The Typewriter Inheritance, Part Five

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By David Michael Newstead.

I guess I should start by saying that I didn’t intend for this to turn into a saga. But the more difficult it became to repair my grandfather’s typewriter, the more committed I became to the project. Maybe I’m stubborn.

Initially, I thought I’d just hire someone to fix it. They’d know how to do that. Then, it’d be in perfect working order again. The end. Unfortunately, things got more complicated, which pretty much lends itself to a writing project.

Here are the issues:

  • There are no replacement parts, because this machine hasn’t been in production since the mid-1960s.
  • Typewriter repair people are few and far between these days and most of them are quite old, meaning there’s a generational divide when discussing possible solutions.
  • Internet resources don’t have a lot of specifics to offer on this subject, because typewriters are so antiquated.
  • The public library didn’t have anything I needed in a practical sense.
  • And I couldn’t find any old owner’s manuals or parts manuals for my model of typewriter.

Admittedly, those are challenges all revolving around being starved of very specific information. That said, each of these issues forced me to look at this topic more in-depth and from as many angles as possible. Already I feel like I’ve learned a lot. And no stone can be left unturned!

For example, I took the listed price of my grandfather’s typewriter and adjusted it for inflation after 60 years.

  • In 1957 dollars, that’s $94.50
  • In 2016 dollars, that’s $796.75

Of course, there are a lot of typewriter scenes in movies and TV shows from over the years. I recall a particularly interesting Al Jazeera English report about skilled typewriter professionals still hard at work on the streets of New Delhi, because typewriters were once so popular in India and (functional benefit) they don’t require electricity to operate. But as interesting as it is to learn about other cultures and historical periods, this project is ultimately about repairing something.

To do that, I’ve brainstormed a couple of activities going forward.

  • I’d like to take my typewriter apart and put it back together, perhaps recording how to do that.
  • I bought a few useful books on Amazon that I still have to read and, most importantly, put into action.
  • And to overcome the lack of replacement parts, I’m going to have to learn something about 3-D printing.

That means that there’s more to come in this series as I essentially bridge the gap between the world that is and the world that was. Stay tuned for more.

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