About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring has Sprung

     Its early March and you can finally feel the change of seasons starting. You can smell it in the air, spring is coming. The buds are showing on many of the trees and even though there's two feet of snow in my back yard, I know the daffodils are breaking ground already.

This machine is way dirtier than it looks.

     This week in the shop, the busy streak continues, although I can feel it slowing up a tiny bit. I'm also starting to make some headway on the backlog of repairs. Yeah!  Let's start off with a nice before and after story. This machine  belongs to a senior citizen who says she depends on her Smith Corona and uses it every day. You can tell it hasn't been cleaned in well over ten years.  When I delivered it back to her we were joking about how dirty it was and I said I took a before and after picture because the difference was so dramatic and she laughed so hard. Three days later I got a thank you card from her, typed on the machine of course, and she said how embarrassed she was that she let her machine get so dirty that I would use it as a before picture. But now she is thrilled that the machine is like new again. I do a lot of business with seniors because so many of them still use a typewriter, but this past month I've seen a big uptick in seniors calling and bring in repairs. I love it when they come in because they tell great typewriter stories and they enjoy telling them. I could just sit there and listen all day. 
This machine actually looks like it's smiling

     I really like it when I hear back from people about their typewriter experience if they bought a machine from me or got one repaired to do creative writing on. I usually never find out if that gorgeous 1930 Royal or snazzy SM3 was typed on for a week and then put in the closet for good or if it was an inspiration to do the creative writing they always dreamed of. Well, a week or so ago, a young man came in just to tell me that he was in a year ago and bought a 1936 Royal "O" Model portable manual (touch control model) from me. He said that when he got it home and started typing on it he thought that he had wasted his money. He couldn't see how an old typewriter was going to get him to write more or better. He was determined and decided to keep a journal to track his progress and growth. After several months of typing every day, looking back in his journal, he could see how much better his writing had improved  by using the typewriter, the words would flow out of him and through the machine. He said documenting his progress was so much fun that he turned his journal into a book. He also started a blog as part of his journaling but eighty-sixed the blog when he found out his mother was reading it. (That's funny!) This took all of five minutes and made me feel great the rest of the day. When I hear back from people or get great thank you notes and letters, it really makes me feel that what I do is important or that it matters. I don't need that all the time because I love what I do, but sometimes you get into a rut or bad spell at work and all it takes is a thoughtful customer to remind you of why you put you heart and soul into something.

     I recently had gotten some stamps that are pretty cool and wanted to show you. I especially like the Royal KMM stamp. The detail in it is amazing.

The KMM stamp is the perfect size for envelops.
     A customer brought in a IBM Electric Model A typewriter, Serial #26598. It actually turns on and every single feature on it works. Sorry I don't have a picture of it yet but the customer wanted to know if this is something a collector might want. The machine looks great, the finish is in very good condition. If anyone might have any info on this, a comment would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
     I'm very happy to see that our friend Matt is back home, happy and healthy. I'm looking forward to his visit soon. I think his mom is going to need a trailer to bring all the machines he wants me to fix. Actually, Matt will be fixing some of his machines himself (under my supervision), and we'll be documenting this process with videos and pictures on his blog. That should be fun.
     Well, that's it for this week. Thanks for checking it out. everyone have a tremendous week.


  1. Love this blog, Tom. It's great to know that you and the community are supporting each other. Your perspective is unique and so encouraging. Thanks!

  2. Love the story about the young man keeping the journal about his typewriting experiences. It exactly expresses the typewriter's value in the 21st century-- it's a tool that can do something critical that no digital tool can manage-- improve your writing by improving your focus.

  3. I'd love to know if the guy kept the journal by typing on the type writer or on his computer!!!

  4. Great stories, Tom. When you wrote that the SCM was dirtier than it looks in the picture, I found it hard to believe, as it looks TERRIBLE in the picture! :) Nice work cleaning it up.

    I also like the journaling story. I wonder if the journalist for the NYT story is reading this. She would like that. (She said she knows about you; did she talk to you already?)

  5. No doubt you have seen quite a few dirty typewriters in your time. I am sure that my imagination is insufficient to guess all the ways in which someone might dirty a typewriter.

  6. Justin- The NYT reporter does know about my blog so she might be reading. We did a phone interview about three weeks ago. She also talked to Matt the same day. I liked the hook of the story, it should be a real corker when its comes out.

  7. Wow...love that KMM stamp!

    Great stories, as always! Keep 'em coming!

  8. I love the stories of you and Matt. What a great connection, there. Has me wondering if you'd ever blog about how you got your start in the business. Did you apprentice with an older technician or pick it up mostly by yourself? Did you always have a connection with these machines or was it just a job at first that gradually became something you grew to love?

  9. Wonderful stories -- and you say you've got an IBM Model A? ...Still have it?

  10. Hey Tom,

    I think the guy with the 1936 Royal was me. The blog is back up actually, at www.awkwardengineer.com. I also have a second year's worth of material that I started binding into another book. I put some pictures of the work in progress up here. I love the typewriter, thanks!