Sunday 28 July 2013

Solving The SM3 Lower-Case 'b' Issue and Adding to Project 88.

This is what my Olympia SM3 was doing;

It was driving me nuts. Such a near-perfect typewriter, but with one irritating flaw. I wrote about it here;

Why Wont My Olympia SM3 Just Let It 'b'?


Ahh. Looking and running as it should. Nice!

Mailed off Keith Sharon's Project 88 letter this afternoon.
And, in keeping with the trend of showing photographic proof, here it is;

I used four different typewriters and one fountain pen. I had to keep it interesting somehow!

Cheers, all!

Friday 26 July 2013

Typewriter Spotting - July 26th, 2013

My wife and I were due for a trip to a large antiques centre which is located about half an hour from our house. I thought that if I saw something worthwhile, I'd consider purchasing it. So, we dropped the kids off at school, went back home for a quick cup of coffee, and then off we went.

It's a large, cavernous former factory where this antiques centre is located. It's made up of stalls run by various vendors and there's definitely an eclectic mix of stuff on offer. Everything from a 1950s aluminium construction worker's helmet to a six-inch Predator figure still in its box.
It would take a good, leisurely couple of hours to have a look at everything in this place. And, the first time we came here, we soon realised how frigging cold it can get inside a large, cavernous former factory, so, this time 'round, we rugged up. However, by the time we were done looking, my finger-tips were pale and numb.
Next time, I'll wear gloves.

But I was on the lookout for typewriters, 35mm cameras, if something caught my eye, and binoculars, although I already have a decent vintage pair.

Anyway, the first typewriter I saw was an orange plastic Adler Contessa, selling for $95 bucks.

Too orange, too girly, too expensive, I thought, and I'm not a fan of plastic typewriters. Also, with two Lettera 32s, a Groma Kolibri and a Splendid 99, I figured my small portable typewriter stable was pretty well-stocked.
The next machine I came across was this Royal Portable from 1930 (according to the sales ticket);

It had an okay duo-tone blue finish to it, and it typed quite nicely, but I already have a 1928 model in the red alligator finish. Seller wanted $285 for this one. I thought this price to be pretty steep, but I'm fairly certain that some cashed-up hipster will see it and fall in love with it. Looked just like the machine in "Tin-Tin". This typewriter will be gone within a week or two.
Next up was this Hermes Ambassador. I think they were asking ninety-five bucks for this one, but it looked (to my untrained eye) like it would need some major work, and I can't say its design thrilled me too much. If I were going for a standard typewriter, I'd aim for a Royal KHM/KMM or a Remington. I just prefer the look of them.

Moving right along, I came upon this;

It looked like it weighed at least a tonne. I tore a page out of my passport-sized notebook (I always carry pen and paper) and slotted it into the machine. I turned the platen knob and...nothing. The shiny rubber platen wouldn't grip the paper to feed it through. I gently fed the paper into the front of the platen, just behind the ribbon vibrator and typed out 'halda'. It printed out in red, since the colour selector was set to this. I didn't bother checking the price, since the slipping platen turned me off. If it were a portable, I would perhaps have considered it since it was reputedly a Hemingway favourite. And I have to say that these wide carriage models don't thrill me. It's more typewriter than I need.

Tucked underneath a saw-horse, I found this '70s(?) Remington.

Next up was this Remington Quiet-Riter, but I already have one. Couldn't see a price on this. It typed nicely enough although it could use a new ribbon;

And then I landed on...eeewww! Aaarrgghhh, my eyes, my eyes!!!

Luckily, I soon saw these. This Remington looked like it would need some serious TLC. I fed the paper into it and it typed straight and true...

...but I think this next model was in better condition. Only $60 bucks, but it had the dreaded extra-long ledger carriage that I don't like. I turned to my wife and said; "Where would I put it?"
"Well, that's the thing, isn't it?", she replied. Our house is bursting at the seams and, while I love the idea of having a machine like this on permanent display, ready to use at a moment's notice, there's just nowhere I could display this typewriter in our current house. Still, it was an imposing-looking machine. Had a real post-War newsroom vibe about it. Shame.

Continuing on, I saw an Olympia Splendid 99 selling for $169.oo! I paid sixty-one bucks for mine last year. Pass. There was another Olympia on display. It was a large, heavy standard SG-1 model and I think it had seen better days. Couldn't find the price on it. It typed okay, but again, a better ribbon was well past due on this one.

My wife called out to me, pointing to the floor of a stall to my right; "Hey, T, there's an Olivetti Studio...."
My ears pricked up. 'Please say 42, please say 42!' I thought to myself.
" ...Forty-Four in a case over there" .
It sat in its case in all its Olivetti bluey-green splendour.

I put my paper in and typed. It passed, but I don't need any Olivetti besides a Studio 42. One day, perhaps.
And there you have it. More typewriters than I expected to see, and many of them were in better condition than what I've seen here in past visits.
My pick of the bunch would have to be the sixty-dollar Remington Standard. If the carriage were of normal length, I probably would have snapped it up, despite the lack of space and the back-breaking task of carrying it a hundred feet or so back to our car. But...I have sixteen typewriters at the moment and if I buy anything else, I want to make sure it's exactly a model that I'm particularly chasing.
After I get rid of one or two that I already have.
Assuming I can bear to part with any of them.
Thanks for reading!

Monday 22 July 2013

The Stats of 100,000 Page-Views. And Thank-You All!

The page-view counter rolled over the 100,000 mark at around 11:30am this morning AEST. It almost happened without my noticing, to be honest. Life has been a little hectic with;

Study- I've got two classes on Tuesdays and I've added an online class as well. I'm a little dubious about it, since it requires me to work at my own (glacial) pace and it will require me to exercise some discipline as well. One of my other subjects is Cataloging and it involves the way library records are set out.
Here's an example- Let's say I need to write out a catalogue record for this Bond novel;

The standard layout for the record would be set out like this;

Octopussy and the living daylights/ Ian Fleming.
Edition: First Edition
London : Jonathan Cape, 1966.

All the relevant information listed above is taken from the front (Recto) and back (Verso) of the title page inside the book. 
Seems easy enough, you say. And I would agree. Now, in the wonderful age of computers, a catalogue record, like the one above, would have been printed on a card to be filed away in one of these gorgeous wooden filing cabinets...


Picture courtesy of Ryan Lane/iStock. Taken from

However, these days, everything's been converted to digital. Catalogue records have to be able to be read by a computer program. And these are known as MaRC2 or Machine Readable Catalogue Records, Version 2.

So, the Bond hardcover's MaRC2 record HAS to look like this;

245   $aOctopussy and the living daylights /$cIan Fleming.
264   $aLondon : $bJonathan Cape, $c1966.

Every number, every dollar sign, every colon, every space, every full stop (period.) has to be in its proper place or the computer program will not recognise the catalogue record. Which is fine if you're a computer, but if you're just some schmuck with a pen and paper (i.e.-me), then you can find yourself in a world of hurt pretty quickly when trying to write these out by hand.
And the good news is that I have a 90 minute test on this tomorrow morning! I'm so tempted to write that classic line; "By the time you read this, I will be dead", but I've done a few revision exercises and this will be an open-book test.
And yet, I'm still a little apprehensive about it. Gotta get 70% to pass.

Anyway, to the subject of this post. One hundred thousand page-views. First of all, thank-you very much to all of you who have visited this blog more than once. That would imply that I've done something right. I basically wanted to write about the things that I was interested in myself.

It almost goes without saying, but that Tissot Visodate review is still the most-viewed post on this blog by a very wide margin. Although, in its original location on a wristwatch forum, it's done a lot of mileage since I first posted it up in October 2010. Man, if I had a dollar for every...

It's a great wristwatch, without a doubt, but I'm amazed that there's still so much interest in this watch considering that it's been on the market for three and a half years. You'd think that Tissot would give me a 'hoy' to say thanks. But nooo! They never call, they never write.


