Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Complete Metropolis

'The complete Metropolis' - Film.

As most of you know, I am a film lover. And I'd just like to share with you some of my thoughts, and recent experiences of my all-time favourite film.

Oh, and as usual pardon the normal 'typecast' typos and mistakes. 

One of the most iconic robots of cinema. This Art Deco design has influenced hundreds of works since. 

'The New Tower Of Babel'. Much of the film takes inspiration from biblical tales, which unfortunately ended up seeing it cut ferociously by American censors. Much of it remained in the final film, but several key scenes had been stripped. 

For a 1927 silent film, the setting was incredible and took inspiration from New York for its impressive models used in 'above ground city'. 

One big revelation of the complete metropolis: The statues holding Maria up are the 7 deadly sins. 

Expressionist Art Deco style - eat your heart out... 

Rotwang's motivations are clearer, as he seeks revenge for the death of the woman he loved.

The 'Pater Noster' machine, which later turns into a 'Moloch' that workers are sacrificed into. 

If you are new to this film, track down the Georgio Moroder version from the 80's. While it is incomplete, it is the easiest to watch with its colourisation and 80's soundtrack that features some great musicians - including Freddy Mercury and Adam Ant. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sex, Ikea and Typewriters.

To small to read? Click to enlarge.
Oh, and pardon the spelling monstrosities. What was I thinking!?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Ep2: The apocalypse of the typosphere.

The pages are now split in two, so that Blogger will display them better. You can click to enlarge for a better view. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

ITI mail: Michael Yulo

It took a little while, but I excitingly got a letter from the International Typewriter Initiative.

I find people's life stories fascinating - and Michael from 'Typewriter a day keeps the doctor away' seems to have had a somewhat interesting life. He's only briefly touched on it in this email, but I reckon he's got a lot of fascinating tales to tell.

I've asked Michael if it is alright to post up his letter, and he seemed more than happy for me to do so. I hope you enjoy Michael's lovely introductory letter.

As usual, click letters to enlarge the scans.  

Thanks a heap Michael! And a letter in reply is already on its way back to you. 

I wonder who I'll hear from next.... 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Why I don't smoke

Lettera 22, and Lettera 32

I'll be talking a little more about these two typewriters sometime in the near future, but right now I want to talk about my most recent attempt at dunking typewriters. You may recall that I successfully attempted a dunking on a Hermes 3000 70's model a little while ago. Since then I have dunked a few more typers with mostly positive outcomes. Until today. Here's a moment I'd like to share with you. 

Okay kids, hop in the bath and play nicely... 

L22, What's that..... is that..... OH NO! 

God no! no! NO!........ Stop!.... STOOOOOOP!


Damn. I hate it when the kids poo in the bath. 

The lettera 22 was in remarkably good condition when I bought it on eBay. The case was excellent for the age of the machine, and the paint had no wear. All the metal parts still gleamed as though they were  new. For a machine that is approaching 50 years old, I thought I had scored. 

I'd seen these machines before, and when I saw it on ebay - lonely and with no bids (they had spelled typewriter wrong) I threw an offer in, and was surprise to have won the auction. The machine LOOKED in excellent condition in the photos. 

When It arrived, I looked over it an was mostly pleased. But it seemed a little off colour from the version of this machine I had seem previously. The green didn't quite pop out as nicely, but the paint still looked unworn, with the exception of a very light scratch - which would probably 'buff out'. 

Never mind, I thought as I gave it a bit of a tap on the keys. This is when I discovered that a handful of the typebars were a little lazy. A sign that there was some dirt, oil or something else in the segment. I thought about just trying to work the segment clean, until I also noticed what seemed to be thin film of ink smudged down the side of the typewriter. 

I was going to dunk a Lettera 32, so I decided I would just put the Lettera 22 into the bath with it, and just let the hot and soapy water shift a bit of the residual junk. Neither machine seemed particularly dirty, and I was pretty confident I wouldn't be transferring dirt from one to the other. 

The first hint I had of there being something wrong was the smell. I knew the smell, and I couldn't quite place it at first. As the water level raised in the bath, I also noticed something else: a pool of  black residue at the bottom of the segment. 

The pool grew a little, but kind of just kind of drifted around in the water. 

But then the pool became a rapid squirt or material rising from the bottom, and the Lettera 22 filled with an oily black/brown murk. I knew any second now it would overflow from the L22, and I reached in and snatched out the L32 to save it. 

