Book reviewer, cat photographer, fanzine editor, map blogger, snake whisperer.

Category: Typewriters

The Art of Swedish Typewriter Maintenance

I have recently become obsessed with Facit typewriters. Made in Sweden, with the most unusual carriage rail and tab mechanisms, they’re impressive machines that are an absolute joy to type on, but they’re not necessarily the easiest to work on. I’ve acquired two Facit portables so far and each has one or two issues that we’re a bit scared to tackle because of the Facit reputation for being difficult to repair. At least neither suffers from the dreaded “frozen Facit” issue (where the typewriter’s original lubricant has hardened and seized up the escapement), but there’s a fix for that, which Nick describes here and Tony has put to use: repeated applications of solvent to dissolve the old lubricant. As for other issues, Ted Munk has posted a PDF copy of a Facit repair manual, which is helpful but doesn’t cover older models or every exigency. Charles has posted tutorials on how to remove a Facit portable’s carriage—which we’d all been warned not to do—and how to remove its platen. All of which help, but more is needed.

The Musicwriter

The Musicwriter is one of several music typewriters created to print sheet music. Some music typewriters were their own thing, whereas the Musicwriter started life as a normal typewriter before being converted to print notes and staves. You operated it by typing with the right hand and moving the carriage with the left, which sounds a bit tricky to get right—like writing music with an Etch-a-Sketch. Several typewriters served as Musicwriter root stock over the years, including the 6-series Smith-Corona and, more recently, the Olympia SG3 (an example of which can be seen in this Facebook group post). More about Musicwriters from Ted Munk in Et Cetera 109 (2015), pp. 12-15, and in this addendum collecting all kinds of photos, ephemera and type samples.

Queens of the Keyboard

Robert Messenger looks at the mid-20th-century phenomenon of international speed-typing competitions, and the women who competed in them. Explain to me how these women are not already the subject of a Netflix series like The Queen’s Gambit: the 1920s rivalry between Millicent Woodward and Robert George Curtis could be a movie all by itself.

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