Monday, 24 December 2012

A wee tinge of Christmas love.

Well! My post yesterday might have sounded a bit depressing... but believe me, it isn't depressing around here! We've been baking and wrapping, and talking over the phone to people all over the world, and it's been great!

Seriously... Facetime on my iPhone is awesome. Today I've spoken to people between Melbourne and Peru. How good is that! At the touch of a button on my phone... one touch, anywhere at any time, and there we are.

Anyway, I've got a week off work and I'm excited to do... well... probably nothing. Absolutely nothing. Including my blog, which I'm going to leave alone for a few weeks. So I still hope you're here when I get back.

Actually, that's not true. As we speak I'm plotting a little adventure. If it pans out, I'll let you know.

But for now, I've busted out the H3K and blotted down a bit of a Christmas message.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Present-ly engaged.

Now... I'll be frank. I'm not a Christmas-y person. There's no decorated tree in my home, no tinsel to filthy the carpet, and only a handful of Christmas cards are handed out to people that I feel are important.

...... buuuuuuuut. I"m not a Scrooge either. So there's no need to send the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

It isn't that I dislike Christmas. I just feel that the important things tend to get left behind in the flurry of decorating, carol indulgence and present collecting. For some, that importance is their religion. In the typosphere blogs that I've read of late, there's been a little discussion about what this period means to most of the religious typists amongst us.

But to me, Christmas has always been about connections with family. While friends and people around me often declare 'Jesus is the reason for the season', the nativity scenes, caroling, biblical posturing and religious paraphernalia will often feels like stapled on additions. And historically speaking, they are - even by christian standards.

Here in Australia it is the summer solstice. For pretty much the entirety of man's occupation of this continent, the solstice period had never been observed with any religious belief. Considering there's evidence that people have lived here for at least 120,000 years, the celebrations of the solstice around here over the last 200 or so -- seems to be a relatively recent fad.

I often feel a twinge of disappointment around Christmas time. My birthday is a week out from Christmas, and due to its proximity to the big event it is pretty much not celebrated. While as adults we don't exactly make a big deal about birthdays, it is unheard of, of someone surprising me with just something as simple as a handful of friends heading out to a bar, or even just to have dinner somewhere. If I want to do something for my birthday I usually have to organize it with major effort and anticipate a close to nothing turn out. I'm usually lucky if people remember my birthday at all actually... it is just too busy at this time if year.

That said, my (now ex) boss wandered by my office the other day. She had heavily loaded bags filled with Christmas presents for people around work. But she had also bought me a birthday present. A money box! And what an awesome money box it was too....

Next to my Apothecary Corona 3... My Corona money box!

She didn't even know I owned a Corona 3 (let alone what one of those were), and was pretty much shocked when I sent her this photo above - showing her the real thing, along side the money box that she had bought me. 

Just for reference... no, the money box doesn't fold for storage.

And can I just say... I'm quite chuffed. Sure, the real thing is cooler than the copy, but seriously... look at the detail on this freakin' money box! It is three bank, with a fig key... and also has the knobs and paper supports all in the right places. It even has the curved paper table!

I got another surprise gift last week too. This wasn't a birthday present, but a gift from Jess in Singapore. It turns out that Jess was the lovely lady who had written me that thank you note a little while back, and she had recently bought an armful of ribbons from a typewriter specialist in Singapore. 

Jess has sent me three different ribbons. A black and red cotton ribbon, a black cotton ribbon, and a black nylon ribbon.

I had just finished dunking and cleaning out machine, and as I had never used a cotton ribbon before I immediately slipped the black and red ribbon into the freshly repaired and serviced typer.  The results were interesting and varied. While the ribbon a left very bold and thick impressions - and were clearly heavily filled with ink, it was a little hard to read. I expect this to improve as the ribbon's ink stabilizes. While I had the machine out, I decided to write a bit of an Australian Christmas typecast.

So enjoy - the Filthy Platen Christmas Special!
                           Pardon some of my tragic writing mistakes. It was a rushed out draft after all.

My HG Palmer, and a pile of Christmas preparations and presents.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Russian's кириллица secret.

I came across a Olympia Cyrillic typewriter on a little while ago, and had a hell of a time getting the seller to send it to me. In the end, they just disappeared and ceased email contact. About 4 months later I saw them advertise the same machine again on the same site.

Again several emails transpired and again we got nowhere before they stopped talking.

Note: anyone looking to buy this machine on the sunshine coast, I think it's vapor-gear. Don't waste your time with it.

I've been trying to chase a handful of Soviet era artifacts for a while now. Originally I had been just seeking a Russian made telephone. But then I decided that if I were to add one to my phone collection in my cabinet, it would be nice to have some other Russian gear to go along side it. 

I wasn't too upset about not getting the Cyrillic machine, as it was a Olympia Traveller - which was too new a design and would have not really reflected the era. And besides, the Travellers have quite a reputation for being a rather shitty typewriting experience. 

But then a couple of weeks ago a Cyrillic Hermes 'Baby' with turned up on eBay AU.  I was excited, as it was a 50's era design with the 'wings' style ribbon covers, and looked largely in excellent condition. With one exception - there seemed to be something missing from the top of the typewriter. 

See, it's 'rare'. I know it is rare, because it said so on the internet so it must be true. 

It was going cheaply too... No one had placed a bid by the time I saw it, and no one bid against me. Before long, the machine was being shipped up from Tasmania. "Hey! I hope you're up on your Russian!" the seller wrote to me when he notified me that he'd posted the machine.

Now lets be clear... Russian is not the only language the uses the Cyrillic alphabet. It is just the most well known. 

By now I'm sure you've noticed what is missing from that typewriter. The Hermes logo, and the 'baby' name. 

And being who I am, all kinds of ideas started to race through my head as to why this may be. These were possibly fueled by my love of cold war spy dramas of the Le Carre type, I concocted all kinds of scenarios around this typewriter. Most of which were only heightened when the machine actually arrived.

And there it was... on my desk. 

Now, I'm not going to claim for a second that this machine actually had some kind of cold war role. And to be fair, considering Australia's rich and interesting immigration history, post second world war, this machine probably does have a much more interesting story than any dodgy spy drama could ever tell. 

But when you see this on the back....

... it isn't hard to start wondering about this machine. So, it was made in Switzerland and sold to the USA Market. At the time there were Hermes dealerships in AU that were directly importing themselves, so immediately I started wondering about what role this machine had in the USA before it came to Australia. 

What DID this typewriter do in the USA before coming to Australia? How did it come to end up in Tasmania? Why was there a screw missing in the back of the machine... was a bug removed? 

And then Ryan over at Magic Margin posted a blog about the Soviets spying though the typewriters inside the US Embassy.

I emailed the seller about the history of his machine, and he informed me that he hadn't had it all that long - having bought it at a car boot sale a little while ago. So there was no joy to be had here. It seemed that this machine's story was unlikely to be given up any time soon. 

The machine it self works brilliantly. Like all of these machines, the felt seems to hold a substantial amount of musty typewriter stench. It isn't over-powering like one of my other Hermes machines had been, and was just enough to give it that 'history' feel. 

But what about the logo? I kept scratching my head about the logo.. Why was it missing? What had been there originally? Was it something that had been specially made and had a unique logo? 

Hang on, I can almost... almost see something there. Is it Something in Russian?!!?

There were fragments of paint on the front that looked like part of the original logo. But I couldn't quite make out what it was. Also, there were two other fragments of paint that looked like it had been pushed around and left by some kind of chemical wash. It might have been a miss-guided attempt at cleaning the machine, but it also could have been an attempt to hide something.

So... how do we find out?

Well... You could get all kinda 'C.S.I.' and whip out your specially made Black-light torch. You know, the kind that every self respecting person has sitting about the home for the thousands of potential uses that a Black-light torch has.

Your standard, garden variety black-light torch.

So I grabbed out my handy-dandy Black-light torch, and flashed it onto the Typewriter. You know... Gangnam style. Why not Gangnam? CSI always rock it out to some old crappy pop tune, why not a new crappy one? 

It's a.... it's a....... oh....

As it turned out, it wasn't even a Hermes Baby. It was a freakin' Hermes Rocket. Hardly some unexpected cold war relic! My understanding is, that the Rocket name was a label that was applied to a series of Baby machines that were specifically made for the US market. This again confirmed that this machine had taken the long way round to Tasmania. 

But there was something more... if you look at the photo you can see three pink and glowing fragments of paint. While these were somewhat the same colour as the rest of the red paintwork on the Hermes, under the Black light they glowed with considerably more oomph.

Why did they glow? Well, the glow that you see under a Black-light is caused by phosphors reacting to UV light. It actually produces light when it is hit by the UV rays. Phosphors have been used more recently in modern products to give brighter tones and more defined colours.

It doesn't mean that the paint on this typewriter was younger, but it does indicate it was applied in different conditions in a different process. The fragments themselves were thicker than any of the text, including the bold 'Hermes' logo. So it is again a bit of a mystery as to where it came from, and what it originally may have depicted. I suspect that something had been stamped or painted over the top of Hermes Rocket logo, but unfortunately none of it had bonded enough to stay behind. But would have been this that was washed off when the bulk of the original logo was removed. 

Anyway... I'm very happy with this machine. After a little bit of servicing it is writing and running extremely smoothly. What more could I want! 

I know what more I could want.... A Russian telephone for my collection. Now.... any of my readers got any Soviet Telephones?

До свидания, пока мы в следующий раз встретиться. И благодарю вас за чтение.

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Apothecary's Typewriter

It's the sort of machine that I'd expect to find and read about over at the Dante's Wardrobe blog, but yet it has proved to be something of a complete mystery. Let me introduce you to a typewriter that I have not seen an awful lot of information about.

Filthy, filthy keys. And these had already been scrubbed once.
Notice anything about them?

A few months ago a member in the Portable Typewriter Forum on Yahoo! mentioned that they had a 'Pharmaceutical typewriter' that they were willing to part with. Being that this was very closely related to my line of work, I quickly messaged the member and expressed an interest in this machine - that is if the person he'd originally offered it too turned it down.

It was an interesting Royal portable with a brown paint scheme, which before I knew it was shipped off to Singapore.

"Oh well", I sighed in an email back to the charming typewriter enthusiast; Robert Neuwirth, (who is a journalist and excellent writer) And that was that - or so I thought. 

Robert goes by the name of Squattercity on the Yahoo! Forum. This name comes from Roberts blog (as linked above), and an excellent book that Robert wrote called Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, a New Urban World. A book that I will be posting a review of on here sometime in the near future. 

Some weeks later an email notification flashed up onto the screen of my iPhone. It was Robert, and he had come across an interesting Corona 3 on ebay that he through might be right up my ally. 

He was right. After I clicked into the link, I have to say I couldn't have been more excited. A seller was offering up a typewriter that had the requisite 'Pharma' (as a lot of forum members had called them) keys.

But it was a mess. The machine looked as though it had been corroded to all buggery, and would probably prove to be quite a test to any would be restorer. The seller hadn't actually noticed the unusual characters on the keys, and as such didn't even mention them, or even photograph them closely for the sake of the sale. But he did make a bit of a noise about 'working briefly for Smith-Corona once'.

Not that this is a problem to me. I often look for basket cases that will challenge me to learn new skills. But it was also only for sale to people inside the United states, which kind of presented a problem to me, as I was on the wrong side of the Pacific Ocean.

I quickly crunched the numbers and made some calls, and I managed to tee-up a few people who would could re-post this machine to me. But I shouldn't have worried, as some polite emailing and negotiation seems to go a long away on ebay sometimes, and I managed to convince the seller to post to Australia. 

The auction ended without anyone else bidding against me. Either no one else noticed the unusual keys, or the condition of the machine was a real turn-off. Within a week I had on my desk a very crusty and rusty old Corona 3. 

Upon opening the package my heart sank. The typewriter case was damaged, and the machine was floating around inside the packing box. But the machine was complete, even if it looked like it had sat at the bottom of a swamp. I sat it next to my other Corona 3 - a machine that I had bought off Joseph over at the 'Typed on paper' blog, and from an aesthetic point of view Joseph's machine highlighted how poor a condition this machine was in. 

Even mechanically this machine had some real challenges. Which, I'm glad to say I was able to overcome. 

And here's the result: 

Not so shabby eh? Still a little more work to go, but it's typing happily, and looking pretty damn fine.

But cleaning and fixing this machine was one thing. The hours I spent sorting this machine out was equaled by the amount of time I spent finding pretty much nothing in relation to these 'Pharma' typewriters.

So let's call it what it is: an Apothecary typewriter. 

I can understand why it is often referred to as a 'Pharmaceutical typewriter', but this is neither accurate, or doing justice to the cultural significance of these machines. I've come across examples produced by Royal, Oliver and Corona so far. But I wouldn't be surprised if there were others to be found.

You might be wondering "What is an Apothecary"? Well - let me indulge this question. 

In the modern era various proponents of 'Alternative' or 'traditional' medicine practitioners often are critical of how western culture has become reliant on conventional medicine. As such practitioners of these things often market themselves with traditional medicines that are 'hidden secrets' of other exotic cultures. 

But it isn't true. Western culture has an extensive history of traditional medicine, and this medical tradition was endorsed, marketed and sold by people known as Apothecaries. 

Apothecaries, like modern pharmacists, had a language all of their own. They also had systems of measure that were mostly specific to their trade. Many of these symbols and measurements were carried through as a lot of apothecaries changed over to pharmacists.

As we turned from the 19th to the 20th century, the role of apothecaries in our community changed rapidly. The scientific method had proven that many of the remedies and cures sold were a sham. And at the same time more rigorous research methods began offering far more effective drugs. As society began to embrace this change, many apothecaries changed along with it and become pharmacists. As such a lot of apothecary tradition came along with them.

This wasn't exactly an unusual thing for apothecaries to do. Whereas these days we see the word 'apothecary' as an old world term,  apothecaries actually used a combination of tradition and cutting edge technology to market themselves. Around the world there's still some shops that call themselves apothecaries, but they are more of a novelty shop trying to capture the traditional feel, while eschewing much of the technology.

Apothecaries used complicated and advanced glass products to both sell their wares (Google: apothecary jar) and produce them. They made far more sophisticated packaging than was commonplace at the time, and they used electricity at a time that it was still considered a novelty product. 

They produced sophisticated means of advertising and labeling their products, and were voracious users of printed material. Really it comes as no surprise that these people had typewriters produced for them specifically for their purposes. 

Just had to add "$" there. it felt kinda right in a snake-oil salesman kind of way.

As you can see there's an interesting mix of more modern measurements that you may recognise, along with a couple of odd but familiar characters and some otherwise foreign ones. 

I've used some odd unicode below to give you an idea of what these symbols are, but unfortunately the unicode symbols haven't always been exactly... 100% accurate. However they are close enough. 


This is an easily recognised symbol that is still in use today. But it has a long and complicated history. It is used to symbolise 'take' in latin - as in 'recipe', Hence they 'R' of the symbol. However its origins go further back than that - as the crossed extension of the R is a nod to the roman god 'Jupiter' as a prayer to the patron of medicine. These days we often just refer to it as 'prescription'.


The 'Minim' by comparison to many of these other symbols, is a much more modern addition. This much more of a pharmacological symbol than it is an apothecary, but it was originally specified for use alongside existing apothecary measurements. Its usage changed in modern context to define 1/480th of a fluid ounce. But it originally indicated 1/60th of of a fluidram. 
*note: this symbol should have a cross over at the bottom of the end, not an arrow as depicted here in the unicode. 

And speaking of drams and fluidrams, here's the symbol for a 'dram'. Fluid drams are indicated by putting an f, or an fl in front of this symbol. This as an apothecary measure takes its name from the ancient greet coin of the same name. A fluid dram is about the size of a traditional (but not the current size) teaspoon. While dry material dram is a little more complicated.
Oh, and a variation of the dram is still in use with the production of Scotch Whiskey.

Hot on the heels of the dram, we have the 'ounce'. The symbol is very similar, but of course has that extra 'z' on top. Like the dram it is qualified as a liquid once with an f. Both drams and ounces are halved by adding 'ss' to the end. Other portions are indicated by fractions. 

Rounding out the list of major measurement symbols used by apothecaries, we have the 'scruple'. This is a tiny measure that works out to about 1.3 grams. But is defined as '20 grains'.

The fl symbol has a much more recent addition to the system, and is probably a product of the apothecary transfer across to modern pharmacology. fl oz is a far more common symbol today, but previously fluid ounces would have been symbolized by an f3.  The fl would have been used in combination with the previous symbols, along with an 'a' fraction key, to denote quantities in fluids. 

All of these units of measure were very complicated, and needed a considerable level of knowledge for the user to be able to interpret. I'll note that 'apothecary' wasn't just a term for people who sold the remedies, but was an encompassing term for the people that sold and distributed materials involved with the product as well as administering it. As such, doctors and nurses are also apothecaries. Once upon a time most of these people would have had to have been trained in the interpretation of these symbols. But today these are antiquated and clumsy units of measure that are actually more of a danger to use in a modern context.

But pharmacists do still largely acknowledge the history and tradition of the apothecaries - even if our own world has mostly progressed past the days of selling snake oil alongside Aspirin.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

And now for something completely different....

Someone needs to change the guitar to a typewriter... 

.... and make a Nano meme.

... or something. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Shining a tiny light in the anguished dark.


Sorry if this sounds a little rantive. It was written with a glass of Vodka and lemonade next to me, with a head full of muddled ideas and feelings about the future. 

..... Well, that is a little bit of luck to tell my side of the story if it all goes bad.

I rather like this SM3. I think I'll keep it in high rotation.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A weapon against complicity.

My Olympia SM3 is in near perfect condition and it looks as though it has just been pulled off the showroom floor. I acquired this machine roughly a month ago, and the story behind  it is interesting - and it may still be told sometime in the future.

But right now I'm calling this machine into action.

I just loaded this machine up with a nice, new silky ribbon. A ribbon installed to ready this machine for a purpose.

In a few brief hours this afternoon my world turned on its side. With the ring of a phone, and the click on an email; machinations started to operate that will eventually impact significantly on my work life and my future. 

I've danced around some of the issues at work of late when I've spoken about them on my blog, as I haven't been in a position to be able to go into detail without repercussions. But however today, things may have changed.

I haven't been given the official word as yet, and I'm rather hanging onto a thin strand of hope that it may not be so bad. But I know that I wont be able to avoid the reality of the situation. 

That reality comes this Wednesday at 11:15am, in the director's office.

What is about to happen is a result of both circumstance and politics. The former is unfortunate. The latter is something I can stand up to be counted against. It is time for my type bars to get typing - and to document the impact that certain political decisions can have on people. I can't change what is going to happen. But I can change how people think about what has happened. I may have been classified as a 'non person', but it doesn't mean I intend to remain invisible.

My name is Scott, and this is my typewriter. We will not be silent.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Polytetrafluoroethlene n' that.

Greetings! And welcome to Filthy Labs.

Polytetrafluoroethlene is a compound that my spell-check seriously dislikes. So let's just abbreviate it to its more common name: Teflon.

You may recall a few weeks ago, I started using a 'dry' Teflon based lubricant on my Oliver 5 machine to see how well it worked. Meanwhile, I had on hand another Teflon based lubricant - a 'wet' lube that was packaged in a spray pack can.

The idea was that the TF2 Spray would be an effective substitute for the god-foresaken WD40 rubbish that some home typewriter renovators use to 'get their machines working again'.

When I say substitute, I mean - a product that potentially can directly replace the WD40 that already has been sprayed onto the typewriter. It also could potentially be a go-to can of product for the people that have may have been thinking about using this spray in the past.

Let me explain: In use, many of the Teflon lubricants - including this one, contain a compound that cleans out existing hardened oils. In testing, often the previous broken down oils and dirt have been seen being pushed out of the lubricated space.

This seems to be fine when talking about door hinges and other simple mechanical components that it has been tested on, but what about finer and tighter tolerance objects? As it stands - Teflon as a lubricant is designed for very tight tolerances. That, and that it is also designed to be used in very high impact areas. Hence its use in aircraft landing gear. Teflon's surface protection capacity and slipperiness, as well as its high resilience has been perfect for such applications.

Teflon molecule model. 

Is it good for typewriters? Well.... For the most part typewriters have been happy with most highly viscous oil.  My Oliver 5 seemed to like it, and dirty perished oil was observed being pushed out of all kinds of corners while in use. Another advantage of Teflon that is is lest prone to dust capture. 

But what about as a wet lubricant?

The Candidate: My Adler Gabriele 25

When I acquired this machine the then owner demonstrated it to me on a table on her back patio. As she pressed every key, the typebars became jammed into place about a centimeter or so above the rubber pad of the basket. "Oh, I'll just give it another spray of WD40" she said. I Groaned a "Oh, I'll sort that out, it's okay" but she was still pretty determined to grab the can. "NO"! I insisted "No it is okay".

I forked over a little too much money for such a sorry machine, and soon I was on my way.

I used degreaser to try and move the muck out of the segment, and I was about 85% successful. The machine was largely quite usable after that, but I put the machine into storage, and the residual WD40 quickly latched onto the type bars again. 6 months later it was again a slow and sticky machine. Not as bad as it was originally, but still far from ideal.

The Teflon lubricant will clear out the existing muck, and subsequently replace it with a much more effective lubricant for tight tolerance mechanical operation. Usability will improve, as will longevity of the machine.

Part 1: Spray strategically, operate, observe. Clean surfaces of over spray. Operate and observe. 

Part 2: Store typewriter as typcial post procedure, wait set periods, observe. Operate and observe. 

Potential Variables:
Differing weather conditions could affect the outcomes. Higher humidity in summer, as well as increased heat could potentially cause some level of a false positive. Estimate of potential level of variation is yet to be established. 


I still didn't simply like the idea of spraying this machine full of lubricant in the same way that I have heard and seen other would-be 'repairers' flood their machines with WD40. Instead I decided to use short, light and quick moving squirts across specific components and stuck locations. 

As this machine was already a victim of 'segment lubrication syndrome', (hereby known as SLS) I wasn't too worried about the normal warnings of 'don't oil the segment', and felt this was an ideal candidate to both test the lubricant, and its muck removal qualities. 

I didn't just spray randomly into the segment however. I only sprayed half of the segment - which left the other half as the control group. 

 TF2+ Dry, and the TF2 spray.

However, the control group contained a particularly sticky key. Q to be exact. And I decided to target the Q key with a tiny drop of the other Teflon lubricant I had been testing, the TF2+ Dry. The drop was administered with the usual syringe that I had been using for the substance. This immediately corrupted the control group,  but I continued with what was left of the control as a point of reference.

The spray was administered through the supplied thin red tube, to ensure that it could be focused closely on a specific area. 

With the typebars now lubricated, I started to manually work every key free from their 'SLS' bonds. I do this by manually grabbing each key, and rapidly shift it to the platen and back repeatedly and as quickly as possible. This method tends to clean out segments that had become jammed with dust or dirt quite effectively, and I was using for the same effect here - to 'push' the debris out of the segment with constant speedy and repeated movement. You can often feel the muck coming out of the segment as you do this. 

Before long the typewriter was up and flying again - in as much as one can say 'flying' with a Gabby.

The control group of the segment took a little work to get lose and moving again, but I managed to get it going. With exception of the Q key, I was able to eventually work all of them lose from their presently lazy operational state. 

The experimental group started to move almost immediately with little or no need to shift the keys around. All keys operated smoothly with individual operation. 

After half an hour of working the keys, both the control and subject groups operated relatively well. I then attempted 'typical' operation - i.e. quickly typing a document, and in typical typing operation both groups worked quickly and mostly smoothly. Some occasional laziness was observed in the control set, but it wasn't consistent and the typewriter was again highly usable. 

The Q key, which had been treated with Teflon dry operated flawlessly. 

Some over spray was wiped from the segment and type-bars, and as soon as I lifted the typewriter - I observed that underneath the machine pools of dirtied oil had formed. 

The smear on the left had formed after I had sat the typewriter back down post spraying along the 'comb' The drizzle of dirty dots to the right formed under the segment - beneath the experimental group. Other drops came from other lubricated locations.
 I had lubricated the carriage rails and the bearings with TF2+ Dry while I was servicing the machine. I'll experiment with the spray on the rails on another machine soon. I have a pre-dunk machine in mind I want to try it with.

3 weeks later.

The Gabby 25 was packed back up and stored in a dry, but relatively cool room for about three weeks. It was positioned horizontally (flat, not on its tail). The room was closed off from air conditiong for most of this time, and the room on some occasions reached a temperature in the low thirties (centigrade - around 86 to 95F).


The experimental group moved smoothly and immediately upon depression of the keys, while many of the keys in the control group felt as though they were locked down. An lightly audible 'snap' could be heard as the keys freed up, and soon they returned to operation smoothly despite their initial stiff function. During this initial phase, these stiff keys made a noticeably lighter impression on the page.

The Q key observed no locking, and operated perfectly. 

4 of the control group typebars positioned closest to the experimental group moved perfectly without fail. This could potentially indicate over spray, but it could also indicate substance travel - i.e. the lubrication moved along the segment through bearings or across surfaces. 

Keys surrounding the Q key also observed no locking and stiffness. As the Q key was supplied with smaller and more controlled application of lubrication that dried quickly, this suggests substance travel. 

The '9' key was part of the original experimental group. However, it appeared to be lazy during operation. A tiny dab of TF2+ dry was added to the underside of the type bar around where the bearing was located while the type bar was pressed against the platen. When the key was released, the '9' key snapped back to rest, without any laziness observable. 

It is possible that the 9 key hadn't been 'worked in' as much. But there is no observation that supports this - other than its probable lack of inclusion while conducting the 'quick brown fox' test.

The segment did not appear to be wet with oil. 

After a few minutes of typing, the typewriter operated beautifully in most regards. The experimental segment worked near perfectly, with the only flaw being the 9 key.

The TF2+ Dry had done a wonderful job on the rails, and it operated observably smoother and quieter. It had even improved over the initial 'working in' of the lubricant, where the carriage at the time had also showed a marked improvement in operation. The TF2+ dry seems to work better post drying.

The typewriter has now been closed up and returned to storage - pending a 3 month review. Previously the type bars had returned to their locked and stiffened state after a 3 month period of no use. Observations will be made to see if the new lubricant has improved this.

Effective application of TF2 spray and TF2+ Dry lubricants.

Both lubricants need to be applied carefully. This is my advice for applying them:

TF2 spray.
Always use the supplied red tube. Spray pointedly and as lightly as possible, while moving across the surface of where you wish to spray. This lubricant is 'wet', so it potentially will catch dust despite teflon based lubricants being more inclined not to. After spraying operate your typewriter immediately and give it a good workout. Afterwards, wipe over the sprayed areas with a paper towel to collect up the heaviest surface over-spray.

The spray is quite effective as a lubricant, and has shown that it can clean out muck from all kinds of spaces. But don't expect it to get into everything. A spray approach often will allow you to miss areas completely. It's like planting a garden. Just because it is outside, don't always assume your plants are in a good spot to catch the sun.

TF2+ Dry.
Use a syringe and needle for application. Application can also be done with a brush or a toothpick, but these are less controlled. I've been using an 18G drawing up needle, but a finer 19g or 21g sharp needle might be the best way to go if you need a lot of control. In wet form this lubricant moves into gaps and spaces, but don't assume that it will clean out the muck - make sure you clean up most locations properly before trying to use this, otherwise it may not flow to where it is needed.

It dries quite quickly, so give the machinery a bit of an operation to make sure the lubricant travels into spaces effectively. The lubricant properly takes a bit of time to truly dry, so don't be surprised to find operation improves further over time.

As the "Dry" version doesn't stay sticky, it is far less prone to be taken up by dust and form a glue. So this could well be the better substance to use on segments - if you find your segment is not responding well after being more effectively cleaned. Personally, I feel the 'Dry' version is the better substance to use to deal with SLS, but it requires a more pinpoint focus, while the spray seems to be highly effective with less effort.

And yes. That photo up top is me.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Singapore, you've been good to me.

Typewriters have been running hot lately almost everywhere but on my own desk. NaNoWriMo has seen the Typosphere reduced to a skeleton crew, while the ICI has been chugging on.

Even my own computer keyboard at home has been feeling largely rejected of late.

It's not that I've lately lost the passion for writing, typing and just generally blathering. But rather I have had a distinct lack of time and energy to be able to just simply - enjoy these little things in life. Not to mention reply to some of the letters that I have received from some of the members of the Typosphere. I really, really need to get onto that. Sorry Ken.

I seem to be missing out on a lot of late. I haven't had the time or mindspace to read Teeritz's latest Bond fan fiction. I haven't had time to mow the lawn, wash the car, or even just... call my sister and tell her that I wont be coming down to Melbourne for Christmas.

I really should get onto that last one. Maybe I'm just procrastinating on that... and the lawn.

Work has been something of theme park mess of late. One moment I'll be on the workplace emotional roller-coaster, only to then jump onto the workload dodgem-cars.

In amongst this personal mess, a handful of bright and cheerful people invaded my desk with their wonderful letters and bright and cheerful gifts.

A lot of the Typosphere bloggers may have noticed something interesting of late - a large amount of page views from Singapore. I'd been hearing rumors of a passionate crowd of users and collectors in Singapore for a while, and I was delighted to recieve some letters from some of the Singapore crew.

Not just letters.... Oh no.... But photos of typewriters and a puppy, a bookmark that looks a lot like my Lettera 22, stamps and beautiful envelopes. One of the letters even came bound in a card depicting a wondeful sketch of the writer's Hermes Baby Featherweight typewriter.

Seriously, this was nice stuff.

My lettera 22 looks over my collection of goodies! Look at that awesome bookmark!

Firstly I received a letter from Caroline C, who can be found over at the Inkleaves blog. She was replying to my original ICI letter, but did it in far grander style. A beautiful Lettera bookmark along with the card made from a sketch of Caroline's Hermes machine accompanied the letter in a striking blue envelope. 

On the same day that Caroline's letter arrived, another letter from Singapore appeared in my letterbox. It was another beautifully written letter that was a thank-you note for helping repair a typewriter. It came adorned with gifts and goodies that I also enjoyed. 

But this letter was different. One of the first things I noticed was that the letter had a distinct lack of the sender's details. The writer's name was no-where to be seen! Also it was a thank-you note for helping repair a typewriter that I had not even laid a hand on. Actually, I lived approximately half a country away from the typewriter. Not only that, but the person writing the note had yet to actually touch the typewriter themselves!

Confused? I was a little at first... 

Nat over at the NatsLapTaps blog had a little issue with her Adler Tippa one evening. To help her fix the problem I grabbed my own Tippa and set about dismantling it, and re constructing it while I sent her instructions live via Facebook's chat function. I didn't know it at the time, but the Tippa was to soon be delivered to one of Nat's friends in Singapore, and it was this friend that sent me the lovely little package.

I'm hoping they'll write again soon with their Tippa... this time with their name, so I can write back to them! One good turn certainly deserves another. It was very touching to get a thank-you note like this - so completely unexpectedly.

Speaking of Nat... 

Nat is also from Singapore, but is currently living in the Australian city of Darwin. There's a nice road between my city (Brisbane) and Darwin, but it is hard 3 to 4 day drive through some of the most desolate countryside that I have ever come across. 

Nat also sent me a little envelope with a bit of a treat inside. 

A great little package of Sholes and Glidden themed Post-it notes!

Nat informs me that these are actually pretty rough to use, and are more ornamental than anything. Sounds a bit like the typewriter that it depicts actually. 

But is this all I got from Singapore?

Oh good grief no! 

While all of this was going on, my friend 'Mars' (no, she isn't typewriter people) took a bit of a trip to Singapore. Mars and I often discuss blogging and online goings-on, and you can find Mars's 'Mars on life' blog over here.

Coming back from Singapore with Mars were a couple of very funky little gifts that now sit my desk. Firstly, there's the globe....

Ms Jane floated past my desk not long after I put the globet next to my computer. A subsequent fight to the death ensued, and I only narrowly escaped having the globe stolen and relocated to her desk at work. Which would have been bad, as her desk at work is in a building that was heavily damaged by the storm I mentioned in my last blog entry, and is currently uninhabitable.

But Mars also got me this -- super cool pop culture mouse mat. 

Fraken awesome! 
Just for reference, the mouse is covering Sean Connery's face. 

This awesome stuff is now all over my desk, and I feel really guilty for not responding to anyone's letters and posts of late. Caroline gave me a little prompt on my page the other day, reminding me of her letter (yes... I got it about 2 weeks ago, Sorry!) and as such has prompted me to get off my butt and actually post a blog.

Actually, more accurately she prompted me to get ON my butt and tap out a response on my blog. 

Anyway, thanks a heap guys - you came at just the right time. Singapore, I've yet to visit you... but you're clearly awesome!