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Thursday 31 October 2013

Beyond Help: Hammond Multiplex

Earlier today I sought help with a peculiar problem with my Hammond Multiplex. After some hours, and with very helpful guidance from Lynda Beckler, I was able to find the source of the problem. The left of the two levers which push the typeshuttle had been quite seriously twisted out of shape, and this had weakened the lever joint to snapping point. Why anyone would have done this to the machine is beyond me, but the evidence is clear that the lever had been forcibly twisted to the point that it could not work properly.
Now that I look more closely at the photos I took earlier today, I can very clearly see the difference in height and angle of the two levers. I didn't spot it back then and spent almost a whole afternoon trying to work out what the problem was.

I am afraid the typewriter is beyond repair. As I say, it eventually became apparent to me that the two levers did not line up squarely - there was quite a discrepancy in height and angle between them. The left one was clearly out of shape and therefore was not able to connect and disconnect from the shuttle mechanism, as the right one was able to do so smoothly. 
So, sadly, this is one typewriter I will NOT be able to typecast with. It will become a showpiece now rather than a working machine.
A big thank you to all those who made efforts to help.
Earlier, Lynda Beckler had pointed me in the direction of a troublesome anvil lock (a little tab on the left hand side of the turret). This lock appeared to be blocking the left-side key movement. I discovered the rod holding the lock in place had become unscrewed at the bottom and was leaning at a pronounced forward angle - further evidence, I suppose, of someone having tampered with the machine when not knowing what they were doing.
Lynda added that the anvil lock was an optional extra, and was a problem with some of her own Hammonds. 

Earlier still, based on quick responses from Natalie Tan and Richard Polt (for which I thank them both) I found that after I had struck one of the right-side keys, and started from the centre of the keyboard working left, the left-side keys worked perfectly well - for about half-a-dozen keystrokes or so, then the left lever jammed up again. As events transpired, the twisting of the left lever mean it could connect and disconnect for a short while, but then got locked up.
My initial report this morning: You may be shocked to know that I own three beautiful Hammonds and have not yet been able to type on any of them. They remain a complete mystery to me, much to my eternal shame. Richard Polt did give me a lesson on some very basic things, such as just winding paper on to the platen, when I was in his office at Xavier University, Cincinnati, and I returned home thinking that, armed with Richard's instructions, I might be able to type with this Multiplex. But no such luck - I can type perfectly well using just the right-hand side of the keyboard, but not the left-hand side keys. One very obvious problem is the lever on the left side of the shuttle mechanism at the top of the Hammond, which is clearly not moving into position as it should do, as seen by the action of the right-hand side lever. My track record with reading instruction manuals is appalling, it is almost as if I have an aversion to them. I know nothing about this printing point shield, for example, but the machine appears to type perfectly well (that is, using the right-hand side keys) without it. In fact it doesn't print at all when the shield is in place. As you will appreciate, I am determined not to force anything and cause any permanent damage to this typewriter, so any assistance that can be offered in safely sorting out the left-hand lever problem will be very much appreciated. Indeed, if I can get it working properly, I'll sent you a thank you letter written on a Hammond Multiplex.
This thin metal printing point shield clips on either side of the ribbon guides. I have taken it off the machine for the simple reason that, with it on, the machine does make any impression on the paper at all. Is this because of the small tear in the metal at the bottom of the shield, I wonder? Does the ribbon need to slide through these clips either side of the printing point? The thing is, the machine types very well without this shield in place, but of course only when using the right-hand side of the keyboard. So is the shield necessary in order to type?
Below: There is an apparent tear in the metal (circled). The shield is here propped up against a shuttle.
Below: The problem lever (circled), which is not moving the shuttle around to the right. This lever should push forward to the larger slot seen above it.

 Below: The lever which does work (circled), seen here about to move into the correct position in the slot above its resting position.

 Below: Have I set up the shuttle correctly? Does the arm underneath the shuttle slot need to be so positioned? The outer ring has an opening to slide in the shuttle, which has a lip (seen in the circled portion here). It seems to me that the shuttle must then be moved around the outer ring (away from the opening) so that the prod of the rotating (oscillating?) arm can fit through the hole in the lip.
 Below: In the lower circle, the problem lever - this seems to be as far as it will move of its own accord once a key on the left-hand side of the keyboard is struck. What might be hindering its proper movement?

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Lock Me Up in West Virginia - and Throw Away the Key

It's 44 miles from Fairmont, West Virginia, to Asylum Drive, Weston. That's about 71 kilometres. It would take me less than an hour to get there and an hour to get back. Presumably I'd get some sort of weekend remission for good behaviour, perhaps even with an electronic ankle strap. But they'd know where I'd always be: prowling the passageways of Herman Price's Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum
Then again, with 37 ticks against my name, maybe I'd just have to sit in Weston and smell the typewriters from there. At least I'd be that much closer to Typewriter Heaven.
You've no doubt seen this chart (it's been online for five years). It relates to reasons why one could be admitted to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum on Asylum Drive, Weston, West Virginia, between the asylum's opening in 1864 and 1889. As the Huffington Post said, "The next time someone says count your blessings, do it ... were it not for the scant 120-odd years that have passed, pretty much every last one of us would have been a good candidate for the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. These are the reasons you could have found yourself on their not-at-all-exclusive guest list." American Live Wire ("We are all crazy") reports a Reddit user bearsdriving had originally posted a photograph of the admissions criteria. The list also appears on Dangerous Minds.
London's Daily Mail, which picked up the story from usvth3m, said, "From 'feebleness of intellect' to 'women trouble' the reasons a patient could be admitted to a lunatic asylum in the late 1800s reveals inequality and a poor understanding of mental health issues. While the startling list of reasons for admission at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum may give only a glimpse of what caused the patient to be sent there, it reveals a lot about society's attitudes. The sprawling West Virginia institution was closed in 1994, after more than 100 years of lobotomies and cold bath treatments for its patients, many of whom just had the misfortune to have been abandoned by their families."
Quite apart from the 37 causes for my insanity that I've ticked on the list above, there are other reasons why I think I should be back in West Virginia:
The typewriter sales
The typewriter talks
And more typewriter talks
Richard Polt typewriter presentations
The food (thanks Connie)
The cakes
The craic with Martin Howard
Peter Weil and Alan Seaver
Will Davis
Herman Price's typewriter quizzes
Dennis Clark
Jim Rauen
To admire the Burns once more
Or a Standard Folding or a Bambino
Or the Simplexes

Or any typewriter for that matter
The typewriter guessing games
To take photographs
And long, lingering looks
Especially at the Sholes & Glidden
Or the house
And the scenery

Rueful Ruminations on a Humble Nippo P-200 Portable Typewriter

Bitter and twisted? Losing the plot? One can always find solace in a little Nippo P-200 portable typewriter (aka the Argyle) - which, regardless of its unflattering reputation, looks charming and can churn out ruminatory words at a fine old rate of knots: