Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Do you want to build an Oliver? Part 1

Do you want to build an Oliver Mechanical Typewriting Machine? It doesn't have to be an Oliver Mechanical Typewriting Machine.

First we begin with the base, and the towers. The towers can come off, and indeed I had taken them off, but they are the first thing to put on anyway so I didn't show that step. I also did not show placing the typebar pivot hangers at the back of the machine, as I forgot that picture. Ehem.

With the towers on, we place the washers in their correct places on the tower to prepare for placing the typebar plate.

We then attach the typebar plate, careful to nudge it into its place (there are two permanent juts designed to ensure permanent alignment) and screw the 3 screws in their respective places (one on top to the right, two on the bottom towards the left.).

Repeat for the other side.

At this point I add the front under-plate, which has the front feet. It is bolted in on each side by incredibly large screws.

Next you'll guide the type-bars/levers into place, practicing patience as you line up the keys to their slot in the comb and keep the type-bars from swinging all about the place. Once you've completed a set, you'll screw a plate (seen in a later photo) to the bottom of the type-bar hanger, thus securing the levers in place.

Now, you will place the pieces which hold down the typebars and also help align them slightly. Thus, the key levers and typebars are fully secured.

At any point, before finishing this section but preferably before adding the typebar plate (Woops) add the carriage assembly guide.

Next we add the carriage assembly stop-guide, which ensures proper forwards and backwards movement of the carriage assembly.

Now we add the typebar protecting wing thing and support, allowing the machine to be placed upon its back safely.

Here you can see the typebar hangers and the cover. Once you've done the previous stage and flipped the machine over, you'll add the central piece to the right of the levers as seen here, and the spring-guide (with the holes) to its left.

This may sound crazy, but you then add the springs.

Repeat the previous steps until you have this to look at. This has thus been easy, and you should cherish it. It will soon delve into insanity. Not quite true insanity, but certainly questioning-why-the-Typewriter-Gods-would-allow-you-to-even-take-an-Oliver-apart-in-the-first-place insanity.

Coming in part 2: "So it turns out you need an escapement/carriage assembly"


  1. I'm impressed already, before you get to "the hard part."

    1. Your work on the Sholes Visible was quite the feat, and was quite the inspiration in regards to my inclination to tear apart and rebuild these machines. You've dealt with a far more complicated machine than I have yet.

  2. What an incredibly clean machine. I would love to do this to my Oliver, but for now, I'll watch you. I don't know whether you've read Gary Bothe's account of an Oliver 2 restoration, but his description of calibration after assembly is very interesting:

    1. I actually went over his entries in-depth when doing a restoration of an Oliver 5 a year and a half ago. I must say that Oliver 2's are, impossible as it seems, even simpler than the 5 or other later numbers. Always love to see very early machines like that brought back to life as well

  3. As a matter of fact, I need to take my Oliver apart, first. (Unknowable years in a leaky chicken coop has left it frozen with surface rust.) Your post gives me a lot of hope that it can -- and should -- be reassembled.

    1. You are in luck sir; Oliver's are by far the easiest machines to delve into and take apart then put together again. I would recommend anyone to begin their education on typewriter repair by doing so, actually. The Oliver has quite a few basic premises which, when studied in depth, allow the ability to spot issues more easily in other machines.

  4. I know what's going on--you have created the iFixit for typewriters, (or iTypeIt)! What a noble idea, I am reading every post, love the instructions! Very, VERY important, and much needed inquiries you make and thank you for documenting them for the masses!