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09-5-2023 12:37:27  #1

Different sized spools on Olympias

I have a few Olympias, and they all use what I have come to know as a standard sized spool.  On ribbons unlimited I order 6N054.  But I recently got one that has a much thicker post.  I believe it's 5mm. I think this is called DIN2103.  it has a pound sign over the Number 5 key, and so it's from Europe.  I tried to find this difference documented somewhere but could not, just a few stray comments on the Internet.  Does anyone know the rhyme/reason for what Olympias use what size spools?


09-5-2023 15:29:08  #2

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

The DIN 2103 spool is the standardised spool for Germany from before the Second World War and was gradually adopted by many other manufacturers from different countries.  Virtually every Olympia and Adler in the UK uses these spools, and so does Facit.  However, in America, the Underwood pattern spool became the most popular due, originally, to Underwood's very high penetration of the market.  Other manufacturers, mainly American, gradually adopted this spool - even though they made their own versions look slightly different to maintain sales of Genuine 'own brand' ribbons.    Examples of this are the Royal portables and Smith Corona portables which have different-looking spools but will take the Underwood pattern ones without any problems.  Hermes adopted this spool post-war, as did the Japanese manufacturers like Silver-Reed, Brother and Nakajima.  In order to export successfully to America, Olympia (and I believe Triumph-Adler) had to modify their typewriters to take the most popular spool in that market - Underwood.  I have had the opposite experience to you - I have seen an American-market Olympia SM4 which has clearly been factory-fitted with 4mm spool posts specifically to take Underwood pattern spools ! 


11-5-2023 12:46:46  #3

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

Very interesting. I always assumed typewriters were designed for one type of spool and it never occured to me typewriters were adapted to take other spools. 

Now I wonder, is the Underwood pattern spool the same as what is known as the Group 1 spool?


11-5-2023 15:37:05  #4

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

The Group 1 spool (also known as Group 1001 as of 20 years ago but Group 1 is still widely understood) is the DIN 2103 spool.  To confuse matters even more, the German DIN organisation renamed it 'DIN 32755' some years ago but 'DIN 2103' is still widely understood and referred to.  The 'Underwood pattern' spool is known in the UK as Group 9 or Group 1009.  It is the spool used by all post-war Hermes and lots of non-Olivetti Italian portables.  Olivetti, of course, went their own way with a unique spool right to the end.  There are numerous examples of manufacturers adapting their machines for different spools according to the market that they were selling in to.  The first batch of Silver Seiko portables made for Imperial for example were equipped to take Group 1 spools.  Later batches and those branded 'Silver Reed' reverted to the Underwood pattern Group 9 spool.  Torpedo portables used the Group 1 DIN spool, but when production moved from Germany to Holland and the Remington name was substituted, the machines were adapted to take the Remington 'spool-less' ribbon.


12-5-2023 01:57:33  #5

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

Sorry, I meant Group 5,6, not Group 1. My ribbon supplier lists spools for Hermes and Brother as GP 5,6 1009FN. Therefore I assume these are the same as the Underwood pattern spools. Is that correct? 


13-5-2023 02:25:30  #6

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

Yes, Group 1009FN is the Underwood spool.  FN = Fabric Nylon


13-5-2023 08:41:29  #7

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias



13-5-2023 20:55:31  #8

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

thetypewriterman wrote:

Yes, Group 1009FN is the Underwood spool.  FN = Fabric Nylon

But so isn't FNXXXX designations talking about the specification of the Ribbon and not the spool?  I wish there was more information that comprehensively cataloged and enumerated all Spool types.....their inner/outer diameters, their center hole width, etc.

     Thread Starter

14-5-2023 01:58:33  #9

Re: Different sized spools on Olympias

I also wish there was such a thing as a handy chart with all this information, and also a cross-reference between the different numbers used of the years for essentially the same spool. The spool (or ribbon) numbering system is completely different between the UK and USA, and even within the UK has changed a number of times throughout the last half of the 20th Century.  Yes, FN does denote the type of fabric but does form part of the specification since most users are looking for a spool that will fit and reassurance that it is actually a fabric ribbon and not, for instance, carbon film.


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