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THE tiny TYPEWRITER THAT MADE ME THE baby WHEN IT COMES TO REPAIR.
VOLUME 3 of TYPEWRITER TRIALS, The Hermes Baby, 1948 model.
The wind is picking up outside, no email from the power company to warn of high winds and downed tree potential, but I am still a little nervous little guy. Before the wind started to pick up, at around 2 pm today while watching ‘The Woman King’ there was a THUD on the porch. I hopped up and saw the shadowy shape of the long-awaited FedEx truck through the curtain. I ran out and grabbed the box they’d left behind and let out a sigh of relief. I went to my office and opened the box, tore out all the paper bunch padding, and set the typer down. I popped the lid and tick-tacked a bit, quickly leaving it as I headed back in to finish a good movie.
So a really quick recap, the movie was great, annndd the feeling that overtook me when realizing that the package on my porch was indeed the Hermes, was due to a long-lost FedEx ordeal.
I had filed a claim, was in touch with the seller just to keep them posted, had spoken to two different people and the package that was supposed to be arriving two days earlier than expected arrived 4 days late. I know four days late isn’t that bad, but it was the built-up expectation of the early arrival that got me all jazzed up, along with the loss of updates and the package being moved back out east. When I noticed that the package that was supposedly out for delivery in my neighborhood would end up in Chicago the next morning….I was a little bit confused, lost, and grumpy. It then found its way back to St. Paul Minnesota; which it had already passed through, so I knew it was heading back my way. Through the snowy chasms, it drifted, as a feather fluffed about on a chilling wind. I was nervous thinking how many times it was being set, tossed, slammed, smooshed, slid, and bounced the whole two weeks it got shuffled, and when it finally got here, the sigh mentioned before, was with all the force I could muster.
It is currently sitting on my desk which was recently cleared and is now much more spacious.
The glorious baby, lid not pictured....because then you couldn't see the show.
Boy oh boy, is it nice and small, very small. Once I sat down in front of it, in all of its small hardy glory, the feeling of the keys affected me. I loved it. I also really love the feeling of the Olivetti Lettera 22, but they are so different. There is this very responsive lightness to the action of the Hermes baby. Fresh, sharp, snappy.
Here is the frame off the body.
Here is the back panel removed.
Here is the bottom panel. All in all there are 3 main body/outer shell pieces to be removed, cleaned, re-felted, what have you.
Replaced the Rubber feet with new grommets. Perfect.
The keys are little tiny black bowls, shining lettered and numbered beacons, drawing my fingers and thoughts from the inward, outward. It was in these first few moments that I began to be happy with this purchase, and then something happened.
I started to clean and check things the next day, removing the frame and base, and using the usual suspects to remove dirt and grime. After about 4 hours of cleaning and finding some places that seemed like someone had dipped them in shoe polish, I realized the platen wasn’t clicking consistently as it rotated.
What even is this?
Part of the process. Isopropyl and cotton swabs.
When I would turn the right platen knob it would click, click, click, smooooooth, and then if I turned the left one after, again away from me, it would be smooooooth until it tightened a little; then the clicks would follow. Also, the line spacing was not ratcheting correctly as I pushed the carriage return and checked its movements. I began searching for discussions where these similar issues were being brought up, were there answers? I found a bit of info on the later versions of the Hermes baby, and the Hermes 3000, but very little on the earlier babies. Wahhhh. I ended up using a one-paragraph tip on a forum and it mostly helped. I am not sure that the advice applied to my model, but it did allow me to remove the platen and in turn get at the gear for line spacing ratchet movement and try to figure out what in the hulk was angrily disrupting my typing experience.
This is the only writing I found about the removal and re assembly of the platen.
The order of this was laid out in the paragraph, so I did it in that order, and then when reassembling I realized it was worse, so I had to redo the process. The second time around I just did it in whatever order I wanted, and after putting it back together I noticed it was working better…but for how long? Not long at all. This “repair” lasted about 2 typed sentences and then the left knob would be slipping, well, not in a loose way, just in the sense that it would no longer click and pull the paper. There were a few things that became clear to me, even though I haven’t yet fixed this issue fully. Once the platen is out and you have access to view the ratchet wheel and what lies inside and beneath, you will notice there is a small indentation on the inside of the wheel, there is nothing on the roller that fits into this groove, so it is reliant solely on the pressure put on it by the wheel when screwed in to hold the platen and allow movement when the carriage advance is activated and the spacing takes place. I was a bit puzzled by this. It seems that the indent or groove is maybe there due to factory machining, a holding place, but serves no actual purpose. After wiping down the feed rollers and the platen itself, and getting into some places I did not have access to in the beginning, I started to put the pieces back together. In doing so I ran into a little snafu; the end of the knob that screws into the left side of the platen has two sizes to it. The metal right after the plastic knob is a bit wider and then it gets a little smaller to be able to fit in the space in the ratchet wheels center.
Lining these two up while trying to reset the platen was hard yet crucial. Beneath the ratchet wheel when setting it in place and pushing down on the entirety of the platen, there is a metal arm that has a small wheel with bearings in it, this turns as the ratchet (toothed) wheel is actuated. This small smooth wheel pushes up on the ratchet wheel while trying to re-install and makes for a bit of a trial-and-error situation. Try try try again and you too will get it; it does fit and it will feel great when you get it. Does it mean it will work, unsure. I am still trying to figure out the little details and it may require some expert hands, but I will keep giving it some thought and some elbow grease. I did do some other little things as well, including sanding off rust, replacing striker padding, and so on.
Sanding off old rust before resetting the platen.
The old type arm rest removed. Looks like tooth imprints. cool.
As you can see, there was a bit of rust under the type arm rest as well. I unscrewed that and sanded it.
Here it is after treatment.
Cleaning the ribbon guide/lift as well.
Along with cleaning these.....they were filthy.
There are a few other things that were new to me that made me wonder what was going on. There is this little piece between the line space designator arm and the left-hand platen knob. It looks like a two-pronged tiny fork.
I had no clue what this did and I thought there must be a place for it somewhere to highlight its functions! After messing with this area for a while, I realized it just rests between the line space selector arm and the platen knobs threaded bar, atop the metal, and this presses on the side of the ratchet wheel. I believe it is just to create space between the selector arm and the ratchet wheel so the selector arm doesn’t slip and fall. Not entirely sure though, so don’t quote me on this. The first time I put the platen back in and screwed in the necessary parts, the platen wouldn’t move at all. This was due to not screwing in the left-hand knob all the way, jammed it was. If you look you will know if you have failed to do so by noticing that the threaded end where the half-circled metal stop washer rests on the inside of the knob, does not allow enough room to set that metal piece and let it sit snug; even before screwing it in place.
The platen will jam up and you will have a useless roller. So you will need to push down on the ratchet wheel after setting the platen, hold it, and move it around against the tension/pressure roller beneath the ratchet wheel to find the fit needed to give the wheel and knob hold, while also having the freedom to move. This was the trickiest part for me while cleaning, but once I got it back in correctly, I realized that as I pushed the carriage over and activated the line spacing mechanism; only after about 3 times of that, the left side platen knob would become loose. By loose I mean that it would need to be turned away from me and put back in the position to allow the clicking when rotating the knob; otherwise, it would be smooth turning when using either knob. The same as it was earlier…So the verdict as of now is just being aware and prepared to tighten the left knob as I type, otherwise it won't work all that well. I just received another baby, in worse shape than this one, and I will be using both to reflect one another while trying my hand at repairs. Taking notes and wondering, lots of wondering. At the end of this article, here I sit in my bed, icing my back, and wondering what it was all for. The parts of this work that remain in my mind and keep me interested and feeling at least slightly fulfilled are the exploration and the practice. Seeing that although I didn’t get to the absolute bottom of the issue and slide up nicely beside a job well done, I had the opportunity to look deeper into this little machine. I got to see some of what is making this baby crawl and also what I can do to be able to use this typewriter even if it isn’t in tip-top shape. Until it is, I will poke around, compare it to the other one I now have, and eventually, I will get it.
I hope all of you out there are finding ways to envelop yourselves in whatever it is you are interested in and go a bit deeper, even if you “fail.” For what is a failure but a trying, and what is trying but doing something you have maybe never done before, or just approaching something you have done before in a different way, how exciting is that!?
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Till next.