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15-4-2017 14:32:21  #1


Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Hello.

I want to buy a portable typewriter for almost daily usage.  And I must confess, I have little to no experience with typewriters, so I am seeking advice on which typewriter to look for.

I am not interested in a typewriter for some sort of enthusiast or nostalgia gimmick, I actually have realised I have a practical scenario where a portable typewriter is the preferable tool.

This summer, I will be spending almost three months travelling around North America by car.  And for the times I'm not driving, I plan to write on my novel - which, by the way, has nothing to do with my trip.  However, the two laptops I'm bringing (yes, two) won't cut it for writing anywhere.  The old one loses battery too quickly and the new one is bothersome to write on.  I quite frankly don't like it, but it is work related, and I felt I needed it just in case I need to do some work while on the trip.

The alternative then seemed to be write in hand by pen, but that felt too slow and not always completely practical, depending on where one has pulled over for a break.

A portable typewriter seemed like the perfect solution, it requires no electricity, but is quicker to write with than a pen.  And since I am travelling by car, its size won't be an issue either.

So what sort of portable typewriter would you recommend for an everyday usage?  My typing is fast on a regular keyboard.

I live in Denmark, so shipping there would be necessary, however a Danish layout is not a deal beaker, I could use a US/UK layout if it were.

Thanks in advance.

 

15-4-2017 22:52:10  #2


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Hi Svip

​In my personal opinion, and going by what you want in a typewriter, I would lean towards an Olympia SM-9. They may not be the prettiest machine out there, but they're built like tanks. The one thing to bear in mind is when typing on anything mechanical, a steady typing rhythm is essential for the health of the machine and the quality of your typing. I'm not sure how many WPM the SM-9's can handle, but I know they can operate much faster than I can type.

​Other TT members with more typing experience than me may suggest other machines based on your requirements, listen to them, they know what they're talking about. All the best,

Sky

 

15-4-2017 23:45:31  #3


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Not to discourage you in any way from using a typewriter but, you should consider that the difference between the very short key stroke of the computer keyboard and the rather long stroke of the manual typewriter is going to change the way you type. It will likely greatly reduce your wpm count until you get used to the manual machine.
The near complete lack of ability to correct on the fly with most manual machines can also be somewhat daunting to the creative process at first.
Nothing that can not be overcome but, just a different way of writing, going from an electronic/digital word processer to a manual typewriter.
The afore mentioned SM9 would be a good choice if you like it but, I would also consider the Remington model 5 Deluxe if you can find one. A good full feature machine in a compact portable size.  

 

16-4-2017 02:41:33  #4


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Thank you for the responses.

At home, I use a Model M inspired mechanical keyboard.  That's my favourite keyboard, because the keys are heavy and they press down further than keys on other keyboards.  I don't like flat keys.

I have used a manual typewriter a long time ago, so I am familiar with the heavy keys.  A decrease in my WPM won't bother me too much.

I have now searched eBay for the two models suggested so far (Olympia SM-9 and Remington Deluxe Model 5), and going by description and pictures there alone, I feel like I am leaning towards the SM-9.

While I can find one for sale in the UK and another one in Spain, both are for sale in the price range of 150-160 GBP (~185-200 USD), while there are a lot on sale in the US, at between half and two-thirds of those prices.  (It does not appear like there are any Danish sellers of the SM-9 nor the Model 5.)

This leads me to a question about shipping.  While the US options are clearly cheaper, when shipping is added, they end up being more expensive; after all, they are to be shipped across the Atlantic.  Moreover, I saw the Royal Epoch Portable Manual Typewriter for sale on Amazon (I can't link as this is my second post), and in particular, I noticed that in the review section, people said you either got a working one or a broken one, depending on the quality of the shipping.

Is it safer to have it shipped from UK or Spain than the US?  Or is the Royal Epoch just notoriously of bad quality?

     Thread Starter
 

16-4-2017 03:29:52  #5


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

I would consider an Olivetti Lettera 32 and/or an Olympia Splendid 66 or 99. Both are low-profile portable machines. The Olympia SM9, while being a beautiful machine to use, can be quite heavy to carry for long periods and may be awkward to use if you plan on writing in the car, 'cos inspiration can strike anywhere, as far as my writing experience is concerned.
Smith-Corona Skyriter (later models with the longer carriage return lever) is another contender, since these were designed to be used while sitting in an aeroplane seat.
Good luck!


My blog, about typewriters,wristwatches, fountain pens, Bond, and whatever else happens to be polluting my mind at any given time;
---->   http://teeritz.blogspot.com.au
 

16-4-2017 04:26:59  #6


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

The heaviness is less of a concern with regards to carry, but might be an issue on a lap.  I am considering bringing along a fold out chair and table, if it were.

But I was more anticipating pulling over, and then sit on the passenger seat to type.  But if the SM-9's weight is a problem for that scenario, I will definitely consider those others as well.  I can live with a heavy typewriter - after all, my preferred laptop is quite heavy - and if inspiration were to strike anywhere, I would probably write notes initially with my pen.

The Skyriter, you say it was made for usage on an aeroplane, does that also mean it is more silent when typing than usual?  Or is it the same?

     Thread Starter
 

16-4-2017 04:34:33  #7


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Svip, are you actually in Denmark? Your best bet is probably to get one from eBay.de - shipping isn't too expensive in Germany and the typewriters are both excellent and not too expensive. The best typewriters I have (I'm in the UK) are mostly either German or Olivettis. Even the UK would be a lot cheaper to ship from than the USA.

Olympia is a major make of typewriter which was sold all over the world, back in the day. They are German, but the keyboard reflects where it was sold rather than where it was made. I had an Olympia Splendid 66 once with a Danish keyboard... 

Teeritz is right that an Olivetti Lettera 32 is another good choice. It's Italian, and Europe (I imagine including Denmark) is flooded with them - and they're very solid, reliable machines in my experience. I'd say more reliable than the Splendids, which have a tendency to have been very heavily used. It's a little bigger than they are, but still an excellent machine for being on the move with. If you think you might be typing in odd places, you will need a typewriter that's closed and flat on the bottom so you can balance it on things.

Another German company that made brilliant little portables is Adler. A 1970s Adler Tippa or Contessa would probably be just the thing, frankly. They're great little machines, eminently usable, sturdy, easy to find, and not expensive. For something no-nonsense to go travelling with, I'd really recommend one of these.

(As for t​he Remington Rand 5, it's is a nice enough machine, but not as common on this side of the Atlantic, and they are older - so more likely to be less straightforward. Also, crucially, they are open at the bottom. Not really a 'type-anywhere' portable.)

 

16-4-2017 04:40:30  #8


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Sorry, I can't edit, so I'll just add this. Summing up. I think a machine from the 1960s or 70s is likely to be more useful for you. Simpler, smaller, lighter, and more likely to have a flat, enclosed bottom and a lightweight cover-with-handle, rather than a big heavy case. 

If you're buying from Europe, just make sure you have either a QWERTY or QWERTZ keyboard - the French AZERTY is a nightmare!

 

16-4-2017 05:16:21  #9


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

I found one seller in Denmark, selling about 25 different typewriters.  Clearly emptying a collection.

Accordingly, she is selling the following models: Adler Tippa, Brother de luxe 220, Optima, Remington Noiseless, Scheidegger Princess-Matic, Siemag, Silver-reed 150, Torpedo 30, Adler Gabrielle 25, Adler Gabrielle 8008, Adler Tippa, Antares, Brother de luxe, Brother deluxe 220, Brother ep-20, Canon Typestar 6, Canon Typestar 6, Citizen X3, Erika 3004 electronic, Esselte Lisa 85, Facit, L C Smith & Corona, Olympia Traveler de luxe and Optima.

(I know there are some repeats, but I assume this means she has more than one of them.)

You can see the ads here:
http://www.dba.dk/skrivemaskine-samling-ca-25/id-1031163528/
http://www.dba.dk/skrivemaskine-samling-ca-25/id-1031163032/
http://www.dba.dk/skrivemaskine-samling-ca-25/id-1031163421/

(She had to split them into three ads, because the site only allows 8 pictures per ad.)

They all appear to be with a Danish layout.  However, looking at the pictures, I am not super sure about their condition, but maybe they are all right.  And of all the ones suggested so far, she only appears to have the Alder Tippa.

Seems like there is a lot of choice out there.  And eBay.co.uk/eBay.de has a lot of listings for the Olivetti Lettera 32, so it shouldn't be a problem obtaining one of those.

     Thread Starter
 

16-4-2017 07:36:21  #10


Re: Looking for a solid portable typewriter

Svip wrote:

The heaviness is less of a concern with regards to carry, but might be an issue on a lap.  I am considering bringing along a fold out chair and table, if it were.

But I was more anticipating pulling over, and then sit on the passenger seat to type.  But if the SM-9's weight is a problem for that scenario, I will definitely consider those others as well.  I can live with a heavy typewriter - after all, my preferred laptop is quite heavy - and if inspiration were to strike anywhere, I would probably write notes initially with my pen.

The Skyriter, you say it was made for usage on an aeroplane, does that also mean it is more silent when typing than usual?  Or is it the same?

 
Skyriters are as loud as any other typewriter, but you could easily use one while sitting in the passenger seat. Same with a Lettera 32. Skyriters have a nice aluminum body. Undo four screws and the entire guts of it can be removed from the frame. The SM9 would put your legs to sleep if you rested it on your lap for extended periods. And it would be awkward to use in a car seat. For a portable typewriter, it's pretty large. Looks great on a desk, though.
The Adler Tippa is a good suggestion also. I had one and it worked nicely enough, but I got rid of it because it had a plastic body.
I'd maybe go for a 1970s Lettera 32. Well-built, and plentiful. Produced between 1963 and 1989, or thereabouts.


My blog, about typewriters,wristwatches, fountain pens, Bond, and whatever else happens to be polluting my mind at any given time;
---->   http://teeritz.blogspot.com.au
 

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