1957 Olympia SG1


This is the Olympia SG1, what many consider to be one of the greatest typewriters ever made.  And it isn't hard to see why.  Olympia spared no expense in the bells and whistles department.  I had wanted one for myself for quite a while, probably back when I only owned one or two machines.  I never got one, they're heavy and shipping is quite expensive.  Providence shined down on me last week when a fellow collector offered me the near entirety of his collection for free!  I took it graciously, and when I saw the SG1 among the ranks I was thoroughly excited.

There's that SG, might also keep the green SM3, we will see.

I had an olympia once before, it was a grey SM3 that I loved.  It was a little too loud for my taste, and though smooth it was more high strung on the key action.  But it typed finer and neater than any other machine I had ever owned, and I was itching to get my hands on another ever since.  This SG1 ticked all my boxes, and some I didn't even know I had.  

So let's start off with the machine features.  Firstly, this machine has a paper injector, a proprietary Olympia attachment on the carriage.  Pull the leaver and it instantly injects a sheet of paper to the pre-desired height.  It is quite addicting.  In addition to that, the SG also has a removable carriage requiring no disassembly.  Just a mere turn of two switches on the side, and the carriage lifts right off allowing for easy cleaning.  On the topic of maintenance, the body panels also come off easily.  They remove much like a portable, and leave the red-painted cast iron frame of the machine exposed and ready for cleaning.  The machine comes equipped with a four color selector, one setting for stencil, and three others to make the most out of your single color ribbon...though if you're brave enough, you can type down the center of a bichome as well.  It also features standard key set tabs, touch control, and spring cushioned keys.  Perhaps coolest of all is the double letter space feature, which engages a secondary escapement wheel to add an extra space to each character.   Also, since this is a European machine, it does 1.5 inch line spacing, though it also supports triple.  In total it has 5 line space settings, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3. Special characters include the "TH" symbol, degree, circumflex, and a half fraction (which all machines should have to replace the pointless full fraction which this also has).

And there's that double escapement 

carriage off

The first step for me was to strip the machine down for cleaning.  It had excessive oil staining and some sections of rust, so I wasn't sure how nice it would come out to be.  All said and done it wasn't too bad. I ended up using a lot of mineral spirits to flush out the three key pivot points, and halfway through I got an air compressor in the mail.  I must say, they make a world of difference, you NEED to get one.  I put it off for a couple of years thinking I didn't need it, but I was wrong.  It helped flush out the gunk from cleaning with mineral spirits.  Once that was done, it typed almost as light as my Royal FP, but Olympias (and seemingly most european machines) have keys under a slightly higher spring tension.  I don't think it is a huge thing to complain about, but it does make a difference, though small.

serial number and carriage mount

Check out that cool typeface

Once the machine was dusted, flushed, cleaned, de-rusted and everything else, I ran some type adjustments on the basket shift mechanism (did I mention it's a segment shift?) 

The carriage was tackled next, and that gave me a lot of trouble.  It is pretty straightforward with the mainspring mounted on the underside, and a rack catch to prevent the carriage from moving off the escapement.  But the hard part is getting the platen out.  A spanner is used on the ratchet detent button of the left knob, which holds down a spring.  The left knob slides off the rod, but the rod stays put.  The right knob unscrews to the right (righty tighty) but was so stuck on that I had to grip the knob with lock pliers, and the platen with a rubber grip wrench.  Took a lot of heaving to get it undone.  Then the platen unscrews from the left rod, slides right, and lifts out.

With that out of the way, it was time to derust and clean the inner mechanisms of the platen.  The front feed roller guard plate is held one with two springs, and each spring holds onto a metal hook around the feed release cam.  So be careful not to lose those.

that beautiful paper-injector.


After the cleaning and adjusting was done, I threw it all back together and typed along my merry way.  Great that this thing only needs 2" standard ribbon spools (which you can buy here: www.lucasdul.com/ribbons).

Half color and double spacer sample


  1. Whoa! :D
    Your device is awesome, dude! :D

    I own an Olympia SG-3. I can notice the SG-1 and the SG-3 are alike. xD

    Salutations & Greetings from Mexico. <3

  2. Great work! Now you have to find yourself a paper support!

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