Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hammond - Clean keyboard and support from nr. 90210

Looking much better and again safe to touch - no longer 'icky' and brown - well worth the effort :)

Additional to cleaning, two defects of the keyboard were remedied - with support from Hammond nr. 90210.

The first issue was the broken FIG key-top. The keys have a paper insert under a glass cover, however on the FIG key the glass cover was missing. Judging from the state of the paper label, the glass must have been shattered and lost decades ago.

The keys are a snap-fit on the key-levers, and the FIG could be pried off easily. When it is off, a key can be taken apart. The paper insert was then scanned and used as guide for creating a new key-top graphic. This was then printed in a range of yellow/beige base-colours (and with small variations in diameter, just in case).

Starting with the best-matching version, the new label was brought still closer to the surrounding keys by shading it with orange, brown and grey colouring pencils. Using thick paperboard 12 mm disks as filler and a new cover cut from clear-plastic sheet, the key was assembled again (with glue against rotation) and snapped back on the lever.

The second issue was a missing caps-lock lever.

By coincidence, just last week a 'parts' Hammond was offered for sale on the local classified site - incomplete and 'worn', but with a caps-lock lever! It turned out this machine was being sold on by a Dutch collector (and ETCetera editor) after he used some of its parts to fix another, older Hammond. After a few mails back-n-forth, the machine was bought, shipped and received. Caps-lock lever! (...with several hundred other parts attached...)

It really does look like a barn-find (or attic-find, probably). It's a Hammond 12 (or rather, the remains of one) and pre-dates my Multiplex restoration project probably by a decade. The machine's serial number 90210 still just about readable on the turret-frame.

Despite its state - and it is in a state - it does have a 'presence' and an aesthetic all of its own. An artwork on and of 'decay'. Main thing however; a caps-lock lever! A bit mangled and the mounting-screw firmly rusted in-place, but salvageable.

With oil and some (targeted) brute-force, the screw was forced out. The lever is a stamping from mild steel, so could be bent back into shape fairly easily without too much risk of cracks or breaking. With steel-wool, aluminium-rubbing to mask rust and then a polishing of the knob, the part could be made to look good enough again to blend in with the newly clean keyboard of the Multiplex.

One unexpected snag was that although the parts look the same and the caps-lock construction on a 12 and a Multiplex is identical, the locking-notch is off by a few mm! With some filing of the notch and of the slot in the keys locking-bar the caps-lock could be made to work (a bit).

The keyboard is held in-place with a bar that captures all the levers in their slots. This key-lever-locking-bar of a Hammond originally had a buffer for the key-levers to rest against. From the remains of this buffer, it probably was made from a length of shoestring glued in a recess - so that is exactly what was now glued in the recess again. A new, round lace was clamped to stretch it straight as the glue sets, then cut to size with sharp scalpel/scissors to recreate the key-lever buffer.

One more small fix that was made possible by the donor Hammond was the anvil lock-nut. This was missing on the Multiplex, now remedied with parts from the 12. (The nut and washer cleaned up surprisingly well!)


With the extra support from a parts and reference Hammond, the Multiplex is making good progress - well on its way to being a fully working typewriter again. (Of course, that may still take some time...  ...slow project :-)

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