To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth...

A man of the cloth and the steel he wields

Come on, ring those bells…

underwood-bell1-2Drago’s margin bell is finally working 100% again (probably for the first time in decades, actually) – after examining every millimeter of the rather Rube Goldbergish margin bell system of my Underwood #5 and finding nothing specifically faulty. The problem in the end was probably one of design, as the flippy arm (#20 in illustration above) that powers the bell hammer is operated mainly by gravity to come back down and ring the bell after having been flipped by arm #24.

u5-bellIn Drago, it appeared that the gravity-assisted flippy action of lever #20 just wasn’t aggressive enough to cause the bell hammer to bounce hard enough against the bell to ring it clearly. My solution? Add a bit of spring-powered assist. Luckily, there’s a stopper bar attached to lever #20 about an inch ahead of the pivot point that makes for a handy mount point for a spring.

DSC01308The other end of the spring is mounted to bar #28. Choosing which spring to use is trial and error – too strong, and it causes the line lock to engage early (which should clue you into the baroque sensitivities of the entire margin bell/line lock system). This thin, loose-coil spring worked wonderfully to add just enough oomph to the return stroke of the bell hammer.

Yeah, I admit that the phrase "ring those bells" immediately reminds me of this Norwegian hottie from the late 70's...

Yeah, I admit that the phrase “ring those bells” immediately reminds me of this Norwegian hottie from the late 70’s…

Updated: November 2, 2015 — 10:42 am


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  1. I was thinking of “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward.

    Love the GIF-ish exploded view of the bell mechanism. Now to add sound effects and you’d have a true multimedia experience.

    I was thinking about typewriter bells just yesterday, as I was fiddling with my Webster-Brother portable. It’s funny, looking back on it from today – an entire mechanism just to make a simple tone.

  2. A typewriter’s bell is such an important part of the machine for me. If it doesn’t ring, I feel robbed of an integral part of the experience. I’m glad you got the Underwood’s bell fixed.

    Your animated .gif is mesmerizing. I wish all typewriter manuals had animated .gifs.

    I was thinking of Anita Ward as well. I suppose that as a man of the cloth, you lean toward more wholesome fare like Evie rather than disco.

  3. The best “bell-ringing” song is “Birmingham School of Business School” by The Fall (the intro at least) :)

  4. The first typewriter I got to play with was an Underwood 5. I remember we could wiggle the left margin set mechanism (might have been the right), and it would ring the bell. Just a short up and down motion is all it took. As I recall, the left margin stop controlled the right margin, and the right margin stop controlled the left margin.

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