Friday, 28 December 2012

Post Christmas Update

Christmas is the time for giving, and thanks to the fact that most people are giving, a fair bit of receiving happens, too.

Christmas got quite mad with stupendous amounts of stuff going on and things to be done. That’s why I seemed like a Grinch: why there wasn’t a Christmas post and why I wasn’t openly wishing everyone a Merry Christmas on their Typosphere blogs. I do all hope you had a Merry Christmas, and that the new year is a good one. Please note that I am not a Grinch.

For Christmas, my father made me a giant “Olympia” sign.


The Olympia sign is pictured with an Olympia SF just so you get some idea of the scale of it.

And my mother put together a typewriter repair kit. Full of all sorts of screw drivers and pliers with a bonus bottle of silicon spray.


I think that Mum put it together because Dad had most likely mentioned that he was sick of me stealing his screw drivers and rags and oil and everything else. Luckily I won’t have to now, and he’ll continue to hold onto his sanity.

Then, on Christmas Day, I won my first typewriter on eBay. It’s a Smith-Corona and I’m leaning towards thinking that it’s a Clipper. Of course, I don’t really know what it is, and if anyone can tell me I’d much appreciate it. But I don’t really mind what it is, after all it was a steal at only $5.50. A full post about this machine will follow.


And then – yes, wait, there’s more – on the day after Boxing Day we were heading to Sydney to have dinner with my grandfather for his birthday and, conveniently to pick up a Smith-Corona typewriter. In the morning, ten minutes before we were going to leave, the postie comes. A small United States Postal Service box. What does that turn out to be? Oh, a USB typewriter kit. Really? Had my parents read my mind? Christmas seemed to just keep going and going! And my parents were being too generous.

So the rest of the holidays will be centred around typewriters, electronics, and the four hours of soldering that will have to be done to put the USB typewriter together. Of course, a few weeks of thought will have to be put towards nutting out which typewriter I will “convert”.

In other news, Robert Messenger found another parts Hermes 3000 which he said I was welcome to. Now, I’m hoping, I’ll be able to put two together from three. But this is all just assumptions at the moment. A full assessment of the situation will have to be made when I can see them all lined up, so I can see what’s wrong with each one and what sort of Frankenstein work I can do to bring one or two back from the dead.

That’s my Christmas and the immediate days after for you, and I hope that yours was just as good.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dual Decapitated Hermes 3000s

There are many stories of heads looking back at their bodies with a look of shock and surprise after they had the old guillotine treatment. I’m just glad that typewriters don’t have eyes and that they can’t look back at themselves. The carriage can’t look back at the main frame and think, “Oh bugger.”


These two Hermes 3000s came home with me after a trip to Robert Messenger’s (see his brilliant blog here). He thought that a project would be good for me and that it would help my understanding of the workings of a typewriter. I’m quite sure of that and to be honest I’m looking forward to it. But, like so many things, it will have to be done “after Christmas” – a time that I won’t want to end and will most likely need to go one for ever and ever to get everything I need to done.


Both machines don’t have their carriages installed at the moment. One machine’s main spring has broken inside its case, and the other machine’s type-bar segment is jammed; the same machine’s chassis is spotted with rust.

The rusty machine has Pica type – fairly bog standard – while the machine with the broken spring has techno elite. Because I have a preference for bog standard typefaces, I’ll most likely end up going to the effort of cleaning out the rust. I might fall back on this claim because I won’t have the patience or I simply won’t be bothered, and could well, at this stage, end up settling with techno.

Cosmetically, both machines are in good shape, both have a few minor scrapes here and there, though. In keeping with the tradition of Hermes 3000s, there is a broken platen knob:


I do have a spare, luckily, and I’m very thankful I won’t have to go to immense lengths to figure out a replacement.

So, if all goes to plan, I’ll have a very nice Hermes 3000 to start the school year with. I’m looking forward to it, having heard so much about them. And thank you again, Robert Messenger!


Is this survival?

The sun seeped through the venetian blinds this morning, and the room filled with warm light. Already one knows that it is going to be a hot day. The radio is still broadcasting, and the immediate hallway outside my door appears to be intact…

Is this survival of the apocalypse?

Have I really survived the whole event by going to bed on time, and not reading with a torch until the small hours? Was it that easy? Are you really telling me that I won’t have to trek out into the bush – Canberra, handily, is the “bush capital” – with a typewriter to record the last days as the threat of radiation comes closer? Are you telling me that all I have to do is get up today and potter around like normal?

Perhaps we overlooked what is normally the end of the world: Surely someone broke a nail yesterday, or dropped the toast – butter side down – surely someone made a typo on an important letter; surely all of those things happened and people though that they were each the end of the world.

