Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Rooy Portable: Flat Out Fun


Post-Script: I'm impressed that a typewriter this thin can perform as well as it does. What's also interesting are the similarities to the Hermes Rocket/Baby, especially the carriage return lever and ribbon covers. I suppose attempting to achieve certain common design goals, such as an ultra-portable, results in similar design solutions.

Here's a photo of the Rooy folded up; note the 35mm slide for size comparison:


You might have noticed the brass carrying handle. That was my add-on, since the original plastic handle was badly worn and broken in two pieces.

Aside from being in desperate need of cleaning and degreasing, I had to repair the ribbon spool drive system. The spools would not turn as I typed, the sprockets under the spools were a bit too high to engage the drive pawls. It turned out that a set of retainer springs was oriented incorrectly, perhaps installed incorrectly at some time. The spring motor was too slack, as the carriage would quit moving near the right side as the drawstring would go slack. I had to disconnect the drawstring and wrap it one full turn around the spring motor, then thread it again under the platen (while under tension) and reattach it to the right side of the carriage.

The feet on the bottom were badly worn, so this afternoon I cut a set from a thick neoprene washer and glued them on. The machine will not slide, regardless of how hard you return the carriage with that short little return lever.

This machine uses 7/16" wide ribbons, rather than the standard 1/2", in smaller sized spools; so I've ordered some to use. In the meantime I've resorted to carbon paper for these initial typings.

Speaking of typings, the keyboard on this machine is AZERTY, rather than the conventional (for America) QWERTY, evidence of its French heritage. It also has shifted numbers and a shifted period, along with numerous accented characters. Fun to type on while using carbon paper!

Here's a video I made, reviewing the machine:

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Big Chief Gas Station

“Big Chief Gas Station”

Post-Script: Photos via Panasonic Lumix G7. I was also shooting video on my recently acquired Canon R800 camcorder. Yes, an actual camcorder. I'll be making a video about this soon. Here's the This is Not a VLOG video for today:

Typecast via Remington Quiet-Riter and roll of thermal fax paper.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Wither Goest the URL?

Family Bingo"Family Bingo"

“Wither Goest the URL?”

Post-Script: I, on occasion, have these little thoughts or observations, too minuscule to make into some big project like a video but important enough to share, in the hope that someone will find value; or, that they might amass, each a mere stone, into some sizable structure, sometime in the future. I need to do more of this. Perfect is the enemy of good enough, someone once said. In this case, grandiose is the enemy of the humble. Something like that. Just little thoughts, observations, one piled atop another, to become, what? I don't yet know. But I've got to keep amassing these pebbles.

Typecast via Adobe Rose onto the reverse side of thermal fax paper, using a new old-stock silk ribbon.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

More Tabletop Tripods, Adobe Rose and Thermal Fax Paper

Adobe Rose, Howling Coyote, thermal fax paper and holder
More Tabletop Tripods

Post-Script: Here's the newly crafted tripod with Lumix GH3 and 7Artisan 25 lens affixed atop a Joby ball head. Note the tension cable (actually twine) for making the tripod's stance stable, using the weight of the camera itself, without the need for locking hardware at each leg joint:

New Tabletop Tripod Design

Here's the larger wooden version of the Ultrapod II, with crude handmade bullhead prototype. I trust it for supporting an auxiliary video light more than an expensive camera. The two secondary legs spread apart to 90 degrees from the primary leg, thus not requiring any locking hardware at the leg joints or tension cable:

Inspired by Ultrapod Design, Plus Crude Ballhead

The cost of the hardware store knobs was more than the rest of the project combined, since the wooden bits were from my scrap bin.

Here's the newly crafted paper roll holder for 8.5" wide thermal (or other) paper rolls. It's designed to rest behind the machine, with the rear feet resting on the rubber pad (or the bottom edge upon the front ledge), with a hearty leader of paper draped behind the work table, permitting enough slack for the carriage's side-to-side movement:

Paper Roll Holder

In the top photo you can see my Royal QDL (named Adobe Rose), with companion howling coyote, mounted atop the paper roll holder.

