Texas typewriter gathering!

Filed under: typewriters — olivander July 30, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

I know this is short notice, but John Payton is hosting a get-together at his place for anyone who enjoys typewriters. John lives in Taylor, TX, just outside Austin. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 8th.

In John’s words,

It’s nothing fancy, just a small group of typewriter collectors getting together to talk about machines, collecting, and maybe some hands-on work if anybody has a machine with a problem. Of course all of us will be glad for anybody who attends to bring whatever they wish for a “show and tell”. The day’s gathering may well spill over to Sunday, the 9th but the scheduled part starts at nine o’clock Saturday morning.

Anyone interesting in attending can contact John through his Web site, The Mellow ’60s Workshop.

Are Reunions Necessary?

Filed under: Musings, Typecast — olivander July 29, 2009 @ 9:21 am

Click to view larger if needed.

Typewriter: 1963 Hermes 3000.

I meant to fix the typos before scanning it. Honest. And I don’t know if all 3000s punch right through the paper and shred their ribbons, but two out of three of mine do no matter how I set the resistance–and the one that doesn’t has problems.

Mayonaise for Susan

Filed under: Finds, typewriters — olivander July 28, 2009 @ 9:52 am

Found imprinted in the red portion of an old ribbon:

“BIG RED for the girls. Mayonaise for Susan. And a surprise for Paul.”

I’m pretty sure there’s a story in that somewhere.

Road trip!

Filed under: Errata — olivander July 23, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

I’ll be away for a few days. Heading back to the land of jackalopes and pheasants. I might pop in if I get a chance, particularly with any updates about the Spawn Process’s cast, which–fingers crossed–comes off tomorrow.


Filed under: typewriters — olivander July 22, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

I’m simply gobsmacked. Giddy gobsmacked. All this talk of colorcasting and carbon-paper-as-ribbon got me to thinking that maybe I could use it to take a type sample of a machine which is only partially functional or needs an unobtainable ribbon. The German Remington No.7 immediately came to mind. It takes a monstrous 1.5″ ribbon, and it’s been thoroughly frozen ever since I got it. I’ve always wanted to see what its fraktur typeface looks like. I’d need to at least get the carriage moving. I figured I could work around whatever other mechanical deficiencies it had, lifting and pressing the individual typebars onto the paper if need be.

I seemed to remember that the Rem’s drawband was broken. I recently read on one of the boards that flat shoelaces make good carriage drawband replacements. So I went up to where it shares a shelf with the wide-carriage Royal #10 to take a look at how long and wide of a shoelace I’d need. Take it down, sit it on the typing stand, turn it around… Oh, hey, the metal drawband is still intact! Good deal. But will it move? I held down the carriage release. Nothing. Put a little pressure on the twirler. Haltingly, it squealed to the right. Well, cleaning the crud from the rail the carriage rides upon should smooth that out. How about the escapement? The keys were all frozen, but maybe I could manually trip the escapment. Since I was looking at it from behind, I tipped it back slightly to better reach the spacebar so I could see which thingy moved to trip the escapement. I pressed the spacebar. It clicked and advanced. What the…? This thing has never worked before! I pressed a key. A typebar swung up and the carriage clicked and advanced again!

It turns out that the feet–which are missing–are necessary to elevate the frame enough to adequately depress the crossbar that activates the escapement. This whole time the machine had been fully functional, just dirty and pressed flat to the tabletop!

Already long story short, a quick degunking of the fundamental moving parts combined with a few drops of Liquid Wrench here and there and a set of rubber bottle stoppers for feet have this machine back in action!

Now for something to use as a ribbon.

Uh-oh. All my carbon paper is used up. Dang, I knew I should have bought that partial pack I saw at Savers. I don’t really want to put Crayon’d paper through it and risk colored wax bits flaking into the innards. Maybe an Oliver, but not this wide-open, very valuable machine.

Um…okay, maybe I can wrap two regular black ribbons side-by-side around the spools. Great, the left spool is permanently affixed. There are a couple inches of the original ribbon still attached. And get this: it’s nailed to the wooden core. Well, maybe I can staple the new ribbons to the remnant. First, gotta get the rest of the ribbon off of the other spool. Fortunately, the right spool does come out. For whatever reason, someone long ago wrapped the rest of the broken ribbon around the spool and pinned it down. The ribbon is practically white, it’s so old and dried out. A layer of dust and…what is that?…clings to it like moss.

I pull out the pin and begin to unwind the ribbon. Hey, the ribbon beneath the first couple of layers is pretty dark. By the time I’m halfway through, my fingers are turning black…with ink. You’ve got to be kidding me. This ribbon can’t still be good. Hmm… What the heck. I thread the ribbon through and reattach the broken ends with the pin I had pulled out. Wind it up about halfway. Roll in a piece of scratch paper. Press a key and random. Whack. Lift the platen to see what typed. A perfect black impression.  Oh. My. Gawd.

