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29-1-2015 15:22:50  #1

Olympia SG3

My mad week last week is still playing out. One thing I did was to buy a 1978 Olympia SG3 for £20 from a girl living not far from me - so I just went down there on a bus and came back in a cab. MAN that thing is heavy! She lives two flights up and I live four flights up - and I made it.

It's just so gorgeous and sleek-looking, it seems to sum up everything that was good in 1970s design (I know the look of it is actually late 60s). I love the orange disc on the front, too - it's a real clean 70s aesthetic.

So I got it home and basically the whole thing is rusted up. The segment - rock solid. I also think it feels like the machine was virtually DIPPED in oil at some point, there's just *gunge*. It's all coming off, anyway, with cotton buds and meths. Just a LOT of them. I'm working on the segment, the type bars are so rusted - but just a really thorough clean is making them spring up again, and I've begun attacking the rust on a few of them. Fingers crossed, I think in due course it will be fine. I think that it's been sitting somewhere like outside or in an attic, too - there are little leaves inside it. Possibly someone over-oiled it and it stopped working, and they just got fed up and put it in the loft. One side is rustier than the other. 

I'd love anyone's tips for de-rusting the tiny moving parts!I tried one of those gel solutions on part of it but it was just horrible green goop that then gets everywhere like something from a sci fi film.

It was a bit of a thrill being able to remove the carriage so easily. The carriage is now sitting, quite filthy, on the kitchen table awaiting its turn.

The day I went to collect it turned out to be the day after news came that my favourite - very favourite - uncle had died unexpectedly. It's been a bad week - but on that first day I decided to go get the typewriter anyway. It was sort of dreamlike and strange. And I started thinking of it as being somehow Tom's. He was a graphic designer on Madison Avenue, and a man who made things - paintings, stone walls, food, restoration of different kinds - and loved tools. He was also one of the coolest things about the seventies. It felt really good, on a day when I couldn't think straight or deal with anything at all, to be cleaning out this beautiful machine and maybe bringing it back to life.

I forgot the before pics, but here's an in-progress one:

And here it is when I bought it. Those keys are fine, btw.



29-1-2015 16:46:59  #2

Re: Olympia SG3

Looks like a score to me - although I don't know how 20 pounds translates in USD - and there are few better typewriters made in that era. If the segment is badly rusted then I would recommend Liquid Wrench penatrating oil. It dissolves the rust and leaves a light lubrication. Just don't over do it and it should work great... that is, if there is any in the UK!


29-1-2015 17:28:31  #3

Re: Olympia SG3

If you use a product like Liquid Wrench, once the typebars are moving freely I'd follow it with a thorough application of Varsol (mineral spirits) to dilute and get rid of as much of the rust buster as possible (along with all of the grunge its suspending). 

The SG3 is a fantastic machine. Looking at yours I noted two things: first, it's a second generation SG3 (possibly made in Mexico - can you check the badge on the back right corner?); and two, it's missing the paper rest, which is more common than not with SG1 and SG3 models. Whatever effort you put into saving this machine will be well worth it, and once you have it working properly I wouldn't be surprised if you find out that it's the best performing typewriter that you own.

29-1-2015 19:42:31  #4

Re: Olympia SG3

Congrats on a great find. Rust can be over come just don't get in a hurry. Keep us posted on your progress.


30-1-2015 04:30:11  #5

Re: Olympia SG3

Hi Uwe, yes to the paper rest but I'm not really too bothered about that. For one thing, it made it a  lot easier to carry down and up six flights of stairs! And nope, it's made in Germany.  

I looked up on Amazon and there's no Liquid Wrench over here but there are other brands of penetrating oil, inckuding one by WD-40 - I'm gathering they're the same thing - and thanks for the hite spirits suggestion. It all feels under control! For the type bars, I've used polish and rags and am now thinking some very fine steel wool...? I'm not taking that green goo anywhere near them.  I'm in no real hurry because I find it really satisfying to be working on that stuff and will just keep going... 

& I'm just posting this picture of the back of it because I think these numbers are interesting... I'm assuming RC was the initials of someone ho owned it or something... anybody, any ideas about 173 173?

I am kind of hoping it's going to be as wonderful as it can be when I'm done! Fwiw, that SM8 I picked up the other day - was it only last Sunday?? - already feels like a long-lost relative!

Last edited by KatLondon (30-1-2015 04:31:33)

     Thread Starter

30-1-2015 09:44:32  #6

Re: Olympia SG3

Yes, WD-40 will work too. And I'd get clean it off the machine after it's done its job. 

The paper rests are plastic, so I don't think it would have added anything noticable to your workout. ;-)

30-1-2015 17:27:44  #7

Re: Olympia SG3

Ach, I just meant that it would stick out where I was trying to carry - though of course it will probably have been foldable? ;) 

     Thread Starter

31-1-2015 00:02:51  #8

Re: Olympia SG3

LOL! Yes, it does fold forward onto the platen so you can use a dust cover on the machine.

However, you've given me an idea to write a workout routine for typewriter collectors: bench presses using an SG1 with a 35 inch carriage; arm curls with a medium-sized portable; and stair climbing using two portablse in travel cases, one for each hand. You get the idea.

31-1-2015 16:05:22  #9

Re: Olympia SG3

I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself when I got it to the top of my stairs - though obviously I do your workout all the time, with ags of shopping! Think of it as being in training for carrying typewriters.

& when the cab driver came to get me at the girl's flat, he took one look at me with it and just smiled and opened the back... 

     Thread Starter

31-1-2015 17:09:17  #10

Re: Olympia SG3

That reminds me of a few truly odd buying experiences I've had. I was once instructed to meet a seller downtown, in an alley behind an office tower. It was a really cold day, and as I waited beside my car in the alley, I spotted a woman walking toward me. Walking isn’t exactly accurate; wearing nothing but a sheer blouse, short skirt, and very high heels, and huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive, she was staggering like a village drunkard under the weight of the Olivetti Diaspron she was carrying - the hard way. I ran to her in fear that the heavy standard was about to crash to the ground after slipping from her hands, which by then must have been numbed by the cold. 

This brings up a good point. Did you know that it's far easier to carry a standard with the keyboard facing away from you than with it pressed against you? This method makes the machine easier to balance and carry because its center of gravity is closer to you. She gave me a dirty look when I provided her with that tip, I suspect partly because she had no intention of ever carrying another typewriter again.

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