Monday, June 1, 2009

Selectric guy meets the Olivetti twins

If Ettore Sottsass' Olivetti 36 has an architectural look,
it's because Sottsass was an architect
as well as a brilliant designer. For more about him go here.

Steve Collin, a retired IBM repair guy and a whiz with all things mechanical, drove himself, his 2008 ultra-Hog Harley and his wife (Cousin Ellen) up from Sparks, Nevada, for the weekend.

Of course I had to show Steve my two Selectrics. He "skinned" a Model II in 10 seconds flat, then gave me a tour of its organs.

I'm sure he knew that I was pretending to understand what he was saying. Cams, releases, pressure plates, gears without end.

Okay. Right. Check. Got it.

Thank God there was no quiz.

After the Selectric excursion, we fed him, and I put my two Olivetti 36s under his nose. Screw driver in hand, Steve delved into their Italian innards. His diagnosis was that the dead keys on the machine with the good belts were beyond repair (see previous post). Off came the belts. In five minutes he had the rubber teethed loops on the other machine.

It was only a matter of adjusting a tension wheel before it was safe to hit the "on" switch. The electric motor whirred to life. Steve's fingers tested the keys corn-row style, left to right. (He never learned to touch type. In fact, he hates writing.). The keys all worked although one needed nudging. We swapped ribbons between the two machines as well.

I now have an operating, if slightly noisy, Olivetti 36. Nice.

After the typewriters, we moved on to the computers. But that's another story and one you don't want to hear.