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Showing posts from October, 2010

Halloween Fed Fear

Typewriters are intensely personal objects. Take, for example, the Hermes 3000 that is in our classroom. What was written on it? Did secret unfulfilled loves find the courage to be expressed? Did dreams of a far-away better life pour onto the blank page? Did deeply dastardly plans come to fruition? What secrets does that grey-green body hold?

Could the loves, hopes, and dark deeds somehow affect these machines after the owner has passed away? Can a bit of a person be left behind connected to the typebar with a mystical linkage? In other words, can a typewriter be haunted?

Something to think about when you find that awesome typewriter at a rummage sale.

Happy Halloween!

Fly Hermes, Fly

I imagine that to some typewriter collectors are just marginally more sane than the Collyer brothers. I have, at some time fallen victim to a little bit of harmless hoarding. Attempting to divest myself of unused objects and help the Classroom Typewriter Project I have decided to offer my Hermes adding machine up for trade.

It's a lovely example of vintage office machinery. It can add and subtract! The gentle late 60s green-grey would match any of your late 60s Hermes equipment. It's 100% functional and in fairly good condition. None of the plastic is broken or cracked. It does include the paper tape that is approximately 1,000 years old and a little brittle. Fun!

If you are interested in trading this machine for a functioning manual typewriter, let me know.

In Search of W. L. Ehrler

One of the tantalizing things about typewriters is that they belonged to real people. Someone sat at that machine and wrote. I have found that a typewriter is an intensely personal object. Students choose the same one over and over and I am very partial to my desk HH. I am so partial that I refuse to let anyone else use it.

The brown QDL once belonged to a man named W. L. Ehrler. I wasn't able to find much about him except for a few articles written by a W. L. Ehrler via Google Books. I was able to track down where he was working in the sixties. W. L. Ehrler worked for the US Dept. of Agriculture in the Water Conservation Lab in Phoenix. He wrote, with fellow researchers, several articles about water retention capability in the leaves of rubber plants. It's interesting stuff to the people who find it interesting.

I sent an email message to the director of the lab and this was his response:
Yes, I would say it is very likely that the typewriter was once W.L. Ehrler’s, who was a…

More Results Forthcoming and A Banning

Initially the project was open to just a few of my classes (three to be precise) but as work has gotten out that typewriters are not entirely lame the interest has been peaked in other classes. So, the next inventory will include a very large sample group.

As the number of students who are using the typewriters on a daily basis has increased the number of issues with management has also increased. I brought these machines into the classroom to be explored and loved. Sometimes, in their exuberance, the students are too rough with their love. One student, V., was so excited to use the typewriters that she was carrying it by the carriage. This is not acceptable or in keeping with rule #6 (Remember, this typewriter is 4 times older than you). As a result she has been banned from using them for a week. After the week she can return to the fold as a full-fledged typist. I have printed up a  modified copy of the 1950 Typewriter Care pamphlet put out by the federal government. It outlines som…

A Mysterious Brown QDL

I have a black 1946 Royal Quiet Deluxe at home that is in fantastic condition. This was the first typewriter I ever bought. It was a Craigslist find and I must have lucked out that day because I made a good purchase. I have seen a great many terrible typewriters in awful condition, but my Royal QDL is not one of those. The body is dark and clean, the chrome is bright and gleaming. It's really spoiled me. Every typewriter I find I compare in my mind to that shining example of craftsmanship. Well, a second 1940s Royal QDL has come into my life. It's in good shape (save some mechanical issues which I will share later) and quite the looker. However, this machine is a bit of a mystery.

The owner, a Phoenix native, bought the machine used in the 1960s. At that point in its life it was already 15 years old. Les, the previous owner, bought it at a business machine store called ABC Business Machines on East McDowell in Phoenix when he was in high school. He went to Arcadia High School…

A Most Worthy Publication

I am proud to announce that my submission to Silent Type 2 was accepted and included in the new edition of this truly unique publication. ST and ST2 is visually very rich. It's like a brownie; a brownie of typewriters and other retrotech. There is a digital copy available today and there will be a way for you to purchase a paper copy in the near future.

