Friday, October 11, 2019

Associated ephemera - haberdashery

Even though these are 'consumable' items, probably a great many of these cards survive - like these.


An amazing amount of these snap-fasteneres were jammed in in an old jam-jar. Amongst a load of fairly recent generics (for offspring to craft with), a surprising number of older cards. Many with the original product still on the card. A snapshot of haberdashery packaging from probably the late 1930-ies to the late 1960-ies.

Some cards have used fasteners snapped back onto a card - waste-not, want-not!

Some of the older Koh-I-Noor buttons/fasteners have an unusual 'castellated' rim, neat. The spelling of the advertising on the back of these does suggest a date no later than ~1950. (Dutch spelling evolves rather.) The one card that was the lower-corner of a sheet carries what is probably a printer's mark 'I 40', quite likely 1940.


Another little bit of trivia this threw up; there are a few 'Prym' cards in there as well. This company is still in business and has been producing metalwork since 1530. Still makes snap fasteners too.


Not quite so ephemeral :)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Singer 28K sewing machine

The sewing machine is clean and working again!


This is another niche subject it's possible to totally 'geek-out' with. Looking again at some more online resources (there's e.g. ISMACS), it turns out this is not a 128 from '29. Despite the bobbin-winder being high-up, it does not have the eject-lever for the shuttle - so a type 28. Also the serial number falls in the range released on January 8, 1930 for a batch of type 28 sewing machines (according to the really most extensive serial number database at ISMACS). So it's a 28K from 1930 manufactured in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland.

In any case - a very neat and decorative small machine that again works absolutely fine. Here threaded (with of course thread on a wooden spool) and it has already been used quite a bit.

Apart from general cleaning and polishing the thread-tension disks, the only part that needed attention was the cam-roller for the feed-dog motion (white arrow). This was seized-up and sliding over the cam surface instead of rolling. This made the machine go 'heavy'.


The machine tilts-up for access. Some oiling and coaxing of the wheel restored motion. With general oiling of all parts, the machine rapidly got into its own again. Positively purring away.

The hinges that hold the machine in its wooden base had come loose a little. With a large screwdriver these were fastened again. (Never thought I'd ever have a need for this large screwdriver, but it was just the right size.)


The machine drops over hinge-pins and then fixed by set-screws. These set-screws turned out to be the only part missing on this machine. Not essential, but will be nice to get a set later. It turns out that screw-thread in Singer machines is non-standard and Singer-specific. Hadn't thought about it, they started mass-production in the 1850-ies before well established standards - so created their own.

The rubber feet at the corners of the base had disappeared, leaving only the nail protruding. These were covered by some new felt feet. For grip, the felt was 'infused' with some plasti-dip.

With the machine out of the base, the date that was scratched into the bottom became easier to spot. This looks like a date from a professional servicing. Perhaps the machine was serviced and sold again by a dealer second-hand in '54 to a new owner. These were once very expensive items!


Judging by the the state of the machine and how all the adjustment screws were all jammed 'tight', the last time it was used was probably a frustrating failure. Then it was probably put away in an attic or cupboard for a few decades, to end up in the local council recycling-centre's store.

Still some small things to add/put right, but already this Singer is functional and being used again.

Highly recommended, these - both for restoring and using.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cleaning up the impulse buy machine

The machine was clearly well-used, with wear to the finish from fabric and hands sliding over the surfaces. After use, the machine must have been stored away for perhaps decades, judging from the dust, dirt and 'tiredness' of the wooden case.

The wooden carrying case for the machine is similar to typewriter cases in that it consists of a base and a lid. Very different is the domed, steamed 'bentwood' and the lacquered finish. With the gold decal the case looks more like early Hammond cases.


The general 'tired' look of the case with the varnish being broken in spots could be revived very nicely with furniture wax. There may be other and better methods, but this will fill the bare spots and protect the wood and create a more even finish. Working carefully around the decal, not taking any chances with rubbing or solvents from the wax-preparation damaging it. As can be seen in the image with the corner waxed, it brings out the depth of the wood again.


The metalwork of the machine had some superficial rust as well as general grime. After cleaning with a damp cloth, a basic, quick polish with a little bit of Brasso brings out the shine again. An important part to clean and make smooth again is the thread-tensioner (or so I have gathered from the vast array of resources online about these machines).


That's the complex looking spring-assembly with knurled nut on the side of the machine head. The two dished discs in that stack pinch the thread to create tension during sewing. These fortunately cleaned up well and are here again assembled.

The damage to the decals and paintwork of the machine can be seen very clearly here. The cast frame of these machines was painted (dipped) in black lacquer, then decals and then followed by a clear-coat of shellac.


The clear shellac has been worn away on most of the machine - the spotty, brownish layer on the bed are probably remains of this protective shellac coating. We'll have to see how to tackle this.

Maybe this will be left as-is; it is a well-used machine and will be permitted to look it. Getting it to work again is the main thing (it's being eyed by a daughter, keen on using it).

Very different mechanical technology again, very neat to tinker with and fix-up :-)

Monday, September 30, 2019

An impulse buy

Just picked up for the sum of five (5) Euro. An impulse buy with serial number Y7461873.


According to a very quick look at online resources, this should mean it was manufactured in Scotland in 1929.

It's dusty, dirty and in some places a bit rusty, but seemed complete and everything moved. Some weekends to come with enjoyable cleaning and polishing - and then getting it to work again :)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Spotting a silver Sterling

At least, that's what it looks like.

When watching the movie "Kiss and Make-Up", the secretary in the very swanky beautician's office uses a typewriter that seems to match the overall decor. The machine is light in colour, definitely not black.


A few moments later, the typewriter is shown better. As Annie looks up, the machine fairly gleams - this is a metallic shine and not a coloured lacquer. The top-cover and the panel in the sides also clearly confirm this to be a Corona typewriter, a so-called 'flat-top' model.


As is written on e.g. the Corona page at Machines of Loving Grace, in 1934 a small series of actual sterling silver typewriters were made to promote the updated 'Sterling' model. Seeing this machine shine, it seems likely that this is one of those limited-edition typewriters with a housing of actual silver.

A shiny silver typewriter fits right in the general decor, so it may have been chosen by the studio - it may also have been a promotional  'product placement' by Smith-Corona. When the film was made, these silver promotional models would have been brand-new, just about to appear in showcases in a select few shops.


However the brand name is nowhere shown, even in this view of the back of the machine any lettering seems to have been removed. So it is perhaps more likely to have been the studio's choice. (Not sure about the silver Corona's, but regular machines have the name printed on that back panel.  Have never myself seen an actual silver typewriter; these were rare then and are even rarer now.)

The movie itself is of course a bit dated and very much a 'pre-code' production. Light comedy and visual escapism that is lightyears removed from actual reality - let's just say that the film was not made for its storyline.

It has an 'extravagant' cast to match the film's theme, with Cary Grant as the male lead. And they used an extravagant typewriter prop too.

In any case, a pretty rare machine to spot!
(Picture of an actual existing sterling silver typewriter here.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

AvoMinor 67004-442

From the company that invented the multi-meter, a small and simpler instrument. The 'AvoMinor' was introduced in 1933, upgraded in '35 with a socket inside the Ohms adjuster knob. (As with every little niche, there is quite a lot of information available online. Especially informative were the pages at Richards Radios.)


When purchased a while ago, the case looked a bit tired and the instrument didn't work.

Luckily the fault was repairable and the case cleaned up nicely. (Again; experience with typewriter cases restoration comes in handy.)


With newly made leads, the fixed instrument is again usable. Even though quite limited in function when compared to modern or even the contemporary regular Avo meters, it is good enough for most of my simple measurement needs.


The back of the instrument screws off, the cardboard battery compartment can then also be taken out. The battery leads were already broken, otherwise these will need un- and re-soldering. A quick inspection showed that fortunately the coil movement was still fine. With another meter, the various parts were inspected and tested.


This is very 'mechanical' and visible electrics, before packaged components were used. With the aid of the explanation and diagram at Richards Radios, the only actual fault was found to be the top-right coil being open-circuit.


This coil could then be taken out by unscrewing its 6BA bolt and nut and unsoldering the leads. 


Then unpacking the coil to find the fault, it turned out that luckily it was a case of lead-in wire having come loose from the coil wire proper. This is often the cause of old coils being open-circuit, rather than breaks somewhere deep inside the wound coil. The thicker lead-in wire was originally merely twisted with the coil wire, now repaired by soldering and again wrapped in paper-tape.

Battery contacts soldered again with the battery-well in place and a regular 1.5V AA battery provided with some padding or sabot then fits well enough inside the compartment.


Re-assembled and functional again, with the original instruction booklet. The serial number of the instrument indicates manufacture in April of 1942. It survived very well, the dial crisp and clean and no damage to the bakelite housing either.

The contact bushes are (of course) an odd Imperial size, they're 1/8" so a little over 3mm diameter. Even though this is an unusual size, a batch of 3mm banana-plugs were sourced. With some modern flexible litz wire and some shoelaces, look-alike reproduction leads were mocked-up. They turned out too large diameter when compared to originals - but they work and don't look too much out of place.


Added some 3mm alligator-clips, and the meter is in use - here showing that this lantern-battery is quite tired, nearly exhausted.

A nice vintage and very usable instrument again. And in reality quite complex enough, for use by a mainly-mechanical user too :)

Friday, June 28, 2019

An extra part it does not absolutely need

From having bought the parts of a 'boat-anchor' Remington Portable typewriter, there's a good supply of screws and sundry bits 'n bobs in the spares box. With the benefit of reference machines, two of these bits have now been identified as the spring to press down the margins-bar and its mounting screw.


Comparing one typewriter with a next, it turned out that my 'statistical machine' did not have this spring fitted. It may never have had it, or may well have lost it during its 90+ years of alternating use and neglect. In any case, to be fitted with one again. The Remington Portable still works fine also without this part, the weight of the margins-bar is enough to make it drop back in the correct position after any 'margin release' use. With the spring it'll work better and more reliable, it should then even be possible to type with the typewriter held upside down (?).

The spring is placed with the long end tucked into the corner of the margins-bar. The eyelet shown in front of the threaded hole for the mounting screw.


With the mounting screw through the eyelet of the spring, it is held in place and the margins-bar is kept in position more firmly.


(Whilst not strictly necessary, it's a lot easier to mount when the platen is first removed. On the Portable this is a fairly easy procedure.)

Everything re-assembled - hardly noticeable, yet a more complete and fully functional Remington Portable typewriter.