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Clickety-Clack, Clackity-Click

21/07/2010

As I had eluded in the last post, I bought a typewriter the other day. I can’t say I really know why, I didn’t have any specific plan when I went about my search to find one.  It’s been a few weeks I have been looking though.

Last month, the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store had a 1930’s typewriter for sale, I can’t really remember the make. It could have been the Art Deco, depression era look that it had, or it could have been the fact that it was set-up directly where I walk in to deliver their mail, but it really caught my eye. It was $50, which is definitely too high for an impulse buy (which I wouldn’t have done while working anyway).

I came home and thought about it, after a couple more days of seeing it, I decided that I did indeed wish to get it. Alas, when I went to buy it, it was gone. It apparently wasn’t meant to be. I figured it for the best, these days I am pinching pennies to no extent, trying to actually save something for once.

Since then I have been regularly checking Kijiji for new postings. I checked on eBay, but the things weigh so much it would be too expensive for shipping. Fast forward a couple weeks to this past Sunday. I check the internets, as I have every few days, and see a new listing for an apparently working Royal branded typewriter priced nicely at $20. I email the poster and we have an exchange, I make arrangements to pick it up Monday evening.

I head to her residence/studio (or something) and am greeted by her husband/boyfriend/significant other, he smells like he took a bath in beer. I feel this doesn’t bode well, I decided to make the exchange and get out of there as fast as possible. The hops and barley soaked male goes inside, grabs the typewriter and puts it on a stool near the door, saying that the person selling me it would be out in a second.

While I am making small talk, I mention that I was going to get a typewriter a few weeks before, but missed out because I stewed too long over the price. The guy says something about seeing the same one and mentioning that it sold for $140, in a tone which suggests that I should be paying more than $20 for this one. I wouldn’t have.

I started to get anxious and I just wanted to get out of there, after an entirely awkward 10-15 seconds of silence, the typewriter decides that it doesn’t like the stool it’s delicately balanced on anymore. Swiftly, it takes a dive for the floor. Mr. McBeerguy fails to take notice of such an apparent situation. I then do a running lunge-dive into this strangers home and do a one-handed catch of the 40 pound(ish) machine before it takes a trip through the floor to the basement, or at least making a mess of the hardwood.

After my World-Series catch, I decide it’s best that I take care of the typewriter. I coddled the thing like a baby for a couple minutes when the girl came to finally take my money. I am polite, but I leave as fast as I can.

I brought it home, and with giddy excitement I sit down to test it out. It failed to operate as advertised.

About 3.5 hours later and I had gone over the entire machine and seen the extent that the Internet could offer as help [HINT: Hardly any]. Without going into anymore boring detail, I finally found a mechanism that wasn’t flipping over the way it was supposed to, and that was keeping the whole machine from working. While trying to fix it, I accidentally broke the semicolon key, but I also learned a lot about it that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I now know what every switch and lever on it does, there are more than you would think. The internet taught me that I have a Royal “KMM” model, which was manufactured in either 1949,1950, or 1951. I have reason to believe it was 1949 because the keys are glass topped, in which the manufacturing changed to plastic keys in 1950.

Fun Fact: Post war typewriters aren't worth much

I made a fix for the semicolon key with a piece of guitar string, because I couldn’t find the part that snapped off. That in its self took a couple hours on Tuesday night. I ended up finding that missing part on the couch today, so after all of the crafty crafting I did with the string, I just ended up spending 2 hours undoing and fixing right. I am still in the process of giving it a good cleaning and finding some new ink ribbons for it, but I have to say that after a little work this thing is definitely worth the $20 I paid for it.

I've previously used a guitar string to fix a PS3 controller, true story.

If you actually read this whole thing, congrats. It’s completely like me to make a post that is 800+ words about something as completely arbitrary as a typewriter. I am the lamest.

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