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Elektron and TTS

Started by Mechanic, August 04, 2007, 06:09:59 AM

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Mechanic

Madisonpete and his techanical info on the Elecktron ACE and the Teletypesetter, certainly knows how to make an old lino mechanic nostalgic.  In December, 1962, I was at the Canadian Linotype Christmas party when one of the managers said to me "What do you think of the Elektron, George?".  I replied "What's there to think about.  If you have seen one electron you have seen them all.  They are pretty small."  He said "No, I am talking about Mergenthaler's new Linotype machine."  Geof. Parsons, the head mechanic and I had the doubtful pleasure of the installing the first Elektron in Canada at the Hamilton Spectator.  Fortunately, the Spectator's management was very understanding of getting a new , virtually prototype, machine running.  Finally, one of the design engineers came up to Canada with a whole bunch of retrofits and modifications to the machine. 

There were many problems. The first elevator would travel so fast it would break the stop off the bottom of the elevator.  The mold disc would start to turn before the pot had broken away and the distributor ran so fast  it would drop mats down the channel after the one in which they were supposed to fall.  The machine was very difficult to level.  If the floor was uneven, the base of the machine would twist so that it appeared that the machine was level when it wasn't.  The last problem was overcome once we learned how to level the machine.  I must admit that once the machine was modified it was a very reliable high speed typesetter. This particular machine was operated by Mergenthaler's LOU "Linomatic Operating Unit" which a number of people said should be spelled "LOUSY".

On one occasion, I had to install an Elektron in Mobile, Alabama and some of the comps were standing around watching me and one asked "Are you a bloody Yankee?"  I said":No.  I'm from the real deep south.  I'm from Australia"
The comp replied "Trust the bloody Yanks to paint the machine Yankee Blue."  I pointed out to them that the assembler entrance front was painted rebel gray.

One interesting service call took me to far northern Alberta where one of our mechanics had just installed a new Linotype with a Fairchild Teletypesetter.  No matter what he did, he could not get the Teletype unit to run.  It turned out that Fairchild had wired the harness for the Teletypesetter incorrectly.  At least I got a trip to the northern part of Canada.  Most of my time was spent in the more habitable part along the USA border. 
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast
Queensland
AUSTRALIA


Mechanic

Yes Merv, I installed your Elektron, and the GM at St. Catharines was also very understanding, I remember the "Mat Detector". If memory serves me I believe it was green and red. I was also trying to get the Elektron at Niagara Falls running at the same time. Fortunately it was only a short drive between Toronto, St. Catharines and the Falls. At least you didn't have the added problems of the Linomatic.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast
Queensland
AUSTRALIA

Dave Hughes

Quote from: Mechanic on August 05, 2007, 09:05:37 PM
At least you didn't have the added problems of the Linomatic.

That sounds like a whole new can of worms!!!  :o
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Mechanic

That's right Dave. When we first connected the unit to the Elektron it started and ran without any problems but after about a week it started to do all sorts of strange things. Wrong characters, extra mats in the line, just generally not reading the tape correctly. My memory is not the best, but I believe that it used pins operating "leaf switches" to read the tape and these switches got dirty from the papertape dust, or were bouncing. Whatever it was, it certainly caused us some headaches. I think in the end we exchanged it for a Fairchild Teletypesetter. I don't recall ever working on another LOU. When I returned to Australia and the the Sydney Morning Herald. at end of 1969, they had 24 Elektrons about half  using LOU's and the remainder using Star Autosetters. The maintenance staff preferred the Autosetters, although the LOU's seemed to be running reasonably well.

After 1966 I worked mainly on Mergenthaler's phototypesetting equipment.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast
Queensland
AUSTRALIA

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