Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Clean Workbench Sidetracks the To Do List

I'm not a tidy worker. Tools, spare parts, packing materials, notes, projects in process, labeled containers of pieces of typewriters, etc., etc. accumulate on my workbench until it simply gridlocks. But the upcoming need to prepare for the opening of my show at our cozy art gallery in Georgetown, which means matting and framing, which in turn requires lots of free space has resulted finally in a clear workbench.

And so what do I do with all of that delicious space? Yep - I play with typewriters.

Having gotten the piddly amount of work on my framing project to satisfy my conscience, I pulled out this Adler J4 from the dungeon, where it had been confined since its arrival months ago. It had arrived with ugly cracks in its plastic shell and case, and a bent frame. No wonder - it had been packed by the eBay seller with no more than a quarter of an inch of bubble wrap between its case and the carton. When I had emailed the seller regarding return and refund, the seller claimed no responsibility for the item once they had shipped it. The seller had, fortunately, insured the package, and eventually, after several trips to the post office and the filling out and mailing of forms, a payment arrived in my Paypal account.

And so yesterday I pulled it from its dusty corner in the dungeon and set the whole mess on my nice, clean workbench. With the friendly sounds of the brothers, Tom and Ray, NPR's "Car Talk" in the background, I went to work re-forming the frame with my biggest pair of pliers. A whack during shipment on the machine's front right corner had turned the stamped metal frame portion under the keyboard into a parallelogram, jamming the space bar and putting an ugly crack into the shell at the same time. 

Not having anything to loose, I applied vigorous force accompanied by appropriate grunting and eventually, to my surprise, the frame was back in a position that fit the shell and also allowed the spacebar to function. Krazy Glue then did the trick on those once horrible cracks, to the accompaniment of the standard gluing of fingers together. Surprisingly, the result was not bad, and once fitted with a new ribbon the machine turned out to be an excellent typer, producing nice, even, impressions with its pica font:

 While working on the Adler, our mailman came up the driveway and helped me carry two boxes into the workshop. On opening the first, after having been working on the stodgy gray Adler, my retinas were nearly seared by this Adler Tippa:

Even though the packaging was minimal, it arrived in excellent condition, USPS having for once not using the carton as a jack stand.

Even though it is not that great a typer, I'm sure a grandchild will eagerly snap this one up because of its compact size and bright color.

The second arrival yesterday turned out to be a beauty of an Olivetti Studio 45. Although already possessing one of these fine machines, the earlier purchase uses a cursive font, which while somewhat unique, always wants to put me into the persona of a Dolly Parton when I use it. So I was delighted to discover that the new arrival used a nice plain pica.

A lovely design combined with solid workings, this one is the best typer of the bunch. It even included a usable ribbon. Just one issue - the line advance mechanism has a pretty casual attitude about spacing, switching randomly between single, double, and triple line spacing. Thanks goodness I am left with a fix-up task to further keep me from that matting and framing job.


  1. Very nice typewriters. Congratulations on restoring the J4. I have one that is a superb typer and a most frictionless carriage. I'd put it up against any machine in my collection.

    I have a Hermes 3000 that I bought about 2 years ago knowing it was a damaged machine. It too had a bent frame. The Swiss use sheet aluminum. I took the machine to work where I could take one side at a time off and put it in a press and form it back to original. Machine works like a champ.

    I use the USPS as little as possible. They seem to always damage machines. I have had machines shipped in the case only via UPS and arrived unscathed. The USPS even managed to break a Sjyriter, but I also learned never use those air pillows. They are as bad as styrofoam peanuts and bows. They are space fillers and not shock absorbing packing. The best is also the cheapest. Wrap the machine in bubble wrap and fill the box with balled newspaper or craft paper.

  2. All these typewriters are easy on the eyes. Plastic can look good!

  3. Tony, I love the Adler, it looks like an Adler 25 to me but the salient thing about these machines is that they are top, top quality. Very easy to repair and service , they carriage comes off with two screws and the roller comes out by just removing the platens ends.
    On the Olivetti I would first look at the Line-spacing detent roller to see if it is doing its job. Try turning the platen by using the line-spacing lever slowly counting the clicks, say two spaces on setting one. after this operation try to turn the roller very gently with light pressure on the platen end. if it clicks again get back to me.

  4. Splendid photographs!
    I've been keeping my eyes out for an Adler similar to that for some time.