Michael Langford's CPTops

New Linotype/Intertype Compatible Keytops from Candela Press

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1. CPTops (Linotype/Intertype Compatible Keytops)

Michael Langford of Candela Press has designed a replacement keytop intended to be used on both Linotype and Intertype machines. It is not a direct copy of any particular Linotype, Intertype, or Star Parts part, but is instead a new, compatible design. It has been tested (as of the time of writing) on a Linotype Model 5. He has had these keytops manufactured by injection molding in plastic in appropriate Linotype colors, and finishes them with his own CNC engraving (backfilling the engraving with color). He was assisted in the CAD portion of this work by Christian Arnø.

Michael will be selling them via his Candela Press at: http://candelapress.us/ under the trade name "CPTops." Photographs of the actual keytops as manufactured are on his site (and they look very good).

Michael has released CAD files and photographs of these keytops and permitted their publication here. These files and photographs are Copyright 2013 by Michael Langford and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported license. Please respect these terms.

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Standard Keytop, 4 Views

Four views of the CPTop keytop before engraving, as a computer-rendered image.

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IGES Format CAD File

This is the IGES format CAD model of the keytop. Note that the image at left is of this file as rendered by the "Freecad" 3-D CAD program under Linux. It links to the actual IGES format file, however, not to an image. Unless you happen to have an IGES-capable CAD program installed as a helper application in your web browser, you probably do NOT want to simply click on it. Instead, download the keytop_rev2.IGS file to your own computing environment.

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3ds Max Format CAD File

The file linked here, keytop_max.max, is the CAD model done in Autodesk's 3ds Max® software. (I have no way of rendering this for an icon; hence the white box at left.) As with the IGES format version above, you probably do not want to just click on this; download it to your computing environment.

2. CPTops Field Tests

I was fortunate to receive a preproduction set of Langford's CPTops. Immediately, of course, I had to try them on several machines. While I presently have only one working Linotype, I have a total of eight Linotypes and/or Intertypes (including one which is both), as well as a couple of spare keyboards. Here, then, are some test results. The keytops fit every machine I tried them on.

Here they are as received:

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Here is a CPTop key as fitted to my Linotype Model 5 s/n 56571. This is a "Blue Streak" machine manufactured in 1944. As you can see, the 'X' key on the machine is damaged.

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The CPTop keytop fit perfectly. Note however that it is not identical in size or engraving to the existing Linotype key. This is both intentional and unavoidable. Over the years, there were several different Linotype keys (at various engineering revision levels), as well as compatible (but not identical) keys by Intertype, Star Parts, and probably others. There is no single existing keytop design. Langford's CPTop keytops are a compatible design which is deliberately very slightly different from all of these. This means that if you were to desire visual uniformity in the keyboard, you'd want to replace the full set of keys.

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Going back in time, here is a CPTop key as fitted to my Linotype Model 5 s/n 37696R. This is a pre-"Blue Streak" machine rebuilt in 1925. I'm pretty sure it was rebuilt from a High Base Model 5, which would date the basic machine to before 1908, but it is likely that the keyboard is 1920s vintage. It may well be that its existing keytops are not original Mergenthaler equipment. The CPTop keytop I tested fit just fine. (It is such a bright white compared to these dingy 88 year old keys that it looks as if I photoshopped it (badly); but, no, this is real.)

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I wanted to see how these CPTops would fit Intertype equipment, as well. Fortunately, one does not need a working machine to see whether or not a keytop fits.

Here is a rather forlorn looking keyboard (with Teletypesetter operating unit) salvaged from a scrapped Intertype C-3.

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The CPTop keytop fit.

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Finally (for now), here is a test installation on Intertype C-4 machine no. 35067. This is a Universal ("Streamlined"; rectangular) base gray machine from 1967.

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