Friday, September 30, 2022

Typewriter safari - mostly modern machines

A lunchtime stroll round the local thrift-store, several typewriters this time. 

This orange Olivetti tried hard to blend in on the orange-table. Despite the camouflage, the typewriter was spotted and pictured :-)

Next typewriter spotted was a large, black Olympia 8 standard. This would date from the late 1930s and had plenty of rust and a broken drawband (and likely more things out of order). Probably very decorative in an 'industrial decor', but otherwise only suitable as a source of spare parts (if you're fixing up an old Olympia).


The next item spotted was something unusual; a Kodascope Model E complete with its case. This 16mm film-projector would date from the late 1930s to early 40s. Still had its spool too and the top-cover probably was at the bottom of the case. A very neat looking item, but left there - already have so many black carrying cases ;-)


Also just sitting there, was a clean-looking blue Brother.


Nothing purchased during this lunch-time walk, although that Kodascope was tempting!

Not tempting at all were the Antares and Brother on a shelf in the next-door thrift-store... ;-)


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hammond - Clean keyboard and support from nr. 90210

Looking much better and again safe to touch - no longer 'icky' and brown - well worth the effort :)

Additional to cleaning, two defects of the keyboard were remedied - with support from Hammond nr. 90210.

The first issue was the broken FIG key-top. The keys have a paper insert under a glass cover, however on the FIG key the glass cover was missing. Judging from the state of the paper label, the glass must have been shattered and lost decades ago.


The keys are a snap-fit on the key-levers, and the FIG could be pried off easily. When it is off, a key can be taken apart. The paper insert was then scanned and used as guide for creating a new key-top graphic. This was then printed in a range of yellow/beige base-colours (and with small variations in diameter, just in case).


Starting with the best-matching version, the new label was brought still closer to the surrounding keys by shading it with orange, brown and grey colouring pencils. Using thick paperboard 12 mm disks as filler and a new cover cut from clear-plastic sheet, the key was assembled again (with glue against rotation) and snapped back on the lever.

The second issue was a missing caps-lock lever.

By coincidence, just last week a 'parts' Hammond was offered for sale on the local classified site - incomplete and 'worn', but with a caps-lock lever! It turned out this machine was being sold on by a Dutch collector (and ETCetera editor) after he used some of its parts to fix another, older Hammond. After a few mails back-n-forth, the machine was bought, shipped and received. Caps-lock lever! (...with several hundred other parts attached...)


It really does look like a barn-find (or attic-find, probably). It's a Hammond 12 (or rather, the remains of one) and pre-dates my Multiplex restoration project probably by a decade. The machine's serial number 90210 still just about readable on the turret-frame.


Despite its state - and it is in a state - it does have a 'presence' and an aesthetic all of its own. An artwork on and of 'decay'. Main thing however; a caps-lock lever! A bit mangled and the mounting-screw firmly rusted in-place, but salvageable.


With oil and some (targeted) brute-force, the screw was forced out. The lever is a stamping from mild steel, so could be bent back into shape fairly easily without too much risk of cracks or breaking. With steel-wool, aluminium-rubbing to mask rust and then a polishing of the knob, the part could be made to look good enough again to blend in with the newly clean keyboard of the Multiplex.

One unexpected snag was that although the parts look the same and the caps-lock construction on a 12 and a Multiplex is identical, the locking-notch is off by a few mm! With some filing of the notch and of the slot in the keys locking-bar the caps-lock could be made to work (a bit).


The keyboard is held in-place with a bar that captures all the levers in their slots. This key-lever-locking-bar of a Hammond originally had a buffer for the key-levers to rest against. From the remains of this buffer, it probably was made from a length of shoestring glued in a recess - so that is exactly what was now glued in the recess again. A new, round lace was clamped to stretch it straight as the glue sets, then cut to size with sharp scalpel/scissors to recreate the key-lever buffer.


One more small fix that was made possible by the donor Hammond was the anvil lock-nut. This was missing on the Multiplex, now remedied with parts from the 12. (The nut and washer cleaned up surprisingly well!)

