Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Rare Fox Accessory, And A Mystery

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up! Step right up, and listen well! Do you have a Fox typewriter with a carriage only about average length? One such as this?

And, Ladies and Gentlemen, are you tired of being unable to fit your lengthy accounting and engineering work into that average length carriage? Do you wish that you... yes you there, with the popcorn. Listen up. Do YOU wish that you could easily type out 2 and a half letters at a single time, rivaling any other writer or author in the land? Do you wish to have a carriage that quite literally takes up the entire desk space, proving its mighty superiority!?

Then look no further than the amazing, the wondrous, the awe inspiring Fox Interchangeable Carriage!!!

With only a minute of your time, you can easily swap out that lowly, normal carriage for the mighty behemoth!

I'm not sure how many of you noticed this wonderful bugger on that notorious bidding website, but it was there, and I was determined to get it. And so here it is. A monstrous, 140-character wide Fox carriage. Even came with extra paper supports (which I have no idea on how to attach). As it turned out, the fellow who I bought it from is a well renowned typewriter collector (whose name I will not mention for the sake of privacy), and so it had been well taken care of for quite some time.

Its hard to see, but on the back of many Fox carriages you can find a decal of the general model number which the carriage was meant for. Even though this specific carriage was bought as a separate unit, it still has the decal.

A bit easier to see (just a bit) is the decal on my Fox No. 25 carriage.

The thing that made this a heck of a find was the fact that not only is it a spare carriage, its a spare carriage with its original cardboard box. And I have to say, 1908-ish cardboard puts modern stuff to shame. This stuff is thick.

However, when I placed it onto my machine to take the picture, I noticed that the carriage was sliding left. Well that ain't supposed to happen. I decided to take a look to see why.

It turned out that this behemoth of a carriage did not have the standard escapement gear that is rather necessary for all my Fox desktops to function. Its supposed to be where you can see the smoothed indent on the bottom half.

The thing is, upon close examination, I could find no sign of there ever even being one. There's no damage that would indicate a part snapped off, and no screw holes. I took a close look at my 25's carriage to confirm I wasn't insane.

Yup, thats a gear where its supposed to be. Now, the only thing I know for sure is that Behemoth was built after my Fox 25 (due to the inclusion of the later style carriage release levers). Because I have no first hand examples of anything later than my 25, I have no idea if they changed the general design of the machine later on so that the gear is a fixture of the machine instead of the carriage. If anyone can tell me if their later Fox desktop has a gear attached to the main body or the rail of the carriage, it would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Daugherty Visible Typewriter

I was going to do a post titled The Daugherty Disassembled, but this thing cleaned up so fast and so well that I ended up already finishing it by today. 

The Daugherty cleaned up incredibly well, and it turns out that this thing was nickel plated wherever they could fit nickel plating. The quality of the machine is excellent, especially for the time in which it was produced, and its one of the most elegantly simple designs I have ever seen. Dont try to type too fast on it, and youll do alright.

This machine is now one of the crowning glories of my collection, and thats due in large part to its very unique appearance which I love.

Just check out that frame.

The typebasket plus keylevers comes out after taking out 2 screws, and from there you can take out the two segment rods (if it was a segment machine; I'm not even going to try and make a new name) for the levers, and they fall on out. Made it quick and easy to clean.

Heres the typebasket sans keylevers.

I had cleaned up the main body yesterday, and went ahead and just finished the rest today; that included the most simple carriage I have ever laid eyes upon.

All those bits you see? Thats pretty much all the parts to the carriage. A very efficient design, though it (of course) lacks a lot of features found on the shortly-thereafter-released Underwood.

And here is the machine, all cleaned up. My camera skills may be lacking, but trust me when I say the nickel plated spools are beautiful. Every machine needs 'em.







Now, I just have to cut a ribbon to size. These guys take a ribbon just slightly smaller than the usual half inch, so I'll spend a few minutes tomorrow getting enough ribbon cut to start typing. I'll be ordering some authentic blue ribbon from Baco to make this machine complete.

The only part that I can tell that is missing is a carriage margin. You can see the left one still in place, but somewhere along the line the right one got lost.

