Adler J3: Please Release Me

I ended up bringing home the Adler J3 and the Alpina SK24:

The Alpina’s gigantic prehistoric clamshell case is worth the price of admission.

I paid more than I usually do. I was feeling flush, so I brought home a couple typewriters.

The Alpina was just junky enough. It needs a good cleaning, and it then will look and type great. I have always wanted to play with an Alpina and an Adler and here’s my chance.

The Adler looks like it was never used.  It had the factory control sheet, cleaning packet with brushes and a user manual.

Click here for .pdf of Adler J3 User Manual

The carriage lock was on, and I wasn’t sure how to unlock it, so I checked the user manual:

Stern but kindly. Star Wars Extended Universe needs to introduce a Yoda-like character that talks like this. I assume this was translated word-for-word from the original German.  I am going to start talking like this to my kids.

I had problems removing the Adler from its bottom plate of the case.  I carefully read the directions:

Ok – that sounds easy.  But no go.  Turn, lift.  Turn, lift. Turn, wiggle, lift. Turn, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, lift. It was stuck, stuck stuck. I could pry it off with brute force, but the case and base are 1960s plastic and I didn’t want to crack or damage them.

Fortunately, I found out that I am not the only person in the world who has had a problem like this with an Adler portable.  As usual, thetypewriterman had some insightful comments and very sensible advice.

I also vaguely remembered a Rev. Munk post about a Triumph Perfekt that wouldn’t come off its base and how he remedied the problem.

Both Oztypewriter and Writelephant have documented the entwined Triumph + Adler history.  Apparently the two companies joined their development and production programs in the 1950s.  The Triumph Gabriele 10 looks an awful lot like my Adler J3.

Anyhoo – the upshot is that on some of these Adler and Triumph portables, the rubber collars that hold the typewriter to the base compress over time, lose their shape, get hard, and prevent removal of the typewriter from the base.

I read through thetypewriterman’s instructions and Rev. Munk’s post and determined that I needed to remove the ribbon cover and with a long handled tool, pry off the  e-clips that hold the rubber collars in place.

Here’s what I was after: the e-clip on each side which sit on top of a metal washer which sit on top of a rubber collar.

I didn’t have any long handled screwdrivers in the house, so I emailed Good Neighbor Brian.  He came over with a bunch of tools.  Here is Brian petting my Adler as if it were a friendly cat:

I decided to work on the living room floor because why not.  I laid out an old white sheet to work on in case little typewriter pieces went flying.  I am glad I did because I had some washers that went on the loose.

Through some extreme finagling with a long-handled screw driver with a small thin head, I was able to pop the e-clips off each side and lift the typewriter free. The secret is getting in the little space between the clip and the spindle and popping from there. The misshapen rubber collars were stuck in the bottom of the typewriter so I popped them out:

Here are the latch components:

  1. spindle
  2. latch
  3. two metal washers
  4. rubber collar
  5. metal washer
  6. e-clip

Here’s the whole latch assembled:

It’s a weird little setup.  The rubber collar is supposed to slide into the bottom holes of the typewriter.  When the latch is turned, it squishes the rubber down and secures the machine to the bottom plate.

Unfortunately after 50+ years of being compressed, the rubber collars have flattened, hardened, and won’t willingly leave the holes in the bottom of the typewriter.

In Rev. Munk’s fix, he found tubing of the correct diameter and cut new rubber collars to size. Since my rubber bushings were still fairly pliable and I didn’t have any rubber hose, I decided to sand them down so that they would slide  easily into the holes into the bottom of the typewriter. Good Neighbor Brian suggested the drill-mounted set-up below for sanding:

I mounted the rubber bushing on a long bolt in the drill and then ran the drill against a sanding block to sand off a little of the bushing.

I sanded just a little so that the bushings would slide snuggly through the holes.  I dabbbed a little olive oil on the rubber to make things slide and put the assembly back together. Silicone lubricant would have been best since it doesn’t degrade rubber, but all I had was olive oil. I’ll see if Brian has silicone grease.

Poifect! The typewriter attaches and de-attaches to the base flawlessly.

Here are some beauty shots.

1964 Adler J3
Serial number : 3352292 (stamped under carriage on left)

It looks like the Adler typeface is Ro 82 Pica Imperial:

There are more pictures at Typewriter Database»

I am going to end it here with Barbara Mandrell playing the steel guitar and singing the sorrows of an Adler whose base just won’t let go:

I know this is Patti Page’s song, but I love Barbara and the multi-talented Mandrell sisters.


Odds & Ends

Typewriter Twitter Ha Ha

I saw this on Twitter the other day. Is Robert Caro in 2018 using a Smith-Corona Electra 120 to write his fifth LBJ volume?! Whatta guy!

