Typewriter Repair 101: Adjusting Vertical Typeface Alignment (Carriage-Shift Typewriters)

In part One of this Typewriter Repair 101 series, we discussed adjusting the typeface alignment on Basket/Segment-shifted typewriters. One question that came up pretty quickly was the basket-shifted Royal QDL, which has a more complex 4-point adjustment system that is similar to Carriage-shifted machines. Today, we’ll examine some examples of these carriage-shifted machines, and adjust one out:

First up, the carriage-shifted Hermes Rocket – although for the purposes of the demonstration, I’ll substitute my identical Empire Aristocrat. This typewriter is extremely easy to adjust, although its 4-point system is slightly more complex than the usual 2-point system on Segment-shifters.

Note that when *both* upper and lowercase letters are out of adjustment (as is the case here) it’s important to adjust the *lowercase* letters first, because they have descenders. First make sure that letters like “h” print nicely and evenly with the ascenders not fading, then *make sure* to double-check letters like “y,g,j,q” to ensure that the descenders also print clearly. Then you can go ahead and adjust the uppercase letters to line up with the lowercase letters. I tend to use the letter “h/H” to check this because they are exactly the same size and are easy to line up.


IMG_2987 IMG_2987b

Small travel typewriters like the Rocket tend to have “rocking” carriage-shift mechanisms, where the carriage rocks up and down on a single pivot, a design that makes it easy to have the adjustment points right on the ends of the carriage rails.

In sharp contrast, other carriage-shifters use a mechanism where the carriage shifts straight up and down on a sort of rail system of it’s own. These tend to have the adjustment points either accessible from underneath the rear of the machine or, in some really annoying cases, buried deep inside the machinery in such a way that they are extremely difficult to get at. Here are some examples:

The Corona 4, which uses full-head screws, has to be accessed from below the machine, and needs a small,bent crescent wrench to loosen the locknuts. Inconvenient, but not horrible.
The Corona 4, which uses full-head screws, has to be accessed from below the machine, and needs a small,bent crescent wrench to loosen the locknuts. Inconvenient, but not horrible.
Carriage-shifted Olympias. sheesh. I would *hate* to have to adjust out one of these. Not only full-head screws, but you have to flip the machine back and forth because one set is accessed from the bottom and one set is buried deep under the top ribbon cover.
Carriage-shifted Olympias. sheesh. I would *hate* to have to adjust out one of these. Not only full-head screws, but you have to flip the machine back and forth because one set is accessed from the bottom and one set is buried deep under the top ribbon cover.

31 thoughts on “Typewriter Repair 101: Adjusting Vertical Typeface Alignment (Carriage-Shift Typewriters)”

  1. I’ve adjusted the uppercase letter position before on a few carriage-shited typewriters, but never attempted any lowercase adjustment. I’ve got a few that are quite out of alignment that I think I’ll try to get aligned perfectly. Thanks for the pictures! If and when I do the same, I’ll post photos on my blog as well.

  2. This thread reminds me so much of valve clearance adjustments I used to regularly make on motorbikes. Especially the push-rod Honda CX 500 and BMW R80RT. And I have tried and failed to adjust an Olympia SM. Turned out it was OK anyway and that all I needed to do was take the looseness out of the carriage run.

  3. Thanks to your very instructive story, I just managed to adjust a Groma. No, not a Kolibri, *just* a Modell N… So, now this machine is almost ready for typing a typeface specimen for the database. And I will, again, try to find out how the lowercase alignment works with an Alpina.
    Speaking of the database, I have a few remarks. First of all, thank you for all the work you put into it. It’s a pleasure to surf and search. And it is easy to use.
    But: is it possible that there is a 0 too much in the list of Groma Modell N, T, and E for 1941?
    The Olivetti list has a dead link – see Lettera 32.

    1. Ok, I looked up the Groma descrepancy in Schramm 62, and it turns out there was an extra “2”. the correct serial number is now represented. (:

      I removed the link to Clickthing’s list, as it is now dead.

  4. Munk,

    I have been trying for over a year to adjust vertically a lettera 32, but it seems to be an impossible task.

    It is the only typewriter I have with the right keyboard plus it is a present from the wife, so any help would be most welcome.
    I have not found the two screws on the underbelly of the machine or a double set on the ends of the carriage.

    Please help me throwing some light into this matter (images would also be very welcome).

    Thanks in advance


  5. Lettera 32 is quite easy to adjust.
    Looking at the machine from above:
    There are two screws, one on each side of the top of the basket (slightly lift the ribbon and you will see them)
    Use a flat head screwdriver and loosen or tighten them to adjust typeface.
    Good luck

  6. Hey there,
    First of all, I want to tell you how much I have been enjoying your posts. I thank google for bringing me here when trying to figure out how in the world to make correct the vertical typeface alignment on my Olympia SM-9. Turns out there isn’t much out there written on the subject unfortunately. I know you mentioned the SM7 above but I was wondering if you by chance have any guidance on the SM9.

    Hope you’re still enjoying the ones you scored at the thrift store the other day!


  7. Hello there,

    I got an Olympia SM 3 from 1954, very nice condition.
    Unfortunately today I ran into a problem where the carriage was hitting the side of the machine.

    I loosened the screws of the two bent metal humps on the left and right side, like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnP6RVLaS5U)
    Now the carriage does not hit the side of the machine, but lower and upper keys are out of alignment.
    Before that it was near perfect, but what’s more annoying: a sticking carriage or unaligned keys? :-/

    When I try to get these metal humps as they were before, it gets better, but then the carriage is hitting the side again.
    I read some fixing possibilities in the typewriters yahoo group, but without pictures I don’t dare to do more.