1) Tissot Visodate 1957 Heritage Automatic- REVIEW       14,194 pageviews
2) How To Buy A Wristwatch: Part 2- The Dive Watch         3,140 pageviews
3) How To Buy A Wristwatch: Part 1- The Dress Watch        3,042 pageviews
4) Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises
    Re-Edition- REVIEW                                                          2,978 pageviews
5) Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Automatic
    (36.2mm) -REVIEW                                                            2,054 pageviews

BUSIEST MONTH - June 2013   9,375 views


1) Imperial Good Companion 5  (circa 1958)                           2,127 pageviews
2) Olympia Splendid 99   (circa 1960)                                      1,330 pageviews
3) Olympia SM2  (circa 1951)                                                     965 pageviews
4) Olivetti Lettera 32  (1960s?, Made in Ivrea, Italy)                  949 pageviews
5) Olivetti Lettera 32 (purchased new, 1982, Made in Spain)     844 pageviews
6) Remington Remette (circa 1938)                                             820 pageviews
7) Groma Kolibri  (circa 1958)                                                    618 pageviews


Internet Explorer    27%
Firefox                    23%
Safari                      22%
Chrome                  18%
Opera                       4%
Other               Less than 1%


tissot visodate review           564
tissot visodate                       188
olivetti lettera 32                   141
omega speedmaster                 82
groma kolibri                           61

And there you have it. No real big changes since my first check after 50,000 pageviews. The Imperial Good Companion post overtook the Olympia Splendid 99 as far as views are concerned. The Browser stats are pretty much the same as they were at the half-way mark.
 I've received 803 comments from you wonderful people out there on the World Wide Web, out in The Typosphere and beyond, and I've received countless spam comments from websites selling fake Rolexes and Louis Vuitton handbags, and links to some shady websites. To them, I say 'go to hell!'.

To the rest of you, I say 'thanks' for visiting this blog! I may lay low for a while as I tackle the adjustment to a slightly more hectic study schedule while continuing to look for a part-time job as I attempt to continue writing the two or three film scripts that I've started this year.
I really, really need to get a little more organised.
Ah well, the struggle is the glory, as they say.

Thanks again, all, and thanks for reading!


Friday 19 July 2013

Another Wristwatch Advertisement That I...uh...Ruined. Such Fun!

Here's the original classic Rolex wristwatch ad that appeared in magazines in the mid 1960s.

The Rolex Explorer (Reference 1016) was long pitched at those who led a more adventurous lifestyle than your Average Joe. Rugged, water-resistant and supremely legible, the Explorer became a classic for the Rolex Brand.

I was doing some handy-man crap around the front yard while wearing my Omega Railmaster and this magazine ad popped into my head.

"Hey honey, can you get my camera?", I called out to my ultra-patient wife.

And here's the result;

And here it is in glorious black and white;

The white text gets a little lost, but I tried every other colour in the spectrum and white seemed to work best. And it's a little more legible in the colour version.

Okay, now I'm hungry. 2:05pm. Yep, past lunchtime.

Thanks for reading, all!

Monday 8 July 2013

Dial Nine To Continue, Then Press Hash - No Thanks. Not With This Beauty.

I've wanted a Bakelite rotary-dial telephone for quite some time and I finally got one off eBay back in December. It was a nice, heavy jet-black model dating back to the late 1950s. Perfect. Made me want to put a call through to Marilyn Monroe.
There's something about rotary-dial phones that give me a sense of comfort.
Perhaps it has to do with nostalgia for the 20th Century, before everybody carried a mobile phone with their entire lives loaded into them.
Perhaps it has to do with seeing too many old movies, where the shrill sound of the ringing bell would startle the character on-screen before they lifted the  receiver from its cradle to be told of the ransom demands, or where the double-agent would be at a certain time, or were asked why haven't they checked the children.*
I suppose like typewriters, a rotary-dial phone only does one thing, but it does it well. There wasn't much that I took from my Mother's house after she died last year, but I did take this;

This AWA ivory-coloured model was the main telephone in our house when I was a kid. I still recall the six-digit phone number, which is still just barely visible, handwritten in faded BIC ballpoint on the paper insert of the rotary dialler. I think this one goes back to 1968, based on the numbers on the underside and I'm amazed that it still works. This telephone saw a lot of use, thanks to my Mother.  There was no such thing as a 'quick phone call' , as far as she was concerned. And if I had to use the phone after her, the receiver would be quite warm from being pressed against her ear for an hour or so.
Around 1980, she got a job as an after-hours cleaner at a sub-station of Telecom, the Australian phone company along the lines of AT&T or Bell. After that, I think that almost every room in the house had a phone line installed. And she managed to snag a few more telephones along the way. Nothing wrong with having a spare...or three. Somewhere, I have a brand new, still-wrapped-in-plastic phone that she got in 1982, but never used. It's pretty much identical to this one above.

