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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Beyond Help: Hammond Multiplex

Earlier today I sought help with a peculiar problem with my Hammond Multiplex. After some hours, and with very helpful guidance from Lynda Beckler, I was able to find the source of the problem. The left of the two levers which push the typeshuttle had been quite seriously twisted out of shape, and this had weakened the lever joint to snapping point. Why anyone would have done this to the machine is beyond me, but the evidence is clear that the lever had been forcibly twisted to the point that it could not work properly.
Now that I look more closely at the photos I took earlier today, I can very clearly see the difference in height and angle of the two levers. I didn't spot it back then and spent almost a whole afternoon trying to work out what the problem was.

I am afraid the typewriter is beyond repair. As I say, it eventually became apparent to me that the two levers did not line up squarely - there was quite a discrepancy in height and angle between them. The left one was clearly out of shape and therefore was not able to connect and disconnect from the shuttle mechanism, as the right one was able to do so smoothly. 
So, sadly, this is one typewriter I will NOT be able to typecast with. It will become a showpiece now rather than a working machine.
A big thank you to all those who made efforts to help.
Earlier, Lynda Beckler had pointed me in the direction of a troublesome anvil lock (a little tab on the left hand side of the turret). This lock appeared to be blocking the left-side key movement. I discovered the rod holding the lock in place had become unscrewed at the bottom and was leaning at a pronounced forward angle - further evidence, I suppose, of someone having tampered with the machine when not knowing what they were doing.
Lynda added that the anvil lock was an optional extra, and was a problem with some of her own Hammonds. 

Earlier still, based on quick responses from Natalie Tan and Richard Polt (for which I thank them both) I found that after I had struck one of the right-side keys, and started from the centre of the keyboard working left, the left-side keys worked perfectly well - for about half-a-dozen keystrokes or so, then the left lever jammed up again. As events transpired, the twisting of the left lever mean it could connect and disconnect for a short while, but then got locked up.
My initial report this morning: You may be shocked to know that I own three beautiful Hammonds and have not yet been able to type on any of them. They remain a complete mystery to me, much to my eternal shame. Richard Polt did give me a lesson on some very basic things, such as just winding paper on to the platen, when I was in his office at Xavier University, Cincinnati, and I returned home thinking that, armed with Richard's instructions, I might be able to type with this Multiplex. But no such luck - I can type perfectly well using just the right-hand side of the keyboard, but not the left-hand side keys. One very obvious problem is the lever on the left side of the shuttle mechanism at the top of the Hammond, which is clearly not moving into position as it should do, as seen by the action of the right-hand side lever. My track record with reading instruction manuals is appalling, it is almost as if I have an aversion to them. I know nothing about this printing point shield, for example, but the machine appears to type perfectly well (that is, using the right-hand side keys) without it. In fact it doesn't print at all when the shield is in place. As you will appreciate, I am determined not to force anything and cause any permanent damage to this typewriter, so any assistance that can be offered in safely sorting out the left-hand lever problem will be very much appreciated. Indeed, if I can get it working properly, I'll sent you a thank you letter written on a Hammond Multiplex.
This thin metal printing point shield clips on either side of the ribbon guides. I have taken it off the machine for the simple reason that, with it on, the machine does make any impression on the paper at all. Is this because of the small tear in the metal at the bottom of the shield, I wonder? Does the ribbon need to slide through these clips either side of the printing point? The thing is, the machine types very well without this shield in place, but of course only when using the right-hand side of the keyboard. So is the shield necessary in order to type?
Below: There is an apparent tear in the metal (circled). The shield is here propped up against a shuttle.
Below: The problem lever (circled), which is not moving the shuttle around to the right. This lever should push forward to the larger slot seen above it.

 Below: The lever which does work (circled), seen here about to move into the correct position in the slot above its resting position.

 Below: Have I set up the shuttle correctly? Does the arm underneath the shuttle slot need to be so positioned? The outer ring has an opening to slide in the shuttle, which has a lip (seen in the circled portion here). It seems to me that the shuttle must then be moved around the outer ring (away from the opening) so that the prod of the rotating (oscillating?) arm can fit through the hole in the lip.
 Below: In the lower circle, the problem lever - this seems to be as far as it will move of its own accord once a key on the left-hand side of the keyboard is struck. What might be hindering its proper movement?


