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!
Category Archives: Thrift shop finds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.