Torpedo 18b Blue Bird

Living up to the rumors, this one is a smooth typer and sporting a unique set of keys

Rumors

It’s hard to escape the rumors of the Torpedo 18b, no matter where you find information about typewriters, any review of the 18b is bound to be glowing. As a self-proclaimed skeptic, I tempered my expectations, though when the opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t going to pass it up.

Straight out of the box though, this machine defied all of those expectations and for the last few months has been the go-to choice. Lately I’ve been more verbose in my letters than usual, and so the Elite pitch here has been mighty useful



When I started getting into typewriters, I kept hearing about how great these Golden Age machines were. Unfortunately, my first of that era was an Optima Elite which had some character and didn’t leave a favorable impression. At that point in time the gold standard of comparison was an LC Smith Super Speed, which led me to prefer older machines. This machine and the repairs completed on the Hermes 3000 however have certainly raised the bar.

For Export Only

While it makes no difference to the function of the machine, the export brand is a neat twist, and I’m personally very partial to the utilitarian gray finish over the duo-tone scheme that can be found on the others.

This view highlights some of the age on the platen, it still feels soft enough but I have been considering sending this one off, especially considering how much typing I’m finding myself doing on it. Aside from resurfacing it however, the rest of the machine is in nearly pristine condition. Below we can see how it still has the original metal spools and everything is bright and shiny.



The case had been damaged unfortunately and was delaminating slightly, however a little wood glue and some clamps have it all sticking together.



Hardly the most impressive stitching work, but this machine seemed well deserving of a dust cover, so I went ahead and slapped together a quick cover so that it could go to and from the main desk easily, without needing to remove it from the case, which could be quite the pain.



Hardly the most impressive stitching work, but this machine seemed well deserving of a dust cover, so I went ahead and slapped together a quick cover so that it could go to and from the main desk easily, without needing to remove it from the case, which could be quite the pain.



Adding it All Up

One of the main attractions to this machine was the unique set of keys. I’ve seen a few ones out there with maths keys, but this happened to be the first one I’d seen on a Blue Bird. I do find myself wondering what field might have used this combination for.



Typing

In the past I’ve claimed machines have had a light touch, but this one feels like it’s put the rest to shame. On this machine it feels like it’s possible to get moving quite fast and the heavy weight of the machine really seems to keep it in place. You can flick the carriage much like the standards and worry less about the whole machine jumping out from under you.

Despite the smoothness, I do still find that at the end of the day it’s enjoyable to return to the other machines. This one has claimed the position of the go-to machine, but it hasn’t obviated the rest either.