Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Why Won't My Olympia SM3 Just Let It 'b'?

Up above is the crossbar that tilts downward with every keystroke. I must make two apologies to y'all. One for the blurry pictures, and the other for my lack of knowledge regarding typewriter parts.
Anyway, that bar tilts down whenever a key is hit.

And these are the two screws that I tried adjusting, without making a difference. Actually, that's not true. If you screw them in all the way, then the keys feel very noticeably harder to the touch. So, in the end, I just loosened them back to approximately where they were to begin with. I had a theory that adjusting these screws might cause the ribbon vibrator to lift a little higher, since I first suspected that the ribbon wasn't high enough to allow the entire typeslug to lift high enough to hit the ribbon squarely in the middle.
Again, all, any suggestions most welcome.
And again, thanks for reading!


  1. It looks like one of those mechanical fingerprints typewriters develop over time... I have an Olivetti Lettera 32 that has pretty much the same issue with some of its typeslugs, but I've come to regard the incomplete m, s, a and r letters as part of my typewriter´s signature.

    In your case, since it's only one faulty letter, that means the ribbon vibrator is working fine. Perhaps the typeslug itself is slightly out of alignment, and thus when it hits the platen the ascender doesn´t quite reach the paper surface.

    I'd suggest a quick fix: try inserting a double (or triple) sheet of paper in the platen, like you were making carbon copies. This will push the writing surface of the original just a little closer to the typeslugs, and might be enough to let the letter b appear properly. Plus, this will also protect your platen and add a little cushioning to the typing action.

    Hope it works.

  2. I agree with Miguel that the typeslug is out of alignment. Try taking needlenose pliers and trying to bend the top forward a little. (If you were coming at the typebar from the right with the pliers, you would be gripping the typebar a bit below the type itself and turning the pliers clockwise.) Obviously, don't be violent. Just exert some pressure and see what happens.

  3. Sometimes those little problems can be especially nagging. I agree with type slug alignment. I had the same problem with an h on one of my machines. A bit of slug tweaking and a complete h.

  4. I have actually got the same issue with my Olympia SG1.

    It could be the hard platen, but I doubt it. There's actually a special tool for aligning type heads. Bit you can do it by hand. But as has been pointed out, you can do it with pliers.

  5. Thanks very much, all! I had a shot at widening the gap in the metal rod which hits against the crossbar underneath. Not sure if it made a huge difference or not. And it's something that I can undo if it causes problems during writing.
    The pliers-on-typeslug method may be the best fix, but I don't know if I want to risk it, since I could make things worse. No matter, I'll take it to my repair guy if it really bugs me. Besides, I realised that half a letter 'b' can't be mistaken for anything else when viewed in the context of a particular word. I doubt anyone will read the word "ball" and wonder to themselves; "What the hell is a 'oall'!"
    Thanks for the responses. I'm beginning to learn that fixing typewriters requires 10% screwdrivers and pliers, and 90% Engineering Degrees.
    Such fun!

  6. Richard Polt is closest to the right solution. I am sure that you have a loose type, I would know better if I could see the upper case B. Pick up the type bar B and hold it in your left hand and use a needle point pliers in the right hand. Gently squeeze the type at the bottom just underneath the type face. It will probably move forward. If so, the solder has come loose. This is fixable and I can tell you how, just ask me. Or you can take to the local repair shop.. Cheers and good luck

  7. Also, don't screw around with those screws underneath as they won't help the problem and you did right to restore them to their original position. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions regarding your typewriters.
    Best wishes....

  8. Thanks, McTaggart. I ended up taking it to my repairer last week, and he spent about three minutes using some weird-looking pliers on the typeslug. Problem solved and this SM3 just shot up into my favourite three typewriters to use.
    Thanks again!