Old Lettera, New Lettera

I returned to Virginia with an hankering for a broken typewriter to clean and fix. Cleaning my sisters’ Quiet-Riter and Royal Administrator had whetted my appetite.  I have a type: the junkier and more dysfunctional the typewriter, the better.  They provide me with hours of fun (and gentle, comic frustration). Hey, there’s a meme for my taste in typewriters – albeit one that played out in 2017:

I started cruising Craigslist and local eBay for a likely candidate and spotted this:

Its jaunty burping ribbon cover sold me.

I already have a 1950 or 1954 Lettera 22 that I picked up from Moe’s before she closed her San Mateo shop. Its serial number is S623827, so it’s either 1950 or 1954. Made in Italy.

Just look at that classy embossed Olivetti logo!

And what about that great typeface (which I think is Olivetti Elite Victoria)?

This typeface reminds me of Oliver Printype

This Lettera 22 is in very clean typing condition with the original case and manual; however, it has an intermittent lowercase alignment after shifting issue that I will address in a future post:

Anyhoo, I figured that I could use this working Lettera 22 to aid in the recovery of the Craigslist Lettera.

In preparation of picking up the broken Lettera, I watched Joe Van Cleave’s video comparing two Lettera 22s

I also carefully read through Ted Munk’s post Off the workbench: 1959 Olivetti Lettera 22 and all its comments to familiarize myself with what might be wrong with the Lettera that I was picking up.

As I drove over to pick up the typewriter from the Craigslist seller, I heard a favorite piece of chocolate cake rock on the radio and took that as a good omen:

It was a good omen.  I found the Craigslist seller delightful.  An art teacher, J. has recently started collecting typewriters and she showed me around her collection which included an Underwood 5, a Royal FP, an Olympia SM3, and several others.  She journals in the morning on a Smith-Corona electric.

We wandered out to her car where the Lettera was located and were accosted by deer.

J. opened her car’s trunk and here’s what I found:

This Underwood Olivetti Lettera looks like it’s been camping for the past decade. The back is covered in what looks like bird poop.  It is said that it is good luck to be pooped on by a bird, but this just seems like willful disrespect by a bunch of a pigeons.

There was no case and the inside was rusty and there were clumps of oxidated something (or bird poop?) in the mechanics.  The carriage was not staying put.  It careened to the left and didn’t “catch” when using the carriage release or typing.

I told the seller that I would try to get it typing again and if nothing else it would become a good parts machine for other typospherians.

I brought it home and examined it on the back patio.  Its serial number is 768990, and it is made in Italy. Looks like a 1960 Underwood Olivetti Lettera 22.

I found that I could get the carriage to catch occasionally if I firmly pressed any key.

Hanging out (literally) on the patio

At my garage workbench, I took the bottom plate off (four screws where the feet are).  There are four screws attaching the top cover which I removed.  I was able to remove the cover by setting the margins all the way out and extending the carriage:

It was very rusty and crunchy in the guts:

Krusty Kondition

I carefully blew out the chunks and dirt from the naked Lettera with my DataVac Duster and then began to doctor the stiff parts with mineral spirits. The typebars began to swing.

In the comments for his post Off the workbench: 1959 Olivetti Lettera 22, Ted Munk describes a fix for an errant carriage such as mine:

If you can get the bottom cover off of your L22 and turn it over, underneath the carriage directly in the rear center of the machine is a toothed gear and pawl which you can hit sparingly with a little spray LPS1 or PB Blaster (do not use WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil), which will free up that pawl and cause the carriage to work right again.

I applied PB B’laster, my favorite penetrating catalyst to this area under the machine and yippie – fixed that roaming carriage!

The tabs were sticking and gummy, so I cleaned the tab pins/rack and associated connectors and those started working smoothly. The type slugs were thick with dried ink, so I cleaned them up with a toothbrush and mineral spirits.  Some time in its past, this Lettera was used thoroughly.

