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Re: Build-your-own IBM Selectric typewriter with Dvorak keyboard!

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  • nkmcalli
    Hi Peter, I have just discovered this great web site where you can post instructions (and pictures) for how to do things (anything). Your work seems like a
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 1, 2007
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      Hi Peter,

      I have just discovered this great web site where you can post
      instructions (and pictures) for how to do things (anything). Your
      work seems like a great candidate for that site. It would also help
      get the dvorak keyboard "out there".

      http://www.instructables.com/

      Thank you,
      Nicole

      --- In altkeyboards@yahoogroups.com, "pbrun01" <pbrun01@...> wrote:
      >
      > Dear List Members,
      >
      <SNIP>

      > Now, here's the really interesting thing about the Selectric
      > typewriter: the way the machine is designed, it is relatively easy
      > (if you know what you're doing, that is) to convert it from the
      > qwerty keyboard to the Dvorak keyboard. A former IBM engineer in
      > Oregon turned me on to this fact back when I was scouring the
      nation
      > for a typewriter with the dvorak keyboard. This same guy offered to
      > convert a refurbished Selectric II to the Dvorak keyboard for $500.
      > That was way too much money, so I politely declined. But the seed
      of
      > interest had been planted. A couple years later, I decided to take
      on
      > the challenge of converting a Selectric myself. In short order I
      > assembled the necessary tools and technical manuals to do the job.

      <SNIP>
      > --Peter
    • lucasloredo@ymail.com
      Hi everyone, I ve been trying to find a DVORAK typewriter everywhere, and after a lot of research I ve ended up here. I tried contacting Peter so I could
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 12 11:19 AM
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        Hi everyone,

        I've been trying to find a DVORAK typewriter everywhere, and after a lot of research I've ended up here.

        I tried contacting Peter so I could purchase his tutorial package but I haven't heard back. Does anyone know if he's still active? Does he have a different email address I could use to contact him? Does anyone know where else I could get a tutorial such as this?

        Many thanks,
        Lucas

        --- In altkeyboards@yahoogroups.com, "pbrun01" <pbrun01@...> wrote:
        >
        > Dear List Members,
        >
        > Back in early 2003, when I was starting the process of learning how
        > to touch-type (on the qwerty keyboard) with my first computer, I
        > stumbled upon some online information about the Dvorak keyboard. I
        > was intrigued, and after some careful consideration I decided to go a
        > different direction from the crowd and type with the Dvorak keyboard.
        > I don't regret the decision at all.
        >
        > At some point back in 2004 it occurred to me that despite my learning
        > how to type, I would probably never have the satisfaction of typing
        > on a real typewriter, because there is no such thing as a typewriter
        > with the Dvorak keyboard, right? Wrong! I soon learned that various
        > companies manufactured typewriters over the years with the dvorak
        > keyboard. Long story short, I managed to find a few of these rare
        > machines. I invite you to have a look at my collection of Dvorak
        > typewriters in the photos section of this group.
        >
        > For me, there is something about typewriters that is appealing. Maybe
        > it's because they're an anachronistic throwback to another time.
        > Maybe it's because they're mechanical and hence interesting. Or maybe
        > it's just the image of a typewriter that's romantic. That's why I
        > like all of my typewriters. But of all my machines, it's the IBM
        > Selectric that I am most fond of. For those of you not familiar with
        > the Selectric, it is a highly complex electric typewriter that
        > utilizes a spherical type element with the characters on it instead
        > of the individual type-bars of conventional machines.
        >
        > Introduced by IBM in 1961, the Selectric was nothing short of
        > revolutionary. The new machines were so far superior to what was on
        > the market, it really marked the beginning of the end for
        > conventional type-bar typewriters. They were--and are--fascinating
        > machines. By the time production ceased in 1985, it was becoming too
        > expensive for IBM to manufacture such complicated mechanical
        > typewriters especially when the Wheelwriter series cost much less to
        > build. Nevertheless, tens of thousands of Selectrics remain in use
        > today, and they have a commanded a loyal following.
        >
        > Now, here's the really interesting thing about the Selectric
        > typewriter: the way the machine is designed, it is relatively easy
        > (if you know what you're doing, that is) to convert it from the
        > qwerty keyboard to the Dvorak keyboard. A former IBM engineer in
        > Oregon turned me on to this fact back when I was scouring the nation
        > for a typewriter with the dvorak keyboard. This same guy offered to
        > convert a refurbished Selectric II to the Dvorak keyboard for $500.
        > That was way too much money, so I politely declined. But the seed of
        > interest had been planted. A couple years later, I decided to take on
        > the challenge of converting a Selectric myself. In short order I
        > assembled the necessary tools and technical manuals to do the job.
        >
        > My guinea pig machine for the initial effort was a dirty, beat-up
        > Selectric II that I found at the local Salvation Army store for $3.
        > Without too much difficulty, I went ahead and performed the
        > conversion, and the operation was a success. It was a very
        > interesting learning experience. I still have that ugly Selectric II,
        > but it doesn't get much use; I have since converted two much nicer
        > Selectric III's to use at the office and at home. Here's a shot of
        > one of them:
        >
        > http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-10/853173/SelIII.JPG
        >
        > If anyone on this list would be interested in converting their own
        > IBM Selectric to Dvorak, I have prepared a tutorial package
        > explaining how to do it. The package consists of a tools list (tools
        > not included, sorry) and detailed step-by-step instructions (22 pages
        > complete with color photos), a CD-Rom of slides covering operational
        > theory and disassembly of the keyboard area of the machine, and an
        > accompanying audio cassette tape for the CD-Rom.
        >
        > http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-10/853173/guide.JPG
        >
        > This is surely the only place on the internet (and probably the
        > planet) where this type of information is available. In order to
        > cover development costs, I am asking $50 for the package (postage
        > included) for members within the United States, and $60 the package
        > (postage included) for members outside the United States. Contents of
        > the tutorial package are copyright protected.
        >
        > The conversion itself is pretty straightforward. There are obviously
        > many small details I can't go into here, but basically the conversion
        > involves:
        >
        > 1) Removal of the typewriter from its case;
        > 2) Removal of the plastic keytops;
        > 3) Partial disassembly of the keyboard;
        > 4) Removal and re-arrangement of the character interposers;
        > 5) Re-assembly of the keyboard;
        > 6) Re-installation of the plastic keytops;
        > 7) Putting the typewriter back into its case.
        >
        > Although any Selectric can be converted, I would recommend the
        > Selectric III for one important reason: the plastic keytops can be
        > removed and re-arranged into the dvorak configuration and they will
        > still sit at the correct angle. The same CANNOT be said for the level
        > I and level II machines. Those machines have deeply dished keytops
        > that are angled uniquely according to what row they are in. If you re-
        > arrange them, they end up looking and feeling weird. Oh sure, you
        > could leave them in their original position and re-label them using
        > aftermarket keytop labels, but I don't think it would look very good.
        > And besides, it would defeat the whole point of the exercise, which
        > is to build a stealth Selectric that looks as though it came right
        > from the factory with the Dvorak keyboard.
        >
        > http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-10/853173/SelIII2.JPG
        >
        > Since I'm on the subject of the machines themselves, let me go into a
        > little bit of detail about the only two design concessions involved
        > in the Dvorak conversion. Every stock Selectric has special "repeat
        > lug" on the bottom of the hyphen/underscore keylever which allows
        > automatic repeat action when that key is depressed 2X farther than
        > normal. Because the keylevers are not moved during the conversion,
        > this repeat lug will end up being on the ¼ ½ keylever. Unfortunately
        > it is not possible to re-locate this repeat lug to the new
        > hyphen/underscore keylever in the home row. The lug has to stay where
        > it is, with the result that the ¼ ½ key in the top row will end up
        > having the repeating function. In my mind, this is certainly not a
        > big deal. The ¼ ½ key is seldom if ever used, and if you don't press
        > it down farther than normal, it won't repeat anyway. If this would
        > really bother you, then the repeat function would have to be
        > disabled. This is done by temporarily taking that keylever out of the
        > machine and removing the repeat lug by grinding the rivet off with a
        > Dremel tool. But in order to remove the keylever from the machine,
        > you need a spare keylever fulcrum wire. So, my advice would be to
        > simply leave the repeat lug where it is.
        >
        > The other design concession concerns the "dual velocity" feature of
        > the machine. All Selectrics (apart from early models) were designed
        > so that the type element would strike the paper with less force when
        > the "low velocity characters" were typed. (The low velocity
        > characters consist of the period, comma, quote marks, colon/semi-
        > colon, and hyphen/underscore.) The idea was to prevent the paper from
        > being cut since the low velocity characters have less surface area
        > than the other characters. This is accomplished by means of a fairly
        > simple linkage between a low velocity vane at the front of the
        > keyboard (which is only rotated when the low velocity characters are
        > typed) and the print cam follower at the type-head.
        >
        > When a low velocity character is typed, the interposer for that
        > character is pushed forward and contacts and rotates the low velocity
        > vane, which by means of a connecting linkage releases the low
        > velocity latch, which allows the low velocity cam follower to contact
        > (and follow) the low velocity cam on the end of the filter shaft for
        > the duration of that print cycle. The other end of the low velocity
        > cam follower pulls on the end of the low velocity control cable, the
        > other end of which is connected to the roller of the print cam
        > follower. The roller of the print cam follower is thus pulled to the
        > left and made to ride on the low velocity lobe of the print cam.
        >
        > Follow all that? Good. Here's what it boils down to, though. The dual
        > velocity system was a good idea, and it works. But realistically, it
        > was very common for machines in the field to be operating with broken
        > or seized low velocity cables, with the result that all characters
        > would be printing at full velocity. Most of the time the operators
        > were not even aware that anything was wrong. For anyone doing this
        > conversion, the best way to address this issue is to simply cut the
        > low velocity control cable where it connects to the low velocity cam
        > follower. This will disable the system, and all characters will print
        > at full velocity. It won't make one iota of difference unless you
        > type on really thin paper (like onion skin). Just keep the impression
        > control stick on 1 or 2, and you'll be fine. If you really, really
        > wanted to have the low velocity characters print at low velocity
        > after the conversion, you'd have to fabricate a new, longer low
        > velocity vane with a different lug pattern. I did this twice for the
        > two Selectric III's that I converted, and trust me, it's a gigantic
        > pain in the butt. It's not really worth the effort.
        >
        > If you're still reading this, you're probably wondering, "would I be
        > able to perform this conversion?" Well, I would say that if you're
        > the type of person who knows nothing about tools and is not
        > mechanically inclined at all, then you probably don't want to attempt
        > this. But, if you're the type of person who likes to tinker with
        > things, and is by nature mechanically inclined, then you should be
        > fine.
        >
        > http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2004-10/853173/BenchIV.JPG
        >
        > Be forewarned, though, you have to be patient to do this conversion,
        > you need to be able to follow steps carefully, and you need to have
        > the ability and organization to deal with a fair number of small,
        > delicate parts without losing or damaging them. The conversion
        > doesn't involve major disassembly of the machine; all of the work is
        > confined to the keyboard area, and only a couple of adjustments have
        > to be broken during the process. (And they are easily put back into
        > adjustment).
        >
        > If this conversion is something you would like to do, contact me off-
        > list, and I'll get you set up with the conversion package. Trust me,
        > if you like typewriters, the conversion is certainly worth the
        > trouble. The end result is a fabulous machine that will make a very
        > handsome addition to your desk. Talk about a great conversation
        > starter, too.
        >
        > Once you start using a typewriter, you realize how handy it is to
        > type up little things like rolodex cards, hanging file tabs, notes to
        > your editor, love letters to your sweetheart, etc. It really IS the
        > ultimate accessory for the dedicated Dvorak typist!
        > --Peter
        >
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