Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cats, Curiosity, and Peurile Paranoia

1. Curiosity
Last night I went to bed way too late, after rigging up a temporary new drawband for the Lettera 33 out of beading wire stuff.  It sort of works, but the carriage still feels wobbly, the margins still aren't catching most of the time, and the carriage occasionally stops short and has to be pushed by hand.  It also isn't always locking into place...you can push it back and forth without releasing some of the time.  So there's obviously something pretty wrong.

This morning, after tossing and turning all night worrying about the thing, I got up early and started in on cleaning the stinky, stinky case.  I set the typewriter off to one side for the time being.  I'd set the damp case in a warm place to dry and was getting ready for work when I heard a weird sort of sound coming from the living room.  I went in to discover Halvah, who has never shown the slightest interest in my typewriters, mashing her head against the keys of the Lettera and purring.  She'd gotten some of the keys jammed.

Halvah with 33
Blurry cell phone photo of Halvah at work...

And then she *fixed the jammed keys*.  She was still poking at the thing when I left for work.  Considering I haven't cleaned it up yet, I suppose she can't do much harm.  It's already broken.  I'm a little perplexed by her fascination, though.

2. Paranoia
Given all the people who could have commented on my misadventures but didn't, the paranoid portion of my psyche is picturing the denizens of the typosphere around a virtual water cooler, gossiping about me behind my back and looking down their noses at my stupidity (as if y'all don't have better things to do...)

"What an idiot she is, huh?"
"...got what she deserved."
"I'd offer advice, but I'm speechless.  What a knucklehead."
"I'm glad *I* know better than to buy typewriters off eBay, even once every two or three years.  Unlike *her*."
"*I'd* never spend more than $7 for a typewriter.  They're everywhere, after all, no matter what she claims.  I mean, I picked up six last week for thirty bucks!"
"Taking typewriters to a repairman is a sign of weakness."


In my defense against these imaginary critics, in the entire last year, I bought three typewriters, and I sold one of the three.  I've taken a grand total of one typewriter in for repair, back in 2009.  As for why I risked eBay, in all my years of looking, I've found about four manual typewriters at local thrift stores, three of which were late-model SCMs (my Galaxie is the one of the three I kept--the others were scrubbed clean and received new ribbons, but ultimately went to new homes) and the fourth was the Olympia SM-9 I sent off recently.  I've never ever ever ever found an Olivetti Lettera of any kind locally, the closest to it being the Olivetti Studio I traded for at the type-in.  It isn't a Lettera, and it wasn't truly local.

And as for repairs, as I confirmed last night, I don't have the patience, the skill, and (perhaps most importantly) the tools.  There's only so much I can do with a five dollar mini-toolkit, a cheap hammer, and a pair of tweezers.  It'd probably cost me as much to put together a decent work bench as it would to pay to have someone with good eyesight and, you know, actual skill.

Also, I don't have the luxury of having x number of a particular model so I can compare the broken with the functional.

I did at least *try* to fix it.  Can I get partial credit for that, you faceless imaginary Internet naysayers??

12 comments:

mpclemens said...

I dunno about the other folks, but I'm nodding my head in understanding. Oh, the adoption of a Problem Typewriter. Oh, the Superior Feeling you have when you set out to fix it, and then oh, the Col Pit of the Stomach when you realize your fumbling has likely Made It Worse.

Moses has a sketchy space bar that I've attempted to fix, mostly by breaking the tiny little nuts by trying to loosen/tighten them. I have learned important lessons about metal fatigue with him.

Kermit has something going on with his margin release that catches up every time I shift, and requires that I reach back and move the mechanism out of the way with my finger. And maybe I could fix it, and maybe I'm just going to make it worse.

This is the last time you saw the paper table on this Skyriter nicely attached. Good intentions and a pair of pliers ruined that. Now it floats around loose in the case reminding me of my shortcomings, like Jacob Marley's chains.

Perhaps we need to open a confessional on typosphere.net...

Duffy Moon said...

1) You're way more paranoid than I am. Which I find surprising.
2) Maybe your cat will have the thing fixed soon?
3) If you need pictures of any of the innards or underside (or whatever) just whistle. Can have them within 24 hours to you (which may be slower than the cat, but perhaps more helpful).

notagain said...

I'm looking at my own two bad buys, the Consul from craigslist and the underwood from shopgoodwill.com. The underwood's best feature is the logo. It has that same disrespect of marginal bounds that yours has.
No, its truly a crapshoot, both what you get and its condition...

phillytyper.com said...

Hey, we all get duds, or get marginals and just twist that little... thingggy riggghhht there and >>snap! <<

I know how to fix bikes, but typewriters -- not yet...

so I got some large bubble bubble wrap from staples... grit my teeth and boxed it up to ship off to Cambridge Typewriter...

