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Tuesday 20 May 2014

Ugly Duckling Typewriter - Almost

Yes, it's missing the two plastic connecting parts from the front, both of which were smashed in transit three years ago and have now mysteriously disappeared.
It wasn’t last Wednesday's 66th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel that got me started - actually, I hadn't thought about that until Saturday, when I was checking out other "on this day" events which coincided with my friend's 60th birthday.
No, it was an exchange between Michael Clemens and Peter Baker ("notagain") on Google+ on Friday that did it. 
Started, that is, on a project I had been putting off for three years: the painting and reassembly of this Hebrew-language Hermes 2000.
I could get used to the carriage moving from right to left, but the unusual movement of the carriage lever really threw me.
To be honest, I had stumbled across the box containing an inordinate number of parts from the Hermes 2000 (19 in all!*) a few weeks previously, while searching in the shed for something else entirely. That's the usual story, I know, and in this case I was hunting for a spare parts Atlas, as Richard Polt needed a feed roller for his Elgin Collegiate. I finished up taking apart my Rexina, but Richard had found a suitable feed roller on a Royalite.
Anyway, I was down in the shed in my "working gear", on my knees digging through a pile of typewriter cases and boxes, when I felt (or rather heard) an avalanche coming on. Not wishing to cop another nasty gash on the head, I quickly jumped to my feet and reached above my head to hold the tumbling boxes in place. As I did so, the piece of twine holding up my "trackie dacks" (as they're called in Australia) snapped and my trousers fell down. Fortunately, there was no-one else about at the time, so, as I have promised Richard and Georg Sommeregger, no more racy pictures on this blog. Still, I was reminded of Stan Cross's famous cartoon in Smith's Weekly on July 29, 1933:
 “For gorsake, stop laughing: this is serious!” 
So, to get back to more serious matters: the Hermes 2000. I brought the box of many parts upstairs, steeling myself as I did so for the massive undertaking ahead. But for three weeks, looking at the large number of parts meant I still couldn't bring myself to tackle the task.
(*The 19 parts: back section, 2 side sections, 2 front sections [top and bottom of keyboard], 2 plastic pieces joining the sides and back section, 2 platen knobs, space bar, 2 ribbon spool surrounds, 2 ribbon spool mounts, segment piece, paper plate, 2 paper guides [top and bottom of platen], ribbon spools cover. There should have been 21 parts, as I realised when I came to reassemble the machine, but the two front joining parts had gone.)
Then on Friday I was copied in on Michael's reply to Peter about a Hebrew language-Hermes Rocket in an online auction. Michael wrote, "I'm sure there are other makes and models out there, but it seems like the only ones I ever see with Hebrew keyboards are Hermes Rockets. Did Hermes have a corner on this market? If my history is right, the era of these machine is roughly the same as the foundation of Israel as a state. Maybe they were thinking about settlement, the need for portability, or something else?"
This was the spark that ignited action. I wanted to show Michael and Peter my Hebrew Hermes 2000, but it had been sitting maskless for three years, occasionally used for a demonstration of the right to left carriage movement, yet still crying out to be reassembled.
This rather filthy Hermes 2000 appeared on Australian eBay tonight. I use this image merely to highlight the two missing parts from my Hebrew Hermes 2000.
It's history is this: I had won it on Australia eBay in early 2011, but it was sent from Victoria in just its case, with no protection around typewriter or the case, and it arrived smashed. The two plastic pieces joining the front section to the sides were broken into bits, and with whatever impact the typewriter had received, these two parts had been forced up into the side sections, buckling them. There were large paint chips all over.
I immediately took the machine apart. I was able to straighten the side sections pretty well, and my plan was to glue the two joining parts back together. Whether I actually got to doing that I cannot now recall. It was also my plan to spray paint the typewriter a pale blue colour and use what might have been construed as some rather provocative decals.
As things turned out, the combined primer-top coat spray paint I used was a much different colour, more like the turquoise of the Olivetti Lettera 44, I think. But I like the look so much I have kept it in this shade. I only came across the decals I had made for it today, anyway (while searching for the front joints) - they are dark blue and wouldn't have stood out on this deeper colour. I've avoided any potential ructions by not using them.
Given the ugly, smashed state this typewriter was in when I received it, it struck me that it was now like Hans Christian Andersen's Ugly Duckling, turned into a beautiful turquoise swan. But not quite - it's still missing two vital parts, which somehow I have managed to completely mislay.
It was only after I had painted the 19 parts and started to reassemble the typewriter on Saturday that I realised the front joints were missing. I have spent two whole days looking for them, without success. It's a mystery as to why they were not in the box with all the other parts. I certainly wouldn't have thrown them out.
Thinking I might have inadvertently put them in boxes of spare parts I gave to John Lavery ("McTaggart's Typewriter Workshop") in Brisbane in early March, or later in Wellington, I called John tonight. As it transpires, John also has a Hermes 2000 which was smashed in transit - in exactly the same way, with the front parts broken and buckled. But he thinks he can salvage the front joints and will post them to me, so I can complete this Ugly Duckling project.
As I have mentioned before, major hunts such as this have some very positive sides, and as always I am both surprised and delighted by the things I was able to turn up - while NOT finding what I was actually looking for. One of those things was the front case clasp from his Neckermann Brilliant S that I promised to send Richard Polt last October!
I only wish I had found it before sending him some zine magazines, which he has since received.
Now I just have to find the two screws that go with it. But, rest assured, this two-day search has resulted in me getting much better organised at long last, by putting screws and washers and the like in one box, and spare parts in another. So great progress has indeed been made! 


Richard P said...

We all have our personal chaos -- thanks for a funny glimpse into yours!

I think the 2000 looks very nice in blue.

michaeliany said...

oh my the horror that once was is now coming together, likely better than before. Certainly a journey and now quite an interesting story.
as for that auction, I saw that on - last I saw bidding was ramping up for that machine.

notagain said...

That's very cool, and a lovely paint job. And Michael's point is still mostly valid - though not a Rocket, it IS still a Hermes. Still makes me wonder if anyone else made one in Hebrew.