The only thing wrong with the typewriter was that someone installed one of the ribbon spools upside down (so the typewriter wouldn't automatically reverse the ribbon when it came to the end of the spool). I wound a new ribbon onto the spool, installed it correctly, and the typing machine worked fine.
The case for this portable typewriter was another matter, however, so the rebuilding of the case is what I'll focus on in this Instructable.
Step 1: Evaluate the condition of the case
The fabric on the inside of the case was still in good shape, so I decided to leave the original as it was.
Because the black finish of the fabric on the outside of the case was powdery and flaking off, attempting to repair and re-glue the original fabric was not an option. So, I decided to rip off all the old fabric and attempt to recover the case with something that looked like the original.
Step 2: Remove the hardware
Most of the hardware on this case was held on by split rivets -- the kind of rivets that spread as they are inserted into the wood core of the case. To remove these I used a pair of wire cutters to pry the rivets loose, and occasionally a rivet would come out with a chunk of the wood case attached. When this happened, I would fill the damaged wood with wood filler, and sand it back down after it was dry.
A few of the rivets were traditional mushroom style rivets. Where I found these, I ground off the back of the rivet and punched it out using a small punch and hammer.
Step 3: Peel off the old cover
With the fabric removed I found that several joints in the wooden case had become loose over the years, so I re-glued everything that was loose.
Once the case was structurally sound, I lightly sanded it to smooth out any dried glue that had held the fabric.
Step 4: Install new fabric
I also picked up some spray adhesive for gluing the fabric to the wood case.
Step 5: Re-install the hardware
After the glue had dried, I then reinstalled the original hardware (after cleaning it with metal polish). Since I couldn't use the original split rivets, I used wood screws to reattach the hardware.
The final step will be to re-dye the handle black, which I will do as soon as I replenish my bottle of black leather dye.
This project was much easier than I thought it would be when I started. The only difficult part was removing the hardware, but once that was done the rest was no different than hanging wallpaper!
And now, should the power go out, I can use this ancient typewriter to send out my email. Oh wait, I guess you can't do that with an old typewriter. Well, I guess you could by sending it in an envelope with a stamp on it!