Olympia SM3 DeLuxe (1955)
The Olympia SM3 is a reliable workhorse, from a solid body construction to keys that provide good response and feedback. When you first sit at this thing, you marvel at the beauty and how it exudes a certain egalitarian work ethic. These machines were meant for typing — lots of typing. Rolling paper in for the first time, a reassuring clicking sound is made, like loading a weapon for words. The platen moves with rigid precision. There is no slop.
The shift mechanism lifts the entire carriage, which at first, seems a bit heavy, especially if you don’t have meaty fingers. But it seems to swing up on its own momentum, and then gravity takes care of the trip down. One of the common complaints with this type of mechanism on the SM3 line, is that after time, the feet the carriage rest on, slide a bit, thus making the upper and lower case go out of alignment. The lowercase adjustment is fairly easy by sliding the metal foot by loosening a screw. However, the shifted position, has a tricky little screw that acts as a stop. Raising and lowering this, will give you the proper alignment. [ Fix Details ]. Another item that goes out of adjustment are the carriage rails. This adjustment affects the descenders on lower case letters. Often, on this line of Olympias, they become faint. Playing with the rail position is often a quick fix. (For review of all carriage issues, with images, check this post out.)
But a properly adjusted SM3 produces consistently bright type across the alphabet, and type that is aligned. It has spring loaded keys, which may explain why it produces such consistent results. Part of the key strike is done by the machine, or so it feels.
Margin settings are quite easy with an adjustable slider. Just a simple squeeze and slide. The tab stops on the DeLuxe model are on the back of the carriage. Not the most convenient spot, but how often do you need to redo these on a manuscript?
Loading ribbons is a bit tricky. It needs to go behind the ribbon guide, then up and through a couple hooked slots on the ribbon holder. Unless you have good lighting, this can be a bit frustrating. Expect ink stained fingers and a little practice.
The key tops feel rounded and slick. They have just the right amount of concave to them, which makes a nice fit for your fingers, giving you a reassuring feel they’ll not slip off.
The shift-lock is a bit hard to get into position and also to release. Once it’s locked, it’s locked. It makes a nice solid noise when it locks.
The paint and finish are matte colors. In addition to the more common green, it comes in burgundy, brown, gray and two-tone. The surface has a nice pebbly feel to it and seems to repel stains.
The carriage return lever has a nice contour to it, so a variety of hands can find the sweet spot. The carriage returns easily and advances the paper with precision. Each line is consistently spaced with the previous one. The margin bell makes a nice bright sound. Ding!
When storing the SM3, there’s two slots on the rear of the typewriter that fit into corresponding tabs inside the case. The unit is then locked into place with a forward mechanism. There’e a carriage lock on the upper left of the keyboard for added protection. When all is locked and set, you get a good secure feeling knowing your typewriter is safe. The space age shell of a case for the DeLuxe model reminds you of the rocket age when these were first introduced.
Overall, typing is a real pleasure with this typewriter. It makes you want to type and type and type. About the only ink stain is the heavy carriage shift.
How to fix the carriage from rubbing on the frame: