A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying

A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying
A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying the latest digital.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Curiosities of an Underwood Golden Touch Typewriter

I came across a 1956 Underwood Golden Touch, Quite Tab Deluxe on my local Craig’s List.  It did not look too swift but the price was $10 US and the person was not very far away.  I found that the typewriter was extremely dirty, but all the keys struck the platen once I freed them up a little bit.  The case that the machine was in was very musty.  So much so that the Bakelite keys had an off white growth on them.  I saw no rust however so for $10 brought it home.

I carefully cleaned the body and keys with Scrubbing Bubbles, rinsed off the machine and immediately blew out everything with compressed air.  This made the who machine look tremendously better.  I was not careful enough with the Scrubbing bubbles however because although it did not affect the body paint, it did remove the majority of the painted black and red dots beside the ribbon selector.  Will have to touch that up later.  I then put G96 cleaner / lubricant on the moving parts and any other points that looked like would need protection from future rust.

After letting the Underwood sit overnight, I carefully removed any excess G96 that was visible and worked all the keys.  They freed up nicely.  I applied some wax to the body and put on a new ribbon, then sat down to type my first words with the machine.  All seemed well and the keys were easily pushed.

Looking at the page however I noticed that the more I typed, the lower the Capital letters printed on the sheet.  Eventually all that could be seen of any capital letter struck was the very top of the character.  I also noticed that the turquoise paint on the typewriter was gone in several areas on the body.  It did not look like wear however.  I needed to pursue these two issues more thoroughly.

After some interaction on the web (http://typewriter.boardhost.com/index.php), I was pointed in the direction of the segment adjusting screw.  This was validated by taking a long, thin screw driver and turning the adjustment screw.  The more turns in, made to the screw, the higher the capital letters printed on the page.  The screw is made immobile by a locknut.  The problem is that I cannot get into this small area with any wrench, nut driver, or needle nose pliers that I possessed.   The result is that after about two lines of typing, the capital letters begin to slowly drop again.

I will try to find a tool that will fit into this small hole and be able to tighten the lock nut.  If that does not work, I may have to try and shape some sort of device to do the trick.

I am confused about the paint.  It is down to what I assume is grey primer in many places but not where you would think such wear would occur.  The Turquoise finish looks professional, but is almost like the paint job was put on very poorly and several spots were just missed.  Not sure what has caused this.  Need to try and find answers to this and the segment nut question?

  • Does anyone know of a specifically designed tool for this adjustment?
  • If not, has anyone modified a tool for this purpose?
  • Did Underwood Golden Touch typewriters come in Turquoise?
 If anyone has answers to these questions please feel free to comment.  More to come...................

Lock Nut: A screw and nut combination where the nut is threaded onto the screw.  The screw is then screwed into the threaded hole.  When the screw is at the correct depth, the nut is tightened and this prevent the screw from backing out because of stress or vibration.
Typewriter Segment: Portion of the typewriter where the keys that move up and down when the shift keys are pushed allowing for capital letters to strike the platen on basket shift typewriters.
Platen: Round rubber covered portion of a typewriter that the page travels around and that the individual keys strike to produce imprints or ribbon ink on the page in the shape of the letter struck.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Well, the US Post Office has struck again….

I finally received the Silent Super from the US Post Office, three days after my last post on the subject (9/14).  I guess I really do not know if the fault was with the Post Office or the sender.  I spoke with a person at the KC metro mail sorting facility who had received the typewriter, in the case with no packaging.  None what-so-ever.  So there they were with this cased typewriter, and no idea where it should go…………

Luckily the sender had called the facility and described the item, to which they immediately acknowledged possession.  Seems that was the only typewriter they had with no packaging or addressing.  The sender then called me and I telephoned the Postal facility myself, hoping to pick up the item directly.  By the time I talked to them however, the Post Office had placed the item in new packaging and sent it on to my address.

When I received the typewriter I was impressed at the packing job the Post Office had done.  It was inside a box with protection on all sides.  I held my breath when I opened the box but found that the case had hardly a mark on it.  Unsure if the marks I saw were caused by the journey or were already there beforehand.  The typewriter itself appeared to have been well protected inside its case by the sender.  I was actually wrapped in the plastic type wrap common in shipping today and had peanuts filling the remaining void.

So all is well that ends well.  Below is an image of the typewriter.  Very clean and attractive.  Types nicely.

More to come...................

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vintage Typewriter Color Touch Up

Thought I would share what I have found is the best method, to touch up small blemishes in the finish of old typewriters.  I clean and lubricate the typewriter and it looks great.  Many times however there is a place or two, here and there on the exterior surface that shows primer or bare metal.  This often occurs in those spots where the typewriter has rubbed against other items in storage or transfer.  Sometimes even though the typewriter comes with a case, it will have been placed into its case improperly, or with another loose item and cause some paint to rub away.

I am driven to “touch up” these bad spots.  My wife says such spots give the typewriter character.  It just plain bugs me however.  This lead me to experiment with how best to cover these blemishes.  My goal is to reduce the dramatic difference in appearance between the body color and the rub or damage spot.  The closer the better.  This is not an attempt to totally refinish the typewriter.

I have found that often such areas are in a spot on the typewriter where if repainted, will not receive constant rubbing during use.  The Areas of a typewriter that are worn down because of use tend to just remove the “crinkle” or sheen from the typewriter, but not the color.  Therefore such spots do not look as annoying to me.

I began by first deciding what type of paint to use.  Because I am dealing with areas of the typewriter that do not take constant abuse, I have more leeway of choice.  After experimenting with several types of paint, including automotive paint, I settled on enamel model paint.  It has the advantage of coming ins very small bottles, and there is a large variety of colors.  There are several brands and each is slightly different in color.  Even when bottles from different manufacturers are labeled as the same color (Gloss Black, Flat Black, etc.).

The delicate part of color selection involves matching the color of the typewriter in the store, against a color only seen through the small glass bottle.  You need a good eye.  I would choose what I thought was the closest color match, and even then still buy two or three bottles that were either side of what I thought was the closest match.  I do sometimes find that when I get home and experiment, a shade that I did not at the store think was close, did in fact turn out to be the best.

I also buy a bottle of clear flat.  Sometimes the closest color match is not available in a flat, plus this is the only way to ensure the final color when applied, ended up looking truly flat.  For crinkle paint typewriters anyway, flat is the only way to match colors and not have the repaired spot stand out under light reflection.

After obtaining what I believed to be the closest colors, the next step before I ever touched the typewriter, is to apply several samples of each color onto a piece of good white photographic printer paper.  Not only do I apply samples of the colors out of the bottle, but I also make some of the samples darker by adding a small amount of black paint to the as purchased color.  All in an attempt to get as close to the original as possible.  I also create some samples with a dose of the clear flat paint (After the base coat had dried thoroughly).  I end up with 5 to 10 sample spots on the sheet of photographic printer paper, each just slightly different in shade or dullness to compare.  The paper is pliable enough that I can curve the paper so that the line of color samples shows against the typewriter surface.  This allows for a good comparison of color, shade, and flatness to the specific typewriter.

When the best match is determined, I apply a very small amount of that specific mixture to an out of the way spot on the body.  Often just where the body color wraps under the typewriter and would not be seen.  I always have a paper towel and a damp rag available so that after applying the color and can immediately tell it does not match and sometimes can quickly wipe off the new paint spot.

Applying paint to old typewriter colors, often results in the typewriters original paint becoming very soft.  So do not try wiping paint off if you have applied very much paint or if it has been on the machine for more than an instant or two.  Trying to do so could result in wiping more of the original finish off also.  Even if the original finish is not removed, this sometimes causes the original paint to lose its crinkle.  So in final application I only apply to the area needing painting, not a larger area surrounding the bad spot.

Also before application of the final paint onto the damaged spot on the typewriter, I clean off the area.  I do this with Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber.  This is a gun cleaning product that totally remove grease, oil, and wax.  Do not overdo a good thing however on the paint.  I spray onto a clean rag and quickly apply to the area to be painted.

I did not realize I was going to post this so I did took only a single pre-repair image.  I am sorry for the quality of that image, as it was captured with my cell phone.  Here are two examples of paint touch ups I have recently completed.  Remember, I am not trying to “fix” dented or gouged spots with this repair.  Only to cover the bad spot with as close to the same color as possible.

The first three images are of a Royal Quiet Deluxe.  This one a 1941 model in brown finish.  The first image of this typewriter shows the bad spot as I was just starting to apply the repair paint.  The second and third are of the dried and finish result.  The paint I ended up using on this repair was straight out of the bottle.  Model Master Italian Dark Brown enamel.

 The second typewriter is a black 1946 Royal Quiet Deluxe.  I did not think to take any before images.  I can only say that the spot in question was not as bad, but in the same location as the first, worn through the crinkle and black outer paint.  Showing through had been an area of shiny gloss black.  It was very annoying to an otherwise excellent finish on the typewriter.  The paint I ended up using on this repair was also straight out of the bottle.    This paint was also flat out of the bottle.  Testor's Flat Black enamel.

 The above has worked for me.  Please take what I have said with a grain of salt and proceed at your own risk.