    Maybe you could help me with this? I would be deeply grateful.

    Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany


      1. Thx mate, but I already fixed that problem a week ago. Nearly went crazy about the Olympia…
        Unfortunately one of the original screws broke and one internal screw thread got damaged, so I had to replace the screws and secure one of them with a threaded nut :(
        This really annoys me a little bit, especially because I am a mechanic and should know better. But who for f***’s sake decided to use M3 threads on plain sheet metal? I don’t get it. Too weak in my own view. Guess they didn’t expect anyone disassembling their machines after 60 years…

  8. I’m kind of thinking about picking up an Olympia SF, but it has this problem. I generally have no problem with tweaking and fiddling on old hardware, but not if it has the potential to break things. Does anyone know if the SF is as difficult to adjust as the SMs? Thanks!

    1. I don’t have an SF, but I’m pretty sure it’s carriage-shifted, similar to the Hermes Rocket/Empire Aristocrat above. Shouldn’t be too hard to adjust.

  9. Excellent article, and photos to boot! I have been tryign to apply the same logic to adjusting my Underwood Noiseless Model 77 but to no avail! It is carriage shifted, but I cannot source these adjustments… am I missing something obvious on this one? Or, have you heard if the approach to these machines’ adjustments are different, perhaps?

  10. Hi, just wondering if you know which screws need to be adjusted on a royal 201? i’ve been searching everywhere online, but can’t seem to find any info on it.

    thanks in advance!

  11. I bought a Sears 1983 electric typwriter for my grand daughter for Christmas. The bummer is that the type is mis aligned the uppercase letters are significantly lower than the uppercase letters ( whose tops are faded out) WHERE ARE THE SCREWS to correct this mis alignment? I was very disappointed in my purchase until I found this blog. And now I have hope to make this gift Great…

      1. Oh my! that is exactly my machine. BUT I see two pairs on each side …. two look like tiny lock nuts and the other two have small Phillips head screws. So which set(s) needs adjusting ….to change the alignment

        1. same as the carriage-shifted Rocket. (see above). one of each pair of screws adjusts the uppercase for that side, the other is for lowercase on that side. loosen the locknut to allow the screw to turn, then tighten it when the position is as desired. (:

          1. Thank you so much for your information and pictures of the 1983 Sears machine. My husband managed to loosen the 4screws and 4nuts BUT we are having difficulty figuring out WHICH SCREWS control the upper case ( inside or outside) and which screws control the lower case OR do both screws together effect the alignment. Could you shed some light on our predicament. thanks.

  12. Ok …..thanks again for your info HERE. we finally figured out that after loosening the nuts, we could adjust the tiny screw stem within and hence align what was necessary. We certainly wouldn’t have known where to start without your expertise . You’ve saved us considerable time and energy in finding someone knowledgable to fix this this typewriter. Thank you again for your patience.

    1. I am having difficulty loosening the nuts and screws and also would like to know which screw adjusts the lowercase letters (inside or outside screw). The uppercase on my machine is much lower than the uppercase but prints clearly but the lowercase are missing the upper part of the letters which leads me to believe that the uppercase if fine and that the lowercase needs adjusting. Can you tell me how you loosened the nuts (tried left nothing happened) and which screw (inner or outer adjusted the lowercase). Thank you for your help.

      1. well, there are different sorts of nuts and screws on different machines, so without knowing the machine you have it’s tough to give a specific answer, but lock nuts work in such a way that you have to hold the screw it’s locking in place in order to loosen it. hold the screw still with a screwdriver (if slotted) or wrench (if it’s a bolt), and use another wrench to loosen the locknut just a bit. you don’t want to do much more than a turn or two of adjustment, usually.

        to find out which set of screws adjusts which case position, simply look closely in there with a flashlight and note which screw rests on the stopping position when the machine is unshifted. push the shift up and down a few times and you’ll see which set gets stopped in which position.

        If your uppercase is ok, then find the lowercase adjustment screws (see above), then hold the screw with one tool while loosening the locknut a turn or two. then turn the screw a few turns one way and re-lock the nut. Test the lowercase against the uppercase again. If it goes more wrong, repeat and turn the screw 2 or 4 turns the other way and re-lock. if it then gets better, adjust from there.

        Note on why there are two sets of screws to adjust: each set controls one side of the typebasket. Thus we use “Hh” as the baseline, because it’s in the center. To fine tune each side, use “Aa” for the left side, and the “1/4 1/2″ key for the right side.

        1. Thank you so much for your quick reply. I have a sears the scholar with correction electric typewriter model 161 53772. The adjustment screws are side by side on either side with the locknut screws just below the adjustment screws. I will try your suggestions. Thank you again.

    2. No problemo. (:
      They aren’t bad little machines, these Sears electrics from the early 80’s. Kind of the last gasp of the life of the typebar electric, and possibly the last typebar electrics ever made. Manufactured by Nakajima probably, in Japan. Certainly flimsier than a good solid manual portable from the 60’s, but perfectly fine for everyday typing.

      1. Unfortunately I am unable to remove locknut and do not want to damage it by apply too much force with the pliers I am using. Do you suggest any particular tools to use on such a small locknut? The location is very difficult to use a typical wrench. The photo you referred Anne to is very similar to my machine. Thank you for your help.

        1. I use a small crescent wrench or socket (depends on the kind of nut and where it sits). You can also spray a little penetrating lubricant on the nut and let it set a couple hours before trying again.

  13. I have a Remington model 5 carrage shift that needs lower and uppercase type alignment. I can’t locate the adjustment screws. Can you be of any help.

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