A Brother AX-20 parts machine finally gave me the opportunity to replace the broken paper-rest that came with the AX-30 I picked up cheaply a few years ago.
While the paper rest is the same on all four first-generation Made in Japan Brother portable e.t.s (AX-10, 12, 20, 30), the ribbon cover as a whole varies between models. As seen here on the AX-30:
And the AX-10:
The keyboard cover is different (flatter) only on the AX-10 …
As well as providing a keyboard cover (yellowed, see above) for the one that was missing on my AX-30, the AX-20 parts machine gave me an opportunity to examine the keyboard.
Turns out the keycaps on these e.t.s pull off and snap on again quite easily without much risk of breakage.
The double-shot ABS plastic keycaps and the robust switches on these typewriters are a large part of what make them so reliable and durable.
No springs except on the left side of the space bar, the Return key, and the larger Shift key that’s coupled with the Shift Lock key:
Dark plastic keycaps make yellowing less apparent, while double-shot (in some cases triple-shot) legends won’t wear off over time.
The surface of these keycaps can take on a shine over time, however, as seen here (as a dark patch on the Shift key):
Taken apart, the AX-20 keyboard reveals rubber domes which sit between the key plungers and a membrane:
It’s all reminiscent of the keyboard on the Olivetti Praxis 20 (although the Brother AX typing feel is better, probably due to the longer stems (travel) of the key switches).