Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Writing Supplies...and a Confession

We'll start with the confession: my handwriting is really, really horrible. Below you will find recently acquired writing materials from an antique mall and estate sale. However, you should not expect this to result in a pencast on this blog. Yep, that bad. I can't draw, either – that's why I do photography.

The good news is that gingercat (Svetlana's codename for my youngest daughter) has artistic skills obviously not inherited from her parents. I helped her set up her own blog and she looks forward to productive pencasting after she overcomes first post writer's block.  My elder daughter was inspired by the quill and pen journals of a Lewis and Clark Expedition reenactor and may give it a try as well.

Estate sale materials from someone who did oil leasing and basic stratigraphy

I love these graphics!  Perhaps gingercat will make better use of these than I could.

The Royal QDL likes the new paper.  Sadly, it is still in need of cleaning and a more competent typist.  My wife loved the button.  She is a long time Beatles fanatic.

Tasty, and still ready to go after many years.

I work for a coatings company and am amazed this ink is in such good shape.

Gingercat and I looked for fountain pens at an antique mall, yesterday.  Junkies...
 Pen fans:  How old is this ink?  I also have a half bottle of Parker Super Chrome in blue.  The bottle isn't quite as photogenic and the tin isn't so great, but I'll post photos on request.

Once we have a pen to work with, we'll post the results.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Svetlana Optima's Rules for Survival

This is the first experiment in using an actual scanner instead of camera for posting a typecast.  Claire, codename gingercat, had some unfortunate experiences over the last week.  She is as tough and lucky as the average secret agent.  Svetlana has grudging admiration for those qualities.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Z Man The Brain Car - About My Profile Photo

If you look really hard, you can find photos of me on the Interweb.  I'm on enough standards committees that this is inevitable.  Given a choice, I travel incognito.  As of this writing, my profile is a cryptic robot looking guy.  He goes by the name of Z Man The Brain and is one of the first, if not the first, programmable battery powered toys.

Who is this masked man?  He looks vaguely like some modern custom vinyl piece but also very retro.  Truth is, he's in love with his car.

Mine is not a perfect example as he is missing missiles, tail lights and a motor.  However, he is a pretty rare, if obscure, toy.  A pristine one would cost more than a couple of really nice typewriters.  I like Z Man because he is different and not found in everyone's robot collection.

Z Man was produced around 1956 by a long defunct company.  One of the regulars on Alphadrome put together great information including the original patents.  Yes, patents.  Programmable toys were something new and different in 1956.

So, how did he work?  If you flip down his visor, you find this:
Timing Switch Assembly
Simple binary - you move the switches in or out to define a turn. The disc spins and closes a connection. That is translated into running one of two front drive motors.  In that respect, he is similar to the Chevrolet Volt.
Drive Motor
The whole system is somewhat recursive.  The front drive motors move it along and the rear wheels operate a timing gear that spins the disc to send power to the front wheels.  Repurposing another motor to get this running is on my long to do list.

Rear Wheel with Timing Gear Shaft
The timing system also automatically fired missiles at semi-random intervals.

This toy came in several variations, primarily with different front end grill treatments.  Based on the fact that mine looks like the patent drawing (no grill) I would guess he is from an early production run.  Z Man is very much a product of the Space Age and is a valuable part of the household robot and space toy population.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HERMES Media 3 in Cursive - Typecast

The last comment is from my 11-year-old.  So glad my kids know how to build sentences.

OK, I'm going to get this over with.  I may be a heretic, but the sage-ish green of Hermes typewriters is just kind of OK in my book.  Color, however, is a very personal thing.  The freakishly smooth operation of this machine is in another class.  The downside is that there is no chance whatsoever to even think about changing your mind in mid key stroke.  The type has already hit the page.

The cursive script on this machine is dainty and delicate.  I haven't done a thing to align typebars, yet everything links together nicely

Lovely curves.  I wonder how it would look in a deep metallic green?  Just kidding!

Unexpected bonus:  an official Hermes brand ribbon spool!

The money shot.
It was pretty clean to start with.  I was kind of lazy and focused on cleaning up old lube and getting the segment slots and type cleaned out with mineral spirits.
If I'm reading the Internet Typewriter Database right, this machine was made in 1962.

Bad light in the garage during cleaning.  This is the underside of the basket with the ball bearing equipped shift rails.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cardinal Sin - Warning: Off Topic

WARNING:  This post is off topic and highly offensive to grammarians.  Read no further if you were expecting something about technology!

Bonus Type Face Samples.  The ROYAL QDL still needs cleaning; some bars get stuck in the segment.

While this is supposed to be a technology blog, there are some errors that simply cannot be forgiven and must be addressed.  After all, this blog is about the importance of words as well.

Seen in the drive through at the McDonald's in DeSoto, Kansas:

My apologies for going off topic, but seriously, how hard can it be to have someone do a little proofreading?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Svetlana Optima - New Ribbon Day!

Svetlana's new ribbon arrived courtesy of Tom at Cambridge Typewriter.  Recall that Svetlana is an Optima Super made in East Germany.  She lived in a basement for decades before crossing the border from Canada via ebay.

Svetlana totally missed the reunification of Germany.  We patiently explained it to her, but she has trust issues.

Like I said:  trust issues.  End comments by one of her co-conspirators redacted to protect the "innocent".

Svetlana Dusts off Tools of the Trade
Perhaps we should be concerned.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Olympia SM9 Typecast Introduction and First Story

Hi. My name is Dwayne, and I am a type font addict.

Hi, Dwayne!

That sums up the latest addition to the vintage tech stable: an Olympia SM9 equipped with what is commonly referred to as the ROBOT font. Until reading entries on and retrotechgeneva, I had no idea that typewriters came in anything but courier fonts and variations thereof. I have since discovered the joys of Hermes cursive/script, Olympia's Senatorial (robot) and a variety of Bulletin/Display (large and larger all caps) on a ROYAL that is somewhere on a UPS truck.

A fixation on cool type faces should keep this technology acquisition cycle in check. Any typewriter I consider has to be awesome AND be equipped with a unusual type slugs.

Since I am trying to do the introduction partly through typecast, I will keep the digital portion short. In summary, Olympia typewriters are highly functional and intricate pieces of German engineering. A good bath, some lube and the replacement of one gimpy spring brought this machine back to a state of perfect health.

These 50 year old machines were designed for hard service and to be maintained for long years of use. They are not the expendable digital technologies of today. I highly recommend finding one of these and playing with all the tasty metal bits. It is a rewarding experience. Bonus: these type really well.

And here is the story, in pictures, mentioned in the typecast entry.  My family is awfully funny.  Finding the little raccoons on top of the Olympia before coffee was an interesting experience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Most Awesome-ish Combining Robot Knock Off

Among the promised subjects of this blog are Japanese giant robots.  For my inaugural post, I'm opting for "interesting" and "strange".  Some would say this combiner, lovingly crafted by Taiwan's mysterious B/O company in 1985, is ugly beyond words.

But I say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In the case of the Super Combination 17 in 1 Robot, the beholder's eye can barely take in all of its majesty... and semi-random parts.  There are elements from multiple Sentai combining Voltron robots.  There are miscellaneous pieces copied from many sources.  This thing is huge and the box is even huger and more entertaining than the combined robot. 

For an incredibly detailed review and more information than you would ever want to know about this creation, go to:

Before you run screaming in terror, let me assure you that the next Japanese robot I feature will be full of Shogun Warrior Jumbo awesomeness. 

The Super Combination Robot is presented for your viewing pleasure followed by a very nice Taiwan copy of the Voltron Lionbot.

First we have an original Voltron yellow lion next to the leg of the 17 in 1 etc.  The sword in the mouth is a giveaway that this is a knock off.  It also has shoulder mounted rocket launchers unavailable to US children in licensed toy form.  You could put an eye out with that thing - that is if the lead containing chrome didn't kill you first.

Here is the 17 in 1 in its full majesty.  You might have noticed mine is missing the front of a fighter jet.  Believe me, that is a good thing.

 For all of its strangeness, it does have interesting details like pop up domes that shoot spring loaded missiles.

Sometimes words are simply inadequate.

 So here is an exacting copy of the real thing.

 Such pleasant looking lions.

Well, even the original combiners were perhaps a little strange, but in a good way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Type and Ephemera Catch and Release

I dropped by a couple of the Kansas City West Bottoms antique malls last Friday night. Good JuJu and Liberty Belle's are only open for First Friday's weekend. I brought home an awesome oak letter and paper organizer that made the typewriters happy and a beautiful 1954 Drexel maple end table. There was a lot of good material for catch and release photos. I'll focus on type and print goodies this time around.

This was a lovely display.  The typewriter was hammered and missing keys, but the typing instructional overheads were fabulous. 

I felt sorry for this Remington Portable.  It's too common to be desirable in this condition so it will probably end up victim to the key choppers.  I loved playing with the sliding typebars (controlled by the little lever on the right side).

This is from a nice cash register sitting outside.

Yeah, ink.  Not all that special, but I love the brand typeface.

Here sits a ginormous and mostly unloved adding machine with chain and gear innards.  It still works.

A fairly common Corona Four priced with a degree of optimism seldom seen.  At least it will be too expensive to harvest keys from.

Great graphics on this counter sales display.  I'm not sure what costs more per character - premium ribbon or HP brand inkjet cartridges.

Fun with letter stamps...

 Another great cash register.