1967 Olympia SG3


There was a time when I had convinced myself that I could somehow manage to write weekly blog posts.  Funnily enough, that was the time when I had only owned three typewriters, and had zero income to afford any more.  How I expected to write weekly about the same three machines is beyond me.  Yet here I am with more typewriters than I know what to do with, and I haven't updated my blog more frequently than like, twice a year.  Tirade aside, I'd like to tell you about the Olympia SG3, a machine that I serviced in an afternoon, and blogged about over the course of a month.  

The Olympia SG3 is second in line in the SG series desktops.  It saw several different versions, with this one I believe being the second.  How the second, second typewriter is called a 3 I'll never know.  Despite lacking the cooler features of the earlier SG1, it still retains the high quality build features that made the early model so robust.  Mainly the sturdy cast iron frame, which is now two tone red and blue (instead of the single tone dark red).  Sadly the last generation of the SG3 forwent the cast iron frame.  The other marked difference would be the touch, the touch on the SG3 is significantly lighter in action than the 1, even on the higher touch typing settings.  It is wonderfully smooth and fluid.

Aside from the feel, the SG3 also lacks a paper injector (as later 1s did), cushioned keytops, and an automatic double kerning key.  

I purchased this machine from a long standing client for the express purpose of obtaining the elusive clear paper support.  Once I snapped that bad boy on my SG1 I realized that I was no better off with it, and that it impacted my life so minimally that it was difficult to justify the $100 I spent to obtain it.  It was pretty underwhelming, but being the beacon of optimism I am, I managed to convince myself that it somehow did indeed make my life nominally better.  As if a new light had entered my life, where it was previously light by a single firefly, there are now two whole fireflies (with one being diseased and therefore slightly dimmer).  As you know, one must always look on the bright side. 

It seemed as though the backspace mechanism was jammed, it was the one thing on the machine that refused to work out for me, but I ended up finding the bend in the actuator linkage pretty easily.  It was causing some tightness in the lower rear pivot of the vertical actuator.  I pretended to know what I was doing with the pliers and ended up fixing it.  It is a fine backspace, but some of the best backspacers I have ever backspaced with exist on some Remington made typewriters.  It is impressive nonetheless.

The shell of the machine comes apart very easily, and makes servicing on these a breeze.  The top portion of the body comes right off, and is held in place with four friction grommets.  The carriage is then released completely via the two yellow leavers on either side of the machine.  From there, the entire machine lifts free of the base pan with four screws.  From there, I did the horrendously atrocious sacrilege of clearing the dirt with the garden hose (set to high pressure) and setting the machine to dry on the A/C unit.  From there it was all spot cleaning and adjusting.

tagged with my stamp of mechanical approval

I must say, the entire machine polished up really well.  It types in a lovely elite typeface, something I have been seeking for my personal collection for many years, yet I just can't seem to find the right one.  This would be it, if I had the space to keep it.  

As I was finalizing adjustments, I tipped the machine back, and having forgotten to latch the carriage, the entire unit popped off and smashed onto the concrete floor.  I unleased a string of very unholy words as I surveyed the damage.  It took several hours of careful forming, and a 3d printed detent knob to get the carriage working again.  Seems that the return leaver likes to stick when things aren't aligned properly, but thankfully it all came together quite alright.  No, I do not make a habit of dropping machines.  Only parts of machines.  And even that I joke.

look how clean

I guess at the end of the day, all I can say is that the SG3 is a truly phenomenal typewriter.  If there existed the perfect writing companion, this machine would easily hover at the top of the list.  In performance, it is better than the SG1, though it lacks much of the cool factor.  It is a definite desert-island typer for the serious writer, and I eagerly await sending it off to its new home.



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  2. How would you compare the SG-3 to an SM-9 of the same vintage? I've never used a Olympia desktop model, but my '65 SM-9 is one of the most comfortable typewriters I've ever used.

  3. On a completion note, there apparently was an SG2, at least one has been found. Weird half-breed of SG and SM, apparently not manufactured in any large numbers.

  4. I own a 1972 SG3 and love it. Many who have been involved with typewriters far longer than myself have told me that the SG1 is the better machine given the quality of materials used. I see no need to doubt them but it matters not to me as my SG3 is sure to far outlive my needs, as well as myself. The other reality for me is that I prefer the looks of the SG3 to the SG1 (but then I'm also big fan of the SM9, so go figure).

    Keep in mind that these machines came in different configurations (plus a choice of 5 different carriage widths). For example, the SG3 I own is known as the SG3L model, which was the "fully loaded" version. Though it came with the smallest carriage (13" I believe), it included these additional features: the paper injector, the margin release release that also served as a type-bar "disentangler" and the double space key for example. So it's possible to find one SG3 with the paper injector, etc and another without, both from the same year run.

  5. I had an SG3 on long term loan from a local ABQ typist that had the paper injector feature. I didn’t like the feel of the carriage return, it always felt heavy because, well, that darned carriage was massive! An impressively made machine for certain.

  6. I know both the chassis and the carriage of the SG3 came with matching serial numbers. But what isn't clear to me is if Olympia would sell a person more than one size carriage upon purchase, or if a different size carriage could be purchased later on (and if so how they handled the serial numbers in such cases).

    I also don't believe that I've ever seen photos of a SG3 configured with either of the two widest carriage options that were available — the ones that included outriggers to stabilize the typewriter.

    1. You were totally able to purchase a new carriage and stick it on your machine, hence why they were removable. Most people didn't need to do this though, they'd buy what they needed outright


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