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

25-3-2013 22:23:47  #1

A Simple Complexity

I was poking around under the hood of an Olympia the other day trying to fix a problem and had to pause for a laugh and reflect on how the simplicity of using a typewriter belies the entangling complexity that makes it all work.

Take for example this picture I took of just one innocuous looking corner of the machine (under the carriage - right side). Each arrow indicates an adjustment screw that if turned has a profound effect on the machine's performance. The myriad adjustment points inside a typewriter might be amusing to look at when you typewriter is in good form, but the sight of them while you're trying to figure out a problem is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat.

"To save time is to lengthen life."

25-3-2013 23:29:26  #2

Re: A Simple Complexity

I got my first taste of the complexity (but also the simplicity) of typewriters when I pulled the platen off of my Underwood to assess the condition of the feed-rollers (pretty good, considering). Removing the platen is theory. In practice it requires a lot of patience and foresight. But everything worked out in the end. 

"Not Yet Published" - My History Blog
"I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit" - Sir Pelham Grenville "P.G." Wodehouse
"The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon" - Robert Benchley

23-6-2014 08:42:57  #3

Re: A Simple Complexity

I was amazed at my first sight of the guts of one of these machines; looked like a cross between a Swiss watch and a German tank.  I guess we have to remember that TW production has developed over many many decades of work by professional designers and engineers, each building on the experience of earlier machines.  None of the machines we commonly see were built 'from scratch'.

BTW, what Olympia model is shown in the example, and roughly what do the adjustments do?

Last edited by beak (23-6-2014 08:43:24)


23-6-2014 16:13:20  #4

Re: A Simple Complexity

It is a 1960's Olympia SF, probably a Splendid !   The bottom screws adjust the shift motion.  Top left sets the carriage rail position (after the screw below has been undone to relase the carriage rail)   Top middle and right take the sideplay out of the carriage shift mechanism (particularly the middle one)  there is also an unmarked (silver coloured screw) adjustment below them which steadies the carriage and further prevents sideplay as it shifts up and down.  But remember that all these are to be adjusted in conjunction with their mirror-image compatriotson the left of the machine !


05-11-2019 14:07:47  #5

Re: A Simple Complexity

Hi Uwe,
Interesting thread, unfortunately the image is no longer available. Any chance you have it somewhere around?


05-11-2019 17:15:51  #6

Re: A Simple Complexity

Alas, just one of the problems with not having local photo hosting. If you post your images elsewhere, and move or delete them, they will disappear here. I uploaded it again, so hopefully it'll be around for another five years...

"To save time is to lengthen life."
     Thread Starter

06-11-2019 15:10:42  #7

Re: A Simple Complexity

Thank you Uwe, much appreciated and very helpful as a reference.


Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum