Saturday, June 29, 2019

Adjusting the Tabulator clutch on a Hermes Ambassador

This post is also in the comments Here.

The TAB was quite easy to adjust. Once I located the clutch.

To see the mechanism and linkages I opened the back. On the Ambassador it is easy -- it just unlatches by pulling out on the top sides.

I also removed the cover from the back of the carriage rail. This cover does not need removed. I first tried a few clicks more on the mainspring; no good. Rather than getting the mainspring too tight I decided to see why the TAB would not work without pressing the carriage release or pushing the carriage to the left.

I looked under the carriage and could see how the carriage was released from the escapement, but I could not see why the same bar that moved for CR and TAB did not let the carriage move when TAB was pressed. In order to see what happens I removed the platen and paper guide tray. Both are quite easy to do. This allows a clear view of the escapement, and I could see the TAB clutch and it was loose, but not allowing the carriage to move.

Escapement gear is just visible to the left by the draw band (I'm holding the draw band out of the way) The cork in the center is the clutch pad. The round item on the right is one of the centrifugal counterweights that will be adjusted from the back of the typewriter.

There is no open area to adjust this; it must be done from the back looking in through the frame to the centrifugal clutch of the tabulator. On the ears of the clutch are 4 spring mounting slots.

The springs on mine (there are 2 halves to the centrifugal weights of the clutch) were both in the middle slot. I used a spring hook fed through the open frame to reset the springs each in one slot closer to the clutch pad (from the back of the typewriter from where I was working would be moving each one one space to the right). I tested the tab. It worked.

The full length movement is a bit slow. I left it slow as I do not like slamming tab actions. Moving the spring 2 spaces to the right most slot would make the TAB even faster, but also it kind of slams.

If you never worked on a typewriter before you may not want to make this adjustment. If your tabulator does not work you have nothing to loose unless you loose the springs. The typewriter looks like having to replace either of these springs or the clutch is a major operation.

I do not have a borescope so I could not get any images of the springs or how I adjusted them.  It is impossible to get any image without a borescope.


  1. Nice fix and description.

    I had to google "borescope" since I was unfamiliar with the term. Now the gears in my head are turning. I am working on a typewriter with hidden/inaccessible mechanics (1950s Underwood portable) and perhaps a borescope could shed some light on the problem. I have tumbled down a rabbit hole, looking online at inexpensive borescopes that plug into phones. I could use a borescope for lots of things around the house.

    1. The only affordable one I've found is this one:
      Problem is the optic that fits it is a too large for typewriter work.

    2. So I searched for ones for a phone:

      I'm not too worried about one of these not fitting. I'll do more reading and get one of these. The KZYEE looks like it comes with accessory lenses and costs only $36.99. a 5.5mm diameter is still not small enough for some tight spots, but for office machines would work fine. The extra lenses may just work for most portables.

    3. The end attachments for the KZYEE are a mirror, hook, and magnet. There are some others with the same end attachments, but have soft or fully flexible fibers. I've used both in industry, and for my application with typewriters I prefer the semi-rigid,; they are easier to get into position.

    4. The KYZEE looks great - the 11.5ft one is $25.89 now, but I might spring for the 33ft length one since it may be more useful for DIY projects around the house.

    5. I'm unsure if I ordered this one or the $30-something one. With the coupon, tax & shipping I think the total was about $20 something.

  2. Oh no Bill, I could never do the things you do to fix up these typewriters. I can type speedily, but the mechanisms I will leave to someone with skills like yourself to sort out ✨