Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A to Z

Because of my interest in vintage items and all of my sewing machines, I've got a reputation at work for being able to find almost anything online. That's quite a generalization since I know I'm not that good but we can be at a meeting and talking about wanting this or how do we dispose of that and eyes drift towards me and I look it up. I have sold laminators, disc cleaning systems, furniture, and other odd items for my workplace. Now I'm on the hunt for a manual typewriter.

This didn't sound too difficult or expensive until I looked into it. The local Goodwill's send their typewriters over to their auction site and I haven't been able to snatch one up yet. Other thrift type stores don't seem to have any either although they all seem to have the early word processors. We do not want anything electric that has to be tied to an outlet, just something for our students to use in a creative maker-space that are so popular now. But then I found a portable electric, in good shape, for only $10. It looked so nice, just a little "linty" from the correction tape that was in it. Then I checked the tag again and found out it was the color tag of the week and if I was there the next day I could get it for only $2. I walked away. I had an appointment at home that I needed to hustle to so I didn't even plug it in to see if it worked but just got in my car and drove home.

Once I had a chance to think about it I decided to call the boss, Ann, our administrative assistant who is the real mover and shaker in our office. Is your job like that, too? I have a great boss and we have wonderful staff members but sometimes there is a "mom" who directs all of the traffic. I sent her a text asking if we wanted an electric typewriter instead and at first she said let's wait for a manual model and then followed up with a "use your judgement" message back. I returned the next morning and got the little cutie for $2:
Smith Corona Electra XT
Since sewing machines come so dirty I figured it couldn't be much different. Wrong! That linty stuff was not lint but flakes of correction tape and it was a bit gummy. I used cotton swabs, cleaning cloths, all kinds of tools but I just couldn't get inside easily. So I took it apart:

Inside the Smith Corona typewriter
This was good but I could tell I needed the bottom off, too and Ann even suggested where the screws might be hidden. I got the screws off, cleaned it all up. This is one naked typewriter:
Naked: top and bottom covers removed from SC Electra XT
To put it all back together meant I needed to get those screws back into the machine and screwed down onto the bottom cover but without my magnetized screwdriver, it wasn't going to happen. I looked through all of our community held tools, asked one of our techs for his tools, but finally had to settle on using a pair of tweezers to hold the screw in place. I actually considered waiting until the next day when I could return with my own screwdrivers but I got it back together in the end. Each key needed to be cleaned on all sides, the platen was cleaned with Soft Scrub to get the last of the correction tape flakes off, and a general cleaning of the exterior plastic covers made it shine. It does work but the ribbon was completely dry and we could still order them online. Surprise, surprise, they are extra small ribbons so were not as cheap as hoped for but we don't plan on using it daily either.

I'm still on the hunt for a manual typewriter, hitting thrift stores and checking local Goodwill online auction items. I'm not going to be able to get one for only $2 but I can keep looking! In the meantime, I'm setting up shop in the garage, moving everything around and getting the first project underway. It's the lovely No. 42 cabinet with a Singer 301 as I wrote about in Party Time. The top coat is an old "antique" finish that is coming off just fine, leaving the light colored wood in decent shape. Except the part right in the front on the horizontal surface, right where the machine rests and gets the most use looks like this:
Cabinet No. 42 top open
If you look really close you can see part of the veneer and part of the wood beneath, all sanded down so it would be smooth for that antique finish coating. This is terrible since it looks bad but it is also not flat with several "waves" in the finish that were made flat with the antique base paint. I think this needs to have new veneer on it so I'll take this to a shop to see what can be done.

Good news on sewing machine repair! I cleaned and adjusted a very nice Kenmore 158-1430 for a sewing class girl. Her mom told a story of getting this sewing machine right before she was married from her parents but then her husband gave her a Bernina years later and the Kenmore was stored away. Smart woman because when her daughters were ready to start sewing she only had to bring it over for a cleaning and check to getting it back in shape. It's all metal inside and with only a little oil it started to turn smoothly.

And now a serger story: Bob mentioned he had a serger that his wife gave to their daughter but now it wasn't working. That left a wide variety of problems but I was game to help Bob out. The handwheel didn't turn at all. When I opened it up, there was a large amount of seeds and other debris that needed to be cleaned out. Oh boy, another one that was stored in a garage and some little critter thought it might be a nice place to spend the night. Eventually I tracked the problem down to the motor and the wheel on the side not turning. That stopped the larger wheel from turning and stopped everything in its tracks. Checking online for a new motor didn't net much and it wasn't really worth +$100 for a new motor. I gave Bob the bad news and we agreed I could just keep it for parts, no charge. When I started to dismantle it, the first thing I wanted to do was to check out that motor so I lifted it out, got it open, and the wheel turned. Wow. I put it back together but the wheel didn't turn. I opened it up again and put it back together very carefully and the wheel turned. Oh joy! I fixed a motor! sang in my head. There was a little bit of soldering that needed to be done when I put it all back together but boy, did it run! The foot control seemed a bit wonky so I tried another one from a Pfaff serger and it ran very nicely but it was also a $65 part, something I'm sure Bob would not be interested in. Even when I opened up the foot control, it was all electronics and I could not see any blown parts so I just cleaned out the cobwebs and put it back together. It ran better but not like it did with the new foot control but it was passable as it was. I called Bob to let him know his daughter could take the serger back for only a repair charge and he was pretty happy. So was I.

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