Little blue 22

A week of cleaning and tinkering. This one stank to high heaven, as the Letteras often do. I scrubbed the case inside and out. Its case linings had come loose so this made cleaning easier and also revealed the flimsy nature of these soft cases: the linings are merely cardboard and cloth. I used stain remover made into a paste and applied with a toothbrush in small sections, allowing each cleaned part to dry off in the sun. I was worried the cardboard would disintegrate! I fixed the linings back into place with strong wood glue. Irene’s name sticker also gave me worries but actually it just peeled off easily, and the remaining gummy parts cleaned off with washing up liquid. The felt inside the base of the machine was treated to anti-bac foot spray, which neutralises the deep aroma coming from inside the typewriter.

Cleaned up and ready to go to its new home. I polished everything with Renaissance wax to finish off. The scuff on the space bar was fixed with clear lacquer.
Not forgetting the original dust cover! This also needed a careful laundering with mild shampoo. Left to dry out in the shade.

In which we learn from our mistakes and have some fun

This is my sled-made magnetic chess set. There’s no end to the lengths to which I will procrastinate sometimes. However it is a very useful learning tool. I can type and ponder my London opening at the same time without sending pieces flying with every carriage return.
Everyone should have this!
Well that wasn’t hard, thanks to the Repair Bible! This is the spares machine with its own original washer wedged in place between the platen and carriage hub. My machine had been fitted with a different kind of washer, of incorrect depth and diameter. The washer I found must have been dropped into the case by the mechanic… I took this nice washer and swapped it out. The two incorrect washers sort of work in the spares machine to take up the slack and stop platen jiggling.
Once you start, you can’t stop. The spares machine gets a makeover. Look at the filth on those keys! I had assumed that the white legends had been worn away by time, but no! I used eco friendly bathroom cleaner and the typewriter now smells of peaches.
Here’s those confounded fraction typeslugs again. See how ridiculously shiny they are! Highly likely to never have been used until I did a type sample!
Google does not have the answer about the five eighths keys…
Not a fan of the grey crinkle paint. Makes an interesting close up shot though. A bit like a brain coral?
Oopsie! Damage in transit. In a banana box. Hoping I can find a replacement because I’m not sure my Kintsugi kit will do the job on this.
Besties! 1941 made in USA, 1951 made in Britain.

The Truth about Knobs

On the Remington De Luxe 5:

The variable line space button shaft inside the left hand platen knob looks like this:

See that little thing down there next to the main shaft? That’s what I’m calling the mini-shaft. It allows the button to be pushed and turned and held in place, letting you keep the platen in free-rolling mode. This is a replacement left side platen knob I harvested from another Remington De Luxe 5 I bought this week. Replacing the knob could not have been easier. (You just unscrew the knob, holding the right hand knob firmly in your other hand. )My Remington De Luxe 5 is now back to being a fully functioning artist’s typewriter.

The original platen knob shaft was, on inspection, slightly bent out of shape, and also and strangely enough, missing the little mini-shaft.

When I put the orignial, now defective, platen knob onto the parts machine, I was able to reproduce the problem I had found on my original machine, after its sojourn in Bexhill.

I know one should not type anything in anger, but I’m still pretty annoyed about this whole ruddy thing.

The Truth about Knobs is out there. Don’t let them mess with your mind.

P.S (Knob, here, is invoking the British slang. It’s just occurred to me that my non-British readers may be misled over my funny title, which isn’t as hilarious if you’re not British or are not aware that a Knob in the UK is a rude word for a stupid man. )

New Year, New Phone

Well of course! A 1960s GPO Bakelite from Brighton. Plugging it in (already converted) it received calls but could not dial out. Oh dear.
Searching for clues online, I found advice that recommended checking the wiring and a drop of light oil on the dial spindle to increase dial speed. So I took the back off to check the wiring and find the spindle…

Hmm. The wiring was correct but the whole area underneath was drenched in oil, so I dabbed up as much as I could with cotton buds and slips of newsprint, and added a new drop to the spindle nut, feeling that this was not the answer. And it was not. The dial still returned too slowly. From zero it should return while you say “one, one thousand and one” and stop on the last “one”.

Further searching (on YouTube, the Facebook telephone groups were a dead end) told me to go on in from the front. (Edit: I would have tried to do the next part from underneath but I thought I would have more space going in from the front) The newer (1070s) models make this easy. This model is tricky if it’s your first go. Just take photos at every stage and make sure you do. I did not. These are photos I took putting the phone dial back together.
Getting this enamel plate off is an absolute pain. All the chipped enamel was not my doing, wiggle the number plate off very carefully. Take photos.
Ok we are in. Don’t be intimidated. It’s just like a typewriter only with two bells.
If the dialling is too slow, you need to gently squeeze these two metal prongs, (which have weights on the ends which you can’t see. ) Then test your dial before fitting the plates back on. Plug phone back into socket. Lift receiver, turn dial mechanism while listening. On return the dial tone should disappear when your number has dialled. If not, go back and squeeze a little bit more.
Fit your paper disc in place. This is not my number, by the way, it is the original Vintage Brighton number, and I have not tested it for time travel tickets yet
All done. Thank goodness for that! Radiator cover still needs a couple more coats of paint… Bit for now, let’s have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Happy New Year, all.

P.S! this is the only phone we will be fixing on type the clouds, for this year at least. Back to typewriters now. I have a new Lettera 22 to smarten up …

Replacing a paper finger on Underwood 5

A little while ago an eagle-eyed fellow typospherian Bill M very generously offered me a replacement paper finger for my 1909 Underwood 5. I was so excited to receive the parcel and get the screw drivers out this weekend. The procedure for replacing the finger is quite straight forward when you know how and have prior warning about the teeny spring and rod in the finger which have to be held carefully in place. I was grateful for the instructions Bill sent along with the part, otherwise I might have spent a while messing about with fiddly bits!

The screw to release the rod for the paper fingers is located behind the nickelled plate on the right side of the carriage. I had to loosen the rusted in place screw first with some penetrating stuff (ok, ok! it was WD 40, but as you can see I protected the rest of the typewriter with rags)
The rod lifted out without a hitch. Bill kindly sent the replacement finger with a bolt holding the spring and rod in place
Sliding the part into place on the rod. (Yes, my fingers are stained with black printing ink 🙂 more on that another time but I can tell you I’m kind of wishing I had a printing press now!)
Lovely
The rod slides back onto the machine. You can see part of the serial number there which is hidden beneath the nickelled plate.

It’s the little things that make all the difference. The typosphere is a wonderful thing! I’m always grateful to be a part of it.

Simple Remington portable typewriter case handle: how-to

Take one sorry case
Gather some materials: scrap leather pieces, leather hole punch, cutting tools, curved upholstery needle, thick waxed thread, and a pencil
This piece is 14mm x 260mm. Insert the cut piece and mark where you want the stitches to be.
I put the marks underneath so it would be easy to see. Make sure to protect the cutting edge of your hole punch with scrap leather.
Do the other end, and reinsert the leather to mark the other holes underneath
Like this
Your leather piece should now look like this
Thread your curvy needle and go in like so. This will hide your loose end. Do not tie a knot!
Go to your diagonal top corner, and take the needle through both layers. Be careful not to pull the loose end right through. Pinch the leather together with your other hand as you sew. This photo just shows me sewing and taking pictures 🙂
Come back in underneath through both layers..
And go over to the fourth hole. Pull tight.
And now come back to your first hole again through both layers.
Repeat your cross stitch several times until you feel like it’s enough.
To finish off, take the needle through only one layer…
And pass the needle through and behind your stitching between the layers of handle.
Trim thread leaving a little tail of about 15mm
Repeat process on the other end. One simple handle.

Getting a handle on it

Probably the easiest handle I’ve made
Jazzy purple shoe leather off cut with a sturdy cross stitch at each side

I haven’t had my Remington Portable on the desk for ages. One of its old issues was letter piling so I typed a page of random words to see what was what. Only a couple of instances of piling. Usually the more I use this machine the less it piles letters

I’m always keen to increase my vocabulary. I remember the first time I heard the word “realtor” and I thought huh?! I must have been about 20. Before that I assumed the Brits and Americans were speaking basically the same language with merely a large expanse of water between us. Then I learned what “rubber” meant and that it’s not for correcting mistakes on your life drawing. Oh no. And how could anyone say “fanny” in public without blushing?! Well probably me. But I blush for others.

The creator of Aunt Fanny used a Remington portable

If we read these books we (my kids and I) usually ended up having a talk about sexism and racism at some point and how different the stories might be today. I would not have chosen the books myself but if you give children free choice at the bookshop I think it’s worth exploring historical texts, and learning to say “Aunt Fanny” and “Dick” without cracking up mid-sentence is a life skill it’s never too late to learn.

Two screwdrivers and an action figure.

Or, how to take the shell off your brother without dismantling the machine.

Post first clean

Remove the two screws under either side of the carriage on the plastic frame. You will need a flat head screwdriver. Prise the plastic shell up from the plastic base. It will resist with as much force as a teenager confronted with a hot shower and soap. Be firm but understand its point of view. Engage shift. Slide carriage all the way to the right. Lift the shell up and over the carriage.

I once saw a YouTube video of a guy struggling to get the shell off a Lettera 32. He ended up removing the carriage lock or something. I don’t know, it was too painful to watch all the way through. The same basic procedure here can be followed for a Lettera 22 or 32. ( And it was my previous experience in Letteras that meant I wasn’t fazed by this hunk of plastic )

The base is fixed with four feet screws. You will need a Philips / cross-head screwdriver.
All assistance gratefully received
Make sure your cotton buds have paper stems!

Oh Brother! One careless owner

Telltale spider poo
Plastic!
Nooo!
Deciphering messages from the past

Ok it doesn’t look -that- bad, really. No dead things other than pools of molten rubber washer here and there, and the crusty tippex. And I have this adventure all for free, so I should not complain too much. The ribbon has provided a lot of fun this morning for my teenage assistant. we should have this one typing by the end of the day. What better way to spend a pandemic Sunday together. May your typewriter adventures stay cool.

Ting a ling

The Underwood 5 bell before
The Underwood 5 bell now

I would have preferred to polish the bell off the machine but I don’t have a long enough screwdriver to go in all the way from the opposite side of the typewriter. Brasso and wet & dry paper. Carefully, slowly turning the bell. The metal is pitted from the rust but so far it’s looking a lot nicer.