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    There are a lot of hazardous substances in the house, not least things like bleach and drain cleaner. The small bottle of cyanoacrylate glue might actually be candidate for being the most dangerous substance in the house. A bit similar to how the 'Dremel' might be the most dangerous tool in the shed. A 'Dremel' looks fairly harmless, yet will do serious damage in an instant when you're not paying full attention.

    The cyanoacrylate glue also looks fairly harmless - it's a small bottle of glue. But unlike the regular 'hobby' glue, you need to keep paying attention or it'll inflict damage that may require some medical attention. This glue polymerises (hardens) in seconds and sticks very well to just about anything - fingers, tables, eyelids...

    That great adhesion does make it ideal to repair metal parts that have become loose or broken. One such instance is the brass boss in some Meccano parts. The bosses in older spoked wheels (19a) seem to have worked loose often. Also in this example 2" pulley, the boss is loose and can rotate in the wheel.


    The key thing then is to get a small amount of cyanoacrylate glue in the gap between the boss and the pulley and not get it anywhere else. I.e. especially not touch the glue at any time - don't get it anywhere near yourself.



    To do this, a toothpick is given a drop of the glue on its tip. Then this tip is pressed into the gap, letting the glue be pulled into the gap by capillary action. Resist any urge to guide or rub things with fingers...


    The glue polymerises in seconds, triggered by water (moisture in the air). Giving it a minute to be sure, the boss is again fixed firmly on the pulley wheel.

    A dangerous substance to have in the house - but very good for fixing loose mechanical parts (or perhaps cracked frames and castings).

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  • 12/07/16--06:39: Small physics demonstration
  • In the '28 manual, there's an instruction to construct a Newton's disc. The small apparatus with a colour wheel should demonstrate that the primary colours (or colours of the rainbow) fade into white when mixed by spinning the disc rapidly.


    So to build one. Built from period parts with some modifications and improvements. It seems to have been the purpose of the instruction manual to show constructions that have a lot of scope for improving. Two strips for some bracing were well within the parts-list of a number 2 outfit. Likewise some improved bearings with a bush-wheel and a two-stage x4 gearing.


    The instruction manual image suggests it being hand-held, the design also works well as a free-standing little apparatus (with a set of newly printed rubber feet).

    Quite surprisingly it actually works; reality conforming to theory! Hard to capture as the shutter of the camera is faster than the human eye. The centre ring still shows colour at ~300 rpm in a picture, but shows completely monochrome, light grey to the human eye. Amaze the kids ;-)


    With Meccano being a construction system, then everything of course taken apart again for a next little build.





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  • 12/09/16--02:09: Fine steel wool and some wax
  • New arrival - not in a black leathercloth case. The case has sustained some scuffs and scratches, protecting the item inside. Nickel plating direct on plain steel is not the most durable finish, vulnerable to corroding in moisture.

    Started the cleaning - most satisfying when taking some steel wool to the handle. Won't bring back the plating, but it will look (and be!) much cleaner again.


    Similarly taking some furniture wax to the case. The lacquer has been scratched and dented. Not going to re-finish the case, but some wax on the scratches will protect the wood and make the scratches much less noticeable.



    Next up will be the item inside, some careful cleaning should do it. There's however a bit of a challenge waiting with some inaccessible screws needing tightening...

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  • 12/14/16--12:30: Fastening the iris screws
  • This is the item in the cleaned-up wooden case.


    This is another Bausch & Lomb microscope. A biological microscope with a 3-position revolving nosepiece, condenser and simple stage with clips. Came with the original 5x and 10x eyepieces and a 43x and 10x (divisible) objectives. Overall in great shape, the finish is immaculate and all the glass still very clean. This instrument was used with care and the case did its job of protecting it very well.

    From the serial number, this fine instrument was made by the optical craftsmen at Bausch & Lomb in 1939 in Rochester, NY.

    One of the two small issues with the instrument was that the screws that hold the iris assembly together were loose - this is not an assembly you want to have to piece together again...


    Three screws (arrow) around the circumference of the iris hold it together. These screws are however completely inaccessible in the assembled instrument. To get at the screws, the substage assembly with condenser, iris and filter-holder needs to be taken apart.


    The mirror pulls out, it is held by split-end of its pin in a hole. The substage assembly then can be driven down off its rack and pinion. Then the iris assembly screws off the Abbe condenser. Because the iris lever fouls the substage frame, the condenser needs to be unscrewed from the frame first. For this, remove the three screws around the condenser flange (thus also loosing the alignment of the assembly with the tube).


    The iris assembly again tightened, the whole is screwed together again and fitted back into the frame. With care, the dovetail slides back on and the pinion onto its rack. With the three screws in the condenser flange not quite tightened, the assembly can be centered again.

    Compared to e.g. typewriters, there is surprisingly little information online on the repair and adjustment of these instruments. However for the centering of the condenser, there is a very helpful paragraph in the small booklet 'Use and Care of the Microscope' by Bausch.


    With some tweaking, the substage is again nicely entered in the view.


    The other small niggle is that the fine adjustment does not quite line up anymore. It all works fine, but even at the top of its range, the two lines do not line up. Maybe it had a knock at some time that pushed down the fine-adjustment pawl, or it got serviced and not lined up then. (The line on the arm is very faint, just above the line on the moving part of the coarse adjustment.)


    Perhaps indeed from a servicing - the optics and adjustments are all fine. These parts are a bit too tricky for now to tamper with. Leaving it as it now is - a perfectly serviceable microscope!


    One of the slides that was in a small box in the case; small intestine. This particular microscope will be great for the children to explore the world of the minute :)

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    The newly acquired microscope came with two objectives on a three-position nosepiece. One empty spot to fill - ideally with a low power objective. The 10x objective is of the divisible kind, the lower portion can be unscrewed to change from a 10x to a 4x objective. (Snippet from the December 1939 issue of Popular Science.)


    Even nicer would be to fit a 4x objective at the empty position. With the amazing global flea-market that is the internet, one such objective was found to be for sale. Even though it was located in Santa Barbara it was easily purchased and shipped with amazing speed to the Low Countries.


    For being nearly 90 years old by now this objective is in fair shape, only one small blemish (nick) on the front lens. Whilst this will reduce sharpness in a part of the image, it is not in focus so not too damaging. This would probably make the objective be rejected for laboratory work, but for hobby-microscopy at low powers it is still fine.


    To clean the objective, used demineralised water with a soft cloth. A 'camel-hair brush' to flick off larger dust or particles. When carefully wiping clean lens surfaces of 'condensed' dirt, regular tap water would evaporate and leave a thin film deposit on the lens. With demineralised water, it can be gently (!) wiped clean and dry.


    With three objectives of the right pattern fitted in the nose-piece, it does look the part again. Also it now works fine for magnifications from 20x up to 430x. For practical, hobby use, that's plenty of power.


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  • 12/30/16--05:56: Beige machine spotted
  • A beige and angular typewriter; Torpedo 'Cicero' in a shop.



    Looked a bit dejected, three keys down.

    To avoid any confusion, a small label explains that it is 'decoration' and not for sale. Either way, it is in a bit of a surprising spot. Placed in the cooking section next to the cutting boards. To be fair, also with cooking books. And it is a ''Chickpea' of course :)

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  • 01/04/17--12:14: Oy oy oy Jozsi
  • Shellac record...


    Little surprise in a stack. A very 'chipper' record in a small stack of shellac records on the Imperial label. In an old box were about 15 records dating from around '32 from the German 'Imperial' company. Mostly popular songs from movies played by uncredited dance orchestras.

    And this little gem.


    :-)

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    Loosely based on a model in the instruction manual, a small motorcar built from early nickel parts.


    Ribbon added by the kids; it's quite robust to be played with too. Survives rollovers just fine. Probably just like the real motorcar of around 1920, just keep a screwdriver handy to fasten any bits that become loose or rattle.

    This was a first using of a recently acquired set of spoked wheels (19a). These are marked 'fabriqué en Angleterre' as early twenties' parts and were in 'used' condition. Some careful bending, cyanoacrylate for loose bosses and India ink to make rusty-patches less glaring; again good to go for building.


    The small wheels for headlamps are more recent, but the double-bent bracket with the rounded corners supposedly was made not later than '16. Amazing how well these parts can survive.


    The flanged plates too are probably a century old. They've got the 1913 patent marking, but no Meccano stamping yet anywhere.


    The bush wheels are also twenties' articles, with the 'fabriqué en Angleterre' marking.


    Impressive how well all these bits have weathered a century - and can still be toyed with and played with too :-)

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  • 01/09/17--11:43: Moteur à ressort


  • An instruction leaflet for the Meccano motor number 2 (reversing). The address in Paris was the French factory at that time. This grand building still stands, currently a school.

    This sheet must've been supplied in the late twenties' with a dark-red clockwork number 2 motor that was also in the lot. The motor itself was at least as ravaged by time as this cheap-paper sheet. Rusty and without its spring - if only they'd stuck to the instructions as supplied :-)
    (Supplying these instructions in French and Italian may not have helped...)


    This is a clockwork motor built into a model. Painted dark blue, it is a slightly later specimen. Apart from its late thirties' colour-scheme it is identical to the motor the instructions were for. One other difference with that dark-red motor in the lot is of course that this one is still working fine.

    The motor is used here as the basis of a farm tractor, from the 1930 book of new models.


    The black and white illustration in the book really doesn't do it justice - lots of shiny brassware!


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    Have had a Remington Noiseless Portable typewriter for a while now. Given the age of such machines when acquired second-hand, not surprising this came without its user manual. Recently just happened to spot the right instruction leaflet on a well-known global auction site. Surprisingly (or not) nobody else spotted or wanted it, so here is the machine with an original user manual.


    This is a single sheet. Opening up the leaflet a cut-corner and arrow on the page underneath make it clear to the reader that there's another page to open. (That explains the arrow on my leaflet for the Victor T; that also has the arrow, but lacked the cut-corner.)


    Side-by-side all the principal operating parts of the typewriter are identified and given a brief explanation in the list below.


    On the back of the leaflet of course some advertising for Remtico ribbons and special Noiseless carbon paper. Nicely put are paragraphs on things to do and on things not to do.


    The leaflet when folded is 8" x 5½", from a single 16" by 11" sheet printed on both sides. Will be making a reproduction copy for keeping with the typewriter. Already below scans of both sides in fairly decent resolution.

      

    Now what would be the chances of some Remtico Noiseless carbon paper turning up online...

    :-)

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    As far as I can tell Bausch & Lomb didn't include a magnification table inside the lid of their microscope cases. This was common practice for most European makers. Sometimes filled out by hand for the objectives and eyepieces included with the instrument, sometimes it was a table of the full range with the included pieces underscored or circled.

    What B&L did include with their instruments was the booklet on the use and care of the microscope. And on page 31 of the '37 printing is included a magnification table for their entire range.


    Here reproduced to be able to print and rectify this small oversight of Bausch & Lomb. For reference (if you happen to have a B&L biological microscope), though multiplying the two values is not too hard of course.

    What can be handy is to know the working distance - the 10 and the 43 objectives with distances to the object of 7.0 and .06 mm are confocal (or near enough). The 4 objective with a working distance of 38 mm clearly could not be mounted to be confocal. (An Olympus 4 times objective actually is just about confocal with the other B&L objectives, incidentally.)

    One other number that can be handy to pencil in on this table is the diameter of the viewed image. To determine this, a calibration slide was sourced. From local, reputable dealers in matters microscopical these are startlingly expensive. However from the global 'dime-store' that is the internet, these can be had at very affordable prices including shipping half-way around the globe. These do not include a calibration report and certificates of course. As such these cheap 'calibration slides' are probably unacceptable for proper laboratory use, but excellent for the hobbyist.

    Viewing the linear scale of the calibration slide using the 10 x eyepiece and successively with the 4, 10 and 43 objective yields the diameter of the image viewed at about 4.3 mm, 1.6 mm and 0.4 mm.


    Looking at the scales of a butterfly wing, then for example the size of the individual scales can be estimated. The below image was taken with the 430x magnification, thus the diameter of the image is around 400 micron. The width of the scale in the centre of the image is thus about 76 micron.


