Monday, April 30, 2012

Big and Little Brother

As the semester winds down (we are three weeks from graduation) I have started to take inventory of machines both at home and school that I had all intentions of showing off here. I was thinking about this all the while looking at a very nice (if not dirty) Olympia SM-3 that I got a few weeks ago. There were two things that made it a pretty special little typewriter; the touch and the color.

I have one other SM-3 in sky blue. It's a great little machine, but for some reason the keys are a little stiff for my taste. They aren't pillowy like a Hermes 3000 (which I don't care for), but sluggish. It's very clean. That's not the problem. Even when the key tensioner is set to the lightest position it feels like I am typing through treacle. The green SM-3 as a totally different feel. It's lithe and very well balanced. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed typing on an SM-3. Maybe it's worn. Maybe there is something wrong, but it is really very good. Coincidentally, the only other green machine like this was brought to the latest Phoenix Type-In. It had much the same feel and it was green too. Hmm. I wonder if there is a connection between color and touch?

There isn't much exciting about the color other than it matches the Beast of Wilhemshaven. They look like  a big and little brother.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Not My Hobby, but I Can Understand

In a box of some old things I came across this old altimeter:

I know nothing about it, but I was able to leverage the power of the Internet to find someone who does. Brian Karli blogs about the restoration of a 1918 (I think that's right) Curtiss Jenny airplane. His blog is filled with really interesting restoration information if you need to restore your antique Curtiss Jenny.

After emailing him out-of-the-blue he was kind enough to respond and give me some information about the altimeter. Apparently it comes from the late 'teens. Through my own scientific studies I have concluded that it works. (My home is about 1000 feet higher than where I work.)

As a collector of old precision equipment (typewriters) I can appreciate something like an antique altimeter. It's quality and construction were designed at a time when units sold was not the bottom line. A product was the public face of a company. If you make a bad product, your reputation was assuredly negative. But more than that, it's a piece of history that comes from the early days of flight. Pretty exciting.

The more I thought about it, the more I can understand people who have hobbies that seek to preserve the past. Preservation gives me a sense of continuity with the human experience. I can use a typewriter and feel part of a cultural guild; people who used typewriters. Computers and its compeer are devoid of this feeling. They are rootless machines. Feeling effective and efficient is nice, but there's more to life than efficacy. Art, timelessness, grace are all attributes that make life round and fleshy.

I've rambled too much. But if you are interested, take a look at Brian's blog. (Click image below.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another Restoration

So, by the picture below you can see that the next machine in my restoration queue is a Smith-Corona. I am in the process of eliminating some of the stickiness in a few of the keys. I have already tried PB Blaster, but there has been little improvement. The next option is a mechanical cleaning with a stiff toothbrush. The schedule for today is light, so I will have some time to devote to getting this one done.

Smith-Corona typewriter

Smith-Corona typewriter

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Nice Story

I was going to post a few more pics of the classroom and the kids using typewriters, but I was alerted to this little story that ran in Phoenix Union High School District's newsletter. It's a very nice little story.

Click on the picture for a larger view.