Saturday, September 28, 2013

One weird trick for your Underwood

rn recently commented: "I've had some concerns about the bell ring/line stop mechanism on my 1917 Underwood 5. It's a bit sluggish. Any advice?"

Yes. Try this one weird trick I recently discovered:

1) Gently push down on the margin stop as shown below, and hit the space bar to see whether the mechanism works well when you're pushing down. If not, sorry, this weird trick won't do the trick. But if pushing down helps, then proceed ...

2) Tucked away behind the frame is a spring that's supposed to do exactly what your finger was doing. Pull it out where you have access to it. (I'm using a spring hook in this picture.)

3) Use needlenose pliers to bend the tip of the spring a bit so it will push harder.

4) The spring now looks like this. Tuck it back behind the frame, so that the tip of the spring pushes against the frame.

Your Underwood should now work fine!

I hope others will try this and let me know how it works out.

PS: Today I typed up the essence of the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto in a new format which I hope you'll like. I'm making some postcards with this text that I'll be handing out at Herman Price's meeting next month. Feel free to share, retype, adapt, etc. Click for a large version.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A case study in mutation

From Gourland to Govrland to Governor's Land:


There is now a second generation of fake typewriters which
apparently copy the copies instead of the originals.

The process is like a game of "telephone," or like the evolution of coins in the ancient
world from Greek and Roman originals to bizarrely distorted barbarian copies — a sequence
that I've always found disturbing, as if a hallucination were taking over the
world and losing all contact with reality.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Revolution in the mailbox: Deep in enemy territory

Is everyone in the digital industry insensitive to mechanical technology? No, says our correspondent who's embedded deep in a rumored ultrasecret black-ops cell ...

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn ...

This dashing young man is David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr. 

According to a recent New York Times story, Karp's loft celebrates "all that is aged, rough or both ... Nothing in his home looks particularly futuristic .... The newest-looking machine in the house is the metal carcass of a classic 1969 Honda CB160 motorcycle."

The apartment's designer describes it as built with "analog technology" and "mildly steampunk." The objects on view include classic cameras:

and a German factory clock:

No typewriters (yet), but I salute Mr. Karp for keeping high tech in its place. And as an act of thanks, I'll link to some Tumblr typewriter blogs:

... and there's much, much more.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

WordPlay's first anniversary

The children's tutoring and writing center WordPlay Cincy 
just celebrated its first anniversary with a party.

Its store, The Urban Legend Institute, is looking great and is full of good stuff.
One of these unique hand-decorated typewriters, donated by Greg Fudacz of
The Antikey Chop, found a new owner at the anniversary party today; 
I convinced her to take the plunge by telling her how much her friends would 
enjoy getting typed letters. I bought one of the Vintage Typewriters calendars
myself; they feature machines from Kasbah Mod.

Some more typewriters are waiting for new owners.

Party attendees passed by some of the stable of working writing machines.

WordPlay recently got some great scientific posters -- literally old school.

Some recent poetry projects:

I love this old department store display case.

This Little Free Library was auctioned off.

The Urban Legend Institute got crowded as the evening went on. 
There are lots of books for kids and some great reading for adults too,
like copies of The Believer and ETCetera.

Here's the woman who makes it all possible, director Libby Hunter.

The event attracted lots of good feelings, donations, and new volunteers.
In a raffle I won some Apple Bourbon Pecan Schnecken from Queen City Cookies.
The #1 ingredient is butter. I'd better get to the gym!

PS: Here's a recent story about WordPlay. I recently had the
pleasure of restoring the L.C. Smith Super-Speed that belonged
to the reporter's grandfather.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Subligneous adventures

In my capacity as WordPlay's "typewriter guy," I recently restored an Underwood no. 5 for a Cincinnati police detective.

I thought it would be fun to take some pictures when her machine was in a 50% restored stage, so you could see the difference that elbow grease makes. If you want to see details, click to enlarge. If you are curious about techniques, ask away.

And here is the finished typewriter. Amazingly, its only mechanical problem was a failure to lift the ribbon sufficiently in the red position.

Now I'm ready to tackle the next Underwood. A customer has already said she wants it as soon as it's restored. I'm starting to get very familiar with these guys. Removing the carriage for the cleaning routine is a one-minute job for me now ...

Yep, nothing about an Underwood can surprise me anymore, I've seen it a——


It's a mud wasps' nest, cozily ensconced between the type levers. It was almost a shame to destroy it.

Moral: there's always a surprise around the next corner in the world of typewriters!