back frae wandering

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perfect place to type when not outdoors

hill sketch scotland august 2016

Had a great time, and left all the sheep shairn in Scotland!

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Silver Top

the vintage bodgy clean up job
the vintage bodgy clean up job

Silver Topsilver top1Some acrylic silver paint in the gaps on the name badge, applied with a tiny brush. Any mistakes can be easily removed with a tooth-pick.

first round of polishing on the ribbon cover
first round of polishing on the ribbon cover

Grill Your Platen

The platen on my Remington Portable no.1 was pitted and hard and not very good. I tried scrubbing it with Cif kitchen cleaner, which worked a little bit in making the rubber more grippy, but the typing was LOUD. So I sent off for some heat-shrink tubing. This stuff was 35mm diameter unshrunk, and about £3.50 f0r half a metre, enough for two platens. Or a mistake and a retry. My platen was a slim 26mm in diameter after my scrubbing – I didn’t measure it before the scrub but the difference was unlikely to be measureable with the calipers I have anyway. I spent about 15 minutes this morning with a hairdryer on full-blast with a test-strip of the tubing on a rolling pin – to absolutely no effect whatsoever. Not having a heat-gun, and not wanting to buy one specially for this job, I put the electric grill on my oven on high and shoved the rolling pin under. Bingo! Shrunk before my very eyes. The rubber, not the rolling pin. Almost in a fever of excitement (really) I prepared the platen – ie, take it out of the machine, and shove it inside the tubing. The shrinking process was really quite simple, but you need to have a pair of oven gloves. I shrank the line-space end first because I had not taken off the metal whatsit doodah – no need, because it all comes out very easily. I lined up the end of the tubing with about a centimetre spare on the end, and turned the platen under the grill. I expect you could barbecue your platen as well. There was almost no smell of shrinking tubing. In fact the smell was less than that you get with cooking Fimo modelling clay. Excellent. Still, I had the windows open anyway.

half-way through the grilling, shrinking nicely. At this point, I trimmed the tubing with about an inch spare.
Half-way through the grilling, and shrinking nicely. At this point, I trimmed the tubing with about an inch spare.

After trimming with a Stanley knife, I put the platen on a baking tray and gently rolled the platen on that under the heat, taking it out every 30 seconds or so to check the progress. There was a moment of dodgy-looking unevenness going on in the centre of the platen, but it all smoothed out. Like magic!

The spare tubing, the test on the rolling pin (I took it off again) and the result before trimming.
The spare tubing, the test on the rolling pin (I took it off again) and the result before trimming.

Getting the platen back in is pretty easy. The new diameter of the platen is 27.1mm or so. I thought it might end up being more, but no.

Line up your metal bits -  my typewriter vocab is very limited.
Line up your metal bits.
With carriage all the way to the left it is much much easier to...
With carriage all the way to the left it is much much easier to…
wriggle it back in place. There is no cylinder scale on this machine, if there was, I'd have taken it off before removing the platen.
wriggle it back in place. There is no cylinder scale on this machine, if there was, I’d have taken it off before removing the platen.
rod goes back in with a little bit of lining up. push all the way in, then tug gently to ensure it is all the way, before screwing the knob back on.
rod goes back in with a little bit of lining up. push all the way in, then tug gently to ensure it is all the way, before screwing the knob back on.
New platen (sort of).
New platen (sort of).
Trying it out. It works. Let's dance, snoopy!
Trying it out. It works. Let’s dance, Snoopy!

Right, it’s not perfect. One of the problems with this machine is the lack of cylinder scale and paper fingers. But by ‘eck, this little typewriter is looking and feeling and typing so much better than it was a week ago. An extremely satisfying little renovation project. I also touched up the chipped paint with model-maker’s enamel and a tiny brush. Put some Sugru on the broken paper release lever to save my fingers from nasty cuts, and also fitted in a tiny bit of felt to realign the Q typebar:

Hanging too low, no cushioning.
Hanging too low, no cushioning. I’m not sure there ever was!
A small bit of black self-adhesive felt rolled and poked into the space next to the old felt where the type-bars rest in the up position did the trick. I jammed in a bit of water-based pva to keep it in there.
A small bit of black self-adhesive felt rolled and poked into the space next to the old felt where the type-bars rest in the up position did the trick. I jammed in a bit of water-based pva to keep it in there.

Ok, so that’s it, I think I’m just about there with this typewriter. The typing is noticeably less noisy now with the new platen covering, and I am not fearful for the typebars on that hard surface. The only slightly peeving thing is that the punctuation marks still puncture a bit. Too much. But you can’t have it all!

New little bit of felt on the end there.
New little bit of felt on the end there.

Sugru for feedrollers.

I’ve been putting off having a go at replacing the feedrollers on my Remington Portable no. 1. It just seemed too ruddy difficult. But having a typewriter sitting there all dirty and non-functioning was starting to get to me. So yesterday, I got it out and started to clean it. The platen knob had already fallen to bits in my hands recently while looking at it and assessing its level of awkwarness. This was good, in a way, because it meant that I could now see how easy it was going to be to get the platen out.

Someone broke this many years ago and tried to fix it with some kind of rubbery glue. The screw holding the knob in place on the rod is bent. But it works.
Someone broke this many years ago and tried to fix it with some kind of rubbery glue. The screw holding the knob in place on the rod is bent. But it works.

The above was taken after the clean-up. This (below) is the way things were before the clean-up and during…

Top of cover comes off fairly easily. A right pain to get back on.
Top of cover comes off fairly easily. A right pain to get back on.
How does anyone manage to do this with a ribbon?!
How does anyone manage to do this with a ribbon?!
This spring came loose and it took a while to get it back into place. What does it do? I dunno!
This spring came loose and it took a while to get it back into place. What does it do? I dunno!
Mystery spring location in centre-ish of shot. It was superbly awkard.
Mystery spring location in centre-ish of shot. It was superbly awkard.
With the platen out - pull rod out of left side after removing knob bits. The front feedrollers reveal their true state.
With the platen out – pull rod out of left side after removing knob bits. The front feedrollers reveal their true state.

Rem  port #1 typecast

The unevenness is evident here. But they function.
The unevenness is evident here. But they function.
The serial number is actually 40343. The numbers on the machine are damaged with the paint flaking off. But, silly me, the serial number was typed onto the guarantee inside the lid.
The serial number is actually 40343. The numbers on the machine are damaged with the paint flaking off. But, silly me, the serial number was typed onto the guarantee inside the lid.

The method of getting the sugru onto the cleaned up metal feedrollers was not really a method. Sugru is extremely adhesive, so you can’t really roll it out and peel it off your clean flat surface. All I could do was make a worm, flatten it in my fingers, press it onto the feedroller while turning it, and watch out for the lasagna effect. Once it was on, I smoothed and rolled until there were no bits catching and it looked sort of ok. I had to keep on moving the carriage along to get a good spot to do each one. I also had the paper release in open position throughout. Left overnight to set, and in all left alone for over 12 hours before replacing the platen.

The good thing about this, is that it comes off (with a knife, carefully) if you want to re-do it or have real feedrollers done. I will be keeping an eye on this set of sugru feedrollers, for durability etc. For now, I am pretty pleased with the result. The back feedrollers are in need of something. They had bad flat spots which prevented them turning at all. I filed those down with an emery board, but they don’t seem to want to do much. I might just try doing one at a time with sugru, if the front ones hold up for the next year or so.

The lack of ‘Cylinder scale’ that also incorporates the paper fingers is a real pain. It would seem that it is crucial for easy paper feeding, otherwise you end up getting crumple under the line guage contraption. But apart from a wrestle to get the paper in without it ripping and crumpling, typing on this old machine is good fun. More work to be done though.

Much better than before!
Much better than before!