Friday, February 23, 2024

Blowing out dust - period style

Over decades of neglect, an old typewriter or calculator will collect a lot of dust. Even inside a machine's housing, there often is a surprising amount of dust and debris in the mechanism. 

To clean this out, a soft brush is of course useful - taking care to e.g. not disturb any small springs. Another way is to blow out the mechanism with air.

For a smaller repair-workshop and prior to aerosol cans, there could be used a dust-blower. A wooden cylinder, in this case the 'universal dustcleaner':

These are still fairly common, especially this brand of dust-blower with the flowery label. It is a wooden, rolled tube (veneer) lined with cloth and has a wooden plunger with a leather seal.

The leather-seal on this specimen had been folded back, over the wooden plug. Originally it probably would have been folded forward into the tube, thus sealing against the sides with the air-pressure. Some time in the past this dust-blower was opened and the plunger inserted with the leather wrapped over the plug. To be fair, it's quite difficult to insert it correctly from the back, originally it likely would have been pulled in from the front before gluing on the spout.

The leather had hardened completely, making it difficult to shape it back. A lot of leather-wax was added, to hopefully make it a little pliable again. The seal could be replaced with new chamois, but as it's mainly a historical artefact may just be left as-is. Some extra felt rings were added underneath the leather 'dampeners' on the shaft that also had gone hard - to dampen the plunger 'hitting the buffers'.

From appearance, it could date from anywhere between 1880 and 1920. In fact, most of these are much more recent. The actual manufacturing date is stamped on the plunger; this specimen was made March 17, 1938. (The white dust in the image below is talcum powder, added to make it go smoother.)

It does work - not quite as effective as a pressurised-air can for sure, but durable and very sustainable :)

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