 

With the extra support from a parts and reference Hammond, the Multiplex is making good progress - well on its way to being a fully working typewriter again. (Of course, that may still take some time...  ...slow project :-)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Resulta BS-7

The three main components laid out. Removing four screws allows the cover-plate to be taken off, undoing the two nuts under the machine allows the baseplate to be taken off.

The main frame of the little adding machine is riveted together, so cannot easily be taken apart. Nevertheless, with the baseplate and cover off, much of the dust and dirt it has accumulated since January 1939 can be brushed away. The mechanism internally is dominated by the large wheels and segments used to enter a number, adding the number of digits to the totals-register as they are being pulled down.


The view from the bottom into the mechanism shows the long springs that pull the segments back to zero (left) and the input-check register can be seen (right) with the row of detent-levers that hold the number after setting. Pressing down the 'space-bar' at the front tilts these levers, releasing the segments to zip back to their zero position.


Assembled again and cleaned-up - it does like a little like a miniature cash-register. It is a bit similar; it is a little adding machine. The Resulta adding-machines were manufactured in Berlin from 1927 into the 1960s at least. All machines have a number scratched into the base, showing the month and year of manufacture (plus the letter or initials of the person doing the quality-check). This specimen has the code 139g - so checked in January 1939 by employee 'G'.

This specimen is not quite original, as somebody in the past tried to polish-up the aluminium cover, removing the beige-grey finish and dulling the black outlines. Nevertheless, even in shiny aluminium with the now light-grey outlines it still looks ok and after a bit of practice works fine.


Just like typewriters, the rubber feet have decayed and the machine settled down on the rim of the metal base. The simple fix was to 'sole' the feet. Fitting rings were punched from felt-sheet (the felt sold for putting under furniture, it is very tight and can handle mechanical load). A few drops of latex-rubber (textile glue) and spraying with Plasti-Dip gives these new soles a good grip - glued into place on the old, hard rubber feet.

Another thing is the stylus - that is often missing with these calculators. Browsing the internet gave information on what the original stylus probably looked like. The post-war calculators seem to have had a green, shaped, double-ended stylus - the 1930s specimens probably had a simpler, black stylus. From an old pencil and a suitable nail a credible reproduction stylus was crafted.

Cleaned and now with a stylus, the Resulta BS-7 calculator works fine. It is a basic adding machine, with subtraction too. It does have a feature for quick-repeat adding to do multiplication, but I would not characterise this as a four-species calculator.

In the picture above, 12.75 was entered and the input cleared. Then 7.95 was added; the 7.95 showing in the lower input check-register. The sum is shown in the top totals-register. The crank at the top-right clears the totals register again. The lever at the left shifts the machine into subtraction-mode. 

There is a lot of information and a very clear video explaining the machine's workings on this collector's site.

A fun little (and surprisingly heavy) addition to the small set of vintage calculating tools :-)

Friday, September 9, 2022

Looking it up in the catalogue (E.O. Richter compass sets)

Another thing of the information age - researching an item picked up from a thrift-store. In this case two small boxes with drawing tools, marked "E.O. Richter".


In the picture above they've already been cleaned and given a light waxing (following Harlow Wilcox's advice on conserving surfaces)

Something that would've been difficult even 30 years ago; in this digital age it's possible to look things up in the original documentation. Simply searching the name finds information about Mr Richter, the company and the products. On The Archive then, is found a catalogue of the E.O. Richter company with a date of June 1897. 

The two sets are listed :)


This is indeed the contents of the 00. P. set, albeit with mirrored layout (or did somebody flip the image in printing?):


The screwdriver was chipped, so a new tip was ground using the 'Moto-tool'. One pencil-tip holder was missing, here replaced with a modern equivalent - that actually fits; industry standards! Unscrewing the pen-shaft, it actually still contains the promised spare needles and the screwdriver still held a length of pencil-lead.

To also be able to draw very small circles; understandably then also a drop-bow compass.


This is also in the catalogue, set 8:

Still complete, even with the little ampoule for spare pencil-leads.

These two sets of drawing tools were probably also bought together when new - and judging from ink-remains on the ruling-pens the tools were used too. The design of the instruments and the set contents are as shown in the 1897 catalogue, but these boxes may well be a bit later - anywhere between 1900 and 1920. All parts polished up nicely (nickel-silver) and the instruments are still good and usable.

Unfortunately, somebody broke open the boxes with brute-force - must've never seen how these bar-lock boxes work. Instead of wiggling the draw-bar at the front-right corner, they put a screwdriver between the halves and did their best to destroy the boxes. On the small box, luckily the top-eyelet gave way so this only has scars of the screwdriver in the velvet lining. On the larger box however, they thoroughly destroyed the bar-lock. Bad.

Once the remnants of the draw-bar had been 'uncurled' and removed, an attempt was made to make it servicable again. A length of filed-down nail was soldered to the remains of the original brass bar.

Amazingly, this worked out well enough and the bar could be re-fitted to the box. Using strips of veneer the channel was built-up again and a thin pin fixed through the (now very short) slot in the bar to hold it. From this rather crude repair-job only limited travel now remains - but it does work again and the box locks and unlocks.

Nice finds - both for finding out a bot more about them and for giving a chance to tinker and fix something new :-)

Friday, September 2, 2022

Spotting a store-brand typewriter (and buying something completely different)

There hadn't been any typewriters at the local thrift-stores for a while - this time round there actually was one machine. As is now usual it was beige affair, but did look a bit more interesting than most of these modern plastic-bodied machines.


Briefly wondering what the HK meant, took a closer look and saw it was actually 44K in a 'funky' 80-ies typeface. The typenumber was preceded by the characteristic 'H' logo of the HEMA store - well, the stylised 'H' they used back in the eighties. The HEMA is a Dutch chain of 'standard price' stores that is still ubiquitous throughout the country - probably similar to what Woolworths was in the Anglo-Saxon world half a century ago.

Although beige, the machine does not look cheap and has quite distinctive styling. Especially the bulbous back seems more about styling than function.


It looks like a store-branded Olivetti machine - although no idea what model this is. Also at the back it merely stated it was a 44K (perhaps a different color ink has faded?), but otherwise it is clean with no manufacturing origin or any other information. The whole machine was very clean; it looked brand new and unused - very much a mint specimen of a quality typewriter.

It was however completely outside of my collecting-domain (and showed zero tinkering potential), so was left there. Somebody will buy him/herself a very good typewriter!

Further down the aisle however was something completely different.


We'd been looking for a lower/larger specimen of these plant-tables. After a quick-check with home - modern times, sending a picture and getting back the 'ok' within minutes - lifted off the vase and took the table to the check-out. Although it cost only a few Euro, the top was warped and the wood clearly hadn't been waxed in decades - after getting it home, it was also rather more wobbly than first assumed. 

Luckily these little oak plant-tables can be revived. Watching 'The Repair Shop' on the telly gave confidence and ideas on how to tackle the warped top. (Thank you Will Kirk.)

Before anything else though, it was given a soak in petroleum (kerosine) against the woodworm and then left for a few days to 'ooze out' the smell. (Petroleum, benzine, spirit etc are confusing in translation, all existing with different meanings in different languages. The Dutch petroleum would be kerosine in English. I think. Dutch kerosine however is the term for aviation fuel. All very confusing...)

To fix the table, the top was removed - woodblock buffer and gently hammering up. The frame was firmed-up by gluing the legs to the side-supports one side a time. I.e. PVA applied in the mortice, clamping and leaving overnight to set. After four days (nights), this completely solved the wobble. 

Next challenge was to lessen the warping of the table-top. Unfortunately didn't take pictures of the flattening of the table-top (too wrapped-up in the process), so making-do with a description. The top was sanded down to bare wood, opening up the wood. Then the top was covered with a wet cloth and ironed. The ironing helps the water to get into the wood, moistening and heating (steam!) the wood-fibres to allow them to bend. Again ironing the covered wet top whilst it is clamped flat. The wet cloth also prevents any scorching of the wood, limiting to 100 ÂșC. Then leaving the top clamped flat overnight to dry and make the fibres set in the new position. This first stage lessened the warping, but still some spring-back.

