Calibration and Realignment

The last step is to tweak various settings to make the machine function properly. If you did not disturb too many adjustments during disassembly, this should not be too hard. It took me a bit more than a couple hours of fiddling to get everything back in shape, but it could have been a lot worse.
Actually, being an antique typewriter freak, this was a fairly enjoyable process. When you press a key, three things should happen: the typebar should descend to the platen and put a letter in the proper place, the ribbon transport should advance one click, and the escapement should move the carriage one space. The last two events should also happen when you press the space bar. It is likely that all three of these processes will require some tweaking.

18. Finished product. Quite a difference from its original condition!

Calibration suggestions that follow are based on the mechanism found on my machine. If the underside of your machine more resembles an Oliver 3, functions of the various parts will be similar, but the method will have to be adjusted to suit the design. The activation of the ribbon transport and triggering of the escapement is a delicate dance involving two things, the adjustment of the "hook" connecting the universal bar to the space bar levers, and (on my machine) the setting of the two "mystery springs" arching up under the universal bar from below. These springs are evidently there to cushion the blow of the type bars as they reach the platen, and their adjustment serves as a form of "touch control." The only time they are activated is when the universal bar contacts them at the end of a type stroke. I found that the machine feels rough and clattery when these springs are adjusted down until they are out of reach of the universal bar, but the touch gets excessively heavy and escapement becomes unreliable when they are too high and are adjusted too tightly. I ended up setting their height so that the universal bar encounters their resistance when the type slugs are about one centimeter above the platen, and then setting the tension (via the bridge screw on the bottom of the frame) to give the best feel. Of course, not having access to the wisdom of the original designers, my approach is strictly trial and error. I encourage you to play with these settings yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Once the mystery springs are set, adjust the hook so that there is a small degree of constant tension between the universal bar and the space bar levers. Too much tension here and the escapement dogs are pulled up so far that they do not fully engage the teeth on the wheel. I think this could lead to premature wear and even chipping of these critical parts. This also reduces travel for the ribbon transport pawls and can put this system out of action. On the other hand, too little tension on the hook results in a sloppy space bar that will not trip the escapement. You want reliable escapement operation and ribbon movement from both the keys and the space bar with the escapement dogs fully engaging the wheel teeth when at rest.

19. Another view of the finished machine

Aligning the type involves several steps. First, you have to be sure that the typebars from the left and right sides are both hitting at the same printing point. With the adjustment rod between the two type towers loose, prevent the carriage from moving by running it all the way to the left until it hits the margin stop. Then type a variety of characters from the left and right sides and see if they print in the same place. At this stage it is necessary to type a number of characters because any one of them may be misaligned all by itself, and what you are looking for is a pattern over a variety of letters. If the left-side letters print consistently to the left of the right-side letters (and this is probably what you will find, since an adjustment rod such as the one used here is designed to pull and not push), draw the two type towers closer together by tightening the rod. Once you have a common printing point for the two sides, it is time to adjust individual letters. Unless the type towers got whacked badly and the typebars donít even nestle into their resting positions properly, chances are you are going to have some (hopefully many!) letters already in pretty good alignment. Go right across the keyboard and strike every letter four or five times. Look first for consistency in printing the same letter. If the machine canít even print the same letter in the same place four or five times in a row, you probably need to look at the little adjustment screws on the typebar retainers. Jiggle the typebar up, down, and sideways. If it is loose, tighten the adjustment screws, either on the top of the typebar retainers or the tiny little ones on the back of the typebar bearing plate, until play is reduced without introducing a bind. The good news is that you can get to most of these screws fairly easily by swinging typebars out of the way, but the bad news is that getting them to turn is another matter. A badly rusted retainer, or screw slots that have been damaged by previous ham-handed mechanics may present some problems.
HINT: Loosen the screws first, before you try to tighten them. Back the screw out a turn or two, apply a drop of oil, and then retighten. Itís amazing how well that works. Good luck!
Once you have consistency with single letter printing, look for the letters that strike the platen squarely and produce an imprint of even density from top to bottom. (If ALL your letters print high or low, and you didnít mess with the calibration tabs on the sides of the carriage rail assembly, re-examine the way you installed the rollers under the carriage). Of the well-positioned letters, now choose ones that produce even horizontal spaces between imprints when combined with each other (not too far left or right).

20. Another view of the finished machine

Use these letters as standards against which the others are judged. Good letters to use for this are ones that fill the printing space neatly, such as n, x, e, s, and o. Avoid letters like q, y, f, j, and k, which are asymmetrical and tend to throw your perception off. Start typing your standard letter (such as "n") and test letters alternately, like this: nqnqnqnwnwnwnenenenrnrnrntntntn, and so on. When you find a letter that is misaligned, GENTLY warp the typebar to the front or back, or squeeze or expand it until the imprint goes where it is supposed to. Of course, when you are done, the typebar still has to nestle into its place at rest without binding with its neighbors. You actually tend to develop a feel for this after a while, and eventually you will be able to do it without breaking into a cold sweat. I have done this process on a number of Olivers and I have never had to use tools other than my bare hands, and I have never broken a typebar (knock on wood).

Of course, NONE OF THIS CONSTITUTES A GUARANTEE FOR ANYTHING YOU MAY DO. Use your own judgment. When you think you are done, type the following non-sentence:
amaranath sasesusos oronoco initiation secedes uruguay philadelphia
Experts have long used this word combination to detect odd misalignments that might otherwise escape notice. When that line looks right, your alignment job is pretty good. When you are done with the lower case letters, type a few lines in caps and see if things still look okay. If you see a quirk here, try the lower case version of the letter again and see if it is still right. Make adjustments as you see fit. Thatís it!

21. It works! New rubber and realignment can work wonders.

Depending on how much rebuilding you did, you should now have either a nicely presentable Oliver 2 for static display or a fully working machine like mine, capable of daily use.