Richard P said...

Well, I am stumped, as I haven't run across this problem with my own Hammonds. Something deep in the guts of the machine may be getting in the way. I hope another reader can shed some light!

Miguel Chávez said...

For what it's worth, my Hammond had that very same problem, with a twist: you could type with both sides of the keyboard, but the type rotated to (apparently) random positions other than the ones corresponding with the keys you were pressing.

At the time my guess was that the machine needed a good cleaning and oiling, but never got around to service it or having it serviced.

Rob Bowker said...

I'm full of optimism for you sorting this out. If you have more than one example, you should be able to compare to see if the problem is that something's missing. If everything's there it must be something out of place, wrongly adjusted, bent or just dirty. It certainly doesn't look dirty! Walk away and come back another day. Good luck!

Miguel Chávez said...

What a pity. Perhaps that's the weak spot of that design, and the reason why it didn't catch on.

The good thing is, with the fast-reducing prices of 3D printing services, it might be possible to have the piece duplicated... might be worth a shot.

Scott Kernaghan said...

This can, and I will boldly make a claim that I currently can't immediately back up:- will be repaired.

I'll have a bit of a think about it, and I'll have a closer look at John's Hammond when I can, to see if the part can be replicated (or possibly repaired).

The problem with machines of this vintage is that they didn't benefit from the technological advances in metals and metal manufacturing that the proceeding century has had. As such, the parts are often prone to metal fatigue. There's a reason why the Remington upstrike machines use wood in their type-bars.

Scott Kernaghan said...

I keep looking over these photos, and I feel there is something missing. The bend in the arm has occurred after something has locked up, and someone has forced something to move.

I feel you may find another broken component deeper in the array that has probably bent after someone forced the key to move.

That lever just indicates the end result of the problem, not the start of it. But is quite possibly the reason that the shuttle isn't returning to centre correctly. They look like they are designed to feel the orientation of the shuttle on return to position.

So, I'd follow the damage back form those. If you are able operate the parts by hand, and remove the top covers, just look at what moves when you move them.

morris said...

Hi Robert,

Totally off on a tangent here....

I am curious to know....what would a Hammond Multiplex, B model 1923, with the original wooden box in working condition be worth these days?



Bill M said...

I just picked one of these up this afternoon. Looks quite like yours. Similar problem also, but I noticed the part that spins the shuttle is properly seated on yours. I forget exactly what I did to get both sides working. I flipped something 180 degrees just because it did not look correct. I need to stare at mine a bit later on and email you if I come up with something.

I too had to rely on Richard Polt to get me started with my Hammond.

These are quite unique and a real bear to use. I've got a tremendous amout to learn.

Did you ever get yours to type from both the left and right of the keyboard?

Cameron C. said...

This may be a bit of an odd request, but would you be get in contact with my via e-mail. I have an identical model, and am wondering if you would consider selling a type shuttle.

I can be contacted at:


Istvan said...

Thank yo for this very detailed fault description.i have this exact problem with my multiplex too ....I also was wondering if it was assembled correctly or comething might be broken or missing ... I have studied every google picture and YouTube videos multiple times and it seems to be the same like those lucky working ones. So it was siting on a shelf as a decor piece but I'm gonna do a full on autopsy , take the whole thing to pieces, clean and lube everything and put it back together ... I'll document everything with pictures . In case ( most likely ) I'd forget what went where ... I'll come back if I manage to fix it ... I might buy a working one too ...just to have a solid " blueprint " .
Fingers crossed :)

QuiltingB said...

Would you please contact me @ and let me know how the type arcs fit onto the shuttle of the Hammond Multiplex. Mine is a 1917 model. I just got it in the mail from a man and it was his grandfathers. I don't think he knows anything about it. When I opened the case the type set was on the bottom of the case not where they belonged. I know the vicinity of where they go but I do not want to cause any damage to the machine or it's parts. I have a manual coming but thought you may be able to help as I want to make sure it works as stated in case I need to send it back.

Thank you very much,