As the body of water shifted with the removal of the L32, the L22's black oil dispersed across the bath with almost impossible speed. It practically exploded its supply of filth into the water and I was now left with tub filled with an oily brown muck. It was like an octopus had defensively shoot its ink. 

I quickly turned off the tap, and in a moments peace memories related to the smell came back to me. Both of my parents had been heavy smokers once, and the smell of nicotine often soaked into everything. Also, in my younger student years, I had often rented dumpy old houses - many of which had walls toned brown by nicotine stains from the previous heavy smoking occupants. I still have the trauma of trying to wash that oil off the walls. 

The Lettera 22 has several patches of noise reduction foam or felt. The inky black squirt was a result of those patches releasing the load of nicotine that had been stored in them. The nicotine had come out due to the flood of hot and soapy water that was now invading into the felt - loosening up the oil. 

The moment the hot water hit the paint on the Lettera, it transformed the colour of the machine. A thin layer of nicotine had coated the machine perfectly, and this layer now dissolved rapidly into the hot and soapy water that splashed over it. You can see the residue in the photos above - where it sits in a ring around the soap suds. 

Ultimately the patients responded well to treatment. I flushed both of the machines with hot hot water straight from my shower, and managed to move most of the slick from the L22. I ended up having to shift a bit more with some wipes and cotton buds later on. 

The bath however, was horrendous. It took me over an hour to scrub clean. I was soaked thick with oil on my skin, and I felt 'chilled'. I wasn't exactly stressed, or even in a hurry to get myself clean. I would have expected the nicotine particles to have oxidised and degraded over time, but I guess there was enough fresh material for it to soak in to my skin somehow. *Future note - wear long gloves when dealing with old typewriters. 

Both machines now work perfectly, and I'll be posting about them soon. I've seen a fair bit of discussion on the forums about the L32/L22 differences, and it is nice to have both machines side by side to have a good go at both. 

*   *   *

Just a quick but ernest note (smokers, you might want to turn away for a moment). 

I used to work in a children's oncology ward where I learned to cope with the personal difficulties that come from watching children potentially dying every day. I was often witness to families breaking down while others only held together with increasingly strained strands of hope. We did our best for the children and families, and in 40% of cases, it wasn't enough for the children. 

The links between smoking and cancer are not just theoretical, they are real. My father is still alive and stopped smoking 20 years ago. 2 years ago he was diagnosed with emphysema. The muck that came out of this typewriter really highlighted the pervasive and damaging level of the materials that you consume from smoking. And it really drives home the poor outcomes that come from cancer. As much as I love the romantic notion of a room filled with smoke, with the ashtray over-flowing while the writer pounds at the keyboard of this Lettera 22 creating a masterpiece - I just can't move myself away from the grief that is caused by cancer. A cancer that most believe that they are unlikely to ever suffer, until they have it. 

Sorry to bring down the tone. I promise I'll end the next post much more light heartedly. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Politics and fixing the Bijou

Some names below have been changed to protect the person's identity. 

Correction: *made in a way.

Last night I sat down and decided to try out a few ideas I had to fix a couple of the problems with the Bijou that Robert gave me. I fell in love with the type action of this machine the moment that I laid my hands on the keyboard, and I really wanted to get this typewriter fully working.

It turned out to be easier than I thought. And just as well, as while I was trying to work on the Bijou yesterday, a bit of an online drama was unrolling around me.

It all started yesterday afternoon. I arrived home from work and flicked my computer on to check my email and have a bit of a look at what light-hearted waffle had been posted on Facebook throughout the day. I run a program on my computer called 'Social fixer' and I was immediately confronted by a long list of Facebook 'Friends' who had had their profiles shut down. I also noticed that all of these friends were people that I known from a political activism group I had helped out some time back.

Something was wrong. I popped into a couple of private Facebook groups and left some messages to see if anyone knew what happened to these people's Facebook profiles. Usually those groups are  full of lively discussion, but today they were eerily quiet. I was to learn later that not everyone's profiles had been shut down, but most of the people that I had tried to contact had had their profiles banned from being able to post in public areas, and on other people's 'walls'.

Eventually I would figure out had happened, and how it had happened. But right now I wasn't involved in the group of people it had happened to, so my profile had remained unaffected.

My friend Mitch's profile had been shut down. Mitch was currently living in Vietnam, and had now been there for over 2 years. As such,  Facebook remained his primary means of keeping in contact with the rest of the world and his social circle.