Van Addendum

My son saw my Chinook van with cow catcher in my last post:

and raised me a three-axle endtimes van (also seen in the neighborhood):

18 thoughts on “Adler J3: Please Release Me

  1. Well, now you know who to hitch a ride with when the zombies come. 😀
    That Adler is damn attractive. Much better looking than the J5 I had, but I admit to really liking the action and quality. If I hadn’t also fount that Triumph Perfekt around the same time, I mighta kept it. I’d prolly keep a J2 or J3.


      • heh, if Adlers/Triumphs of the 60’s get to be really popular like SM3’s, it’s possible this easy-to-fix issue will get to be as well-known as the “SM Squished Bushing”, but I have heard that many people have just brute forced them off and wrecked the case, so awareness must be promoted (:


  2. Beautiful J3. You happened to get one without the yellowed key tops. There is not much difference between the J3 and J4. I really like my J4. It’s better than any Olympia I ever used or those I have.

    I think I had the rubber problem with several Adlers. I forget how I repaired mine. Probably with rubber hardware from Ace Hardware or McMaster Carr. I doubt I posted about it.

    I await your Alpina review.


  3. Nick Merritt says:

    I’ve been puzzling over the German text typed in at the bottom of the sheet with the inspectors’ signoffs — I think it says “ADLER — the handwriting of modern man, whoever is writing, is spirited (inspired, ardent).” A romantic down on the factory floor, apparently — rebelling against typewriting?


    • We may need a native speaker to translate. Maybe it’s something along the lines of Adler being the handwriting of modern man and inspiring the writer.

      I wonder if factory inspectors were given product taglines to insert in the typeface testing section. I’ll see if there is another Adler control sheet at Typewriter Database for comparison.

      Compare the Adler’s factory control sheet with one I found in the case of a 1957 Olympia SM3:
      olympia sm3 control sheet
      In the “schriftbild” (typeface) section there is a somewhat more straightforward statement:
      OLYMPIA – Qualitaet findet in der ganzen Welt Anerkennung – sie verbuergt besseres Schrieben.
      OLYMPIA – Quality is recognized all over the world – it brings(?) better writing.


      • Nick Merritt says:

        I think “it guarantees better writing” might be a little closer to it. It’s tough to do idiomatic translations — but that’s the essence of the art! Thanks for this post — I’ll keep this “quirk” of the Adlers in mind if I find one. Looking forward to your typing test of the machine — and your report on the Alpina.


      • “Guarantees better writing” sounds about right. I had problems Google-translating “verbuergt”.

        I am going to run the Adler and Olympia phrases by my sister-in-law from Austria and see what she says.


  4. Great post!
    The Alpina clamshell case is AMAZING. I’ve never seen one like that before.
    The typing test on the Adler document reads: “The handwriting of modern people; whoever writes it is enthusiastic.” That sure sounds like it was translated from German, doesn’t it. Another example of Germlish is found in Olympia user’s manuals: “This, too, is necessary … Is all this known already?”
    Speaking of which, thanks for the J3 manual! I will add it to my site unless you object.
    I have run into the same problems you describe with Adlers being stuck to their bases, and solved them (eventually) in similar ways, but somehow I had missed Ted’s post on the subject.
    Enjoy fixing up the Alpina!


    • I have no objections to adding the J3 manual to the manual archive.

      I was sort of on the fence with purchasing the Alpina, but the crazy humongous case sealed the deal.


  5. Thanks for posting a link to Ted’s Triumph article. I had read it once but need it again to get a Triumph Perfekt off of its base. It is a fantastic typer – so smooth. You will find the Alpina is great machine to type with as well. Have you found the funky method of replacing the Alpina on its base? I had to finagle levers near the ribbon spools after taking the ribbon cover off.


    • I am so glad that link to Ted’s Triumph post was helpful. And thank you for the heads up on replacing the Alpina on its base. I didn’t have a problem removing it, and I am still in the midst of cleaning it. Soon it will return to its base.


  6. Paul McNally says:

    Huge thanks for your rubber bush fix! I have a newly acquired Triumph Gabriele e that was stuck fast to the baseplate but luckily the locking system is identical to your Adler. I anticipated that removing the circlips through the internals was going to be a nightmare but in the end only took 5 mins. The bushes were fine so I just applied sandpaper & rubber lubricant as per your suggestion and everything worked like new. One of the feet from the bottom of the case is missing, do you have any ideas where lookalikes can be found? I’m planning on replacing all 4 – probably easier than trying to find a match for the old ones. Other than that, only the Triumph logo badge is absent from the front of the carrying case. I’m planning to get my son (15) to laser print a replacement but we’re struggling to find a pic of the original for him to work with. Thanks again for your valuable info!


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