Look for my work on page 36 & 37!

Writing Rituals

I had a colleague come by to see the typewriter collection and we started talking about what makes typewriters so appealing to students and how, proven by some data that I have collected, it can be that student writing improves? We came up with and idea that I'm calling writing rituals.

Great authors have rituals in their own writing. Ernest Hemingway (the most famous Royal man) stood at a bookshelf when typing. Roald Dahl, although using Ticonderoga pencils (the best) and yellow legal pads, would write for a set amount of time before and after lunch. Graham Greene had to write a certain number of words per day. Each of these authors assigned a ritual to their writing and students of writing should incorporate rituals as part of being a successful writer. These rituals can serve to center the thoughts and allow the user of the ritual to enter a mind-space that is preparing them for what they will encounter. I see it as akin to a purification ceremony or a rite of passage. The ritu…

Another Introduction: Royal Safari

This Royal Safari is as popular as the Hermes 3000 with our more adventurous students. Safaris are not known for their typing finesse, but they do look nice. I think that this typewriter would look at home with the Jetsons or in the Monsanto House of the Future. It's definitely space-age.

I have noticed that it is a very loud typewriter with a prominent echo. When the students really get typing you can hear it clearly. Maybe it's too distracting, but no one has said anything negative about it. It is built well and apart from the keys and front bezel it is all-metal and quite heavy. It has all the standard bits and parts: Magic Margin, tabulator, see-through ruler. It does not have a paper bail and I find that typing on index cards is very easy. It does use the late-model ribbon vibrator with little pincer-like clips to hold the ribbon. This makes installing a new ribbon much easier than all our other typewriters.

I don't think I would recommend it for heavy-duty typing, bu…

Zombie Adler

In the spirit of the Halloween season the Adler J5, which was thought dead, has returned. The ribbon advancement mechanism is fixed (a spring) and some bits and pieces were modified and repaired. Tape holds down the cover. Yes, it looks like some sort of grey zombie, but that could be the charm hidden deep beneath the plastic.

A while ago I crafted a new left knob and I am not happy with it. Because of the size of the knob and it's location I had to remove the transparent plastic guides so it would clear when the carriage is returned. I would like to get a proper Adler J5 knob and return the margin guides. If anyone out there has such a knob would you be willing to send it my way?

Our First Assertion

In my previous rambling post I mentioned that I have some new data on spelling test performance. Well, here is the chart with the comparisons between the pre-test and the current testing round.

The students using the typewriter are doing better than last time. They are scoring higher and doing much better on all spelling scored assignments whether spelling is a core component or something ancillary. This may, however be related to the intensive spelling work, but students doing the same activity without the typewriter have a lower rate of passing on the same assessment that students who are using the typewriter are passing. This information presented by the next chart. I could continue on with the collecting of data, but this trend has been steady for the past couple of months that we have been using the typewriters. I feel confident in saying that students who use a typewriter tend to become better spellers when they become aware of their spelling mistakes. This is not a real experim…

Analysis and Monks

Well, I have just finished doing the counts of the survey. I know that the title of these analysis pieces include the word weekly. Well, I haven't been able to keep up with a weekly analysis. The numbers were have here are an amalgamation of a couple or three weeks of surveys. I am not to concerned over how accurate this is because the shorter data sampling rate is still consistent with the timeline that I am currently using.

The numbers are holding for most of the indicators. 100% of all students using a typewriter on a daily journal activity enjoy using the typewriter. This is an identical answer rate as on the 29th of September. The only difference is that 75% versus 85% on 9/29 strongly agree that they enjoy using the typewriter.

The numbers for statement 5 (The computer is better to write on.) are sliding clearly to the center with 50% being neutral to the statement. I take this to mean that more and more students are seeing that the mode of writing is secondary to what is be…

Weekly Inventory In Progress

The next round of Inventories has been handed out and they are steadily coming in. We'll be able to see if there is a continuation of typewriter love among my students. Also, I have some hard numbers relating to the spelling component. They are doing measurably better. I'll share all of that data when I do the next update.

