Refelting an Olympia SM3

Typewriters are noisy. They kinda are by default. Manufacturers heard the pleas long ago and started to take some measures. Some were effective, others… not so much. Some makers even developed “quiet” or “noiseless” typewriters with specific mechanisms that slow down the typehead just before it hits the platen so the cack! isn’t nearly as pronounced. Royal Quiet Deluxe, Smith Corona Silent, and Remington Noiseless are a few examples.

However, if a typewriter doesn’t have this fancy — and surprisingly effective yet complex — mechanism, makers did other things. They installed rubber spacers between the case and the frame so there was a vibration dampener for starters. But one of the things that was almost always done was felting.

Felt is used quite a bit through out typewriters — especially those from the 1940s and earlier. Many typewriters used felt as a typebar/head rest since it cushioned its fall and it was also quiet when it fell back. (It was also cheap!) The main purpose of felt, however, was as a noise absorber.

If you look inside a typewriter, you’ll see it along the sides of the case. Most often with typewriters that have lids on hinges, the entire bottom of the lid will be covered in felt. Normally felting was a default thing to do for typewriters. However it seems that some don’t have it.

My ’58 SM3 is a good example.

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You see, in the process of playing with its ’56 cousin, I realized that the ’58, upon inspection, lacked every bit of felt normally present except for the layer under the lid and a small squarish bit at the back of the case. I was shocked to say the least but I also knew immediately this needed to be fixed. It’s a pretty easy fix, really. Just run to your local craft store and find whatever color felt you want that has adhesive on its back. You’ll just need 1 9″ x 12″ sheet of it. Seriously cheap fix, huh?

First we gotta take the lid off since we need to take the typewriter’s frame out of the case. On an SM3, you just push on the left hinge’s tab with your index finger and push the lid out with your thumb. (Make sure that the carriage is all the way to the left so the bell has dinged.)

Left Hinge

It should give easily. With that post out, the right-side one simply slips out. Once that’s out of the way, there are two little screws that need to be undone so that the facing panel can be removed.

Front Panel Screws

These screws are tiny so please, for the sake of your sanity and the sanctity of your beautiful and loved typewriter, please please please put them in a bowl or a magnetic saucer! The screws should come undone with relatively little force. These machines were put together by hand and it shows: all the screws are tightened just to the point where they don’t move and just a smidge more to make sure they don’t budge.

With that out of the way, center the carriage then set the typewriter on its back so the underside is showing to you. There are four screws that need to be undone here.

Frame Screws

As a habit — I suggest those getting into repair or restoration to do the same thing — I always put the screws I take out in the order they go back in or the shape they were arranged. (You just never know if they’re actually sized for that one hole!) With those out, carefully set the typewriter down on its feet. Cradling the platen knobs in the crook between your index and thumb, you can lift up the entire mechanism up and out. It does take a bit of wiggling, but with easing it will come out easily.

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There is a panel at the back with screws that looks like it can be undone. You may want to try that route, if you wish, but I chose to do it this way because the screws on my ’58 are thoroughly painted over! Now, set that awesome example of Germany engineering aside.

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You should have the case and the front panel all on their own now. As you can see… well, all you can see if one bit of felt at the back of the case on the ’58! The rest could be a representation of a polar bear in a snow storm.

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Go get your preferred cutting, measuring and marking tools. Since I’m a quilter (yes, I’m a quilter), I grabbed what came instinctually.

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It’s a bit odd how I work, but it works. I first cut out the front panel’s felt. Measure the panel then mark that on the adhesive’s backing.

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Cut that out, pull the backing off and stick it on! There is a small notch on one side. This allows the ribbon color selector to move freely. Be sure to cut that bit out so it can do its job.

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The rest of the typewriter I measured out all at once then marked it on the back, drawing the cutting lines.

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Once you cut those out, just carefully apply them to the places where they need to go.

I know what you’re thinking: That is a ton of felt. Yes, it is. Classically speaking — especially if you open up another SM3 — there are just strips of felt and not massive blocks. There were a few reasons for this, I imagine. Dust and penny pinching are two I can think of. But this typewriter is almost always covered when not in use and certainly not in an environment that has lots of dust.

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And that’s that! The interior is now fully felted and the mechanism can just be slid back in. I told you it was easy! Good job! 😀

Now, there is one more step. This is very, very important. So you mustn’t forget to do it.

Ready to write it down and commit it to memory?

Go enjoy your typewriter!

Until later, be safe and enjoy y’all’s day,

Bae

Smith-Corona Skyriter Restoration Part 2

Simple title and to the point. In this section, we’re going to stop just short of removing the carriage. To be frank, I don’t think I will for this restoration for a variety of reasons with the top most being that I can reach all the dirty areas! In this section, it is basically a general tear-down, moving all the obvious bits from the back to give easier access to the bits under the segment. Now, this is majorly picture rich but I was also working at night with really only one OttLite. So for some questionable pictures, I’m sorry. I am also sorry if the mat that the typewriter is resting on offends any anti-gunners out there since it is a Glock disassembly mat. Leave the sentiments at the door, please. I deal with enough drama as is. Thank you. Let’s get to it shall we? As a note: all screws on this machine are slot heads so it is to be understood that any sizes given randomly like 3/16 or 1/8 are screw driver head sizes. Because of my friends in other countries… I’m used to translating from in. to mm. So, scattered through out are conversions, but the screwdrivers (for my own sanity) are referred here only once below:

  • 1/8 = 3mm
  • 3/16 = 4mm or 5mm will work. (True value is 4.7625, so… choose, haha!)
  • 5/64 = 2mm
  1. Remove the ribbon. This is easy enough on practically any typewriter. Here, it is hooked/caught at the front so using both hands you can lift up to bring it out of the first hook then down and back to remove it completely. From there the spools simply come out.
  2. Remove the lid. Here I used a pair of pliers to gently bend the left side holding section toward the inside while lifting up on the lid a bit. It came free with little effort this way and allowed the right side to slip free. The bending was gentle enough to not cause any damage or deformation.

    Lid Hinge

    Lid Hinge

  3. Remove the outer shell. Two screws hold everything in place. These can be removed using a 3/16. Once both screws are removed, pull up on the carriage, using both hands, on the knobs then gently pull back. The entire machine should easily lift free after a possible pop from the tension that was placed upon the case. (Don’t worry about the pop… it’s normal.)

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From here you can go two routes. One just adds a step that isn’t entirely required, but it does allow you to see the ribbon automatic rewind mechanism better — which may need some attention, like this one does. I am including it here as a step to be more thorough.

  1. Spool cradles. (Optional) 4 screws in total, 3/16. The left side requires the loosening of the screw that holds the touch regulator/adjustment in place. (Do not remove at this step!) This screw requires a 1/8. Retighten after cradle is removed.
  2. Platen. This is the part everyone loves to seem to do — and I don’t disagree at all. I think it’s mainly because it really shows you’re doing something… fancy, I guess. Lift the paper ruler up and turn the platen to reveal the right set screw — loosen 1 turn or 2 using a 5/64 or thereabouts. Gently pull and the knob will come free. (May require a bit of wiggling, but it will free itself.) The left knob comes off in a similar fashion revealing the rod. The rod on this model does not come out! Lift the right side up as you push on the rod gently; the platen will come free. It may grip on a roller that controls weither it can spin freely or not. Simply push the roller down and to the left so it is out of the way.

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  3. Platen support.  This can now be removed as one unit with a little wire. I used 22AWG  from my soldering kit. A length of no more than 6 inches (~15cm) is really all that is needed — more if you want more grip. Drop the support so it rocks freely. Thread the wire under the hook of the spring then, while keeping the support steady, pull up on the wire and the spring will unhook. String works here too, but you risk fibers begin caught. Once the spring is free, the support may be rocked forward and lifted simultaneously to lift it out of the machine. The support is actually rather neatly done physically in that the spring places a pulling force upon it which causes it to stay put within the two prongs on either side. Between the prongs and the metal segments that go into them, it creates a durable pivot point.

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  4. Back plate & paper margin stops. This requires a 1/8 or 3/16, your choice, so long as either can fit through the hole. Remembering how this is assembled is important as these two screws alone hole the back plate and the paper margin stops! Take a picture and/or make a note. Loosen the screws 2 turns each then loosen the left and right screws holding the ruler in place. The back should come loose after some wiggling and lifting up. Finish unscrewing the screws that hold the paper margin stops.

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This is what it looks like at this point.

Gettin' kinda bare, yeah?

Gettin’ kinda bare, yeah?

Here the paper ruler may be removed using the same 1/8. First take out the left screw (keyboard facing away) and disengage the attached spring. The right side requires the use of the same 22AWG wire, but stripped to hook under and lift up the spring hook to disengage it. After that, the screw can be undone.

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Well! There we go! Everything that can be painted or should be painted is off the typewriter. Woohoo! From here the paper release lever can just easily be wiggled free and the return lever can be removed as one unit by taking out one screw (1/8).

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And that’s that! Overall Angle, Everything Removed

Hope you guys enjoyed this break down of the Skyriter. Hope y’all have a great day and be safe out there. Thanks for reading! Next up is cleaning the removed parts.

(Disclaimer: This is not an authoritative guide nor should it be perceived as one: this is an opinion based how-to. I cannot be held responsible for any damage caused to you, the typewriter or anything else if you so choose to follow these steps. What worked for this typewriter and me might not work for yours and you. I figure this is common sense, but… just coverin’ my bases.)