    Zooming in further on the digital image shows the ridge-pattern of the individual scale. Also very clearly evident is the very small depth of focus at this magnification. Note that viewing whilst fiddling with the fine-adjustment gives a much better impression of the object being viewed than a static digital capture.


    These individual ribs on the centre scale can be counted (about 49), making these ridges approximately 1.6 micron apart. That is quite impressive and close to the maximum achievable for a light microscope.

    And that for an 80 year old instrument too.   :-)

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  • 04/02/17--10:27: Boxes - archeologists tools
  • Unexpectedly, two typewriter shipping cases turned up in a small local archeology museum. Hadn't expected anything this modern there. These were on display as part of the archaeologists tools. (With a theodolite stacked on top.)

    The lower box originally contained a Remington Special, serial number Z113216, that was shipped as order number 13054. From the serial number, probably some time around 1928.


    On top of that is another wooden crate, lettered for a Regal-Royal typewriter. No details. From a quick glance around the online hive-mind, Regal was Royal's own rebuilder of typewriters that promised to make their machines "Like-Nu".


    Unsure if the Remington Special was ever connected with the archaeologist van Giffen or that particular dig, but the period is about correct. The major excavation took place from 1930, though he'd been active for several years prior to that in excavating the mounds.

    These mounds (wierden) contained artefacts from probably at least the 7th century BC up to around 1200 when dikes took over their function. A lot was dug out of the few mounds that were excavated. Alas many (most) were already sold off for the fertile earth, to be scattered on the fields.

    Both the small village of Ezinge and the museum are well worth a visit. Even if merely dropping by virtually. (Keep going straight towards the church - the street view car nearly made it round the church ;-)

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  • 04/04/17--11:29: Safari sightings
  • In the few local thrift shops, there hardly ever are typewriters. Maybe they're gone quickly, or just not brought in that often. This time round however there actually were typewriters. Three of them even.

    In oder of encountering them; first a dilapidated Remington standard. The tabulator keys are neatly labeled for 'name', 'street', 'subject' etc., in English. The keytops all have small handwritten labels stuck on with Dutch text, so 'hoofdletters' instead of 'shift'. It's seen better days. (Didn't look to see the asking price...)


    The second machine was this exposed Olivetti Lexikon 80. These tend to turn up mostly with wide carriages somehow, rather a sizeable beast. The asking price of 59 euros for an incomplete and common machine seems a bit optimistic perhaps.


    The last machine was this little beige Olivetti Lettera DL portable. It probably was 'played on' a bit, but the typebars unjammed fine. With an asking price of 20 euro, this is likely good value when wanting a working machine to type on. Looked a decent, little-used and clean typewriter.


    No prizes for guessing what was bought; none of the above... (At least, not today, not by me...)

    May check again there for perhaps a neat pre-war machine. The online platform's become a bit costly here. Bidding for clean, older machines quickly goes to even 3 figures.  Perhaps typewriters are now truly in-fashion, perhaps also it's because a few dealers (Etsy) are buying machines for their store. So perhaps the local thrift will be a source for a neat machine - at least a source to see and discover some :-)

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  • 04/17/17--08:20: Colourful Columbia
  • Playing music from a stack of records from the early thirties...

    Quite a few American records were in there that somehow found their way across the Atlantic. (The market here always was very international.)


    Unusually colourful record sleeve by (American) Columbia records. (Ergo a colorful record sleeve.) Few companies spent the money to print these in colour; makes for a very neat period image:



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    Already a while back the paper tray of this black Remington Portable 2 typewriter was replaced with a nicer specimen. From having bought a parts machine and a box of assorted Portable parts, there's a range of parts lying about here for this model typewriter. Out of this stock was picked a cleaner paper tray with less (no) rusty spots and still shiny on the bare metal side.


    Then to fix it on the machine. Preferably with least dismantling of the machine.

    An unavoidable first step is to remove the platen from the machine. Removing the platen knob (loosen screw) and pulling out the rod allows the platen to be wiggled out of the machine. (Images on a previous posting of April 2015.) Again a good idea to keep the line feed parts in place with a rubber band or such.


