Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Great California Type In - The (Amateur) Video

The actual scene of the raucous event in Berkeley
December 27, 2013
No, no, no - this is not the real video, the one being produced by those guys with the big cameras, boom mike, recording gear, and, oh, yeah - professionalism, skill, and talent. But this just might give you a wee impression of the event.Three and a half minutes. Turn off the HD if it stammers and stutters.

December 27, 2013
Links to related posts by some of the other bloggers of the Typosphere, including a couple of typecasts direct from at the event:

Cynthia Price's The Cynthia Project (custodian of The Kandy Kolored Bubblegum Flake Streamlined Baby)

Michael Clemmens' Click Thing (seen typing on Sadie, his lovely 1954 Underwood De Luxe Quiet Tab)

And Richard Polt's coverage at Writing Ball.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Little Christmas Tree

Many years ago Hilda and I came home after a Christmas Eve search for a Christmas tree. As we settled our tired selves in front of the fire that evening she said , "You need to write about this". It became a little tale for our grandchildren, which I eventually recorded. Here it is, and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Psst! Wanna by an Underington?!

Just another day at eBay ...

I'm almost tempted to bid and demand both of them ...

Original ad here

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quick (and Dirty) Platten Refreshing

Nick Beland asked me to expound on the platten cleaning method I'd adapted from a post by McTaggart and used on my Olympia Monica. I had an opportunity to give an improved version a try this evening as I was pounding through my Christmas notes, so here's a brief share of the method and the results.

This Christmas note marathon has been a good opportunity to rotate through the stable of typers and update the sticky notes on the cases, mentioning any needed fixes, the typeface, ribbon color, SN, date, model, whether a keeper or a gifter, and so on. This afternoon I got around to a 1957 Royalite and re-discovered its paper feed hesitancy. The only way to get it to feed was to release the feed rollers, push the paper in a bit, then clamp them down again. Same deal with either the heavy 90lb stationary I was using, or copy paper. A good subject on which to try my platten rejuvenation method. The platten on this machine is rock hard, but the feed rollers are round and have some life in them.

That spray can of Max Rubber Rejuvenator is basically the solvent, xylene, and a propellant. I've found it useful for freeing gunked up areas, like the segment, and also for cleaning the type slugs. I found it with a search on Amazon. About $9 plus shipping. I will probably get another can or two when it is used up. Do use it with plenty of ventilation. 

As you see, I first fed in a sheet of copy paper to keep the crumbs from dropping into the machine. Then I sprayed the length of the platten, and scrubbed it back and forth lengthwise with a fresh area on a piece of 150-grit wet/dry sandpaper. I then rotated the platten a bit and repeated until the whole thing was treated

A horrible-looking mess results, but it cleans up pretty well with water. After carefully rolling the paper out, wiping the platten the while with damp paper towel to pick up adhering crumbs, I used another piece of damp towel to clean up what smears were left around the platten. I then ran a few more sheets of copy paper through to pick up any remaining crumbs or moisture.

The effectiveness?  Not spectacular, but the platten does grab just a bit better - sheets do start to feed now with a light pressure without the need to open the paper release lever and slide them in. And the platten does look better. I will use this method again on reluctant feeders.

You will note that, wuss that I am, the job was done with the platten in place. Having lost or damaged those tiny set screws before, as well as rarely knowing what I am doing, I am hesitant to disassemble unless absolutely necessary. Kind of a risk/benefit analysis sort of thing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Christmas Message for the Typosphere

At the end of a pleasant day spent typing our Christmas notes, it occurred to me that I'd almost forgotten one of the most important ones ...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the great folks of the Typosphere!


And, oh yeah, to those who would chortle, guffaw, or otherwise express titillation at my little date typo I would suggest that they have not yet had the opportunity to navigate the multiple pitfalls provided by a 3-bank, double shift machine like the Oliver while typing the four seemingly simple characters of "2013"!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Metal Reforming Mends a Monica

Do you subconsciously conjure up an image upon hearing a woman's name, without having met her? To me, Monica is a level-headed, steady friend. Not a ship launcher, nor a ship breaker, either, the girl in the movie secretly in love with some guy who hasn't a clue, until later, you know, when he finally sees the light.

For me, typing on one of these is like going home.
The late 1950's and early 1960's Olympia SM series are like that. Nothing fancy, but solid and always functional with no dramatics. Of course, I have a special attachment to them, having been given an SM3 by my parents as I was finishing high school. It took me through college and graduate school and then more graduate school. And then it ended up in one of those plastic storage bins until I saw the light just about a year ago.

Now I guess I have about four SMs of that vintage. The last was acquired when my wife and I came upon it in an antique shop yesterday. Since I already had a 1962 ivory and teal SM-5 I was going to pass on this Monica, even though it was only $25. But my wife suggested we get it as a gift for one of the grandkids.

The margin release looks like a die
A quick test in the shop (sans reading glasses) suggested that it was perfect, but of course there is no such thing with typers. And, sure enough, when I got it home I found that the mounts for the paper bail were distorted to the point that the bail when closed would still hang half an inch above the platten.

Perhaps you will recall my disatrously successful (successful disaster?) of a recent operation on my lovely 1936 Underwood Champion. But I realized that disaster was not an option in this case as I poked my needle nose in, and very gently bent the mounts back just enough to let the bail touch the platten. Success!

Tidied up platten, per the McTaggart method
I followed up by blowing out accumulated dust with my air compressor, spraying xylene onto the parts that tend to gunk up and then working them furiously, and gently lubricating pivot points with silicone lube and a toothpick. I also took McTaggart's suggestion to refresh the platten by giving it a good scrub with fine wet/dry sandpaper and a solvent. Installed a new ribbon, and now I have another typer to place under a Christmas tree.

Purdy innards, too
Oh, yeah - it types, too. Eleven CPI elite. No nonsense font, steady, well-aligned and even impressions. Atta girl, Monica!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Plug ... and a Plea

A while back I posted about my delight with a mint-like Remmington Quiet-Riter. In the post I mentioned that the core was lacking from the left-hand ribbon spool. Remmington ribbons come wound on a unique core (kind of like the sly razor/razorblade tactic) that slides over the built in center post, and I mentioned I had to make do because of one missing core.

A few days ago the box on the left arrived from Australia. It was sent all that way by John "McTaggart", who we have learned to listen to when he comments, as his advice comes from a depth of knowledge acquired during a 50-year career in typewriter repair.

This October, likely spurred by the silly froth spewed by newcomers like me, John started up the blog, McTaggart's Workshop. So far it has but one post, and that one is a doozy. His description of his approach to cleaning up a dirty typewriter is engaging and clearly written, not to mention a huge resource. As Scott Kernaghan commented, it included "a metric tonne of good advice".

I make use almost daily of the blog roll on one or another of the typosphere blogs, but had not come across McTaggart's Workshop until today. The most useful feature, and also the worst feature, of our blog rolls is that they order by posting date, and old stuff gets rolled to the bottom. Which is why I hadn't found McTaggart's Workshop, and so wanted to plug it here. The hope is that we can encourage John to come up with more posts.


John kindly sent me not only a core, but also an original ribbon wound around it, all wrapped in the original cellophane. But wait, there's more ... he also included two shiny Remmington spool covers.

Those shiny spool covers will greatly spiff up my Remmington, and I'd love to dig into its purple depths to add that spool core. But I am in a quandary. To use that spool would mean digging it out of that ribbon, which is likely dried up, destroying the packaging in the process. I'm thinking I like it better as it is, looking shiny new in its wrapper. 

I could wait until the existing purple ribbon poops out, and decide then what to do.

Or I could simply add it as is to my growing collection of ribbon containers, some of which also contain original ribbons, as a reminder McTaggart's generosity and thoughtfulness.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whoops - A Successful Accident

Once in a while, when things go wrong, it turns out they have actually gone right. I began the typecast below thinking I had really screwed up. And then, while telling the tale using this nice machine, realized a repair that had gone wrong had actually solved the problem. Thus an alternative title for this post could be, "Typing Therapy"

1936 Underwood Champion
Serial Number G1009954


Because my memory is as fleeting as a dew drop, I'll apply a strip of my green Post-It label tape next to the ribbon reverse lever there on the right side of the typewriter, reminding me to simply flick it forward when the left ribbon spool has emptied. I'm so pleased to have this lovely machine functioning that I'm going to head down to the dungeon and scour the cells for other inmates of this era.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Olivetti Studio 45 Line Spacing Issue

Olivetti Studio 45
Despite its plastic body, the Olivetti Studio 45 is a solid-sounding typewriter. The model was made from 1968 through 1972, a time when portable typewriters were at about their peak of development. They are a pleasure to use, and I like the simple lines of the body. The plastic case is also well-designed, holding the machine securely when closed. Just remember to fold back the return lever, and lock the carriage in its center position first.

I have purchased three of them from eBay, and all but one were usable as they arrived. That one had line-spacing issues. Operating the return lever would advance the platten three lines, whether set for zero, one, two, or three. Since I recently re-visited that issue when taking some photographs of the business end of the carriage for Nick Beland (Philosophothought), I thought I would share what I did to set things right.

The first step in accessing the line-space mechanism is to remove the left-hand knob. It unscrews by turning it CCW while holding the right-hand knob.

The pawl seen in the above photo just to the left of the screw threads on the knob shaft engages the ratchet gear on the knob assembly, and pushes it ahead one, two, or three lines worth when the carriage return lever is used. Or none, depending on the setting of the line space lever.

The line-spacing mechanism on a properly working Studio 45.

The above photo shows how the pawl rides on the edge of a cam. The position of the cam is changed depending on the setting of the line space setting lever. Here it is set for single line spacing. As the carriage return lever is operated, the pawl assembly is rotated CCW, pulled by that S-shaped wire linkage. The cam keeps the pawl from dropping into the ratchet until there is just enough rotation left to advance the platten one line. As the line space setting lever is moved forward to two or three lines, the cam is rotated CW, allowing the pawl to engage the ratchet sooner.

Whoops - the line-spacing pawl is out of place

The photo above shows a Studio 45 in trouble. It moves the platten three lines at a time, regardless of the line space setting, because the pawl is riding on the side of the cam, rather than the edge. You can see how the side of the cam has become polished by the out-of-place cam as the carriage return lever was operated by a frustrated typist.

It turned out that the fix was quite simple. The right-hand carriage knob had slipped a bit, allowing side-to-side play in the platten shaft. This play allowed the pawl assembly to move to the left (out) enough to allow the pawl to slip from its position on the cam. I had to disassemble and reassemble the thing several times before I realized why the pawl wouldn't stay in place. Once I realized the problem, the hardest part was finding the right size of allen wrench to tighten the two set screws on the right-hand knob.

A pretty Olivetti Studio 45 ready to go to work.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1941 Royal Arrow - the Lost is Found

I like the chrome accent, the black deckle finish, and the comfortable concave key tops
1941 Royal Arrow 
SN C88-1064749R

I knew I had it. But my searches through the dungeon - the dim workshop storage areas filled with troubled typewriters - failed to reveal it. It finally showed up under a desk in the office. It was as pretty a typer as I remembered from when I spied it at the local Salvation Army Store. A word with the manager, pointing out that it had been there for two months, and it was mine for $40, half the marked price.

Really its only crime was filth and a bit of corrosion, some sticky keys, and misalignment of the upper and lower case characters. I suppose that was why it was consigned to the low security detention area under that desk.

I'm enjoying releasing these machines from incarceration, cleaning and tinkering with their innards to find and fix what ails them, then final polishing and the pleasure of using them. I'm working on convincing myself that it is at least as fun as the hunt for more, and the anticipation of eBay packages which I have resolved to forego, at least for a while. It is especially enjoyable to share and get help from the friendly community of Typospherians.

It was the help I'd received from John Lewis in New Mexico, who had recovered the platten of the Royal No. 10 I've had since the late 1960's, that gave me the confidence that I could remove - and again replace - the platten on this Royal. So out it came, along with the feed rollers front and back. This gave me access to the innards so I could do a good job blowing out the dust bunnies with my air compressor. That done I polished the paper guide, and cleaned and very lightly lubricated (drops of Three-in-One Oil on the end of my small screwdriver) the feed roller bearing points and pivot points in the line advance mechanism which had been squeaking.

By the way, removing the platten and feed rollers on Royals, at least on the two I have, is fairly simple. The left-hand knob is removed, and the set screws on the right hand end of the platten are removed. This allows the right-hand knob to be removed, along with a shaft that reaches through the platten. The spring-loaded cap with the ratchet gear on the left end of the platten is removable. Be aware of the tongue washer inside that end of the platten - don't let it escape and get lost. When re-installing, after cleaning the platten, mark it on the left to show where the tongue is - you need to know that too facilitate fitting the shaft, slotted at that end, back in. Be aware, also, that one of the set screws for the right end of the platten is longer than the other, to fit into a hole in the shaft. And of course, employ your "best practices" for taking stuff apart throughout. For example, a white terry cloth towel under everything helps to catch those little screws that are always trying to squirm away. Don't tell my wife about the towel.

That done I cleaned up and freed the sticky keys by spraying xylene at the segment. Alcohol, daubed liberally with a small brush, also works. Then, since I had a bit of fine steel wool available from my work on the paper guide, I decided to polish the corrosion on the visible part of the segment. It did a good job, but the tiny bits of steel wool got into the segment slots, jamming up the type bars again. Another trip down to the air compressor and thankfully all was well. Lesson learned.

