Thursday, 24 May 2012

Torpedo Blue Bird

Research so far suggests it is a West German made Torpedo Blue Bird. Possibly the marque's last incarnation, from around 1964 (tw-db).

Footnote #1: I wouldn't really expect a maths typewriter to have an exclamation mark, but it seems strange that it has neither 1 nor zero - both figure prominently in maths I'm familiar with.

Footnote #2: Given the genealogy this machine might share with the Imperial Good Companion 5, I'm planning a "compare and contrast" photo-feature soon. First impression? They are totally different machines.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Lapwings Descending

Slightly wide of topic but hey, it is good to share.

This is no tropical rainforest - though it has been pretty wet recently. But, if you'd like to support the campaign against habitat destruction through mineral extraction, please visit the Communities Against Gravel Extraction website and have an opinion or make a donation.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Typewriter Insurgency

I found a new use for typewriters. Or maybe an old use seen from a new perspective.

I retyped The Manifesto (and translated it into English) and, of course, in so doing had cause to reflect on the strength of feeling and connection I made with the words. Typewriting does that, if you let it.

I had to fight hard against the instinct to type out the web address of either the "original" Manifesto or the typosphere. It seemed somehow inappropriate. As does sharing it as a scanned and uploaded rewrite of a typewritten original which itself was scanned, uploaded, wound-up and left ticking on Webstarts. So, no links - no tags - no attributions.

In re-reading it, there are sentiments here which chime resonantly with what M.T. "Back from the Wilderness" Coalhopper (see link on right) has to say about the Facebook.

I'm more inclined to treat typewriting as a means of balancing my existence in the data stream rather than replacing it. Yin Yang.

Whether I'll find sufficiently deviant outlets to leave this lying around, I don't know. But manifestos have proved to be equally powerful when carefully folded, tucked into a breast pocket and carried close to the heart.

Meanwhile, there's enough in the sentiment of the manifesto to at least make re-posting a facsimile a good thing to do. And it may be time already to update the rallying cry to:

"The Revolution is being typewritten"

And so on.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Bar-Let: improvisation

Organ donor. Sad face.

It is crude, but it works!

The pivot screw from a child's compass is un-blued and looks out of place, but is a perfect fit.

Centre feed roller from bike pump adaptor. Yellow ones from the inflation tube of a Rock-it toy (you fill a plastic coke bottle with water, pressurise it until it lifts off). Original brass wire roller pins re-used - bike spokes are too thick!

Who could resist those hi-tech spools and cheeky grin.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bar-Let Model 2

The humble, almost toy-like Bar-Let Model 2. S/N30158, Nottingham, England. 1936.

Line return ratchet forms an adjustable 1 or 2 line 'pinch and push' carriage return like the Corona 3. The hunt is on for a replacement for the missing spring which returns the lever to its un-pinched position while (hopefully) engaging the ratchet.

Missing screw and nut from one end of the margin rack. It actually sort of works without it but I'd like to find a replacement.

Behold! The flip-top carriage reveals the strapless, direct drive motor. Note the gaps where the feed rollers have been removed. There's a third hidden (with the carriage in this position) behind the central motor.
L-R: intact brass wire feed roller pin, atrophied roller with flat spots, broken pin, blade-scraped roller, even more broken pin and finally, a cleaned up roller awaiting new rubber.

Robert Messenger's recent post on Bar-Lock portables moved me to climb into the loft and drag out my much neglected Bar-Let Model 2. Many moons ago, I bought this from someone in Loughborough for either £6 or £16, I can't remember. A friend picked it up and held onto it for 6 months or so before I managed to collect it. Then I discovered that although it was a very interesting machine in lots of respects, it didn't work very well. But what value. All these years later it is still providing entertainment, but it is maybe time to address some issues.

I did manage to force-feed a sheet of A4 onto the platen and type a few words - not a pretty sight. Though the ribbon is OK, the alignment needs adjusting a pain, as it is a 3 bank with cap and figure shifts) but I think I have found the correct adjusters. But first, it needs to take paper and perform a reasonably efficient carriage return. The brass wire pins should be easy enough to replace. For new rubber for the feed rollers, I'll look for some tubing with more or less identical inner and outer diameters. I'm not sure how heavy duty the return lever spring needs to be, or what length, or what it attaches to... and I have no idea where to find a small screw and nut set for the margin rack - I wonder if a defunct electrical appliance might have the right scale hardware?

The excellent news is that the case is sheet steel and in good condition. The base-board is thick cork, through which the rubber feet of the machine are threaded. It generally stays fixed to the base board.

For ingenuity and innovation, the Bar-Let Model 2 scores highly and when it is up and running, I can find out if it truly is the rubbish typer it is reputed to be.

 Alan Seaver's useful background to this typewriter.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Typewriter medicine

Off sick from school? Bored of daytime TV? No homework? No problem! Just come on over to Wallingford Typewriter Exchange and we'll sort you out with a loaner.

After trying quite a few different machines, Evie fell upon the Olympia SF with gusto (kid's got great taste) and ended up taking it home. Maybe it was the way I described it as a bit more lady-like than the SM2 she was wrestling with.

I hear she's on her second novel now (mostly in red, as it happens), and hopefully well enough to be back at school.

Now all I need to do is persuade her to bring it back... you see, it isn't my typewriter.

What happens next?