Category Archives: Thrift shop finds

Super-Duper

fake Superman, with genuine Super-Riter

You may have seen this before – but if not, it’s “Superman” (the fictional one, not the real one), typing on his typewriter – A Remington SUPER-RITER. I bet he had a sore back, because of his arm position. He should have had one of my typewriter shelves, but alas they weren’t around in his time. Here is my Super-Riter:

genuine 1961 Remington Super-Riter

side view, viewers left/stage right

After using this new acquisition, I have to agree that it is SUPER! I’m not keen on big heavy desk models, since they are a pain to move around, and I have nowhere to permanently place one. But I grabbed this big boy from a thrift shop last week, because it called to me. I bent down and typed a few letters on it in the store, and the smooth action was remarkable. I had previously seen one at a church bazaar, and recalled that it was very quiet, smooth and precise. So this time I jumped in and brought it home. It needed a minimal amount of cleaning, but was otherwise in fine shape. There was one niggling problem however: the ribbon selector was erratic. After several sessions on the net, I discovered a very interesting feature of this machine – it folds open! Yes, they called this “fold-a-matic”. Munk, praise be to him, had the instructions for opening the back of the machine up. Polt, too, ever helpful in time of need, provided the service manual. With this combination of precise instructions I  proceeded to open the machine. This is analogous to open heart surgery for typewriters, but typewriters feel no pain and cannot be killed, as far as we know, except by Superman.

open Super-Riter

There are numerous blogs with information on the Super-Riter, but this is the first one to feature an actual open heart operation. Be sure you’re seated and have someone with first aid experience nearby while watching this, unless you’re a doctor. It is shocking! The back opens up with the removal of a few screws. First one removes the platen, however, achieved by flipping two levers and lifting it off. Dead simple. Oops, I didn’t mean to say dead, excuse me.

flip the L shaped lever and lift out the platen (2 of)

Once you remove the screws, the back almost opens by itself. I tilted the back open, exposing the ribbon selector-vibrator parts and performed a minimally invasive procedure known as a selector-ectomy, involving a small screwdriver and some simple but precise adjustments. Then it was time to close, which was as simple as opening, except in reverse order. The biggest risk is losing a screw, which I often do, but this time I got lucky and there were no missing or leftover pieces after reassembly was complete.

hole for screw (centre) to remove for opening. Note the solid steel rails!

view of the main spring and tab mechanism (to the right of the motor)

ribbon selector-vibrator linkage

Super-Riter is back in one piece now and recovering well. It’s a marvelous bit of engineering, and it types with near perfection. The sole downside is the weight, 32 lbs. It’s so heavy that when you get typing, the machine will begin to sway even a solid table due to resonance and its mass. Placed on a heavy table, I imagine it would be heavenly. On a TV tray, extremely risky! Not for card tables this sucker.

with platen out, it’s simple to remove all the rollers too.

 

last but very important – the bottom

Indeed, what more could you want?

in case you need help to change the ribbon – there are still typewriter repairmen – in Montreal!

one last look

In summary – the Remington Super-Riter can best be described as a luxury typewriter, engineered and built to the very best standards, during the glory years of Western Civilization, c. 80-30 BC (Before China). During the early years of that era, men dictated and women typed on these things, that is until Superman came along and lead the way for men to use them without embarrassment. Now, men all over the world covet them and wouldn’t dream of allowing women near their precious machines. Women have moved on, however, so the joke is on men!

P.S.  to find plans for my typewriter shelf click this link:

https://nathanguitars.com/2016/02/26/the-oliver-courier/

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Filed under History, Repairs, Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriter accessories, Typewriters, Uncategorized

Auction Madness

Smith Corona Clipper Item #156

Last week I saw this Clipper was to be auctioned at Salvation Army. The auction closed at 6 pm. I left at 5.20 in pouring rain, thinking I was mad to go out in this weather. When I arrived, the parking lot was full and there was a crowd waiting for the end of the auction. It was a silent auction, so they claimed, but in reality it wasn’t. If anyone there was interested in anything at all, they held a live auction after closing of the silent auction. I checked the Clipper – still the same price after a week. One bid. I hung out and found something I needed, a ruler for an old drafting machine I picked up last week, to use for laying out large paintings. A bargain at $2.