Then on to adjusting the upper/lower case character alignment. The upper case characters were printing slightly higher than the lower case. Since the lower case characters, like "l" and "h" where printing well, but the upper case characters faded out on top, especially the fractions, it was apparent that the upper case characters were impacting the platten too high, rather than the lower case being too low. This being a segment shift machine, adjustment would involve allowing the segment to drop a bit lower when shifted. Fortunately the adjustment stops are accessible beneath each end of the carriage when it is slid out of the way. The stops are made up of a screw held at its setting by a lock nut.

Noting the position of the screw slot, I loosened the lock nut with a 5,5mm socket, then gave each screw a half turn CCW, allowing the segment to drop a bit lower when shifted. Too low. Back a quarter turn. Perfect. But then, how to maintain the setting while tightening the lock nuts? I removed the tiny socket from the wrench, fitted it carefully over the nut without turning it, then inserted the screwdriver through the socket into the screw to hold it at its setting while finger-tightening the lock nut. A final touch with the wrench, another test, and I sit back, quite proud of myself, that another typewriter is functioning again and looking good.

Looking at this image this morning, taken late last night, I see there is still an issue with upper/lower case alignment. Back to the work bench, where I will keep in mind that Japanese esthetic that finds beauty in imperfection. But, all in all, I find this machine very pleasant to type with, and I like the straightforward font. It will go into the permanent collection in the correspondence rotation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Olympia SM5 Adjustments

Olympia SM5 Serial Number 2210659 (1962)

When this creamy white Olympia arrived it looked to be a beaut. No dings or scratches, it still had life in the platten and other rubber bits, except those washers is sits on, but that's easy to fix. But then I began to type ...

Oh dear ... the lower case characters were hitting the platten too low, even though the adjustment was at it's limit, and they were out of alignment with the upper case characters. 

Thanks to a tip from a friendly Typospherian on The portable typewriter Forum (thank you Grace!!!) I found Rob Bowker's detailed post on the same problem. I very much doubt if I would have worked out the solution on my own. The gist of it is that by very slightly increasing the distance between the carriage rails, the carriage (and platten) are lowered enough to get the type slugs to hit the platten properly, i.e., at a tangent so that the impression is even from ttop to bottom of the character.

To access both the screw and lock nut of the upper case alignment adjustment the machine would need to have an "out of body" experience. OK, fine, that would make it easier to clean also.
The feet then went back on to lift the machine off of the work surface to allow testing.

The lower case adjustment (lower left) is at its max, but the platten is still too high in relation to the characters. Moving the forward carriage rail (top) forward, very slightly widening the distance between the two carriage rails, drops the carriage and the platten just enough.

By loosening the carriage rail hold-down (Rob Bowker Screw) on each side the rail can be scooched forward a wee bit. It worked! The lower case characters printed perfectly.
Pertinent bits
It took about a full counterclockwise turn of the upper case adjustment screws to get the caps lined up with the small letters. It was really fun to get this nice machine set to rights, thanks to the help of the typoshperian community.
Now all is well

Once the adjustments were made I got out the Q-tips and alcohol and gave everything a good spruce-up, followed by a coat of wax. Wow! Now there's a fine typer!

Max Rubber Rejuvenator (used as a solvent for freeing hesitant type bars - I don't think it has any rejuvenating qualities other than cleaning), Griot's Machine Polish 3 (very fine-grit polish - good for removing tough smudges, overall cleaning of the body and shiny bits), Mother's California Gold Brazillian Carnauba Cleaner/Wax (nice to use, pleasant, clean smell-I like to think it protects everything a bit, including the plated parts from further corrosion), and of course, alcohol for gunk removal and type slug cleaning.

Fall Garden Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese esthetic that finds beauty in impermanence, change, and imperfection. The seasonal changes expressed in a fall garden can provide a strong wabi sabi immersion. The weathering of a garden's stone and wood, and the random activities of untended plants, also reflects that esthetic. Our brisk fall afternoon, breezy with a bright blue sky, drew me out into that lovely chaos with a camera.

The camera in this case is a Sony Nex-7. I like and use it because it incorporates the image quality of my big DSLR in the small body of a point-and-shoot. It includes some sophisticated modes, including one that combines three images taken in very quick succession with an HDR process, and adds a bit of warming and enhanced detail. A fun brush with which to splash the color and detail I found on my little adventure.