Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wild Hearts Can Be Tamed

Just take a thoroughbred name, like Mustang, have Litton's contract-man Nakajima slap together something that is almost a typewriter and you have this:


Green. Avocado green. Why would a Mustang be green? If you ever see a green wild horse, run away quickly because the zombie apocalypse is upon us.

While I have my reservations about these mass-produced-same-as-all-the-rest-why-even-call-it-a-Mustang typewriters, my students have a different opinion. It has been so popular that I have had to recondition it a little bit. Nothing major, mind you, but the rubber grommets that hold the ribbon cover on have disintegrated. Every tap of the keys is followed by the clank of the ribbon cover.



Instead of a hinged ribbon cover, this machine uses a compression fit that requires grommets. I turned to a grommet selection sold by Harbor Freight.


$5.99 for a varied selection. I used the 5/16" ones for this machine. The Brother Valiant in my private collection also needed the grommets replaced. The size; 5/16". This same size also fit the Webster in the CTP. 5/16" must be a popular size grommet in Japan. The grommet fits snugly and drastically improves the machine's sound.


As for this typewriter...the touch is insipid, but can be snappy on the return. Bonus points to Litton for making the shell out of metal although I think that has more to do with the time period and less with Litton's desire to create a quality product.

Royal typewriters form this period always make me sad. There was no desire to create a quality product that would last a lifetime. Gross margins and volume were the designers of this typewriter. Litton wanted to leverage brands and make money. That always sits poorly with me. Craftsmen are craftsmen because they create art. This typewriter was made with monotony. It's a shame because I have a very high regard for Brother's machines and they're mass-produced six ways from Sunday. Oh well, I'll have to reconcile my hypocrisy.

I think this pony looks more like a turtle.

Note to page view essayists: I will be sending out your posters this weekend!


10 comments:

  1. I knew two typewriter dealers -- one who started in the early 1930's and one who started in the 1950's -- who were Royal dealers but switched away from it when machines like the Silver-Seiko you show here became the norm. Both switched to Olympia.

    Of course, both told me squarely and straight up that the Royal No. 10 Standard was the finest mechanical typewriter ever manufactured. The gradual decline from that level of excellence, both said, was somewhat depressing but the introduction and push of really bad little typewriters made overseas sealed the decision to leave. For both, dealing with Olympias of all make and model didn't change the opinion on the No. 10 Royal one bit.. but it did allow them to offer brand new products they could be more proud of, at least in manual portables, anyway.

    It's of interest that I got exactly the same opinions from both of them, who did not know each other at all. The elder, George Baker, has since passed away and the younger, Jimmy Shernosky, is long retired.

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    1. I think if I was in the same position, I would come to the same conclusion. I have several employee newsletters from Royal during the McBee era and it seems like the groundwork for the demise of Royal was laid then. I have some good material for a future post!

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  2. I can imagine the kids liking this typewriter. It does has a bit of a "nice face" and a different-than-everything-else color. How many other-colored machines do you have in use for them?

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  3. I guess this machine isn't as threatening as some of the other designs. It is funny how we as humans equate blandness with safety. But, oh well.
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Typer?

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  4. It's interesting that your students really like this one. I've found several over the years and passed them on to kids, including one that I painted yellow for my niece. They're not bad for microtypers, just not very exciting either.

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    1. Michael, one of my students, swears by this machine. I asked him why he liked it so much. His answer; it's flat. He likes that it's pretty flat. It's as good as any other reason.

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  5. Typewriters for your bike-and-picnic needs. I've got a couple of them around, and they're pretty good if you need a typer on the go. Better than the SCM Corsair, I think.

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    1. A bag of rubber stamps and an ink pad would be better than an SCM Corsair. They are light and portable, I'll give them that.

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  6. This looks to be very similar to my Royal Mercury, my favorite travel typewriter. It, too, has the problem with the top plate grommets. I'll have to try those rubber o-rings as a fix.

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    1. Email me your address and I'll send a few your way. ryan@magicmargin.net

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