Tag Archives: Brother typewriters

The Brother That Wasn’t

All typewriter hunters well recognize it; the little brown plastic case with a plastic handle. Inside is a JP-1 Brother, with or without some features like a tab key or a paper rest. This one was sitting on the floor in the back corner of the Salarmi. The cover even had the familiar Brother logo. I lifted the cover. Webster XL-200. OK, that was a Brother brand, but wait a second – it has tilt-shift! Never saw a Brother with that feature. I bought it and took it home to have a better look.

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Clearly it was not a JP-1, or a JP anything. For one thing it wasn’t even Japanese. It was made in Portugal. That gave the game away of course, since I have a very similar machine already, a Sears Chevron. Sharing the same mechanics this one has a different casing and cover, however.

WEBSTER XL-200

WEBSTER XL-200

It needed a lot of cleaning up and minor adjustments, so I removed the bottom cover. As much as I removed piles of dust and rubber shavings the escapement still hung up around the centre position. To access the escapement the platen had to be removed. Thus I discovered how well made this machine is, from the point of view of servicing. I removed the platen wheels with two set screws, then a third screw on a collar on the right side, pulled out the axle and simply lifted the platen out. Removing the pinch rollers and tray I could see one problem right away, more crud on the pair of dual tooth dogs that engage the linear gear bar. This pair has an adjustment screw, and there was the main problem – the lower dog was hanging up on the linear gear train. A simple twist of the adjusting screw and all was well again. The tab key train also needed a slight tweaking by way of bending the end that pushes the carriage release mechanism. The rear panel of the case has a neat feature – the centre section snaps on and off providing access to some inner parts for quick adjustments.

rear access panel snaps on and off

rear access panel snaps on and off

After working on this I have to admire it’s construction. The frame is a very solid and light aluminum casting. It has tilt shifting – far easier than carriage shifting. Access to mechanism is excellent, and all parts are solidly made and fitted. Even the rubber feet are soft and pliable like new. The platen is not as soft as a typical Japanese made Brother however, although by no means rock hard. Nevertheless I applied several coatings of silicone lube to it, which rapidly disappeared – I assume it was absorbed into the rubber.

a look at the segment and key levers

a look at the segment and key levers

Although this was made in Portugal I noted some plastic parts with German labellings. Other information about this model deems it a Messa, which I understand had some connection to Germany. Was this a German design? It is puzzling that Brother, a tremendously successful manufacturer of ultra portables, would put their brand on a foreign product, and one they didn’t even design! Topsy turvy.

rechts side dummy!

rechts side dummy!

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My Valiant Brother

SKETCH005

No. 2 in a series of watercolour sketches.

Despite their being cheap and plentiful, these original Brother typewriters are still good value. I bought this ‘Valiant’ recently, simply for the name plate. They seem to have made endless versions of the same basic machine for reasons that escape me. I guess they were using scientific marketing to sell the same thing under different guise. Wasn’t it enough that it was cheap and well made?

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Filed under Painting, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters

Typewriters and More

Eaton's Prestige c. 1958 (Smith Corona Silent Super)

DETAIL OF THE ACHIEVER (SEARS - BROTHER)

A close inspection of the mechanics of this machine reveals some interesting engineering. There are variations in the lengths of the key levers, spring hooks, and ribbon lifters which would seem to balance the forces and distances traveled by each key. This is unlike most other machines that I have, where all the levers and rods are strictly proportional to their distance from the centre of the basket. Another feature is a lever which opens the ribbon vibrator so that the ribbon does not require threading into the usual contraptions on either side.

LEVER VARIETY ON ACHIEVER

Little Brother

The small Brother is very portable, all metal, and works well. It’s not impressive from an aesthetic standpoint, but it feels good and makes very nice clean type. If you want aesthetics then look no further than the Olivetti Lettera 22. This machine is a designers dream. There is beauty in every little part of it, including the arms of the paper bail, and the fact that they choose to put chromed rollers on it instead of rubber ones. Not only does it look great, but it has amazing touch, and types very softly with no sharp whacking sounds or tinny vibrations. Typing on this is like the feeling you get when you slam the door of a Mercedes.

EPHEMERA DEPARTMENT

I discovered an advert for the Eaton’s typewriter from the Montreal Gazette c. 1959. As a native Montrealer it was funny that this was the only ad that my searches turned up. When I was a university student I once worked at Eaton’s, selling…..(not typewriters) … luggage.

Notice in the ad they include a touch typing course on records. Well guess what I found:

SMITH CORONA TOUCH TYPING COURSE

Another find was a box of  ‘Eaton’s Corrasable Onion Skin’. Same name but different companies.

EATON'S WITH EATON'S

One last detail from the Sears Achiever – the gear shift! Actually the ribbon vibrator/holder release lever. Unofficially that is – I have no idea what they called this, but that’s what it does.

THE RIBBO-VIBRO-LEASER LEVER

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Filed under Thrift shop finds, Typewriters