Sunday, July 16, 2017

Typewriter Desk-Case

Browsing an old Popular Science magazine, spotted this typewriter desk-case.


The typewriter case that folds open to form a proper table was patented, published as US patent 1,661,015 filed in 1926 and published in February 1928.

The case folded open as a table.


And closed for keeping the typewriter in it (and all the legs as well...).


Somehow it didn't catch on. Wonder if the design actually made it beyond one prototype. Compared to the later travel tripod cases from e.g. Underwood, the design perhaps has drawbacks:
- Even though it's a complete desk, the typewriter needs to be taken out of the case completely and then placed loose on the table-top (the outside of the case).
-The case cannot be used in the normal portable manner, cannot just open the lid to have the machine available for use.
- The complete desk and folding wooden legs likely are somewhat heavier and bulkier than a metal tripod in a regular case.
- The narrow wooden 4-legged table needs a decent surface to stand on, a three-legged stand is likely more forgiving and stable for typing use. An adjustable leg's a hassle (and cost).
Nevertheless; an ingenious case it is.

This type of folding case seems to have been 'in the air', looking at this folding lunch table/box from the same year...


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cardboard box for keeping the nickel bits

A while back I got a small collection of early nickel Meccano pieces. Despite their dating to probably around 1920 they were in great condition. In the meantime some extra period-parts were found to make it almost a set that can be built with.


To keep the collected nickel-era parts a bit better and add to the overall experience, decided to create a fitting storage box.

The smaller sets of that time were sold in cardboard boxes - the gallery of pictures available at the New Zealand Meccano Club site and on the net in general give a good idea of the type of case. It was made of cardboard, sometimes with wooden parts for strength, and covered in black paper or leathercloth. (The largest sets were available in sturdy oak cabinets.)

Today in the internet-age the delivery of online purchases yields a continuous supply of sturdy cardboard - saving a few of these boxes gave a good set of strong and flat sheets to construct a box with. Making up a dimension and arrangement of compartments to fit the parts and not following a very specific prototype, a new box was taped and glued together (paper-tape and PVA glue). Most of the original boxes had lift-off lids, for this case however a hinged lid was chosen. Using a cotton ribbon backing to form the hinge. The inner and outer surfaces were covered with a light-green and black covering paper.

The most important finishing touch then is applying the labels.


Again the galleries in New Zealand provided several high-resolution scans of various labels. This provided enough source material to assemble and mock-up a lid top label. The box lid label is a reasonable representation of a label as used in the early 1920-ies, the outfit number would have been in the roundel at the lower right corner.


The lift-out tray has small lifting tabs of cotton ribbon. The tray layout is inspired by the layout of the inventor's outfits of the day. A regular outfit would not have had the large 3" spoked wheels. Even though some models in the 1920 manual use them, they had to be bought separately as spare parts. One could also buy a special accessory inventor's set - these would contain a set of large wheels as well as the newly introduced braced girders.

The image on the inside of the lid seems a bit quaint, even for 1920-ish. Meccano started using this image around 1913 and kept using it well into the twenties. Another aspect that remained constant for a long time is the unattainable models on the box lid.  From these very early box labels right through to the 1960-ies, they showed large structures that could never be built with the contents of the box. Something to aspire to, I suppose.


Building the occasional smaller model with the vintage nickel 'set' is now very much possible and a pleasure. Only a very few parts extra needed still to make up the content of a period Outfit 1, and already it has a wide range of special extra parts such as the windmill sails. Reproduction small parts boxes hold the brackets and a set of new brass nuts and bolts. Overall it now is a bit of a time-warp experience.

Stored this way the nickel set is great for playing with again, also by the youngest - there is no paint that will be wearing off or any fragile vintage packaging to worry about. Building a model from the manual is not what is wanted however; freelance planes, cranes and automobiles are more the thing. (Aeroplane with some parental assistance - fuel cart his own construction, borrowing the boiler from a '29 set.)


Should anybody have some stray nickel bits and want to replicate (or just have a good look at the graphic design of these vintage toy labels), the images in higher resolution below:


Friday, June 30, 2017

Remington Portable lifting tray fitting (and a stop)

Now that the ribbon mechanism is back in place on the 'lost cause' machine, the lifting tray is the only thing still missing from the typing mechanism. The Remington Portable typewriter has a lifting mechanism, pushing back a knob on the right-side of the machine lifts the typebars to the typing position (as is very well documented on the net).

Hadn't yet mounted the sideplates to the segment that hold the crescent-rods or fulcrum-wires in place. These also have the mounting eyelet to pivot the protective hooks about. When mounting these plates, you'll want to play with the shifting of the carriage to get access for the screw. (Or mount this before assembling the ribbon shaft, of course...)


Some rubber-band is helpful in keeping the typebars out of the way during the procedure. Not clearly shown in the below image, but on the right can be seen one of the flimsy looking push-bars that do the lifting of the tray and in the lower-right the hex-nut of the uppercase-right shift adjustment.


Another preparing step on this machine was to fit one of these shift-stops.

A Remington Portable has four adjustable stops for the carriage shift, this machine was missing one of these stop-assemblies completely. These stops are mounted on the inner sides of the machine frame. The trapezium-shaped 'vane' is part of the carriage-shift link and travels between these two stops.


The stop assemblies consist of the stop-block itself, two mounting screws, eccentric adjustment-nut and a spring-washer. Luckily the spare-parts box contained a full extra set of these parts. (Just not in nickel-plate - this 'lost cause' machine must have been a sight when new - everything was bright shiny metal!)


There are thus two screws for each stop accessible from the outside to adjust the shift, that is what the cut-outs in the side of the outer frame/housing are for. This way the machine can be adjusted with only removing the top panel to get access to the eccentric hex nut.


Back to fitting the lifting tray; with the typebars out of the way the lifting tray can be lowered into its guides (B) and then fixed to the lifting bars (at A). Opening the bracket at the end of the lifting bars can be a bit fiddly. In this case with a badly mangled typewriter it also needed some forming to make it all meet up again.


 The 'hook' part that protects the typebars is then fixed to the tray and the segment endplates (C).


Unleashing the typebars again, these rest against the felt rim of the lifting tray and can be raised and lowered by the knob at the side of the machine. In the lowered position all the typebars rest flat on the lifting tray.


Except the '6' key.  (Drat.)

The linkages of the '6' key had been rather bent and the connecting rivets broken. The repaired linkage is apparently almost right, but takes a little too much space and won't go as far down as the others. Will be seen how to deal with this, it may be resolved raising the lower position of the tray a little. Something to have a look at with the machine more completely assembled. Not yet declaring it a 'lost cause' completely :-)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The princess and the lamp

A while back I picked up an old magazine at a thrift shop for a few cents. Tucked in a stack of old paper was this special edition of the illustrated weekly paper 'Het Leven' (Life). This is a special January 1938 issue to commemorate and celebrate the birth of a princess!


With a suitable band of orange on the cover. Inside it is filled with related pictures; the nurses, the vicar, the bottles. However not a single picture of the baby or even her name (that came later).


The issue proudly ends with the magazine's best picture of the royal couple. On the inside of the back cover a full-page advertisement urging the reader to enlist in the KNIL (colonial army).


The back cover is selling subscriptions to the magazine. On this special occasion of the birth of a princess, when you take out a subscription you will get a modern, deluxe lamp! The connection of the occasion to a lamp escapes me, it may have been apparent to contemporaries - but rather doubt it.


To add another dubious linking with the happy occasion, you will also recieve free an American detective novel; "The Criminal Doppelgänger". Somebody filled out their address on the return card in pencil, but then probably thought better of it and did not send it in.  Alas - no lamp :-)

From another era. But that lamp was strange then too, I'll wager.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Remington Portable ribbon mechanism assembly

Getting round again to tinkering with the 'lost cause' Remington Portable 2 typewriter, the next step after mounting all the typebar linkages was the ribbon mechanism.

The change of ribbon travel direction is done by sliding the shaft to the left or right, engaging either of the spool holders with its conical drive gear. To keep it in engagement, there is a spring loaded mechanism located under the left spool.


Two cups are held with a single spring-clip, pressing against a thinned section of the shaft.


The shaft has nicely flattened areas for the set screws to get a proper grip. The thinned section can be seen jutting out of the hole in the spool-base. When assembled, the spring-clip should fit underneath the shaft, pressing the cups into the two holes either side of the spool-base.


The spool holder can then be screwed on, consisting of its base gear, spool-plate and the pillar.


The conical gear on the advance shaft is in engagement with either left or right spool holder when the shaft is pushed in its left or right position. The pillar is stationary and the gear with spool-plate rotates. (The slots in the spool-plate hole engage notches on the special Remington Portable spools. Spool-plate not yet screwed on in picture below.)