Here's something funny- she used to stay up until two or three am so that she could ring relatives back in Italy when it was convenient. For them. And in turn, whenever they called us, it would be around three or four am in the morning Australian Eastern Standard Time.

About eight or ten years ago, I was visiting an overpriced and snootily-owned antiques bazaar where they had a bunch of phones for sale. One of them was an Ericsson Ericofon, which is also sometimes referred to nowadays as a 'cobra'.

I suppose if you take enough LSD, this phone probably could resemble a cobra with its flared hood, but I think it's a bit of a stretch, personally. Still, the name has stuck whenever I see these advertised from time to time on eBay.
However, I have always called it 'The Skippy Phone'.
"Skippy the Bush Kangaroo" was an Aussie television series produced from 1966 to 1968. It is Australia's equivalent to "Flipper", but with much, much less water. And it is considered a sentimental favourite among many of my generation.

I don't really know why I ever called it The Skippy Phone. As far as I'm aware, this style of telephone did not appear in any episodes (some "Skippy" experts, feel free to chime in now), but if there's anything that screams of a certain aspect of 1960s Australia to me, it is this television show and this telephone. Although, having said that, I sometimes get a quick vision of "The Thunderbirds" flashing through my head when I look at this telephone. Something to do with its mid-century futuristic design. Just the kind of phone that Lady Penelope would use to call Virgil Tracy on. Again, as a kid, I would sometimes wake up at the unGodly hour of 6:00am on a Saturday morning to watch this fantastic show.
"Thunderbirds are GO!!!"

Look at her. Less plastic than some of today's Hollywood stars.

About a year ago, my wife called me at work one Friday evening to tell me that the power had gone out at home. She was calling me from her cellphone and she said the battery was extremely low and the phone might cut out any second. She couldn't call me from the land-line because the hands-free phone was plugged in to the (currently non-existent) electricity supply. I told her I would call around for an after-hours (and pretty damned expensive) electrician.

When I got home to a dark and cold house (t'was mid-Winter), I realised that the Skippy Phone was in a box in my daughter's bedroom. Had I been thinking a little more clearly, I would have told my wife to plug this phone in and call around for an electrician, since I was still at work and didn't want to risk getting blasted by management for making personal calls, despite the fact that it was an emergency. The beauty of a standard land-line telephone, with a rotary dialler or push-button one, is that it has one RJ plug for both the phone connection AND the source of electricity for the phone, which runs along a separate line directly to the telegraph pole in the street. I think.
Anyway, what it means is that you can still use these phones in the event of a blackout because they have no internal battery.

Now, my darling wife and I have watched the "Terminator" series of films on numerous occasions and we fully understand that they are about technology letting people down, but we were caught off-guard that night and not thinking straight. It was cold, we were in the dark, and we hadn't prepared anything for dinner. Luckily, I went out to get us some pizza and we ate it by candle-light in the lounge room while the electrician worked on the fuse box outside.

The Ericofon is pretty cool. First designed in the late 1940s, this particular design first emerged around 1952 and was marketed towards hospitals. It was designed so that patients could make phone calls from their beds without having to lift a receiver and then stretch across with their other hand to dial a number. It was a precursor to today's handset telephones.
One catch with this phone. If you are talking to somebody and you place the phone down in its upright position to grab a pen and paper or something, you will disconnect the call. The rotary dialler has a spring-loaded section which pushes down when the phone is placed down, thus disconnecting a call. That's how you hang up these phones.

See? A big, fat red button in the middle of the dialler.  Obvious, really.

So anyway, back to this new phone that I got. Here it is. Beauty, ain't it? All black and chrome like a Fifties Buick.

