Sunday, August 29, 2021

Erika M Schreibmaschine in neuwertigem Zustand


The lacquer is truly shiny and without any damage. Likewise all the chrome is without any blemish. the decals are immaculate. The machine was not polished-up in any way, only lightly dusted off.

This belonged to a typewriter repairman who ran his own repair-shop. It was one machine that he kept for himself - perhaps a customer trade-in. Judging by the state of the machine and the fresh platen, he probably serviced it and then only used it very little. It was clearly stored well in a dry and warm spot for 40 or 50 years until it was bought from the repairman's descendants and picked-up yesterday.

The one plastic spool that was probably put on the machine some time in the 1980s will be replaced by a matching metal spool. Other than that, it will not be touched. Rather it will continue to be stored warm and dry and sometimes be used for typing (with care).

The serial number 702222/M makes this a (late) 1938 machine.

The one difference with 'the one that got away' is that this specimen has a German keyboard - as do most of these Erika M typewriters of course. It does fit the machine well (mit recht "deutscher Wertarbeit"), also it may lead to some more practice and improve my German (die Fälle hab ich nie so richtig gelernt - und es fehlt mir bisher die Übung...).

(Or alternativelz; this tzpewriter maz cause some yanz spelling :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Just picked up...

Will be taking better pictures, but these identify the machine already!

Ever since walking away from one in May '18, a machine of this type had been on the 'watch' list. Finally, actually did pick one up! - now to practice my German to use it :-)

More pictures shortly, after a 'wipe-down' and light dusting.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Remington Portable with case-key and instructions (localised)

The reason to get yet another Remington Portable #2 typewriter, and a 'bog-standard' specimen at that, was that it came complete with the key to the carrying case.

The second reason to get it and even pay perhaps a bit much for it, was that it came with the original Dutch instructions.

This localised version of the instructions booklet for the Remington Portable has an interesting mix of typeface-sizes. Almost every paragraph on a page has its own size.

Comparing to the original, American instructions booklet it becomes obvious why this is. The page layout with text and images was kept near-identical, only needing to swap-out text blocks to print the localised (Dutch) version. With language however being different, it did mean that sometimes a lot more characters were needed for the translation of a paragraph. Still keeping it in the same bounding-box, they reduced the text size.

Another peculiarity is the spelling, that's odd I think even back in the 1920s. For 'schryfmachine' it can be excused, however the consistent use of the y also in other words ('maatschappy', 'aanwyzing', 'byna') that should really have 'ij' looks strange, certainly to today's (Dutch) reader.

The booklet was of course scanned and is now available on The Archive - for any Dutch machines that may be out there sans-instructions :-)

On the bog-standard, excellent Portable typewriter itself: Having gone as far as to give it a new platen, that paint-damage on the lifting tray was 'jarring'. Dipping into the spares-box for Remington Portables yielded a near-pristine tray of similar vintage. Replacing is a fairly simple process (remove top-panel and then 4 screws), but very fiddly and the fit of a different tray in a machine can be tricky.

Also this part had paint-fingerprints from handling in the factory, as seems to be common for these machines - the production process must've called for lots of manual handling of freshly painted parts. 

Now would there be any surviving documents, photographs or even movies of the Portable manufacturing of the 1920s? Would be neat to see - what is available is imagery of this Czechoslovakian factory of Remington Standards that definitely did do a lot of handling.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

New bits and a platen for a Remington Portable

The state of the rubber on this Remington Portable typewriter was not great. The platen was hard and e.g. the feet were 'tired'.

Luckily, we have new printed feet in stock here. Also recently arrived is a newly covered platen, with a fresh layer of 'contirite'. To top it all off, there's a full set of rollers salvaged from a parted-out machine. A full set!

The feet were chiseled off with a screwdriver:

The new, 3D printed feet simply snap into place.

Similarly, swapping out the bail-rollers is simple - gently bend the sides of the bail to free the bail-rod, slide off the old and on the 'new' and snap the rod back into place.

Before moving on to exchanging the platen, a new ribbon was wound on the spools. The typewriter still has the 'top left' and 'top right' in their correct spots. It must however have been serviced, perhaps still in the 50ies. The spool-trays show signs of congealed, old oil (why?) and a missing screw (again, why?). Here again the treasure-tin with parts from the parted-out Remington Portable EV167240 comes to the rescue.

With the fresh, heavily inked ribbon a few lines were typed on the old platen.

Next the platen was replaced - unless the platen-knob screw is stuck in place this is a fairly simple matter. Undo the screw, take off the knob. Then push out the platen-rod towards the left and lift out the platen. The line-ratchet assembly is moved over to the new platen (three small screws) and then the new cylinder is placed in the machine.

Then some lines with the new cylinder - first time typing with brand-new rubber!

Actually the difference was not as marked as expected. It is still fairly loud, with a sharp impact sound. The print quality is very good - although even with the hard platen it was not too bad either. Testing the hardness with the very unscientific fingernail-method, the old platen did still have some 'bounce' (Sh90+?) and was not entirely hard. The new platen is supposed to be around Shore 82, it does register much more 'bounce' with the same fingernail-test. (Will have to consider getting a durometer...) May be that for an even quieter machine, an even softer platen might be possible.

In any case this new rubber should be much better for the type. Although (I think) it still is a fairly loud typewriter, it does now give excellent print quality and, well, it just 'feels better'.

Overall, getting new rubber for my vintage typewriters is definitely something to explore further - it does 'feel' nicer. It makes this typical, common 'garden variety' Remington Portable #2 typewriter an even nicer little writing machine :-)

Friday, August 6, 2021

Damage to the paint, probably of its period

Recently was acquired another Remington Portable #2 typewriter. 

Nothing remarkable in and of itself - these are still pretty common. Even today these regularly emerge from attics and closets to be put up for sale on one of the many online marketplaces. As was this machine.

The crisp serial number makes this a 1928 machine, the 6314th machine produced in January 1928 in the USA - then exported to Holland with an 'international keyboard'. 

It will require some cleaning; it clearly hasn't been used for decades. Also the rubber will require attention. The platen is rock-hard as usual plus the feet and bail-rollers have perished. These parts will need replacing, but then the typewriter should function fine. These are great machines, very sturdy and can be tuned to be a pleasure to type on. Marvels of 1920s product-engineering. (Quiet, however, they are not.)

It took a moment to determine what it was - that damaged 'matte' spot on the lifting tray. But what this looks like, is heat-damage. Very likely somebody put his (or her) cigarette away on the panel - "no ashtray... Oh, I can put it there and it won't burn the table" - and it caused an unsightly stain. Similar damage is also sometimes seen on older slide-rules, but then the person didn't pick-up the cigarette in time so that the burning reached the rule.

A damage that is perhaps in keeping with the period. We'll have to see how to tackle this - to bring this typewriter into its next century :)