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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Changing the ink pad on a 1909 Blickensderfer 5 portable typewriter

I've been using a few idle moments to work on my collection of Blickensderfers, in an effort to get them all in good working order*. So far so good (although I can see here the "N" needs to be turned around! I've already "rebuilt" the key beside it). Happily, I've got an adequate stock of spare parts for all models, including keytops, plus plenty of replacement ink pads and typewheels. The ink pads came in once-wax sealed small glass tubes with cork caps, but after a century without use they naturally stiffen up. This is one time when I will use WD40 near a typewriter, as I find it works far better on rejuvenating these Blick ink pads than other lubricants. Once sprayed, the pads need an awful lot of kneading between the thumb and forefinger to get the juices in them flowing again. They're not dry, just rigid. 
The ink pad on this 1909 Blick 5 (serial number 136281) was worn down in the middle from much use. I need to "break in" a new pad, and that may still take some time - spraying and kneading along with use.
Sorry it's out of focus, but the wear in the middle of the old pad is still fairly clear.
Some of the replacement ink pads; below, in their glass tube. It's easy to assume your Blick is not typing properly because the typewheel isn't striking the ink pad flush, but more often it's the ink pad itself that is causing the problem.
Below: Again, a bit blurry, but you can see how the grip folds up, allowing a replacement pad to be slotted on.
As the typecast shows, there's still some way to go yet to get this Blick typing nicely and clearly again. The alignment is OK but the flow of ink from the pad very uneven. We'll get there, give it time. After all, this typewriter almost certainly hasn't seen much use in the past 90 years or so.
*The idea is to avoid having some ungrateful wretch accept your hospitality, come into your house, be offered the privilege of typing on such grand old machines, then go off and unmercifully bag your typewriters online. Don't worry, it happens - it happened to me. I guess the simple solution is not to invite them inside your house in the first place, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Never again will I subject myself to such a low act!

3 comments:

Words are Winged said...

Thank you for posting the close-up video! Having never seen a Blickensderfer in action, let alone in person, it's very nice to see the quick, snappy action I never knew they had.

Robert Messenger said...

Hi Winged. Thanks for your comment. There's only one of me here now, excluding Charlie the Typewriter Guard Cat (who can't type nor hold a camera), so it's hard to film while typing with only two hands!

Richard P said...

I had no idea that the original Blick ink could still be made usable. What wonderful chemical knowledge they had back then!