Last weekend I hosted a typewriter get-together at my place in Arlington for DC-area typewriter enthusiasts. I have missed in-person social situations where I could talk typewriters with typewriter people, and I wanted to connect with local collectors.
The marathon of holiday events that stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is pounding along, and I am gamely holding my own. Others may drop out from exhaustion; but I am a solid long-distance runner, and I will win this holiday season. To that end, I hosted a Holiday Typewriter Open House.
In mid-October, I attended the Typewriter Jamboree at Herman’s in West Virginia. This is my third time there, and I get so much out of it. I had a really good time re-connecting with those I’ve met before, meeting new typewriter people, geeking out over interesting typewriters and repairs, laughing my fool head off over typewriter-related antics. Really, where else would you get all that kind of typewriter-related fun?
Last weekend, I drove out from DC to West Virginia to attend the Spring Typewriter Jubilee at Herman’s. About 50 typewriter enthusiasts were getting together, and how could I say no to that kind of good times energy?
My brain is kind of pickled by pop culture and the internet, so in my failing state, I made this. I apologize for acting like somebody’s mom who just discovered memes:
I had to do it; her look of knowing approval just kills me.
The big Typewriter Jamboree (AKA the 11th Annual Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Rendezvous hosted by Herman Price AKA Hermanpalooza) was last weekend. Before I set out for Herman’s on Friday, I packed up a couple donations for Wordplay Cincy: a real nice Olympia SM3 and a Lettera 22 with script typeface that I bought in North Platte, Nebraska. The Lettera was very sticky and had the gummy escapement problem that causes the carriage to slide willy-nilly, so I did quick clean.
I hit the road on a beautiful fall day and headed west out of DC.
Into the mountains I went:
I reached Morgantown, WV and then made my way to Herman’s where Friday arrivals were to congregate. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Good grief – the party was already rocking and rolling Friday afternoon. Porta-Potties at the ready.
This is a beautiful Oliver 9 rehab in fire-engine red:
In the evening I headed out into Morgantown proper which is a nice little college town with a very happening nightlife:
I saw a manhole with my favorite exasperation exclamation. It is frequently heard coming from me, bent over a typewriter:
Saturday dawned chilly and gray. The rain started.
It got muddy. Like Woodstock, but with less LSD.
Fortunately we had a huge tent for presentations and vats of hot coffee (courtesy of Mrs. Price who deserves a medal for Extreme Hostessing Skills)
Herman formally welcomed us with jokes. He is very funny – his comedic timing is pro-level.
And then came the presentations: Typewriter First Aid using the gun technique which I ate up. It was so good – I picked up a bunch of good ideas.
The Brumfield clan brought a slew of typewriters – many from the Magdalinski Collection of South Bend , IN. Brian B’s presentation on the incredible work his family did in saving many of the typewriters in the collection was riveting.
I didn’t know much about Royal electrics, but I came away with a new appreciation of them after Ian B’s presentation. Some of these pictured are extremely rare.
There was a typewriter beauty contest:
Number 88, the Pittsburgh won:
A lot of people came with business cards. I’ll have to make up some for myself.
I talked typewriters with people all day Saturday until I was hoarse. I picked up so many excellent tips on typewriter repair and cleaning. It was a novel feeling, talking typewriters with people equally passionate about the crazy things. There were so many typospherian rock stars in the flesh at the gathering – I felt a bit shy. I was thisclose to asking for pictures with them, but I chickened out.
Saturday evening, mid-sentence in a discussion about Smith Corona 5 series, I felt the abrupt onset of overwhelming exhaustion. A career introvert, the day had got the best of me and I cratered. I slunk back to the silence of my hotel room to recover and work through the conversations of the day.
I had to leave early Sunday morning, so I missed the speed typing contest. However, other attendees posted pictures of the Jamboree on the Facebook Antique Typewriter’s Collectors group page.
Resolutions for next year at Herman’s
- Plan better so that I can stay for Sunday’s events
- Talk to all the people I didn’t get a chance to pester this year
- Get pictures with people
- Bring business cards with contact information
- Encourage Herman to open his swimming pool (just kidding!)
Early Sunday I returned to the DC area – a light early snow blanketed the mountains.
I came back with three delightful junkers that were essentially freebies: two Royal 10s and a LC Smith No. 8, all with “issues”.
The L.C. Smith No. 8 is a pretty early one, serial number 278424-8. It’s a 1916 which would make it the earliest No. 8 at TWDB.
Side note: Typewriter Database Version Epsilon is looking pretty snazzy! It’s so nice to have the mobile and desktop versions united.
The L.C. Smith was rusted solid – boat anchor/doorstop condition. I blew out the crud and doused it with PB Blaster penetrant and left it to reek quietly in the garage while I unpacked.
When I came back, I gently tried to move the carriage. It moved with crusty squeaks. With patience and petroleum-based penetrants, I gently freed the stiffened parts. Using my hands and a soft touch, I delicately tried to move the rust-frozen parts that should move: typebars, ribbon vibrator, universal bar, sublevers, carriage return, back space. I got the letter “T” moving. The slug met the platen, there was a ba-dump as the escapement did its thing, and the typewriter moved a space.
Here’s the “T” and space bar working it:
Now that I am sure that the LC Smith can type, I want to clean it thoroughly. I wish I could do the kind of work that Words Are Winged does – he’s amazing. I may do a careful Evapo-rust/cleaning dunk if I can get the keys and platen off. The platen is soldered on (!) Someone lost the screw and decide to affix the sliding platen holder with a blob of solder. Oh well. Onward.
*Postscript to Anne ’88: drop me a line at the email address below so I can come pick up your typewriters.
A little over a week ago, I went down to The Shop at Flywheel Press to drop off the cleaned-up Underwood Jewell and to work on typewriters that needed maintenance before the big Love on the Run Valentine’s Day event.
I brought along a little repair kit with tools, mineral spirits and new ribbons. The ten or so typewriters at the Shop were in “sort of” functional condition. There were a lot of sticky keys. There were some unresponsive keys due to popped linkages. Many of the typewriters needed new ribbons. I brought red and black ribbons that I order in bulk from Oregon.
There was a SCM Galaxie that was missing a couple key tops. I made some temporary key tops for it so that fingers wouldn’t get stabbed during the Love on the Run event. I used synthetic cork – natural cork was a bit too crumbly.
I cut to the right size and shape with an utility knife:
I bet you can’t tell which two are replacements 🙂
These were temporary for the Valentine’s event. I bought some SCM key tops on eBay and swapped them out. They are a little yellow, but they look better than the cork.
Does anyone need a replacement SCM-style key top? I have lots left over, so let me know.
The Curse of the Clevis
I believe that the y-shaped linkage that attaches to the individual typebars is called a clevis. I had seen snapped clevises before on a SCM Galaxie with a cemented segment at Moe’s shop. A couple linkages had popped off because the typebars were immobilized in the segment, possible victims of WD-40 syndrome. Once the typebars were freed with cleaning, I was able to re-attach the linkage (with some difficulty).
This is what I am calling a clevis linkage:
This is how a clevis linkage should attach to a typebar:
Four out of the five Smith-Corona typewriters at the Shop had one or more snapped typebar linkages. I worked on a Pennecrest Concord (a re-badged S-C), two SCM Galaxies, and a Smith-Corona Sterling. I got most of them re-attached before the Love on the Run event.
This Reddit thread has some good advice for re-attachment of popped linkages: take a small, thin screwdriver and insert it into the “Y” of the clevis. Turn the screwdriver to open the “Y” and move the linkage into position near the hole at the base of the typebar. Get the linkage into position and then rotate your screwdriver so that the “Y’ flattens and the linkage snaps to the typebar. I found it easiest to work from beneath the typewriter for linkages at the bottom of the segment( e.g. “G”) and from above for linkages nearer the top (e.g. “A”)
The Case of the Cloven Clevis
After I re-attached the snapped linkages, I saw that the “M” key on a SCM Galaxie had a broken clevis – it was missing half of the “Y”. What to do?
I think a thin piece of metal and some duct tape are in order. Stay with me here.
I cut the stainless tie strapping to a piece about an inch long. Using a nail, I punched a hole in the end.
I then attached it to the broken clevis with duct tape.
This is probably the worst looking repair of my short career, but it’s working and the letter “M” types again. It will get a full workout from kids at camps and classes, so we will see how this holds out over time.
The Love on the Run event at Flywheel Press was a great success:
My daughter and I stopped in at the event. There was a pleasantly diverse crowd of old and young – little tiny kids, college-types, parental-types, retired folks. It was so gratifying to walk in and see someone typing out love notes on the Underwood Jewell.
My daughter found herself attracted to a script Olivetti Lettera 32. She typed out a love letter in Cat language:
I was out of town in July and missed the Berkeley type-in – I was so disappointed. I decided that I would have my own type-in of sorts at my neighborhood block party.
Every year my street has an end-of-summer party. Traditionally, we block off the ends of the street, and the neighbors come out with chairs and barbecues. Someone rents a jumpy house, and the kids ride their bikes and scooters up and down in the middle of the street. It’s a nice neighborly gathering. It’s sort of like our version of Burning Man but with less dust and less nudity.
I decided to pull out six of my most reliable typewriters and set them up for hands-on fun. Participating this year: 1965 Olympia SG3, 1948 Remington Rand KMC, 1952 SC Skyriter, 1952 Olivetti Lexikon 80, 1957 Torpedo 18a, and 1921 LC Smith No. 8.
Pictures from the Playa:
It starts: the SG3’s gravitational force pulled these two neighbors into orbit:
The LC Smith No. 8 was a surprise hit. I brought it out half-dismantled to display the inner workings. People loved the feel of the machine’s ball bearings at all frictional points. It was a favorite of many of the the typists.
Looking under the hood:
A suitable pastime for young ladies of gentle breeding:
Typing through adversity – the broken arm is not slowing her down:
I believe the children are our future:
The kids gave all the typewriters a lot of love.
The Lexikon 80 never looked or felt better:
A neighbor showed me the image on her business card (she’s a Twitter / social media consultant)
She got her calling cards at Felix Doolittle – beautiful stationery there.
At the beginning of the block party, I set up the typewriters, retreated and observed. If I saw easy prey, I would go over and talk typewriters until my victims edged away nervously. Seriously though, people seemed to want to talk typewriters – typewriters from childhood, high school typing class, Wite-Out, Mom’s Selectric, desktop publishing with a typewriter and scissors – it all came out in a pent-up rush.
Typewriters are perfect for a community event like this: they’re fun to use, they’re interesting to look at and they tap deep wells of nostalgia and start conversations. I am glad that I brought them out and will do it again next year. Typewriters really do build community.