17 March 2012

The Smith-Corona Sterling: Super 5 For My Mum

The typewriter works very well and is very clean and shiny.

The tabulator, as there often is with these new fangled designs (I personally prefer manual tabulators where you set the tabs in the back manually the way God intended...none of this "press a single lever/button and the tab is set or cleared by magic"), is acting weird. However, I hope with some fiddling and some investigation I can get it tabulating. Maybe it is just worn. It sets and clears, everything is clean and shiny, but the carriage won't stop at the stops.

The broken typewriter was a Smith-Corona electric typewriter (with a daisy wheel). It has (had) more features than the one I wrote with on this post. Such is life, hopefully, the seller won't want me to ship the pieces back to get my refund. I already have the daisywheel which was in it, so that is not useful to me particularly.

Here are the pictures of the Sterling which will be for my mother who liked my Silent. This one came broken too. The seller packed it as I suggested except for removing the spools. Naturally, one, the metal one, came free and got lodged behind the typebars disconnecting a part of the not so simple chain of connections which move the typebars. After removing the spool and replacing it, I did a quick test of the keys and it typed fine, although I did not test the far right...the +/= key. When I tested it later in a full keyboard test, the key moved (easily), but the typebar remained still. I never had that happen before, but diagnosing that is very easy. Reconnecting the part required my finer pliers, but I got it, and then the key would not return. The piece was also bent and when I replaced it, I merely put it in the right spot, but there was still tension on it because it was flexed. I bent it back (rather simply with my fingers...good think it was on the edge, accessing that part of the typewriter is difficult as it literally in the middle of all the parts) and now it works.

As noted, there is a Galaxie influence in this design. This may be one of the Super 5s made after the Galaxies were released (Smith-Corona did this with most models, probably to use up the stock and offer them at a discount). It has the same case design. The keyboard is not like the original Super 5 either.

A curiosity is the serial number. It is 5AX-323684. 5A means it is a Super 5 bodied Sterling (see this brief guide to the prefix meanings). I do not know what the X means. Maybe it is referring to the extra features, such as the 1 key. I would have to get more typewriters to see any sort of pattern to this.

Smith-Corona Sterling

Smith-Corona Sterling Keyboard Close-Up

Next up: a surprising surprise I got on Etsy!


  1. These were made in that transitional period - 63 to 66 I think. Mine was made in 66, and can be seen here:
    I happen to like this body style. Yours is a nice color!

  2. I like yours. I saw one in that colour scheme and almost bought it.

    The 60s certainly coloured up typewriters to a higher degree. Although, the Duco finishes on Coronas (and others maybe) made some quite colourful options too.

    I think all Corona typewriters had the previous body style being used into the next phase. This makes sense, as they could then get rid of stock and have a wider price range to get more customers. I suspected this was such a machine, however, there is no lower quality that I can detect, so it would have been a pretty good deal if it were cheaper than the standard models at the time. They did this with the Folding, the Four, the flattops, the Speedlines, the Super 5s, and I do not know how the Galaxie went at its end or whether it overlapped with electrics with different bodies.