Bremerton man continues to fix typewriters at age of 94

May 5, 2016, 5:46 PM | Updated: May 6, 2016, 6:23 pm
typewriter, bremerton...
Robert Montgomery still repairs typewriters at the age of 94, and trains the next generation in Bremerton. (Rachel Belle, KIRO Radio)
(Rachel Belle, KIRO Radio)

Bob Montgomery opened Bremerton Office Machine Company in 1946 after serving in World War II. He sold the business about a year ago to Paul Lundy, and together they fix and refurbish typewriters. Business is currently up, as young people rediscover the vintage value of the old, shiny machines.

Montgomery, 94, started repairing typewriters when he was seven years old.

“My father had an office machine store in downtown Seattle,” Montgomery said. “(It was at) 821 3rd Avenue.”

In 1946, after he spent four years in the army during World War II, he moved to Bremerton.

“I came over here, with my father as a matter of fact, and we opened this business, Bremerton Office Machine Company,” he said.

That business is still exclusively repairing and selling typewriters today.

But about a year ago Paul Lundy bought Bremerton Office Machine Company. Lundy worked for a biotech company for 30 years, but then he read an article about Montgomery and his typewriter repair shop.

“I had been looking for a change in my own job,” Lundy said. “I met Mr. Montgomery and I immediately saw that he was a master craftsman. The depth of knowledge (he has). Any machine that was in here, he was working on, he knew how it was developed, when it was developed, what changes they made.”

“All of the little idiosyncrasies immediately hooked me. So I started coming in on Saturdays, ‘Just give me a machine, I want to see if I can do this,'” he said. “And, eventually, one day a week led to two days a week, three days a week and then suddenly I was working two jobs.”

Until he quit his old job and became a full-time typewriter repairman. Mr. Montgomery still comes in a couple days a week.

“He comes in and we have our comradery, chatting, having a doughnut and reading typewriter books,” Lundy said, as the two of them nibble on bear claws from the bakery next door. “And then he’s got his work bench where there are always machines. He has fun working on them.”

“We do our best to keep them running,” Montgomery says, referring to the typewriters surrounding him. “Everybody who comes in looks around and says, ‘Are people still using these?’ And I say, ‘Yes! People still use them!’ And they’re paying premium prices for these machines.”

The typewriter repair business is currently experiencing an upswing. The shop gets customers who have been coming in for 30 years, but also lots of new typewriter enthusiasts.

“We have businesses which use them,” Lundy said. “Virtually every legal office in Kitsap County has got a typewriter sitting beside the computer, just for filling in [forms]. Then you have the collectors. The people who just enjoy this bit of industrial technology that they’ve seen develop over time.”

“It’s so much fun because you get a chance to work on some pretty historic typewriters. And then there are families who have rediscovered their family heirlooms and want them running for the kids,” he said. “We even get people buying typewriters for the kids going back to college. Which used to be really common and is becoming popular again.”

The shop cannot survive on repairs alone, so Mr. Montgomery and Lundy refurbish old typewriters until they shine and clack, and then they sell them.

“I get favorites in, like, an Olivetti Lettera 32 was my favorite for the last three weeks,” Lundy said, who didn’t even own a typewriter when he bought the business. “And then somebody saw it on our website. Goll darn it! Why do I put things on the website? They wanted it, so we sold it.”

Walking into Bremerton Office Machine Company is like walking into a living museum; heavy, shiny black typewriters from the early 1900s stand beside powder blue electric typewriters from the 1980’s. The back room holds stacks and stacks of typewriters in their cases, used only for their parts.

The guys sell an old fashioned product and they give old fashioned service.

“I have many people who come in and they go, ‘When can I get it back?’ And I go, ‘Well, our backlog is about four weeks right now.’ And they just look at me,” Lundy said. “And I have to explain to them that sometimes this is a contemplative business where the problem that we’re looking at on the machine may not actually be the real problem. It’s best not to be rash. So you take your time, you contemplate and you make the right choice. So that makes us a very patience based business.”

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Newsradio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

mike's chili parlor...
Rachel Belle

City of Seattle honors 100 years of Mike’s Chili Parlor in Ballard

One hundred years ago, a Greek immigrant opened a chili cart in Ballard, and 100 years later the business is still thriving on the family's secret recipe. 
4 days ago
no phone...
Rachel Belle

Comedians and musicians are adopting ‘no phone’ policies at their shows

Artists like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Madonna are using a service called Yondr, that requires audiences lock up their phone in a pouch for the duration of a show. 
11 days ago
Rachel Belle

Does checking out library books hurt authors and indie bookstores?

Do authors and bookstores miss out on sales when we check out books for free at the library? Seattle Public Library and publisher Sasquatch Books weigh in. 
21 days ago
Rachel Belle

What to eat at Seahawks games this season: new menu is local and diverse

Seahawks season officially kicks off tonight at Lumen Field, and if you like meatballs just as much as footballs, this report is for you. 
22 days ago
college clean...
Rachel Belle

Most college kids say they ‘were not prepared to clean’ their dorm or apartment

A new American Cleaning Institute survey revealed that 75% of college students landed on campus, unprepared to clean up after themselves.
27 days ago
hospice nurse...
Rachel Belle

Local hospice nurse says death is not what you see in the movies

Death is not always peaceful and never pretty, but hospice nurse Katie Bracken says their job is to prepare people for a loved ones death. 
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Bremerton man continues to fix typewriters at age of 94