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Richmond

A very interesting machine, made in Czechoslovakia, and apparently sold under this name specifically in France. That is indeed where this particular one came from, it was bought and used by a building company in Tourcoing in the North of France until the 1960's, and taken home by an employee on his retirement. His daughter sold the machine on a second hand website. It came complete with its wooden cover, crudely painted black. A bit of "green" paint stripper made short work of that. I have no idea what they put into that stuff, it hardly smells, and does not seem to contain solvent, but attacks paint with an appetite like a stoned velociraptor. I love the lines of the box - it has a very shapely dent at the edges, but bulges out in the middle. The lock does work, but it has the wrong key.

Richmond picture 1

Now - the story behind "Richmond". The machine is actually a rebranded very early first model "Mira", which in turn is based on the Rema I machines from Braunschweig. As Reese tells us, when the Rema II came out, the machinery was sold to a firm in Czechoslovakia, who based their design on that of the Rema I. Many details are still very Rema-like, such as the shape of the carriage front, the very complicated (but very smooth and precise) carriage lock with "wing button", and the center bearings for the pinwheel cylinder. However, apart from the comma sliders, nothing appears to be a drop-in replacement - all of the machine is a new development, and while many of the design principles are retained, the execution is different, starting with the overall size and shape, and down to the details on the carriage lock and the center bearings. Some comparison pictures of the Richmond and Rema:

Richmond picture 1

Richmond picture 1

There are a number of variants of this machine, and at the beginning of production (possibly at N 2000 - the first known Mira machine is in the Brunsviga collection, with N 2033) change was apparently very fast - machines with serial numbers in the 2400 range have a couple of clearly noticeable differences (cranks instead of wingnuts, for example), by N 2500 the carriage lock has changed, and by N 3000, there are improvements such as easier clearing of the input register, ten's carry in the counter register by the use of a moveable blind, and an input control register.

Even this very early version comes in two variants, with a short and a long body. This is the long-bodied version. It seems to have been merely an esthetic consideration though, looking inside the body, there appears to be no mechanical reason for the extension, except perhaps for the very large internal bell (which is very melodious!).

Richmond picture 1

Some other interesting tidbits - there is an interlock which prevents movement of the carriage, and it is operated by the clearing of the revolution register. It uses a toothed comb, which acts on a slotted disk which is also used for the interlock for carriage movement during rotation of the pinwheel cylinder. In the picture above, this slotted disk is just hidden behind the lower (counter) gear, on a similar kind of stalk, and like the counter gear, driven by the top gear which sits on the main axle of the machine.

Apart from the large bell, to prevent carriage overflow, the last 9 in the counter register is filled in with red instead of white to give the operator advance warning of impending disaster. I wonder how effective that was.

Richmond picture 1

The usual small repair to one of the clearing teeth was necessary, as one of the numeral disks in the counter register didn't clear. Usually, the numeral wheels are wedged tight into the available space, which minimizes the problems with reassembly of the axle. In this machine however, the extra disk operating the interlock is on the right side (and prefers to do nothing but slide out of position), and the left side of the leftmost numeral wheel is kept in position by a sleeve on the clearing axle itself. So when you take the axle out for repair, in combination with rather strong springs for the "clicking" action of the numeral wheels - it makes for a long and "interesting" reassembly, with numeral disks and springs going everywhere, all the time. Luckily, I managed to grow an extra pair of hands, and did get it right in the end.

Now, the portrait of the machine:

Richmond picture 1

Richmond picture 1

Richmond picture 1

Richmond picture 1