Sunday, October 10, 2021

Projects: group of three 'barnfind'-machines

Not so sure it was a worthwhile purchase now that the true state of the machines is visible, but definitely 'projects'. 

Yesterday acquired a batch of three typewriters that should last me for a while to tinker with to get them fixed-up and usable. They are all pre-war portables and actually neat machines of themselves. They'll be kept in storage for a while, to be taken-up as projects over the coming winter (or following summer...). But already some pictures of the three as purchased:

First the Mercedes Prima portable typewriter.

This is the most dusty machine of the lot - for a machine to attract this level of dust-fur inside a case is a remarkable feat. The case is cracked and the spools are rusty, but underneath all the dust this machine seems to be in excellent condition. The inside mechanism is completely rust-free - it also shows its Underwood origins. It is internally identical to an Underwood Universal - will be curious to see if it was converted to metric for manufacturing the design in Germany.

The serial number plate fixed per Underwood-practice to the frame behind the left spool. This makes it I think a 1934 machine.

The second typewriter in this lot was one that got my attention - an Erika M portable.

The Erika and especially its case are also very dirty, definitely 'barnfind'-condition. It seems mostly complete, but has several issues such as seriously bent typebars and non-functioning ribbon-vibrator. It is not 'mint' so will not be worried about digging into this machine to see if it can be fixed-up. These are truly magnificent machines when tuned well, so there's something aim for :)

The keyboard layout of this machine is probably a custom one-off job. It combines the very Dutch 'IJ' key with Norwegian 'AE'. More reason to want to have this machine usable again. The bent typebars are worrying though.

The third typewriter in the lot is a somewhat tired-looking 1923 Underwood 3-bank without case.

Had been looking for a nice specimen of a 3-bank for a while, but they are getting increasingly rare and nice ones are increasingly costly. So as an alternative I was tempted to get this beaten-up project-machine that will be good for fixing-up and exploring the mechanism of these miniature typing wonders. Apart from the usual rubber-issues, the mechanism seems all-there and working - albeit very stiff and 'crunchy'. The paintwork is dull and decals are worn with a light sprinkling of rust all over the brightwork. This will be a guilt-free restoration project!

First however all three will be stored. All machines were given a quick wipe-down to remove the worst of the cruft, then sealed with their case in plastic bags to be put away (in a dry and warm spot). The plan is to take these out one-by-one as restoration and repair projects over the coming year(s). 

If the state of these typewriters had been clearer, I'm not sure I'd have purchased the batch. But now that they're here - many months of typewriter-tinkering fun is ensured :-)