A Brief Introduction to Insanity

The rabbit hole is often pretty shallow, just deep enough to break the ankle.  It grabs you, shakes you about, and leaves a lasting reminder.  This blog is my rabbit hole, my vast network of scattered obsessions, the work of a disorganized artist careening out of control and barely in touch with normalcy.
My primary obsession: Typewriters.  Perfected pieces of ingenious mechanical engineering.  I have alienated myself, becoming a social recluse so that I might be able to harbor more nerdish knowledge about these machines.  It’s not healthy, but neither are Oreos with double cream filling.  Some things are just good for the soul.  I’m not quite sure what drives my passion for these single-purpose, clunky, mechanical devises.  Perhaps it’s my love of beautiful words (can guys like that kind of stuff?), or maybe my strong affinity for mechanics (sounds more masculine).       I began collecting these pieces of history a several years ago, but my interest had begun way before.  It’s become m…

The Hammond Multiplex Typewriter

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the famed Hammond Typewriter.  The photo above was taken on medium format film for those of you who are interested (pardon the dust removal software glitch).  Another article for another time (The Hasselblad Stigma).  The Hammond typewriter is famous in its own right, being one of the few successful alternatives to standard typebar machines--it employed a type shuttle.  A shuttle is a curved section of rubber or metal with the letter slugs on the face, this feature allowed the Hammond to accommodate different styles of text, fonts, and dialects.  All one had to do was swap the shuttle out.  It became a beloved machine of doctors and mathematicians, who bought up shuttles with obscure little symbols that only they seemed to know the meaning of.  It also attracted the attention of famed author J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit on a Hammond typewriter. The story behind the maker of these fantastic machines, John Ham…

The Hasselblad Stigma

Hasselbald - On Nikon F3 - Kodak Portra 400
Yeah, I purchased a Hasselblad this summer.  I fixed enough typewriters and sold enough model trains to afford an old 1966 model 500c.  Not the glorious CM, just the C.  I got the Zeiss Planar 80mm 2.8 t* lens (multicoated) and a C12 back whom someone engraved the name "Jensen" into.  Basically I wanted to understand this camera, and people's obsession over it.  I wanted to see what made it such an amazing camera, and why it was supposed to be the subject of every photographer's dream. I'll make it short and sweet.  It is not any more intuitive, or any sharper, or any more glorious that any other camera.  It's just famous.  It takes stunning photos, but despite its ultra-high resolution, it doesn't take tack sharp images under normal handheld shooting conditions.  For the run-of-the-mill photographer, it just isn't everything its cracked up to be.  Don't hate me, this is just my opinion, and I'll ex…

1941 Corona Comet Deluxe

This machine was another repair job.  When I got it, it looked pretty decent, but it was 100% frozen.  The simple act of trying to get a key moving would disconnect the clevis linkages underneath.  That was also a pain to fix, as several had already been disconnected.
My first order of business was to remove the platen and paper tray.  In this case, there is no quick release.  The right knob has to be removed entirely, note that there is a divot in the platen rod that the set screw fits into.  The two screws on the right hand side of the platen also come out.  On the other side, the left knob is pulled (ratchet detent) and pulled more (ratchet disassembly) and comes off with the entire platen rod.  I cleaned and polished both knobs and the platen rod.  Beware the two spring clips that work the detent.  They are inserted long end first into the body of the platen, and kind of just sit there.  There’s a spring wire holding them in.  So remove the roller slowly!  The ratchet assembly stay…

1938 Corona Silent (2s)

Manufactured very early 1938, must’ve been one of the very first few off the line.  This machine was another repair job for a large collector.  It came in beautiful shape, albeit very dirty.  My task was just to clean it up.  The paint on the machine was a gorgeous maroon, and there was not a single scratch or paint chip.  I have never handled a more immaculate machine.   Mechanically it was fine, it just needed a lot of cleaning.  My first order of business was to remove the platen and paper table, as well as the body.  The body came off like most corona typewriters.  The platen was a little different.  On the right side, it has a little slider over the knob that lets you lift it out, and on the left, there’s a leaver that lets you remove the entire left knob.  After that it’s smooth sailing.  Also standard for corona was the two screws holding down the paper tray.  Both accessible from the underside of the carriage.
Once the body was off, the rest was history.  There were no major hic…