Category Archives: Thrift shop finds

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

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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.

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Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters

A 1950’s December

This weekend we made a day trip up island to buy some great German style rye bread from our favourite bakery, visit the street market, hunt through thrift shops and eat at the brew pub. We did all that, and I was hoping to find a rare 1914-1920 Royal 10, which of course I did not. There seem to be many old Underwoods however, but Royals?  Nope.1-IMGP0360

Along the way I took some pictures and bought some fascinating vintage stuff at various thrift shops. One was this incredibly colourful old Italian made nativity scene. One piece had an old Woolworth’s price tag on the bottom; 35 cents. I set it up at home and took some photos with various lenses to try to get all the figurines in focus, which was impossible. I resisted the urge to insert a little gnome/elf with a rake, which would fit perfectly but might be considered offensive, so I’ll merely mention the concept. The elf, in my mind, would have represented Santa Claus, who arguably, was out on his first mission. If you believe in Santa, that is.

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I also had to grab this 1957-59 Kodak Brownie Model I, made in London. On the street I saw a Christmas tree and placed it there to take the picture above. That was item 2 from the 1950’s, assuming the Nativity was such. It might be!

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Then there was the red caboose. Definitely 50’s, at least it was when I was there. And definitely no longer available in any store, or ebay, unlike the first 2 items.

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This scene picture has a timeless feel to it, so I thought it fit well with the theme.

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And finally, what is more December than frost on dead leaves?

 

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Railroadiana, Street photography, Thrift shop finds

Camping With Typewriter

We had 5 days out camping around Southern Vancouver Island. On day 1, before we got to out first destination we stopped for lunch then went to a thrift store nearby, where I bought a typewriter for $10. I hadn’t thought to bring one along with me, but this seemed like an omen. If it wasn’t for that I would not have written these two poems. I present their edited versions, and some pictures. We had a variety of geography on this voyage, from the ocean to a lake to the alpine zone. Lucky for us to live so close to all this!

Underwood 378 – $10 cheap!

First stop was an ocean-side camp at a rocky beach called French Beach. We camped in the forest of tall trees, and rode our bikes down the road to the beach where we swam in the frigid water in wet-suits. This was on the Juan de Fuca Strait, looking across at Washington and the Olympic Mountains.

French Beach

Ocean Beach Summer Night

Briefly a rush of truck tires from the road nearby
Then a softer sigh, we look to the sky
A raven so black whooshes through the air
Voyaging from perch to perch in treetop bare
Campers pass soundlessly with dogs
None barking, quiet like beach logs
Tiny flies flit there and here
End up dead in our beer
We pick them out and drink up
We have no fear

Next to us the water tap and garbage bins
Two outhouses, one women’s, one men’s
Through the trees waves endlessly pound rocks
Where earlier we stood without socks
Watched them rolling thunderously, splash
Sometimes offset, sometimes one great crash

A zipper dumping energy like a long liquid spear
Which makes its mark and instantly disappears
To reappear in the following frame
Tag for the ocean is a favorite game
Any hour may bring change
Fast, unpredictable as a sneeze
But tonight there is a warm breeze
And the happy waves play without fights
Like children do on summer nights

djn
August 28 2017
French Beach, BC

Up the road a ways we camped on another coast, beside the air force. Jets and big choppers were flying around. We were on the inland waters, looking eastward into the endless mountain ranges of British Columbia. Some of the most inaccessible territory on the planet, yet so close by. There are no roads north from there, no “civilization” for hundred of miles, only countless square miles of forest and mountains.

Kin Beach

The Force Is With Us

Roaring jets remind us how
Beside this camp an air force lurks
Ever ready to strike if called
Who or what we don’t ask
Sitting in this field of grass

Writing, reading as the sun sets
another long day in the car
another camping meal enjoyed
chirping crickets and songs of birds
announce the end of their day
chirping and hunting for prey

the road gets longer year by year
how long it seemed to get here
travelling is not so easily done
a short trip is as hard as a long one
or are we weary from the sun?

still, we do enjoy these camps
discovering new places like tramps
later we remember them again
forgetting how we endured pain
remembering sunshine forgetting rain

fondly recalling pleasures from simple things
reading by lantern light and optical illusions
playing cards against a chain link fence
warm nights and stars, noises from cars
snuggling into a narrow bed, banging your head

tired and dirty we are now
in a day or two we’ll have forgotten how
we walked across a field before bed
felt the cold descending, instead
sitting inside on comfortable chairs
do the wash, arrange socks in pairs
go upstairs to bed, turn on a light
lie inside the covers, say goodnight
set the alarm, close our eyes
sleep to be awoken by surprise

djn
August 30 2017
Kin Beach, Comox, BC

From here we made a day trip to hike in alpine meadows. Driving from the beach we looked ahead across the valley to a huge glacier on top of the mountain. Once in the alpine we walked through a pristine wilderness of forests, lakes and meadows full of berries and flowers. Then a rescue helicopter arrived to help an older lady who was backing up to take a picture and fell off the boardwalk, breaking something in her shoulder. A strange sight to see a chopper setting down between tall trees into a tiny clearing.

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Filed under Great Hikes, Photography, Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Travel, Typewriters, Wildlife

Hail Ultraports!

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Now this thing has to be the lightest typewriter I’ve ever come across! It was made in England and sold at Eaton’s as a Playfair Feather Touch. The only metal I saw on it were a few screws, and every other part was plastic, including the type slugs, which have 3 characters each. This you could carry on a backpacking trip, if only it was likely to work. It did seem to work from my testing, but the tiny ribbon, about 1/4″ wide, was not inked enough and was all twisted, so that was an assumption. They were asking a ridiculous price for it too, so I let someone else have it.

This great generosity was well rewarded soon after when I picked up two real typewriters in succession, both very similar to each other and for a good price.

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First was this one:

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ROYALITE&U18001-001

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ROYALITE&U18002-001

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Filed under Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters

Once We Were Safe

I’ve been lucky this week, I found this at a thrift store for $5.

Gillette mod. 195 adjustable safety razor c. 1958

I had to celebrate this and the fact that 90 years earlier, today in 1868 Sholes received his typewriter patent! From my Scottish made Lettera 22, typed on Baron Erasable Bond 25% cotton content:

Here’s a close look at the adjuster ring, which has 9 settings. The blade pack was empty, but I appreciate that whoever donated this thought to include it with the razor. My Dad shaved with a similar Gillette razor and Wilkinson stainless razor blades,  a major advancement in technology in 1962. Gillette knew how to make them but didn’t, because the blades lasted too long!

adjustment ring no. 1 setting

For more on razors see bruceonshaving.

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Filed under Poetry, Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters

Eaton’s 703 Portable Phonograph

Eaton’s 703 portable phonograph

Last year I missed out on a wonderful old German portable phonograph I saw in a thrift shop but didn’t buy. See that post here.

When I saw this old suitcase phonograph the other day I grabbed it. It worked poorly at first but I was able to remove the stuck platter and clean off the old grease, lubricate it and get it going. It has a BSR automatic turntable which was very common, and there are many videos about fixing them. The amplifier, a mono unit with one vacuum tube, puts out a decent sound through a very small speaker. These units generally had ceramic phono cartridges which although not hi-fi were good enough for their purpose. Here is a video demonstration using one of my old LP’s with the Beatles classic No Reply, from Beatles 65, featuring evocative vocals by John Lennon. The sound, although poor by modern standards, is still thrilling and I even enjoyed the 60 cycle hum!

I have no idea who manufactured this unit, but it was sold by Eaton’s, and made in Canada. It could be an Electrohome, or perhaps RCA Victor.

Anyone have 16 rpm records?

The wiring is stereo but only two wires are connected to the amplifier, and the cartridge is mono too. It has a dual needle stylus type ST8, which is still available, and plays 78’s too.

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Filed under LP's, Technology, Thrift shop finds