Thursday, June 2, 2022

Something different - a Multiplex!

It was not too far away, so a quick trip to pick it up and no shipping-risk for something like this. This was the main object of the trip that also yielded that telephone - another typewriter! This one is certainly not within my usual 'scope' of interbellum portables, but a venture into a very different type of writing machine. Possibly paid a bit much (at least more than I've ever done for a pre-war portable), but we have a grand -albeit a little tired-looking- Hammond Multiplex typewriter complete with case. 

It is the open, universal-keyboard model, probably made around 1915 or 1916. It just looks very impressive and somehow very Edwardian. And it's a completely new writing-mechanism to discover!

The case suffered from moisture, much of the glue has let go, seams are loose and veneer is delaminating.

The instructions inside the lid are still there. Oddly, for a machine sold in Holland with a Dutch keyboard the instructions are in English, French, German and Spanish. Rather a nice touch; the German text is in fraktur too.

Unexpected bonus; the missing bit of veneer from the back of the lid is still there. It is taped to the inside of the lid! The machine looks like it is straight from a shed or damp attic, but care was taken to save some bits that fell off.

One type-shuttle mounted (sort of) on the turret - a regular Medium Roman shuttle with a character set for the Dutch market (with 'f' currency symbol).

There are unfortunately more parts missing; e.g. the caps-lock lever is absent. Naturally, there is no impression-strip - that is anyways a wear-item that will have to be sourced or made. There is also no drawband - and the spring-motor seems to not tension when wound (hmm...). Both the hard-rubber spools are damaged, but for both spools there is luckily one side that is intact so it is not too much of a problem to 'fix' and make presentable.

As seems very common for Hammond typewriters, the feed rollers are cracked badly. 

Taking the machine off the base-plate, it really shows that it is a golden bronze colour all-over. That should be bright nickel, the machine is just very (very) dirty.

Another thing spotted when looking underneath - is that an extra type shuttle!? With some wiggling and tweezers, a second type-shuttle could be manoeuvred back out of the mechanism. So there were two shuttles, it is a Multiplex after all! :-)  The machine now has Medium Roman (34?) and a Medium Roman Italic - very likely the original two shuttles that came with the machine back in 1915 or thereabouts.

With the baseplate 'by itself' it becomes clear that it is held together mostly by the remaining felt. All the planks are loose. This should be a relatively minor thing to repair - glueing it all firmly together again.

Before tackling a restoration, to see if it can be made to work again, a light machine oil will be applied to all visible screws. As this creeps in, it will hopefully make them easier to undo. A quick check with some metal polish on a key-ring confirmed that - yes; there really is a bright nickel machine underneath all that dirt and tarnish...

So now a Hammond Multiplex 'new on the shelf' - or rather 'old on the shelf' - a project that will start with a slow, step-by-step disassembly and (slower yet) thorough cleaning of all parts. 

Many months of tinkering pleasure ahead :-)


  1. It'll look great once you've worked your magic!

    1. Tnx :-) I hope so!
      Will be thinking-up some powerful cleaning-spells ;)

  2. I'm very glad that I found your series of posts on the Multiplex. I'm working on a Hammond 2 that came with a little can of stray pieces. The photo of underneath the machine helped me figure out the location of a spring. Also congratulations on finding that second shuttle.