I stopped short of calling people to get the gritty what had happened, as I realised that this was something that I didn't want or need to get involved in. But I did have some real concerns about those that were.

*   *   *

This Bijou 5 is a wholly remarkable machine. Beautiful to look at and amazing to type on, this machine also has historical charm. It has keys that were devoted to marking out a Palestinian currency that hasn't been in use for over 50 years. 

But like all machines of the age of this Bijou, you can't avoid there being some problems. This Bijou had a couple, but nothing that wasn't insurmountable. Instead, I took the opportunity to try out some ideas that I'd had for a while, and had been looking for a candidate to try them on. 

The biggest problem with the Bijou was the platen and the rollers. The platen itself wasn't cracked - but it was rather hard and plasticised. The rollers however were still rubbery, but were suffering from probably the worst example of a flat-spot that I have ever seen. 

The platen was easy to deal with. I now had an opportunity to try out how well brake fluid works on the rubber of these platens, and much to my surprise, it actually worked quite well. I painted it onto the platen and left it for about an hour. after I washed it off the surface felt rubbery again, even if I really couldn't tell by pushing on it if it was any less hard. I scuffed the surface with a bit of rough sandpaper, and the platen looked and felt ready for business. That grey rubber tone had returned to the platen again. 

But there still was the problem with the rollers. I had put the platen back in, but the rollers still locked onto the paper every few lines, and refused to budge. Naturally, this was far from ideal. 

Realistically, the Platen and the rollers would be better of being recovered. But there was nothing wrong with trying a couple of things on them first. As the brake fluid had been so successful, thought I would try another experiment on the rollers. 

I'd been reading up on how to re-shape rubber after their shapes had been formed. A lot of people had been using heat on rubber parts to manipulate them into place. So I thought about it for a bit, and came up with an idea that I could try out on these rubber rollers. 

The technique was simple. A lot of people had been dropping their rubber pieces into a pot of boiling water. But I didn't feel that I needed to so much cook the rollers, as much as I needed to heat them. So I boiled the kettle, and dropped the rollers individually into a container that I then filled with boiling water. Doing it this way, the temperature was probably going to be 10-20 degrees lower - helping  retain the consistency of the rubber while I put it under stress. 

Getting the roller ready

From there rest of this was pretty straight forward. After letting the roller heat up for a bit, I used tongs to grab it out of of the water and place it onto a clean, flat and smooth surface. I then simply rolled each piece of rubber one at a time under a metal ruler - in order to try and push the roller back into a rounded shape. Much like how you make long and round pieces with clay. 

I wouldn't say it was a complete success. The flat spots didn't completely disappear, but they certainly rounded out a bit. Another interesting effect was that a very thin layer of rubber on the surface wore off. It was microns thick, and didn't really change the width of the rollers, but the rubber underneath was less plasticised than this thin surface layer. I cooled the rollers under cold water and sanded them down to get rid of the last of that surface layer. 

I'm in two minds about this surface layer. I'm not sure if I have opened up a seal that was originally on the roller, or I have simply removed a heavily oxidised and hardened top layer. 

*   *   *

I was re-assembling the Bijou when I heard the message tone on my phone. I didn't recognise the number, but it turned out to be Mitch. I hadn't spoken to Mitch outside of emails for pretty much the entire time he'd been in Vietnam, and it was a surprise to find he wanted to catch up on Skype ASAP. 

It was 10:15pm by this stage, but I still had about 20 minutes of of work left on the Bijou to go, so I agreed. Seconds later my iPad was buzzing with a voice call. I answered and listened to him on the speaker, while I continued to re-assemble the Bijou. 

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeey"! Mitch called out as I answered. He was clearly happy to be talking to me. 
"What's going on with your facebook profile" I asked.... 

Mitch is an eccentric but very intelligent man. He's a teacher who is very compassionate. Last we spoke a few years ago, he had learned and was fluent in 6 languages - and was hoping to make it to 8 quite soon. He's also very passionate about civil liberties and the rights of gays. 

He is also more camp than a row of tents, and so loaded with hormones that it is impossible to have a simple conversation with him, before it turns into a festival of innuendo. 

Indeed, I don't think there's a single subject matter in existence that Mitch couldn't turn into some kind of sexual euphemism. And a such, a conversation with him is always very entertaining. Within minutes of answering his call, I was almost in tears I was laughing so hard. My laughter was often met with Mitch loudly squealing 'Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat'! before he qualified it with 'I can't help it'! 

I started to find it hard to work on the Bijou. I was trying to wrangle the platen back into place, and had made 4 attempts at it before I pleaded with Mitch; "Stop it! Stop it! I can't concentrate on what I'm doing". 
"What are you doing" he enquired. 
"I'm trying to get the Platen back in". 
There was silence for a moment, before Mitch snappily asked "What's a platen". 
I thought about my answer for a moment and considered about how I would describe it to Mitch. 
The platen in my hand was a long and round object that was hard and coated in rubber. 
"It's a thing" I replied in answer to his question. 
"Yep, a THING". 
"Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" Mitch replied with scepticism. On the other hand, I felt I had dodged the bullet of the week. 

I managed to get the platen back into place, and everything bolted back down. Mitch and I talked for a little while longer, and I eventually discerned what had happened to everyone's Facebook profiles. Mitch had managed to get his account reinstated, but had been handed the same posting ban that I now suspected had been handed out to a fairly sizeable group of people. 

I won't detail here the how, why and wherefores of what had actually happened, as I had started this blog to largely get away from such activities. I gave Mitch a few contact numbers of people that could help him, and sent him on his way. He's a lovely guy, and a great friend, and I have a lot of time for him. But on this occasion there was a whole group of men and women I knew who had suddenly found themselves a little more restricted in their online social and political options, and honestly... I didn't want to get involved. 

Everything was quiet now, and despite all the laughter I had managed to get the Bijou back together again with little of a hitch. 

I can report that my wrangling with the rubber on the rollers had been successful. It wasn't perfect, but the Bijou now stopped locking the paper down and fed each sheet of paper through about as straight as anyone could want. I may not have been able to save the world, but I saved a Bijou. And to me that counts for a lot.

Shame though, if I had have been able to save the world, I might have been able to pick up some gorgeous Hollywood blond woman and live happily every after. That stuff happens, right? I've seen it in movies.

P.s. Incidentally, this is my 50th post. Thanks for being a great bunch of readers and typers! You're awesome. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Round 1: Scott v's The Royal P

Warning: This blog entry is rated MA - for mature audiences. 
*Occasional coarse language. Which has nominally been bleeped out for you protection.
*Low level violence.
*Frequent bad movie references. 

This war, like all wars, started in a period of relative peace. I like relative peace. It is so peaceful in a relative way that I almost lull myself into a sense of security, before I snap myself out of it - in anticipation of the next major crisis. 

And no, I haven't built a bunker for the impending 2012 disaster and filled it with cans of Spam, beans and Camp Pie. I don't have to... I have still have the one set up for the millennium bug disaster. I rented it out to Harold Camping briefly last year, but he left it in almost perfect condition and I haven't seen him since. 

It was in this relative peacetime that I took a trip down to Canberra. While I was there Robert Messenger gave me two beautiful typewriters. A Bijou 5 and a chromed Royal P. 

 The beautiful Palestinian Bijou. 

The Royal P from hell. 

Both machines are stunningly beautiful. The Royal P in person is one of the most amazingly beautiful machines I have ever seen. With gleaming glass keys along with its chromed body, this machine looks so sharp, I feared touching it for ending up with bloodied fingers

Both machines have their problems. The Bijou's are simple and straight-forward. The Royal however, had a few faults that were likely to need some more serious attention. While Robert and I were talking at his house, he implied that the machine would need a complete teardown and rebuild. I felt this was a touch extreme, but i suspected that thee machine's frame - or at least internals, were somewhat warped.

The shell wasn't lining up with the body and some of the type bars were raised in the segment - but not as a result of being jammed with muck. The reason wasn't immediately obvious.

Also, the carriage wouldn't stay put. When the carriage moved closer to the middle of the unit, it would suddenly take off - before the escapement came back into play a couple of inches later, and the typewriter seemed to start operating again in typical fashion.

Outside of that most of the screws holding the body onto the machine were missing, as were a couple of springs that lock down the ribbon covers. The rubber feet were non-existant. On the plus side the platen appeared to have been re-covered sometime in the last 20 years, and although it showed signs of lots of typing activity it was still very nice and rubbery.

Looking at the machine from the front, I should have known what was going to come next. This machine is trouble - under the stunning supermodel looks was a machine with an attitude of pure ugliness. It was the epitome of the phrase "Beauty is only skin deep".

