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:
Thanks for the information on the Olympia SM3. I just picked on up at a local flea market/antiques mall for $20 in mint condition in the color brown with a case. It is in perfect working order apart from a small piece of metal that was floating in the bottom of the case. It is shaped like a capital L with a small arm with a hole in it extending from the bottom right of the L. It doesn’t appear to affect the functioning of the typewriter. Can you tell me what it is for? It is the color of the machine so it belongs somewhere.
Great find! Brown is a nice color. And for twenty bucks! Not sure what the piece is without a photo. Don’t know if you can post a photo here. For sure, you can send to typewriterreview at gmail.com.
Can you also tell me what kind of ribbon this uses?
For ribbons, try mytypewriter.com
I was wondering about the Deluxe moniker and what makes a SM3 Deluxe different from a plain Jane SM3, assuming there is just a plain Jane version. At first, from some image on the web, I thought it might be the size of a larger carriage, but this one looks like the carriage has the normal width. So what makes a Deluxe a Deluxe?
The Deluxe model has tab capability and easier to set margins. Here’s a video showing the comparisons.
What kind of eraser do you use to erase your mistakes?
Ha! Erase. Nah, I just keep truckin’. Guess I’m not looking for a final draft with one of these. Just the joy of moving the words forward, warts and all! Enjoy the ride.
That is what I thought! I’ve been retyping the right letter over it and kept on. I can say that it adds character to the recipe cards. Mind slips are always fun to read.
Thanks for that. Got it.
The above is a link to pictures of the SM3 of various years. Mine is labeled a Deluxe and appears to have different options as the ones above like the TAB feature and Margin as show in the video. Mine also has a different typeface than the ones in the pictures and on here. Other than that, I can’t tell a difference apart from the cases.
Finally, someone answered the Deluxe versus Regular question without dodging! I asked two locals & two out-of-state, they said… they’re the same…. “some Olympia’s have the Deluxe ‘metal half-circle’, some don’t… !” (with a straight face!! 😩
“I bought this when I was sixteen,” Allen says. “It still works like a tank.” Every comedy sketch, every screenplay, every essay ever written by Allen was composed on the one typewriter. When Weide asks Allen how he manages without the “cut-and-paste” functions of a word processor, he pulls out a pair of scissors and an old Swingline stapler. “It’s very primitive, I know,” says Allen, “but it works very well for me.”
My girlfriend has an Olympia DeLuxe machine that appears to be an Sm3. It has obviously been very well kept or re-worked by a pro. It has one issue though and that is when you go to return the bar after it has hit the end of the margin it only returns to the half way point. When you gently lift the roller the arm goes all the way to the left hand margin return. Is this normal? Being mechanical it seems to me like there is a stop that is right at that point to put it in the case. Is there a button that will keep this from happening when writing or is the machine broken? Thanks James N
My guess is that the carriage rail is hitting the frame. This is common in SM3s. To raise this so it clears the frame, you can adjust the “feet” that it rests on. But then the upper and lower may go out of alignment. Here’s a more detailed discussion of those adjustments:
Hope this helps!
New fix if carriage grinds on the frame: http://clickthing.blogspot.com/2011/03/amazing-floating-olympia.html
I owned an Olympia SM7, bought around 1962 (if memory serves me right) and it cost a king’s ransom. No doubt about it: Olympia made the best portable and manual desktop typewriters in the world. But I HATED their electric machines; couldn’t understand why my employer didn’t replace the Olympia fleet with the IBM Golfball, which was already queen of the electrics.
I love my SM3s, but one of them has misaligned capitol letters. After ruining a perfectly good Skyriter, I’m scared to take anything else apart. Even the professional repairman I frequent didn’t want to mess with the alignment for long.
I take it you mean the uppercase letters are not aligned with lowercase?
Try this fix: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TYPEWRITERS/conversations/topics/11643
It reads kinda long, but is not that difficult. I’ve done this and I’m not mechanically gifted. Good luck!
Also, the carriage might be riding too low. Here’s another common fix: http://clickthing.blogspot.com/2011/03/amazing-floating-olympia.html
I’m having a slightly difficult time differentiating between some SM3 and SM2 models. Are the main physical differences the tabulator key, margin stops, and alignment guides/line drawing notches?
Check out this excellent review of the SM series: http://xoverit.blogspot.com/2015/02/olympia-sm-series-part-1-1948-1964.html
I have a gray De Luxe and I am guessing it is an SM3. What is the differenc e between a SM 2 , Sm3, Sm 4 etc. How can I tell what mine is. It doesn’t say its an SM3. It has the metal case and the Margin key is MR and there is a tab key.
For an excellent explanation of the history of the SM series, check out: http://xoverit.blogspot.com/2015/02/olympia-sm-series-part-1-1948-1964.html
This post is old and i will probably get no response, but has anyon an idea of why the ink tape gets mangled? When i type using the upper part of the tape it is better, but when i use the lower one it sticks and sometimes goes out of the guides. I am using fabric tape. Should i use only that thin single use film? Thanks
It’s most likely not the ribbon. I’ve run all kinds of ribbons through lots of Olympias — no problems. Perhaps you have it threaded incorrectly. Look at this manual. http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/OlympiaSM3.pdf
Thanks. When I got home yesterday I checked it thoroughly an discovered that as you said I threaded the ribbon incorectly. Now it works correctly. It only needs the rubber bushings between the frame and the machine because the old ones melted and I fixed it when I was about twelve with coins… I am also workin in restoring the wooden case. The paint has been all sanded and the case received three coats of deep green laquer. It needs only one more clear coating and a good polishing. I do not know what to do about the interior, it looks a bit bad.
Also today i got my hands on a sm8 from ’69. You can see that it was built cheaper. The case did not survive because the basement in which the machine was kept was flooded a few times. The painted parts need to be cleaned and possibly repainted, but after a thorough cleaning it works fine except for the colour selector. The weird thing about it is that it has the romanian special characters ă â ș ț î. Never saw this on an olympia machine.
Thanks for the help
Daniel -Thanks for the great info on the SM-3. I’m looking st one to purchase which is missing one if the clear plastic parts which keep the paper against the platen. Any thought on availability of this part? Thank you!! Paul
Paul – Check with your local repair shop — here’s a list: http://site.xavier.edu/polt/typewriters/tw-repair.html
Otherwise, consider joining the Typewriter group on Yahoo and post your request. Somebody might have a parts machine. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TYPEWRITERS/info
Daniel -Great information here! I recently acquired a 1958 SM3. I’ve got it working great, except that the carriage return is loud and “gritty”, compared to my other SM3. I’m referring to the actual slide of the carriage itself. I’ve tried to clean and lube the rails, with no improvement. Could it be that part of the escapement is dragging in some way? Thank you for any input!! Paul
The video in this post shows how to replace the rubber bushings between the frame and the body. Most every SM3-4 I’ve had needs this replaced. This will get the carriage back in alignment and the right level.
Also, in Richard Polt’s book, The Typewriter Revolution, there’s some SM tweaks on page 172-173. “…there’s often a little rasp when you return the carriage…The problem may be caused by the weakening of a spring that you can find in the middle rear area of the bottom of the machine. Replace the spring or cut off a loop or two to make it tighter (but not too tight).”
Thank you Daniel! I’ve already replaced the bushings – you’re right that those make a big difference. However, I hadn’t seen that post by Richard Polt. I’m on it, and I’ll report back! Thanks again for the prompt assistance! Paul
Daniel – No luck. I found that excerpt on the carriage “rasp” in one of Richard’s posts. I took one turn, and then two, from that spring with no effect. I then switched the spring from my smooth-as-silk ’56 SM3 – again no change. Then I realized the ’56 is still smooth and quiet without the spring at all. If I run the carriage on the ’58 with my finger contacting that spring, I can feel the sound I’m hearing – it seems to be related the the escapement. I compared the two machines, but see no differences. One other thought: I did find a small fiber washer in the case of this machine. It’s 8mm outside diameter, and 5mm inside. No idea where it goes, or even if it’s from the ’58. Any other ideas, Daniel?? Thank you! Paul
Well, amigo, you’ve gone well beyond your writerly duty! You’ve done more than I’ve ever attempted. I must admit, I’m all thumbs when it comes to screws, nuts and washers. I’d toss this to a mechanical expert on the Yahoo portable typewriter forum.
Thank you, Daniel, for the Yahoo forum link – I didn’t know about this one. I’ll post my issue there, and see what I can learn. I will share any useful findings! Paul
Hello… i bought an sm 3 and the seller told me its an deluxe. Its the same one like in the first video. The only diferent thing is that there is no deluxe engraved? Is a deluxe engraved in in everyone or are there som e deluxe version without this engraving?
Thank u for awnsering
I’ve purchased an Olympia SM3 recently and I love it! The keys feel so lovely under my fingers and I can type speedily on it. It also feels very sturdy which I love.
I’m looking to purchase a portable typewriter, one I can bring with me easily but with the same feel as the Olympia SM3. Do you have any recommendations?
Any help appreciated!
I would get an Olympia SF if you like your SM3
I have seen so many typewriters called SM4 when they are SM3. As I recall the SM 4 was an update of an SM3. Can you tell me how you can tell if the Olympia typewriter is an SM 4 or SM 3. I have noticed that the SM4 has a plus + sign on the right of the spacebar and a minus – sign on the left of the left next to the spacebar. Please let me know how you can tell the difference.
They seem identical to me. I’ve probably got them mixed up in the past. The collectors in the group might be able to answer. Be interesting to see if you can feel the difference. I’m thinking not.
Daniel, I do know for a fact that the SM4 S, which was an upgrade of the SM3, has a (+) sign on the right of the spacebar and a (-) sign on the left side of it. Now there may be an SM4 without these among other upgraded differences, but the + and – signs are one way of being sure that the typewriter SM4 is not an SM3. I want to emphasize that the SM4 with + and – is the upgraded version of the Olympia SM3 that preceded the SM4. Several crucial changes were made, AROUND 1960 + OR – to correct some problems with the SM3.
Daniel I took the time to find out some of the major differences between the SM3 and the SM4. I am attaching a website that shows some major differences between the two and then leaving there for someone else to comment on their differences.
Daniel, forgive me absentmindedness. Here is the website: https://strokeandbore.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/the-sm3-and-sm4/
Daniel, where would be other than ebay or etsy to find a case key for an Olympia SM4 typewriter Case