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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Demountable Demonstration Typewriter

For the past five years or so, I have been on the lookout for a suitable typewriter to use as a demonstration machine at presentations I give in various parts of Australia.
What I wanted was something which could be taken apart very, very quickly and put back together in equal haste, but at the same time something which would give people a very good, clear view at all the main components of a typewriter and how they fit together to make the whole thing work.
With John Lavery's guidance, I realised that an Imperial Standard fitted the bill perfectly. It offered everything I was looking for. The carriage is easily removable, as is - thanks to Arthur Bott Pateman's 1926 design - the entire keyboard and typebasket section. Also the top plate with mainspring, escapement wheel etc comes off the main frame just as easily.
Fortunately, I was about the dig around under work benches and find a spare parts Imperial Standard gathering dust and begging to be put to some useful purpose.
I gave this idea a test run this morning and managed to take it apart and put it back together in the same time - 68 seconds. (The drawband has been removed for this demonstration purpose, but wouldn't add a lot more time to the exercise if reattached, as it can be readily unclipped from the carriage and hooked to the top plate, maintaining its tension.)
I am sure that with a bit more practise I can get the exercise down to one minute flat. Removing the platen took 10 seconds, the carriage 8 seconds, the top plate (after taking out four screws) 42 seconds and the keyboard and typebasket 8 seconds.
For me it was important to use paint remover and degreaser to get rid of all previous paint work and many years of built-up grease and muck in the mechanics. I want this to be a up-close, hands-on thing for people who attend presentations, and know from experience that they are often put off from touching the parts because of the blackened, dirty look of the mechanics.  Hence the less off-putting, more enticing new paintwork. I also removed any parts (front, side and back panels etc) which were unnecessary and obscured a view of the workings.
 Fully assembled
 Platen off, 10 seconds, making a slow, deliberate start.
(There's a slight "bow" in the paper bail from me lifting it up at pace to take the platen out.)
 Carriage off, 8 seconds, warming to the task
 Top plate off after slowly, carefully removing four screws, 42 seconds
 Keyboard and typebasket slipped out,
8 seconds
 Reassembled, 68 seconds, matching the time for demounting
 Rear view
Top view


Scott Kernaghan said...


A typospherical 'Gone in 60 seconds'.

Nice work!

BTW.. did you get my email, or facebook messages?

Miguel Ángel Chávez Silva said...

You might be starting a new Typoshpherian sport, Robert... "Typewriter Dismantling Races"

The machine looks perfect for the job. Very clean!

Richard P said...

What a great concept. I'm sure audiences will be impressed!

Some may even join ETCA thanks to that little logo.

TonysVision said...

A cool and imperial color scheme as well.

McTaggart said...

Ha, ha, Very good Rob, my hands automatically reached out to the picture in order to straighten the bail rod...

RobertG said...

Demountables were new to me; by total coincidence last week one showed up on that puzzled me then. For what must be a 20ies design it looked positively ancient. Yours looks totally 21st century too :)

Rob Bowker said...

Next challenge: blindfold!

Robert Messenger said...

If I left the screws out of the top plate, blindfold would be VERY, VERY easy, no challenge at all. Mind you, that's also without the drawband, which I will probably put back the machine.

Robert Messenger said...

Richard, I have some left over ETCA transfers if you want them.

shordzi said...

Excellent idea, swiftly put into practice! Congratulations! This will certainly be a great instrument for showing the workings of a typewriter.
Thinking of similar machines, the Mercedes standard typewriter comes to my mind. Maybe we could compete? I disassembled it once to see how it works: