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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 :-)





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    • 10/01/17--04:45: About succulents and Royal
    • Recently picked up an album - a so-called 'Verkade album'. Between '03 and '40 the cake-manufacturer Verkade published these illustrated albums, with the illustrations enclosed with the company's product. (Collect them all...)


      This is a 1932 album; 'Vetplanten' ('Succulents'). The undoubtedly knowledgeable Mr van Laren gives much and varied information on the care of succulent plants and the various species thereof.


      Notable on the title-page of the album is the mention that it was printed and bound by Blikman and Sartorius, Amsterdam.


      In the field of typewriters in The Netherlands that is a familiar name; they were the importers/distributors for Royal typewriters. They are notable for having pasted their company name on each and every typewriter they supplied. So much so that often on the local online-ads site there is listed a 'Blikman & Sartorius' typewriter for sale, model 'Royal'. (They were however by no means the only importer to do so. James Plant prominently labeled every Underwood that passed his warehouse and Ruys tagged all Olivetti machines with their own brand. Blikman & Sartorius were the most consistent and 'visible' in doing this, though.)


      As example of their eagerness to place their name, they went to the trouble of taking this Royal De Luxe portable machine out of the case and rub off the 'touch-control' label. They then put their company name prominently on the centre front of the machine.

      It was perhaps a company policy; everything that leaves the door gets labeled :)







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    • 10/22/17--12:20: It is our earnest desire
    • ...it is our earnest desire that [it] shall give the greatest satisfaction.

      Those sentiments came with an online purchase that arrived last week. This is clearly a phrase that is not from a recent warranty statement. In fact it was included with a nearly a century old toy. Much worn and the box has lost its lid and some of its shape, but the instruction leaflet was still included.


      The clockwork motor itself has some spots of rust on the outside, but otherwise is still in fine working order. They were right in their claim that the Meccano Clockwork motor will do excellent service for many years.

      The printing code on the leaflet dates this to February 1920. A next known printing run of this leaflet is September 1921, so the motor likely dates from some time between the two dates. The text and layout of this leaflet likely date to 1916, when Meccano started making their own motors. They had been buying these from Märklin originally, but the Great War (World War I) halted that supply of course.

      This clockwork motor would have been very much a luxury item in 1920, affordable only by the well-off. (As was Meccano, to be honest.) These motors were then still supplied in 'austerity' plain strawboard boxes and only by the mid twenties were the boxes upgraded to a blue fully labeled version. Today these motors are still (or again) not all that cheap, but thankfully well within reach of many now.

      Also today there is the wonder of digital image editing. With a scanned image of the old leaflet, a cleaned version was created and printed to go with the motor in a newly made box.


      On the other hand it turned out that today it is not so easy to find matching brown paperboard made from straw. A century ago this would have been the raw material for nearly all paperboard, but today it nearly all is grey paper-pulp board. The local crafts-store here sell a large sheet of this 2mm thick board for a very modest sum.

      Some yellow watercolour ink can create a more yellow/brown colour of the board to match the original box. What proved more difficult is that the modern board is very dense in comparison to the old strawboard and near impossible to crease and bend cleanly. It will break at the edges. Nevertheless a new lid and also a new box base were made from the grey board. More of an impression than an exact replica, but it does look the part and serves its purpose of storing the motor safely. A reproduction label then added to complete the impression of the article when new.


      From references on the net (no interest so niche...), this particular motor can be identified as a nickel motor of the 'Meccanoland designation' type 6. It has the letter stamping not on the reversing lever, but on the motor side-plate. These motors are known with F, J or K, this one has a 'K'. Am curious, but have no idea on the meaning of the letter (could be initial of the person that assembled it? the subcontractor that supplied it?).


      Should you have one of these early Meccano Clockwork motors that inadvertently lost its paperwork some time during the last century; an image of the instruction leaflet below - measures about 200 by 255mm:


      And a newly created small reproduction box lid label:


      The whole point of this new box and leaflet were to add it to the newly boxed set of nickel Meccano. Now also the motorised models in the 1920 book of models can be made. Such as this Mechanical Hammer (model 147). (There's a subject you're unlikely to find in today's construction toys! - can't see a mechanical hammer appealing much today - unsure what appeal it had back then. Perhaps it was still modern and a marvel of progress...)


      In a quickly assembled model, the motor does its work fine.


      Very noisy. Surprisingly noisy. This model must've annoyed the rest of the family and possibly the neighbours, also in 1920 :-)

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      The January 1928 issue of the Meccano Magazine with an image on the cover for the article on the building of the Panama Canal. Many more articles inside on various feats of engineering, science and of course Meccano.


      Also in this issue is the first instalment in a series about famous inventions. The header of the series contains a list of notable inventions. There are the expected items such as the steam engine, the sewing machine, the motorcar and the typewriter. Oddly missing (for '28) is radio. On the other hand it does mention noctovision. But to get back to this first article - the story of the invention of the typewriter.


      The article gives a quick historical long view and then goes into more detail on how the 'startup' of Glidden happened, including the 'pivot' from a numbering machine to the general purpose writing machine. (To put it in today's terms.)

      All back issues of the Meccano Magazine can all be read online at the Internet Archive. This link opens the January 1928 issue, browse to page 10 for the article.

      For reading convenience, the pages also included below.



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    • 12/15/17--00:56: Marked down
    • As the price for typewriters on online classifieds and auctions seems to escalate, the amount of machines in local thrift shops seems down. This may be related, or pure chance of course.

      In a round of a few local second-hand shops including a very large one, only one typewriter was spotted. This one had been in the store for a while and was now marked down from 15 to an 8 Euro asking price.


      By now it was tucked away in a dark corner, jammed and looking rather forlorn. The top-cover is badly mauled and the Remington emblem is broken. A spare top cover from a portable is included with an intact emblem, should the buyer want to fix it up. Apart from the cosmetic state and a tabulator-bar that has warped out of shape it seems to be in good shape and fully working condition. Even a dust-cover is thrown into the package.

      Alas, no sale even for 8 Euro. Would be fun to tinker with, but wrong period for the collection and rather too large to insert unobtrusively into the house.

      On that, the amounts being offered for nice, clean pre-war portables looks to be going through a bit of a spike here. On the one hand there are a few traders that buy and then re-sell the machines via more international outlets for a several hundred (and they apparently do sell, looking at the shop-sites data). On the other hand the value attributed by many to these obsolete machines may well have gone up over the past few years. Even when not 'collecting', then as an item to have one of. Some as a static and transient 'interior decoration' for sure, but also some to have and keep one working machine.

      In its distressed state, the Remington would fit the bill as a 'vintage' looking prop. A steal at the price. It may sell yet :-)

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    • 01/12/18--02:34: Polyphase duplex
    • Recently arrived a small, elongated package.


      The leather is a bit worn and the embossing faded, but the marking 4088-3S can be read on the flap, with 'K&E polyphase duplex slide rule' on the end.


      And inside this 4088-3S leather sleeve is indeed a Keuffel & Esser Polyphase Duplex slide rule, model number 4088 version 3. Quite common in North America, but much less so  in continental Europe.


      Had not seen or used a duplex before, so took a chance when spotting this basic model. Duplex meaning the slide is usable at both sides, the stock being held together by the metal clamps at the ends.

      It was somewhat dirty and 'stuck solid', but cleaned up very nicely. Everything can be screwed apart and cleaned carefully. A basic polish and removing of dirt, using an eraser / rubber to remove stains and even out / lighten the yellowed celluloid. Carefully clean the glass to not accidentally remove the hairline. Putting it all back together again with some care to get the alignments right (well, good enough). On one edge the celluloid has lifted and warped, so re-mounted the cursor 'flipped over' to run on the smoothest side. After the cleaning and some adjustment it slides very smoothly.

      The 4088 is a fairly basic duplex rule, many later duplex rules go rather overboard with log-log scales. The front of this rule has, to continental eyes, odd scales; no AB, but folded CD scales (by pi) with an inverted CF. This deviation from the Mannheim is actually very neat and handy for the basic operations - clever.

      The rule being duplex, the AB scales have been moved to the back of the rule, with an inverted C and regular D. The reverse also has the K, L and the sine and tangent scales, making it look quite crowded.


      The serial number 378790 puts this as an early 'thirties rule - the K&E serials are a bit of an approximation, reading the graphs would make it around 1931-ish. The cursor however has the flanges at the corners to protect the glass from chipping. From the online sources on slide rules (yes, there is definitely a slide-rule-O-sphere on the internet), this type of cursor was made between '33 and '35. Assuming this is not a replacement runner, this rule was likely manufactured in 1933.


      After 85 years, still giving results to three digits :-)