You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

22-8-2021 17:46:51  #1

IBM Selectric US import into Europe

Hey there

I’m currently looking to get my first typewriter to get into writing, and being an a big fan of IBM it will be a selectric III or II. But because most that I can find for sale are from the US, I do have some questions with using it in Europe.

The first thing that comes to my mind is: do I need a voltage converter? I’m not sure what the operating ranges are for these machines, I’m from Belgium which means the outlets here are 220-240 volts.

Another thing is: are there any typewriter shops who can/provide service to a selectric? There are quite a few shops that I have found ‘near me’ as in drivable by car but I seem to not find any who specifically say that they can service IBM selectrics as these do require specialized servicing.

Thank you for helping me out!


23-8-2021 10:54:32  #2

Re: IBM Selectric US import into Europe

I checked a number of my Selectrics and all were rated at 115 volts at 1.3 amps. If you were to use a North American manufactured Selectric you would need a voltage transformer (converter), and one that was rated for the load (I wouldn't use the bare minimum as there could be a higher current draw on the motor start-up).

Something else to keep in mind is that they are quite heavy, and shipping could become an issue if the person sending it doesn't pack the machine correctly. The cost of the shipping would also be substantial.

IBM manufactured Selectrics in a number of European countries - Belgium included (factory code = 2), so if I was in your shoes I wouldn't consider buying one from North America and would do everything possible to source one locally.

I can't speak about who might be able to service your Selectric in your area, but they are more complex machines than manual typewriters (to work on). In my area there are very few who can service these machines today, and that despite the fact they were manufactured here. 

The pronoun has always been capitalized in the English language for more than 700 years.

24-8-2021 12:00:42  #3

Re: IBM Selectric US import into Europe

Ibm produced in europe. All selectrics ive had were made in germany. It wont be hard to track one down with 240 power. They sold loads. 

Just dont ship it. too heavy, and most people dont care enough to pack properly. I would wait for one in good condition to pop up locally. Most shops dont service selectics anymore. Not enough people who still know how to do it and too much trouble for the $$$ they are being paid for it. Thats the big downside of these things. 

Most of the peeps that still can are in the US.

Learned watchmaker and office machine enthusiast from Germany.


24-8-2021 17:49:15  #4

Re: IBM Selectric US import into Europe

Ok, thank you for the information. But what about UK machines? As these are pre 2003, as far as I read, the hertz in the EU and UK are the same with just a 10 volt difference. Would the same equipment be required as one importing from the US, a voltage converter or just a plug adapter? As London is just a few hours away by train these are easier to get. And I saw on this website ( that there are quite a few in the UK.

     Thread Starter

25-8-2021 04:14:59  #5

Re: IBM Selectric US import into Europe

Any electric typewriter intended for the UK market (240 volts, 50 Hz) will work fine on the Continent (220 to 230 volts) with only a change of mains plug.  However, spare parts for the IBM golfball are nearly impossible to obtain in the UK (the last engineer to have a huge stock has now retired due to ill health) and as a result I can no longer repair these professionally.  We are, after all, talking about a machine that went out of production nearly 40 years ago.


21-10-2021 06:50:55  #6

Re: IBM Selectric US import into Europe

I have two, well ish, one is a composer. Both need attention and I've not been able to find anyone in the UK who is prepared to do it. If there is anyone in the UK who can service an IBM I'll pay good money, deliver and collect it.


Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum