Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Back to Life: Voss S24

Remember this Voss? I brought her home on Thanksgiving Day last year, but there was nothing to be thankful about once I tried her out. It looked pristine, clean and glossy with no signs of rust, but it simply refused to type. The type slugs hovered just shy of the platen, and despite several attempts at repair, even cracking open the case to get to the inner workings better, we just couldn't get it to work. It seemed we were lacking some vital tools needed for the job. 

So, in March of this year, I took it up to Basel to give to Georg. I figured if it was beyond hope, he could use it as a parts machine. But, within a few hours of taking off its case, he fixed it! And sent me pictures of it typing - I could hardly believe it. I was sad not to have gotten to use it - I still couldn't say I had ever used a Voss - but Georg seemed attached to it, so I resigned myself to letting him keep it. But then, last week, as Peter traveled from Basel to Geneva, Georg gave him the Voss to return to me. 

Reunited at last! Except, all was still not well - in the image above, you can see how the carriage return lever scraped on the ribbon cover with each use, so seriously that it was rubbing a groove in the paint and I could not even use the lever to return - I just pulled the platen instead. In the comments on my post describing this problem, Richard kindly suggested that I pull up the lever to its original position. So this morning, I got out the typewriter, and did my best:

SUCCESS!!!! Finally, I get something right for once. It was a simple fix, but still felt odd at the time - I was sure I was breaking off the lever and didn't think what I was doing could possibly work. But I kept at it, gently but firmly, trusting that I would feel when it really was going to fall off. And after each attempt I would test it again to see whether it cleared... and finally, it did. I can return the carriage using the lever, as intended. It is still a bit close, but the few millimeters is enough to save the (rest of the) paint finish from further scratches. 

Despite all she has been through, she still looks pretty good. Debating on whether I shall keep her, though. I am in a different frame of mind these days from when I got her and I'm not quite sure where she fits in the (downsized) typewriter collection I am envisioning for myself. Still, at least now I can say I used a Voss. I also changed the ribbon: 

Selecting a new old stock Kores red/black cotton ribbon that a reader sent me from Portugal last year. But, what should I find when I opened the cellophane package:

Mold! Unfortunate, but I suppose I could see how it happened. Still, this has never happened to me before and I wasn't sure whether to discard the whole roll. In the end I figured there wasn't much damage a moldy ribbon would do to the inner workings of the typewriter (type slugs can always be scrubbed) and so I cut off the mold and used it anyway. 

Test of ribbon. Looks fine, all things considered. I should spend some more time coaxing the letters into alignment - the top of the "h" never seems to print well and the "v" still sticks, but we are really 98% of the way there to having a solid B+ typer, maybe A-. 

What I loved about this typewriter when I received it: the original duster and cleaning brushes. I might repurpose this cleaning kit for my sewing machines; it is too nice to be left to linger in the box (all my Hermes brushes are shut up with their respective typewriters, for example, and are rarely used for anything). 

I also liked the plaid lining of the case - so stylish! Reminds me of another case with a plaid lining that I will be sharing with you in a later post...

And, finally, the case itself. Handsome, bulbous, and really quite large. Seriously, I have sewing machines that take up less space. Voss S24, old chap. Good to have you back. For now, anyway.


  1. Glad things worked out finally with you and your Voss. Inarguably, it's a handsome typewriter. But I definitely understand what you mean when you say you're in a "different frame of mind" than when you first got it. Focusing is part of the maturing process, isn't it. You realize that you just can't own every attractive typewriter you bump into!

  2. Yay! I'm glad a little chiropractic on the return lever did the trick.

    Happy typing, and watch out for stray Higgs bosons from CERN.

  3. Hello, glad you're enjoying my typewriter, which is now yours again. It was actually feeling happy in the company of my other two Vosses. You will not believe it, but I forgot to take down the serial number... could you please help me out?

  4. She's a beauty! That's a brand you don't see around here, and it looks really solid. I particularly like its construction, and the shape of the type cover and all. Nice to see it's working again!

  5. Yes, I have a bunch of Kores new ribbons from India; one of them had the same exact kind of mold on it. And I did the same thing you did :) No problems so far.

    Nice typewriter, pretty shiny. And heavy-duty. Cool case too!

  6. Nice typewriter. Glad everything worked out. I do know how easy it is to amass typewriters and reduce what little extra space exists in the house. I still find it hard to resist certain machines regardless of their age. My goal is to stick to unique type faces and very good condition ones on my wish list, but the list keeps growing.

  7. What a snazzy looking typewriter. That side profile is to die for, and the name plate on the front makes it look like, to me anyway, something that would be on a car.
    I bought a whole box of NOS ribbon; Elk brand and made for the Royal 10. I figured for the price, I will just respool them. My god...the mold on some of's disgusting. Generally, there is just one HUGE chunk of it near the end of the ribbon, and not much on the rest of it. I have just been cutting that off, and the rest of the ribbon seems fine, although a little light.

  8. I got to use that as well. It is a nice machine, for sure.

  9. I am very curious to know exactly what Georg did to effect the repairs -- the machine's complete lack of operation was such a source of frustration for you. What ended up being wrong?

    1. It was only an adjustment problem of two screws really - howevrer it took time to identify these (I did it by comparison with a "healthy" machine), and then there was a lot of fiddling around until i got them in the right position. I will post some pictures I took in the process.

  10. I love the Voss. Its one of those machines whose looks match its performance.
    I have 2 of them but unfortunately neither is in perfect shape.
    1 is missing its name plate. And the other is missing its ribbon cover altogether so i have no idea if its a happy face or sad face (although if i were a betting man, itd have to be sad since its missing its cover).
    Still, i use them and i hope against all hope that one day i will find those missing parts to my machines.
    Also, great looking case! it looks real clean and new still: did you clean it?

  11. I had the same carriage return lever problem with my SM3. I ended up doing the bending with the lever removed, but with the same results. It works, even if it is a little closer to the ribbon cover than I'd prefer.

    Nice clean layout, btw.


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