Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Looking closer at type

After reading the interesting recent postings by Mr Sommeregger on the RaRo type, I was curious to take a closer look at the type on some of my machines. The 3-bank Corona I think would have been custom type, dating back to their origins. Likewise the Noiseless has very specific type requirements because of the thrust-anvil mechanism. But the Speedline and the Victor could or would have catalogue type.

Especially the Victor, as it has a nicely slanted typeface that looks as though it would be a special and recently Adwoa found a Lettera 22 with an identical typeface. This would suggest it was not a company-own type but rather a bought-in item.

The typeslugs on the ~1937 Remington Victor-T (a streamlined portable number 5 assembled in the UK) have markings that include '41' and either 'A' or 'P' markings. (Had assumed the 41 would refer to the number of typebars, but that is 42 unless I'm much mistaken. Odd.)

The type below is from my late 1938 Speedline. What first looked like a '28' is a 2 followed by what looks like a CK monogram. That could be C for Corona, or an external type foundry. Curious.

Both being late 30-ies American machines (or at least Anglo-American), it is not so surprising they do not contain one of the RaRo marks. There will have been several such companies and at least some in the US I would think. Maybe one of these with CK as a monogram...

(Another thought was that the shift-distance would depend on models and their mechanism, or was that perhaps one of the parameters that was standardized in a norm?)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to get the best results from HMV products

The assembly and operating instructions leaflet that originally came with the HMV 102 gramophone was fairly brief on the actual use. It includes winding instructions and how to place a new needle, but funnily does not mention actually placing the needle on the record. By that time this would be common knowledge of course, so the oiling diagram is probably better use of the leaflet space.

On the entirely other end of the spectrum, a record sleeve for HMV classical records from the 1920-ies contains a most detailed description of how to play a record. (Dance records came with another sleeve text, on the marvels of creativity of the modern dance band.)

In detail; points to get the best results and properly play a record on the His Master's Voice gramophone.

About the pushing in; most records up to the thirties don't have a run-in spiral groove on the outer rim to 'catch' the needle when it is lowered on the outer rim. Most are just plain flat on the outer rim, so the needle can be pushed into the first groove. Some records have a thick ridge on the outer diameter, so the needle at least cannot drop off the record. This ridge seems to be mainly on older (before 1920) German-made records so far.

The run-out on early records is very varied. Some have no run-out at all and just stop, some have a very thick-ridged spiral to a smaller circular track or even just to pretty much launch the needle onto the label. Most do have some sort of spiral or oval to move towards the label quickly, so the auto-brake usually works on these.

Took a while for 'standard practice' to settle in. A fun area to discover :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Want The Waiter

Another surprise find :-)

I Want The Waiter (With The Water), sung by Carroll Gibbons with a piano.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lower Clapton Road

This record I just bought came in a sturdy cardboard sleeve from a record store. (Amazingly, today in 2014 there are online stores where you can just browse their catalogue of 78's and order your pick.)

So just being curious, entered the address on Lower Clapton Road in the Google Maps page. It is indeed in London (E5), but what threw me is that streetview for the address shows an electrical goods store. Is that what this music store evolved into?

Well maybe not, but in around about that area there was a shop with thousands of disks to choose from.

No such shops today, but of course now the net with many thousands to choose from.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Adjusting Noiseless Portable

The Remington Noiseless Portable required still quite a whack at the keys, my particular specimen needed this to make an even imprint. Hitting the keys without a firm (staccato) wallop, would make an uneven imprint, with the top half of the characters very light or not even there.

This is then of course a case where the carriage and platen sits a bit too low for the type striking the platen, with most of the force on the lower half of the type. Given that the carriage rests on a single, small screw in a lip extending from the frame, it is probably logical to have sagged a bit over time. Having looked at it now for a while, finally grabbed some tools and had a go at adjusting this.

Most amazingly (to me, at least) there are two screws in the RNP to adjust the height of the platen for lowercase and for uppercase. The screws have of course a lock-nut to keep them in place during use. (Haven't quite figured out how a left-right height adjustment is done, but that was fortunately still ok :)

All the tools that were needed, are a small screwdriver and a 1/4" open wrench. Having tried first of course with metric tools, luckily had an Imperial wrench of the right size. (Actually used an Allen key, but also not an allen key...)

Started by making sure the imprint of the lowercase is nicely even. Lowercase has the p and q for the lower and the d and b for the top of the needed imprint, so with a bit of trial and error the lowercase can be adjusted to make an even imprint. Striking several times a letter from firm to very lightly to make an increasingly faint impression gives a good cue to see if the platen is properly centered in front of the type.

The lowercase rests on the screw, so clockwise will raise the platen. The uppercase pulls on the adjustment screw, clockwise will lower the platen.

With the lowercase adjusted, the uppercase will be out of line. So as the next item loosened the lock-nut. A small wrench can just squeeze in to loosen the uppercase lock-nut, parallel-beak pliers that can work on the lowercase just couldn't get there.

Result now is a Noiseless Portable that is much less critical about the typing force with a more even result on paper.

(Still needs staccato typing, the letter a is particularly sensitive. Must be another adjustment somewhere on the machine for that :-)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Uplifting music

The gramophone itself was fun to fix and indeed does look great. It's now also great fun to play music with it.

Over the past months I've been getting more music to go with the gramophone. I always liked dance orchestra music of the period and have been buying some some 'stacks' of old records of the period off of the net. When getting a stack, there is then the fun of going through them to see what you've got, and enjoy the music.

Some are not quite my cup of tea (some are really surprising though, quite amazing stuff). Some are records I knew would be great to have from well known artists, luckily many of the popular artists sold very well and records are still plentiful. Some are by artists I wasn't all that aware of.

Of that last category; I'm very glad I came across some records of Nat Gonella and his band. He was an English trumpeter and bandleader, that I now have a couple of records of from the late thirties. This music just lifts me up :-)

This UK Parlophone record (catalogue number F 1475) has what is perhaps more of a novelty song from '39, but it does show off very well his style of trumpet playing. 

Boogy Boogy Boo, by Nat Gonella and his Georgians. (Hmm, should've let the player make more speed before lowering the needle. Also bad quality and low-res video, oh well - it's about the music mostly and at least it makes the file load fast ;)

On the other side (that I suspect is the 'A' side insofar as there are 'A' and 'B' sides), another novelty song of the period that must've been very popular. It was recorded by several bands in that year. Different times...

Three Little Fishies by Nat Gonella and his Georgians. (Again, not a good camera setting and video compressed to very low res, but most of the sound should be there still. Still have to think about how to do recording...  :)