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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Forty Million Clicks

The clock of "forty million clicks". Once a minute for 55 years.
As a teenager I enjoyed finding and restoring vintage clocks. Or just tinkering and restoring anything old, especially if it was mechanical. I was fortunate to live near my grandfather throughout those years, and he was always ready for an outing to an auction to look for things like that. At a hardware store auction we found a tarnished brass Primus stove, like Sir Edmund Hillary would have used on Everest. Polished up it was used for many meals on backpacking trips, and brewing up roaring pots of tea on cross-country ski outings.

The "forty million click" clock was scored at a county school auction in the late 1950's. It was painted green, and had been a classroom clock, the kind that jumps ahead one minute at a time in response to a signal from the master clock in the principal's office, each jerk of the minute hand intently observed by the class as it crept toward the top of the hour and the end of the period. Suspecting it might be solid copper I turned it over and verified that by making a small scratch on the inside with my car key. We took it home with a $2 bid.
A solenoid, activated by a signal sent at one-minute intervals from the clock in the principal's office, once operated the escapement mechanism.
I removed the solenoid, and in its place installed a 1-rpm electric motor (beneath the aluminum plate). The wheel (from an Erector Set) rotates the attached lever with a bearing on the end once per minute to activate that long lever and in turn the escapement that moves the minute hand ahead. Kinda like the escapement in a typewriter. 

In the workshop I found enough electomechanical odds and ends to produce a pulse with the correct voltage once a minute to operate the solenoid in the clock, which in turn moved it ahead one minute at a time. Basically a "principal's clock simulator". While it worked fine, we only tolerated the racket for a day or so before I had it back down in the workshop. The solution was a small 110 volt motor geared down to 1 rpm obtained from Edmund Scientific Company, and a hand-crafted linkage  to operate the escapement. It had been keeping time for our family ever since.

The bearing is activating the escapement lever ...
That's forty million and one activations. The shape of the tip on the end of the escapement lever is designed to gently and quietly operate the escapement. It was formed from a piece of aluminum by a teenage me 55 years ago, and is still doing its job. 

But some time ago the clock became erratic, and I had to pull the plug. After some forty million clicks. Due to my "typewriter problem" it has taken me a while to finally take it down to find the problem. Which turned out to be a loose screw. Once the clock was operating once again, I was going to strip and re-polish it, then re-coat it with clear lacquer. But my wife wisely suggested that I leave it as is with its forty million click patina. So I cleaned it up a bit, polished the glass, and re-hung it above the wood stove and flat-screen TV. Good to go for another forty million or so.

Fun with a Frozen Facit - and a Rattly Space Bar

I've been having a delightful week. With my day-job consulting at a temporary ebb I've set aside the 'to do' list and given myself the gift of hours in the work shop tinkering with typewriters. It's a great pleasure to sit on my stool down there and puzzle out some intriguing mechanical issue and set one of these fine vintage machines going again. It's especially pleasurable when these successes result from connection with the internet community.

And so it was with a Facit 1620. It had arrived a couple of months ago looking lovely, the carriage sliding very smoothly to and fro, all the keys jumping up to the platten when bidden and then bouncing back into place. Just one thing - the carriage did not advance. And the space bar action was wonky. Recalling a note in a comment from Nick Beland on one of my blog posts a while back regarding the issue of the 'Frozen Facit', I fired up the garage computer and tracked down his solution, which involved application of Goo Gone to the escapement wheel and patience.

Lacking in patience, I also sprayed liberal amounts of Kroil here and there, then turned out the shop lights and let everything sulk overnight.

In the AM the wheel would still not budge. Time to get the hammer. In this case a plastic mallet applied with gentle tapping to a nail set placed against one of the escapement wheel teeth. A bit firmer tapping. A slight movement. Eventually I nudge the wheel around about a quarter of a turn. More Kroil and Goo Gone and a bit more time are applied. More work with the mallet and nail set. Is it perhaps moving slightly easier?

Eventually I can work the wheel back and forth and haven't even broken of one of the teeth yet. And then, after a couple of days, suddenly the wheel is completely free. I turn the machine over excitedly and begin tapping on the keys. The carriage advances. It advances in exuberant fashion, up to several spaces at a time. Oh - that spring I had dislodged while whacking on the wheel is still in the parts tub. Eventually I not only get the spring back where it belongs, but also get the space bar properly linked up and suddenly everything is fine. A bit of clean up of the excess solvent, cleaning and polishing of the body and case, and there is a nearly-as-new Swedish typewriter.

Except for one thing.

Although it typed fine, there was an obnoxious tinny squeaky rattle whenever the space bar was activated. Not only irritating, it made the machine feel far less than precision. I traced the racket to a linkage connection. A slyly deployed rubber band now prevents the rattle and we have a tight-feeling, slickly-operating precision typer. I humbly offer this high-tech solution to the community.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"They just Make Me Happy" - An Adler J4 and a Chocolate Olympia SM4

"They just make me happy" is how my wife once explained her enjoyment of jewelry to me. And I got it. Whatever other rationale we invoke to explain and justify our peculiar accumulations of stuff, that's what it comes down to. This blog is about how a couple of typewriters have achieved that critical criteria, and become members of the happy face club in my office.

Adler J4

The pictures below show the space bar at rest and depressed. The brown metal is the frame, and the shiny bits the space bar linkage. Note how when depressed the rubber bumper fits within the hollowed out plastic space bar. Shipping damage had left the bumper resting against the edge of the space bar, so that to trip the escapement, the space bar had to be pushed down against bumper.
We're looking down on the front end of an Adler J4 typewriter. While the critical parts of this well-made machine are metal extrusions, this end is formed of stamped sheet metal. The design is neither capable of surviving a fall from an airplane, as the ads for the cast iron Royal 10 once proclaimed, nor the handling of the US Postal Service. 
Before and after sanding down and polishing the Krazy Glue repair with a succession of increasingly fine grits of sandpaper and polishing compound. Not perfect, but not glaring either. And shiny.


My new pretty. 1959 Olympia SM4. A dash of Scrubbing Bubbles and briefly intense polishing of the case latch, and good to go. They don't get any better.