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Monday, 4 August 2014

Removing the Paper Plate When Repainting an Olivetti Lettera 22

Follower Mitch Butler is repainting an Olivetti Lettera 22 portable typewriter and wrote asking about removing the paper plate. I probably hadn't helped matters much, because Mitch was looking at my blog post on the "Naked Lettera 22", in which I thoughtlessly replied to a comment by advising someone to use a small Allen key to remove the right-side platen knob in order to take the platen out. This advice, of course, applies to the Lettera 32, not the 22.
Mitch's machine, showing the two nuts holding the platen knob in place.
On the 22 the knob is gripped on to the platen rod by two nuts, which are impossible to shift. This will explain why Olivetti mechanics, when offering to repaint machines while servicing Lettera 22s, only ever repainted the mask and ribbon spools cover, never the paper plate. So often one will see a pistachio green Lettera 22, repainted from the original taupe, but still with a taupe-coloured paper plate.
Mitch wanted to remove the platen to take out and paint the paper plate, but this is not alone extremely difficult, it is also unnecessary. This is how I would go about it:
 Leave your nuts alone!
Unscrew the margin-set rail from the platen end plates.
This releases the back section, including the guide, paper supports and paper bail, to which the paper plate is screwed.
Upon unscrewing this back section, with the paper plate still attached, you will find it is held by a spring, hooked to the back section and at the other end almost underneath the platen. 
After unhooking it, take great care to position this spring in such a way that you can easily access it later, otherwise it may drop down under the platen. The spring is vital to the correct positioning and functioning of the paper plate and back section, and you will need to reattach it to the hook (above) when replacing the repainted paper plate and the back section. 
Unscrew the paper plate from the back section.
Very gently push off the name plate from the two holes at the back of the paper plate. Slowly push something pointed into each hole, a bit at a time, to release the name plate very evenly, ensuring you do not bend it. 
Once the paper plate is repainted, everything goes back together again very easily - with the possible exception of the spring, which can be fiddly. Take special care not to stretch it when reattaching it to the hook at the bottom of the back section. The name plate needs two tiny dabs of glue at each end to hold it in place. Make sure the new paint is well and truly dry before doing this, otherwise the glue will soften the paint.


McTaggart said...

To remove the Right-hand platen knob on a Lettera 22 is very easy. Just grip the platen knob in your right hand whilst holding the roller with your left hand and twist. the platen knob comes out nuts and all! to undo the left hand knob set the line-spacing detent to zero and hold the platen with your right hand and twist with your left. Easy-peasy.

Robert Messenger said...

Might be easy for some! I just tried it again and not a movement. Mitch found the same thing with his. Not for the first time in my case. What's easy-peasy is taking the paper plate off. That will do me, thanks.

RobertG said...

Thanks for posts like this. Haven't a 22 and unlikely to get one, but it is enjoyable to read and see the mechanical details of these engineering marvels :)

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Do you have a tutorial of how to remove the paper plate from the olivetti lettera 32?

Felix H-W said...

Hello Robert,

Thank you for this post, very helpful indeed.
Being the proud owner of a handful of OL22s and OL32s I wouldn't dare take any of them apart unless I had a tutorial like this to guide me through the process.

Speaking of repairs and maintenance, do you have a good solution for replacing the rubber feet on an OL22?
I've found matching grommets to replace for example grommets around the screws that hold the OL22 casing in place, or the Olympia Splendid ribbon cover in place, or the feet on my Hermes Babies and Empire Aristocrats, but nothing matching the feet on an OL22.

Any recommendations?


Robert Messenger said...

Good question, Felix. I've never found the need to replace the boots on an early Olivetti portable - all I can suggest is larger-sized grommets? Or getting some Clark rubber and cutting it to size.

Gilberto Díaz-Rivera said...

Hi, I'm looking for the service manual of an Olivetti Lettera 32. I just want to take out the platen to do some cleaning and paint job. Does the tutorial to remove the platen of Lettera 22 is also good for Lettera 32?

Jacy Eberlein said...

Hello all, I thought it was impossible to remove the platen easily on any of my Lettera 22s, but as it turns out, it just takes a little extra work. The trick, I found was to get a #9 small wrench, and attach it to the nuts on the right hand side. If you add a little of your favourite solvent, then hold the platen and use the wrench to unscrew, it comes undone very easily. The nuts don't seem to be holding it in place, as it is threaded inside of the platen.

The left side was a little harder, but I managed to get it out with a wrench around the knob. There appears to be a small indent on the shaft, next to the platen. If you had the right size small wrench, I think using that as leverage would probably be the right way to do it. Less difficult than I always imagined, though.