Here's a video about using thermal paper rolls in typewriters:

I should mention that the nice, dark imprint from the typecast above (written on the backside of a thermal fax paper roll, on the Royal QDL) is due to a new old-stock silk typewriter ribbon, gifted to me by my friend Kevin. In the above video I'd erroneously attributed the dark imprint to the thermal fax paper itself.

And here's the video about the updated tripod project:

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Impromptu Type-Out and Adobe Rose

“Adobe Rose” the Royal Quiet De Luxe

Impromptu Type-Out and Adobe Rose

Post-Script: What a fun time we had! As you get older, by the time you're my age (I'm 60), you often don't have as many friends as you once had. So these social gatherings become even more meaningful.

It was David who initiated this event, to whom I'm indebted. And it serves as a kick in the pants for me, because I'd made some noises, after the April 22 Type-Out, of wanting to have more frequent typewriter gathers, of a more spontaneous nature. I do want to continue these kinds of meet-ups, but also have to balance the fact that if you show up at some venue with, say, 25 people, all with at least one typewriter, you might not find they have sufficient room. All that to say that I have a small email list of people who attended the April 22 event, whom I'll be inviting to the next spontaneous (or as close as we can get) typewriter gathering, and just hope all works out well enough without some restaurant manager saying "it'd be better if you didn't come back."

Of course, your wallet is your passport, so the cardinal rule is to buy plenty of food and drink, and tip your waitress well.

It was fun working on this Royal QDL. The adobe-like color scheme immediately reminded me of our southwest-styled home and its adobe-like stucco finish, hence the christening of the machine as Adobe Rose. But I don't think it'll be complete without a little magnetic trinket to sit atop the ribbon cover, like a little howling coyote with bandana, or perhaps a colorful cactus. Perhaps a visit to the tourist shops in Old Town is warranted.

As for the repair itself, I was very pleased to find the missing screw was secured inside the case by David himself. But there was one other screw I found lodged precariously in the left side of the carriage bearing rail, and I haven't yet found where it goes; but nothing seems amiss regarding the machine's operation, so I'll hang onto the screw in case its needed at some future date.

The elite-size type face reminded me immediately of my Smith-Corona Silent-Super. It might be a fun comparing the two. I think the Royal weighs a bit lighter, and doesn't have the Smith's patented feature whereby the key caps remain horizontal throughout the full key stroke. And while the Royal doesn't have the Smith's action and feel, it's still very nice, just a bit different. There might be a slight difference in the spacing of the keys, which I've yet to measure, but I suspect the Royal's are slightly further apart, less crowded, which makes typing more comfortable for me. It's a very easy machine to type fast upon, and the alignment of the type slugs is pretty good, better than the Smith's, but not perfect. Still, it makes a dark imprint and works virtually flawlessly.

I've found in my experience there's always a breaking-in period after servicing a very neglected machine like this one. Often you have to type on it for a period of time to discover those lurking intermittent problems, often related to the escapement, such as letters piling atop one another (especially when using a fast, staccato-like action), or alternatively skipping spaces. More pointed degreasing and cleaning of the escapement is often needed, along with the segment slots of certain individual keys that might be apt to hang up on their return stroke and prevent the machine's reliable operation at full speed.

The hard case has a nice fabric outer finish, but the inner aluminum rails show a bit of white oxidation, along with a few rusting rivets. There's also been an addition set of rubber feet added to the bottom of the case by some previous owner, who might have been using it in its case and didn't want it sliding around the desktop.

I didn't spend a lot of time trying to get the textured paint finish pristine-looking, as it's too easy to begin taking off color in the process of removing grime and residue. Perfect is the enemy of good enough, in this case. Its patina reflects its history, like an elder's wrinkles and blemishes are clues to some personal archeology.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

WPPD 2018, Grounded Rocket and Addiator Pouch Repair

Rio Grande Bosque, Pinhole Camera, Harman Direct Positive Paper

This previous Sunday, the last Sunday in April, was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. While I don't practice the craft of pinhole as prolifically as I once did, I try to make an effort to get out with a pinhole camera on this day, if for no other reason than to remind myself why it is that I have a virtual mountain of pinhole cameras (mostly collecting dust) that deserve to be employed in the pursuit of that elusive image.

This day, I chose to stroll the river forest of the Rio Grande, just north of Albuquerque, with two small one-shot cameras, both made from 1.5" PVC pipe and employing a curved film plane with 2.5" squares of Harman Direct Positive Paper. While I've been trying to conserve this paper, due to it limited supply, these small prints are just big enough to hold in your hand and appreciate up close, while being diminutive enough to not be wasteful of paper.

I developed both images in a steel 35mm developing tank, sans reels, with the prints taped to the inside walls of the tank and rotary processed on its side. This method uses only 100mL of chemistry and produces very consistent results, while also not requiring a full darkroom with open trays of chemicals - ideal for those with limited space or, like me, desiring to process in the comfort of one's kitchen.

Being fiber-based prints, I archivally washed them using my recently devised method of employing a slow trickle of garden hose water under the canopy of a tree in my yard, which serves to wash the prints while also watering my landscaping - we do live in a desert, as we are apt to say. After, I selenium toned them and completed another wash.

The prints were dried flat by being superficially squeegeed, then taped face-up to a sheet of glass, using drafting tape, and placed in my film drying cabinet.

I was please with the way these came out; I'll have to do this more often, with more of my pinhole cameras.

There's something very satisfying about creating one-of-a-kind direct prints on fiber paper. Each is a unique object, and usually intimate in size as are these.

Here's a video documenting the process:


Now onto some sad news. During last weekend's Spring ABQ Type-Out I brought my 1953 Hermes Rocket, which performed fine during the event. Then this last Sunday, while typing up a story for Typing Assignment No. 16, I noticed the carriage was intermittently skipping spaces. This has been a recurring problem with this machine for a long while, one of the reasons why I haven't used it much. I know from previous experience that the problem has been related to the carriage release lever arm, which connects to the rack gear and serves to pivot the rack gear away from the escapement cog when releasing the carriage. This arm appears rather soft and is easily bent. Usually reforming it back into shape solves the problem. But this time I couldn't fix the issue; it seemed the rack gear just wasn't meshing tight enough with the escapement cog.

So yesterday I decided to dig in and see if I could make it better. I started disassembling parts of the carriage, in order to remove the rack gear. In the process, I decided to disconnect the draw band from its anchor on the right side of the carriage. I tried to be careful to let the tension of the spring motor relax itself as I wound the draw band back onto the drum of the spring motor. But evidently I wasn't careful enough, because suddenly the spring motor made an awful noise, and now it's dead.

I also spent many hours afterwards, into the wee hours of the morning, getting the carriage back together. I still have one spring under the paper table that provides pressure for the rollers that isn't properly installed. So now I have a broken Hermes Rocket, in need of a spring motor. I can't see any way to regain tension on the old motor. Attempting to turn it, it just spins; I can't see where the anchor point is, unless it's somehow in around the central hole where it mounts to a bolt-like fixture.

Live and learn. That's why I have 19 other typewriters in my collection, right? Seriously, I wasn't going to be using that machine much in the future anyway, because of its known fragility. Perhaps I can find a working spring motor from a donor machine.

But the story I wrote for Typing Assignment No. 16 will most likely be the last piece of writing done with that machine. The subject of the assignment was to write a one-page piece inspired by some artifact of your possession. My artifact was an old 1950's-style rocket spaceship bank. The protagonist of the story has a similar bank as a kid, which inspires him to become a rocket scientist.

Now here's where this story gets interesting: my Hermes Rocket typewriter, circa 1953, was originally owned by an Air Force officer and engineer who was one of the principal engineers working on the design of the SR71 Blackbird's engines.

Here's the story, the last piece typed on the Hermes Rocket:

"The Rocket Bank," part 1
"The Rocket Bank," part 2

And here's the bank itself:

Rocket Bank

And in more positive news, I dusted off my rudimentary stitchery skills and affected a repair to the leather pouch of my Arithma Addiator:


It may not be pretty, but hopefully it'll serve a few more years of use; it's better than the staples that were holding the pouch together.

Here's a video I recently made about the Addiator. Thank you Ted Munk for the suggestion!

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