Sunday, September 08, 2019

September TW Society Meeting

1957 Silent-Super
“September TW Society Meeting”

Post-Script: Here are some close ups of the ephemera included with this machine - the owners manual, touch typing guide, Holiday Case key & tag and sales tag. There was also a 3M brand cleaning sheet included, in the original plastic bag.

Silent-Super Ephemera 1
Silent-Super Ephemera 2
Silent-Super Ephemera 3

There's still a bit more work to do on the machine. Several of the type bars hang up on the type guide (the "h" and "f"), and it needs more cleaning. But the card guide fingers are formed so that you can actually thread a sheet into the machine and it'll roll right under the paper bail rollers, which is neat. I'll have to see about adjusting my older elite machine the same way.

I was initially thinking I'd sell this to a local member, but now I'm having second thoughts; I really like the type face. But I do have a potential buyer for another machine in my collection, so perhaps I can make room for this one instead.

I'll post a video about the meeting tomorrow, and will include the link below when I do. We had fun tinkering with a Roxy Rooy escapement issue, so stay tuned.

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Ten Forty, Good Buddy

Remington Ten Forty
“Ten Forty, Good Buddy”

Post-Script: I think this was a good choice for the young lad, even if he doesn't use it much. And I like the idea that, even though it's "his," I get to share it with folks in public typewriter events. Because sometimes you don't want to take your finest machines out in public and let just anyone fiddle with it, especially in a busy meeting where you can't easily keep an eye on what's going down. Neophytes often are well meaning but can, if not careful, mess up an otherwise fine machine.

Triumph Norm 6

This gets me to the subject of my Triumph Norm 6. It'd been in the closet for a few months, and this week I took it out to do a spell of writing, when I discovered to my dismay that about half the type bars were totally frozen stuck. I brought it out to the workbench in the garage and discovered the frozen type bars were actually rusted. Somehow, moisture had gotten into the segment, unbeknownst to me, and rusted the type bars. It took considerable effort to free them and remove most of the rust. Unfortunately, many of the linkages under the type bars show signs of rust, also. I wonder if some acidic soft drink didn't get spilled inside, as I wouldn't expect water to do this kind of damage, especially in our dry climate where liquids quickly evaporate.

My wife and I were trying to remember when it was last used, but am not certain. Another reason to keep the rare or fragile machines home, and bring more of a beater to public gatherings. Which implies ... you therefore have to assemble a small fleet of beater typers just for that purpose. Just a few weeks ago I acquired another Smith-Corona Silent-Super, just for that purpose - or perhaps to sell to a member of the Society. I haven't yet started on cleaning it up, but it looks like everything is functional, though the platen is rock hard. Which isn't a problem, really, since they're so easy to remove and ship off to JJ Short & Sons. The cool thing about this machine is it came with all the ephemera, including owners manual, typing guide, even the little printed display tag that hung from the return lever via a string. I'll have to scan this stuff and get it sent to the Rev. Munk.

My wife also reminded me that this issue with the Triumph is a lesson to periodically bring out all your machines from storage and give them a good round of testing, then document any issues that need addressing.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tuesday at the Press Club

Underwood S
“Tuesday at the Press Club”

Post-Script: I've spent most of the last few days working on the Underwood. It's working pretty good now. I ended up threading the ribbon directly onto the machine's spool hubs, instead of using a ribbon wound onto their own spools. This is the generation of Underwood that uses the Remington-style spools with the wide center hub and the auto-reverse lever that senses end of ribbon by ribbon slack and causes a little spring-loaded lever to rotate out a slot in the hub, dropping a linkage through the hollow ribbon spindle that engages the drive shaft to shift sideways to reverse the ribbon. It wouldn't work reliably with the ribbon spooled onto Remington-style spools, but works fine directly threaded onto the machine's hubs. But it does tend to wind the ribbon a bit wonky, causing the ribbon to creep up the pack as it's wound. Perhaps something to do with the angle of the ribbon drive shaft verses the vibrator's guides, but I haven't fully figured it out. But at least it works.

Now the final cleaning is in order. I'm using a spray degreaser and gentle application of a Scotch-brite pad on the textured paint, with care it seems to remove the years of nicotine stains pretty well without affecting the paint.

I still have to wind a bit more tension onto the spring motor, as the carriage gets a bit sluggish near the right margin.

I like the easy-to-remove platen feature, a bit easier than a Smith-Corona 5T series to operate.

A major issue will be cleaning and reattaching the ~3/8" thick sound proofing pads. Has anyone had luck washing these pads with water, or do they disintegrate when wetted? I'd like to remove as much grunge and mold as possible.

I think this is going to be a good typer for its owner.

Our ABQwerty Type Writer Society seems to be gaining traction, with several newcomers showing up on Sunday. It's going to be fun seeing where this goes.

Kevin and I had a deep discussion tonite about the future of the typewriter hobby. When we get old enough, I hope we find good homes for our collection. More importantly, I see the need to evangelize the younger folk into learning typewriter repair, to keep the torch burning. There are a finite number of machines out there, despite the fact that millions were manufactured over the years; million were also trashed after their useful life was over. And a number of machines end up getting ruined through improper packing and rough handling during shipping, so it seems that, ironically, our desire to collect and preserve these machines ends up ruining some. It's best to check out a machine in person and personally transport it ourselves; but that isn't always possible.

We've noted that us older guys end up doing most of the typewriter tinkering in our Society. It's important I feel that we get others involved in the hands-on repair and restoration work.

What do you think? How do you plan on passing the torch?

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ABQ Press Club Skyriting

Skyriters at the Albuquerque Press Club
“ABQ Press Club Skyriting”

Post-Script: The Press Club is located at 201 Highland Park Circle, situated atop a hill that overlooks downtown ABQ. It was built in 1903 by the architect Charles F. Whittlesey as his personal residence, who in the early 1900s was the chief architect in charge of hotels and stations for the Santa Fe Railroad, and who designed most of the grand stations and hotels for the railroad, such as the Fred Harvey hotels. The house was designed and built while he was designing El Tovar at Grand Canyon, in the same Norwegian Villa style.

Albuquerque Press Club Ceiling

The Whittlesey residence changed hands over the years, but in the 1970s was purchased by the Press Club, in whose hands it remains today.

I still had thoughts on my mind from the day's previous video production, where I mused on the adequacy of manual versus electronic typewriters as writing tools. When Kevin had invited me to the Club, he mentioned bringing his Skyriter. I was planning on bringing the Remington Ten Forty that I've been servicing, but instead decided a pair of Skyriters would be appropriate. My Skyriter still intermittently skips, whereas Kevin's hasn't had that problem. His is a Spanish keyboard version, and he speculates that, even though his machine is a few years older, perhaps it didn't have the wear and tear that mine had. Since I've done about all the cleaning, degreasing and lubricating that I can do, and have also referenced the service manual procedure, I suspect the skipping may be due to worn parts in the escapement. The machine works fine when I type pedantically, two-fingered, at a slow, even pace. So, in keeping with the video I'd just made, I've decided to work within the limitations of the machine, accepting it as imperfect yet "good enough," using it for "slow typing," such as when composing one's thoughts onto paper, rather than transcribing previously written material at a faster pace. A cogitating typer. Other than the skipping, it's a nice machine, and sports the longer carriage return lever than Kevin's version.

The video I posted is also the first one using my new Go Pro Hero 7 Black. It has excellent image stabilization for handheld shooting, and has a linear mode that straightens out the extreme fisheye distortion of these wide angle lenses. I've had to attach some sticky wind muffs to the mic holes in its carrying case, to dampen the effects of wind noise, and will soon be acquiring an adapter dongle for using an external mic.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Magic Mirror

Bristol Noughnut Co..
Digital Box Camera Image

The Magic Mirror

Post-Script: I remember recently writing about how my Olympia SG-3 worked flawlessly; now we see evidence of intermittent skipping. Further reinforcement of the notion that, no matter the reputation or build quality, a manual typewriter is always subject to the vagaries of the laws of physics. Hence the importance of the notion that writing with manual typewriters isn't about pristine, zero-error copy or printing press quality, but the enablement of creativity.