When it arrived just before Christmas, I unplugged the plastic, push-button, hands-free monstrosity that sits on the buffet near the front door and plugged this phone in. I lifted the heavy receiver and held it up to my ear. The dial tone purred.
I started dialling my mobile phone number and after turning the dialler to imput the first two digits, I could still hear a dial tone. 
"Oh, no, no, no, no", I thought to myself. 
I continued dialling my number. When I got to the end of it, I heard the phone company's dreaded recorded message; "The number you have dialled is incomplete or incorrect. Please check the number before dialling again."
I tried again. Got the same response. Aww, hell!
I called my home number from my mobile phone. The bakelite phone rang loud and clear. I picked up the receiver and spent about twenty seconds talking to myself;
"Hey, teeritz, how are ya?"
"Yeah, I'm good, teeritz. And you?"
"Yeah, pretty good."
And then I hung up on myself. Well, at least it took calls without any problems. But it still meant that this phone could only do half of what it was supposed to do.

I tried the phone a few more times. I called the Time (1194), but couldn't get through without hearing that faux Australian accented recorded message. To you folks reading this in Australia, do you know ANYBODY who speaks like that? To the rest of you, it's an accent that sounds somewhere in between Australian and British. A lot of newsreel voice-overs from the 1950s and '60s used to sound like that, and some of the older ladies who work in David Jones department stores still sound like it.
Anyway, I wound up calling the seller. He told me to drop it off to his house and he would sort it out. Which was cool. Except, he lives 90 minutes away from my house. And so, a few days later, I took the phone back to him. He hung onto it for a week or so and then called me to say that it was fixed. 
I drove back to his house to pick it up. He said he'd tested it and it was all working as it should. Great. I took it home, plugged it in and tried to make a call and...nothing. Same problem as before.

I love the rotary dialler. Yes, yes, I know it doesn't have a hash (#) or star (*) key, but who cares? This phone is what I would use when I want to ring actual people, not corporations that have you on hold for twenty-five minutes or have recorded voices saying "Press star to continue". 

I contacted the seller again and arranged to drop the phone back to him. When I got there, I explained that if he couldn't fix this once-and-for-all, I would prefer a different phone altogether. He said "Sure, sure", and I left it with him again to be repaired. 
Life got busy and I wasn't able to collect the phone for a month or two. I went back to get it and he assured me that the problem was solved, explaining that he called me using this phone and it worked properly. He also explained that my issues with it might have something to do with my internet modem. 
Okay, this was all over my head and made no sense to me since, as far as I understand, this phone is analogue and the internet is digital and one should not affect the other. Still, I figured he must know what he's talking about, so I left it at that and said thanks. I took the phone back and went on my way. 
Well, you know the rest. I got home, plugged it in and tried making a call. And again, the same problem. After the steam stopped spewing from my ears, I waited a day before calling him back. He said he would replace the entire guts of this phone and put a new rotary dialler on it too. 
When I dropped it back to him for the third time, he said "Just pick it up when you're next in the area."
I drove home in a foul mood. And of course, my wife started getting a little annoyed at all the fuel I was wasting in pursuit of this folly. So, I called the seller and told him to mail the phone back to me when it was fixed and I would pay the cost of postage. I preferred to do that rather than get stuck in traffic on the way to his house on the other side of town. The trip would involve going through some heavily built-up main roads that were quite narrow and have trams (cable cars to you folks in The States) sharing the road with cars and I didn't want none of it anymore. 

Dial M for MuthaF******! All of these hassles were beginning to take the shine off of this experience.
The phone arrived last week and I set it up and dialled my cell-phone. 
I left the phone plugged in for a few days. And it worked just fine. Later in the week, I unplugged it and left it on the buffet and reconnected the hands-free phone. That night, I got a call from an Auntie in Italy and spoke to her for about half an hour before the battery in the hands-free phone went dead and the call cut out. Shite! I plugged the bakelite phone back in and tried to call her back. The line was engaged. She was trying to call me back. I hung up the phone and waited. A minute later, the shrill and glorious sound of the bell echoed through the room and I picked up the receiver and continued the conversation for a few minutes. 
Aside from looking cool, these phones are dependable. They work. As long as they are properly restored.

