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Typewriter Repair 101: Adjusting Vertical Typeface Alignment (Segment/Basket-Shift Typewriters)

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UPDATE: Teeritz asked about his Basket-shifted Royal QDL, which does not have the simple single adjustment point. I took a look at one of my QDL’s and he’s right. Instead of the simpler adjustment that the basket shift allows, Royal went with a 4-point adjustment system near the carriage rails that is similar to the adjustment I see a lot on Carriage-Shifted machines:

There are 2 adjustment points each for Upper and Lowercase positions, one on the right and one on the left:

IMG_2926

They are located on either side of the rear of the machine, just in front of the forward carriage rail. They work just like the normal adjustment points (loosen locknut, turn screw to desired height, re-tighten locknut) with the added caveat that you need to adjust *both sides* (right and left) so that they are even. (and LORD, my QDL is filthy!)

Edit again: Teeritz successfully adjusted his Royal QDL, and you can read about his adventures here!

Updated: October 11, 2013 — 11:37 am

52 Comments

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  1. Very handy to know, Ted. Thanks very much for posting this! Sadly, I just took a quick peek under my QDL to find that it’s a whole different ball-game compared to your Sterling. My UPPER-CASE letters on the QDL type just slightly above the lower-case letters. Ahh well, that’s probably the only bad thing I can say about this machine.
    Thanks again!

    1. So it is! I’ve added an update to cover the Royal basket-shifters (see above). These look very similar to the carriage-shift machines in that there are 2 adjustment points each for Upper and Lower case, right and left side, and both sides must be fine-tuned together.

  2. Oh, is THAT where those screws are? Here I was one day about to disassemble the entire basket of the typewriter! Thank God I was sober.
    Thanks for that, Ted! I’ll have another shot at it.
    Cheers!

    1. A very SPECIAL THANKS to you, Ted! A light dab of WD-40 to loosen the locknut and a few adjustments with a cheap and nasty screwdriver and this QDL is now working as good as it ever will. For a 66 year-old machine.
      Thanks again, Mr T!

      1. Most welcome! It’s one of those “once you know, it’s easy” things that can make a big difference in type quality, but I do have that slab-serif font Underwood that is maladjusted in a way that is quite charming – I’ll probably not ever adjust it out just because I really like the cattywampus way it prints. (:

  3. Sometimes just GETTING to those adjusters can be a trial in itself. Good tips, thanks for the clear instruction.

    1. well, *finding* and *identifying* them can be mysterious, but so far these adjustment points are in places that are easily accessed without removing any shell bits. It’s the margin rack adjustment that usually hides behind the shell.

  4. Now I’ll be looking for this in the collection just to try to fix it. Thanks again for your help with my Rocket!

  5. Fantastically useful post Ted! Thanks for taking the time.

  6. Thanks for the suggestion on the typewriter forums. I’ve located the problem on my Underwood No 4 Standard and it’s working perfectly now. The carriage wasn’t rising high enough, which put the Upper case too high on the platen. Here are the two screws that need to be adjusted.

    http://s8.postimg.org/f0x7938t1/DSC_0001.jpg
    http://s8.postimg.org/emvv9hoph/DSC_0002.jpg

    1. excellent! Thanks for the photo links, I think it’s the finding the screws that’s the toughest part :D

    2. Dear Jason Smith,
      You have my undying gratitude! I have the same problem with my Underwood 6 and your photos are priceless! Feels just like Santa has left them under the tree! Happy New Year to you and to our host! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  7. I have a paillard hermes circa 39′ typewriter. It has been cleaned and a new ribbon placed. I like the
    way it looks but a friend comments that my typeface is not entirely even. I have tried typing harder
    and it looks more even but this is not natural for me. Could it be that the carriage needs to be reset?
    Cordially, Beppe

  8. Do you know where can I find the adjustment screw in Olympia werke typewriter?
    Thanks

  9. Thanks for these posts; I was able to adjust a 50’s QDL without too much trouble. Any idea where to begin on a Lettera 22? I just picked one up, and it’ll be in near-perfect shape if I can perform this adjustment…

    1. Two screws right underneath the basket, just like on a Smith-Corona. (see above)

  10. Got ’em, thanks. One (I presume the upper-case) is off to the right (using the same view as in the pic of the S-C), instead of the two screws being vertically aligned. I’m going in.

