Friday, September 20, 2013

Blue and Green

The first coat of spar varnish and marine paint applied,
the workshop is suffused with an intoxicating ambiance
Even the delicious odor of spar varnish and boat paint could not fully distract me from typewriters, could not alleviate the insatiable need, the sense of acquisition opportunities being missed. Was it something Manson Whitlock once said, that portables, their performance compromised by the need to fit too much into too small a space, could never match the big standards? Once my attention wandered from boat maintenance toward typewriters, it veered toward those regal and stately machines. Staggered by the workshop fumes, I found myself checking the eBay listings between varnish coats for the big guys. Those pre-1930 beasts, their massive cast iron architecture decorated by ornate lettering and gold scrollwork. And there it was - a beauty - in what looked to be in good condition, and free shipping at that! Alas - although newly listed, some undeserving wretch had already snapped it up. Frustrated now, and a bit pissed off, I began to slam through the listings, determined to find a machine as fine and a deal as good. Aha - there it was.

1929 Underwood No. 3

A gleaming 1929 Underwood No. 3, in all its glossy black glory. For local pickup only, but, wonder of wonders, only a couple of miles away. This one would not escape. It could have been a junker, a hopeless wreck, and I would have carried it home chortling and chuckling, in my deranged rebound from the supposed beauty that had been stolen from me. But on the workbench it seemed to be a solid machine, even deserving of the blue ribbon I'd been saving for something special. Clacking out the old standard phrases, bouncing the type slugs off the granite-hard platten, all the keys did their thing, as did the backspace, margin release, ribbon reverse and advance, line spacing. Amazing. and 84 years old, too. Finally mollified, I filled a page with blue words (not that kind of blue), chuckling all the time hunched over in my dim bunker.

While in ribbon installation mode, I plopped a green one into Kermit, a lovely little Royal Royalite recently acquired from Mike Clemens, who is inexplicably experiencing a need to de-acquisition that no doubt he will regret, but that I've been doing what I can to help with.

Kermit, the Royal Royalite

I promise an addendum to this post with typing samples, in the appropriate blue and green, from each of these machines.

But first I  need to apply another coat of varnish and marine paint.
1921 Underwood Typing Sample

1957 Royalite Typing Sample

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sharlet - a Love Affair

Like all love affairs, there have been cycles ranging from "smokin'", to "taken for granted"; periods where you can't get enough, to periods where you forget the need to maintain and nourish. And so it has been with Sharlet. Sharlet is a sailboat. A 15-foot, sloop rigged daggerboard Windmill Class racing sailboat who has been part of our family for many decades. She is equally adept at providing a pleasant day sail for a couple of adults, or the skipper and two or three children in gentle breezes, as she is at providing a thrilling ride skipping across the wave tops on a reach while you hang on wide-eyed at the ragged edge of control.
Hilda and I preparing for a camping trip to Eagle Lake in 1977. Sharlet is tagging along behind the "Camper", which will also soon be burdened with our 17-foot Coleman canoe - and several of our seven children.

For over a decade it was all about racing, at least one weekend a month during the season. Over those years we gradually learned how to skipper and crew in the relentless, wave-curling blasts of the Nevada desert wind that Mark Twain called the "Washoe Zepher". By the time we had things figured out, in the late 1970's, and managed to snag the Windmill District Championship cup for two years in a row, the popularity  of sailing, especially monohulls, was in decline.

Hilda preparing for a race during a regatta at Eagle Lake, 1979

The gang at Eagle Lake in 1980. All of our combined family of seven kids enjoyed time with Sharlet. She served us faithfully on outings like this for the following three decades, asking little in the way of maintenance.
And then in 2007 sailing activity perked up, thanks to expert Windmill sailors Scott Rovanperra and Dave Nielsen. They coaxed me and Sharlet out of retirement and back to the starting line.

Racing with grandson Jeremy at Scott's Flat. Borrowed newer sails convinced me it was time to provide Sharlet with a new wardrobe.

It took only a few races to reveal that both the sails and the skipper were a bit blown out. Not only that, but those pounding planing reaches across Eagle Lake had opened up cracks in the hull. 

Summer 2007 - beginning serious restoration

2007 -The double hull has been been repaired with nautical foam, re-fiberglassed, and then finished on the inside with skid-proof paint.

2007 -Gouges resulting from many years of pulling Sharlet up on beaches, and more importantly, cracks through the outer hull that resulted from all of those pounding broad reaches across Eagle Lake, have been repaired, filled, and faired.

2007 - Sharlet turns from dirty gold to bright blue.

2007 - First coat nearly done. And not a bad job, either. 

2007 - The skipper celebrated completion of the paint job with a dip in the American River

Summer 2010 - Sharlet is back at Eagle Lake, with a solid hull, new paint, and new North sails, ready for a few more decades of sailing.

2010 - launching at Eagle with grandson Jeremy.

Eagle Lake, 2010. Daggerboard and rudder are still functional, but have yet to be fully refurbished.