More waiting around, then I checked the price of the typewriter – same as before. OK, I was now convinced nobody was interested in the typewriter but me. I got a bid form and filled in my bid for $2 more. So generous. The silent auction closed at 6 pm and 10 minutes later they threw open the auction to induce more bidding, of course. The real bidding was about to begin. The first thing up was some gold jewelry. There were half a dozen people keen to have that. The silent auction “winning bid” was $40, but it went for $200. After that there was more of the same. Jewelry, more jewelry and then something called Donald and Mickey. I presume that was Duck and Mouse, but certain humorous images popped into my head just the same.

A guy who told me he’d driven in from way out of town in the darkness and driving rain bought that. After a half hour passed I decided to inquire about the typewriter. Big mistake! Now it would go live and open for bids by anyone present. I should have left my bid and gone home. But, as luck would have it, I was the sole interested party. I paid and went to get my prize. A fellow saw me putting the typewriter in its case.

“If I’d known it had a case, I would have bid on that”, he said, then added, “Tom Hanks uses a typewriter”.

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Remington Repair for Dunces* tm reg’d!

1929 Remington Portable #3

platen advance lever

missing stud replaced with a nail

I recently acquired a 1929 Remington portable 3. I now have a 1, 2  & 3 of these, and it’s interesting to see the slight differences as the design was changed. The model 3 I found was missing a small stud from the carriage advance lever. I knocked out the embedded bit and hammered in a small nail in its place. That fixed the problem, and the typewriter is now working well – amazing for a 90 year old machine! The model 3 has a slightly wider platen than the #2, which was slightly wider than #1. The #1 had a simple advance mechanism that was much improved with the addition of the lever on model 2, which carried over to model 3. Model 2 had the original lifting typebars, which are gone in model 3, in favour of a low panel on the top front that conceal the slightly raised typebars. I assume this saved money in manufacturing, by eliminating the lifting mechanism. Something was lost however, in the way of a very interesting and unique feature. Model 3 also introduced a margin release key and fixed tabs, marked with a red keytop, as Olivetti became well known for later on with the Lettera 22. But Remington was first!

1922 Remington Portable #1

1926 Remington Portable #2 (note German keyboard)

model 1 side view with lifting typebars

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Can’t Help Lovin’ That Sterling

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Filed under Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Typecasting, Typewriters, Uncategorized, writing

Be The Toast You Wish to Eat

Grandpa’s toaster

Sunbeam – classic 2 slice automatic

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OBE Typewriter

You may have heard of the USB typewriter, but what about the OBE? The OBE is in this case an honour bestowed by Elizabeth Regina, aka HM the Queen. It wasn’t bestowed on a typewriter, but on its owner. I discovered this today, due to a label that was affixed to the typewriter in question. How it ended up in Victoria, I’ll never know, but there it was. It’s a 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32, made in Ivrea, Italy. It has an unusually tiny typeface, too, about 12.5 characters/inch, like the Hermes elite. In any case, the label and address gave me all the information I required for a search, and it turned up the address, and some interesting things about the owner. I won’t divulge the name, as I think this would be inappropriate, but I will reveal the view from his one time residence, and the extract from the Belfast Gazette where it was noted he received honours from the Queen. The typewriter has French characters, as well as the German double S, and a QWERTZ keyboard. It is in perfect condition, and came with a thick typing pad. All it needed was a good wipe, as the ribbon is still in fine shape.

The owner once looked out at this scene. Liverpool is over there somewhere…..

 

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Slip Stick Analog Converter

Discovered in a thrift shop last week. It’s not exactly a slide rule, although it resembles one. It’s a metric converter, and if the USA ever joins the metric world, these will be in high demand. Get one now while they’re cheap; only 8 Euros on Ebay! This handy tool does a great job and is accurate enough for most applications, unless you are in need of scientific accuracy. To underscore the historical significance of this gadget, the Smithsonian considers it worthy of a webpage. With one moving part, it should last several lifetimes. The sliding cursor is unnecessary, so I don’t count that.

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Intergalactic Adventures

06-DSCN0446

SCM Galaxie Deluxe late 1960s-1970s

coloured platens and jeweled escapements could not save them

complex instruction for useless features may have contributed to their extinction

added features were largely unnecessary and often required repairs

lever x may or may not effect skipping, but researchers are continuing to experiment with the problem

speculation is they were too advanced to survive

example of added rubber kluged superfluousness inspired chuckles

absurd removable key is simply the figure 1 and !, commonly standard on all similar species

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Commander Majestic

newspaper staff photo – date and place unknown – likely London, England

The chap in the rear, third from right, was a journalist named Fred Openshaw. His hat, which looks a tad too large, is a classic fedora or trilby style, which can still be purchased from Christie’s of London should you be so inclined (I have a Knightsbridge model that looks pretty much just like these here).  Fred’s granddaughter graciously allowed me to photograph this picture after I purchased her wonderful old Royal Commander c. 1941, that was one of four typewriters Fred once owned. Fred worked at the London Times before moving to Canada, long ago. The Royal Commander must have been acquired here, since it is a Canadian model. When I offered to buy the machine the owner asked me if I would love it. I assured her I would. I didn’t bother to check it over to see if it was in working order, and she only wanted $7 for it, but I gave her a ten dollar bill anyways.

Royal Commander c. 1941 – Made in Canada

That was last Sunday and I am pleased to report that the old Commander is now up and running, and is a fine typewriting machine if ever there was one. It is also very lightweight, a real portable, and comes with a nice wooden case covered in a tweedy fabric. There were several minor problems when I got it – the carriage didn’t go far before stopping; the return lever was bent down too low, and the once rubber feet were now hard brittle disintegrating things. There was also a screw missing from a bar that pivots underneath. I found a screw that was a loose fit and filed off the tip of that to serve as a new pivot, then put that screw in place with a wrapping of teflon tape which held it tight. The carriage was still jamming midway however, so I removed the side-front-side panel and found that underneath was another frame, and I couldn’t see anything. I replaced that and when I was done I noticed on the bench that there was one tiny extra screw. Also, the carriage now worked.

the new screw (plated)

I brushed, vacuumed and blew out as much dust and dirt as I could and gave the innards a good soaking with PB teflon lube (not the cleaner). That stuff gets everywhere but it sure frees things up! For the feet I got an extra large soft pink plastic eraser at the dollar store ($1) and carved some new feet. I may do this again and get the fit a little tighter, but overall I’m quite content with pink feet. I have no desire to restore this machine to showroom condition, preferring the modifications to show. It pleases me that the paint, keys and handle retain something of the past that has rubbed off on them.

Commander seems to be a rarer label for these than Companion, which is what they are generally known as. I speculate this had to do with it being Canadian. Perhaps the Imperial Typewriter Company had dibs on the Companion name here? I like Commander better, no matter. I am puzzled as to why these old portable Royals are not at the top of the list of best all time typewriters. I’ve tested many machines and this one ranks with the best, even with carriage shifting. It is compact and surprisingly light.

genuine hand carved feet

So what about the heading? Oh yes – Majestic! Last Saturday I picked up another JP-1, this one called a Majestic 400. It was cheap too, twice the price of the Royal at $14, but I liked the teal blue lid, so why not? It too had a problem – most of the old typewriters do, and that is a major source of amusement for me in my collecting habit – I enjoy fixing stuff. The back space didn’t work. I removed the bottom and there found the entire escapement. Those Brother engineers were brilliant – they not only made the most successful typewriter of all time, but they made it easy to fix! I saw that the little wire spring that held the lever which pushed the star wheel backwards was busted. Using a guitar string, of which I have many old spares in a box, I fashioned a new spring and with a bit of fiddling I got it do its job. A high E string of 0.010″ is very useful for small springs like this. Music wire is very much like spring steel.

Majestic 400

I admire the simplicity and everything about the JP-1 typewriter, even though it looks cheap, which it was, and clearly still is. I once got one for $1. Some folks get them free however, which is infinitely cheaper, but that is largely irrelevant. What is the fair market value of a JP-1? Who knows? Maybe one day when the world is clamoring desperately for manual typewriters again, it will be worth its weight in gold. Aside from the spring repair, the rubber feet on this were all fossilized too, along with the rubber grommets that the lid snaps into. I took a grommet that was too large for the lid holes, and cut it in half. Then it fit into the holes and that holds the lid on once again. As for the feet – I haven’t figured that out yet, but since the bottom is a flat plate I can just place the machine on a rubber pad to use it.

half a grommet is better than none

the colour didn’t come through well – but it is a lovely teal blue

Parents’ commended it, and I recommend it.

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Typewriter Day 2018

Typewriter day came and went here without fanfare, or so much as a peep. However, I did sell 2 typewriters to a budding typerata. She arrived minutes after she got my response to her email about a machine I had listed on Craigslist. She loves typewriters and has a few, all with names and their own ink colours. We spent a good hour talking typewriters, and I showed her a few interesting ones. Then she spotted one of my Olivetti L22’s that was on the floor. I picked it up last week, broken, and had spent a few hours getting it to work. So she bought that one too, complete with speil about Nizzoli, MOMA, etc. Despite the general lack of community here, we had a mini celebration for typewriter day, which was good.

L22, made in Canada, gone to a new home

Meanwhile I have been shooting film again and developing it in Caffenol. I dried the washing soda in the oven this time, and also added some table salt to the mix. This works great, and even after 3 weeks it worked well enough to develop 3 rolls. The only problem is that I’ve been using very stale film. The BW film was Ilford Delta 100, and that was almost like new judging from the results. However, the 14 year old Kodak Max 400 came out very grainy and low res, despite the camera. One roll of Kodak Max was shot with my Nikon F and the much vaunted Nikkor 85/1.8 and yet the results are pretty much indistinguishable from a Brownie. The best results were from the Ilford, a film that was 11 years old, shot with a Spotmatic and a SMC 50/1.4, which gave brilliant results. Check out this old Cressida!

vintage Toyota Cressida

Colour film curls up horribly, and attracts dust like a magnet attracts iron filings, but the B&W film dried almost flat, and was relatively dust free. After this I just tossed away all the old colour film, because it’s too disappointing to get a good shot that is all dusty and grainy and looks barely focused. I’m not keen on 35mm film for this very reason, preferring 120, but since I have a lot of old cameras I like to exercise them once in a while. My Nikon F Photomic is a classic, but quite heavy and clumsy. I’d like to try shooting with it through the top, something I haven’t done. You don’t need a waist level finder to do this, although that would be nice.

Lettera 35

The 2nd Olivetti of the week was this L35, really just an L32 with a new cladding. The carriage lock was jammed, but I took it off and straightened out the metal tab that goes up and down, filed and polished the edges where this meets the lower rail of the carriage, and now it works fine. The whole thing comes apart as easily as can be, which is brilliant. I think it would take one minute if you know what you’re doing. The beauty of this is the shell can be painted any colour you like, as there are no other painted bits to fiddle with. This machine has every feature you need in a typewriter; full auto set tabs with a nifty brake that works, rabbit ears, and a paper table, plus a platen clutch. It has an interesting design – Italian Modern – and would fit right in with snazzy futuristic furniture. However, I prefer the feeling of the L22 over the 32, although it is a more complex machine and difficult to adjust.

vintage pen stand anyone?

Here is another thing you don’t find in the store anymore – marble pen stands. This one is a Parker, and it came with one Parker pen – a ballpoint. I polished up the plastic barrel and it shines like new. They made these with high grade plastic. I also have a matching fountain pen, a Parker 51, but the ink tends to run out under gravity, so I leave the pen in there dry.

the ink bottle collection

These go with the pen collection. Some are new, others are old bottles found (rarely) in thrift shops. Probably have a lifetime supply.

our garden

seen in someone’s yard

Here are a few more scans:

reclaiming the land where the old bridge stood

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