Saturday, March 24, 2012

The orange typewriter: How I fixed a carriage return that don't return

The German's call it Schreibmaschine, or so Google tells me. I call it orange.

I've been looking for a typewriter for months now with no luck. There are very few available around these parts and what is for sale is priced far beyond my range. But I knew, if I waited and continued looking, something would reveal itself. I just didn't expect it to be exactly like the one I dreamt about all those months ago right down to the swapped Y and Z.

The typewriter is made by Karstadt and speaks German. It even has a QWERTZ keyboard and loads of letters with dots over them. I'm going to take a stab in the dark (based on what I've seen of other orange typewriters) that it's from the early to mid 1980s. Maybe earlier. The plastics are a mix of bakerlight and that in-between plastic that is called something like acetate. I actually really like the feel of these plastics as most plastics (like the mouse on my computer) react with my skin slightly.

The reason why I could afford this typewriter is that it's broken. The carriage return did not return. So when you 'press enter' or go to start a new line, the paper just whooshes back to the end of the line of type and not to the beginning like it should be.

But what they heck. I can fix most sewing machines, surely a typewriter is something like an antique sewing machine.

So I did what I always do with mechanical devices, I very carefully and slowly took it apart - Taking photos of each stage so that I can put it back together again. I took it apart a little bit, then I poked things gently with a stick until I could see how it is suppose to work. I discovered that the problem was in just about the centre of the workings under the carriage return.

Lucky for me I could reach and didn't have to take it apart further. The spring is suppose to hold this little ratcheting catch against the central turning thing so that the paper place would move over one space with each letter typed.

Nothing appeared to be broken or bent, it just appeared to be too stiff for the spring. A little bit of light weight sewing machine oil and pressing the Space key a zillion times to work the oil in and presto! Problem solved.

All the other issues, like sticking keys, were easily solved with cleaning and oil. These two links walk through exactly what you need to do to clean a typewriter: Here and Here

So what did I want a typewriter so badly for anyway? Never you mind. You'll find out soon enough.

1 comment:

Josiane said...

I admire how you can wrap your head around all of those things, figure out how they work and what they need to start working properly again, and get them back to their old, happy self!
I have a feeling that the typewriter might come in handy to make the booklet-type thing you had trouble creating with OpenOffice... I'm looking forward to learning more about that project!