Olympian Steroids

Olympian on Steroids

The Olympics are on again, and everyone knows that those some cheaters (uno who) won’t be there because they were caught using banned performance enhancing drugs. Steroids, mostly, which make muscles bigger and stronger. I get my muscles however from lifting my Olympia SG1 typewriter. That machine has appropriately been described as a typewriter on steroids, for it is larger and stronger by far than most every other typewriter I’ve encountered. I recently brought it home from a thrift shop, where it sat on the floor because the staff found it too heavy to lift up onto a shelf, no doubt. Perhaps that is why it has a removable carriage. It does help to take the carriage off when carrying the thing, but even so the base unit remains one heavy sucker. I only brought this home because it is something to be seen and admired. Under the bodywork, which is thick bulletproof steel, is a cast steel structure that more resembles part of a building or a bridge than any other typewriter. The only real problem I encountered with it was the sliding metal block of the right margin control, a piece that incomprehensibly was made of cheap pot metal. That stuff is infamous for self destructing due to internal oxidation. Why Olympia made those parts from such bad material is puzzling, as everything else on the machine is made of extra large extra strong steel.

side view of the inner framework

I salvaged the part by gluing it back together with JB-Weld and little pieces of scrap steel cut from a tin of canned tuna, the sort that peels open with a ring pull. Lets hope that steel holds up. It works again, and the carriage stops at the set point. However, the space bar releases the margin stop, unlike any other typewriter I’ve known. Inspection of the mechanics indicates to me that this is normal, but it does seem odd. Once I got it all back together I gave the ribbon a rubdown with WD40, which revived the ink very well, and then I wrote the following piece. Forgive the typos, I just dashed this off as a test. The SG1 certainly works well enough, but I see no reason for having such a monstrous typewriter around here, so I will sell it. Whatever I get will not cover the many hours of disassembly, repairs and cleaning, but that was part of the fun of having it here for a while and admiring the engineering that went into it. Among other things I did was to disassemble the tabulator brake to get that working, another marvel to behold as the carriage glides slowly along and gently comes to rest when the tab bar is tapped.

the escapement gears

rear view of guts

half naked SG1

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Wildlife, writing

A Good Companion

We recently saw the movie The Darkest Hour in which Churchill dictates letters to his lovely young secretary, who types on an Imperial typewriter. Seeing this I knew I had to get an Imperial, but I had no idea it would happen so fast.

It was a week that will live in the history of my typewriter collecting. I sold all 3 of my Olympia Traveller/SFs with script face, and purchased 4 other typewriters. It was all quite by chance. I listed a Traveller script and had multiple inquiries. With all the interest I decided to sell while the market was hot so I could get some cash and also make room in the shop. Little did I suspect what was going to happen next.

Last Monday I put a Traveller in the mail to a fellow in Washington, then on my way to town I put in a bid for a 1954 Imperial Good Companion 3 being auctioned at the Sally Ann. I carried on to hit 2 more thrifts and picked up 3 typewriters: an Olympia SG1, Olympia SF, and a 1949 Remington Noiseless 7. The SG1 was filthy and the typebars stuck with tarry goo. The SF had been dropped and the carriage was detached, the back panel smashed. The Remington was perfect however, and even had the key to the case.

Today I am featuring the Good Companion, which I won, to my surprise, for $22! What an interesting find. It came with the original warranty sheet, instruction manual, brush, wiping cloth, oiler, a few sheets of carbon paper, and typing instruction sheet with finger positions! It has a lovely typeface, similar to the Oliver Courier, and more stylish than most.

The machine was sold in Fiji, in January 1955. The list of dealers in the manual has them all over the globe, but none in the USA.

The case is very fancy, and looks like real leather.

There was one minor issue, the platen clutch was seized. I was able to fix it with a squirt of super lube, but I had to remove the platen to do this. It took about five attempts to reassemble, but at last it went back together and now the clutch works. While it was apart I discovered that the inside of the platen was made of wood.

I wonder what sort of oil that was?

There was no oil in the tube, but the brush works.

The cloth is a bit oily, so I won’t be using it for wiping the typewriter.

I’ll stick to hunting and pecking. Should have learned in high school!

the Guarantee

Thank you, C.L. Sohn, for keeping all the paperwork and the accessories.

1 Comment

Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters

Uncle Cedric

1-old lady

I saw an old lady today, shuffling along on a cane and an umbrella, accompanied by a dog that was keeping a few yards ahead, poking his nose at things with his tongue hanging out. After they passed I stopped and turned to watch them, and was reminded of a day long ago and my Uncle Cedric.

You’re OK kid, Cedric used to say, winking secretly.

He said it whenever I did stuff for him, like washing his car, or going to the corner store for cigarettes. Sometimes he gave me his spare change, and when I was old enough to do bigger errands, one day he sent me to pick up a box in the back alley behind the ABC Liquor Store.  That was soon after he gave me a brand new 10 speed bike for no apparent reason. Then I discovered there was one.

