Monday, July 30, 2012

Turbo Torpedo: funky version

Here's the Turbo Torpedo video I shared a while ago, with the music I originally intended. When I first tried, YouTube said the video couldn't be watched in North America with this music, so I thought it wasn't worth it; now YouTube says it's just unavailable in Germany. Sorry, German friends! Everyone else, enjoy ...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sholes visible: escapement

I'm coming to appreciate some of the clever design features of the Sholes Visible. The escapement / mainspring unit, for example, can be eased out of the typewriter just by removing four screws.



With the escapement/mainspring unit out, you can get an unobstructed view of the magic mechanism.


This will be my last post about the Sholes Visible for at least 10 days, as I'm on vacation in California. (I left last Friday -- my posts since then have been showing you photos taken in the basement typewriter room in Cincinnati before I left.) A message from California will be coming online in a couple of days.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sholes Visible: rust soup

First an update on the patents for the Sholes Visible. I wrote: "You can check out the patents here, here, and here. The first two are clearly for this typewriter and were filed by George B. Sholes on behalf of his deceased father, the famous Christopher Latham Sholes. The third, oddly, is for a guard to protect people from pinching their fingers in doors." A resourceful reader has discovered that there's an error on the plaque. The correct third patent number is 474,533, filed by Christopher's son Frederick Sholes, in Frederick's own name.


Now: do you see the new spring on the typewriter?


Tricked you! The spring is not new, it's 100 years old and it was as rusty as any other part on this typewriter. How do you remove rust from a spring? Using a product I've demonstrated here before, Evapo-Rust.

Eventually this typewriter may need a total Evapo-Rust bath, but for now I'm just taking a few parts at a time and de-rusting them.

The soup begins:


After a bath of several hours and a little cleaning up:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sholes Visible: removing the carriage

Continuing adventures with Sholes Visible #4004 ...

I had to remove the carriage in order to get good access to the mechanism. It's not too hard -- you unscrew a couple of big nuts and a few small screws, unwind the mainspring until there's no tension, and remove the drawband from the carriage. Then the carriage lifts off. You can also separate the lower and upper parts of the carriage just by moving two levers aside.


Now the fascinating backside of the Sholes Visible mechanism comes clearly into view.


It's an industrial work of art that reminds me both of Klimt and of "Metropolis."


When you depress a key on the keyboard, one of these lasso-like pieces will move down. The little levers that protruds through the diagonal slots are connected to the horizontal rods/typebars (seen on my previous post). So when the "lasso" moves down, the rod will first be pushed toward the center, then pivoted so that the typebar goes up and hits the platen. When the parts are clean, this all happens very fast.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sholes Visible restoration: getting started

Here are a few moments in my initial exploration of my new Sholes Visible. (See overall photos of it in my previous entry.)


I've gotten my worktable ready, with the typewriter resting on my lazy susan and a fresh length of white paper to help me see tiny parts and tools:


A glimpse of mysterious and filthy parts, which I began to dust off with toothbrush, Q-tips, and a wire brush:


The serial number looks like it's painted on. Very unusual. You can also see remnants of the gold-and-blue pinstripes typical of early typewriters. With fresh black paint and fresh pinstripes, a Sholes Visible is spectacular. (Check out Juan Ramón Gracia's completely restored example.)


A pretty little plaque from the front of the typewriter. You can check out the patents here, here, and here. The first two are clearly for this typewriter and were filed by George B. Sholes on behalf of his deceased father, the famous Christopher Latham Sholes. The third, oddly, is for a guard to protect people from pinching their fingers in doors. -- UPDATE: A resourceful reader has discovered that there's an error on the plaque. The correct third patent number is 474,533, filed by Christopher's son Frederick Sholes, in Frederick's own name.


I wanted to understand how the machine is put together and get access to some interesting parts of the mechanism -- in order to clean them, and in order to gawk at them. First I tried something easy, removing the ribbon cups.


More is coming off:


Naturally, it's very important to keep track of all parts, including screws. (The best thing is to screw them back where they belong immediately, when possible.)


Here's another part coming off, a thick cast-iron shelf. Under it there is the usual assortment of insect corpses.


Over a century ago, a worker scratched the serial number into the bottom of the cast iron shelf:


Now I know how Howard Carter felt when he discovered the tomb of King Tut. This is the magic mechanism! Completely different from any other typewriter, the Sholes Visible operates roughly as follows. Each horizontal rod forms a single piece with a projecting small rod and a typebar. When you depress a key, the rod slides toward the center, then pivots to swing the typebar to the platen. This motion is controlled by the guide plate which I've now removed.


This is the back of the guide plate. Made of copper (or brass?), it is a work of art in itself, reminiscent of some Frank Lloyd Wright creation.


When you wet and wipe the front of the guide plate, you can see not only that it's pinstriped, but also that the diagonal areas have been treated with bluing.


I put everything back together before calling it a day. Slowly, tentatively, the dignity and beauty of this typewriter are emerging.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Handyman's special

It needs a little elbow grease, this misbegotten mashup of a Hermes and a harp, this typer with a schnozz, this thing of wonder, this Sholes Visible. It's not dead -- we have carriage tension -- but it's in Intensive Care.

I'll be posting more pictures as I gradually go about restoring it.




Monday, July 9, 2012

Revolution in the mailbox (2)

It's another exciting anonymous postcard, this time from "Svetlana," apparently in Kishinev, Moldova!

But what's this? A U.S. stamp? Unpostmarked, so we do not know where in the U.S. the card was mailed.

Perhaps the Vogue typeface is a clue ...

Missives from the insurgency are always welcome here, and I save them -- postcards fit neatly into the little album where I keep my typecasts. I'll be out of town during the second half of July, though, so don't expect an immediate reply if you write then.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Tapping & typing in 1937

If you like typewriters or tap dancing, this scene from "Ready, Willing, and Able" (1937) is bound to bring you a smile. The dancers, who must have risked breaking an ankle on those keys, are Ruby Keeler and Lee Dixon.



I was reminded of the scene by this still which is currently being auctioned on eBay.



Here's a photo taken a few moments earlier or later that Robert Messenger put up on his blog:



I want a typewriter with that Deco styling!

And here's a link to the 1970 Bollywood version of the idea, if you haven't seen it.