Simple—If You Know About It

The thing about “common knowledge” is that sometimes it isn’t. Yesterday I discovered by accident a thing that I needed to know, but didn’t even know I needed to. A classic “unknown unknown.” Namely, the four booster bushings holding up the innards of an Olympia SM3 typewriter often need replacing, and it’s dead simple to do. But only if you know you might need to.

The backstory: last October during a working-extra-remote stint in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I slammed on the brakes and pulled a U-turn when I saw a promising antiques shop in a historic town. “Promising”? Promise delivered, because here’s what I found: a very clean tan/green Olympia SM3 from 1957 (s/n 982627) with European elite type in the original case with key.

Photo of a 1957 Olympia SM3 manual typewriter in two-tone paint scheme of tan/green
So purty.

But it did have two problems: the left margin-set was jammed in place at zero (not a bad place for it to get stuck, I guess…) and more troubling was its carriage advance hanging up as I typed, because the carriage was catching on the lower body as it advanced.

Not knowing any better (remember: “common knowledge” isn’t always common), I scratched my head a little, look closely at how things were moving, and decided that the carriage was just settling down too low when un-shifted. Well, I can see the little slider rest adjustment to make to boost it a millimeter, which was all I needed. Carriage didn’t stick anymore, but this played havoc with my lower/uppercase alignment, of course…. Sigh. I resigned myself to adding this to my list of things to get serviced.

But then yesterday I stumbled on myoldtypewriter’s post Out with the Old, In with the New: Olympia SM, and what interesting knowledge it contained! OSMs are apparently notorious for squashed internal bushings that allow the machinery to settle, sinking the guts out of their proper place relative to the body of the typewriter. Well, that’s just what I was dealing with!

One screwdriver and a little persistence to dig the gooey old ones out (see photo below), plus four stiff new flat faucet washers to install (which I already had on hand in the basement hardware trove), and now “Calumet” is back in true! Hooray!

I am grateful to have learned about an “unknown unknown” that I needed to know—and for how easy it was. I hope it won’t be the last time. (Maybe there’s something simple I need to know about why that left-margin set is jammed….)

Photo of distorted rubber washers removed from a 1957 Olympia typewriter
Those 65-year-old rubber washers were barely recognizable. Now my shift alignment is dead on.

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