Doing the process a second time and then clamping it with a slight curve the other way to correct for the spring-back then worked to get top nearly flat again. Re-mounted with four new nails in pre-drilled holes - to avoid any splitting. Not completely flat, but definitely better :-)


To finish the table and remove water-stain damage, the whole thing was very lightly sanded down with fine-grit sandpaper. Starting with 280 and finishing with 400. The table-top had already been completely sanded down to bare oak, also sanded smooth with fine-grit sandpaper. The very satisfying next step in the finishing is to apply the wax. Regular bees-wax with a brown stain applied all-over with a rag; trying for a thin, even layer all-over. Re-applying wax to the top a few times to darken and colour-match to the rest. After giving the wax a few minutes (or a few hours) to settle (the solvent to evaporate), the surface can be polished to a shine with a soft cloth. A clean, soft cloth is key. Polishing with a light pressure, the wood gets again a mirror-like finish.


In a few weeks, the top will get another waxing to further even-out the colour. Still some spots where the stain isn't yet quite even - very satisfying to do.

Fixed and finished, again a stable little table that is good for use again - now awaiting its potted plant :-)

Monday, August 22, 2022

Hammond - Cleaning the machine plus first fixes

Next to the baseplate, there was the machine itself - extremely dirty, a bronze-brown all-over. Fortunately the brown hue all-over the mechanism was a century's worth of dirt, not rust. Nevertheless it can be difficult to clean off - it is very greasy and hard.

From earlier experiments I found that the most effective way to deal with this, is warm soapy water. Warm (hot) water with a (very) generous amount of washing-up liquid will work wonders. After soaking for only a few minutes, the dirt can be scrubbed off. Toothbrushes for the more delicate bits and a hard nail-brush for the more 'rugged' parts.


Before the parts can be washed, the machine of course needs taking apart to give access for scrubbing. Disassembly was much more difficult than anticipated - the people in the Hammond factory around 1915 really torqued those screws! All obstinate screws were given a few weeks to soak in oil and even then some wouldn't budge. With some very careful hammer-tapping (risk of breaking a casting!) and making sure the screwdriver fits the screw perfectly, the essential screws could finally be loosened. (Old screws tend to have much narrower slots than modern screwdrivers expect. Screwdrivers were ground down to get a proper fit, to again reduce the risk of damaging a screw-head.)

When finally the carriage came off, the escapement showed the amount of dust and dirt that gets into a mechanism over the decades. After removing the spring-drum, the frame complete with escapement was given a bath 'as-is'.


One very important step in cleaning with very-soapy-water is the drying. After rinsing off any dirty or soapy water, the cleaned part is rubbed dry with a cloth and then 'baked' to get rid of all water as quickly as possible. For the machine base; this was left in the sun on its tray for a few hours ('sun-baked Hammond!'). Other parts (e.g. the turret assembly) were dried in their tray in an oven at ~80 degrees C.


The final step of this cleaning process is to apply oil to all vulnerable parts. A light machine-oil (sewing-machine oil) was added to all moving parts and into all threaded holes, the gears were re-greased.


Net result then is much cleaner assemblies - a major difference for e.g. that escapement even without taking it all apart. Taking it apart and cleaning the individual bits would have been better, but felt uneasy about tackling those two 'stacked' rotary escapements. (A century ago, a complete machine would have been given a bath in white spirit (i.e. petrol / gasoline) - that is however quite dangerous (obviously) and a bit toxic too. This method of soapy-water, rapid-dry and re-oiling is safe and works quite well too.)

The spring drum itself was cleaned with a metal-polish - more work than the soapy-bath method, but its shape makes it doable and did not want to risk the spring with water. The spring is really very large, much larger than usual for a typewriter and more like a gramophone spring-drum. Similar to a gramophone, the lid can be pried-off fairly easily.


Forunately the spring is intact and the centre was merely unhooked from the arbor - explaining why the spring-drum would not wind. A small wedge of wood (no damage to the spring) was inserted between the centre-most windings to push the centre-hole in range of the notch on the arbor. (Some extra graphite-grease was also added for good measure.) Then very carefully assembling the spring drum and giving the arbor the time to properly catch the spring, the motor works fine.