Tom's bailed me out twice already and I still have money left, so hey!

And boy do they type nicely....

Little Flower Petals said...

@Duffy: You're way more paranoid than I am.

Shouldn't there be...like...a medal for that? Except if there was, I'd wonder if the person awarding it meant to make fun of me or to be nice. And I'd wonder what they were thinking of my reaction, once I decided to react to what I believed to be their motive. And on it would go. My head is a dizzy, murky place sometimes...

@Everbody - izzit horrible of me to say it's good to know there are others who have had less-than-perfect experiences? And done some trial and error that ended up being more error than trial?

@Duffy again--thanks for the photo offer, but I think whatever is wrong is under the carriage. And considering how badly I've already scared myself with a relatively *simple* procedure, I'm really afraid of removing any large chunks.

The cat as repair person...er...repair *critter* idea is apparently a dud. When I got home from work, she had managed to jam almost every key together, and was sitting by the keyboard looking proud of herself.

Ted said...

Yep, I've gotten a few duds off the Electronic Bay too. Ellery even went to the repair shop (I mention Hermes 2000's as a machine I won't disassemble past getting the cover plates off here) and still skips enough that I question my typing style as the culprit. Indy I've taken apart and fixed things on, but the last time I did so, I introduced a skipping problem. Both of these machines are now under glass on display rather than in my typing stable. Someday, I'll get back to work on them, but not anytime soon.

So yeah, been there, done that. You aren't alone, be assured. Remember Romans 3:23 (:

Richard P said...

I get lots of typewriters on eBay because otherwise I'll never get those particular models anywhere. A sizable proportion have problems that weren't evident in the auction, or get damaged en route. But in my opinion it's worth the risk if you have your heart set on a particular kind of machine.

That's a very handsome looking Olivetti. Maybe your cat is attracted to that smell! Hope someone can get it back in top shape for you. If you take it to a pro, you can pat yourself on the back for supporting the craft of typewriter repair.

Adwoa said...

I read this in my RSS and hastened to comment and give you virtual hugs, but I see my colleagues have been here already ... *waves hello to everyone*.

So, if I may join in the intervention...

We have all been here! I still have typewriters I can barely face out of their cases, so I leave them in a corner and pretend they don't exist so I don't have to relive the disappointment of seeing their flaws all over again. If your heart is set on keeping this and having it repaired, I agree with Richard that you could do worse than supporting a professional typewriter repairman...

I once received a typewriter (from eBay) in such poor condition that within minutes of opening the box, I took it to the Salvation Army. Yes, I took a typewriter there instead of "rescuing" one as I usually do. Imagine my surprise when I found it being offered in the flea market a week later! Evidently the unscrupulous seller did not know or care whether it worked. See, there's a story I've never told but I'm confessing now so you don't feel so alone!

Little Flower Petals said...

I think my initial panic is subsiding. ;) It will be OK. I think.

In looking at it again last night, the right margin is working fine...and the left margin works *if* the carriage is seated all the way down, but as I mentioned, the carriage is sort of loose, and there's a spot (or a few spots) where it seems to catch on something and lift up. When it lifts up, it's like it's going over the top of whatever margin thing it's supposed to catch on. I spent some time looking around in there with a flashlight, but it's a complicated world under there, and I couldn't spot what was amiss. I don't *think* anything major is bent. I guess absolute worst case scenario would be that the actual rails were bent (wouldn't think that could be fixed, even by a pro...), but that seems unlikely. Something that would do *that* much damage would surely damage the rest of the typewriter, no? and I wouldn't think I'd be able to just hold the carriage down and feel it catch against the margin. So I'm hopeful. Probably I'll take it down to Portland at the end of the month. Hopefully it will even return minus the stink.

One of the frustrations of non-local typewriter buying for me is that unless you buy from one of very few shops in the country, there's often no one to be mad at but yourself when things are or go wrong. Was the carriage wobbly and the drawband messed up before shipping? It might have been, and the seller likely wouldn't know enough to know, so I couldn't really be upset with them even if I knew for sure. Ditto for if it happened in shipping, to an extent. And in this one's case, because I was so eager to get it working and use it, I may have caused most of the problems myself, and I didn't stop long enough to take stock before I did anything. It is what it is now. Time to accept it for what it is now and deal with it accordingly!

snohomishwriter said...

I realize this is completely off-topic but the crew at Uppercase loved getting a letter from you. Lorraine (the owner) is ready (and hoping) for another such event anytime.

Little Flower Petals said...

Aw...glad to hear it got to them OK! And another event there would be awesome!

ToriForte said...

I love that your cat has shown interest in the typewriter! None of our 4 cats ever seem particularly interested that I've seen, but I might just die from cute if I found one of them rubbing all over one of our machines.