Monday, February 28, 2011

Please Pardon the Indulgence

ITAM has been wonderful. I've had the chance to write a few letters, get a few letters, and just enjoy typewriters. Others have posted their collections and, as my last ITAM post, I am going to share my personal collection of typewriters.

Of course, you know that the classroom has quite a few typewriters. The classroom machines are (incompletely) recorded on the "Our Typewriters" page, but I wanted to write about my personal collection. These are the typewriters that I have displayed at home. They are too special to me to risk bringing in the classroom. There are only four because I promised my wife that I wouldn't clutter the house up with typewriters.

Left: (1) Royal Arrow 1941, Right: (2) Blue Olympia SM-3 1959

Left: (3) Royal Quiet De Luxe 1946, Right: (4) Remington Remette 1942

1. Royal Arrow 1941
This is the newest to my personal collection. As I mentioned in earlier posts, this particular machine was incredibly dirty. The Arrow was the first typewriter which I dunked into a basin of warmish water. I had tried just penetrating oil, but there was so much grime and dust it wouldn't clean up. In a fit I decided to throw caution to the wind and dunk it into water, dried it in the oven, and oiled while warm. The water was able to get into all the nooks and crannies. It did wonders for the mechanism. However, there are two small problems. First, I cannot stop the Y from sticking. It's clearly not gunk, but some part of the linkage won't let the typebar return upon striking the platen. Second, the touch control is very hard to move. I took care to take pictures during the disassembly, but for some reason the touch control is stiff and difficult to move. The slider is set where I like it, so I have no problems with the current situation. I am pretty impressed with my own restoration.

2. Blue Olympia SM-3 1959
I love this typewriter because it's blue and it matches with our Heywood-Wakefield themed office. In all the Craigslist ads and dodgy eBay auctions I've seen few Olympias have been blue. No doubt it's not rare. It's just a little special. The picture does not do it justice. The blue is very nice, like a robin's egg.

3. Royal Quiet De Luxe 1946
This is the first typewriter I ever bought. It's special for that reason alone, but I've been spoiled by the condition of this machine. It was well loved and always stored in the case. There was almost no dust. It's life was spent in Arizona and there is no damage from moisture. The only thing that could be improved is the platen. Now that I have experience removing it, I might send it off to Ames for recovering.

4. Remington Remette 1942
This was a Goodwill find. I think it was $10 all told. Cosmetically, it's very nice. Mechanically, it's junk. The Remette uses a very interesting geared linkage. It made it possible to have the typebars resting at a very low angle. The low angle eliminates the need for a mechanism to raise the typebars to a 45%. This kept the cost of the machine down. It may look like a depression-era waste, but it really works. That is, of course, if you don't break the J gear linkage while trying to bend it back into place. Yes, I am that stupid. I thought that I could silver solder it back together, but I would need to disassemble the entire typebar segment block. I don't know how to do that or if I would want to do that. This Remette sits on our shelf and looks pretty. If I find another one, I'll just swap the body plates. 

I hope that you've enjoyed looking at my typewriters. I don't have nearly as many as others, but I do have the option of trying one out for a while and then taking it to school for the kids to use. Poor me.

Note: I staged the photos. Each of the typewriters has a special place in the house. I put them all together for ease of photography. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making History

Did you know that March 5th will mark the single largest gathering of typewriter enthusiasts in the storied 99-year history of Arizona?  It's true. Come and be a part of history. Bring a typewriter. Bring a story.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clean Arrow

Last night, while watching Dowton Abbey (a miniseries about a noble Edwardian family), I reassembled a 1942 Royal Arrow. Shined and polished, here are the results:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Invasion of The Big Roll of Paper

I was able to find a little inspiration and start working on a short story featuring a library, a 40s Royal Quiet De Luxe, and some near-future speculative fiction.

"Bow Arts" is an intentional mistake. I know it's Beaux Arts.
All part of a cunning plot twist.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Apart from the very low quality typecast (sentence fluency and conventions) I am happy I found the badge. I had looked into fabbing one through Ponko. I started tracing a photo of the ghostly glue residue. That's not necessary now. All is right.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heavy Is the Head that Wears the Crown

When you are gone from your classroom you come back to this kind of cruelty. It was a defenseless typewriter. The trouble-maker and badge location are unknown.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arrow Unsheathed

The baby was ill, so I stayed home with him today. During a long nap, I took the dog outside and decided to start cleaning the Arrow. The weather is warm and working outside was nice. I really don't want to remove the platen to clean the machine. It is dirty, but the platen and carriage is significantly cleaner than the body. The plan it to have it clean before the Phoenix Typewriter Round-Up which is happening on March 5th. If I can't get it done before that, I have plenty of other typewriters that I can bring.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Olivetti Valentine Day

Arrow of Royal*

This weekend the whole family was ill, but there was an typewriter arrival to take my mind off the mayhem. This machine, as I understand it, represents the middle of Royal's portable line. The Quiet De Luxe had the most features. The Companion was the most inexpensive. This typewriter was a popular combination of features and price. It is the Royal:

The Arrow was a QDL minus the tabulator and chrome trim around the ribbon cover. It was a popular machine and is fairly easy to find today. This one came from eBay and was very inexpensive. It cost more to ship it that I paid for it. Take a look at that "Arrow" logo. It just screams post-war speed.

This Arrow is in an absolutely filthy state, but it was only a few dollars. Under the dirt, grime, and niter there is a very nice machine. Regardless, It's going to take some time to clean up and I am going to love every minute. 

Look Ma, no tabulator!

It must have been kept in a very damp environment, but there seems to be very little water damage to anything. The only hint to the atmospheric humidity of the previous location is the felt on the typebar rest. It's a little moldy. The mold seems to be fairly old because nothing feels damp. The chrome is bright and the keytop paper inserts are clean and flat. 

After some elbow grease I'll have a shiny new Arrow. I don't know if this one will make it full-time into the classroom. It might go on rotation with some other rarer machines. 

* A terrible, artless allusion to Achebe's third novel.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Emily Post Post

As I gather addresses to start writing my own letters, my thoughts have turned to the stationery that I want to use. The problem is that I have no stationery, at least none that is fine enough for ITAM. You always see nice stationery folded in half in old movies. I like that look. For this particular social grace I needed some expert advice. Emily to the rescue:

Whew! Thank goodness Emily was there. I was considering some comically large paper, or something decidedly liberal, but she has talked me down off that ledge. The Age of Innocence plays over and over in my mind as I look at all these rules. (Good movie from a greater book.) Without the internet, I suppose that people had more time for social rules and propriety. I particularly love that these paper sizes are nothing like American Letter sized paper. 8 1/2 x 11 is too cold and impersonal a size for a letter. I don't want to be reminded of a bill or my City of Phoenix water statement; I want a letter from a friend.

From my research only Crane offers paper in something similar to these traditional sizes. The hand-bordered Regent Blue Ecruwhite letter sheets are a perfectly respectable 6 3/8 x 8 1/2. The Ecruwhite Letter Sheets are in a similar vein.

Crane also offers a Monarch sheet (7 1/4 x 10 1/2). That size paper is intended to be folded in thirds. I don't like paper folded in thirds. If there is another company that offers paper and envelopes in matching paper I would be interested, but this seems to be an expensive, all-cotton, niche product.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Odd Little Duck

An ommage to Dill: I'm little, but I'm BOLD!
With type this large you use up space fast.

Typebar? More like crowbar.

Red? Don't even think about it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Son of Crass Commercialism

If you give a man a typewriter, you can use the space to display another. Teach a man to type and he'll probably start some sort of blog.

The CTP needs to keep students in the ink-- ribbons, that is. If you purchase a 10 pack of carbons from the CTP, each dollar will go to fund the purchase of ribbons for my student's classroom typewriters. Consider helping. Postage included.Each pack is $7.00

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's a Typewriter Month Miracle!

The Maroon Olympia is fixed! The problem was in the carriage release which was not releasing properly when the escapement advanced. It was as simple as removing an errant piece of metal that had jammed up the machinery. I am much happier now it is working properly.

I promised a blow-by-blow account of the process, but I forgot my camera was there. I did catch a few informative images that might help others in their own restorations.

I know that I promised wanted to use a water bath and dry the machine in the oven. I was a little apprehensive about the process, so I used penetrating oil instead. It was still a very dunk-like job.

A towel is the most important thing to
have in all the universe.
It was a nice, warm, and sunny day. It made the machine warm to the touch and aided in making the penetrating oil run nicely. I wanted to have a way for the oil to drip off the frame freely. I had an old metal screen and placed it over a trashcan. In the bottom of the can I had a pan collecting the oil that dripped off. The larger can was tall enough that I didn't have to stoop and bend. I placed the typewriter on top of this screen and applied the oil all over the place. After a few minutes elapsed, the machine was noticeably cleaner. I used an old toothbrush to scrub some of the tougher parts. There was a ton of junk in the bowels of this typewriter. All sorts of gunk grime, goo, and eraser dust worked loose and ran out the bottom of the frame into the drip pan.
Shiny and new.
The only negative would be the distinctive smell of the penetrating oil. I have no doubt that the smell will dissipate over the coming days and months. I was really surprised with how well everything cleaned up. It looks like a new machine on the inside.

Sticky platen.
I thought that belt dressing would be a good way to make the platen a little more rubbery. Standing it on end I lightly sprayed the auto belt conditioner. After a reasonable time elapsed the platen was sticky and gooey. I must have added too much or this product just isn't suitable for platens. I tried rinsing the sticky layer off with some water, but it wouldn't come off. I then tried some rubbing alcohol. A thin layer of grime and rubber came off revealing slightly softer rubber below. I took some wet/dry sandpaper and gave it a good scrub. After the treatment it was noticeably better.

I cleaned the body panels with some warm water and All (free and clear) laundry detergent. Laundry detergent has a bluing agent that give everything a little glow. I like it. I used a soft toothbrush to get in the crackle paint. After the panels were dry I went over them with Pledge. Pledge was a suggestion from Richard Polt's web site and it worked really well. The body has a nice lustre. There is still the scratch from where the carriage return lever scratched the body, but it just ads to the uniqueness of the machine.

Take a look at an after and before. 

Nice and new (After)                                   Dirty, unloved. (Before)
 Overall, the project was a success and I learned a great deal about typewriter cleaning. Primarily, I need to take my time. I think rushing this job would really ruin it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Typewriter Month Blessing

I remember, as a child, gathering around the Typewriter tree with our cups of hot 3-in-1 oil. We would sing traditional Typewriter carols; "What Typewriter is This?", "We Three Repairmen", and "Margin Bells." Those were the days before the Typewriter season became so commercial. Even so, there is nothing like the smell of typewriters just out of the drying oven.

I wanted to share a Typewriter Month blessing that has stayed with me to this day:

May the ribbon you use be inky.
May your typebars be clash free.
May your strikethroughs be few.
May your correspondence be often
And remember, that you are saving the written word.

In all seriousness, I think that Feb. is a great month for ITAM. Let's thank Deek (Look for his blog Type Clack in the sidebar) for his suggestion. With all the Type-Ins, events, and blog postings, you can see how alive and vibrant this community is.