As I looked at the machine it felt as though the middle type bar was raised that little more than the others intentionally. Surely this machine wasn't giving me 'the finger'? Typewriters don't flip the bird...

But can I tell you folks... The machine damn well was giving me the same big 'f**k you' as I suspect it had given the previous ambitious repairers before me.

The day after I got back from Canberra I extracted the machine from its case. The case had been a huge problem the day before, and had taken Robert roughly quarter of an hour to find a case that would hold the machine. Even then, it refused to be locked into the case properly, and I had stuffed bubble wrap around it to give a level of protection. Unfortunately I had to shift a lot of that bubble wrap at the airport  so that the security team could 'bomb check' it.

It put up a bit of a fight at the airport, and had almost tumbled onto the floor. The same thing happened at home the next day. Eventually I managed to get it out of the case, and I plopped it onto the top of cupboard nearest my desk.

I inspected it for a while and started to take a note of some of the faults. As I did the escapement seemed to loosen up somehow and the machine launched its carriage into my face, almost hitting my eye. Surprised by this, I recoiled away from the machine. The carriage slipped a tiny notch along its escapement by itself before once again engaging and sitting silently.

I felt like Rocky. This was going to be a tough repair, but if I played eye of the tiger often enough and ran up and down the stairs a few times (my tools were in the shed down stairs) eventually this movie would end in my triumph. I'd raise my hands in victory and call out through my numb but joyous face "ADRIAN! ADRIAN!"

I pushed the carriage back to the middle again, and felt the escapement travel with the machine perfectly. I let go of it, and less than a second later the carriage launched itself left again, but only a few stops.

"You little prick" I muttered quietly, before continuing: "So this is how you're going to play, huh"? 

I grabbed the machine and flipped it onto it's tail to inspect the underside of the machine. I couldn't see any misalignment, nor could I find any broken springs, levers or teeth. I rotated the machine back over onto the steel bolts that it is currently using as feet, and scratched my head a little. 

I turned the machine around and looked down the rails from the right hand side (spring loaded part away from my eye) and carefully released the escapement and slid the carriage. Again, I could not observe any major fault, even when I tapped on the space-bar and keys. 

Again I looked at the machine from the front of the keyboard, and started to thank about how I could dismantle it to have a better look. I tapped the space bar and keys roughly and..... 


The carriage raced across to the left and slammed against the right margin. A small black piece of something shot out the side of the machine and skidded across the surface of the cupboard. 

It was clear what this was. My opponent had now moved beyond the trash talk - the "F**k you" finger raising, and after copping a few whacks - had just spat out a loose tooth at me. It was ready for a fight. 

The sound that it made as the part skipped across the table told me instantly that his wasn't rubber or plastic. It was metal... cold and hard metal. Crucial part kind of metal.

Yes. You know what this is, don't you. I bet you do.

I kept a calm face. I was not going to show any fear to this machine. But on the inside I was saying "F**K F*K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**K F**KETY F**K, YOU F**KING F**K-F**K".

I knew what this piece was. It was a tooth off the escapement wheel which was located deep in the middle of the machine. This part is as difficult to get to, as it is to find a replacement for.

There was a moment of silence between me and the machine. Till I leaned over and spoke quietly to it. 

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for typewriters like you. If you play good now, that'll be the end of it. I will not dismantle you, I will not transplant you. But if you don't, I will find you, and I will kill you"

I slid the carriage back to the centre, but the escapement almost immediately slipped a little... Just a little... 

And with that  I reached my hands in (with the aid of a screwdriver or two) and tore out the machine's still beating heart - the platen. Screws and knobs lay strewn across my table, and I held the platen in my fist above the typewriter to show it what I had done. It sat there with its mouth wide open - almost in shock.

I grabbed the filthy and cracked platen from another Royal I was working on and drove it into place of the original platen. I screwed it all back together again before looking at the machine and saying with malevolence; "There you are - the ugliness on the outside now reflects the madness that you have on the inside. You shall wear that scar to remind you - every day - that you have crossed the wrong repairer".

And with that, I shoved the chrome Royal back into its case, and locked it into the cupboard. 

I had promised Rob that I would repair this machine. And repair it I shall. But I know the battle has only just begun, and this war of egos will eventually come to a head because this town isn't big enough for the two of us. 

