Sunday, September 25, 2016

Corona Four serial number H311516

The carrying case was cleaned earlier. The typewriter itself is now mostly clean also with the keys polished and the ribbon-spool-covers newly painted.

This is a British machine with the there common wondrous wealth of fractions on the keyboard. Mention of the Corona Typewriter Company address in London at Aldwych House, WC2. Patents still pending according to the label.

All this makes it likely it is an English typewriter that was sold in Britain, typewriters for the Dutch market would have had a 'Dutch' international keyboard. That it's British is a bit unusual, as the original owner was said by the seller to be Dutch. Then again not impossible for him to have been in England in the twenties. Though it was suggested by the seller he'd kept this machine with him during his imprisonment, that strikes me as unlikely.


Back to the typewriter: Some detail views of the carriage. It is very similar to the Corona 3 carriage - not very 'tight' in its rails, but light-running and comfortable in use.

The serial number in the machine frame H311516. From the information in The Database, the machine was made sometime in the summer of 1925.

As per standard Corona practice, the serial number is also scratched by hand in the carriage.

The typeface with the opportunity to keep an account precise to eighths of a penny.

The rubber of the machine still needs seeing to - it is rock solid and makes for a very loud machine. Other than that it is fully functional and ready for use!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thrift 12

Don't browse the large local thrift store all that often. Was dropping off some items, so did a walk around the store. This time there even was a typewriter, a proper typewriter too. In decent shape with very little rust and its feet up on the paper table.

Made 90-odd years ago in Ilion across the Atlantic, now sitting in a thrift shop in the North of The Netherlands. Keyboard layout fairly standard for a Dutch machine.

Did not get it, did not even enquire what the asking price would be.  Restraint.

What I did get was a small stack of these. Also heavy, but much less volume to store :)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dark red and dark green

Discovering that this Meccano was fun, had a go at finding an older outfit. This then started with finding an Outfit 1 that was not very complete, but the parts were in decent shape. No box (of course), but it did come with the book.

This set was sold in Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (and played with) in the early thirties and then brought to Holland as the family moved back.

With luck then remnants of another number 1 set of the same period popped up online - combined these make almost complete the parts for making all the models up to the Outfit 1. The remaining few missing bits and a set of new brass nuts and bolts were sourced from a specialist vendor of spares. He was very helpful in finding the spanners and parts all of the correct vintage for this set. Net result is a pretty complete set for the dark red and green (DRG) period of Meccano.

To keep the parts, a new box was made by converting an existing cardboard box. Adding cardboard dividers and covering it with liner paper, it does the job of keeping the parts and looks the part. For the finishing touch, a (fake) label was designed that vaguely resembles an Accessory Outfit label of the period.

There is of course some rust and wear on the parts but still very usable. Rusty nickel parts were cleaned and aluminium used to even out the spots to grey.

The paint on the parts is more fragile than expected. Meccano called this enamel, but it is definitely not glass-like. Also it's not on the level of cellulose-lacquer as used on most typewriters of that period. Even soapy water may attack the paint and weaken it. Washing them, some of the added parts' paint was unfortunately lightly damaged. This shows as lighter spots or streaks - the top green strip in the picture and e.g. a horizontal green brace (part 48a). Learned to be even more careful...

Also from the instruction book, model 1.60 called a 'Swivelling Crane' in the English version of the instruction book. It's on page 52.

Different style parts when compared to the fifties' set, different style of models as well. Again fun to explore, and learned more about how fragile paint can be...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Caught in the net

Have been fishing in the online places for a bit. When buying a couple of job lots, some unexpected, different species show up in the net. Not what the lot was being hauled in for, but these do give a nice puzzle to figure out what they are. From online references and from the context that they're found in, most of these could be determined.

A set of lower wings with a full set of struts and even bolts. Not sure the nuts are original, but the bolts look the right type. This would be part of a French made 'Aeroplane Constructor' set by Meccano.

The thin, green corner gusset or architrave on the right is a 'Primus Engineering' part. Same half-inch hole spacing. These were steel and wood construction sets, made from 1913 to 1926. Given that they went out of business in '26, these gussets are surprisingly common in British lots. The nickel part on the left is much thicker and of the Meccano pattern, but not stamped with Meccano anywhere. It may be an early part, not yet stamped, or it might be from another manufacturer.

The red disk on the right has a half-inch hole spacing, with Meccano-sized holes. Most likely this actually is a Meccano part, from their short-lived X-series. Then this would be a part number X475. The disk to the left with differently sized holes is not yet identified (Primus?).

Very common in North America, less so in Europe. A jumble of A.C. Gilbert Erector parts. From the design of the parts, the closed disk wheels and the 'trunnion' bearing, these parts are late twenties through mid thirties. The seller of the job lot this came from knew that relatives from the US would visit during the 30-ies. Quite possible brought over as a gift then.

Very common. A small selection of Trix parts. These are mostly late thirties to late forties bits-n-bobs. The Trix sets were comparatively cheap - not compatible in hole spacing, but a few bits seem to be mixed up with most lots.

These long, strong strips are not marked and are in design identical to the Meccano design. The pale green color suggests these could well be Märklin parts, likely from the thirties. Almost Meccano then, as Märklin ended up owning the German operation of Meccano after the first world war.

Tinplate train wheels. Odd that, not usable anywhere, really. The small diameter are most likely from a thirties O-gauge tinplate train (Hornby?).

These unintended catches probably very clearly show what it is I've been fishing for :-)

Now to see how to dispose properly of these... Probably the online marketplace again, though if anybody's interested do say so.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The long tail of obsolescence

Ordered this online. This is for a product that's probably even more obsolete than typewriters. Nevertheless, this replacement chimney for a common Kosmos burner can today be found fairly easily online. (Well, once you find out that you need a 6 lignes (written as 6''') sized chimney or lamp glass for a Kosmos.)

Today in the digital, connected world it is easier than ever to source supplies and replacement parts for obsolete articles. Only 20 years ago I suspect it would have been much harder to find - though perhaps even then in specialty 'boating' stores.

Lamp oil is of course widely available, also new wicks are being manufactured. To my astonishment, there's even a company in France that still manufactures oil lamps and burners to pretty much the exact same pattern as our century old little kitchen lamp.

Is this the internet enabling a very long tail for obsolete technologies?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Remington Portable typebar fitting

Continuing the rebuilding of the battered Remington Portable typewriter: The re-attaching of the springs from the bell cranks to the crescent-plate is fairly easy. The springs can be hooked by hand to the hole in the bell crank when it's lifted. With small needlenose pliers the other end is easily fitted into its hole in the crescent plate.

Yet another example of identical parts that probably aren't. The springs do have two different ends, one hook design for fitting in the crank and an elongated hook for fitting to the plate. There are left and right-hand wound springs (why...). Somewhat worryingly some springs are shorter than other springs; that may be random from older repairs, but also could be by design. Could be different lengths for different positions to compensate for different character's linkage shapes. Oh well, we will experience that when (if) it is fully assembled again.

The typebars can then be fitted. Fortunately these are all numbered, so laid out approximately sorted from left to right.

Same as with the bell cranks, starting from one end the typebars are fitted and the pivoting rod is fed into the segment one typebar at a time.

A surprise that now has me wondering about the Remington factory and its quality processes; the typebars should be stamped with the numbers 1 through 42. This machine however has no typebar 12 and two typebar stamped as number 14. 

How does that happen? Did the factory run out of #12 typebars? And then somebody took another #14 and bent it to the right angle by hand? (Is there another machine out there with no #14 and two #12 typebars?)

Notwithstanding this minor numeric confusion, all typebars got slotted into their proper places again :-)

Next up is re-assembling the ribbon-spool mechanism (puzzle!).

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Remington Portable bellcranks are not all identical

Who knew. Only after starting to put them back did I notice that these little levers look the same, but come in left-handed and right-handed varieties. That was also when the remaining goo lodged around the pin became evident. So all off again. With a toothpick the thick, sticky brown grease can be pushed off.

So a small cup is filled with hot water and soap to soften it all up. Quite a bit of poking to get that grease away. The most effective way turned out to be using a toothbrush - holding the part and brush submerged in the soapy water, then wipe all off with paper towel and toothpick. That then gave 22 left-handed and 20 right-handed cleaner bell cranks (or 'intermediate levers', according to Ames).

After some experimenting it turns out that the mounting side of the small connecting plate is the hint to use a left or a right sided bellcrank. The crank should be in-line with the key-lever underneath (makes sense). Getting them wrong also becomes noticeable as they then won't fit properly and jam in the segment.

Before putting the bellcranks back, the fixing wire was given a quick polish. Won't make much difference in how light the machine runs, but having it smooth may make inserting it in the segment a bit easier.

This is still a fairly dirty, worn and beaten-up machine. One of the 'clevis' springs is broken and several cranks show some signs of being ever so slightly bent. May be from original adjustment, but given the overal state of the thing I suspect it's from plain hammering too hard on the keys.

Still unsure if this typewriter will become completely whole again, but now with the row of 'intermediate levers' mounted. One small step forward. Next up is fixing all the springs. Keeping this a relaxed and slow-moving project.

Experience gained; beware of identical-looking parts that aren't!