Trouble in Paradise with my Olympia Socialite.

My Olympia Socialite has become my go-to portable. I bought it some weeks ago for a great price and it made its way from California to Florida through hurricane and flood-ridden America. It took a few extra days to arrive. When it arrived, I found that the packaging was in horrible shape, mostly due to the seller’s carelessness. That said, the only real damage seemed to be a crack in the case. I also noticed two missing screws in the margin-setting bar. One I found in the shipping box. The other was gone for good. I found a replacement in my parts bag. It was a bit too long, but it did the job.

Ever since then I’ve enjoyed typing on the machine, albeit the typebars needed some loosening up. The other day, however, the escapement began to catch at random parts on the page. The carriage would not advance.

The backspace lever would not connect with the escapement. I took a look at the backspace mechanism. What was the problem? I opened up the machine.

It did not seem to be the culprit. My mechanical intuition is pretty good, but I’m no savant. I have to take matters slowly to avoid making mistakes. The Socialite is no Olympia SG1. As you can see from the photos, it would be difficult to remove the bottom frame, and the space for tools and fingers is small. I took a closer look and soon realized that the escapement wheel was moving up and down and instead of staying in place. This meant that it occasionally slipped out of alignment with the loose-dog, obstructing clearance. I realized that the nut that would have held the wheel in place was missing. I had luckily found a nut on my floor the other day. Yes, it was a match. Now, how to bring the screw down so that the nut could be secured correctly? I did not want to remove the carriage. Could I push the screw down from the side in this narrow space?

Nope. Silly me. It’s a screw. Screws have ridges. There was no way for me to manipulate the screw from the side. Still, I did not want to mess with removing the carriage on a machine with such compact mechanical parts. I took a look at the bottom again.

Could I twist the screw down from the bottom? The great danger would be stripping it. I knew that if it did not budge at all, I could not move forward with this plan.

I was happy to find that it responded to GENTLE turning. I turned it counter-clockwise since I knew I was facing the screw the wrong way. Then I replaced the nut.

Sure, I scraped up some metal, but nothing beyond cosmetic damage. Now the escapement wheel stays in place.

I also know that if any other problems develop, they likely will be due to loose screws. These are the kinds of problems that can develop when shippers are careless. The other day I nearly bought a boxy ’70s Hermes 3000. The seller did not set a price. I offered a low $30. She seemed to be unloading a relative’s typewriter because she was moving. She responed, “yeah idk?” I did not pursue the deal. A seller who can’t be bothered with crafting clear language is a person who shoves a machine in an oversized box without packaging. (Also, she listed the shipping price at seven dollars.) Buyer beware. Some sellers have a screw loose. (Apologies. I could not resist the bad pun.)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Richard P says:

    Good problem solving! I agree with your judgment about Ms. “idk.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      Thank you. Looks like Herman’s was a blast. I’ll have to get up there one of these days.


  2. John Cooper says:

    Nice work. What did you use to grip the screw so that you could turn it by the threaded end without stripping it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      Pliers—very, very carefully. If the screw had not budged with ease, I would have stopped immediately.


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