Friday, May 31, 2013

November 1957

More Royal News. I shared the edition from November 1956 a couple of weeks ago and now here's  another one from a year later. Please enjoy the typewriter-y goodness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

USB Typewriter: The Final Chapter

After what seems like weeks of false starts and broken deadlines I can say:

Can't you feel the full promise of the digital revolution?

It has been difficult reconciling my excitement over working on this project and the vague shadow of apprehension that haunted me at various points along the line. The apprehension did not come from a fear of knowledge. I knew what I was doing and I had confidence in my ability as a maker. I was worried for something else. Perhaps I was worried about the typewriter's soul. Perhaps I was worried for my own. Regardless I decided that converting this typewriter wasn't a good thing to do.

The promises I made earlier did not come to pass. I said that this USB typewriter would be in the beautiful Underwood that I have been showing off for weeks. No Underwood. The plan that I made for my version of the USB typewriter was far too complex and diverged from Jack's well thought out plan too much. I didn't heed the advice of minds more experienced as my own. The mounting bar was a beautiful execution, but it altered the feel of the typewriter so fundamentally that it couldn't stay. And from there I didn't have the heart to subject that poor little portable to any more humiliation. That is what the Triumph is for.

It was languishing on the shelf. The H is still missing from the ribbon cover and I thought making some room for another typewriter would be a good idea. The sensor bar was a good fit and I was able to transfer all the parts and components to the Triumph. It ended up coming together in a few hours. 

I had to foreshorten a spring so that the sensor bar's added weight would allow the ribbon vibrator to return to its normal position. Apart from that, there was little to do to get it into a working state.

There are still things that need to be done on this USB Typewriter; the carriage return, the backspacer, and the tabulator all need to be arranged. I will, however, not do them. I have lost the taste for digital-enabled typewriters. The whole enterprise felt cheap and tawdry to me. I was grafting a computer onto a manual typewriter by hook or by crook. By doing this I subtly supported the idea that a device is not a device unless it is accompanied by a computer. That did not sit well with me. 

Now, my newly-found distaste for typewriter-cum-computer hybrids does not reflect on Jack Zylkin's design or execution. The kit was top-notch. I enjoyed putting it together. The concept is mature and works well. As I mentioned earlier, my apprehension was over the larger question of should this be done? And the larger question: To what ends?

For me, I like to keep my analog free of digital influences.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Welcome and A Remington

So, I imagine that some of you visiting today are new to my blog. Welcome. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you are here. The first part of this post is for the newcomers. It introduces the idea behind this blog and what I do with typewriters in school. The second part is about a new typewriter in my collection.

The CTP in a Nutshell

The original concept behind The Classroom Typewriter Project was to have students write without distraction. Computers have become distracting devices the divert our attention from quiet inspiration and real reflection. The typewriter is still the perfect machine for getting ideas neatly presented on paper. Moreover, the typewriter requires the author to be aware of GUMS (grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling) because a typewriter has a way of making your literary missteps very public.

To bring you up to speed on what has happened I have aggregated some of the older posts from this blog. These will be helpful in understanding the goals and what I wanted to do.

A New Acquisition

At $45 it was one of the more expensive Goodwill purchases I have ever made, but if you look at the following pictures you can see why I caved.

Now, the result shown here is less a product of the patented (not really) Magic Margin treatment and more a product of chance. I lucked out with a nice machine.

There are a few warts, but nothing that is too terrible.

An unusual key is always a nice addition. This one is called an obelus and is not always a mathematical sign. It can be a mark that signifies that some text is corrupted or spurious. The obelus can also be used for some fractional indications. 

The serial points this machine to the end of production year 1924. Earlier this afternoon I created a Typewriter Database entry for this typewriter and you can find it at: If you haven't been participating in the TWD, go now. You are missing a great collector's tool.

How does it write? The platen is standard; hard. So, the entire feel of the typewriter is slightly off, but from what I have experienced so far, I have to say it's nice. Good feel. having the type bars so high up makes for a fairly light touch with a resounding whack.

Typewriter Story On NBC Tonight...This Feels Familiar

I got an email from Michelle from NBC a few minutes ago. It seems like the typewriter story about some of the Arizona Typosphere is going to air tonight. If you have a TV, tune in. I'll post a link as soon as it is available on their website. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

It Doesn't Feel Like the End

...of the semester. It's the end of the semester. I didn't mean to alarm you. Magic Margin is going to be around for a while.

The typewriters have been silent for the past week. The last official journal was last Friday and since then the machines have been "cooling down."