The Mayans, maybe, were just having a go at us from beyond the metaphorical grave of a collapsed civilisation. Perhaps they knew that the “end of the world” to us is so small and insignificant they wanted to give us a jolly good scare. Okay – maybe the real end of the world is that there wasn’t really an end of the world and just lots of little things being labelled the “end of the world”.

Shouldn’t I be thankful that I’ve just survived something that could have spelled the end for the rest of the human race? No, I’m not really – I’ve survived plenty other apocalypse predictions in my short life time. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to try trekking off into the bush with a typewriter though…

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Type Snob

There are some typefaces that I like and there are some that I don’t like.

Really, I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why I think Georgia is a great typeface for everything, while I think Comic Sans is so utterly awful that I’d never use it. There seems to be no rational reasoning behind these opinions of mine on fonts, typefaces. This lack of rational reasoning extends to typewriters, too, but why I don’t really know.

Let’s face it: pretty much every typeface ever found on a typewriter, throughout history, was pretty easy to read. Some were easier than others but none required a magnifying glass to decode. Then why do I like some more than others? Why do I associate certain fonts with certain tasks? They’re all easy to read and none look nasty; but still I have a stigma that associates typefaces to tasks.

Below is a collection of my own thoughts of a typeface typed in that typeface.

Image (3)

Image (5)

As you will note, there is very little logic and sense applied to my different uses and appreciations of different typefaces. But what's logical about a love of letters?


P.S. Apologies – once again – for some awful grammar and syntax in that typecast. My woeful use of the English language can’t even be justified by a creative rush at a typewriter. There’s a reason for that: there wasn’t a creative rush.

Monday, 17 December 2012

This SM-4 gets a new lease on life



I was asked by one of my teachers if I wouldn’t mind having a look at a typewriter for him. The word has got around school fairly quickly that I’m the one to see if it is anything to do with typewriters. I said I’d be happy to.

A few days later he comes in with a large wooden case. Lifting the lid revealed the typewriter to be an Olympia SM-4; even though I thought it was an SM-3. I took the typewriter home with me.

As things tend to do at the end of the year, it got quite insane. Homework sprung out from nowhere, and what I thought was going to be a nice easy, cruising sort of week, became a week from hell. So, the weekend after school finished was the first chance that I had to get to work on this fine machine.

And what a fine machine it was! There was nothing really wrong with it, that’s the real testament to its quality. After however many years of sitting in a shed nothing went “bang” or “pop”, and it was cosmetically really great, too. The keys were just all gummed up, and the platen needed the ‘ole brake fluid treatment. A bit of a lube up and away she went, flying like the clappers, like she’d never been put away for twenty-odd years.

The teacher who enlisted my help with this machine is, I can tell, very proud of it. He didn’t hesitate to tell me that it was from a time when everything was built to last. He realised that with a bit of care there are no worries that this machine will still be typing in a hundred year’s time.

The typewriter itself is destined to be a Christmas present from the teacher to his son. His son’s a script writer and, as far as I know, is going to type up some story board notes and rough ideas with it. It’s always good to see a typewriter going to a good home. None of this key-chopping barbarism, no “put it on a shelf and don’t use it, it’s old” sort of ideals; no, just good old fashioned use – what this quality machine was meant for, it was meant to make quality writing.



Friday, 14 December 2012

Let the holidays begin and bring on the typewriters

In the ideal world, I would have it so that we would cruise through the end of the school year and arrive at the last day without any stress. It would be a nice way to finish off, a nice way to farewell those that are leaving and to say “see you later” to those coming back next year.

It has not been like this at all.

Today was the last day of school here in sunny Canberra, and yet there were still people printing assignments in the library before school started. It was a mad house, just to get everything and done and finished – but it did get done and finished, so all ended well.

It was the last few weeks that kept me from this little measly blog. I’ve been madly writing assignments, finished off books, keeping track of assessable work. But now, for the next seven weeks, that is behind me. It isn’t to be worried about. It is now that I get the joy of thinking solely about typewriters for the next little while.

I have two projects for the Christmas holidays. Both machines belong to my teachers. One is an Olympia SM-3 that needs a good oil and service, the other is an Underwood 5 (I think, or at least I hope it is a five otherwise I’ll look very silly on a typewriter blog). The Underwood 5 needs quite a bit of work, but it should keep me busy. The SM-3 is destined to be given as a Christmas present from the teacher who owns it to his son. The Underwood 5 will most likely end up on a teachers desk in a Year 1 classroom next year.

Apologies for no pictures and yet another of a shocker of a blog post, but I felt like I should let my pseudo-faithful readers, you, know that nothing horrible had befallen me. And that I just had my inky fingers against a typewriter trying to get all that homework done.

Thank you, if you’ve made it this far, for reading.