Saturday, November 16, 2013

Burrowing into Burroughs

Rear view showing part of escapement mechanism, mainspring, and wheel that turns the ribbon shaft 

Ribbon reverse mechanism (left side of typewriter, currently taking up ribbon from right to left). The gears are currently engaged on this side. When the gears are disengaged the mechanism is higher up and the ribbon is moving from left to right. In theory, when the ribbon runs low, the hook will fall down, get caught by the toothed wheel shown here, and drag the mechanism downwards so the gears engage on this side, and the mechanism starts taking up the ribbon. In fact, aside from various particular things that can go wrong, there may not be enough time for this sequence of events to happen before your ribbon runs out completely and the mechanism jams.

Burroughs spool

Woodstock spool

Wide-carriage Burroughs on the operating table. The side and back panels of the typewriter lift off once you remove lots of screws, providing pretty good access to the mechanisms.

Warped and worn-out soft rubber platen knobs. I didn't throw them out -- you never know what might come in handy.
Nice decal on the wide-carriage machine.

Note the subtle difference between earlier and later Burroughs logos: 

The legend on the back panel also evolved to add "Made in the United States of America."
Maybe Burroughs was anticipating exports.

PS: If you want a service manual for Burroughs, send me an e-mail. Alan kindly sent me a scan that I will share with other interested parties. The manual takes a lot of things for granted and I did not find that it solved all my problems, but it provides helpful diagrams and some very useful tips.


  1. Beautiful machines. I especially like the original platen knobs on 50A5748. I haven't seen any other typewriters with this sort of knob and, really, it has great aethetic appeal.

  2. Grand looking typewriters. Congratulations on your repairs.

  3. I enjoy my Burroughs a lot... I may how to get it out now that I've read your post.

  4. Handsome machines both; the white glass keys, glossy black paint, and chrome detailing look great. I also like that piece on the front with the smaller "Burroughs" label that forms a window for the typebars. I don't think I've seen a standard that has that design.

  5. This typewriter is on the top of my list. I have wanted one for some time. These close looks are very valuable if I ever find one.

  6. Important notes on repairing a rare machine. Congrats and good job. i've never even seen a Boroughs in the flesh I don't think.

  7. There must be two of you right? Identical twins - one has a job, the other fixes typewriters?

    1. We're triplets. The third Richard P. spends his time shopping and watching TV, like any normal American.

  8. Your photo work is like Typospherian Porn. Really love your artistic eye on these.