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Showing posts with the label Smith-Corona

Typewriter Mentor

Last Thursday, my student teacher graduated and I gave him this typewriter as a gift:


Oooh boy, that's a shiny typewriter.

With Marie Kondo whispering in my ear, I stuffed my heart with steel wool and tin foil and made some decisions about my many collections. A few weeks ago I culled the typewriters, keeping the ones that brought me the most joy. Before that, I decided how many slide rules you need to have a collection, but not an obsession. Days before that, I asked myself if I need three of the same Swiss army knives?
The process continues, but I am sure that Joe (my student teacher) will enjoy this typewriter as he begins his journey in teaching.

Take Dictation, Please

For much of the 20th century dictation was a fairly low-tech affair. Someone would write down what someone said and then type it up on a really nice Royal HH. Well, if we were living in some sort of weird future we might have a machine like this: There have been many typewriter/solenoid mashups that do their best to bring the typewriter and computer together. To my thinking there hasn't been one that makes me smile as much as this one posted to Zip Zaps YouTube channel. The build includes a Pololu Maestro servo controller, some servos, an Arduino, and Windows' voice recognition software. I think it's very nicely done and seeing it in action definitely makes you smile.

Jittery Apostrophe

My Smith-Corona Electric has a problem:


My, what a jittery apostrophe. I think it has something to do with the power-roller. What do you think? Have you had this problem?

The Dilemma: Should it Stay or Should it Go?

I had a college professor who like to point out that the real meaning of dilemma was a choice between two equally undesirable outcomes. Dilemma connotatively means any problem, but in this situation it is a true dilemma.

The problem centers around this typewriter.



A once proud and mighty grande dame of the office, this Super Speed is now a decaying wreck. I can only assume that it was stored in dampest, dankest, darkest basement ever dug by human hands. The corrosion is impressive.

Needless to say, to restore this typewriter to its original state would take countless hours and probably more than a few q-tips. This typewriter was a gift. It was free from a very kind person and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I would never get around to fixing it.

Other projects came and went.

Time passed.

And now what do I do with this albatross?


I like the Super Speed. It's attractive typewriter. The horizontal banding breaks up the strong vertical look of this machine. It's very …

The Last Word on Justification

So, I thought that this post would have been over some time ago, but as I dug further and further into the topic, I could see that there was more than I could have ever imagined. We have all drooled over the Varityper at one point or another. That's a shame because I know– from my vast experience and rugged good looks– that drool really falls short as an ink substitute. Drool'n aside, the idea of cold typesetting typewriters really heats up by typeshuttle. Mostly because of justification which I have mentioned here.  The Varityper later became the Coxshead DSJ an example of which Richard recently acquired in an antique shop. A more drool-worthy machine never existed. I, however, will confine myself to a drier, lesser history of the justified typewritten page.

Let's start, again, with the snippet from Popular Science that started my interest in this topic. I posted it some months back. It details a new device that can be added to a typewriter to make it a justification-cap…

A Taste of the Typosphere's Future

As I go along I have been sipping from the Future of the Typosphere essays as one would drink a fine cordial. Every new thing I read makes me feel that the Typosphere is one of the most learned and thoughtful groups on the internet.

Corona Sterling #2A 50886

The work on this Corona Sterling Speedline began a while ago; nearly a year as as the original post (http://www.magicmargin.net/2012/04/another-restoration.html) would have it.
This burgundy beauty has been a challenge. The segments were filled with crud and I was able to get the stuff out with carburetor cleaner. I thought everything was fine, but every time I left it overnight the segments would freeze up again. PB blaster didn't help and I got the sinking suspicion that someone previously tried to unfreeze the segments with oil. The oil worked its way deep into the segment block and just would ooze out after I thought I cleaned it out. I eventually got tired of trying and decided to put the machine away and try again at another date.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Typewriters came and went and I didn't get to this one. It wasn't until I started the restoration work–and subsequently was delayed–on the Underwood (see http://www.magicmargin.net/2013/01/…

A Silent Tower

I started working on cleaning up a typewriter that has sat neglected for a while. It's this Sears Tower.

Many of you know it as a Skyriter and it is one in every aspect except name. This particular machine is missing the decorative paper arm cover. It is a common piece to find missing. 
I was looking out the sliding glass door at the butte behind our home. (There's another one in front of our house called Deem Hill.) The sky was a pale blue. A haze covered the finer delineations of the rock face. Falcons and eagles circled overhead slowly catching thermals rising and then falling. The hilly country of the Sonoran desert has a stark beauty. It takes time to learn to appreciate it, but the beauty is there to find.

I started to think about the name Tower. It's an odd name to give a typewriter. It makes me think of the towers of Silence that played a significant role in the funerary rights of the Zoroastrians. 
Was this little Tower left to decay out of sight? Will the carrio…

Central Phoenix Typewriter Hunting

Being a teacher you are on your feet all day. With all that standing I tend to wear through a pair of shoes in the course of one school year. Almost every summer I have to take my shoes down to my regular cobbler and have them resoled. Fun shoe fact: the Prince of Wales has had the same pair of black oxfords made by John Lobb of St. James for the past 40 years. He keeps having them patched and shined and they'll last a lifetime. But, enough about shoes.
While I was in the area I thought it would be nice to go to a few antique stores and see what I could find in the way of typewriters. I didn't find much, and what I did find was pretty boring, but it was fun hunting none-the-less.






The only bright spot was finding this Gestetner duplicator. I have no idea what it would take to get it working, but it was in nice shape and only $65. There seems to be a large plasticized canvas sheet that has disintegrated with time. Perhaps it keeps the stencil stretched taught over the drums. I …

Another Restoration

So, by the picture below you can see that the next machine in my restoration queue is a Smith-Corona. I am in the process of eliminating some of the stickiness in a few of the keys. I have already tried PB Blaster, but there has been little improvement. The next option is a mechanical cleaning with a stiff toothbrush. The schedule for today is light, so I will have some time to devote to getting this one done.