Tuesday, November 20, 2012

19 Typewriters

Through my many (three) years of scientific (barely) study of youths and typewriters I have arrived at an optimum number of typewriters for use in an opt-in classroom. 19. Also, the shelves I have hold 19 nicely with room for journal forms. The number is arrived at by a combination of prudence and actual use. So, here are the 19.

With bad photography and all, here are the 19:

Royal QDL, 1950s (Richard Polt donor); Royal QDL, 1950s (Erick Lawson donor)

Royal QDL, 1950s (Erick Lawson donor); Royal QDL, 1950s (Erick Lawson donor)

Royal QDL, 1950s (Erick Lawson donor); Royal Custom III, 1970s (Bill M. donor)

Royal Safari, 1950s (CTP donor); Royal Mercury, 1970s (Erick Lawson donor)

Remington Performer, 1970s (Jen Aschmann donor)

Royal QDL, 1940s (CTP donor); Remington Quiet-Riter, 1950s (Erick Lawson donor)

Olympia B12, 1970s (Richard Polt donor); Olympia B12, 1970s (Bill M. donor)

Olympia SM9, 1960s (Ted Munk donor); Olympia SM3, 1959 (CTP donor)

Tower Presidental, 1950s (Ton Sisson donor); Hermes 3000, 1950s (Kathy Maguire donor)

Brother Eschelon 90, 1970s (Peter Baker donor); Webster XL-500, 1970s(Erick Lawson donor)

What about all the other typewriters? Well, I keep them in-reserve should anything happen to the ones I have out in rotation. With as much use as these typewriters get, I have been able to come to some conclusions about certain brands and their ruggedness. 

As you can see, there are few Smith-Corona typewriters. They seem to just wilt under pressure. The typebar linkages are openable so those typewriters tend to fail in that one area. All the Smith-Corona Galaxie-like machines currently have a problem with their linkages as a result of this tendency and await repair.

Brother typewriters are remarkably durable and able to withstand heavy use. They are easy to repair and have both precision manufacturing and the ability to be "formed" when needed.

1950s Royals are plentiful and cheap. When they are in good shape, they type well. When they are junkers, boy are they pitiful typers. All of the escapements on the CTP Royals are good. There tends to be little skipping when the typist has a good rhythm, but any time the typeist is out-of-sych with the machine, chaos ensues.

Things are going well with the CTP. We are treading the typing waters here. No revelations or grand schemes are in the works. There have been rumblings about a 4th Phoenix Type-In. We'll see if something cool happens with that.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Labor of a Mind

I asked a few of the typing regulars to respond to a question about typewriters. "Do you think that using old technology (like a typewriter) could help young people be more aware of the world?"

As soon as I asked the question, I thought of a thousand ways to better phrase what I was asking, but Vanessa (all of 17 years old) decided to go with her first instinct. 

The thing that makes me furious is that I didn't come up with "...hearing the labor of your mind and fingers ring out in the air..."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Very Nearly Perfekt

Sunday I had the opportunity to visit a few antique stores while Toddler Magic Margin was taking a nap. I usually don't find much and what I do find is rather expensive or junky. Such was the case Sunday when I saw the regular assembly of Underwoods, Smith-Coronae, and Royals. Everything was really beat-up and invariable in the $70 price-range. 

This antique store is more of a mall (why they would purposely call an antique store a mall is beyond me) where individuals can rent stalls. Most of what you find in just junk; junk with a patina. In Ohio or Pennsylvaia it would only be worthy of dusty junk shops, but here they are antiques worthy of the Hermitage. 

I was browsing through getting ready to leave when I thought to go into one of these little stalls. There wasn't much, but my eye did catch a little fawn colored typewriter poking out from a shelf. 

It was this Triumph Perfekt 

and it was 

The price was high, but in the years I have been hunting down machines I have yet to see an early 60s Triumph for sale. I consoled myself with the knowledge that shipping plus sale price on Shopgoodwill, eBay, or Etsy would be much more than the asking price of…$58. 

I know, but given that typewriters of this style are as rare in Valley shops as a rainy day in Phoenix, it was prudent to just bite the bullet. 

That bullet nearly prevented me from buying this typewriter all because of a small, non-mechanical, cosmetic blemish. 

No H. I found no trace of it in the case. I also checked inside the typewriter. Nothing. It was nowhere to be seen. I will, however, not be daunted by something so trivial. I went to ACE and bought myself a piece of aluminum sheet and I will attempt to craft my own H. I'll keep you posted on this project. Any comments with ideas on fabrication of the missing 'H' would be very much appreciated. 

Back to the typer. The Perfekt-Norm line was recycled many times into what would become my nemesis; the Adler J5.

My dislike of my J5 is well documented and based solely on a dodgy ribbon advance and auto-reverse mechanism. 

This Perfekt is the exact opposite of my old J5. The all-aluminum body of the Perfekt gives this little machine a very tight feel. When I use it I am reminded of a spring wound very tightly. This manifests itself in some very responsive action. The touch is quick and the key tops are very well balanced. It's fun to type on because of the taught feel. 

The experience of using this typewriter was worth the price and it has shifted my opinion of its progeny.

If you are interested in reading about the Triumph line of typewriters, Robert at ozTypewriter has the best information. Check it out for more.

Next post: I have some interesting facts to share about the CTP and one of our young novelists.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sneak Peak and an Odd Translation

I have much more about this typewriter, but in the meantime please enjoy the fractured translation. To get the full effect, click on the cover and be taken to a PDF.

Click on the image to be taken away to a PDF. 4 Mbytes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Typogram 2

October 5th? I cannot believe that more than a month has past since this Typogram 2 was written. I am a terribly negligent Tyopgrammer. To my eternal shame Dwayne sent me several letters and I have yet to respond. Anyway, please enjoy...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Handy Little Thing

The carriage for my HH was feeling a little sluggish so I called Bill at MTE to see if he could help me do some on-the-fly diagnosis. The problem is that the carriage grabs and feels heavy in the same place. Letters pile up and some spacing between letters can be dodgy.

I was able to walk through a few diagnistic things when Bill said, "You can take the tension by removing the drawband."

That was a good idea, but I only had two hands to do this and there is a good chance I would have lost control of the the drawband causing damage to my fingers and havoc to my typewriter.

Royal's engineers thought of that and provided a handy screw for temorarily affixing the drawband to the body.

I could see that this feature might also be helpful if you were trying to fit a new drawband.

My KMG, FP, and HH all have this little knobly screw. I would have to check the other Royal desktops when I get home, but this was new to me and I could see it being a handy little thing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Typewriters for Good: David Abraham and the Perkins

UPDATE: I seem to have forgotten a section I typed about the Foundation Writer. You will find more about this Brailler below.

Robert's fantastic post about the Hall typewriter really inspired this post. The question I had was simple; are there any tactile typewriters on this campus?
My first phone call was to Aileen, the Vision Specialist department chair. She said there are two students who use Braillers in-class and several other machines stationed around campus.

This morning I took a few minutes to stop by and see these interesting type-writers. Eve, one of the teachers who instructs students on their Braining, gave me a brief tutorial on how the machine works and some of the features it has.

In the short time I was working with these machines I realized how similar and how different they are to regular sighted typewriters. Simultaneously they are familiar and foreign.

Before I talk more about their operation I should talk about the brand of Brailler Alhambra students use. It's called the Perkins Brailler and it is a de-facto standard for non-sighted writing. The Perkins Brailler has an interesting history of its own.

Abraham was hired and his experience with mechanics (gained during the war) became well known to the administrators of the school. It was shortly after this that In conjunction with a math teacher at the school, Abraham was asked to address the problems Howe Press (Perkins' publishing house) was having with the Foundation Writer.

The Foundation Writer. This Brailler had a moveable carriage
which often caused alignment issues. Also, there were far too
many sticky-outy parts.

The embosser head. Pins from beneath the armiture press into
the paper to make a Braille impression

Eve demonstrating the unique process of rolling the paper into the machine.

Only sixty machines were delivered in the first year of production. The next year it was 800. The year after that; a thousand.
A young Perkins learner.

The Perkins Brailler was a success. It quickly became the standard for Braillers in American schools. Abraham himself gave the blind their own pen and pencil.
Children in Keyna learning on Perkins machines.

Today the Perkins Brailler is still made. There are new versions having USB connectivity and LCD screens, but the technology has remained in constant production.

The American Printing House for the Blind's version. Same as Howe's, but with a
lighter touch, high-contrast color, and longer keytops.

To finish out this Post, I wanted to share one of the good things about working with kids. Eva works with a very special student who is learning both Braille and English at the same time.

Her name is Meherta and she comes from Eretria, Africa. From everything I have heard she is excelling at both English and Braille. Her story is such a positive one that it makes me believe that so many good thingscan come from typewriters.