Ladies and gents, I give you the debut type of the Remington No.7 with fraktur typeface:

You can click it to see it slightly larger, and to get an idea of what the cards look like that I’m using for the newest version of my typewriter index.

It’s got some alignment problems, obviously. That’s to be expected with individually-hung typebars. The “d” is way off, and the “z” is practically off the paper. I may be able to straighten at least those two. And it looks like fraktur is to be treated like script and double-spaced, at least where the capitals are concerned. But…holy shit! I can’t believe it types! And with an ancient, broken ribbon!

Simply gobsmacked.

Update: the D and Z have been realigned. Look for an updated type sample in the next few days. I also discovered that the reason many of the lefthand keys were not falling back completely and entangling was a loose screw on the underside that had worked itself out. There are two strips of wood, screwed together, that run laterally underneath the keylevers; they hold the ends of the tiny strips of U-shaped metal that act as rebound springs for the keylevers–the leftmost screw had stripped its threads and partially evacuated, causing the strips to separate and the metal strips to lose their tension. A paper matchstick with the sparky end pinched off and split in two the long way was inserted into the screwhole and the screw retightened. (A segment of folding ruler shimmed between the bottoms of the keylevers and the metal strips kept the strips aligned during this procedure.) Problem fixed. In addition, for more permanant footings, I carved the tops of the rubber stoppers into posts, wrapped the posts with friction tape, and inserted them into the screwholes.

Explaining Walter

Filed under: Collapsables, Nuages, Typecast — olivander July 20, 2009 @ 11:03 am

Click image for larger version.

Typewriter: 1926 Underwood #5 similar to one Walter Cronkite used and/or posed with as a young wire reporter in the Army.

Typeface index hack

Filed under: Diversions, typewriters — olivander July 9, 2009 @ 10:29 am

Typeface index book

For some time, I’ve been taking typeface samples of my typewriters. The primary purpose is to tell me where problems lie (is the typeface clean and aligned, do the keys work smoothly, does the line advance, etc work properly?). Eventually, I realized that the accumulated samples compose a pretty good reference of different type styles and sizes. Sorted by brand or date, you can also see the typefaces evolving, and companies borrowing from one another. If you’re a complete typeface nerd like me, you can also play “guess the typeface” that the company altered for their machines (“I spy Memphis!”).

The book itself is a discarded Franklin Covey planner binder that I found. The size was perfectly suited to the slightly-larger-than-an-index-card paper I had taken to using. (These are pads of 5×8 recycled scrap paper that we have here at work. I’ve found them perfect for typecasting.) I type two samples per page–type one at the top, then flip it upside-down for the next use. Those are cut in half, leaving two 4×5 slips. The problem was finding a properly-spaced hole puncher, as Franklin Covey apparently gave their rings a goofy 3.5″ spacing, probably so nobody could re-use them for non-Franklin purposes. Happily, at a thrift store I found an old Mutual Centamatic punch with variable hole spacing and sliding paper guide that is the perfect solution.

With all of my type sample slips punched, I next cut some blank sheets in two and affixed gummed paper index tabs to them so I can quickly locate all of the various typewriter brands. In retrospect, I ought to have typed on the tabs before I glued them on, because folded in two they are too thick to feed through a typer. This is still experimental and may get rearranged, so penciling on the tabs may be best for now anyway.

The final touch was to label the binder itself, using an old 3.5″ floppy disk label that I doubt I will miss.

At the moment, the index contains roughly 50 type samples. Many early samples that are simply marching down 8×11 sheets of paper will need to be re-typed before they can be included. I’m trying not to duplicate models unless they are spaced far apart in time. For example, most ’50s Smith-Corona portables have identical tyepface, so it’s pointless to include ten alike samples from Sterlings and Silents. Eventually, I hope to cross-reference the index by type style and pitch. So if, say, I want a 12-pitch san-serif typeface for a particular purpose, I can quickly identify the appropritate tyepwriter to use.

Admittedly, I’m unlikely to ever actually need to do that. But the part of me that is compelled to obsessively break down, categorize, and document the tiniest detail about my typewriters is quite cheerful about this.

Typeface index book

Little girl lost

Filed under: Errata, Newsworthy, Nuages — olivander July 7, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

Paris Jackson quietly asked her aunt Janet if she could say something as her father’s public memorial service came to a close, and in doing so stripped away all the grandeur and became the one person to be able to cut through to Michael Jackson the human being. If this doesn’t get to you, you’re a heartless bastard.

Meet Sparky

Filed under: Typecast, typewriters — olivander @ 9:04 am

Typewriter: Sparky, a 1941 Remington-Rand Seventeen