The end of the road

by | Feb 8, 2018 | Underwood | 23 comments

Last time on Heroic Efforts to Revive Obsolete Office Technology, I had found a crack in my intended replacement carriage, and had patched it with J-B Weld.

The glue held.

Now I could simply transplant the donor carriage onto the recipient machine!

But no … it felt weird and rough. When it spaced, it spaced in big jolts. Could it be that a carriage from one Underwood S wouldn’t fit another?

I racked my brains and fiddled with the thing for an hour until the answer leapt out at me.

I was trying to put an elite carriage (12 characters per inch) onto a pica typewriter (10 cpi).

This job had just become harder. Maybe impossible.

The toothed rack had to be swapped from the recipient carriage to the donor carriage.

So did the tabulator stops.

Here’s a neat little detail on one of the tab stop racks.

Finally, the elite carriage had been turned into a pica one — I hoped.

I wiggled it onto the typewriter. It seemed to mesh better. But would this operation really be a success?

The end of the road for this repair job is, I hope, just the beginning of a new set of typing adventures for this  Underwood that has been brought back from a broken heart.


  1. Unknown

    A happy ending! The very best kind. Also: "racked" your brain? I see what you did there, Prof Polt. ?

  2. Unknown

    Yay! Amazing job.

  3. Chad

    I just binged this entire show and was riveted. So many twists and turns! I hope there's another season…

  4. David Brechbiel

    What a great title. I thought it was finished. I mean really finished. Bury it. But, no .. this typewriter lives! Great effort. You pulled off some Super Heroics, 'Captain Typewriter'!

  5. Richard P

    Maybe Netflix would be interested in picking it up.

  6. Mark

    Excellent work!!! I am sure the machine is very pleased to be usable once more!

  7. Alison D

    Hooray! A mended heart and hopefully years of joyful service and writing ahead. Nicely done, Richard. I love how your journeys teach us.

  8. Words are Winged

    Always wonderful to see a machine brought back to life. I'm sure this one can now survive the college workload without missing a step

  9. Ping A

    I love happy endings!

  10. Ted

    Ha! Excellent transplant and re-pitching :D

  11. Ted

    … however, Plutarch would disagree about it being the same machine, no?

  12. Richard P

    I don't know if Plutarch would have anything to say about it. Plato might say that nothing in the material world really remains the same anyway. Every particular thing is a contradictory amalgam, always turning into what it is not; only the Forms are eternal.

  13. Ted

    Plutarch asks the question but doesn't give an answer, while Plato gives an answer that is unfalsifiable. I'll submit that it depends on the observer, and at what scale they define "change", and further submit that Forms change as inexorably as Physicality, given time and incentive. Plato's insistence that Form doesn't change was simply a symptom of his myopic mental vision. Even God changes to meet the expectations of His creation.

    In any case, it seems we are both arguing that the answer is "yes, the machine has changed" – an answer that is probably testable once the parameters of what the meaning of "the same machine" are defined. :D

  14. Richard P

    How nice to see a philosophical discussion blooming from my blog! While I'm sympathetic to your view, I have to disagree both with you and with my own earlier comment about what "Plato might say." In fact, Plato never says anything directly, but puts various views into the mouth of Socrates and other characters, including both "Platonist" views about eternal, separable Forms and other views. In Plato's "Parmenides," old Parmenides demolishes Platonism pretty thoroughly. So, in short, Plato wasn't a Platonist, at least not clearly.

    I had to research Plutarch on this issue. Is this the passage?

  15. Ted

    I was thinking more along the lines of the paradox of the Ship of Theseus regarding the question of identity and expanding on it by suggesting that we can't know what the identity is until we define the scope of what "identity" or "sameness" is to the observer (and before that, which observer we will define as relevant).

    For the question of "is this the same typewriter?" we might select the eventual owner of the machine, who will note that it is now clean and it works, but might not notice the new carriage unless informed, and so think "this is the same typewriter" – where if we select you as observer and you have the knowledge that it is at least 20% a completely different model and year, a distinction you as a collector would give weight to in terms of "originality" – you would say it *wasn't* the same.

    Same question, different perspectives. (:

    PS: I love arguing philosophy because as a Sartrean Existentialist, I know I'm always right, and nobody can tell me any different – and if it gets too weird, I can always retreat into the Absurd. :D

  16. Richard P

    Good points about the importance of the perspective of the person making the judgment. (I did tell the owner that she's getting a new carriage, by the way, and she is just happy that it will work.)

    You're not really a Sartrean, are you? He was a diehard atheist and I thought you … weren't.

  17. Ted

    Existentialism doesn't preclude a belief in God (see Kierkegaard), it only posits that you have the terrifying freedom to choose whether or not you do believe and in what. It denies the core tenet of Essentialism that suggests that the responsibility for that choice can be foisted off on deterministic forces. (:

  18. Richard P

    Sartre claimed the very concept of God was self-contradictory. But you are right, other existentialists have been religious.

  19. Ted

    Is it contradictory? I'd argue that it's just what labels we place on what things that make us confused. We have this label "God", but what is it stuck to? Probably a different thing for every person.

    I was raised into adulthood with a steady diet of Pentecostal Christianity shaping my Essence, so the labels I place on my ideas take those forms. What I accept ultimate responsibility for is that they are *my* ideas, and I believe in *my* God – and I further understand that the ideas that those labels are slapped onto are invariably different (to varying degrees) from the ideas that other people have stuck those labels onto – and that's ok, because if I have the terrifying freedom to choose, then so does everybody else. *My* God is pretty chill with that. :D

  20. gee

    Great job, wonder effort, you inspire! thank you for all you do.


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