    The machine then needs to be turned over, upside down. Obviously with the typebars flat. It is best placed on a thick wad of rags or an old towel to prevent damage and to not bend parts of the ribbon-reversing mechanism. (The ribbon reverse pillars can stick out and are easily bent out of shape, causing the automatic reverse to fail. I know now...)

    Upside down, extend the carriage as far as it will go left and right and remove the hinge pin left and right. In the picture below is shown the carriage pushed all the way to the right, bringing the paper tray hinge in view. The rod may need a gentle tap from the right with an awl or small screwdriver to get the knurled end to protrude from the hinge. When it sticks out enough, it can be grabbed with pliers and gently pulled out, rotate and wiggle a bit and it should slide out fine. 


    Remove hinge rod at other side too and the paper tray will drop off. This also gives easy access to the paper feed rollers, both front and back. The front rollers assembly is merely held under the spring-rod and can even just be taken out. To replace or fix the rollers, it is however probably much easier to pull out the axle rods by the knurled end. (Don't pull the other end, that'd be the hard way.)


    For re-assembly, the reverse procedure applies. The knurling of the rods being pushed into the hinge holds the rod in place.

    The little Remington Portable then had a shiny and rust-free paper tray :-)


    (Next up still is the lifting tray. That's much harder, as the clean replacement part did not quite fit. Some 'forming' of parts and frames will be needed to make it all work.)

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  • 06/09/17--02:16: Produx pocket calculator
  • A very simple mechanical calculator of the Troncet-type, more commonly known here as 'an addiator'. This Produx was probably the main competitor to the Addiator. 


    This particular little calculator likely dates to the 1950-ies. The protective sleeve is made of a plastic (PVC or vinyl) and it is made in Germany - West.


    The Produx was manufactured mostly unchanged from the start around '28 (?). Even though the competitor Addiator became the generic name for these calculators, the Produx was made by Otto Meuter who was the inventor of these little devices. Addiator was founded by Carl Kuebler who licensed Meuter's patent. (May be that the royalties from Addiator sales then enabled Meuter to set up his own manufacturing.)

    It is of very simple and low-cost construction. The Produx is quite compact at 4½ by 2¼ inch and very thin. The stylus made of rolled-up brass is a bit too flimsy; the tip is often broken off as it is in this case. A toothpick inserted in the stylus makes it usable again. Both adding and subtracting are on the front of the calculator, making it a bit more convenient to use than the original Addiator.


    The sliders protrude through the bottom of the device, so resetting to zero is a simple pushing back - set it on the desk and push down.

    These take a bit of getting used to, but then work surprisingly well :)

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    Getting round again to tinkering with the 'lost cause' Remington Portable 2 typewriter, the next step after mounting all the typebar linkages was the ribbon mechanism.

    The change of ribbon travel direction is done by sliding the shaft to the left or right, engaging either of the spool holders with its conical drive gear. To keep it in engagement, there is a spring loaded mechanism located under the left spool.


    Two cups are held with a single spring-clip, pressing against a thinned section of the shaft.


    The shaft has nicely flattened areas for the set screws to get a proper grip. The thinned section can be seen jutting out of the hole in the spool-base. When assembled, the spring-clip should fit underneath the shaft, pressing the cups into the two holes either side of the spool-base.


    The spool holder can then be screwed on, consisting of its base gear, spool-plate and the pillar.


    The conical gear on the advance shaft is in engagement with either left or right spool holder when the shaft is pushed in its left or right position. The pillar is stationary and the gear with spool-plate rotates. (The slots in the spool-plate hole engage notches on the special Remington Portable spools. Spool-plate not yet screwed on in picture below.)


    At every keypress that actuates the universal bar, the ribbon advance shaft is rotated a little by a push against the advance gearwheel. To prevent it from rotating back again, a pawl locks it in place. When sliding the shaft with all its parts back in position again, this pawl needs to be lifted on top of the advance gear.


    As can be seen in the above picture at the arrow, that is what I failed to do. The pawl that can be seen hiding in the dark should have been lying on top of the finely geared advance wheel. (Something we'll know about a next time :)

    The shaft can then be fitted with the end control-knobs. These also have the cam-slopes that are actuated by the prongs on the ribbon-fingers that 'measure' the amount of ribbon left on the spool.


    In this machine, the parts are oddly of the old pattern - more usually found on older, pre-'25 Portables. This also goes for the spool-locking clips. It seems that the British factory still assembled some machines with the old pattern fittings as late as '27.

    With the knobs fitted again and a little tweaking on the position of the gears, the ribbon and spool mechanism is again in place.


     (The dastardly pawl has since been lifted to its proper position.)




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  • 06/28/17--00:58: The princess and the lamp
  • A while back I picked up an old magazine at a thrift shop for a few cents. Tucked in a stack of old paper was this special edition of the illustrated weekly paper 'Het Leven' (Life). This is a special January 1938 issue to commemorate and celebrate the birth of a princess!


    With a suitable band of orange on the cover. Inside it is filled with related pictures; the nurses, the vicar, the bottles. However not a single picture of the baby or even her name (that came later).


    The issue proudly ends with the magazine's best picture of the royal couple. On the inside of the back cover a full-page advertisement urging the reader to enlist in the KNIL (colonial army).


    The back cover is selling subscriptions to the magazine. On this special occasion of the birth of a princess, when you take out a subscription you will get a modern, deluxe lamp! The connection of the occasion to a lamp escapes me, it may have been apparent to contemporaries - but rather doubt it.


    To add another dubious linking with the happy occasion, you will also recieve free an American detective novel; "The Criminal Doppelgänger". Somebody filled out their address on the return card in pencil, but then probably thought better of it and did not send it in.  Alas - no lamp :-)

    From another era. But that lamp was strange then too, I'll wager.

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    Now that the ribbon mechanism is back in place on the 'lost cause' machine, the lifting tray is the only thing still missing from the typing mechanism. The Remington Portable typewriter has a lifting mechanism, pushing back a knob on the right-side of the machine lifts the typebars to the typing position (as is very well documented on the net).


    Hadn't yet mounted the sideplates to the segment that hold the crescent-rods or fulcrum-wires in place. These also have the mounting eyelet to pivot the protective hooks about. When mounting these plates, you'll want to play with the shifting of the carriage to get access for the screw. (Or mount this before assembling the ribbon shaft, of course...)


    Some rubber-band is helpful in keeping the typebars out of the way during the procedure. Not clearly shown in the below image, but on the right can be seen one of the flimsy looking push-bars that do the lifting of the tray and in the lower-right the hex-nut of the uppercase-right shift adjustment.


    Another preparing step on this machine was to fit one of these shift-stops.

    A Remington Portable has four adjustable stops for the carriage shift, this machine was missing one of these stop-assemblies completely. These stops are mounted on the inner sides of the machine frame. The trapezium-shaped 'vane' is part of the carriage-shift link and travels between these two stops.


    The stop assemblies consist of the stop-block itself, two mounting screws, eccentric adjustment-nut and a spring-washer. Luckily the spare-parts box contained a full extra set of these parts. (Just not in nickel-plate - this 'lost cause' machine must have been a sight when new - everything was bright shiny metal!)


    There are thus two screws for each stop accessible from the outside to adjust the shift, that is what the cut-outs in the side of the outer frame/housing are for. This way the machine can be adjusted with only removing the top panel to get access to the eccentric hex nut.


    Back to fitting the lifting tray; with the typebars out of the way the lifting tray can be lowered into its guides (B) and then fixed to the lifting bars (at A). Opening the bracket at the end of the lifting bars can be a bit fiddly. In this case with a badly mangled typewriter it also needed some forming to make it all meet up again.


     The 'hook' part that protects the typebars is then fixed to the tray and the segment endplates (C).


    Unleashing the typebars again, these rest against the felt rim of the lifting tray and can be raised and lowered by the knob at the side of the machine. In the lowered position all the typebars rest flat on the lifting tray.


    Except the '6' key.  (Drat.)

    The linkages of the '6' key had been rather bent and the connecting rivets broken. The repaired linkage is apparently almost right, but takes a little too much space and won't go as far down as the others. Will be seen how to deal with this, it may be resolved raising the lower position of the tray a little. Something to have a look at with the machine more completely assembled. Not yet declaring it a 'lost cause' completely :-)

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    A while back I got a small collection of early nickel Meccano pieces. Despite their dating to probably around 1920 they were in great condition. In the meantime some extra period-parts were found to make it almost a set that can be built with.


    To keep the collected nickel-era parts a bit better and add to the overall experience, decided to create a fitting storage box.

    The smaller sets of that time were sold in cardboard boxes - the gallery of pictures available at the New Zealand Meccano Club site and on the net in general give a good idea of the type of case. It was made of cardboard, sometimes with wooden parts for strength, and covered in black paper or leathercloth. (The largest sets were available in sturdy oak cabinets.)

    Today in the internet-age the delivery of online purchases yields a continuous supply of sturdy cardboard - saving a few of these boxes gave a good set of strong and flat sheets to construct a box with. Making up a dimension and arrangement of compartments to fit the parts and not following a very specific prototype, a new box was taped and glued together (paper-tape and PVA glue). Most of the original boxes had lift-off lids, for this case however a hinged lid was chosen. Using a cotton ribbon backing to form the hinge. The inner and outer surfaces were covered with a light-green and black covering paper.

    The most important finishing touch then is applying the labels.


    Again the galleries in New Zealand provided several high-resolution scans of various labels. This provided enough source material to assemble and mock-up a lid top label. The box lid label is a reasonable representation of a label as used in the early 1920-ies, the outfit number would have been in the roundel at the lower right corner.


    The lift-out tray has small lifting tabs of cotton ribbon. The tray layout is inspired by the layout of the inventor's outfits of the day. A regular outfit would not have had the large 3" spoked wheels. Even though some models in the 1920 manual use them, they had to be bought separately as spare parts. One could also buy a special accessory inventor's set - these would contain a set of large wheels as well as the newly introduced braced girders.

    The image on the inside of the lid seems a bit quaint, even for 1920-ish. Meccano started using this image around 1913 and kept using it well into the twenties. Another aspect that remained constant for a long time is the unattainable models on the box lid.  From these very early box labels right through to the 1960-ies, they showed large structures that could never be built with the contents of the box. Something to aspire to, I suppose.


    Building the occasional smaller model with the vintage nickel 'set' is now very much possible and a pleasure. Only a very few parts extra needed still to make up the content of a period Outfit 1, and already it has a wide range of special extra parts such as the windmill sails. Reproduction small parts boxes hold the brackets and a set of new brass nuts and bolts. Overall it now is a bit of a time-warp experience.

    Stored this way the nickel set is great for playing with again, also by the youngest - there is no paint that will be wearing off or any fragile vintage packaging to worry about. Building a model from the manual is not what is wanted however; freelance planes, cranes and automobiles are more the thing. (Aeroplane with some parental assistance - fuel cart his own construction, borrowing the boiler from a '29 set.)


    Should anybody have some stray nickel bits and want to replicate (or just have a good look at the graphic design of these vintage toy labels), the images in higher resolution below:



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  • 07/16/17--05:33: Typewriter Desk-Case
  • Browsing an old Popular Science magazine, spotted this typewriter desk-case.


    The typewriter case that folds open to form a proper table was patented, published as US patent 1,661,015 filed in 1926 and published in February 1928.

    The case folded open as a table.


    And closed for keeping the typewriter in it (and all the legs as well...).


    Somehow it didn't catch on. Wonder if the design actually made it beyond one prototype. Compared to the later travel tripod cases from e.g. Underwood, the design perhaps has drawbacks:
    - Even though it's a complete desk, the typewriter needs to be taken out of the case completely and then placed loose on the table-top (the outside of the case).
    -The case cannot be used in the normal portable manner, cannot just open the lid to have the machine available for use.
    - The complete desk and folding wooden legs likely are somewhat heavier and bulkier than a metal tripod in a regular case.
    - The narrow wooden 4-legged table needs a decent surface to stand on, a three-legged stand is likely more forgiving and stable for typing use. An adjustable leg's a hassle (and cost).
      Nevertheless; an ingenious case it is.

      This type of folding case seems to have been 'in the air', looking at this folding lunch table/box from the same year...



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      It's been said before; these are amazing times. With the global flea-market and antique-shop that is the internet, it was possible to find and purchase for a very reasonable sum the correct pattern screwdriver for the re-boxed nickel-set.

      To be fair, for a mid-twenties set it would more likely be the longer, closed nickel item. This type is more common in 1915 sets than '25 sets. But this is the exact pattern as shown in the parts-list in the 1920 booklet.


      It is again confirmed. There is not a niche-interest so tiny that it is not served somewhere on the internet.

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    • 07/27/17--12:12: Night Alarm machine spotting
    • Old movies are a place to see vintage mechanical writing machines in use - in their time. This is especially so when the story revolves around a newspaper - and many films do.

      The 1934 crime drama'Night Alarm' is all about the intrepid newspaper reporter uncovering the 'fire-bug' (and getting the girl). Overall it is a bit dated. The acting is quite decent, but there are some unexpected jumps and shortcuts in the story as well as an eyebrow-raising musical number halfway. It does have some lively action scenes with firetrucks and cars screeching round the corner. (Regarding the odd jumps in storyline; this surviving copy may well have been heavily cut down for broadcasting on television. It could well be that a half-hour's worth of acting was cut out. For many films, the television edit is the only copy that remains.)

      To properly set the newspaper scene at the beginning of the film, it shows the typesetting room with several linotype (I think) machines.


      And in more detail.


      From there on, the action moves to the newsroom to introduce the players.


      An array of desks with standards.

      Although a bit dated, the film still is quite watchable and is readily available even; 'Night Alarm' can be seen or downloaded over at The Internet Archive.



      Machine spotting!

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    • 07/30/17--03:18: Junk Shop machine spotting
    • Found another new thrift store in town, well perhaps more a junk shop. This one has a very wide variety of items from fairly credible old furniture to broken electronics and assorted 'junk'.

      Also several typewriters.

      First spotted is this remnant of a typewriter. Somehow somebody removed and then lost the body-panels. (Why?)


      Even the back panel is gone! (Having gone that far. why stop and not take off the carriage cowling.) Makes the typewriter a bit harder to identify...


      Next up was a (to me) uninspiring modern machine, a Royal Apollo 10 that will originally have landed in Germany with its QWERTZ keyboard.


      On the shelf above it sat an adding machine. Jammed solid with unfortunately a cracked housing. (Not a typewriter, but we'll class it as related machinery.)


      The next and last machine was a solid looking Remington standard looking somewhat unhappy. This is probably the maximum number of typebars that can be jammed in a machine. Unsure what caused the damage to the paint and wordmark on the top cover; it almost looks as if it's been too hot. Was it baked? Blowtorch? (That would explain the tabulator-bar being all bent.)


      Not sure how wel that white label will come off (but not much lacquer left anyways), it advertises that the asking price is a full 15 Euro for the machine.

      No prizes for guessing what machine was purchased - no typewriters were acquired that day. (Nor any adding machines, for that matter ;-)

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      It must have been always kept in its box, a fine Meccano number 2 clockwork motor. This was for the Dutch market, a 'Veermotor No.2'.


      Where the label has worn away on the box lid, it could be seen that the Dutch label is a paper pasted over an English printed box. The motor inside is in a surprisingly good condition. With the paint good still and really no rust, this motor is altogether too nice to play and build with today.


      Even the spring is clean and free from corrosion - like new.


      The included instruction sheet is multilingual and also a bit strange. The Meccano company made the effort to print and paste a Dutch label on the box and then included instructions in English, German, French and Spanish. No instructions in Dutch.


      Another strange thing is that the Dutch warranty slip is pasted over the remnants of a torn-out slip. From the remaining printing codes, both seem from the same era (printer code suggests 1931). An original 'U' (United Kingdom?) slip was replaced with an 'H' slip (Holland, likely). Seems very sloppy for such an expensive item. Perhaps needed to quickly fill an unexpected export order, but still.


      Had bought this item to get a dark red motor to go with the period set for building. On the pictures of the listing it looked decent enough and was stated to be in working condition. When I got it, it turned out to be that this particular motor is too well preserved to mar with screws. It'll mostly continue being kept in its box. A very nice time capsule nevertheless :)

      Below a larger resolution image of the instruction sheet, should you have one of these and be curious on its use :-)