Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Just Following the Code, Ma'am

THE TYPEWRITER CODE (abridged)


Keep a close eye on the keys

Pretty little daisies, all in a row

Stripes make everything better

Type-faster stripes

It's OK to celebrate your finds in private

Be Silent!

But it's more fun to show off

Another problem child


Usually a wasteland of typers except for smoke-smuggered seventies electrics, St. Vincent de Paul came through today with a lucky, lovely find. Elation turned to mild displeasure as I catalogued the issues in the store:

  • The ribbon color won't come out of red,
  • The ribbon vibrator isn't moving, though it can be moved,
  • and ribbon posts aren't advancing, though the mechanism looks clean. 
I suspect a common cause, which will probably mean shelling this machine to see what's up.

  • The line-advance lever... isn't
  • The ratchet is turned off, and there's no button in the left-hand knob
  • Something's up with the paper bail so it's not touching the platen
A size 3 knitting needle will easily fit into the opening, though, so maybe an exploratory poke is in order. It's handy to have hobbies that intersect with one another.

Issues aside, and they are legion, it's Just. So. Pretty. Those stripes! Those keys! All the main typing operations function, and it's still got a full set of tab stops resting on the rack in the back. I'm hoping the problems are recently introduced, and easily reversed. What fun is it only having one or two repair projects waiting on the bench?



Update: In the comments, Rob Bowker correctly noted the similarity between this machine and a flat-top portable.
I'm curious - just HOW different are these from the original Corona 4s? From ribbon vibrator through paper fingers all the way to the key tops - it looks the same but in different clothing.
He's right of course: except for the newer machine's backspace key moving to the opposite side to make room for the tabulator, there's very little different between these two machines in my collection:

c. 1939
Corona Standard typewriter, c.1939

c. 1948


Another problem child


They're so similar, in fact, that I pulled out the flat-top machine last night to inspect the line-advance mechanism. In turn, I found and corrected the problem on the newer machine this morning -- someone had flipped a small spring-tensioned part around its pivot point 180 degrees, and this is the part that engages with the toothed ratchet wheel on the platen. Flip it back into place, and the line-advance lever works properly (almost.)

This also corrects the issue with the paper bail, since that part sat in the way. Now it's back in place and all is right with the world.

The platen still spins freely, though, and this is where the flat-top won't be much help, since it doesn't feature a mechanism to disengage the ratchet. I removed the left knob from the newer machine just to see if I could make some progress, and I can force the ratchet to re-engage if I push the shaft into the machine with a fingertip. I know all the parts are in there and working, so I just need to learn how to make them work all the time.

Update 2: I just remembered that my newer Smith-Corona machines have a pull-rod on the left knob to disengage the ratchet, not a push-button. Suddenly this makes all kinds of sense. Looks like I'm off to check the newer machines to see how they work, too.

Anyhow, two mysteries solved already, and I've got clues for a third. A productive twelve hours!

Update 3: And I think I've got just about everything solved. The color-select lever was just jamming up, probably due to the mechanisms not having been moved in how many decades. I shelled the machine to follow the linkages and check for impediments, worked the mechanisms, and now the lever and ribbon vibrator are behaving properly AND the spool-posts are turning. It's a repair trifecta.

I've got positive news on the ratchet front, too, and I'll share that in a future post. Hopefully a typecast!

7 comments:

Richard P said...

Nice photos!

I am actually disappointed when a typewriter comes to me in need of nothing. I want to contribute something to it.

Rob Bowker said...

I'm sort of with Richard. Even if it is only half a century of grease and grime to clean - it is nice to have some way of having an input over and above the pennies. Great photos. I'm curious - just HOW different are these from the original Corona 4s? From ribbon vibrator through paper fingers all the way to the key tops - it looks the same but in different clothing.

Michael Clemens said...

@Rob: I'm hoping that they're very close indeed. I plan to compare it to my own flat-top machine to solve the issues.

Bill M said...

Getting them working again is half the fun. A nice looking typewriter like that is worth the effort.

Ted said...

Very nice find! A 3-striper even (:

notagain said...

Very nice! Can't wait to see the comparison with the flat-top.

Will Davis said...

I like typewriters that are so badly designed that even when they are back working as they did originally, you still can't imagine the thing is fully operable. It's a personal thing.

Nice to see that your machine freed up! It's a looker, too.