Back to the subject of the video, namely using a knock-off, low-budget action camera as a point-and-shoot stills device, I refuse to submit to the notion that I must somehow remain on the Technology Treadmill - that concept of marketing that assumes every consumer device is continuously being obsoleted by newer products. It's a form of rebellion. I'm interested in seeing what I can get from using these simple, obsolete tools.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?

Scootering to Sweet Cup
“Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?”

The Bigly Typer:

The Shrimp Typer:

Post-Script: They're both good word threshers. One's obviously more portable than the other. For me, the key to entering into that creative zone is being able to focus on the words in my head, my fingers on keys and, to a lesser extent, ink on paper, without excessive fuss or distraction. The Behemoth Olympia SG-3 achieves this by its in-your-face massiveness: it literally blocks your view of distractions in front of you, while elevating the printing position so you're looking forward, not down at the table.

For the shrimp typers, the challenge for me is not getting distracted by the machine's less-than-optimal performance, or erratic behavior. For example, I'd sat at this very same spot in Sweet Cup's loft the day before, with the Hermes Rocket and the same type of coffee drink, and didn't have the same creative flow going. Certainly, we can feel more or less creative one day to the next, but something about the Skyriter's keyboard just felt more natural. I don't even think it had to do with its more ergonomical carriage return lever, either. Funny enough, there were a few skips with the Skyriter that the Rocket didn't have, yet I got along better with the Skyriter.

I noticed midway through the piece that, because of the seating position, my eyes were closer to the machine than at a normal-height desk and chair setup, helping me to focus on the keyboard and helping to reduce distractions; yet I didn't sense that the day before with the Rocket. I guess that's the mystery of creative writing, trying to figure out why one day it works and the next day it doesn't.

These brief moments of inspiration aren't predictable; one has to be prepared to strike (literally!) at a moment's notice; hence the reason to always have a machine set up at home, or in a grab-&-go bag, ready for action.

There's a confidence I have when writing on the SG-3 that I don't often have on these shrimp typers, and it has to do with reliability. Less chance for hick-up or glitch with the big fellow, one less thing to pull my mind away from the inner dialog, that's so fragile to maintain. I have this same confidence on reliable machines like the Smith-Corona Silent-Super, that's pretty much living up to its name.

I think one secret to creative writing with manual typewriters is this issue of reliability. It's not that we must go down the rabbit hole of joining a cult (Hermes, Olympia - pick your poison), but rather that the still small voice inside us remains small and faint, we have to find those nagging distractions and eliminate them. Some machines are just more reliable than others, meaning we have more time to join those fragile chains of thought together. I think you can catch a glimpse of this when you see photos of 20th century writers with their machines. Many authors switched from one machine to the other, finally choosing one brand or model because it just works. It's all too easy to forget this when we are mainly collectors and hobbyists.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

On Storming Area 51

“Storming Area 51”
“Storming Area 51”

Post-Script: I've found some pretty good reporting on these issues over at The War Zone. Here's an article about these Navy UFO encounters - be sure and follow the links to an earlier article about the USS Nimitz incident. And here's an article about the Navy and patents for advanced propulsion concepts.

I'm suspicious of many of these stories, but maintain an open mind. But the proton beam device presents an interesting explanation for many of these phenomena. Here's one blogger's explanation on how they might work.

It's important to use common sense when dealing with these stories. Occam's razor is often quoted as applying to these situations. But sometimes reality is more complex than we can know or predict, hence the need to remain skeptical but openminded.

Getting back to this current meme of storming Area 51, there's good evidence to suggest that would be an unwise decision. Not only are the security forces armed with conventional weaponry, but may also possess pain-inducing microwave weapons for crowd-control, supposedly developed at the US Air Force's Directed Energy Directorate, here in ABQ.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Hermès Rocket at Sweet Cup Coffee

Post-Script: The feed rollers on my Rocket grip good enough, but when I fold this thin paper in half lengthwise it tends to feed wonky. This 13 CPI typeface needs a short line to be readable on mobile devices. Maybe I should just break out the adding machine paper roll for when I'm blogging on the Rocket?