At every keypress that actuates the universal bar, the ribbon advance shaft is rotated a little by a push against the advance gearwheel. To prevent it from rotating back again, a pawl locks it in place. When sliding the shaft with all its parts back in position again, this pawl needs to be lifted on top of the advance gear.


As can be seen in the above picture at the arrow, that is what I failed to do. The pawl that can be seen hiding in the dark should have been lying on top of the finely geared advance wheel. (Something we'll know about a next time :)

The shaft can then be fitted with the end control-knobs. These also have the cam-slopes that are actuated by the prongs on the ribbon-fingers that 'measure' the amount of ribbon left on the spool.


In this machine, the parts are oddly of the old pattern - more usually found on older, pre-'25 Portables. This also goes for the spool-locking clips. It seems that the British factory still assembled some machines with the old pattern fittings as late as '27.

With the knobs fitted again and a little tweaking on the position of the gears, the ribbon and spool mechanism is again in place.


 (The dastardly pawl has since been lifted to its proper position.)



Friday, June 9, 2017

Produx pocket calculator

A very simple mechanical calculator of the Troncet-type, more commonly known here as 'an addiator'. This Produx was probably the main competitor to the Addiator. 


This particular little calculator likely dates to the 1950-ies. The protective sleeve is made of a plastic (PVC or vinyl) and it is made in Germany - West.


The Produx was manufactured mostly unchanged from the start around '28 (?). Even though the competitor Addiator became the generic name for these calculators, the Produx was made by Otto Meuter who was the inventor of these little devices. Addiator was founded by Carl Kuebler who licensed Meuter's patent. (May be that the royalties from Addiator sales then enabled Meuter to set up his own manufacturing.)

It is of very simple and low-cost construction. The Produx is quite compact at 4½ by 2¼ inch and very thin. The stylus made of rolled-up brass is a bit too flimsy; the tip is often broken off as it is in this case. A toothpick inserted in the stylus makes it usable again. Both adding and subtracting are on the front of the calculator, making it a bit more convenient to use than the original Addiator.


The sliders protrude through the bottom of the device, so resetting to zero is a simple pushing back - set it on the desk and push down.

These take a bit of getting used to, but then work surprisingly well :)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Replacing the paper tray on a Remington Portable 2

Already a while back the paper tray of this black Remington Portable 2 typewriter was replaced with a nicer specimen. From having bought a parts machine and a box of assorted Portable parts, there's a range of parts lying about here for this model typewriter. Out of this stock was picked a cleaner paper tray with less (no) rusty spots and still shiny on the bare metal side.


Then to fix it on the machine. Preferably with least dismantling of the machine.

An unavoidable first step is to remove the platen from the machine. Removing the platen knob (loosen screw) and pulling out the rod allows the platen to be wiggled out of the machine. (Images on a previous posting of April 2015.) Again a good idea to keep the line feed parts in place with a rubber band or such.


The machine then needs to be turned over, upside down. Obviously with the typebars flat. It is best placed on a thick wad of rags or an old towel to prevent damage and to not bend parts of the ribbon-reversing mechanism. (The ribbon reverse pillars can stick out and are easily bent out of shape, causing the automatic reverse to fail. I know now...)

Upside down, extend the carriage as far as it will go left and right and remove the hinge pin left and right. In the picture below is shown the carriage pushed all the way to the right, bringing the paper tray hinge in view. The rod may need a gentle tap from the right with an awl or small screwdriver to get the knurled end to protrude from the hinge. When it sticks out enough, it can be grabbed with pliers and gently pulled out, rotate and wiggle a bit and it should slide out fine. 


Remove hinge rod at other side too and the paper tray will drop off. This also gives easy access to the paper feed rollers, both front and back. The front rollers assembly is merely held under the spring-rod and can even just be taken out. To replace or fix the rollers, it is however probably much easier to pull out the axle rods by the knurled end. (Don't pull the other end, that'd be the hard way.)


For re-assembly, the reverse procedure applies. The knurling of the rods being pushed into the hinge holds the rod in place.

The little Remington Portable then had a shiny and rust-free paper tray :-)


(Next up still is the lifting tray. That's much harder, as the clean replacement part did not quite fit. Some 'forming' of parts and frames will be needed to make it all work.)