Sunday, October 8, 2017

Correspondence from around the typosphere

I enjoy all the messages I get from around the typosphere. Forgive me if I'm slow to reply! Here are four that have arrived recently.

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From Richard G. in Ohio:

It's always good to know where our typewriters began their life. Olivetti had a worldwide network of typewriter factories. By the way, if you read Spanish, I highly recommend a recent post on Escrituras Mecánicas where a typewriter tells the story of its perilous life.

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From Klaus M. in Germany:

Can anyone advise Klaus? I think the reinked ribbon works pretty well. Ingenuity will keep our insurgency going!

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Here's a handwritten communiqué (apparently, more advanced writing technology was unavailable), battered but unbroken, from Agent Bikethru in Czechia:

It's true, this is my ancestral land (Polt was abbreviated from Pollatschek). I have been meaning to read Patočka. Those interested in Czech typewriters should consult ETCetera No. 79.

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Finally, a query from Abby H. in California:


  1. Interesting correspondence. I have used both mineral oil and WD-40 to restore ribbons. I'm still using one of my original WD-40 ribbons in my most used typewriters (Underwood SS). The mineral oil one is in one of my portables that is still packed away.

    Grease pencil can be a pain to remove. I've not come across any on a typewriter. I used to use Ampex tape head cleaner to clean grease pencil off of some equipment when I worked at radio stations. Some people would write on the tape decks with the grease pencil used to mark tape for splicing (the decks were brushed stainless steel) I think the cleaner was mostly acetone. Nothing I'd want to use on a painted surface.

  2. While serving in the Navy in the late '70s I remember they wrote backwards using grease pencils on the reverse side of plexiglas panels in the CIC (Combat Information Center). They erased it with rags and some solvent.

  3. I am glad that the lovely green of that Lettera is preserved! From the photo, I can't see the exposed metal, so it looks really spiffy to me. I think the 2X4 makes an intriguing sculpture all on its' own. I like the idea of you sharing something in a shotglass with your Lettera! That dark print looks great. Dark print really is satisfying.

    I went ahead and tried the goof off on a Smith Corona Sterling with grease pencil. It took it right off, along with some of the grey-green powdercoat texture. I mildly freaked out, but was a little pleased with how clean the area was. That slight powdercoat texture really holds onto grunge- I haven't been able to really get rid of the grunge. So right now I have a patchy clean machine and will need to decide how to proceed.
    I think the goo gone will be ok on the hard plastic and fiberglass surfaces. And I will be cautious on vinyl and other case surfaces. The upside to the grease pencil is that it is on some fantastic purchases I got for dirt cheap!
    Thanks for the feedback

    1. Scrubbing Bubbles is good for removing grunge on many rough paints — but, as the Goo Gone did, it may take some of the paint with it. I doubt that it would remove grease pencil.