zorkian: A picture of Oliver sitting up with his Dreamwidth onesie on! (Default)
[personal profile] zorkian

Backstory: The lovely Ari is setting up an epistolary role-playing game. We know some people who aren't local who we love gaming with, but having a sit-down or LARP is really hard with remote people... so Ari decided to fix this. She's creating and soon will be running a game where the method of communication is letters.

As you might imagine, the game is being set in a time period where this makes sense. In this game, it's 100 years ago -- so it's currently 1912 in-game. I will be playing a surveyor working for the Department of the Interior, helping to catalog and survey parts of the US that will go on to be named National Parks.

At any rate, I'm always excited about projects, so I decided to have some fun for the game. I acquired an Underwood No. 5 typewriter, which started being manufactured around 1900. My particular model was actually made in 1929, but it's close enough. Only cost about $200 on eBay, which I figure is reasonable for this kind of thing. Of course, it was $200 because there were "a few issues" -- but I wagered I could fix them.

The main problems when I got it: the B key sticks and you have to reach in and pull down the striker (hammer? what's it called?), and the ribbon feed system doesn't work.

Today I put in a solid few hours of tearing down, cleaning, and investigating. I determined how to fix the B key (clean some parts, adjust the tension spring), and that works. The ribbon feed mechanism was a lot harder, though, but in the end I conquered it.

It turns out the left side of the typewriter had gotten some rust damage. Luckily it was minor enough that I could basically unstick the parts with some brute force (lots of very patient tapping with a screwdriver, basically), and then lots of cleaning with my gun cleaning solution, rags, etc. Then LOTS of exercising the joints to make sure everything would work.

I succeeded though, and the typewriter works! The ribbon feeds, the hammers all strike, everything is aligned well enough for my purposes. It's a really amazing feeling to use an old typewriter -- it makes such a satisfying sound.

Obligatory photo!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-01 10:52 am (UTC)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
From: [personal profile] synecdochic
Oh, that looks awesome. And if it ever breaks to the point where you can't repair it anymore, I totally call dibs on the keys to make jewelry out of :D

And what an awesome project, and for such a cool reason.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-01 11:05 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
Ooo, it sounds like you are about to have some lovely fun! Excellent typewriter.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-01 02:05 pm (UTC)
allen: extras (extras)
From: [personal profile] allen
While you're at it, are you going to try to get Perl running on that Underwood?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-01 06:22 pm (UTC)
aposiopetic: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aposiopetic
Ok, that's fantastic.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-12-01 05:43 pm (UTC)
jamie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamie
Cool! I used to do PBM (play by mail) games. We did one called En Garde! which was set loosely around the 3 musketeers and everything was handwritten - ah the insults!