it specially after she had her first go on her grandmas typewriter that she had for a long time without being able to type on it.
The mixed emotions of happiness and satisfaction from the lady made our day and we felt that all the time spent restoring this typewriter was a success as we have been so tired and stressed about our first ever filming of a typewriter restoration and our first appearance as a husband and wife team as no where better to do that more than the award winning Program, "The Repair Shop" on the BBC Television.
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Can be Watched on BBC iPlayer on link below
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