Dave and Sarah at Lake Washington, West Sacramento, 2010

Scott and Montana, Lake Washington, West Sacramento, 2010
Now, during the last few days of summer, 2013, I'm inspired with another burst of enthusiastic maintenance energy, this time aimed at the rudder, tiller, and daggerboard. Was it inspired by Darrel, who continues to carry the Windmill flag, building new boats, restoring old warriors, and engaging new sailors? Or realizing that the thought of replacing Sharlet with a slower, more comfortable craft were akin to selling a family member? Or the excitement of watching the non-boats of the America's Cup duke it out? No matter. I'll cling on to the tail of this horse named Enthusiasm and hopefully hang on until these pieces of wood are as solidly gleaming as Sharlet's hull.

Fairing and sanding the rudder cheeks

Rudder and daggerboard, nearly ready to varnish

Last check before beginning to varnish. I think the tiller favors the starboard tack ...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Facing the Typewriter Problem

Don't think it can't happen to you. It'll begin in the company of a few friends. You've already had a couple, what would one more hurt. But you keep wanting more, and eventually realize as you stumble around the clutter that the habit is taking over your household and affecting your life. Your wife tearfully confronts you when she finds you have even squirreled some away in her side of the closet. You thought it could never happen to you, that you were in complete control and could stop any time. But one day you find yourself facing your friends with the statement:

Hello, my name is Tony Mindling and I'm a typoholic.


For clinical evaluation, the following documentation collected during the past few weeks is herewith provided. Not included are the Smith Corona Quiet Super from the local Salvation Army thrift store, and the Royalite, AKA "Kermit", from Mike Clemens. Of course, many of these are destined for grandchildren, some of whom have already expressed interest. Of course, one little problem with that justification for my typewriter problem is that I don't see our seven children, prolific as they are, producing 43 children. So I suppose I will just have to give in, and, as one notable Typeospherian suggests, embrace hoarding. One positive thing is that all of the typewriters below, at least all that have thus far been received, have functioned well right out of the box. Well, OK, the Harris needs a new drawstring. Oh, and that pretty blue Corona Coronet arrived in pieces that all the kings men ... but the seller provided a complete refund and parts have already been shared all the way to Australia. They did arrive, didn't they McTaggart?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Good Things Come in Threes

Tony at the races with Claire and monica
They came all the way from Georgia to enjoy a week of the America's Cup finals, so the least I could do was to play hooky and join them for a day.

Three San Francisco icons: The Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, close to the America's Cup festivities; Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill; and towering over the Bay on the Marin County side, Mt. Tamalpais
I'd previously known Monica Mindling Heidesch, her husband Troy, and daughter Claire only through Facebook posts. I think grandfather George Mindling posts as many photos of Angelic Claire as her parents do, and no wonder. A spirit child in a way, 6-year-old Claire was born way early and weighed in measuring in ounces. She and her mother would likely not have made it in earlier times. It was a great treat to be able to spend some time with her.

Three fine folks at the races: Troy heidesch, daughter Claire, and Monica Mindling Heidesch ...

As far as the races went, we could not see much of it from our vantage point other than via the many huge screens. But the most telling scene played out in the morning right in front of me as the crew exited the stage after the introductions, marching right past me. The smiling and waving Kiwis were in telling contrast to the grim and determined visages of the USA Oracle team. And no wonder - entering the day already down by several races, Team USA would loose another two by days end. More photos from my day at the races here.

The grim and determined visage of Team USA was in contrast to ...

... the confidently smiling Kiwi team

Three New Typewriters ...

Kermit, the green Royalite
On the drive back from the Bay toward our rollin', golden hills, I stopped off to pick up a cute little Royalite from Mike Clemens. While reading his blog, Click Thing, a few days ago, I discovered that he still had a few machines looking for caring homes. What was I to do, but help him out by adding Kermit to my collection. I have a green ribbon that should suit him perfectly.

Kermit is a cute little travel typewriter in excellent shape. He even comes with a zipper travel case, that has also been well cared for. A great find by Mike, and I am grateful to him for making it available to me. Chances are it will go to one of my 13 or so grandchildren, several of whom have been clamoring for typewriters since I began my letter-writing program to them. Unless, that is, I decide to keep Kermit for my own use on our RV trips.

And then another stop. This one in downtown Sacramento, where it turned out that forging through the rush hour traffic was well worth it, as I picked up a lovely Remington Deluxe Model 5 from an eBay seller.

And then at home, awaiting me in a huge carton; A 1911 Harrris Visible. The first standard machine I've collected since pulling my cherished Royal no. 10 from a neighbor's trash can back in 1967. Who needs more than one standard? But I couldn't resist the opportunity to acquire a lovely vintage relic, a 3-bank double shifter at that, that seemed to possibly be in usable shape.

Already in very good cosmetic shape, some spit and polish should get this Harrris Visible gleaming. In case anyone
new to typewriter history has made it this far, the name of this machine points out its advantage compared to earlier
upstrike machines, where the type slugs impacted the platten from beneath, thus making the current line invisible
until the platten was rotated.

Lots of levers and keys whose mysterious functions have yet to be revealed to me

The spring that pulls the carriage draw string can be tensioned and adjusted by means of the winder on the left and the
lever on the right. The winder tightens the spring, like winding a mechanical alarm clock, and the lever releases the tension
one click at a time. this will make replacing the carriage draw band a snap - one of the few apparent issues of this
lovely old typer.