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: