Monday, January 27, 2014

Disappointment by the Pound

Yes, only love can break your heart.

Don't get me started. Seriously.

Oh, I knew. I knew. A buy-it-now $15 typewriter, no matter how beautiful, is rarely a bargain. You really can't expect much, but you hope. Hope has gotten me into a lot of trouble lately, it seems.

When I saw the box, I knew there was trouble. It was a large Priority Mail box, and it concerned me because I knew it had to contain both the typewriter itself and its simulated leather carrying case. In fact, I have an identical carrying case with my old Singer Scholastic T-4, and I knew the box was too small to hold everything.  But somehow it had to.

To my horror, this is how it did.

Don't let it bring you down, it's only castles burning.

The nearly 50-year-old carrying case was rolled up and scrunched into the box on top of the typewriter. Yeah, I'm assuming it will take much of its original form back when I put the typewriter in it, but it will never be the same again. I would have paid a few extra bucks to get some better packing, but I didn't have that option.

The bent letter is the K. It also sticks so I have to get some machine oil on it. I don't think that's going to be a problem. The bell doesn't work. I can live with that, even though I'm not crazy about it. The ribbon was tangled up in the machine, and I had to cut it out with a knife. Not a huge problem, since the ribbon was completely dried out anyway and needed to be replaced.


And man, this is a Kim Kardashian-sized but.

You're typing along, pretty as you please, functions are working as they should, and you get about halfway across the page. Then suddenly, it's like you hit the TAB key and are all the way at the end of the line. This is maddening. I'm sure it's something that can be fixed, but again I'm not a typewriter repairman and don't know that I want to put a significant amount of time and effort into a $15 ($26 after shipping) typewriter when I have a few dozen that work properly already.

It will probably be good for display. It's very pretty and clean, and it certainly won't be stained by ink from constant use. There aren't any parts that would work on the Scholastic T-4 (Royal Dart) since it's older and is nearly perfect anyway.  I am just going to have to consider it a lesson, though not necessarily that expensive of one. It's just annoying. This is a machine that I obviously wouldn't have bought if I had the chance to try it out first.

At this point, I probably have most of the typewriters I want, even if a few of them don't function as well as I'd like them to. I've been seeking out lower-cost models and that often limits me to machines with problems. I've never paid more than $50 for any of them, but I've been lucky to find a $20 Underwood 21 in near-mint condition, a great $25 early model Smith-Corona Skyriter, a $50 Royal Model O that I adore, and several other fully-functional typers that have given me no problems at all. It's just the luck of the draw.

What I'll probably do is stop buying machines from eBay, tempting as it is, at least for a while. I really prefer to check the typewriter out first and make sure I'm happy with it, and even if it costs a few extra bucks it's worth it. If I see something I really want, and can find a seller who can be really trusted to not screw it up, then maybe I'll do it. But otherwise I'm just throwing my money away for someone else's broken typewriter.

I don't know. It was just a sucky night. But it's not the end of the world, I guess.


  1. Oh how your heart must have sank when you saw that crumpled case! I do sympathise. Hopefully, you'll be able to laugh about it later. Thanks for sharing your horror story. :)

  2. I am bookmarking your horror story so that I can read it every time I'm tempted by ebay. So very sorry for the discouragement.

  3. It's far from the worst horror story. And there are great deals on eBay now and again. I wouldn't give up. Just expect the worst always.

    1. I have found some great stuff there over the years, so I'm not completely giving up. But I mostly buy books there, and it's really hard to screw up a book. Unless all the words fall out somewhere.