Monday, 18 July 2011

For bikethru - RNP vs RR#1

Remington Rand s/n P31552 c.1938

Remington Noiselesss Portable s/n N48665 c.1934

Bikethru queried the 'noiseless' weights on the type bars linkage referring to Richard's Remington round-up.

I'm not sure that the pictures are much help. The Remington Rand Model 1 (s/n P31552) certainly looks to have disk shaped weights on part of the linkage, my Remington Noiseless Portable (s/n N48665) doesn't - yet it has that distinctive 'Remington silent' feel to the action and is, in fact, a little quieter. 

You'll spot the additional felt cushioning at the top of the RNP photo and the elbows which are visible just below that are weighted sections - sort of wedge shaped, as far as I can tell. The only way to be sure would be to strip it down, which I'm not about to do any time soon! The type heads on the RR#1 certainly don't whack the platen like, say, a Corona 4, but they do hit the paper with more energy than the Noiseless.

PS: Bikethru, who are you?


  1. The main difference between the Model 1 and the Noiseless Portable mechanisms is that the Model 1 does NOT have the weight assists. In fact, the ads called them the "noisy Noiseless".

    I haven't torn a Noiseless portable apart to compare, but the standard Noiselesses have the weights mounted on a fulcrum bar at the end of the keylevers. Depress the key, the hook-like end of the keylever rotates the bar, the weights tilt and sort of throw the typebar mechanism into the platen.

  2. I have my RR1 (s/n P49630) on my lap right now. Unfortunately I don't have a true noiseless portable at home for comparison at the moment, but that won't stop me from bloviating...

    I believe, contra Alan, that the RR1 does use a weight assist. Notice that when you depress a key slowly, it will not reach the platen; it requires the momentum of the weight to do that. The difference from the truly noiseless portables, I think, is that on "noisy noiseless" machines such as this one, the platen is a few hairs closer to the typebars, so they hit it with a smack. Some buyers preferred this to the disconcerting softness of the noiseless machines, where the typebars reach just barely far enough to push the ribbon against the paper. I think the typing on the "noisy noiseless" machines may also be more crisp than on the noiseless portables.

  3. Now my noisy noiseless works, I prefer its hearty clack. Typecast soon.

  4. Rob, Many thanks for the pics, and sorry I haven't posted until now - work and other such frivolities prevented me.

    Interesting that the RR1 had weights - the question now is their function. What Richard P describes is a "noiseless" mechanism, adapted so that the typebars carry closer to the platen before being released. But why design a different mechanism to do that - you can achieve that effect on a Remington Noiseless Portable. In fact if you set the bottom keystop low enough, the keylevers drive the type into the platen without releasing it at all. It gives a very unpleasant, jarring feel.

    So I wonder what the designers of the RR1 were trying to do (assuming the RR1 evolved from the RNP). Maybe it has more to do with the "speed mechanism" Richard P mentions on Classic Typewriter.

    Interesting that you call the noise your RR1 makes a clack. People talk of that clack-clack typewriter sound as coming from the type hitting the platen, but it's not the noise you'd expect from metal hitting rubber (and it's not the noise that metal-rubber contact makes in the RNP). My theory is that in a conventional typebar machine, most of the clack actually comes from metal on metal - the spur on the typebar hitting the segment (I think that's what that shiny D shape below the type point is called). And that the segment is there to take most of the impact, because without it the typeheads would eventually fatigue and snap off. I have no documentary support whatever for this notion.

    Who am I? My only claim to typosphere fame, and a slender one it is in the company (above) of heavyweights such as Richard P and MoLG, is that I contributed an article to the first number of the inimitable Strikethru's Silent Type (she created and edits the zine and does a sensational job - there are PDFs of the first two numbers on her blog).

    My ST piece was about noise and “noiselessness” and I’m intrigued by designers’ efforts to make an inherently noisy event – typehead hitting platen - happen quietly. One culmination of that quest was the Continental Silenta, and I’m working on one (very dirty but I think it’s intact – I’m having trouble adjusting the escapement) at the moment. I just watch the typosphere from the sidelines – I’m not a collector or typecaster or even a blogger, I just use typewriters for writing letters. Weird conduct, I know.

  5. @bikethru: aha! Mystery solved. Richard's right, a half-hearted push of the keys on the RR1 means the type heads don't even get as far as the platen. Because the type basket is so narrow (why?) I don't think there's sufficient straight-line leverage for them to type in a conventional way. The angles of the type heads become quite extreme at the, erm, extremities of the basket. Hence the weights for added slingshot effect? But this still begs the queston, "why is the basket so narrow in the first place?"

  6. Rob, the following is only conjecture: I think the reason for the narrow basket goes back to my previous post. If I'm right, in a conventional typebar machine, the segment takes most of the impact of the typebar, which at impact is tangential to the platen. If the segment wasn't there, all the force of the impact would be taken by the typehead, which would eventually break off. If I'm right that the segment makes most of the noise, to make a quieter machine you need to eliminate the segment. Conventional typebars would break, so you need a thrust action, and thrust typebars, at rest, all must point straight at the print point. So they must be arranged in a tight fan, because as you say, as you move out from the centre, the typeheads must be angled more and more, and there must be an angle beyond which they would just skid when they hit the paper and make a blurred impression. All the foregoing is open to correction by anyone who actually knows what he's talking about.

    I don't know how much further you want to get into this, but the noisy noiseless still intrigues me. Would you like to split a keystroke into two movements to analyse the noise? If you hit a key hard to enough to strike the platen, what noise does that make? (you mentioned a clack). Then if you release the key quickly (as you would when typing) what noise does the key returning to rest make? If all this is getting too much, let me know and I shall be noiseless, ie shut up about it.

  7. Hmmm, bikethru: I'm as intrigued as much by your enthusiasm as by the sound of the noisy noiseless! Certainly, the scarred segments of many a typewriter is testament to the impact they receive. My Antares Parva has a small semi-circular spring to lessen this and, consequently, the noise. What we really need is either a glass sided noiseless with slow-motion film and sound, or a computer model to simulate the forces. Neither of these are available to me. I'll try and do a post soon about the action and the sound it makes in both the strike and the return phase. I actually think that I might have inadvertently identified a reason for the design being used when I mention the even pressure the type heads seem to make on the paper. The outermost, obliquely aligned and tangentially striking characters seem to have the same force as the middle ones. The semi-noiseless action moderates the speed of the head through the fixed mass of the weight. Some 'clack' will come from the paper resonating, inevitably. By the way, the RNP has additional paper-guide dampeners, presumably to reduce paper clack. Meanwhile, I'll try and think of a good way of putting the action into pictures - moving or otherwise.