The first battle was a draw, but the war has begun. 

P.S. Has anyone got a trashed Royal portable or some kind? 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Journey to Canberra - The Messenger Collection

I'd taken an RDO from work, but I still woke up at 5am. I collected a passenger and dropped them at work before I dropped my car into airport parking. The courtesy bus from the parking place was crammed with a Maori family heading to the international airport, and their baggage took up the entire luggage space at the rear of the bus, blocking all view out the back window.

It was actually quite cold for a Brisbane morning, but I knew it would be even colder in Canberra. I didn't care as I was too excited. It was going to be a short trip, but I was pretty sure this would be a worthwhile one.

Boarding the plane was relatively without fuss. I had an empty seat next to me on the plane, so I was able to just spread out and chill. I had packed light; I had a shoulder bag containing little more than a printout of my flight, my iPad, some headphones,  a camera and my wallet. Oh, and some house keys.

Before long I was on the tarmac of Canberra Airport and heading out the doors to the Taxi rank.

"Lovely day" I said to the driver.
"I long for these cold days" he said to me in a broad English accent. "Makes me feel more at home".
"Where are you from"? I inquired.
"New Delhi".

Canberra's like that. Nothing is quite as you'd expect. To any outsider that cared to look at Canberra - Australia's capital, you'd probably believe that we hated our politicians so much that we built a farm for them in the middle of no-where to keep them away from the rest of us. It's Australia's only capital city not on the coast, and it is miles away from the nearest interstate highway. It is truly out of the way from anywhere.

But it is also where Robert Messenger lives. Rob is probably Australia's greatest Typewriter blogger, and one of the most researched fellows on the subject I have ever come across. From what I could tell - his collection of typers was something amazing to behold so this exhibition was one I wanted to not miss.

And can I tell you.... It was worth the trip.

The entrance to the gallery was littered with dead machines and a steel catfish. No typers though. 

I arrived at the Gallery still unsure as to whether I would meet Robert or not, so I looked about to see what other exhibitions were running. It didn't take long to locate Robert's exhibition, as a chalkboard out the front of the gallery had nicely listed up the exhibitions currently running in the building as though they were todays specials at the local cafe. It felt quaint and warm. I whipped out my camera and documented a few scenes in the courtyard before going in. It was quite bustling, with a few senior citizens hovering about and a few other 'grey-nomads' in their grey-nomad uniforms, who were waiting for a tour group to start. 

Free entry? Excellent... 

The building was a modern construction and had clearly been built after I'd last been to Canberra. Like most of Canberra's galleries - and there's a lot of them - the building had been competently constructed, brilliantly designed, and felt lively and light. 

Robert's exhibition was placed in a room that looked as though it would have usually housed museum artefacts or sculptures. Both of which Robert's collection could potentially be described as. 

Whatever I was going to see this day, I knew I was in for a treat. This was largely the cream of Robert's collection crop. 

The exhibition itself was set up simply enough. Across one wall was Robert's collection, which was housed behind glass and positioned on floating shelves. The opposite wall had brief pieces of information that was Robert's biography - insofar as his history of him collecting and using typewriters. On the far wall from the door that I had entered through, a large plasma television played repeatedly the segment of the television show 'Collectors' that Robert had appeared in few years ago. on either side of the television were two tables that housed 3 Olivetti Lettera 32's, and the ominous IBM Selectric II that had been converted to a scientific keyboard. 

Rounding off the display were two cabinets in the middle of the room that displayed toy typewriters, ribbon tins, and a few other pieces of paraphernalia. 

Before I knew Robert as the blogger, or Robert as the typospherian, I had known of Robert as the collector. I had seen Robert on television when the episode of collectors he was in first went to air. In fact, I even discussed the episode with my Grandmother - who was still alive at the time, on the phone, as my Grandfather had been a callout typewriter repair man for Adler for many years. 

Of course, I did get to meet Robert in the end - but I blogged about that a little while ago over - HERE

And now here I was, standing in the midst of Robert's collection. And these machines were stunning.

I'd seen many of these machines online before. But to see them in person was magnificent. In a few ways I felt proud. I owned a handful of the versions of the machines that were on display in this cabinet myself, and I appreciated them all the more as a living piece of art the moment I saw them here.  

I could look at these machines from historical point of view - but largely that's not what this exhibition was about. The date of their birth seemed less important than artistry of the machines themselves. Every one of them felt as though you could take them off the shelf and put them on your desk and type with them right now. The only thing that stopped you accessing their inviting keyboards was a few sheets of glass. 