If you are new to visiting this blog, please take a look at the links to the right. They will give you an overview of the project and some of our goals.

12 October Typecast

You can see the barest hint of the blue felt below the keyboard.
Now you can see all the felt. It's felt-tastic!

Upcoming Events

The second Weekly Writing Inventory will be passed out on Wednesday. I hope to have some results to share with you on Friday. The questions will stay the same, but I hope that all the positive stats will provide some clear trends.

Today was the first day after our October break and when the bell rang it was a feeding frenzy around the typewriters. I guess they were deprived over the break and needed to type. I know the feeling. I hadn’t used my HH in a while. Feeling the snap of the keys brought me back to a very happy place. 

The SC Skyriter is airing out at home. I’ve gone through and replaced the felt on most of the machine. The only felt that I had was electric . It’s ended up looking zany and cool. It looks neat and it might inspire a new color scheme.


On the way to Target to do the daily shopping, I happened to stop by a yard sale. I am never very hopeful that I will find anything, but this time I found a Remington Travel-Riter for $1. It's in pretty good shape, but I am considering repainting it something outrageous. It has a nice shape and it would be a lot nicer if it was a little shinier and a different color. It's very snappy to type on. The platen might be a little hard, but if I am disassembling it to repaint, I might send it to Ames for recovering. I've never have had a platen recovered. I've read that a new, soft platen is a joy to use.

After some sprucing it will enter into the classroom rotation.

New Look and Skyriter

The old themes from Blogger were getting a bit old, so this is the update.

The Skyriter arrived and I am amazed at the size of this typewriter. It is tiny. It really is the smallest typewriter in our classroom collection. I got it and decided to spruce it up a little. I replaced all the felt on the inside just in case we have some kids allergic to that old typewriter smell. The margin stops are acting up. I think that something worked loose in transit. I have a feeling that the spring that holds the margin stop bar (not the official term I feel) is a little weak. I'm going to go ahead and replace it with something a little stiffer. This may be a job for the wife's unused hair rubber bands.


The Classroom Typewriter Project needs more than just typewriters! We need ribbons, Ko-Rec-Type tabs, erasers, and small type brushes. If you can't donate a machine please conciser donating some supplies. You will be listed with our other donors and we could definitely use the supplies.

Please send any ribbons, correction tabs, brushes, or erasers to:

Alhambra High School
Attn: Mr. Adney #34
3839 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85019

Did You Know

We have had 3 wonderful gentlemen donate machines to the Classroom Typewriter Project? Click on the link on the left side-bar. There you will see who donated what. It is a testament to the kindness of the typewriter community that we have so many wonderful machines to use in class.

Coming Soon

There is a nice SC Skyriter zooming its way on over. A few weeks age I got a pleasant email message from a pleasant fellow named George Petersen of Eugene who saw the bog and decided to send a typewriter. I mentioned that we are on October break until next Monday, but he said that he'll ship it to my home address. According to the tracking number, it should be here tomorrow. As soon as it gets here I'll take some pictures. From all that I gather it is a 4Y Skyriter. It was made during the early 60s in Britain. I am not familiar with these machines in detail, but from what I can see they look very compact. I am waiting with baited breath.

Typewriter Rules

1.    No paper, no type.
2.    Carry with both hands.
3.    On the desk!
4.    Press, don’t punch.
5.    Ask for help.
6.    Remember, this typewriter is 3 times older than you are.

As more kids get jazzed about the typewriters (three weeks and going strong) I felt that there needed to be some more clear ground rules on the typewriters. This is what I came up with. They're funny and true!

The Wheel of Fortune

As soon as the J5 had given out I got an email message from a gentleman called George Petersen saying that he would send me a Smith-Corona Skyriter that he recently bought. So, I assume that it is on its way and (as I gather) it is in good shape. It's going to take the place of the Adler and the SC-Silent with public speaker type that is duing duty as a temp.