E.T. Twinning (Part Two)

I recently doubled-up on an Olivetti ET Personal 55 …

The ET Personal 55 I already had (below) was in near perfect cosmetic condition, at least externally. The keyboard cover had a few small gouges/blemishes on it, but the keyboard itself, the ribbon cover and the paper rest were all flawless.

On the inside however, the metal base plate was tarnished:

Unfortunately, this typewriter also had a major flaw: a disconcerting hum while idling, possibly an indication of a problem with the transformer that could lead to main board failure.

So when another ETP 55 came up cheaply on Gumtree I snapped it up, even though the cosmetic condition of this second ETP 55 was not so good – an unblemished keyboard cover in this case, but blemishes to the ribbon cover and the paper rest.

Another noticeable flaw: uneven yellowing to the keytops; the X key and the right-hand Shift key in particular:

The catch on the rear power cord compartment was also broken:

(A very cramped power cord compartment is a weak point of this design. Tip: To avoid stressing the plastic door catch, coil the power cord and tie with a rubber band prior to carefully fitting the plug and the cord inside the compartment.)

The good news: This second ETP 55 idled silently. Without the irritating hum, it offered a much better typing experience, plus the prospect of a longer lifespan. Interestingly, the respective serial numbers suggest it’s the older of the two (S6141009 vs S6621187).

(Another weak point: The paper release lever – you can still pull the paper out even when the release lever is NOT engaged, as a result of this lack of grip, the line spacing can slip – this is a problem on both twins.)

A TA Triumph Adler dealership sticker also endeared me to this machine. Stickers help to give an e.t. its unique identity. Since Olivetti acquired Triumph Adler in 1986 and this is a 1987 Olivetti typewriter, it’s not out-of-place.

Another plus: no tarnished metal on the inside:

So the second twin turned out to be my favourite and the one to keep, albeit with a bunch of parts from the first.

Thus began the process of transplanting the unblemished keytops and the blue ribbon cover and paper rest from the first machine to the second machine:

The keytops are robust, with no springs that might complicate things …

The broken door to the power cord compartment on the second (favoured) machine was trickier to replace, but I managed to unhinge both doors without breaking the plastic hinges using an appropriately sized hex key to push the metal rods in towards the centre:

Plastic surgery done!

I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I looked like without plastic surgery.

Joan Rivers

Spare parts available (albeit with a few imperfections):