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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Coming Up Empty: A Funny Typewriter Story

I've just had a visit from a chap looking to buy a typewriter for his young daughter for her birthday.
He contacted me earlier in the week, having been put in touch with me by Christine Lund at the Down Memory Lane bric-a-brac shop on Geelong Street, Fyshwick.
This chap - let's call him Guy - explained that his daughter had expressed an interest in owning a typewriter some weeks ago.
Shortly afterwards, Guy was driving through Farrer when he passed a garage sale. He decided to stop and have a look, on the off-chance there was a typewriter for sale.
Sure enough, there was one. An IBM Selectric.
The seller said, "It's not working. You can have it for free, if you like. And if you can get it working, you can pay me something for it."
Guy took it home and started tracking down typewriter mechanics in the White Pages. He spoke to Terry Cooksley in Sydney, who put him on to Warren Ingrey on the Central Coast. Warren said he'd been happy to have a look at it, but it would take him a few days. Guy said he was driving up to the Gold Coast on holidays later in the year and might drop it off and pick it up again on his drive home to Canberra.
Later, Guy called me and told me about the IBM. "When I plug it in, it makes a whirring sound, but nothing happens."
I regaled him with stories about my similar experiences with Selectrics.
Anyway, while he was here today, I dragged an IBM down off a high shelf and said I'd show Guy the trick of removing the top plate, so he could have a close look inside his own Selectric, in the hope he might locate the problem. (John Lavery had taught me this trick when I was in Wellington not long ago.)
First I lifted the lid which covers the golfball and ribbon carridge.
Instantly, Guy said, "Go no further. I think I can see now what the problem is with mine.
"When I lift this lid on mine, there is absolutely nothing underneath. I can see right down to the foam rubber on the base. Unimpeded by anything like this."
I didn't get to see Guy's IBM, so I don't know whether it even has a keyboard or not. But even if it has, an IBM Selectric with nothing between the keyboard and the platen must be some sight - and some feat!
And it sure as hell won't work!

10 comments:

Hu Typing said...

:) :)

writelephant.com said...

Those damned IBM seller tricks!

Scott Kernaghan said...

Hey? I would have followed him home to have a look!

Ted said...

Well, at least without the insides, that Selectric couldn't have been all that hard to carry around :D

Brian Brumfield said...

Something doesn't seem to add up there. It's a head-scratcher nonetheless.

Miguel Angel Chávez Silva said...

Well, at least it was free...

Miguel Angel Chávez Silva said...

Sounds like somebody took off the clutch, shaft and carriage assembly off the Selectric, leaving the keyboard, platen and electric motor in place. If so, that machine is lacking approx. 50% of its internal organs!

Michael Clemens said...

Keychoppers! Their depravity knows no limits!

Duffy Moon said...

So...what was humming when he plugged it in? Hilarious!

Robert Messenger said...

I wondered about that, too, Duffy, and figured the motor might still be turning over - but what about the on-off switch? I'm hoping that when Guy comes to pick up his daughter's birthday gift (an orange Silver-Seiko Royal)I will get a look at this and know a bit more about how it was done. Judging from my own IBMs, it would be impossible to separate keyboard from the mechanics.
I love all these comments, but Mr Clemens' made me laugh out loud. Well done!