Random last notes! The pressure on the universal bar can be adjusted by simply turning a knob on the back, the clockwork motor can be wound up and wound down ridiculously easy compared to literally every other machine ever, and you actually have to engage a small lever above the carriage return to allow the platen to be rotated backwards.

Is there anything anyone wants to know about this machine?

Monday, June 13, 2016

And on the 13th day of June, heavenly light bathed my workstation

A ghostly figure drifted down from the sky, basking in rays of heavenly light. It was the spirit of Christopher Latham Sholes, and as the representative of all typewriter souls, he lifted a solemn finger and pointed to Craigslist.

Obeying the kind spirit, I glanced over at the newly created ad, and heard the choir of angels sing. Understanding my purpose, I made the phonecall, dove into my car, and was where I needed to be; less than 2 miles from my humble home, and within an hour had returned with the prize.

Thanking Mr. Sholes as he drifted away, I sat in disbelief at what I had before me.

The Fritz - Eldridge Expert Typewriting Instruction Book! Oh wait no, behind that.

A metal case with paint loss and broken leather handles! Oh wait, no, under that.



Oh, and the Daugherty Visible Typewriter. I guess. If that's your thing. Ribbon's worth like, 999X more.

In reality, though I ended up owning 2 Fox Sterlings of which they only  made 1,000, and a few other slightly rare machines, I actually considered a Daugherty/Pittsburg out of my abilities to acquire. And had you told me that I would end up finding one only a couple miles from home, and for a very affordable price, I would have called you insane. But here we have a Daugherty, found in the wilds of Northern Idaho.

I don't know truly all that much about these puppies, but I do know that they were one of the first visible machines, produced in the 1890's, and had interchangable typebaskets. Hell of a feature, that.

Talking to the owner, I found that it had been purchased brand new by her great-great-grandfather way back when, who happened to be a furniture builder and salesman combo. I suppose this machine would have thus been used for business correspondence or the like, which makes sense.

As is true of almost every machine found up here, there is pretty much no rust. Huzah for lack of year-round humidity.

Its actually still working fine, though it needs a good cleaning and oiling to get into proper shape. Even then, I hear these things can get a bit wonky with their type alignment.

The National 5 which I just repaired only had the spot of "simplest machine" for a few weeks. This Daugherty takes the proverbial cake in its simplicity.

The carriage came off after only taking the carriage string off. Whats with old papers being around the platen?

Keyboard came out after taking out just 2 screws.

Sorry, Fox Portable No. 2 which I promised to work on this week. You're being postponed a few days.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The National No. 5: Back up to snuff

This machine is, by far, the most cheaply made typewriter I have thus far rebuilt. Thats not to say its a bad machine, however. It's simply just not of the higher quality that is found in typewriters like the Fox or Royal. 

And its hilarious how I always miss those few small things when I'm cleaning the machine, and only realize whats missing until I try to type. Case in point: Where the heck are the paper fingers? Why  would they skimp on something so simple, yet helpful? I have to imagine this thing cost an absurdly small amount of money to produce, and at a $40 or $50 price point, youre talking some serious profit. But we cant be spending 2 cents on paper fingers or a paper bail, nosiree.

Regardless, here is the great nickely beast, all shiny and cleaned up. And does it type? Why yes, it does. But not nearly as well as one would hope. The type is misaligned, the impression is poor, and the line spacing is wonky due to a weak spring. In other words, perfect for ransom notes.

And because I could, I made a video. If you want to waste 5 minutes of your life, by all means check it out. I just blabber on about random things regarding the machine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The National No. 5: Scrubbing away the grime

Work on the nickel-plated National No. 5 has so far gone swimmingly, with a major improvement cosmetically. As I am terrible with before/after pictures, it may be hard to tell that most of everything was covered in grease, dirt, sludge and corrosion before I got to work. This machine was ridiculously filthy. Taking it apart down to each individual piece for cleaning remedied that, of course.


The typebars were completely covered in tar or something, and were all black. Hard to see here, but you can kind of notice it on the far right typebar.


This machine has been quite nice to deal with. 90% of all screws are the same size, which must have saved a tonne of money in regards to production costs. Alongside such, its a very simple yet efficient design. I think it'll work well when its all said and done.

The key tops, as always, cleaned up quite nicely.

And sitting on the workbench now is the carriage, torn asunder.