Monday, September 24, 2012

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 carrion artists pluck key tops and repurpose them as horrible rings and necklaces? Who will sweep your brittle remains into the ossuary?

I happen to have another Tower from Ton S. This Tower is Presidential, the one above is a Chieftain.

A Chieftan of what? It's fitting that not too far from my home is an amazing museum: The Deer Valley Rock Art Center. At this off-the-beaten-path museum you can see petroglyphs dating back 7,000 years.  Could they be neolithic blog posts? Is this an heir to the kingdom of the Hohokam?

A rock and an idea. It could be the ultimate in distraction-free writing. 

Back to this typewriter. As with most 1950s Smith-Coronae, the sound-deadening material smells very bad. It has a must that can only be eliminated by removal. I was able to remove the offending odor and get to work on the dirty mechanism. It's not a big job, but it might take a few days.


  1. Nice looking tower.
    I have only had one Skyriter with a musty smell and I cured it by removing the case and type bar cover and letting both air out in the garage for a few days and then felt towards the sun for a day out side, a light spray of Fabreeze and no more stink.
    My worst typewriter for stinky smell was my Facit TP1 that came from a smoker. It took weeks to clear the machine and months for the case and the case will still smell if left closed too long.

  2. An eloquent post!

    I am always happy to rip out that gross cardboard sound-deadening stuff. I replace it with self-adhesive felt.

  3. A noble undertaking - those little skyriters are rarely the most attractive machines in anyone's collection, but they are often the handiest. My own Chieftan has accompanied me on my adventures, and is a fun and reliable friend. (:

  4. I can pass up a lot now, but if fate chucks a metal Skyrtier my way, I get all weak-kneed. They're surprisingly good machines: I like 'em.