The Multiplex uses a draw-band (unlike the 12, where the spring drum has sprocket gearing directly engaging with the rack on the carriage). This draw-band was originally probably a thin metal-strip, but completely missing on this machine. The snapping of the draw-band may well have been the cause of the arbor becoming dislodged. A new draw-band was made from a flat shoelace, with metal end-loops made from guitar-string. (The alternative of sacrificing a narrow tape-measure was considered too :-) A challenge for the draw-band is that it needs to be fairly thin as well as strong - it is wound around the spring-drum as the carriage moves to the left and has very little clearance with the frame and some parts of the escapement. Hence the use of ~0.2mm wire for the loops and the sewing-in of the ends into the flat shoestring. So far - it's been holding up under the strain :)

The key-levers are easiest to take off the machine yet turn out to be the trickiest parts to clean. The key-tops are too fragile to be all taken off the levers, so the levers can't be cleaned in the soapy-water bath. The keys themselves need to be cleaned 'dry' anyways, because of their paper inserts. To start with, steel-wool is needed to remove the first layer of dirt, then metal-polish to shine-up the nickelled part and finally using aluminium-rubbing to mask any remaining spots of rust.

Although the key-levers take a lot of time, it's worthwhile and the difference is very noticeable.

One more thing; taking off the carriage-return lever is something perhaps best avoided. This is mounted with a very tricky hidden torsion spring mounted inside a chamber around its mounting screw. Re-mounting this is 'difficult'. (Am sure the factory must have had some sort of secret tool or fixture to accomplish this.)

The machine is taking shape again - and is now nickel-coloured :-)


The Hammond Multiplex typewriter is now in a slow phase in its restoration - as a few key-levers a time are cleaned and added :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Hammond - starting with the base plate

The baseplate of a Hammond Multiplex typewriter is actually part of the machine - it does not work without the clearances and spacing of the baseplate. As seems to be very common for Multiplex typewriters, the glue used to assemble the base (and lid) lost its power after a century and the thing starts to warp and fall apart. 

To repair the baseplate, all the planks that showed even a little movement were completely taken off the central section. The top layer of thin plywood was then first glued down firmly to the central section. All edges of the planks and central section were sanded back for a clean fit when re-assembling. This sanding back also allowed to compensate a bit for the un-even shrinking/expanding of some planks. Glueing with regular PVA, firmly clamped and left to harden overnight - one plank at a time.

The original felt on the base was completely removed and a new, thin sheet of felt was cut to size. White pencil to trace the outline and the holes, then scissor and hole-punch.


Then glued to the newly smooth base, it is again safe to be placed on a table.


Instead of re-lacquering completely, spots where the lacquer is gone were treated with furniture wax. This does not completely mask the wear, but it does look a bit better and should protect the wood. The base now is much improved; again strong and functional, yet still looks its age.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A little 'B-key' or Burroughs case-key

This is something every owner of an older Burroughs calculator or adding machine will want.

The Burroughs company did not want users to poke around the internals of their adding machines. To discourage such 'tinkering', the cases were locked and needed a 'B-key' to unlock. It's possible to jimmy the lock (a thin blade between base and cover to push the latch away) or sometimes just lots of jiggling to get the cover off - but with a B-key it becomes so much easier :-)

The dimensions of these keys are fortunately findable in the hive-library that is the internet.

Rummaging in the collection of old-keys, a little key with hollow shaft and an outside diameter of just under 5mm was found. This was then filed/sawed to create the pronged B-Key; the dimensions aren't too critical - the prongs just have to fit in the cut-outs of the latch. The inside diameter of the shaft does need to be large enough to fit around the central stem in the lock of course, so drilled out to 3.2 mm.

Result; a newly minted B-key. 


To remove the cover of e.g. this Burroughs Class 5 calculator then becomes simple. Merely undoing the two thumbscrews at the rear, pulling out the crank, turning the key and lift off.


On the inside of the case-cover, the hooked latch can be seen that is rotated by the key.


And the pin in the base of the machine that is grabbed by the hook.


The Burroughs service department no longer comes round to do maintenance and repairs - so when having an old Burroughs machine this is a very good little key to have, to easily open the machine for maintenance and repairs :-)