Saturday, May 28, 2016


This is what I guess is called 'an impulse buy' from a trip to the town centre. A nice, full bottle of blue 'letter-writing ink' from Talens, here a well known maker of inks and paints. Talens is still making and selling supplies, but this is definitely not recent stock.

An extra label at the back explains this is 'temporary replacement quality', for the regular Apoldro variety. Especially notes that this ink is not everlasting, thus quite suitable for normal correspondence. Also noted it does not run on the inferior paper of the day. And don't mix with other inks.

This suggests it probably is a wartime 'surrogate' product. The bottle design is of the pre-war type, so that'd fit. The Apoldro branding was I think used at least in the thirties. (Apoldro is an archaic spelling of Apeldoorn, where Talens was (and is) located.)

Also indulged in a bottle of Gimborn green 'normal writing ink'. Also a well known Dutch brand. After the 1929 crash the company hit hard times and was sold to Pelikan, who continued to use the brand name. The bottle is still full. Could be from the twenties to perhaps fifties with that label, but probably around 1930. Wonder what the best-before date is...  ;)

On a spree, completed it with a small box of metal nibs. Labeled to contain 144 of them, by the look of it they're all still there. That supply should last us a while - still have metal nib pens (as used in school in mid-thirties). Unfortunately all the nib boxes in the stall were taped shut and a price-label stuck on - trying to remove the tape would ruin most of the labels. Picked the box with the least tape...

Not usual items to find in the high street. However, recently some 'rent-a-stall' thrift shops opened in the town centre. A sign of the times perhaps for high street retail. Curious and browsing around one of these stores, came across a stall with a simply astonishing assortment of inks. From the look of the labels and bottle-styles, all dating to the first half of the 20th century. Could not resist picking these items 'off the shelf'.

The store manager told me there's another lot of at least three times the current size coming in. A collector is clearing out his entire collection. Hundreds of vintage bottles of ink large and small, metal-die inks, nibs, dies, cliches, pens...   

(Maybe hold off on trips to the town centre for a bit :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The modern way to write

With the current, slow project of resurrecting a battered Remington Portable #2 typewriter; to have a look at the target that we're aiming at. Some inspiration...

To add to the refurbished 1927 tangerine typewriter, some promotional literature advertising the machine. Reprints of brochures extolling the virtues of the Remington Portable typewriter for any man, woman or child.

On the very extensive oztypewriter site Mr Messenger posted scans of several advertising materials. (Thank you!) With a graphics program, these images were edited and touched up - stains and blemished removed, alignments adjusted and some areas newly made and extended. Then with some guesswork on the actual arrangement on a tri-fold brochure, printed these reproductions on smooth, cream paper.

Now there's a promise - the reports simply roll out of the machine!

To be fair - in its time it really was groundbreaking. This was the first standard keyboard, compact portable that really addressed the mass consumer market. (An emerging concept of itself, it could be argued). A fairly common machine to find today still, yet a very influential machine that defined much of the basic archetype of the portable typewriter for decades afterwards.

The modern way to write!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Play! (Outfit No 3)

Watching the kids tinker again with the modern plastic (yech) version, got me thinking of the old set that was around the house. By now a long time ago of course and that set wasn't new then either. Given that the kids are by now pretty adept at the Danish plastic, including the technical variety, was curious to experience again some genuine Meccano.

Oh wonder that is the internet and online-auction-sites:

Went for it and got us a 'playworn' number 3 outfit from the mid fifties. Seeing this again, I think the old set we had must've been a number 1 set from the same period, remember it as a much smaller box. Also recall being a bit disappointed at the content; not even close to the promise of that giant crane on the front.

These boxes don't wear well, taped together at the corners. There is an instruction booklet for the outfit 3 dated (I think) as from 1954.

Used parts and almost a number 3 outfit as I now know. (No interest so niche that it doesn't have its online presence. Meccano is no exception, many very informative sites!) Missing are the two wheels (part no 187) and instead of these a large pulley (20a) and wheel (24) are in the box. To be fair, the seller did not claim for the set to be complete and made clear it had been re-strung with used parts. Also the small parts box is of course not original.

Being re-strung (with period cord) to an original stringing card, did not feel too bad about undoing every knot in sight and getting out all parts. To be played with!

Unpacking with a 7 year old: What 'instructions'? - wheels! First now to build a car. No wait, a crane :-)

With a length of the also supplied period-correct cord (40) and a bit of help. Apart from the two wheels, the set is nicely complete actually. A good supply of nuts and bolts (37), square nuts of course, clips (35) and even the cord attaching spring (176).

It's larger, heavier and feels generally different from the familiar Danish 'Technic' system. It also is a lot more fiddly and harder to get together. Prior experience in putting together Lego did not fully prepare the kids for the complexities of fiddling with Whitworth 5/32" threaded nuts. They're getting there...

Proud of his car, completely own design and build.

And a simple garden seat from the instructions (model 0.3, by older sibling).

Did enjoy this. The kids enjoyed it. Enjoyed the kids enjoying it :-)

We'll see how this goes...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Remington Portable deep-clean

Still not certain it'll be a repair, but either way it starts with taking it apart. The goo was too deep into the machine and internal levers were bent out of shape, so the only way it could be fixed was taking off the typebars and intermediate levers. Did not want to take off the carriage this time, but dismantling the ribbon and spools mechanism and pulling out the ribbon feeding shaft makes way for the fulcrum wires to pass.

These are fairly solid wires that take some tapping from one end to work loose. (The flat head of a small Torx screwdriver helps here.) Tapping from one end will extend the wire just enough to use pliers to pull the fulcrum wires out completely.

Both the typebar and the intermediate lever fulcrum wires are held in place by single locking plates at the sides of the segment. These need to be removed or can be tilted out of the way.

Now then to clean a very gummed up mechanism. On the separate levers different techniques were tried. Mere scrubbing or polishing does not work on this - damages the parts more than that it removes the tar. Tried soaking (days!) in commercial de-greaser to soften - this barely had an impact. Tried soaking (days!) in white spirit (i.e. petrol) to soften - that did indeed soften up the tar, making it possible to rub the parts clean. Also tried soaking in washing-up liquid with just a bit of hot water - that softens up the tar within minutes! Then the parts can be rubbed clean with a rag.

From these experiments, the 50% washing-up liquid and water clearly is the preferred solution. It's effective, fast and not hazardous. Also not risky for any rubber parts and the machine gets a wonderfully fresh lemon scent too!

One of the intermediate levers was bent out of shape. With the part out of the machine it can be gently formed back into shape.

The levers can be soaked in the soapy solution. The whole machine and segment proved harder to get at - putting the roasting pan to good use then also dunked the entire machine in the solution. With vigorous scrubbing then much of the tar was removed. One mistake was to leave the machine in the solution too long (overnight), blackened screws then developed rust.

Luckily many of the internal parts seem to be nickel-plated (these machines must have really gleamed when factory-new), the rust could be mostly wiped off easily and a little oil applied. Now a clean segment again:

Also the typebars are mostly clean.

By the way, the parts that are shaped for their position are very helpfully numbered. All the intermediate bars are identical and not marked. All the keylevers and all typebars have the number of their position in the segment stamped into the part.

Otherwise it'd be a bit of a puzzle. Come to that - it is a puzzle even now :-)

Slow project - it may become a repair job yet!