Monday, January 21, 2019

Smith-Corona Coronamatic 2200

I suppose I should have taken a "before" picture of this machine that came in for service at Urban Legend Typewriters. It was simply covered in grime and hair. Nauseating! Plus, I am not immediately attracted to '70s design, so my initial reaction was negative.

Happily, the grime melted off with some judicious application of precious Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner. (It has been discontinued, but Dave Brechbiel very kindly found some cans and sent them to me.) And when it's sparkling clean, this is not a bad-looking machine at all. It exemplifies the "turret" design that was tried by several manufacturers in the '70s (such as Brother with this KMart 300). What I mean is that there is a raised area of the shell just above the typebasket. I imagine some little person riding there at the command post and operating the typewriter like some futuristic rocket fighter.

The colors of this 2200 are also classic '70s: two tones of brown, with some woody patterns on the name panel. (The back panel is missing on this machine. The dealer's label was attached by Peter Paul Office Equipment, which has been in business in Cincinnati since 1932.)

After cleaning this machine and fixing a few problems, I find that I admire it. Here are some of its good features:

The top shell (sturdy metal) is attached to the base (plastic) by a couple of hooks that are easily opened. Smart idea.

The carriage release system on both ends of the carriage works very well, and doesn't have any of the flimsiness of the typical release levers on '60s and '70s Smith-Coronas, which often have broken.

There's a paper injector that's effective and that cleverly moves the paper bail out of the way when it's being activated.

The cartridge ribbon system is incredibly easy. You can remove a ribbon and pop in a new one in a matter of seconds. And yes, these cartridges are still made (at least the fabric version)!

Below you see a fabric cartridge, whose ribbon is an endless loop (top), and a one-time-use film cartridge (left). Both kinds of cartridges havea gear hidden in the "barrel of the gun" which advances the ribbon. The film cartridge also has a gear in the bottom center. The typewriter mechanism (bottom right) has two gears, which will engage both kinds of cartridges as needed.

The drive system on this typewriter is refined. There are governors on both the small drive wheel and the large wheel that you see in this picture. (As the wheel spins faster, the centrifugal force spreads a couple of weights outwards, thus preventing any further increase in speed.) The belt is guided in a pretty complex path; I'm not sure of the purpose of all of it, but I'm confident that it was carefully researched.

All told, this is an impressive typewriter that I'm glad I had a chance to work on.


  1. Duane over at Phoenix Typewriter also likes these. Sadly, they are doomed by the cartridge. You can get them, but reportedly not many are good.

    1. I did buy one cartridge, supposedly new, which was dry and faint, but I've gotten a couple of good ones since then.

  2. Is there maybe a way to replace only the ribbon inside the cardridge?
    @Richard: nice work!

    1. Thanks. In theory, yes, but it could be tricky. The ribbon inside the cartridge is coiled in a complicated, snaking pattern. It is thinner than conventional ribbons. And opening and resealing the cartridge can be challenging. But none of this is impossible.

  3. Nice looking typewriter. Last time I was in Costco they had skids full of Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom & Shower cleaner. Or is it an imitation of a once great product like what happened with the real Endust?

    1. Might be a different product, or I might be wrong. There is a whole line of Scrubbing Bubbles products, but I haven't been able to find the classic that I like recently — the stuff that really eats into dirt!

  4. I really love the Smith-Corona electrics, and I have two 2200s, one pica and one elite.

    Problem is the ribbons still. I have had surprising luck with the wd-40 trick and these. Take off the top cover, spray the ribbon and let soak. Then place upside down on paper towel to drain slightly. Hairdryer to fix, and then pop the cover back on.

    Can be a bit fiddly, especially if any of the ribbon pops out of place, but doable. Better than ordering one online to Canada. Would cost me $50 or thereabouts.

    Funny how weak the plastic back covers are. I've seen a half-dozen of them with the pins broken off, and missing the back. Odd, since you pretty well never have to take them off.

  5. I love 70's typewriters! xD
    They look so futuristic... <3

    Unfortunately, there's no place where electric and electronic typewriters can be repaired or refurbished. :(

  6. That's funny, I just saw this typewriter in Narcos (on Netflix):

  7. Just found (and got it for free!) a Smith Corona Coronet 12.. Baby Blue.
    Hard to find the electric Smith Corona's.. different power (110V-220V) and working fine. 4 new original cartridges incl..Cool.