Rex Visible No. 4
I wanted a Harris Visible as soon as I saw one owned by a friend. But asking prices online were too high, and I ended up with this Rex, not knowing at the time that they are essentially the same machine. That didn’t matter much, though, when I received it: it seemed as if it had languished in a farm shed. It had rust issues, a stiff carriage and a hiccuping space bar. Even worse was the catching carriage: I couldn’t type a full line without stalling. I was mortified: another clunker.
I took a closer look at the carriage the next day and noticed it snagged at the same points. On a hunch, I removed the tab rings in the back. It moved along without a hitch. It surely helped that I soaked the innards in penetrating oil the previous night. It hiccups now and then, but not enough to distract me.
Though Rex typewriters, which were manufactured starting in 1915, were reportedly budget models at the time, there’s nothing cheap about them. In fact, I find the design and engineering brilliant: the red tab button and margin release are at left, and the shift release, ribbon selector and back-space key at right. The ribbon reverse is in front. Makes sense: everything is within easy reach.
The feel is very similar to my oldest L.C. Smith No. 8: crisp and slightly jaunty. Unlike the 8, this has a three-bank keyboard, something which confounded me at first. But typing speed improved after a few days with it, though this isn’t a machine to be hurried. Which, I believe, is a good thing: being more deliberate results in less typos and, often, writing that is better thought out. The only hurrying I do is hurrying home to switch on the desk lamp and work this beauty.