How to Install a Typewriter Ribbon
Typewriter ribbons are essential if you plan on using your typewriter, which many people still do. If you are having difficulty finding a ribbon for your typewriter(s), I sell typewriter ribbons here.
- If your typewriter has spool covers, or any sort of cover which covers part of the type-bar mechanism and the ribbon spools, be sure to remove it, or put the cover up just as you would with the hood on a car.
- Before removing the old ribbon from the ribbon vibrator (the part where the ribbon is threaded through the area where the type-bar strikes paper.) note very carefully how it is threaded through the ribbon vibrator. Unfortunately, there are way too many ribbon vibrator designs to inform you about and take pictures of, but it is rare that you will come across a vibrator that is all that challenging.
- With the cover(s) in the up position, remove the old ribbon spools from the spool holders on the typewriter. If it is needed, there may be a break holding the spool to the holder. Just disengage this break from the spool, and lift the spools (one at a time unless you're really skilled) straight up and out.
- After taking note of how the ribbon is threaded in the ribbon vibrator, you can now un-thread it from the vibrator. Doing this may also help in the noting of how the ribbon was threaded in the vibrator to begin with.
- KEEP THE OLD SPOOLS IF THEY ARE METAL. These spools are not made anymore, and could be of value in the future. Never throw them away!
- Place the two new spools inside the ribbon spool holders until they are completely fit properly. When installing a ribbon that is two colors, always remember that the black goes on top of the red when installing. If you install it up-side down, then the ribbon color selector will have to be used backwards, and it won't look professional.
- Thread the ribbon through the guides that are located somewhere in between the spool holders and the vibrator. They are usually found closer to the spool holders. This just keeps the ribbon guided along better to reach the vibrator.
- The next step is to thread the ribbon through the ribbon vibrator. To make it easy, (only on some typewriters will it help - but give it a shot either way) depress the shift lock key. It helps on all typewriters to put the ribbon color selector on red. If you have a Royal typewriter from the late 1960s, you may find that the vibrator can fold in partly and help the job of threading the ribbon into the vibrator. Fold these in if your machine has them. Now, pull up the ribbon vibrator as far as it will go (only about an inch.) Then, holding the ribbon between the thumb and first finger of each hand, slip the ribbon in behind the two tiny fingers in the middle of the guide at the top. I find it helpful to put the ribbon temporarily behind the vibrator completely, and then threading it in to the slots. This is when the noting of how the ribbon of how the ribbon was originally threaded into the ribbon to help.
- If you are struggling with threading the ribbon into the vibrator properly, look for pictures online, or contact me.
- Once the ribbon is properly installed in the spool holders and threaded into the vibrator, you aren't quite done yet. It is important to roll a piece of paper in the typewriter and test it out. There are several things that can still be wrong
- The first thing to look for is that the ribbon spools are advancing, or taking in ribbon on one side, and giving off ribbon on the other. If the ribbon spools aren't taking in ribbon as they should, then you either have a mechanical problem, or you need to install the ribbon spools on opposite sides. I find it common that you may accidentally install the ribbon on the wrong side. Certain typewriters will take ribbon either clockwise, or counter-clockwise, so that's something to figure out.
- Another thing to look for when typing to test the new ribbon is that shifting on red and black characters don't jam the ribbon with the vibrator, or even the type guide. If this is happening, it is likely that you threaded the ribbon through the vibrator incorrectly.
- If the characters are typing fine, and they are printing as you desire, then you can shut the covers, or place them back on. Release shift lock and the red on the ribbon color selector if you didn't already from testing the ribbon. You are done!
If you are still having trouble with installing the ribbon on your machine, feel free to contact us for some help!