I met him at the far end of the lane where he was waiting in a Ford Mustang he called McQueen. Then, to impress me he peeled away burning rubber with a crazy grin on his face. Dust and dirt flew up and hit me in the face, but I didn’t mind because I had a new bike and ten dollars for my trouble. A week later I used the money and bought myself a dog. My parents weren’t happy about it, but they let me keep him anyways. I called him Champ.

Not a month after I got Champ, Uncle Cedric, going much too fast in his Mustang, ran him over right in front of our driveway. Champ lay there on the road, panting and Uncle Cedric jumped out of the car, picked him up and sped off to the vet with Champ and me in the back. I noticed an empty bottle of rum on the floor. Cedric ran into the vet’s office with Champ, and came out a half hour later. He looked shaken, gave me ten dollars, and made me promise not to tell my Mom, his sister. When I got home, Mom asked where Champ was.

He ran away, I said. I really wanted to tell her, but I had some foolish loyalty to Cedric. I went to my room and lay down on my bed, burying my face in the pillow so I could cry in private. I felt trapped by the bike and the money.

The next day Cedric saw me on the street coming home from school and stopped to tell me, with a sad look on his face, that poor Champ had to be sent to another hospital, and might not be back for a while. I had a bad feeling he was lying.

How long of a while, I asked, but Cedric said he didn’t know. Then he gave me ten bucks and made me promise not to say a word, and also would I go get another box from the alley for him that night?

I didn’t want to, but I promised to do it, hoping this might get Champ back. I thought maybe Cedric was using Champ to get me to do his bidding, but I was afraid to say anything. He burned out of there again and a little stone shot up from one of the back wheels and chipped my front tooth. All of a sudden Cedric didn’t seem so cool.

When I got home my Mom saw my chipped tooth and freaked out. I said I got in a fight at school, and the guy I fought lost his front tooth, so after that she calmed down. Late after dark, I snuck out the back door and rode my bike into town.

There was the box as usual, behind the big steel bin next to the back door. As I leaned my bike on the fence a car came down the lane with no lights on, so I walked away trying to be casual. Then the headlights came on and so did the flashing red light.

Hold on kid, a voice yelled at me.

I jumped a fence and ran home as fast as I could. The next day after school there was a police car at our house. They found my bike behind the liquor store and wanted to ask me some questions. I told them I liked hanging around in the alley pretending to be a detective and they seemed to believe that, so they left.

Afterwards, my Mom asked me what was really going on, but I didn’t tell her out of misplaced youthful loyalty to Cedric, and a nagging fear that I was already mixed up in something wrong. To make matters worse, I was afraid that if I told the truth I might not ever see Champ again.

You’re not to go out at that hour any more, she said, is that clear?

I nodded and tried to look like I meant it. What did she know about how it felt to be twelve and get paid ten bucks for picking up a box in an alley? When I told Uncle Cedric about the cops in the lane he rubbed my head and gave me five bucks.

You’re OK, kid, he said.

Then he said he wanted me to go back soon. When the day came I could hardly think between worrying that the police might show up and hoping that if all went well I might see my dog. To compound my anxiety I was still feeling guilty for deceiving my Mom, and afraid that whatever it was I was doing, it wasn’t strictly honest. Half an hour before the pickup, I got on my bike and cruised to town.

Riding down the street in front of the ABC Liquor Store, I noticed an old lady on an electric scooter drive up to the café next door. She creaked off the seat like the rusty tin man in the Wizard of Oz and shuffled into the café, leaving the dog outside.

I rode around the block several times, checking the big clock that hung in the window of the drug store. Just before the agreed time I headed down the block and around the corner like a rider in the Tour de France. I hit the alley and cranked it hard until mid-block, whereupon I jammed on the back brake and came skidding towards the box in a foolish attempt to kick up dust like Cedric’s car. I got dust alright, lost control and hit the dirt, skinning my elbow and the side of my leg.

I got up bruised and sore and looked to see if anyone had seen, but there was nobody around. Embarrassed and aching, I picked up my bike and leaned it on the fence, then hobbled over to the box. I limped back to the bike with the box, put it on my carrier, slung my leg over the top bar and put my foot to the pedal. I rode down the lane slowly as the pain began to set in. Across the street Cedric’s car was waiting in the opposite lane.

He flashed his lights and pointed left, then drove to the first corner, crossed the street and turned down into the next lane. Just then the old lady came down the sidewalk on her electric cart, with her dog ambling along beside. I waited until she passed and began pedaling.

I quickly caught up and passed the old lady, but she stayed close behind me on the sidewalk. I turned down the alley and saw Uncle Cedric’s car halfway down the block. Cedric got out and looked up and down the lane.

I was halfway there when from behind me a dog flashed by and within a few strides jumped onto Uncle Cedric, who immediately hit the dirt. I just about skidded off my bike again as I hit the brakes and came to a stop. Looking back I saw the old lady coming down the lane in a cloud of dust like a geriatric maniac. Then her cart stopped and miraculously she sprung up from her seat, throwing off the shabby old coat and hat. Under the coat she wore a police jacket and a big black gun that she kept her hand on as she broke into a run.

Don’t you go anywhere son, she said as she passed.

A minute later, two police cars arrived and took Uncle Cedric away. After she took my name, my statement, the box and my bike, the police woman sent me home in a police car, where I had to explain to my mother what had happened.

After the police left, my Mom asked me how much money I’d made doing Cedric’s pickups. I told her I had fifty bucks. She took the money, and told me she was keeping it so the dentist could fix my broken tooth.

What about Champ, I blurted out?

Suddenly she stopped looking angry. Champ’s gone, she said, he’s not coming back.

©Donald J. Nathan

January 24  2018

1 Comment

Filed under Books and Short Stories, Street photography

Django, a Guitar & a Typewriter

Django Reinhardt, b. Jan 23 1910 sketch by djn

Last night we watched CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER on DVD which we found at our library. Needless to say it was riveting. Even my wife thought it was outstanding! Imagine a documentary starring Tom Hanks – what’s not to love? I really dig Tom, too, just as a regular guy. I was thrilled when he talked about his favorite Smith Corona Silent, knowing that I have the same model. It was like we were brothers, briefly. This is not to ignore all the other wonderful characters in the movie. I loved them all! Dr. Polt was magnificent! So ad lib, so cool, so hip, and how he typed the manifesto flawlessly (right Richard?). I could hardly sleep afterwards and even woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Smith Coronas. I have to point out another crazy coincidence, the opening scene in which a Royal 10 gets tossed from a car. My last novel is all about a Royal 10 with magic powers! Here am I looking to find one for myself and there they were casually throwing one out the window to it’s destruction. Ouch!!

So of course the challenge of the day is to try to combine all the things I love into a blog post. One must of course acknowledge this day as the birthday of the incomparable Django Reinhardt, first and foremost. Good thing tomorrow is nothing special, because Thursday is Robbie Burns’ Day, another incomparable character. I can hardly stand the excitement! I have come up with this – an excerpt from the first draft of my novel – An Engineer’s Guide to Paris, (available above from Createspace and Amazon) that was, of course, drafted on a typewriter. It features a scene whereby I imagined my protagonist discovering a letter inside the lining of an old guitar case…

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Typewriters, writing

A Taste of Spring

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 Comment

January 17, 2018 · 10:18 am

Olympia Regina

For my whole life I have used coins that said Elizabeth Regina on one side. Rarely I had some that said George, but if I ever did save any they have all vanished. For those who do not live in the Commonwealth, I will explain – Elizabeth is our Queen, Head of State of Canada and the Commonwealth, and Regina is a city in Saskatchewan, where she visited. Olympia, however, is the name of one of the twins in my latest book, THE MAGIC TYPER. The story takes place in some smallish Canadian city, which is like the place I live, Victoria (also named for a Queen) and possibly Regina, too.

However, the Olympia Regina under discussion here is none of the about, it is an electric typewriter sold by a German company but made in Japan.  It just seems so Canadian however, which may explain why I recently bought one. Since we never really understand our motives, that is entirely possible. Modern research avows that we make decisions before we are aware of deciding, and furthermore, that we rationalize most of our decisions as a way of making sense of this irrationality. So I’m trying to come up with some more plausible reasons why I now own this new old typewriter, which I most definitely don’t need. I probably need a team of psychologists to help me figure that out and to explain how it is that Star Wars movies invariably use the same recycled plots and subplots, and yet attract millions of viewers! And why does the Supreme Leader look like a creature made from a large over-baked potato? Because his designer once had a favourite toy – Mr. Potato Head! See the connection?

POSTSCRIPT

Some of my recent sales: a retired gentleman for his grandson of 7; a young lady who likes to write stories; a lady for her 17 year old daughter who likes to write stories; a collector in his early 20’s; a new father who wants to type his daily journal; a man who is collecting Olympias only; a retired gentleman who wants to write memoirs and who once owned an Olympia SM3 (he bought my SM3); a middle aged man who likes writing stories; a man for his 93 year old father. I conclude from this brief survey that typewriters continue to have an appeal that transcends any particular age group.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy, Typewriters

Man in Moon Says Happy New Year

the moon – 19:00 hrs PST, Dec 31, 2017

Wishing you all a happy healthy and prosperous 2018, from here on earth in Victoria BC Canada.

Fisgard Lighthouse, Fort Rodd, Victoria BC, Canada

Leave a comment

Filed under Books and Short Stories, Photography