Tuesday 19 March 2013

An afternoon's sojourn

Without meaning to it appears I’ve followed in Robert and Scott’s footsteps by poking around in Op-Shops and antique stores on the weekend. In my case I’d driven over to Guitar Brothers in Red Hill to blow some of my birthday money on a Stomp Box and a Cajon. If you’re unfamiliar with these items it’s probably easier to google them rather than me waffle on explaining them.
Being on that side of town during business hours for a change, I drove over to Latrobe Terrace in Paddington. Latrobe Terrace is a rather groovy street not far west of the city that winds its way up along a ridge-line. It’s got plenty of cafe’s, retro stores, Op-Shops, antique stores and the young good looking types with tomorrow hair styles and yesterday's clothes, who tend to inhabit these areas. The St Vinnies and the Endeavour foundation Op-Shops had no typewriters but some cool peaked caps. Retro Metro had a typewriter, but it was a seized and rusty 1940’s or 50’s-ish black standard typewriter for some “Looks great” style exorbitant price.
Estelle’s Antiques was getting a little warmer with this Underwood 11 (Is it an 11?? Please tell me if I’m wrong).
This old fellow was in pretty reasonable nick, almost rust free and good clear keys. The keys were pretty well stuck however, and the ones that weren’t stuck weren’t far off. The drawband was missing, but the carriage seemed to move fairly freely. The price tag on this wasn’t outrageous either, but it was more than my willingness to pay.
The jackpot was hit though when I made it across the road to the Paddington Antique Centre.
Never having been in here before, once inside I was asking myself why I had never been in here. It’s a huge barn of a place, converted from a disused theatre. Inside is an organised chaos of all sorts of stuff from swords and war trinkets to Dallas Cowboys paraphernalia to Bakelite Tupperware and telephones to ancient egg-beaters to piles and piles of ancient rotting magazines. Only just inside the front door I came across this.
Being rather fond of big heavy standards and seeing that stupidly wide carriage Imperial 66, let me say it was love at first sight.
See the funny thing about the Paddington Antique Centre is that they represent a whole bunch of different independent antiques dealers. As a result, you can’t haggle with the kids at the checkout and the prices can really skewiff. For example, that rusted seized machine on the far end, which looked like it had quite literally been retrieved from the bottom of the ocean cost $45, while the apparently clean and functional Remington in the foreground cost $35, while the wide carriage Imperial 66 cost $170. Sadly my willingness to pay for that extra half-foot of carriage was less than $135 however, so I bought the Remington.
Having some time to tinker with it early this morning before work, I was surprised that it seems to work fine. The only issue is slightly wonky first letters of a new line (which I may have fixed already) and the spacing between the letters, whilst generally good, is not always consistent. By George it's quiet though, check out that 3/4 inch thick padding on each side!


I shouldn't say that I'm disappointed that it works fine, but I was expecting to need to spend quite a while tinkering with it and now I'm not quite sure what to do with it. Not being a machine on my "must have" list, I've got a feeling I might just clean it up, paint it some obnoxious colour and then let set free on ebay to let the market forces do what they will with it.....
This job, along with the Smith Premier (which I shall contact you about John!) will have to wait until after March 26th however, as I'm rather hurredly preparing a certain paper for a certain conference which is due on that day.

Thursday 14 March 2013

A confession

Dear Typosphere. My name is Steve, I am from Brisbane, Australia and I am obsessed with typewriters.
I have started this blog, The Impatient Typewriter Mechanic as a result of my obsession. However, only half of the title is true. I am by no stretch of the imagination a typewriter mechanic, but I am definitely impatient and I love nothing more than to get frustrated with the inner workings of whichever manual typewriter I happen to be confoundedly tinkering with at the time.
Last Sunday I attended the first ever Brisbane Type-in at the Breakfast Creek Hotel- a great event and well covered by the blogs of those who attended.
That’s me on the end there, staring back at the camera with a rather goofy smile. The sort of stupefied but contented grin that comes from being surrounded by some terrific typewriters and by people who can tell you pretty much anything you want to know about them. Here I met for the first time all the great people pictured, including Robert, Scott  and Rino; all of whose blogs I’ve read periodically for some time (as well as various other typospharians’ blogs for that matter). Also present was a genuine professional typewriter mechanic (now retired) with over 30 years industry experience; the gentleman Mr John Lavery, who gave me some very useful advice on how to tackle a couple of issues with my Smith Premier 10.
So I figure this is a fitting time to start this blog, as it marks almost exactly a year since the seeds of my typewriter obsession were sown. I plan to blog about how these initial seeds were sown in later posts, but in short, one year ago I had never (to the best of my knowledge) used a manual typewriter. Now only 12 months later, I own 8 of them and know enough about them to (sometimes) get a dead one going again. Along with the typewriters themselves, I’m a huge fan of the personal stories that invariably accompany these curious machines. So this blog has a threefold purpose if you like, firstly as a public admittance of my obsession; secondly a means of communicating with this fantastic Typospheric universe which I am so pleased to have progressively discovered; and thirdly, a means of sharing one or two of these stories along with other typewriter related adventures....