Most of these typers are rugged little beasts. The constant use is starting to show in some of them and I have already started with the reconditioning of a few. This work will continue the work over the summer. By fall we should have a fully-working arsenal again.

The other great thing is that my annus horriblis is nearly over. Yearbook is done. Prom is done. The final edition of the newspaper is done. It's all done!

I have been going 80 MPH all semester and now it's almost 0 MPH. It feels good to breathe. Now, on to the next round of projects!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feeling a Little Blue with Scheidegger

As hard as I am on Adler machines from the 1970s, I seem to have an awful lot of them. They pop up everywhere, especially in the form of this stained beast.


OK, I know that it's really a Triumph Gabrielle/Adler in Scheidegger's clothes. Certainly, Mr. Scheidegger had interesting taste. The blue is certainly blue. The yellowed and aged keys really set off the stains. What about the Brand Schiedegger?

 Robert Messenger asked the question "Who is Willy Scheidegger?" and was unable to get anything beyond some basic information. All I know is that Willy Scheidegger ran a number of typing schools that had the dubious honor of requiring pupils to purchase their private-label machines to complete the course.

Maybe I'll give Willy the benefit of the doubt. The machines that were comissioned were quality typewriters. A Triumph Gabrielle (of any vintage) or Princess 300 aren't exactly a Rover 5000, but requiring students to buy your machines...well I think it's dodgy.

We can make you a star...typer!

Almost as dodgy, say, as the cleanliness of this typewriter. Those stains look pretty shocking. You know what's more shocking? I don't think it's staining from smoke or sun. I think it's bromine.


Yup, that cancer-causing flame-retardant bromine. I draw your attention to an open-source project called Retr0brite. I heard about Retr0brite a year or so ago and I was waiting for a chance to give it a go.

Retr0brite uses some commonly available chemistry to remove the staining from older ABS plastics. Looking over the entire body I can't find a mark indicating what type of plastic was used for the body, but it has the feel of ABS. You know, that slightly hollow, light feel. My suspicions were raised because of the general irregular pattern of staining. Some parts are ugly yellow and others are nicely blue and my gut says that it's flame retardant making things look crummy.

Contract? Serial?

So, my plan is to mix up a little Retr0brite and see if the sad stains can be lifted away.

Of course, it's not like I don't have a few other projects on the bench. Why not add one more?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wild Hearts Can Be Tamed

Just take a thoroughbred name, like Mustang, have Litton's contract-man Nakajima slap together something that is almost a typewriter and you have this:

Green. Avocado green. Why would a Mustang be green? If you ever see a green wild horse, run away quickly because the zombie apocalypse is upon us.

While I have my reservations about these mass-produced-same-as-all-the-rest-why-even-call-it-a-Mustang typewriters, my students have a different opinion. It has been so popular that I have had to recondition it a little bit. Nothing major, mind you, but the rubber grommets that hold the ribbon cover on have disintegrated. Every tap of the keys is followed by the clank of the ribbon cover.

Instead of a hinged ribbon cover, this machine uses a compression fit that requires grommets. I turned to a grommet selection sold by Harbor Freight.

$5.99 for a varied selection. I used the 5/16" ones for this machine. The Brother Valiant in my private collection also needed the grommets replaced. The size; 5/16". This same size also fit the Webster in the CTP. 5/16" must be a popular size grommet in Japan. The grommet fits snugly and drastically improves the machine's sound.

As for this typewriter...the touch is insipid, but can be snappy on the return. Bonus points to Litton for making the shell out of metal although I think that has more to do with the time period and less with Litton's desire to create a quality product.

Royal typewriters form this period always make me sad. There was no desire to create a quality product that would last a lifetime. Gross margins and volume were the designers of this typewriter. Litton wanted to leverage brands and make money. That always sits poorly with me. Craftsmen are craftsmen because they create art. This typewriter was made with monotony. It's a shame because I have a very high regard for Brother's machines and they're mass-produced six ways from Sunday. Oh well, I'll have to reconcile my hypocrisy.

I think this pony looks more like a turtle.

Note to page view essayists: I will be sending out your posters this weekend!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Typewriter Story on NBC Tonight...Probably

Michelle Melnick form NBC called me today with some good news. If NBC Nightly News isn't shortened because of a hockey game, then her story about typewriters should air tonight. I know she filmed my class, but she was also at MTE (Mesa Typewriter Exchange) and spent some time with Bill. If you happen to be near a TV check it out.

Tough break. When it's typewriters vs. bomb-sniffing dogs the bomb-sniffing dogs will always get the airtime. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

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.