I've packed this black phone away in its box for now. I have a dream, one that involves the next house that we move to (whenever that is) where there will be a study. All of my books will be out of their storage boxes and up on bookshelves which line one wall of the room. My wife and I will have our desks positioned in this room and there will be a phone line in the skirting board where this phone will be plugged in. There will be a filing cabinet someplace, holding all of the paperwork necessary for the admin of running a household. There will be a stationery cupboard in there, so that when I need a stapler or a paper-clip, I'll know where to find one. The room will have a decent-sized window, allowing natural light in. And maybe there'll be an armchair in a corner with a coffee table next to it where we can sit down with a book. My typewriters will be stored in there somewhere, and I may need to cull the collection down to machines that are used rather than just kept for display or sentimental reasons. And maybe I'll have one permanently on display, with a cloth cover over it to keep the dust out. And it'll be on stand-by for times when I feel like typing.
That's the plan, anyway. It may not work out exactly like that, but I'll try and get it as close to that as possible.
At any rate, I've got the telephone situation worked out, so I can cross that off the list. 

Atticus Finch (retired Judge, Maycomb County, Alabama) about to make a phone call, circa 1958.

I've seen a few reproduction rotary phones for sale on eBay. These modern ones have two extra holes in the dialler with a hash and star symbol next to them so that you can spend time calling your Water company to query a bill and "press star to continue".
But this vintage bakelite phone will suit my purposes just fine. I was thinking of getting an American dial-up telephone to scratch my "Mad Men" itch, but I don't know if they will work on the Australian phone exchange. 
After the saga involved with getting this phone working properly, I'm inclined not to tempt fate any further with regard to old telephones. I was tempted to go for a reproduction candlestick telephone off eBay, but these phones require two hands to use and something tells me that would get old real quick. 

Nope, this 'Buick' will do me just fine.

Okay, I'm hanging up now. Thanks for reading!

*"When A Stranger Calls" (Dir: Fred Walton, 1979)

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Tudor Oyster Hand-Wound, Circa 1960

This is how the watch looked when I first got it. The crystal had scratches and stains on it. And notice the crown tube? It's totally stripped, meaning that the crown wouldn't screw down securely.

 More crud on the caseback. It looked like mud. Or at least, I hoped it was mud. Either way, I wasn't going to attempt removing it myself.

And here's how I got it back. It took my watchmaker just under three months to fix this. Most of that time was spent waiting for parts to arrive from overseas. The case-back was cleaned up and polished;

Here's what I like about Tudor watches. The case-backs are engraved, stating that the case is manufactured by Rolex. Funny how Rolex models themselves don't have anything engraved on the back. Shame, really. The whole 'Oyster' designation is something that Rolex has always used to signify that their cases are watertight. Like an Oyster.

The new crown tube and winding crown. Notice that it's a crown manufactured by Rolex with their five-pointed crown logo;

The textured dial, which was in outstanding condition with no blemishes, pitting or water damage. Rare for a watch of this age. The applied hour markers are all clean. The hands still retain their original, faded tritium inserts. I think I'll leave them that way unless I can source new replacements for them. Otherwise, they look just fine as they are;

Timekeeping-wise, I think this watch loses about one minute per day, but I'll worry about it at its next service. Although, it is a 60 year-old wristwatch, after all. Being a hand-wound watch with no date function, it should be relatively straightforward to service.

A light tan-coloured fake croco strap works nicely against the silver dial and makes a change from darker brown or black, which I tend to have on my other vintage pieces.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Why Won't My Olympia SM3 Just Let It 'b'?

Up above is the crossbar that tilts downward with every keystroke. I must make two apologies to y'all. One for the blurry pictures, and the other for my lack of knowledge regarding typewriter parts.
Anyway, that bar tilts down whenever a key is hit.

And these are the two screws that I tried adjusting, without making a difference. Actually, that's not true. If you screw them in all the way, then the keys feel very noticeably harder to the touch. So, in the end, I just loosened them back to approximately where they were to begin with. I had a theory that adjusting these screws might cause the ribbon vibrator to lift a little higher, since I first suspected that the ribbon wasn't high enough to allow the entire typeslug to lift high enough to hit the ribbon squarely in the middle.
Again, all, any suggestions most welcome.
And again, thanks for reading!