No doubt I could do that kind of typing when I got home. In fact I could do it then and there - and actually did! First by blogging from one of Robert's typewriters at the back of the room, and later by by using using some of Robert's machines at his home. I even the Bijou that Robert gave me a bit of a run while sitting at a table in the gallery. 

The mix of machines was just right. These machines were a marvellous selection of the old and modern. And they were absolutely amazing. Did I want any of these machines for my own collection? Every single one of them. 

Having several machines on display for others to use was a really nice touch. The amount of 'I was here' messages that I saw strewn across pieces of paper give me an impression that they had seen some serious tapping of keys at the hands of a much younger crowd. 

Type on me.... I dares ya. 

But was there a standout machine? 

This is a tough question - and I'm sure some of you will be a bit surprised by my completely subjective answer. 

I have a love of Art Deco styling and design. I also have just as strong a fondness for the conflicting - yet rather similar style of Art Nouveau. And while the Oliver 5 in Robert's collection stood out as a grand example of Nouveau, there were two machines that really grabbed my Art Deco loving attention. 

First, but not foremost - was Robert's 'Bing' typewriter. 

Its Deco stylings were cool and sophisticated, and despite the relatively down price nature of the machine, it had style in spades. 

But the machine that took my heart the most - would have to be Robert's Royal 1 flatbed. 

Under-lit and hidden away in a bit of an odd corner, this machine's style leapt out at you as you looked at it. No other machine I have seen to date has captured the era's design aesthetic so well. This photo doesn't do it justice, but I just took a look one look at it - and I was in love. A feeling for a machine that I hadn't had since I first clapped my eyes on an Oliver. 

I'd seen photos of these machines before, but never felt particularly impressed. But now seeing one with my own eyes I have to say - I was impressed.

Sitting there in the dark, I almost asked it if it had been fed any new paper or ribbons lately. It seemed so lonely, especially as it had only a Canon typestar to keep it company. 

There were many other outstanding machines in this collection, including a Gold Royal! I didn't even know Robert owned one. But there you have it. 

Very, very cool. And I thank Robert for sharing.

*   *   *

Later that day Robert loaded me up with a couple of magnificent machines before I left for the airport. However I hadn't brought with me a suitcase or bag to put them in. As such, I stuffed my camera into a small luggage bag and sent it into the luggage bay. Absurdly, my camera was probably worth considerably more than the two machines that were in my hands - but was also well insured. 

My plan had been - before I left Robert, to find a luggage shop at the airport and just buy a cheap bag. But alas.... Canberra airport was as bare as could be. The only thing it had was a coffee shop.

Waiting for the plane - with a bit of a snack, and two typewriters. 

Getting the machines through the airport and onto the plane was another matter entirely. They both got X-Rayed before I was asked by security to open them up. It was obvious this was more out of curiosity and boredom than anything, but they swabbed both machines for explosive residue. While I was standing there waiting for the result, the woman that had been assessing me (I got swabbed as well as the typewriters) started asking me about the typewriters. She was quite fascinated. 

Inadvertently I had to go back out of the secured area and back into the terminal. I had left my glasses on a chair on the other side, and could see them through the glass wall. This subsequently saw me returning back through security again. The smirking little skin-head that had previously been operating the metal detector was now on the X-Ray machine. He called over a Maori chap that was working with him to examine the 'threat' of these typewriters more closely. Fortunately I didn't need to call him a dickhead, because that's exactly what the Maori chap called him. 

I picked the typers off the conveyor and thanked the Maori guy. He gave me a thumbs up and asked; 'They're like, old school printers, right'? 
I gave him a smile and said "Typewriters, yeah"! 
"typewriters, yeah, that's it"! 
He looked away a little embarrassed, so I gave him a "Thanks for that mate, have a good one" and scurried on my way. 

A couple of passengers looked at me a bit awkwardly as I shoved the two cases into the overhead luggage. However no one seemed willing to comment. Before long I was on my way back to Brisbane with a plethora of photos, two new project typers to repair, and a very satisfied feeling about meeting a charming, passionate and intelligent man; and his a great selection of typewriters. 

..... Also I had a window seat, and was just about to see an amazing dusk light show over the plane's wing. 

Coming up - The fight is on: Scott v's The Royal.