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04-9-2018 07:04:41  #1


IBM WheelWriter - ribbon life

This might better be asked in the 'paraphernalia' forum, but since it's not about any specific ribbon (there seem to be several types) and the printwheel used may well give different answers, I figured this is the best place?

Does anyone have any metrics, however crude, on how long a certain print ribbon for this machine might last? E.g. have you ever kept an eye on how many pages you printed before needing to replace a particular type of ribbon, and what line spacing and printwheel were you generally using.

Better yet, does anyone have any info on how long any of the ribbon types are in metres - I could then measure how much distance is used per character and estimate how many characters a ribbon might get.

 

15-9-2018 09:18:02  #2


Re: IBM WheelWriter - ribbon life

I am exactly nerdy enough to measure the length of a wheelwriter ribbon and work out how many characters it might be expected to print. But I haven't reached the end of my current ribbon so I haven't done that yet.

However the ribbon cassette for my *actionwriter* does specify the ribbon length to be 200ft. I don't know if I've made a mistake in my maths, but the stats for that turn out to be quite disappointing.

I have a Pica (10 cpi) wheel in the Actionwriter - not sure if that makes a difference to how far the ribbon is advanced per character. Anyway I measure 10 characters to use up 3cm of ribbon. So I think that means a ribbon might last for 20330 characters. If an average word length is 5.1 characters then that equates to 3986 words.

Ignoring corrections, that means if you were to magically manage to type up a polished version of your 60,000 word novel, you would eat through 16 cassettes. That doesn't sound too bad for a novel, because the word "novel" makes you think of something with lots and lots of words.

But I use it for drafting, I use the defaults of 1 inch margin all around, I use a pica font and I have double line spacing. So each page is quite sparse, i.e. not very demanding on ribbon usage, and, just gut feel before I did any calculations: I thought it would be nice to get say 100 pages from a ribbon.

But I counted 300 words on a sample page, so that's just 13 pages of very sparse text from one ribbon. And if you are not using double spacing, you could expect as little as 6 pages of A4 from one ribbon.

This seems rather low; I'd like to think I've got the maths wrong but I think it's about right.

I wonder if you get much more from a wheelwriter cassette? They are certainly bigger. And the high yield versions suggest they get 70% more than the high quality ones (I'm talking IBM originals). I have no idea what the aftermarket ribbon lengths are compared to IBM originals. But as I say I am exactly nerdy enough to measure these things as and when the time comes

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15-9-2018 09:27:35  #3


Re: IBM WheelWriter - ribbon life

Oops! Scratch all that. I'm pleased to say that the ribbon length for the actionwriter cassettes is 200 metres, not feet! Not sure how I managed to remembered that in the space of less than 24 hours which is how long ago I studied the box it came in!

So the results are about 3.3 times better that I thought.

A 60,000 word novel will use about 5 cassettes, and I might get about 42 pages of draft text from one cassette.

Using it for single-spaced documents, one might get about 21 pages of text.

And if your main use is just writing one brief letter a week to companies or to tell them how disgruntled you are (a hobby I think I may take up at some point) then the text will be even more sparse, and I reckon one cassette could last a year.

That's all starting to seem a bit more reasonable!

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15-9-2018 22:03:25  #4


Re: IBM WheelWriter - ribbon life

60k is more novelette than novel. 

And five cassettes! That's absolutely dismal. To put it into perspective, I'm 130k words into a novel using a manual standard (Olympia SG1) and the same generic 13 mm typewriter ribbon, which is all of 12 m long. That's just one reason why I rarely fire up my electric models that use proprietary cartridges, and why I love electrics that use standard ribbons! 


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

16-9-2018 08:25:15  #5


Re: IBM WheelWriter - ribbon life

Uwe wrote:

60k is more novelette than novel. 

And five cassettes! That's absolutely dismal. To put it into perspective, I'm 130k words into a novel using a manual standard (Olympia SG1) and the same generic 13 mm typewriter ribbon, which is all of 12 m long. That's just one reason why I rarely fire up my electric models that use proprietary cartridges, and why I love electrics that use standard ribbons! 

Haha! Yes, 60,000 words has stuck in my mind for a long time as being the sort of entry point for persuading a publisher that you have actually written something that could be called a "novel". I don't currently have any idea how long the book that I have produced an outline for will turn out to be; it's a learning exercise.

My favourite electric is also one that takes a standard ribbon - it's the Facit 1820 so also has a carbon film ribbon, but I prefer the results of the basic ribbon - not as dark, but thicker and more easy on the eye in my opinion.

One thing I love about my Actionwriter though is the fact it came with a fabric continuous ribbon cassette. I've already opened it up carefully - it's quite easy to do without it breaking - and re-inked its ribbon. It's nice to think that I can still use the machine even if carbon ribbon supplies die out.

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