Category Archives: Typewriters

Best of ’68

caravelle-transistorized-watch-ad-1968

In 1968 I was with my Dad wandering around on our summer holiday in Lake Placid. I hated the place. There was nothing to do but swim, walk around town, or take a boat out, all of them by myself. There were no kids my age except twits at figure skating camp, and they were a closed group. Beside, I was a hockey player and thought boys that figure skated were weird. Perhaps my Dad took pity on me, because for no reason we went into the jewellery shop and he bought me a Bulova Accutron. At the time it was the most accurate watch, and the one used on Apollo missions! I still have that watch, and it works fine, 49 years later. However, it takes a mercury battery, and they are obsolete. If you want a battery for an Accutron now you have to pay $12 plus shipping. As wonderful as the watch is, I’m not so keen that I’d spend $15 or more to run a watch for a year, after which it would need another battery, etc, etc. I have too many other watches to wear. Recently I picked up another one for $4 at a thrift shop:

Caravelle 1968 "transistorized"

Caravelle 1968 “transistorized”

Yep, the same watch as in the advert up top. Made in 1968 or thereabouts, this was the cheaper baby sister to the Accutron, and it has a Japanese made movement made by Citizen. This is a hybrid between a regular windup watch and an all electric one, having a complete movement minus power spring. Instead of a spring it has a tiny motor. The battery is a standard 1.5 volt affair, still available today. I opened the watch and removed the dead battery which may well have been the original one, since it had the name Caravelle engraved right on it! For $2 I got a pack of 5 alkaline cells, and installed one in the watch. At first it didn’t run, but that was due to the bottom of the cell shorting out against the innards. I put tape on the base of the battery and cut a small slot for the contact, then replaced it in the watch. It started up and has been keeping perfect time ever since. It ticks like a windup watch, too. The question is, which watch proved to be the better one in the long run?

Here’s the Accutron. It said waterproof, and it was – I swam with it for years. I wish I could get a cheap battery for it.

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Accutron 214, 1968

no stem, it's on the back

no stem, it’s on the back!

Which brings me to another recent piece of 1968 technology that lives on and on and on…

1968 Olympia SF

1968 Olympia SF

I took the shell off to clean and adjust this one. The automatic ribbon reversal mechanism on the right side was jamming so the ribbon would get taut at the end and not reverse. After some examination I saw the problem, and fixed it by filing off the point on the plate  attached to the ribbon flipper, so it no longer hit the arm it was supposed to push over and thereby flip ribbon direction. Aside from that I blew out the dust and gave it a spray of silicone lube. It’s from Britain, and has many fractions but no exclamation mark. How British – no exclamations… only stiff upper lips, hmmm? I get great results with Olympia portables (the baby ones) by using old mylar ribbons. I drop the spool onto one side and thread the ribbon onto the opposite spool without going through the flipper gates. Half the mylar will fill up one regular empty spool, after which it can be turned over and reused on the bottom section. I’ve tried mylar on some other typewriters and it doesn’t work well on every machine, but works perfectly on these.

mylar ribbon

mylar ribbon

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Filed under Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Watches

The Caravan Royal

Hurry your highness, the peasants are revolting!

Early Royal Caravan

Early Royal Caravan

Royalty don’t travel in caravans, unless fleeing the country. However, that never stopped the use of the word Royal from being applied to caravans, or any other thing. Here’s yet another example:

Royal Caravan: the typewriter

Royal Caravan: the typewriter

I picked this up last week. It’s a variant of a fairly common typewriter known as the Adler or Triumph, Tippa or Contessa, and of course Royal Caravan. It types well and is full featured with basket shift and tabs. Royal typewriter had a previous version that was not portable, although they always call these things portables:

Royal Caravan as used by Bob Dylan

Royal Caravan as used by Bob Dylan in the 60’s

The term “Royal Caravan” does not return the typewriter very high on the search results unless you specify the word “typewriter” however. The most interesting Royal Caravans in my mind seem to be travel trailers – here’s the most well known example:

Buckingham Palace Collection

Buckingham Palace Collection

This one was presented to Prince Charles and Princess Ann in 1955 when they were short enough to get through the door. It’s a miniature version.

no peeking at the royal children please!

no peeking at the royal children please!

There are other Royal Caravans, too:

hotel in Indonesia

hotel in Indonesia

Here’s a famous user of the latest clone, presuming from the source that it is Kubrick typing on one of the yellow iterations of the Adler/Triumph/Royal/Tippa/Contessa/Caravan.

Kubrick I presume?

Kubrick I presume?

You will see many of these on Etsy for way too much, but it seems that yellow and orange are now popular retro-nostalgia colours!

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Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Uncategorized

Recipe Boxes & Typeface Detective Work

Once again I’m finding things seem to come in waves, and here is another example: I found my 2nd old metal card file box in as many days. This time the box was empty, but nevertheless the same box with a different paint job.

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Meanwhile I’ve been amusing myself trying to discover the sort of typewriter that was used to type the pastry recipe on the index card I featured previously. I typed the same words using an old Underwood Golden Touch but that didn’t look like it, so I then tried with a 1948 model Royal Arrow. That looked very similar.

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Here is the direct comparison of the new card (Royal Arrow 1948) and the original card (unknown). The old ink is now brown, and it looks fatter, but that may simply be how it was absorbed by the paper when it was typed in the first place.

1-pastry-old-and-new-typefaces

Going through the recipe box thoroughly I discovered a few more typed recipes, which I present here.

 

rhubarb-crisp

This next recipe comes from a different machine, at 11 characters/inch. My first guess would be a Brother, but it could well be an Olympia too, as they made plenty of 11 pitch machines. I have not investigated this typeface yet.

lazy-cabbage-rolls

Back to the other typewriter again for a Mystery Cake.

mystery-cake

 

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Filed under Cooking, Type-in, Typefaces, Typewriters

Mother’s Pie Crust

ye olde recipe boxe

ye olde recipe boxe

I’ve been looking for one of these  for some time. My mother had one similar, but with a tartan pattern and beige brown lid. It too was stuffed full of mostly handwritten recipes. I venture this came from the 50’s, judging by the handwriting (tiny and perfect) and the business card stuck inside, which has a phone number that begins with letters (GR in this case). Having searched most of the cards I’ve only found one that was typewritten, and of course it is clear and easily understood. It looks to be elite (12 cpi), but from what machine? The stasi would have known these things! For those who might be making pies for the holidays, here is that recipe. Note the hopeful suggestion about fingers crossed.

pastry-recipe

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Filed under Typewriters, Thrift shop finds, Cooking

6 NANOS

1-nanowrimo-winner-2016

Well, I did it again. This was my 6th Nanowrimo. Six books x 50,000 words or more in 30 days. The first time it was murder. The rest were hard and every time I seemed to finish on the 30th of November. But this year I took a different approach. I didn’t exactly write a novel. I wrote about me, and my life. Again it was my son Robert who got me thinking about the subject. A few years ago he gave me a book about writing memoirs as a present, and a hint I suppose.

The novel I wrote last November I had edited down to about 47,000 words, but then spent another 7 months finishing it, which brought it to 160,000 or more. It started as a sequel but now I think it will just be one book. I was so busy writing it that I had no time to come up with a plot for a new novel for this year’s Nano. Then it occurred to me to try something different and see if it was possible to write a memoir. Turns out it was. I had some days of 4500 words and I had to stop because I got too tired to keep writing, even though my head was still full of words. I hit 50k today, but it’s not done yet, as I have a lot more I want to tell. It has been the easiest book so far, because the story is there for the telling. If I could invent fiction this quickly I’d write a book a month, a cheap best seller (in my dreams).

Here, for those of you who yearn for typewriter content, I offer my opinion on one of the best machines to write on. This after having collected over 80 or more typewriters and testing every one. The one I used most often this month and for the last part of my last novel was:

The Olympia Traveller! Yes, Traveller is misspelled in the name, maybe on purpose, who can say. But this is one great piece of engineering. I didn’t like it at first, a few years back when I got it for $20, but over the years I’ve got it out and kept testing it now and then. One day it started to feel just right and suddenly I got it, the whole feel of it and the touch and rhythm. Now I am a big fan. I’d say it beats the full size Olympias any day. The more I look at how it was made the more impressive it gets. I also have a script version but you can’t scan the pages, so I don’t use it for writing books, only letters. I also like the 11 character pitch a lot. I can get 600 or more words on a page without having to stop.

my Traveller

my Traveller

Here’s page one of my memoirs:

NOVEL #7 NOVEMBER 2016

 The idea is this, every day write a journal, and from those thoughts will flow the story of one month in my life, during which time I will have spewed out a ton of interesting crap! So, here goes:

This is November. It sucks, mostly. There is nothing good about November that I can remember. It starts the day after Halloween, which for me was once a big deal, now not so much. Now in fact, I try to hide from it. This year we drew the curtains and turned off the light outside. Even so, one poor stupid sap rang the bell in hopes of goodies. Margie said “Don’t answer” but I felt some sense of responsibility, why I can’t explain, so I went down to the door just to see why someone was dumb or desperate enough to ring a bell when there was no pumpkin in the window and all was dark. I didn’t get to ask however as the kid, dressed as a cop, had already started leaving, no doubt intent on trying his luck at every door, no matter how dark or pumpkin-less they might be. He turned my way when I opened the door and said, “sorry, I don’t have anything”, by which time he was gone.

But then there were no more trick or treaters, and soon it was over, except for the distant sound of fire crackers which went on for what seemed like hours. Firecrackers used to thrill me too, when I was ten. After that, not so much. My kids never had them, as I refused to buy them, thinking by that time that they were a stupid idea. But they didn’t seem to mind, they were mostly concerned with candy. Halloween is in October however, so it is irrelevant to a discussion of November. October is a nice month, usually. This year it wasn’t. It rained a record amount, and there were no owls about.

So, Tuesday November began with a day of rain. All day I was bothered by the thought that I had no ideas for a novel. For the past 5 years every November has created a novel, which has taken me the entire month to write. It all began when Robert told me he was going to write a novel in 30 days, and why didn’t I join him? I’d never heard of NaNoWriMo, but it seemed like a good idea, so away I went. That first book The Sexy Synesthete, was hard, I mean really tough going.

I started out with a premise that I had written in a small moleskine notebook about a month before, in which I observed a man at Swans who seemed to be nervously waiting for someone. Then a sexy woman arrived. She was ridiculously sexy in fact, which might explain why he seemed so nervous. So that became the first paragraph of my first novel. Later I moved it in the….

50,000 more words, etc….

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Filed under Books and Short Stories, NaNoWriMo, Typewriters

Shiny Black Things

Shiny black thing 1

Volkwagen

Seen last summer

Streamliner

Streamliner

Seen today

Can’t afford either one! OK, maybe the Remington, but $130? I have a Deluxe Model 5 already…I think it was $25.

Oh to be on the road in my VW with my Streamliner beside me on the seat, typing as I drive along. Ridiculous, you say? Yes, but how many people died because some idiot was typing while driving? My guess, very very few. How may have died because some idiot was talking, texting, or browsing their smartphone? My guess, thousands. Once again, the typewriter proves its worth.

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Filed under Street photography, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Uncategorized, Vintage cars

JP-3 Sighting

Brother JP-3, Profile 720 model

Brother JP-3, Profile 720 model

Mint condition, rare JP-3 model with parallel action carriage shift, push button ribbon selector, wide carriage and all original papers. I have nowhere to put this, but if it had been regular carriage and $20, who knows?

P.S. more photos of the paperwork. It was made in 1967, and had a rapid paper feeder!

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Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters