Monday, February 13, 2017

The Noiseless Portable Typewriter, Back In Action

Continuing where I left off last, I was in the middle of cleaning and repairing the "Lion Without A Roar" as I've dubbed the machine.

With the mainspring easily fixed (I can stop pushing on the carriage now!), I had to tackle a not so easy problem. The escapement rail is held in its proper place by two torsion springs that are engaged slightly when the escapement lever is thrown. Both were somehow broken on this machine. It took a short while and a good bit of cursing, but I was able to fashion a properly working, new torsion spring (just one, I wasn't ready to test my luck) out of a bit of standard spring coil I had on hand. I can use the escapement lever again!

I forgot to take pictures of the old feed rollers, but lets just agree that almost any feed roller that old is going to be petrified. They had turned a yellowish-white, were hard, but definitly not brittle. It took some serious effort to get the old rubber cleaned off so I could make some new ones using my patented heat-shrink tubing method. Two in front, two really big ones in back (I can insert paper now!). I've determined that the quality of a machine is often told by how many feed rollers a machine has, and how big they are. Its the weirdest thing.

Next was the bell ringer. The original spring quite literally disintigrated when I touched it, so I had to try to find a replacement. I stole a keylever spring off a Fox portable parts machine, and it proved so be just barely small enough. The original spring was impossibly thin, and anything bigger creates far too much tension on the carriage as it goes by. And now my bell is considerably louder than it probably should be. But hey! Now I can tell when the end of the line is approaching!

As I started putting it all back together, I found that the A key wasnt printing. It took a solid half hour or hour (I lost track of time), but I tested the following, in this order;

Are the typebar linkages gummed up? No.
Is the keylever being prematurly halted? No.
Is anything bent? No.
Is there damage to the keylever from use? Yes.

As is the case with plenty of sliding-activation designs, constant use had worn a good hole in the typebar. So, I took it out to try and see what I could do. Amazingly enough, you can take each keylever out without any trouble. Just rotate the little rod holding them in, and pull the lever out. That's it. Ridiculously simple.

A rather unique keylever.


It was not the problem. So I continued with the query;

Is the ribbon moving correctly for the A? Yes.
Is the escapement worn where it activates? No.

I noticed that when I tilted the machine a bit, the A printed. This just confused me even more, because it theoretically meant that force wasnt being transferred to the typebar well enough, and a bit of gravity helped.

But, that wasnt it. It couldnt be, after my other efforts.

Turns out, the A typebar, for no apparent reason, was actually just barely striking the edge of the printing guide, losing its momentum and rebounding back. I couldnt see this, of course, until I placed a screwdriver along the edge of the printing guide so that the A typebar, if it truly had its momentum, would slide into the proper place. It worked, and I had to carefully "form" (I had to bend it, ok? OK!?) the arm of the typebar to get it to swing into place properly. Now I can type the full alphabet!

A swath of my tradmark purple ribbon installed, I had a fully functional Noiseless Portable Typewriter. Its in need of some adjustment still, but its working pretty well as is. You would not believe how quiet it is. Shifting is louder than the typebar action. This machine could, quite truly, be taken into a library and possibly not get you kicked out.

Noiseless Portable Status: On Standby

Noiseless Portable Status: Type at the ready

I have to test a thought that came to mind; can my Underwood Noiseless ribbon caps possibly fit on this machine, since its based off of this design anyway?  Place your bets!

And hey, look! Random video about it.


  1. Congratulation on the successful repair! Sure is a fine looking typewriter.