Saturday, July 30, 2011

More Typers

A couple more have been cleaned and made ready for school on August 8th.

This Remington Quiet-Riter (ran out of Ws) had a problem with shifted letters. The capitals were a little higher than the base of the lower case letters. It gave the impression that this typewriter was suffering a nervous breakdown. All I had to do was adjust this little screw and everything was solved!

The Area of Concern .
Detail of The Screw.

I also had time to clean up this Underwood Leader. The leader is definitely an economy typer. I'll have more to say on this one soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Gray Lady

Sitting pretty.

During the cleaning process.

Left: clean. Right: dirty.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I  have been slowly going through all the newly donated machines cleaning, fixing, and getting them ready for classroom use. Most of them are portables, but there are three desktops. One, of which, is this Royal.

Obviously it sat for more than a few years. The segments were very dirty and filled with dust. I decided to use some PB blaster and a can of compressed air to try to get all the gunk out. The work is slow, but things are moving along and this machine is proving to be in pretty good shape.

While the PB Blaster was working its way into the nooks and crannies, I set to task working on the type slugs. Caked with ink they were nearly impossible to see, but as I cleaned with a toothbrush I was surprised to see an unusual typeface. Italics! You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so stunned. I snapped a picture and flipped it around so you could see.

None of the typewriters in my collection are italics, so this one is special. Additionally, it's a desktop model. I have no idea where italics would be used in regular office work. Maybe in a church? Devotionals and programs might look good in italics. Regardless of its origins, I am excited to get this typewriter in working order and get it into the classroom. It'll be nice to see a few haiku in italics.

Divergent Thinking

A question has been swimming around my head since my wife and I saw part two of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. What type of typewriter would a wizard use? While slightly out of the bounds of this blog, I am still on summer vacation and able to entertain flights of fancy before I have to return to the nitty-gritty of educating youths.

If you are not a fan of Harry Potter, it's best to just click on the link to Martin Howard's collection web site (look to the sidebar). Otherwise, you might find out more about HP than you care to know...

From all that I have read and seen HP wizards tend to use quills. I heartily support the use of quills, but would there ever be a situation where a HP wizard would need to use a typewriter. Official MoM documents probably are written with a typewriting machine. O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.S. were probably drafted with a typewriter before being sent to some sort of magical Linotype or offset printer. I believe there would be some situation where a typewriter would be used.

What type of typer would a wizard use? It would be easy enough to use a magical spell to make the machine work without direct manipulation from the user. In a situation where form need not follow any reasonable guidelines of usability, more eccentric and visually interesting typewriters would be the norm. The only visually interesting typewriter in my collection is a Blick 7. It has a magical pull on me, but there are some machines out there that would look perfect next to Dumbledore's Pensive.

The first would be the Norths. The Norths (as in Baron North) was British-made meaning it would be easy to have brought into the MoM without much problem. This typewriter looks like it would fit into a governmental office quite well.

Perfect for Ministry of Magic Offices, Hogwarts, Gringotts, etc.

The Columbia Bar-Lock would be a popular choice with those wizards who have a little more style. The Malfoys would need a Bar-Lock. The copper shield is very decorative and a little ominous. This typer is a visible writer, but you need to sit up very strait to see what you typed.

Great machine for Dark Wizards. Voldemort has two.

But the regular wizard who just needs to do a little typing might find this old Ford perfect. The touch is poor, but since a charm is going to be doing all the work it wouldn't matter. The grille on the front is friendly and fits into any home decor.

Great for authors, homeowners, enthusiastic amateurs. Molly Weasley uses one. Bathilda Bagshot used a Ford to write her book A History of Magic
All of these images are from the Martin Howard collection. Take a look at his very comprehensive collection. Impressive. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fun Hermes

Was playing around with that twin Hermes image and I made this:

Just for a lark, you know.

If you click on the CTP Merch link on the right sidebar you'll find this pic on some lovely notecards. I'm working on some ideas for a t-shirt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Would You Call 16 Typewriters?

My wife would call it crazy. I would call it the largest donation the CTP has ever received. A few days ago I got into contact with a local real-estate agent, K., who had a large collection of typewriters she wanted to see go to a good cause. When it comes to typewriters the CTP is really the only good cause in Phoenix where a typer would get some daily use.

It took a 1/2 hour to get to N. Scottsdale (near Taliesin West), but the trip was worth it. There were machines from the teens (low-number Corona 3) all the way to the 1960s (twin Hermes 3000s). The variety is very nice and I know that some of these will be very interesting for students to use.

Most of them are in good condition. There are a few machines that need some work. I'll go through each one in subsequent posts, but I'll share some of the pictures that I took when I got them all home.

Twin Hermes 3000. Both have manuals and brushes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Typewriter Cover Pattern

I've been promising for some time to post the pattern for the typewriter cover. After consulting with Mrs. Magic Margin she helped me make a set of instructions. Hopefully they make sense. If you have any questions please let me know and I'll forward the questions over to her.

If you happen to make one or have one made we would love to see the results. You can email your pictures to In case you haven't seen the examples we made I've included pictures below. The black and white one does not have any interfacing.

I'd Like To Thank The Donors

It has been a while since I've updated the donor page, but please take a look at all the kind people who have donated typewriters to my classroom. More than a few of them paid to have a typewriter shipped from somewhere else. The Typosphere is a very kind place.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Time is Here!

After looking at all the entries and using a complex random mathematical formula developed by the boffins deep inside the Magic Margin Labs, I am happy to announce that...

...has won himself a typewriter cover!

Thank you all for entering and congratulations deek!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ceci n'est pas une machine à écrire*

Taking a short break from typewriters, I wanted to share one of my favorite electronic-age gadgets.

In our dining room we have a TV, but it's not a standard flat screen. This television is a GE model 10T4 from the late 40s. I found it at a Hamfest in Glendale, AZ back in the late 90s. In the first few hours of the 'fest I had seen this beauty, but the price was too high. I came back close to the end and offered what I thought was reasonable ($20 or so) and the seller was happy to not not take it back home. 

Borrowing a friend's tube-tester I was able to hunt down the bad tubes and replace any capacitors that has started to leak. It's wasn't a hard repair, but I was scared when I had to re-solder a yolk post back onto one of the power supply tubes. That monster was a little scary. For 13 years the tubes have been working well. Powering it up for 30 minutes once a month has helped keep everything limber and well-working. 

The saddest day for this TV was the digital transition. I had it on the very moment the last analog signal was broadcast. It was a sad day for me too, but I have been able to bring it back to life with a DTV converter box and a rat's nest of cables.

Monday I took out the old iPod and snagged a video of it running while Peep's Wide World was on PBS. The video is embedded below.

*Blame Google if the translation is not correct.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Typewriter Monsoon

July and August in Phoenix is hot, humid, and stormy. No doubt, you have heard about the haboob that swept through Phoenix. I can tell you that they are not unusual. Dust storms are common in arid deserts like Phoenix. This is our unpleasant season. Most of the nation has their unpleasant season in the winter, we just happen to have it in the summer. It's kind of like a hot Christmas in Australia. We call this season "monsoon" even though it lacks the wetness and general impressiveness of the Asian monsoons. Really, it's just the rainy season. (Though not very rainy if you ask me.)

Much like the thunder and lightening common this time of year, there seems to have been a whirlwind of typewriters coming into my possession; an Underwood desktop that has an interesting story and a Smith-Corona Skyriter. Both of these are headed to the classroom, but first to the Underwood.

The Selectric that I christened The Deathstar has been traded for a manual that fits better with the mission of the CTP. The Underwood was the result of that trade. My son and I went to the Mesa Typewriter Exchange because I had convinced Bill that we needed to trade. Making a day of it we packed the Cheerios in the diaper bag and headed down with the Selectric in tow. Bill was willing to make the trade which was wonderful, but I had to choose a suitable replacement from the variety of machines in the store. My eye was drawn to a Hermes Ambassador, but I remember Bill saying that he wanted to make it a project of his own. Bill suggested a nice FP and I would have said yes, but this average Underwood with a wide carriage snagged my attention.

What kind of cat are you?

It's not a special machine by any stretch of the imagination. Millions of these were in use in offices across the US. This particular one was a post-war (1946) typer in good shape. The soberness of this typewriter is evident with the not-too-much-we-don't-want-to-look-like-dilettants crinkle paint. I love sober typewriters and this monster is very serious.

Heavy metal.

Bill pulled out the machine and set it up. There was a little dust from sitting so long. It was described to me as a "tomorrow" project; something that would be cleaned up and set in order tomorrow. After getting the age loosened off, Bill noticed that there was a problem with the E and D type slugs. They were loose and on the verge of being thrown from the machine. Bill wanted to fix it. I was floored. Re-soldering a type slug is not a simple fix. Imagine the steady hand needed to take on such an operation, but with his friendly manner Bill wanted to fix it before sending it home with me.

Someone loved the E and 6 key.

Twenty minutes later the type slugs were soldered, the ribbon was installed, and the machine was in the car. The D and E slugs securely attached. However, in the process they lost a tiny bit of their alignment. That's fine with me. I think that their new alignment makes for a great deal of character. This surgery, however, did not alter the feel of this typewriter. It has a great speedy action that demands serious typing.

This machine is headed to the classroom with the Skyriter (more about that one tomorrow). Right now that makes the total number of around 22. The actual number escapes me. I'm on summer vacation so the mind isn't as quick.

To finish up this post I want to share another haiku. This one is from Angel:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

15,000 Times: Thank You

Yesterday was a milestone moment for Magic Margin: 15,000 pageviews. To honor the special occasion Mrs. Magic Margin has been hard at work in the Magic Margin Labs to craft a new version of the typewriter cover debuted a few weeks ago. This is a special cover that will go to a commenter (chosen randomly) who gives a compelling argument as to why anyone would need 15,000 typewriters. Really, just comment and you are added to the drawing. This time next week I will announce the winner. You can comment up until next Thursday. Just so you know the cover fits most standard portable models SM-3-ish in size.

Thank you again for all the support!


Special commemorative badge.

Soft fuzzy lining to protect your typer.

Monday, July 4, 2011


We all know that Thomas Jefferson was the most poetic of the founding fathers. On this 4th of July I have one question: What typewriter would Thomas Jefferson use?

The Deathstar