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Showing posts from September, 2011

A Swiss Ambassador

Ted said that he didn't like his new Ambassador. I had seen the very machine to which he was referring. It had been sitting in the Mesa Typewriter exchange for months gathering dust and looking generally sad. After a little negotiation, Ted was willing to give me the Ambassador to see if I could make a go of it. After a few hours of working I have resurrected this great green giant to an acceptable state.



I'll start with the paint. I had thought it was really dusty, but on closer inspection I could see that the paint was terribly oxidized. Every surface was dusty with powdery-white oxidation. I know that heat can do that to paint, but I had never seen it so evenly cast over the body. It must have, at some point in its life spent a lot of time in a hot room. Not being prepared to strip everything, I decided to try some cleaning wax. The thought was to give it a sheen similar to a regular Hermes while stopping the paint from dusting off. It seems to work. Obviously, the paint is …

We're Ready For Our Closeup, Mr. DeMille

I really glossed over the filming for the Typewriter movie and Mrs. Magic Margin thought people might like to hear more about it.

As class started you could tell the kids were excited. They knew that it was the day that Jack, the cameraman, was going to be filming for the documentary. I didn't notice it until Mrs. Magic Margin (who's also an English teacher at Alhambra) mentioned that many of them looked like they dressed up. Most of the girls had done their hair and chosen outfits just for the occasion. The boys had neatly pressed t-shirts and clean shoes.

Since some of the kids in this class hadn't used the machines before, I made a short slideshow presentation to lay out the basic parts of a typewriter and how to load the paper. It's almost pointless to do these introductions now. Most kids at Alhambra have had some sort of contact with a typewriter before. They aren't the mysterious machines they were two years ago. If that is the only measure of success with t…

A Selectric Gift and Typewriter Movie Shoot

The 22nd was a big day. My classroom played host to a cameraman taking some video for The Typewriter (In the 21st Century) documentary, I fixed a Selectric given to me as a gift, and it was my birthday. The important stuff first:


The two angle and rotation bands fell off their respective wheels. So, the element wasn't moving to the correct position and the angle was all messed up. After getting them set properly the machine was as good as new. The motor must have been replaced recently as it purrs with only the gentlest of hums. I am not an electric typewriter fan, but considering the historical importance of this machine (and the fact that I already have a ready supply of type elements) I am apt to let it stay in the classroom. The size is much better than that Vader-like machine that I gave to Bill Wahl.  It comfortably fits on a desk or typewriter table. These machines are the easiest things to open up even if-- once on the inside-- you find that they are more akin to Brazil-lik…

Not-ivetti

This Sears Manual 1 ribbon cover is almost nearly, but not quite entirely unlike an Olivetti Valentine when painted red; as you can see in the before and after.



See, just like a Valentine. I've been using Valspar's plastic-bonding spray paint for pieces like this. It really seems to bond well to the plastic. Time will tell how it stacks up to use and abuse.

Purple

Full Disclosure: I attended a parochial grade school in the early 1980s. Our school still used spirit duplicators because they were still very cheap to operate. I'm not that old.

Podcast Interview and Odds & Ends

It's not every day two teachers who love typewriters get the chance to talk. I had the fortune to be interviewed for an upcoming episode of The Tightwad Teacher. This podcast focuses on how to cheaply integrate technology into a classroom setting. I was contacted by John, one of the hosts, who also has a fondness for typewriters. It was a really interesting conversation and as soon as the episode becomes available I'll post a link to it on the sidebar.

The CTP is slowly making typewriters a thing at Alhambra High School. The school library is now home to a working Royal FP in minty green. A few days ago the librarian, Tim, came to me and said that he had a typewriter that wasn't quite working. He asked me to take a look at it and after a few minutes oiling the Magic Margin (our namesake), cleaning the type, and winding a new ribbon, the Alhambra Library is rocketing strait into the retro future. Tim cleared a small place out on a built-in counter and there it sits, proudly,…

Zephyr De Luxe

This pre-WWII ultra-portable is the newest acquisition for my personal collection.


Sure, it's missing the paper support with the De Luxe decal. Sure, the ribbon covers are  nowhere to be found. Sure, it was a little scratched up, but after new felt, a bit of cleaning, and bending the type into alignment it's a fun little typer.

The insides were quite clean and only needed sweeping out with a brush.

As with all old Coronas, the felt pads were gross and smelled like death's cologne.

The Zephyr has an interesting body shell. As you can see, it is one piece where the frame slides out the back. This makes for a terrible time when you want to take the frame out for cleaning or oiling. The upper row of keytops needs to be depressed while while you slide the frame out. It's very tricky and hardly for the ham-fisted among us. The Skyriter refines this by making the case much simpler to remove at the expense of the sophisticated Zephyr's lines.
While not the best typer (hollow so…

Inequality

Can You Tell Me?

Computer Canard

My classroom technology set-up is pretty basic. I have an LCD projector, a computer (which works very nearly all the time), and speaker installed in the ceiling. Overall, it's fairly standard when it comes to technology in the classroom. Some classrooms have SmartBoards, but I am not one of the chosen. Anyway, I tend to shy away from slide-show presentations because I think they are boring. I do use them occasionally. Mostly, the projector is used to throw graphic organizers and other visuals on the screen. It serves the same function as an old overhead projector with acetate transparencies. I do have about 12 computers in my room, but they are used for my Yearbook and Newspaper classes and are not used by the lion's share of students who come through my door.

The technology has been...acceptable. Sometimes it works well. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I have to spend 5 minutes fidgeting with some cable or settings while my students chat. Sometimes I want to punch Microsof…

The Typewriters In Use