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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Olivetti Lettera 32 on its way

This Ivrea-made Olivetti Lettera 32 portable typewriter left here this morning, westward-ho. It was distributed by Olivetti Australia of Macdonell House, 321 Pitt Street, Sydney, and sold by Australian Capital Territory Olivetti agent Ronald Bland, on Ipswich Street, Fyshwick, Canberra.
Based on questions I often get asked by new users of this model, I typed out the following notes for the new owner. They cover most of the basics contained in an original instruction sheet, such as the one above, but also include a few other pointers more relevant, perhaps, to the present time:
1.              DO NOT under any circumstances dispose of the existing ribbon spools. These are specific Olivetti-fit spools, with a peculiar wide centre opening, and are irreplaceable.
2.            When needed, replace ribbon with Malaysian-made Fullmark Universal typewriter ribbon, winding the new ribbon off the plastic spools on to existing Olivetti metal spools.
3.            DO NOT use WD40 as a lubricant. Use Australian Export lubricant on all parts of the machine.
4.            The carriage lock, under the right side of carriage, can be easily applied by accident. If the carriage locks, simply slip up the lock lever.
5.            From time to time, check the tightness of the ribbon spools nuts, which are vital to the correct movement of the spools – not too tight, not too loose. With the ribbon spools cover off, test type to ensure the spools are turning correctly. Check the ribbon movement mechanism (switches in front of the spools).
6.            There are eyelets at each end of the ribbon which should automatically reverse the direction of the spools, but take care that they do not slip through the metal gates which switch the ribbon direction (and get caught in the vibrator).
7.            When carrying the typewriter out of its case, use three middle fingers under the front lip of the ribbon spools cover, clasping the metal bar with the fingers.
8.           The unmarked key at the top left of the keyboard is a right margin release key, which allows continued typing after reaching the right margin. Use lower “l” for the figure 1.
9.            Beside the margin release key is a lever to set and release tabulations.
10.         The red key is the tabulation key.
11.           DO NOT under any circumstances use Wite Out. This leaves difficult-to-remove marks on the platen and feed rollers and also the mask of the machine.
12.         Ensure the comb of the segment is kept free of dirt, ash, eraser rubbings etc.
13.         Clean the typeslugs on the typebars with an old toothbrush dipped in Shellite, ensuring the liquid does not splash on to the machine and platen.
14.         Take care that the ribbon is wound on as shown here. Wind it outside the two outer pins and through the gates, then as shown through the ribbon vibrator:
15.         Ensure the ribbon vibrator is in no way impeded at any time.
16.         The front lever on the right side of the carriage is a platen release switch which allows straightening of the paper after the paper has been wound on to the platen.
17.         Ensure the escapement release levers at the back on each side of the carriage are always in the “up” position after using for free movement of the carriage.
18.        The line spacing switch is on the left side of the carriage.
19.         There is a colour selector switch on the right side of the keyboard. Black-and-red typewriter ribbons are no longer imported into Australia but can be bought online. The middle settling (neutral) is designed for manifolding and disables the ribbon vibrator.

20.       When packing the typewriter in its case, ensure the carriage return lever is folded downwards.


Miguel Angel Chávez Silva said...

Very useful! I'd only add that you can adjust the keyboard touch with the small lever located under the typebar cover, to the left, between the mask and the ribbon spool.

And stress again: "Never use WD-40"!

TonysVision said...

Good tips - almost universal. Not sure about the carrying method - seems like the ribbon cover would just pop off. You have given me an excuse to get my Lettera 32 out of mothballs and try that - it lives out in the RV awaiting our next trip. For carrying most machines, I usually put my fingers under the part of the frame that wraps around the front of the keyboard. Oh, you forgot instructions on the pronunciation of 'Lettera'.

Bill M said...

Good information.

Ed Harrison said...

Good information. Purchased a Barcelona Olivetti Lettera 32 last week for $10 and restored it to near new. I love the way it types. Vinyl case was ripped at the zipper (of course) Building a new case out of North American black cherry and Baltic Birch plywood. Is there a better lightweight portable typewriter?

Anonymous said...

Great information, great tips. My 32's carriage locking lever (lower right side) seems to be stuck. Has anyone had this prob ... ahem, enjoyed this challenge before? Thanks, Will

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if anyone could suggest why the carriage return on my Lettera 32 will fail to lock into the return position only sometimes. It will suddenly fail to stop returning properly and if I inch it back into the return position incrementally that seems to work fine. Thank you!

Tom said...

I have a Yugoslavian 32 which does not have ribbon spool nuts. As far as I can tell the ribbon spools have not been threaded to receive them. Does anyone know if this is a common feature of other 32s and is this likely to cause me problems down the track? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Love using my 32! I've used it for almost any typing I can do on a computer

shing said...

Does the lettera 32 have a setting for spool tension? When typing with red, the ribbon "slack" hops around alot and sometimes gets to the opposite side of the metal guide thats connected to the type basket. My ribbon vibrator was catching the centre "sights" and not returning back to its position. So I was bending it gently, it worked, but now if I type too quickly on red, the lower part of the type couldnt catch the ribbon, so letters like p,q will be missing their tails. Is the problem lie the adjustment to ribbon vibrator? and is this the normal way of adjusting it, by bending?