Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fixing the governor

As a gramophone owner you were expected to regularly take the thing apart and oil it. Or maybe expected to take it up to your gramophone shop and have it serviced. The instruction leaflet that came with such machines does include the steps to take out the motor-board ("grasp edge of horn by left hand, grasp winding key by right hand and lift out motor board").

Once you have the motor board out, you can see the lubrication chart that is glued to the bottom of the case. ("oil according to greasing chart to be found below motor").

Now there's a thought for typewriters. The service chart could be in the lid or cover and right there when the mechanism is opened up. (Maybe some machines did have that, I do not know...)

Because the turntable did not keep a stable speed and make a rather loud chugging noise, the friction pad in the governor was the first suspect. If that has gone 'solid', there would not be a large stable rpm range and any un-evenness would give a chugging sound like a steam locomotive at speed.

With an additional four screws loosened, the motor indeed gently drops out of the board. The motor is heavy, most of the weight of the whole gramophone is the motor. The plates and pillars are dimensioned generously, then again it does need to safely contain a strong spring with a lot of energy in it.

The little friction pad had indeed taken the consistency of a small stone. Hard like a little rock. After first trying to soften it up and re-oil it, it was decided to replace it. Gently prying open the clamps holding the leather the 'stone' dropped out. Stacking two small pads cut to size (old leather belt), these were clamped tight again in the friction pad holder and then provided with several generous doses of machine oil. This made the new pad soaked and fit for service.

Putting the machine together to try, it now runs at a stable speed. The pitch regulator now actually governs the speed where first it was more of a switch from 'stop' to 'as fast as you can'. The chugging sound was also mostly gone. As the new leather pad settles in, this is gradually becoming less.

Also had to oil and work the sliding bush of the governor with the friction disc. It moves now, but a bit sluggish. This makes it slow to reach stable speed but otherwise has no ill effect.

Now to fine-tune and re-adjust the pitch regulator, perhaps to print a strobe disc.

Like the typewriters also very mechanical, but definitely on a different scale. Different both in size of the components and in the complexity of the mechanisms.

An enjoyable excursion :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New acquisition, analog machine

It is a black leatherette (rexine) case, but not a typewriter. It is analog equipment, arguably more analog than a typewriter even.

Here some quick pictures of the new purchase:

When taking off the turntable - not clean:

The light in the pictures is already low (was late); given the the somewhat dusty and grimy state of the machine that is not a bad thing perhaps. On the plus side the machine is complete and the chrome plating seems fine.

It's a very late HMV model 102 gramophone, the date code on the typeplate shows this was made in 1953. This is not a type of machine I'd associate with the fifties, but in Britain these were still being made and sold alongside electric pick-up models. The 102 model was introduced in 1931 by HMV and made right up to 1960 with only minor changes, making it indeed more a thirties machine than a fifties product. This is a late evolution of the type with the flush deck and a 5B soundbox, this H model was introduced in March 1953.

Similar to typewriters there is a lot of online activity on gramophones. Whilst not with the sophistication and completeness of a typewriterdatabase, the various forums (forii?) and websites quickly gave the information needed to identify and date the machine.

A very helpful thread on The Talking Machine Forum and very informative posting on how to take it apart by an HMV102 owner in Singapore gave me the confidence to go ahead and buy this one and now dive in to fix it. (The autobrake doesn't work and the speed is very sensitive; race or stop and no middle ground.)

The empty wooden box with the motor board with mechanism taken out.

The chalk markings and the stamp make it clear this is an H model (if the typeplate itself was not convincing enough).

Fixing this one :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

This is off-topic

But what is definitely a topic in the Typosphere is giving puzzling glimpse images of new machines. Can the make and type be determined from seeing a detail part of the item?

Another purchase was made of a black leatherette covered case. The case measures about 30 x 17 x 41 cm. (Hint in the title.)

More anon, busy cleaning and repairing the mechanism.

Joy :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Video sightings

A music video got pointed out to me today by Dutch artist Caro Emerald of her song Liquid Lunch.  Hm, yes.   It features a typewriter too.

Quite a clever video and an enjoyable song. Actually it features a whole slew of mid 20th century objects. It is positively filled with analog technology. And a Martini.

This reminded me that the video of This Too Shall Pass by OK Go also included a machine incorporated in their Heath Robinsonian / Rube Goldberg contraption.

Amazingly and I'm sure much to the relief of the Typosphere, the typewriter survives its task in the whole setup :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Alarm (iconic)

This actually is an icon, for a Microsoft Office notification tool that gives you an alert (alarm?) that there is some upcoming event. The iconic image is an alarmclock, probably clearly recognizable by most people as an alarm clock.

It is also probable that most people viewing that icon on a screen do not have such an alarm clock on their bedside table. Many may never had one. Even though it has been superseded by alarmclock radios or other electronic devices, the essentially obsolete alarmclock is still iconic for 'alarm: something to be done!'.

Mind you; it is really an alarm. The bells are very sudden and very loud. Especially in the morning when not quite awake this could be almost classified as a health hazard. Not for anybody with a weak heart.

Iconic though :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tab stops on a ruler

When showing off some pictures of my Victor portable, I was asked what those black metal bits were at the back. These were the tab stops.

That triggered an immediate 'wow' that the tabs stops as are drawn on a ruler bar on a computer screen can be linked back to the typewriter.

The same way that the classic typewriter still is an 'icon' for 'writing', tab stops on a ruler bar have become the 'icon' for the tab function.

For many users of a graphical text editor (or 'word processor') the iconography of the ruler with margin stops and the tab stops is clear and evident. Even without being aware of the mechanical origins of the margins and tab setting functions, these are the recognized symbols that still make sense for aligning characters.