Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Not Quite Sterling Sterling: A Guide to Dis-Assembly

Would anyone have guessed that Lo! There is yet another post about *drum roll please* the Fox Portables!
This post will detail how to take a Fox apart or, if the process is reversed, put a Fox back together. "Take a typewriter apart?" Someone has just surely gasped, "The audacity, the ignorance, the... the horror!" Well yes. It is horrifying to take a typewriter apart when its composed of hundreds and hundreds of individual peices which must be placed back just right, else the machine will fail to function correctly. But my feelings about antiques are not quite the same as many others. I feel that something of importance and antiquity should be, indeed, displayed for others to see or, if one is so inclinded, locked up in a private collection for the pleasure of but a few. Regardless of the choice, the point is that one should care. But the other point is that I feel such things are being done an injustice by not being used. Machines in particular, as they were built with the sole function of being used. And so, despite the rarity of the machine or the complexity of the parts, I delve into each machine I come to own, mainly to clean and beautify, and also to fix any errors that a machine may now have so long since its manufacture.
And thus I present, the Fox Sterling Portable Typewriter.

(Dont mind the missing platen. Before I thought about doing this post, I had already begun the dis-assembly process.)
The paint on this guy, save for its front plate (For some reason it seems Fox's just have paint issues with their front plates, no idea why that trend is so strong), is in wonderful, though tobacco caked, condition. There are other issues, as well, which will be described later, but soon enough this ol' typewriter will be able to do just that; type.

*Beginning the deconstruction: Day One*

The first step is taking the machine apart into its separate major pieces, of which there are a total of 3: The carraige assembly, the body assembly, and the frame. After taking the front plate off so the inside of the machine is exposed, we take the carriage assembly off by taking out the screw under the ribbon holder (1), and the one on the outside of the frame (2). Repeated for each side of the machine, the entire carriage will pop right off. Note that the screw in (1) also holds the hooked piece in, which is usually attached via spring to its counterpart (not seen, as the spring has been taken off to the piece slumped) to operate the worm-drive. Ensure this spring is safely taken off to avoid damaging it.

Your carriage should now be detached. On the folding machines, those two screw areas are the same for the most part and hold the carraige to the arms rather than the frame of the machine.

Next, we deal with the body and frame. There are two large screws on each side of the frame which bolt the body in tight: Where they connect on the inside of the machine (1) and on the outside of the frame (2)

Once these are out on both sides of the machine, you should be able to gently wiggle the body out of the frame, or pull the frame off the body. Whichever you choose, just be gentle.
You now have all three main pieces separated.

The next step is of your choosing, but I prefer to tackle the carriage first. The carraige is the more complex part, and after dealing with it its nice to work on the body which is simple, and almost impossible to mess up. And so, we begin with the carriage.

As mentioned above, I have already taken the platen off of this machine. Its quite simple to do, and is similar to most other machines in doing so. You should have no trouble with it. But what to do after its off, now theres the question, and there are multiple ways to go about it. I prefer to begin by now taking the sides off. Each nickel plated side is held onto the carriage by means of two screws located on the underside.

And now, for me, is the first puzzle. There is a screwhole in the center (Below), between the two others which hold the side to the carriage, which is not present on No. 1's or 2's. My best guess, in looking at the carriage as well, is that these are meant to be used to lock the carriage in place during transit since the usual feature of the folding's could not work on a sterling, and is thus absent. Alas that the manual for this machine found on ( does not give any indication of how one would operate the carriage lock. The issue with my theory is that the holes on the carriage and on the piece dont line up very well. If you beleive you have the answer to this mystery, let me know in the comments below.

Next, we I find why the carriage was having issues moving correctly. For some reason, this is a commonly found type of damage on these Fox's.

sighing inwardly, I continue on. The next step for me is to take the margin stops off. To do so requires but to now take a single screw off the carriage, and slide both off the edge. Note that, when facing the machine as if to type, the smaller tipped one (right) goes to the right, and the larger tipped one (left) goes on the left. This allows for the machine to have its margin release, so ensure they go back on correctly.

Then we take off the front paper fingers by taking out another screw:

Now, we proceed to taking the carraige off the rail. Three simple pieces, held in altogether by 8 screws, keep the thing together. Watch out for the ball bearings falling out as the two main carriage pieces come apart.

And here below, ladies and gentlemen, is why you always lock your carriage before transport or throwing it off a cliff. The poor teeth never had a chance.

Now then, tears aside, its onwards to the escapement/everything else mechanism on the bottom of the carriage. There are three screws specifically which hold the piece to the bottom of the rail. Before removing them, I take the bell off to more easily access them, and also unscrew the backspacer from the rail piece.

Now we have the escapment/everything piece off the rail.

After this, I take off the pieces used to rotate the spools, and also take off the spring catch.

You are now at the last piece still screwed to the carraige rail, and quickly enough it should come off as well.

Your carraige assembly should now be in managable pieces, ready to be cleaned and properly oiled (The previous owner of this machine doused it in oil to, I assume, make it work. Broken escapement teeth defeat oil every time, however.)

Fox Sterling S12275, you shall type once more someday soon.

This concludes day one of dis-assembly of a Fox Sterling. Stay tuned for day 2, on which I tackle to body of the machine. It should be noted that, save for the lack of folding arms, lack of carriage lock, and new hole on the sides of the carriage, a Sterling is 99% like a No. 2 in both carriage and machine body.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to respond below.

Keystroke Action Piece (c) 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Evolution of the Fox Portables Part 1: Early No.1's to Late No. 1's

---{Evolution of the Fox Portables}---

-Early Fox Portable No. 1’s to Late No. 1’s-
Part 1: The Main Body

As with most machines, the basic initial design of the Fox Portable was slowly modified, improved through changes that somewhat effected the efficiency of the machine. Whether those improvements were noticeable to the general typewriting public at the time or whether such improvements only were noticeable after years and years of use is, of course, speculation. One might look at the release of the No. 2 as the moment of change between the No. 1 and its successor, but the truth is different. Below, I showcase those small changes which I found to have occurred during the complete dissection of two Fox Portable No. 1’s; one a very early machine (Serial Number 319) and the other a later example (Serial Number 7,472)

*Shifting Spring*
The Fox eases the amount of pressure required to press the Capital or Figure keys via springs attached to the comb and the arms of the shifting action. Early No.1’s have a single, incredibly thick spring on the right side of the comb which attaches to a small lip on the right side of the central shifting rod. You can see this on the picture below, top picture. At some point, Fox chose to switch to two smaller springs which still attached to the comb, but rather than attaching directly to the shifting arm, they pull on the end of a thin hooked rod which then provides lift on the opposite end, that end putting pressure on the shifting support arms near the slotted segment. You can see the spring changes in the picture below, bottom picture.

*Keystroke depression aids*
As far as I can tell, the two black bent pieces of metal (See above, top picture) which are fitted in on the left and right of the comb are designed to stop the bar which moves when a key is pressed (which connects to the back bar which then pushes against the necessary pieces of the carriage allowing a keystroke to cause the vibrator to move and the carriage to advance). In practice, however, they seem not to benefit the machine in any particular way; In having operated the machine with and without them in place, there is no notable difference. This may be the reason for them no longer being used in the production of the machine at later dates (See above, bottom picture)

*Keystroke action piece*
For lack of a better term for this piece, I simply name it as above. As previously stated, when a keystroke occurs, a bar is pushed which operates the carriage in effect. On earlier models (See below, on the top), the design for the piece is simpler. Having seen both the earlier and later models in action, I must declare the later models by far the better alternative, as the earlier design allows the keys to be pressed rather far down, and in operation of the machine if one is not careful the keylever will be able to escape its slot in the comb and stop the machine in its tracks. Later models have an extended piece to them, allowing the keystroke action to more quickly and readily push the bar (See below, bottom).

*Space bar lever*
An improvement in stability, and one I was glad to see occur, there is a change in the space bar’s lever connection. On earlier machines, the only connection point between the two levers is the space bar itself, on which they mount below it. This had the effect of allowing one side of the space bar to go down, but allow the other side to stay up. This had a negative effect on the keystroke bars function. On later models, the spacebars levers are attached together towards the back of the machine with a strong, sturdy beam welded on both sides.

*Keystroke action piece comb*
Aside from the main keylever comb, there is a second dual sided comb of sorts just inside the main comb, which the Keystroke Action Piece© uses to maintain its accuracy position during motion. The comb-bar is the same in design from early and late models, but how it is attached is different and resulted in my inability to fully take the frame of the later machine apart. On early machines, the bar is held in place by a screw/nut combo, which allows the machinist to tune the piece and which also allows the piece to potentially fall out of adjustment (Though highly unlikely). Later models have that piece simply spot welded (or so it seems) in place, saving the company two screws and nuts per machine, and ensuring permanent alignment of the piece (and forever keeping 3 of 4 frame pieces together).

-(Visual/insignificant changes)-

*Typebar rest*
Insignificant changes, but changes none the less. The early machines have unpainted rests, while later machines have black painted ones. Also, the method of holding the cushioning to the metal changes from splitting rivets early on, to screw/nut combos later.

Early models have a black painted piece of wood tapered off on its ends. Later models have a plastic (Or very, very smoothed off wood with a thick layer of paint) space bar with half circle ends.

*Backspace key*
Very noticeably, the backspace key goes from a larger than average one which is at the same level as its row of keys on early machines to a smaller one, which is slightly higher than its row of keys on later models.

*Back Frame*
The center of the top changes from a small protrusion (to accommodate the screw/nut for stopping the shift from rising too high) to a more v-shaped protrusion.

*Slotted segment*

Early models have only two screws on the back to hold the rod in the segment correctly. Later models have four.

*Frame Decals*
Early models have a decal on the very front bar protecting the keys, which states the manufacturers full title and location. Later models have this decal transferred to the bottom of the front plate which shields the main body of the machine.

--(Next; Part 2: Carriage differences of the No. 1's)--
--(Upcoming; Part 3: Differences between the No. 1's and the No.2's)--
--(Upcoming; Part 4: Differences between the No. 2's)
(Upcoming; Part 5: Differences between the No. 2's and Sterlings)
(Potentially Upcoming: Part 5.5: Differences between the Sterlings)
(Upcoming; Part 6: The Fox Portable Typewriter; An Encyclopedic Study)

Ending Notes:
As one might expect, the differences between a single model and itself at a later date are relatively insignificant, as shown above. Yet small changes still occurred, and with a total production life of less than four years on the high end, its still interesting to see what changes occurred none the less. It was the companies first portable model, and they no doubt desired it to be a success.

Since, to my utter astonishment and ultimate sorrow, I do not have the luck to own a Sterling, I would ask one of you who does have such luck to, if your willing to take an exploratory look at your machines inner workings and overall design, please contact me here. Later posts will detail the differences between the No. 2's and the Sterling's, as I wish to make this series on the Fox Portables as complete as necessary. 
Also of note, the No. 2 I will be using as example is about halfway through the No. 2s general production life, and so if you have an earlier or later one, I would be interested in as well asking for your services in showcasing potential changes between the No. 2s.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Details about world domination plans? Feel free to respond below.
Keystroke Action Piece © 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Forward Unto Typing

Good luck to you all in your endeavors this November. Perhaps your work will end up in national bookstores?

Words are Winged
October 31st, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Underwood 3 Bank For Sale

That's right folks, now You! Yes, You! have the exiting opportunity to purchase an Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter, of the 3 bank variety! Not found in stores.

Before I chuck this little guy onto the evil that is "Ebay", I figured that I would let the Typosphere have a shot at it first. Aside from the spots of paint loss on the front bar and the back on the sides where the case has probably hit for the past hundred years, and the slightly obliterated "E" from "Underwood" on the paper bail, this machine is in outstanding cosmetic shape. The nickel plating shines brightly, the black paint still holds a lust. Mechanically, there are only two issues I can note. One, the pin for cap's lock does not hold. Never got around to fixing it. Second, the machine gives paper just enough leverage over the guide that it allows a slight ghosting to occur above the written line (As the character just above the used one on the slug brushes against the paper.) Take a gander, if you would. I am open to any reasonable offers:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Drunken Fox

--{Big Fox, Little Fox}--

--{Before and After cleaning}--

--{Basic Workings}--

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fox Portable No. 1 Deconstruction

The Platen had finally arrived. Sliding it into place, fastening the knob to the end of the rod, and rolling in a new piece of paper, I eagerly anticipated the beautiful work my Fox Portable No. 1 Typewriter would produce. Alas that it was not to be. The ribbon vibrator was sluggish. The capital letters were off. Each strike of the key led to a faded double print. Key bars got caught under the comb and stopped the machine dead in its tracks. For all intents and purposes, the exterior of this machine was beautiful, but the interior was laughing at me.

It is laughing no more.

Say hello to only part of the machine still assembled. And even still, I have successfully taken this apart as well. I dare say I now understand the workings of the Fox P. No. 1 better than most anybody else. And despite my earlier disappointment with having so many small issues make the machine unable to properly type, I am glad it forced my hand.

I am glad because now I will be able to clean this filth. By the end of it all, my machine will be as clean as it was the day it rolled out of the factory. Every body piece, every segment, every screw is going to be thoroughly cleaned. One piece I've already cleaned has proven that, so long as one has patience and works at it, anything can gleam once more.
If there are any questions from any of you regarding issues with the inner inner inner workings of such a machine that you yourselves have, I will do my best to help you as well understand how to fix said issues.

A Nightmare on Typewriter Street

The victim was found decapitated by typewriter-police, with no intent to hide the separate parts. Officials are asking any witnesses to step forward.

Further autopsy yields few results. Typewriter City officials have declared a machine-hunt for the one responsible.