How to install typewriter ribbon

Written by ma wen jie
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At one time, replacing a typewriter ribbon was as common as replacing an ink cartridge in an ink jet printer. As typewriters have fallen out of favour, fewer and fewer people remember how to replace a ribbon in an antique or more modern typewriter. Replacing a ribbon is easy, especially if you have an old ribbon in place. Although they are getting harder to find, some original new-old-stock typewriter ribbons are still available for a number of vintage typewriters.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Typewriter
  • Replacement ribbon

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    Two Spool Ribbons

  1. 1

    Remove the existing ribbon. Note the path that the ribbon takes as it goes from one spool to the other.

  2. 2

    Roll the ribbon entirely on to one of the two reels if your replacement ribbon didn't come with a take-up reel. If your new ribbon has a take-up reel, skip this step.

  3. 3

    Attach the end of the new ribbon to the take-up reel if your new ribbon doesn't already have one. In most cases, there is a sharp arrow shaped piece on the reel. Use that arrow to penetrate the ribbon and make a few winds of ribbon around the take-up reel.

  4. 4

    Slip the take-up reel on the take-up spindle on the right side of the typewriter. Align any tabs designed to turn the reel to move the ribbon during typing.

  5. 5

    Feed the ribbon through the path you noted when removing the old ribbon and place the main ribbon on the spindle. Give the take-up reel a few turns to make sure the ribbon moves freely through the typewriter mechanism.

    One Piece Ribbon Packages

  1. 1

    Remove the old ribbon cassette. In some typewriters, you can do this by simply pulling up on the cassette. Other typewriters may have a latch holding the cassette in place.

  2. 2

    Note the pins and position of the old cassette and open the new cassette.

  3. 3

    Slip the new cassette in the same position as the old cassette. Most cassettes have a hand-feed knob to advance the ribbon. Turn this a few times to ensure that the ribbon is moving freely.

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