Saturday 30 April 2011

All work and no play

After a week's neglect, I revisited the misaligned lowercase on my Olympia SM4 with the same hopes I might harbour returning to a baffling crossword clue. 

The upper and lower stops for the carriage's vertical travel (see earlier post) were so hard to reach, I decided that their adjustment shouldn't be the solution to fixing the unusefully large amount of play problem on an otherwise pristine Olympus. 

There were two sources of to-and-fro play in the carriage that I could see. One being the (unfathomable) shifting linkage, the other the bearings and the tracks the ball-races run along. I unclipped the carriage strap and spent a few minutes running it from side to side to see how the play might be eliminated. I'd assumed the two rails were part of the same pressing but when I got my magnifying glass out I could see that the rails were separately mounted and that the rail on the keyboard side showed a tell-tail knurled surface beneath one of the screws. An adjustment slot? Could be. After slackening the screws at both ends of the rail, I pushed each rail away from the other as far seemed practicable. I'd guess somewhere between 0.5mm and 1mm. Then I retightened the screws, adjusted the back rail stops (at bottom, see photo) and checked that the carriage still ran freely under ts own weight. It did and it worked! A few lines of type showed legible descenders on the lowercase where previously they'd been faint ghosts. The seven eighths is joy to behold!

Both photos taken under a desk light, typing not scanned. PS: The slow bike ride happened - I lost - and I didn't suffer the indignity of the knobbly knees competition.

So, if you find yourself with misaligned lowercase on an SM4 - maybe the above will help. I hope so. And thanks again to Robert and Mike for their helpful suggestions. Sometimes it is good to walk in the wrong direction before arriving at the destination.

Friday 29 April 2011

Olympia SM-4: status update

Lowercase sorted! Caps now a little out of alignment - but liveablewith. Now worth every one of the 499 pennies paid. Featurette coming soon.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Cider with Rosie

Laurie Lee's bucolic growing-up novel, Cider with Rosie was one of the set books in English Literature in secondary school, along with Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies and the poems of Auden and Sassoon.

His Corona 3 looks like an early right-hand shift only model. The price goes to show how much provenance adds to the amount people will pay for what's generally a £25-£30 secondhand machine.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

And the winner is... Thanks, Ryan - in the true spirit of typewriter collecting, the postage on the Rhodia journal must've waaay out-cost the value of the notebook. It arrived today, all covered with typed tabels and accompanied by some impressive business cards for the Typosphere. But it arrived and I'm very happy - I'll treasure it. I feel a typewritten thank you note coming on - but it won't be from the SM-4!

Monday 18 April 2011


I spotted a two-tone Groma Kolibri, then noticed Georg has some great archive material and photos on his flickr srtream (we bumped into each other there before the Typosphere, I think). Lo and behold - another logo. Only a triangle, but faithfully (well, approximately) reproduced in both print and on the typewriter covers. I thought it would be easy to recreate it as it was originally conceived - but that's a pretty obscure cut of Futura used. Or maybe it was drawn especially for the logo. Right, back to that SM4!

The closest to the original are the bottom pair.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Olympia SM4-still not right

Robert Messenger (hi Robert, thank you) pointed me towards an adjustment screw below and in front of the r/h capstan and advised checking that there was nothing fouling the carriage slides, possibly the carriage lock.

Apart from the lower and upper carriage-shift limiting screws (see photos) on each side of the machine - which are in more or less the place indicated by Robert, I can't see any other means of adjustment.  I have checked, and there's no obstruction on the carriage rails and the lock appears to work perfectly.

Compensating for the small amount of play that the carriage has on its rails does overcome the problem of misaligned lowercase type - but I can only achieve this by physically holding the carriage towards me as I type with my free hand. I don't think the machine has had particularly heavy use, so I guess that the amount of free play of the carriage on its rails is normal. 

I can see the bottom shift adjust screw (second photo) but can only get a too-thin screwdriver to it - with obvious results! I'll buy a better-fitting screwdriver and try that tomorrow - but there's still no way to back-off or re-tighten the lock-nut afterward - apart from pretty extensive (for me) disassembly. Just to get the bodywork off means removing the carriage - and no platen would mean I couldn't adjust the bottom stop of the carriage by trial and error typing.

Again, any help or advice gratefully received. Thanks in advance!
Arrowed: top limit adjustment screw
Arrowed: bottom limit adjustment screw (not in as great shape as it was)

Friday 15 April 2011

More press

Just in case you missed this. Maybe Billy could ship his repairs with a flyer? Click press cutting for link.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Ring the changes

In my town, Thursday nights are for bell ringing practice at Saint Mary's church.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Olympia SM-4: plot development

The SM4 is in Kingston upon Thames. A Royal Borough. It says here that this street art, Out of Order is somehow connected to London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

Response to pick-up address request from vendor in Kingston:

"When you arrive in Buttercup Close*, drive to the end of the road (which looks like a dead end) and turn left into a small car park. A car clamp/parking fine system is in operation in this car park, so stay with your car and phone me on 0208 xxx xxx and I will bring the typewriter to you. Sorry if this sounds like a strange set-up but it would be a disaster if you picked up a £45 car parking fine for the sake of an old typewriter! Do you have a rough idea of what time you will arrive?"

I'll keep you posted.

*Street name changed

Monday 11 April 2011


Skip to 1:53 to see the workings

Saturday afternoons. Football (soccer) scores came this way - live - to  black and white TV screens. The broadcast was a close-up of the type appearing on the paper roll. On a good day, messages read like this: MANCHESTER UTD 3 MANCHESTER CITY 1.


Sunday 10 April 2011


...opens with a Corona Four! It just came on TV. Also features a  smart cream 1937 Lagonda Rapide ten minutes in. Vintage stuff. 

Thanks to Richard, Ryan, Mike and especially Robert for thinking about and sharing pictorial logos. I think the only other, as well as Antares' star, that passes the instant recognition test without need for words, would be Adler's deco eagle. If you haven't already, head on over to oztypewriter and see what Robert's dug out from his impressive archive.

Finally, I just 'won' an SM4. Burgundy crackelure with some tarnish to the brightwork, but it should polish out. £4.99. They seem very popular with the Typorati, now I can find out why.

Saturday 9 April 2011


Theme continues...

Can Antares have been the only brand with a pictorial logo? Lots of typewriter companies had text-based logos, but do any others have a picture? There's an eagle on the paper tray of my Corona 3 and the same bird perches atop the odd Adler (where it makes more sense), but it didn't seem to stick. Early Imperial GCs bear a king's coat of arms. Olympia almost have a logo - but it is just an O with a superimposed i. Some Empire Aristocrats feature a Landseer lion, but not all.

Where's the bejeweled crown? The palatial citadel? The tree with a hand beneath? The single red rose? The greek gods' mountaintop? Mercury's winged heels? The silhouette of Hermes?

In their heyday, typewriter manufacturers practically invented 'marketing'. They knew about brand value and how to pitch their USPs inventively, in the press and door-to-door. Even into the fifties and sixties when world became more susceptible to visual clues, typewriter manufacturers unanimously eschewed the visual identity - it seems to me - with the exception of Antares and their little star.

Please, somebody prove me wrong... 

OK: after digging, Adler were pretty persistent (if not consistent) with their deco style spread-eagle over an uppercase moderne display font.

Thursday 7 April 2011

FREE: Antares logo

Here are 300dpi jpegs in 3 colourways of the stunning Antares logo as promised.

See previous post for the Antares Parva brochure it was re-drawn for.

Would make a great T-shirt!

Link to hi-res logos (1Mb .zip file)

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Keeping up with the Jones's

Anyone else in the Typosphere using Google Alerts? Here's an interesting piece in Metro St Louis Surburban Journals. There's even a video too! Any locals could drop in, here's a map.
A window full of typewriters at Jones Typewriter Co.

Monday 4 April 2011

Sunday 3 April 2011

typecast trouble, let me ge this typecasting malarky right:
  1. get a typewriter (any typewriter)
  2. write something (anything)
  3. scan
  4. upload 

Friday 1 April 2011