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!
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.