Wednesday, May 14, 2014

And Then There Were Four

I was late, yet again.

But I have good reasons for it. As of last week, I'm done with the semester!

But I have even better reasons.

Last week, my beautiful and insightful girlfriend became my beautiful and insightful fiance!

Few things have made me as happy as my love saying "yes" to the big question. That was Thursday.

On Friday, I helped her set up a display of her artwork for the senior show at her collage.

On Saturday, she got her Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design.

On Sunday, we went to church and visited with the family. Then we stayed up late playing Nintendo games.

On Monday, we did whatever we could think of.

On Tuesday, we went to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

And today, Wednesday, we went to an antique store in Franklin, TN called Carpe Diem.

And I came home with another typewriter.

My new addition: a Tower President portable 

Yes, I'm a hopeless case. Truth is, Carpe Diem had a pretty good selection of machines, far more than most antique stores I've seen. The shop next door only had one, an electric. 

This little puppy is called the Tower President. It's a portable, and as you can see, is in pretty good shape minus the spots (I was seriously considering nicknaming it "Spots" if those stains wouldn't come out, but they did). 

It was a hard choice! I was debating between this machine and a Royal Quiet Deluxe. In the end, I was intrigued by this brand I'd never heard of, and my curiosity won out.

Here's what it looks like now after a thorough Windex bath:

Spot-be-gone! Still needs a little paint in some areas. The white-out stains on the rollers were a pain, but finally yielded with enough scrubbing. 

I've only put a few minutes of research into this, and it was more confusing that my Underwood Touchmaster Five. 

According to the internet, here's what happened.

Back in the day, Sears Roebuck started buying machines in bulk direct from the manufacturer and rebranding them. A number of Underwoods, Olivettis, and even Royals were simply repackaged and sold at dirt cheap prices. 

Serial number, beneath the ribbon cover. Standard location for many Smith Corona portables.

Any doubt who this was made for? Oddly enough, the phrase "Model Number" has nothing to do with identifying it beyond an affiliation with Sears.

They did the same thing with Smith Corona, and that's how the Tower series came into being.

Finding out when this thing was made required an unorthodox method. Instead of looking for the list of Tower numbers, I was told to find the Smith Corona numbers. 

The serial number on this machine is 5TT565441X

According to the guide I found, this machine is basically a Smith Corona Super/Silent-Super, which means it could have been made at any time between 1953 and 1961. Another guide leads me to believe the exact date is 1957.

Portable typewriters accounted for over 50% of the market after WWII. Like modern smart phones, everybody was trying to add that one feature that would put them ahead of the rest. Some of them were really expensive. The President XII retailed for about $115 when it was first introduced, that's with $5 down and $6 every month (yes, people financed typewriters).

According to an issue of the Pittsburg Press from May 1959, the President could retail for as much as $89 new! 

I bought this one for $42, with tax. So, did I get my money's worth?

As always, shoppers, check before you buy! I've never been denied a piece of paper for this reason. The ribbon is in great shape and everything that should work, does. The font seems to be a 12 pnt Roman variant of some kind, but it could also be Courier. 

The only problem I discovered at the shop was a number of sticky keys. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to fix. I took it home and began apply lots of Windex. After and hour or so, the only keys continuing to give me problems are the period and question mark. Not sure why. They're either very dirty or the type bars themselves are bent at such an angle to cause friction.

If it's gunk, Windex might be A) Not  powerful enough to dissolve it, or B) I'm not using enough. I don't think the bars are the cause of the problem. Most websites say that the cleaning process can take a few minutes or a few days, depending on a lot of factors.

While I was cleaning, I noticed that the 1 key didn't work at all. Thankfully, it was simply disconnected from the lever that pulls the slug forward. The bar was bent, and it took some maneuvering to get it back into position, but I fixed it and am quite proud of myself. This key also required some Windex to unstick.

One unique thing about this machine is the dealership label on the front.

North Carolina? You're a long way home from home!
This little plaque right here makes my new Tower even more special. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Raleigh Typewriter Exchange was bought by Global Imaging Systems Inc. in February 2003. It was to function of Copy Service and Supply, also owned by Global ( 

I'll bet the phone number doesn't work, but I'm tempted to try...

The strangest thing about this machine? No carriage lock! Portables, heck, any typewriter can be seriously damaged if dropped. Carriage locks were introduced to insure that wouldn't happen as easily. It also makes it easier to center the carriage before putting the machine in its case. This President only has a carriage centering lever. No lock.

I'd say that I definitely got my money's worth. 

I've had a lot of fun being with my lovey-dove and relaxing. Very soon, however, I'll begin editing my latest book. I've already got a few agents in mind...when it's ready, of course.

Power to the pen!

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