More to come………………….

Model Paint: Paint obtained in hobby stores and regularly used when building models.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Well, the US Post Office has struck again.  I purchased a Smith Corona Silent Super from a person in Colorado.  After 11 days it has not arrived.  USPS tracking system now says the item is "Dead Mail / Sent to Mail Recovery Center".  USPS online info says that the Mail Recovery Center is in Atlanta.

I almost did not buy the item because the shipping method listed only US Postal Service.  Guess I should have listened to my instincts.  Now a perfectly good typewriter is lost in the great unknown of the postal system.  The seller is more then cooperative but I am concerned about the typewriter.

I think I will now insist that any item I buy make use UPS or FedEx before I make the purchase.

More to come...................

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Unfamiliar Camera

Last week I acquired a camera from my sister-in-law.  Her husband passed away sometime back and in clearing out some items she asked if I wanted a camera.  Since it was an old film camera in good shape, I of course said yes.

What I found was a camera that I was unfamiliar with.  I had heard the name before in passing but had never had the occasion to deal with this brand.  The camera was a Beseler Topcon Auto 100.  I can discuss Minolta, Canon, Rolleiflex, Hasselblad, Zeiss, Minox, and several others.  Even Beseler photographic enlarging equipment.  But this one I was totally clueless about.

Was there a connection to the Beseler from darkroom days?  My interest was piqued.  In researching the camera I determined it was produced between 1964 and 1969.  Not worth a large sum of money, however the story behind the brand was interesting so I will highlight it here for those interested in old cameras.

Tōkyō Kōgaku, later Topcon is an existing Tokyo, Japan entity that has been in business since 1932.  They have evolved into a medical eye care device and automated survey positioning equipment provider.  Chances are that if you have had a retinal scan image made of your eyes, it was produced by the Topcon parent company.  In 1932 the company began by producing survey and optical instruments such as binoculars and cameras for the Imperial Japanese Army.  In 1949 the company first appeared on the Tokyo stock exchange.

The company’s history with cameras involves production of a 6 x 4.5 medium format model in 1937.  A 127 film camera in 1938.  A twin lens reflex camera in 1951.  The first SLR camera, the Topcon R in 1957.  And a 6 x 9 press camera for the Tokyo Police Department in 1960.

In 1963 Topcon release the first SLR in the world to have TTL light metering.  It was called the Topcon RE Super.  The Charles Beseler Company imported the Topcon camera, rebranded as the Super D.  In 1965 the US Navy tested cameras from several Japanese and German manufacturers (Including Nikon).  The Topcon Super D was the winner of this competition, and was used exclusively by the Navy until the very end of Topcon production in 1977.¹

The Charles Beseler Company is an existing firm that was founded in 1869 in Germany.   The company still sells photographic enlargers, Steel furniture, and shrink wrap packaging.  In 1943, the company's expertise had evolved to the point where the firm became an innovative audio-visual company primarily serving the military and education markets with the first opaque and then overhead projection equipment. By 1953, Beseler entered the amateur and professional photography enlarger and darkroom fields.  Today, the Charles Beseler Company is located in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.²  Beseler imported the Topcon line of cameras into the US during the time that company made cameras.³

The “Topcon Uni” or “Beseler Topcon Auto 100” or “Hanimex Topcon RE Auto” (Depending on where it was sold) was manufactured between 1964 and 1969 and imported along with other Topcon models, into the US during those years by Beseler whose named appeared on the camera.⁴

The Topcon Auto 100 feels very similar and appears to be built like the other Japanese SLR’s of the time period (Minolta, Canon, Nikon).  The camera used the standard battery for the time, a mercury PX625 which is no longer available in the US.  Replacement solutions are available which allow the meter to function.⁵

The camera is a manual 35mm, SLR with TTL light metering, interchangeable lenses,  Several unique functional approaches were taken by the Topcon.  The shutter speed, film speed, and aperture settings are built into the front of the camera immediately behind the lens.  This means these settings are performed by manipulating the settings as you would a lens focus ring.  Shutter and aperture should be set prior to cocking the shutter. Release of the camera back for film loading is accomplished by moving a button on the bottom of the camera to the side and then pushing this same round button in, which causes the back to open.  The shutter release button is located on the front of the camera rather than on top.

One of these days I will actually expose some film with this camera to see how good an image the camera can provide.

More to come………………….

SLR: Single Lens Reflex.  Camera in which the lens that forms the image on the film also provides the image in the viewfinder.
TTL: Through The Lens light metering.  Camera determines the light needed for exposure by metering only light that enters the lens.  As compared to other light meters that measured light from outside of the camera.

² From Charles Beseler Company website.