  11. Now, I’ve got a 1940 Royal Companion (it’s in superb condition), but I can’t find the vertical alignment adjusters. I’ve looked for days and I can’t seem to find any screw or nut that adjusts it. Currently the problem is that the upper case letters are about half a line higher than the lower case letters. Can anybody help me???

  12. I recently bought an Underwood Touchmaster Five. The letter “R” strikes way high above the rest of the line, but the other characters type normally. I think the type slug itself has somehow been misaligned.

    Any recommendation on how to fix this?

    1. I recommend great care be taken as you unsolder the slug from the typebar and re-seat it and re-solder. Generally a job done by an experienced typewriter repairman, but you can prolly do it if you’re patient. Maybe a friendly local jeweler might be able to handle it.

      1. I’m not going to attempt that myself, but thank you for the reply. I’d like to have as correct a diagnosis as possible before taking it to a repair shop. If anything else comes up, I’ll write you again.

  13. Hello Reverend,

    I came here via Dr. Polk’s website with a bit of an alignment issue of my own. I have a 1930 Royal Portable. It appears alignment has gone opposite for both upper and lower keys, resulting in the lowercase letters on the next line! I’ve found the alignment screws, on either end of the rail, but I’m having a dreadful time getting the locking nut off. It’s stuck. I’ve let it soak in PB Blaster but it’s still stuck. So, I rang up Gramercy Repair in NYC and the kindly Mr. Schweitzer there told me that he has precisely ONE nut driver that will fit such a screw. He has no idea what the size of it is or where they might be sold. Would you have some thoughts on the size of that nut? Additionally, Mr. Schweitzer said duck bill pliers might work, but I’m a little afraid.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you very much!

    1. ok, here’s my thoughts, having never encountered this on a Royal:
      1) no, don’t know the nut size. Usually I just try all the sockets in my set until I find one that works, but I haven’t done a Royal, so haven’t tried it.
      2) if the nut is *that* stuck, I suspect your problem is not basket alignment, but is something broken (IE, the nut didn’t slip and throw the thing out of alignment – or else it’d be loose already). Normally, a letter that far out of alignment won’t hit the platen squarely, and the top or bottom of the letter won’t print.

      What I suspect is that either something is missing from one of the stops (some manufacturers use a cork or plastic pad on the stopper that can wear off or break) or something is bent and blocking the basket from actually hitting the stoppers. I have an Underwood Leader that does exactly what you describe, but I have not yet diagnosed the problem exactly. Those are two things I would check though. (:

      1. Thank you for the suggestions, I will check on that about the
        stopper. I spent 2 hours last night first getting the nut loosened, and then going between the screws trying to level things. I’ve gotten it to almost perfect. The socket that fit the Royal is a 5.5mm. You’ve inspired me to finally build out my personal website with my typewriter collection. I’ve written about the alignment issue here:

        http://www.jonposey.net/1930-royal-portable-adjusting-the-key-alignment/

        After that was all done I got the courage to take off the platen and discovered some sad flattened rollers. Alas. Another project for another time. Now to find out why the keys make marks on the paper. I suspect both keys are hitting too high, but if I lower the line, I can’t see what I’m typing.

        Thank you again for your thoughts.

  14. Please help good sir,
    I have a Smith Corona plastic body Corsair deluxe (actually types quite well) so I wanted to get another as a back up. So I bought another one that works great EXCEPT that when you let go of the shift key after typing an upper case letter, the carriage does not descend. I have to push it down by hand. Any ideas?

    1. Either dirt or a bind in the carriage mechanism. If you work the mechanism slowly and trace what happens, you’ll likely see where the bind is. If you sign up as a Typewriter Hunter at the Typewriter Database, we have the adjustment manual for the 6Y Corsair series in the file library. (see my latest couple of posts – I’ve just been working on one of these). (:

  15. Thank you very much. I will sign up.

  16. Thoughts on a Torpedo 18? The late 50s-early 60s variety? I only see one screw/locknut in the center.

  17. I can’t figure out where my adjustments are!! I have a Hermes 3000 and my vertical alignment is off for the uppercase letters or other shift characters. Anyone know where to find the adjustment?

  18. I have an Underwood Universal typewriter. I can’t find the adjustment screws. Can you tell me where they would be? All my capital letters started dropping down below the lower case ones. Thanks!

  19. Does anyone know where the adjustment points are on a Royal Sabre?

  20. No such thing as a “Basket Shift” The proper term is “segment Shift”

    ex royal man

  21. I have a letter (s) too low compared to other ? i have a Olivetti underwood studio 45

  22. My upper and lowercase letters seem to be in alignment, but the tops of my tall letters seem to be missing. Is there an screw that adjusts the angle that the platen connects with the type? I think it isn’t smacking it right at its center.

  23. Thanks for an informative article, and a great sight.. I found the alignment screws on my 1951 Royal Quiet DeLuxe right where you said they would be. I can work them fine. I used a Craftsman 7/32 socket which works to perfection. However, with maximum height dialed in to the screws, I still can’t get my line high enough to level with the nightlines on eight side of the ribbon vibrator. Is there a way to raise the whole basket on the Royal before starting this adjustment? I have several typewriters, but really want to save this nice old Royal. By the way, this machine also has the “bump” when putting on the shift. Is this normal?

    My mom, a professional typists in the 1950’s and early 1960’s was a Royal gal through and through. I love

  24. Hello Ted, very glad to have found your site :). I read this post because my lines are not straight but looking again it doesn’t seem to be related to capitals…The letters are up and down all over the place and not evenly spaced either. Any ideas on where I should start? Thank you, Claire

    1. insufficient information?

  25. Just wanted to say thank you for the article. I was able to raise the UC letters on my ’63 Smith-Corona Sterling.

    Do you have any advice for how to raise an errant letter? My e strikes a slightly lower along with one or two other characters. Thanks.

    1. that usually means the type slug itself is misaligned on the typebar. That requires either haphazard “forming” (bending) or very rare and specialized tools to re-align the slug on the bar. My advice? enjoy the quirkiness (:

      1. Indeed I will! Many thanks again

  26. Is that shift adjustment the same for an Olympia SM3? The screws underneath?

    1. I don’t have one, but I would expect them to be in the same place as the SM7 – ie: one set is pretty easy to get at, but the bottom set pretty much requires a special tool.

  27. Hi, great post. If you know, could you tell me about Brother Opus 900 manual typewriter. I have picture here

    https://goo.gl/w4cvby

    Seems like the adjusting alignment will be the same as your post, it seems like 2 adjustment points under the segment. But I am not sure. If you have a time, please look at the picture and let me know your opinion. Thank you.

    1. Yep, that looks like a Brother JP-3, so it’s basket-shifted, and yes the adjustment points are right under the center of the segment, right next to each other, with locknuts holding them in place.

  28. My SCM Galaxie Deluxe has a similar problem: The uppercase characters are too high & the tops are cut off–but ONLY when using the LEFT shift key. When I user the right shift key, it’s perfect.

    Can the two shift keys be adjusted independently?

    1. that likely means something’s bent or obstructing the left shift. A galaxie has its “on feet” adjustment in the center, so the basket will always be even. Poke around and follow the linkage for the left shift key, prolly be something fairly obvious.

      1. Thank you for your reply! Yes, I can see that the LEFT Shift & Shift-lock key “bottom out” or hit, on a solid metal brace that the right side lacks. So the right SHIFT key can be pushed down a little further, allowing for perfect alignment. Currently, the Left SHIFT, SHIFT-LOCK & right SHIFT each type at a different height. As you said, it’s probably a simple fix. So I’m guessing the UC screw probably needs to be adjusted so the left SHIFT key will hit the correct height. The caps lock key has me mystified for the time being, tho! It’d be nice if it were easier to see the components :)

        1. Would I be correct in thinking that the first adjustment should be made with the CAPS LOCKED, and all UC would fall in place? Then check it against the LC placement?

  29. well, I never do the adjustment with the capslock pushed. I always do the adjustment with the system loose and then check it. I can’t imagine that having force applied to the adjustment while you’re adjusting it would be very helpful.

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