Time to test typing, so I stole a red/black ribbon from my daughter’s Voss (it’s a cursive machine and there is bichrome mixing in the descenders which drives me bananas so no red/black ribbon for you, Voss).

I was very glad that the original spools and spool nuts were still with the machine. Looking good, Craigslist Lettera!

I put the top and bottom cover back on my Craigslist Lettera and stepped back to admire my work.  Let’s compare my two Lettera 22s:

The typing feel is remarkably similar – so pleasant for such little machines.  The real difference between the two machines is the noise.  There is a subtle loose clanking, a jangling sound that comes from the 1960 Craigslist Lettera while typing that is absent in the other. The 1950/1954 Lettera has a tight, controlled voice.  I spent about thirty minutes trying to find the source of the soft clanky jangle in the Craigslist Lettera. The platens are about the same in terms of hardness.  I tried to still different parts of the machine with my hands while I typed, but found no source.  I’ll have to take the covers off again and investigate further.

Because its current paint is bubbling and chipping off, the Craigslist Lettera is a candidate for sand blasting and powder coating. I just need to find a DIY space to do that.   I sandblasted and powder coated the Voss typewriter at TechShop.  Sadly, TechShop filed for bankruptcy this year and closed all locations.

A final note: our family’s three year old Microsoft Surface 3 tablet took a catastrophic fall recently and has become electronic waste for recycling. This led to reflections on the declining durability of mass produced writing machines.

Compare and contrast: my new junker Craigslist Lettera is older than I am and will likely be typing long after I am dead and gone. Despite being pooped upon by birds and rained upon and neglected, that thing woke up and types beautifully. Craigslist Lettera wins this round.

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Southern States

This past fall, our family landed south of the Mason-Dixon line in the Old Dominion, the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia (hey, I think I can go to Herman’s this year!)  Typewriter-wise, I brought my little portables with me and left the big standards in California.  I will be back and forth between east and west for the time being.

It’s been a while – a helluva year. My daily WTF meter broke just six months into 2017 because of overuse.  The constant churn of events exhausted the poor thing and several of the gear teeth wore down and just broke off. I am debating whether I should take it apart and fix it. Do I really even need one?  In any case, I checked out of the internet and the typosphere for a while. Like Francis Weed, I have taken up woodworking as distraction and therapy.

New on the shelf

The eagle has landed: classing up the new Virginia neighborhood with a debris box and a rat-branded moving container.

End of an Era

Back in California, Moe from Mozo’s Antique Search and Rescue closed down her San Mateo location and sold her building.

I get a bit choked up about it , remembering the good old days of Moe and Roia and all the fun typewriters:

I wish I had that wrestlers poster

Before she left, Moe gave me this wonderful print which is currently hanging my bathroom in Virginia:

This is a picture of the Underwood exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) which was held in San Francisco. The exhibit featured a 14-ton functional Underwood 5 typewriter.  ETCetera  – Journal of the Early Typewriter Collectors’ Association had a good article in its Spring 2018 issue by Peter Weil about typewriters at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the PPIE.

In addition, the Shop at Flywheel Press closed its doors – I met so many beautiful typewriters there.

Like the passing of the elves from Middle Earth, it’s the end of an era.

Robust Update

The Olympia Robust has settled into her new gig at the Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia. She rotates into the Dachau exhibit in the role of camp typewriter.  She was featured in the June 2017 issue of the Virginia Holocaust Museum Newsletter, De Malyene. The museum is a good place for the Robust right now.

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in

After a year-long dry spell, I worked on three typewriters in the past week and found myself experiencing the pleasant, familiar sense of rightness and orderliness that typewriter cleaning brings me.

I was in Portland, OR last week doing family stuff. My sister showed up in town with a 1953 Remington Quiet-Riter that she had found in an antique shop in Columbia, TN. She wanted to get it typing and bring it to her neighborhood block party in Chicago this summer.

It was not typing – the typebars were gummed and rusted down. We got in trouble with my brother when he found us surreptitiously cleaning it on his kitchen floor, and we were banished to his garage workshop – which wasn’t a bad place for typewriter repair.  It was stocked with solvents and a good radio tuned to KGON.

After a good internal cleaning and new ribbon, the Quiet-Riter was typing very nicely.  The exterior is pocked with dots of rust, but it’s a happy typewriter on the inside.

I had to do some long-distance typewriter troubleshooting with my sister via text yesterday morning:

It turns out that her spools were not seated properly after she had fiddled with the ribbon – all fixed now.

I left Portland last week and headed to the SF Bay Area.  I had burritos with another of my sisters in San Francisco and afterwards her daughter pulled out her non-functional typewriter.  It had belonged to my niece’s grandfather.

What a weird Royal! This 1957 Royal Administrator was made in Mannheim, Germany. It is very similar to a Royal Diana except that it has a wide carriage.

The machine had been carefully stored (had the original case and dust cover), but the grease had congealed and stiffened and the Magic Margin, carriage, and typebars were not moving much. I took the typewriter home to San Mateo and cleaned the internal mechanics with mineral spirits.

Once it was clean, I enjoyed its crisp, precise typing.  It was pretty clanky sounding – perhaps the lack of insulation in the ribbon cover had something to do with the noise.  The forward-tilting lid is very appealing.

More pictures of the Royal Administrator are at Typewriter Database.

After finishing with the Administrator, I pulled out another typewriter, a 1957 Olympia SM3, from my front closet:

I had picked this up at Goodwill at the end of last summer when I was dropping off a huge load of old clothes and household items.

How could I resist?

Though there is corrosion on the case, the typewriter itself is pristine.  I imagine that someone received this Olympia as a birthday present, used it a couple times, and tucked it away in its case where it sat for 61 years.  In addition to the user manual, the original German-language factory inspection report was still in the case:

These two 1957 West German typewriters are a nice pair:

Southern States

I am back in Virginia for the time being, enjoying the  strange, wet, tropical summer and its attendant thunderstorms. The weather here is badass.

Here’s a pretty picture from Virginia to end my post.  My son took it last summer in Richmond, VA near where the Olympia Robust currently resides.

 

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The Leprechaun: a Wee O’Lympia SM4

I looked at the calendar today and good gravy, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day!  The wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’ – I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow.

I recently brought home a wee leprechaun, a green Olympia SM4.  It’s one of Moe’s.  Per Moe: it is broken and not typing and could I fix it for her friend’s daughter?

I brought the Olympia home and sat it on the kitchen counter work bench.

This SM4 looks just like an Olympia SM3 – the difference is the tab setting and clearing keys on either side of the space bar:

Random question of the day: what happened to the Olympia SM6?  Did it ever exist? If not, why did Olympia skip from SM5 to SM7?  Is it sort of a Windows 9 situation?

Back to business. Here’s the broken typewriter that doesn’t type:

From the Wisdom of Blender:

If the typewriter types not, check ye the stencil setting.

Broken:

Fixed:

Its only other problem was that the tab “set” key next to the spacebar was depressed and nonfunctional.

I pondered this a bit and considered investigating around back to figure out why the tabbing mechanism wasn’t getting triggered.  I thought the better of it since this wasn’t my typewriter and lack of tabs wasn’t going to impair its functionality in a deal-breaking way. I am sort of “Meh” on tabs anyway – to me they are not mission-critical.  If I were typing spreadsheets, I’d be helpless without tabs, but this Olympia here will probably spend the rest of its life typing love letters and thank you notes.

I actually have a reference manual on hand: The Olympia SM 1,2,3,4,5, and 7 Typewriter Repair Bible.

This is holy writ compiled by Rev. T. Munk and recently published.  He has a whole slew of repair manuals including The Manual Typewriter Repair Bible.

A couple of them have arrived at my house:

I’ve already gotten the Olympia manual all dirty.

These are spiral bound and lay flat while I am working. I like that.

They are a compilation of repair, adjustments, parts and tools manuals as well as odds and ends like this:

Maybe I should get an asbestos board for the kitchen counter.

I particularly love the manuals’ type and special characters sections. Here’s a pleasantly confusing mashup typeface I’d like to own:

I also want to find a typewriter with a Volkswagen symbol and horsepower symbol (who knew it looked just like the Hewlett-Packard’s logo?):

Spring has sprung.  I took the wee green sprite out in the garden:

Though it doesn’t get very cold here in California, there is a definite change in the air here when spring hits.  I found a beautiful old Irish poem about spring ( “errach”) from the Book of Leinster, and in honor of St. Paddy’s Day, the Olympia typed it out. My Middle Irish is a bit rusty, but I do like this translation.

I imagine that this is how someone in 12th century Ireland (or Buffalo) would experience the transition of winter to spring.

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Brick House

I have been on the road a lot this winter and when I got back in town, I trekked over to Mozo’s.  Moe had a typewriter with problems that needed attention.

underwood

This one had been sitting in Moe’s shop since the summer.  A lady had bought it recently and she wondered if I could get it to work. The big piece of tape over the “erwoo” of the decal really bothered me. The decal was in terrible shape, but the tape made it worse.

I never get tired of these old Underwoods – built like a brick house.  They’re heavy-duty beauties.  This typewriter was an Underwood 6, very similar to the Underwood 5s that I have worked on.

The problem with this Underwood was that the carriage tipped from side to side and would get stuck in strange and screechy positions.  Perhaps a loose or missing screw or two?

I brought the Underwood home and introduced it to Blender on my kitchen counter work bench.

I played around with it and discovered what was stopping the carriage.

arm

That little arm with a hole in it was hitting the frame.

Thank heavens for Typewriter Database and the detail photography that members submit.  John M.’s Underwood 6 had a closeup of the area where the little arm hung and I was able to figure out the little arm fit into a screw pin on the side.

twdb

The carriage was very loose and appeared not to be seated properly.  I wiggled it bit from side to side and the whole darn thing popped up and out.  Well, hell. I didn’t mean to do that, but there you are.

carriageoff

Note Blender’s barely concealed schadenfreude.

The upside was that with the carriage removed, I could clean the internal mechanics carefully and examine the pin area.

cleaning

There are two springy arms on either side of the carriage that I was having problems understanding.

springarm

Fortunately, I remembered a YouTube video of a guy tearing apart an old Underwood, so I got a bowl of cereal and sat down to watch.

Some members of our community may be horrified by the joyful abandon with which Dusty Guy dismantles this typewriter. However, his video series on the Underwood is full of useful details. After watching this video, I understood the springy arms and how the carriage sits on them.

Once everything was cleaned up inside, I attempted to get the carriage back on. I had to temporarily take out the motion blocks on both sides so that I could get the carriage back in and seated properly.

motionblocks

I had to dismantle the right carriage release to get the little arm back in the pin screw.

armrepair

After the little arm was re-secured with the pin screw, the carriage did not wobble like it had.

I threw in a test ribbon and took a deep breath.

Yes, it was typing. But weirdly. Looks like bichrome mixing colors and…all caps.

allcaps

I haven’t had personal experience with one of these telegraph typewriters.  Here is an interesting article on the Cambridge Typewriters blog about an Underwood #3 telegraph typewriter.  I read ETCetera magazine’s June 2013 article by Peter Weil, “Ephemera” about typewriters and telegraphs. He writes:

The term “mill’ is used to describe a typewriter that is used to create typed messages for the purpose of entering the message into a telegraph system or to convert a message received telegraphically into a typed hard copy message.

typeslugs

02

The typewriter has a degree character as well as a “Do” character.  A commenter on my blog said:

‘Do’ is short for ditto, now most often represented by a double-quote. Used most often in columns of dates that repeat.

Also of note, Mark. P’s Western Union Underwood has this date, “Aug 18, 1903”, stamped into the typebar rest – and so does mine:

1903

And there is a Reddit poster who noted the same thing on his Underwood 5 Mill.

Do all old Underwoods have “Aug 18 1903” stamped at the end of the typebar rest – or just these telegraph typewriters?

Well, what a neat surprise.

surprise

I took the Underwood 6 back to Moe’s shop with care and feeding directions attached.

img_6186

Moe asked me to work on an Underwood 5 she just got, but I told her that there was another typewriter I needed to work on before I could start the Underwood 5.

You see, I did a service check at The Shop at Flywheel Press last week.  They were having their annual Valentine’s Day Love on the Run community event the next day where they bring out typewriters for people to write love letters on.  All the typewriters needed to be in tip-top shape for the event. I went through each, re-threading ribbons, unlatching carriage locks and disabling stencil settings.  They were all in very good shape despite constant use at kid camps.

theshop

Jenn at the shop showed me a new acquisition that she had found in a garage.  Oh my goodness.

selectric

It powers on but doesn’t type.  I wonder if everything is there.

selectricinterior

I have always wanted to try my hand at a Selectric, and now this has fallen out of the sky. Charmed life. Now that I am finished with the Underwood 6 mill typewriter, I am going to play with this Selectric a little. I hope I can get it to run a bit.

Valentine’s Day was yesterday, so I leave you with a tender love song from the Underwood 6:

brickhouse

 

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The Really Big Typewriter and a Send Off

My blog has been on hiatus for the last few months while my family makes a slow-motion cross-country move to Northern Virginia. I am focused like a laser beam on tasks related to the move and new house and have been trying to avoid distractions and temptations (typewriters).

The Virginia house is a lot like a really big typewriter.   It has lots of moving parts and I am learning something new each and every day.

expansiontank

wires

heatpump

I have been shuttling back and forth between California and Virginia for the past three months, working on the Virginia house. I really don’t want to be That Lady, but there are some updates and modifications we’d like to make before we bring in our familiar junk and make ourselves at home.  I am home-making.

The Virginia house is full of period details from the 1990s that I am trying to tone down: acres of high-gloss honey oak and brass accents.  This enormous ceiling fan that came with the house is mesmerizing.  It’s like a rare plant of the Amazon that blooms once every hundred years and emits a corpse-like scent. It’s so weird, it may need to stay.

fan

So I am out here in Virginia, trying make this house home-ly for our family – a comfortable setting for all our weird junk.  My skills are limited to demolition, insulation hanging and painting.  I like to paint and my favorite medium is rattle-can Rust-Oleum:

shutters

demo

I am trying to make two rooms out of one. Sometimes I feel like Gob Bluth: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

The Olympia Robust joined me on this trip as a carry-on and kept me company in the garage while the floors were being refinished.

garage

Fire extinguisher at the ready in case the Robust overheats

The Robust appears to have spent some time rethinking the past.  It seems to have experienced some sort of spiritual conversion:

henry_james_quote

robust

We are all on a journey, and our paths often lead to unplanned destinations.  Yesterday the Robust journeyed to Richmond, VA where it will be rotated into exhibits at the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

I drove down to Richmond, VA with the Olympia Robust as co-pilot.  I have not been there in 30 years and was amazed at the city’s funky transformation.

mural1

mural2

This is a window box at the Poe Museum featuring my favorite type of bird, a corvid:

windowbox

The Virginia Holocaust Museum is located near the waterfront in an old part of town:

vhm

Weirdly (and I didn’t plan this) I dropped off the Robust at the museum on International Holocaust Remembrance Day which takes place on January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I met with the museum’s Assistant Curator, Angela, and we brought the Robust to the  museum’s collections workspace where it will be processed.  I filled out the paperwork and kissed the Robust fondly goodbye.

olympiarobust

After the drop-off, I met my son and his girlfriend for lunch and reminisced about the good times with the Robust and celebrated the fact that the typewriter was now in a good place.

I drove back to Northern Virginia and sang loudly to the radio.

