Thursday, July 7, 2016

How To Properly Tune A Blickensderfer Typewriter

I was experimenting with the creation of Hammond impression strips when I decided that I would go ahead and take another look at my Blickensderfer 9, which was still buggier than hell to type with. 

I ended up getting it working. Woah.

Let me share with you thus my newly acquired wisdom (I made another video filled with pauses and unscripted errors since I decided to make it on a whim. This blog post will detail the videos contents in a more coherent way)

And here we go.

1) get the arm activators notched properly.

First, a picture of the front of the machine minus the front plate. You can see the right side activator arm most predominately. Note that the screw shown in the next picture is the one you use to raise or lower the frontal selection tab, which also adjusts where the typewheel activator arms settle, and you will need to make sure that they fall into their proper notch on the body's activator arms.

This screw with the nut is the one I just mentioned. Adjust it until the arm activators fall into their notches and dont lock up when you hit V or B.

2) Get the activator activation screws set properly

Youll see to the right of the ink roller the push-plate that hits the activator arms, and causes the left side ratchet to start moving at some point after you've hit a key on the right side, or vice versa. This timing is instrumental in the operation of a Blickensderfer.

These screws need to be adjusted so that when the actiavtors are at rest, they are at the relatively the same position. You will need to tighten or loosen these screws slowly, testing as you go, to see whether or not the stopping tab shown below hits the proper spot at the proper time on both sides, testing P and Q for the upper limit, and V and B for the lower limit. If these are not tuned right, you will often print the incorrect character.

As mentioned, they are the cause of the timing difference between the sides. Each key has two levers which it hits on the way down; One that turns the typewheel, and the other that activates the universal bar and the other sides ratchet arm (thus stopping the rotation of the typewheel and locking it in its print position for that moment).

Here you can see the stopping tab. It has hit the gear like section below the typewheel at its furthest point, allowing it to print Q. This will be instrumental in tuning the typewriter, and you will need to pay attention to whether it smoothly goes to its proper spot, or stops before even hitting the gear. If that occurs, you need to loosen one of the screws mentioned prior, because what is happening is that the other sides ratchet is being activated too early. If the stopping tab hits so early that its in the wrong spot, the reverse must be done. Its a careful balancing act all around.

In theory, its quite simple to tune one of these. In practice, you will need patience and a steady hand to get the screws aligned just right. But once you do, you will have a working Blickensderfer typewriter once again.


  1. Good work!

    Are you using an ink roller made for a printing calculator?

    1. Thank you!

      Yes, that is indeed a calculators ink roller. Found a pack of two for about 7 bucks at the local Office Max. They sit a bit looser than an original one would I believe, but otherwise work quite well. Came in blue, too, so that was a plus.