I'm liking the idea of more frequent blog updates, perhaps on more mundane subjects. The "work flow" is still a bit tedious (it isn't work, neither does it flow!) Firing up the scanner - had to reset it once; getting the cropping, light & dark points and contrast set properly; then the full res scan; uploading to Flickr, etc. I'm still not pleased with how my iPhone takes photos of typecasts, especially the field curvature near the edges of the frame. I want to fill the frame with the long side of the piece for good resolution, but then the iPhone's field curvature makes the edges of the page wonky. Yes, there are aftermarket photo apps that permit adjusting field curvature, maybe that's the solution.

I've been thinking about how else "typecasting" can be used with social media, besides blogging. Obviously, many people shoot photos of their poetry and writings and post them to the various Facebook typewriter-themed groups. But today I was thinking about discussion forums (on whatever topic). Instead of replying to a thread via computer keyboard, one could type out a quick reply, upload to Flickr and link the image to the forum. This might be fun to do, especially on discussion forums that aren't specifically typewriter-themed; like RFF (Rangefinder Forum), for instance. The idea is to further infiltrate the digital world with the presence of typewriter-generated imagery.

I enjoyed my visit to Sweet Cup Coffee. This time of year, when the summer monsoons begin (the flow of moist air from the Baja peninsula up through the American southwest), the air is humid enough that evaporative coolers (like what I have at home) don't cool as well; the AC at Sweet Cup was, well, sweet! Another reason to write in coffee shops.

Olympia SG-3 Inspiration

The piece above was an impromptu typing on my Olympia SG-3. It does this to me, inspires me to just bang out these sudden little inspirations. They don't matter all that much, individually. It's in the aggregate, when they begin to accumulate, that the impact is felt. I don't know why this machine inspires me like it does; perhaps it's the size and heft; or the confidence it inspires to work flawlessly; or the pleasingly dark imprint.

I like to collect these little gleanings. Sometimes they're just a sentence or paragraph amidst a larger amount of dross, in which case I'll circle it with a pen for emphasis. I don't know what will become of them, but I hope they function as inspiration for some new work, down the road.

Finally, a video Kevin and I made, about the Maritsa 11.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Scootering to Sweet Cup

Sweet Cup coffee bar
“Scootering to Sweet Cup,” Part 1
Scootering to Sweet Cup
“Scootering to Sweet Cup,” Part Two
Loft typing at Sweet Cup
Loft Typing at Sweet Cup with Brother EP43

Sweet Cup loft
The loft at Sweet Cup

Joe at ABQ Press Club

This last Sunday our fledgling ABQwerty Type Writer Society met at the historic Albuquerque Press Club, invited by one of its members. We had a great time writing and socializing on the shaded porch, and hope to return in the future for more typing events. Here's my video of the event:

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Railroading to Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NM
Train station, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 1
Las Vegas, NM
Antique Store, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 2
Las Vegas, NM
Charlie's Spic & Span, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 3

Post-Script: I need to remind myself to do more train travel, even if it's a short ride, like this wonderful weekend getaway. The price of the tickets was reasonable, the trip took around 3 hours, and the dining car offered the option of lunch, which we enjoyed. But the destination of a remodeled former Fred Harvey hotel was a great destination. And, though Las Vegas, NM isn't exactly a cosmopolitan getaway, it offered sufficient entertainment in terms of eateries and antique stores, keeping in mind we were on foot - the furthest we had to walk was about a mile.

Yes, trains are also ideal for typewriters. The idea of sitting high up in the lounge car, scenery passing by through the picture windows, is a romantic notion. But alas, our relatively short ride was occupied mainly by a leisurely lunch in the dining car, so no typing was done. But for a longer trip, a typewriter is certainly a requirement.

Here's a video about our weekend:

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