Farewell, re-born Robust!  Before we parted and the Robust embarked on its new life, it typed out this:

anne_frank_quote

 

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The Royal Happy Halloween (HH)

It’s October and here in the US that means Halloween. I’m not much for the scary, gory stuff, but I do like a cheerful jack-o-lantern or two. And I like all the candy that I steal from my daughter’s trick-or-treat bag.

My neighbor’s Pac-Man ghosts are pretty swell.

pacman

And now as the leaves have started to fall, Moe from Mozo’s gave me a call. A friend of Moe’s had a Royal HH that needed a look-see. I brought the HH home and took it out to the back patio to investigate.

1952 Royal HH
HHE-4815786

royal-hh

By serial number this typewriter is from 1952 – the first year the Royal HH was manufactured. The serial number is under the carriage on the right side.  You can see it if you pull the carriage way, way over to the left:

royal-hh-serial-number

It wasn’t too bad: a little gummy, a little dirty on the inside. Its worst problem was that it was cursed with one of those awful black and white correctable ribbons. The horror!

correcting-ribbon

The first thing I did was cut that thing out. So much better:

mess

I blew the inside out carefully with my Datavac Duster:

duster

Despite being a nondescript muddy gray, this HH has wonderful style – the lines are very appealing.

I assembled my supplies for cleaning:

supplies

  • Old rags
  • Mineral spirits in a jar for scrubbing the slugs and segment
  • Soft Scrub for cleaning the platen
  • Goo Gone for cleaning the key tops
  • a stiff tooth brush for slug scrubbing
  • a paint brush for applying mineral spirits
  • Q-tips to cleaning sticky eraser crumbs and gunk
  • a bamboo skewer for getting into tight spots
  • a fresh ribbon to rewind onto the old spools

After draping the shell carefully with rags, I scrubbed the type slugs and segment with mineral spirits.  After a first cleaning pass, the typebars were all swinging easily.

I then wiped out the eraser crumbs, gunky fluff, and correcting tape dandruff with a lightly damp rag and Q-tips. I vigorously scrubbed the platen with Soft Scrub to remove embedded white of the correcting tape.

soft-scrub

The keytops had the frost often seen on Royals of this vintage. A lot of people call it mold or fungus, but I think it’s a chemical precipitate that affects plastics of the era. That sounds xtra-science-y.

key-tops

margic-margin

I wiped the key tops down with Goo Gone and the white coating came off.

keytops

margic-margin-2

The old metal spools are the distinctive Royal style.  I wound new red and black ribbon onto the old spools and tested.

soft-margin-royal-hh

Lovely! When I first started typing, the left margin was a little “soft”, returning irregularly to the left. I find that Royals often exhibit this behavior.  Fortunately, the erratic left margin seemed to work itself out with exercise.

The Royal HH has a “carriage control” knob.  Here is the description of carriage control from the Royal HH manual:

royal-hh-carriage-control

I played with it, turning it up and down and felt no difference. Perhaps the machine needed more cleaning to appreciate the subtleties of the control.

T. Munk posted recently about a similar feature on Royal portables of the early 50s.

Moving on, here’s a picture of Herb Caen, a well-known San Francisco columnist who swore by his “Loyal Royal”.

San Francisco Chronicle newspaper columnist Herb Caen in his office at 901 Mission Street in San Francisco May 1994. Photograph by Nancy Wong

San Francisco Chronicle newspaper columnist Herb Caen in his office at 901 Mission Street in San Francisco May 1994. Photograph by Nancy Wong (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to say whether the HH pictured above was his favorite – apparently he had four “Loyal Royals” including the Royal FP below.  Really, Herb, what a player!

"Loyal Royal," typewriter of Herb Caen, longstanding columnist of the San Francisco Chronicle, on display in the lobby of the Chronicle Building on 5th Street in San Francisco, CA

“Loyal Royal,” typewriter of Herb Caen, longstanding columnist of the San Francisco Chronicle, on display in the lobby of the Chronicle Building on 5th Street in San Francisco, CA. By Uyvsdi (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This HH is a serious typist’s typewriter.  It’s got a palm tabulator:

08

If this HH had had a dirtier shell, I would have pulled out the Scrubbing Bubbles and a tooth brush and cleaned the crinkle paint exterior.  However, the HH was pretty clean to start with.  I only needed to wipe down the outside with a damp cloth. Here she is, sitting pretty on my front bench.

royal-hh-2

I am going to call this model a Royal Happy Halloween from now on. I have heard tell that the Royal HH was named for Henry Hart who patented the Magic Margin for Royal in 1938. HH could also stand for Hello Handsome, Head Honcho, Heigh Ho, Hip Hop, Holy Hell, Happy Hunting and more.  Happy Halloween seems appropriate for this time of year.

pumpkin-royal-hh

I took the Royal HH back to Moe’s with care and feeding instructions. I am sure that the lady who owns it will now be able to hammer out The Great American Novel.  What a sweet machine.

Postscript

I got an email from Jenn at the Shop at Flywheel Press and she just got a new typewriter for the Shop. It had belonged to a friend who moved to Hawaii and couldn’t afford to bring the typewriter along, so she gave it to Jenn.  It wasn’t typing and Jenn thought maybe it had a carriage lock engaged. I went over to scope out the situation.

When I arrived at the Shop, Jenn was conducting a kids camp.  I could hear the happy tappity-tap of typewriters as I walked in.  Heart-warming!

shophh

Here’s the new girl. Really, another HH! I call this one a Royal Hardly Hawaiian (since it didn’t make it off the mainland).

After poking at it a minute or two, I determined that the margins had been set close together so the carriage couldn’t move.  Damn you and your mysterious hidden workings, Magic Margin!

I got the margins in order and strung a new ribbon on her, and soon she was typing away happily.  I’ll be back to give her a good clean and enter her into TWDB.

I strolled around the Shop and checked the other typewriters. One or two had ribbon issues which were soon remedied, but all were typing.  My cheesy fixes like the duct-tape clevis repair and the paperclip spool spindle ARE STILL FINE despite all the little kids hammering on these typewriters.

Looking good, ladies. Til next we meet.

shoptypers

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Pleasing Symmetry

The Olympia Robust had been on my mind ever since it first arrived at Moe’s shop. I took some photographs of it in situ for Typewriter Database:

left

Deer antler, tramp art, oil lamp, Jesus, stuffed pheasant…Olympia Robust.

main2

It bothered me to leave the typewriter at Moe’s shop. Not only was it at risk of getting damaged, but I worried it may be collected for weird reasons. The more I ruminated on it, the more convinced I became that the typewriter should not go to a private collector.

So I took it into protective custody and brought it to my place for the time being. Moe was relieved about that.  She was worried about it getting stepped on.

I am offering temporary shelter to the Olympia Robust – it can’t stay in my home too long.  I’m concerned that it might catch what the Praxis has.

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I went in search of a permanent home for the Robust.  The internet did not disappoint.  After a little digging, I found a Holocaust museum in Richmond, Virginia that was requesting donations of objects from the period.

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What I liked about this museum:

  • extensive community education program
  • open 7 days a week
  • FREE admission
  • great Yelp reviews

I got in touch with Tim, the director of collections at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. He and the assistant curator agreed that the Olympia Robust would be a good addition to the collection for rotation into the exhibits.

As part of the museum’s collection, the Olympia Robust will be available to anyone who may want to examine it (typewriter types, history buffs, ordinary curious people).  Tim says that the museum is developing a searchable online archive of objects in their collection that the Robust will become a part of.

I’m flying out to the DC area in December and will take the Robust as carry-on luggage. Once in DC, I plan to drive the typewriter down to Richmond for the hand-off.

This turned out really well. This particular typewriter’s story has a pleasing narrative symmetry – or at least a very satisfying balance in beginning and end. While I don’t think inanimate objects can experience karmic retribution, the sprinkling of poetic justice and side of situational irony gives me a chuckle.  This typewriter, made in its past life for the SS, will now be used as a tool for education and as prevention against future atrocity. It really does make me laugh (righteously, of course).

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