Here’s putting a new ribbon in a Brother 3912C (Cassette, Correct-o-riter, whatever). This is really derived from a post From the Desk of Reverend Munk and you should go there, but I did it and took my own photos and maybe they’ll assist someone.
First, wound the ribbon onto one of the spools. No need for this, really, but it’s tidier.
Second, with the bottom of the cassette facing up, pried the cover off the empty spool — being careful to leave all clips intact. Only did one spool at a time to minimise bits getting loose.
Squeezing the casing helps withdraw the teeth from the plastic loops. Took photos — note direction of the teeth on the spool and path of ribbon around plastic guides. Note that one pair of guides is spring-loaded and attached to the cover, not inside the case.
Lifted spool out. Removed ribbon from spool, not breaking any plastic.
Grabbed spare ribbon.
Disconnected new ribbon from its empty spool, so it is just on one spool. Following Munk, tied a knot in the end of the new ribbon and threaded it through the plastic lugs on the empty Brother spool, making sure the knot was on the correct side of the lugs (knot should be on the outside of the cassette). Then wound the new ribbon on. (Brother spool may not take full length of the replacement.)
Put the full Brother spool back in its cassette and fed the end of the ribbon through the various guides. Positioned the cover so that the guides attached to it slipped over the ribbon, one to each side, and clipped the cover back. That way nothing can fall out while I am messing with the other end.
Then pried open the other end of the cassette, removed the full Brother spool and wound the ribbon off, onto an empty spool. Again, could just toss it into a bin. Knotted the free end of the new ribbon, but only after feeding it through the various slots! Positioned the knot over the lugs on the Brother spool and reassembled.
- Don’t swap spools; they are not identical, but mirrors of each other (another reason to open only one end at a time)
- Make sure the ribbon is fed through all the guides as per your pictures on first opening the spools up. This includes the spring-loaded guides attached to the cover.
On slotting it back into the machine, it worked fine. The machine had other issues (see post), including a flaky ribbon vibrator and the upper and lower case letters not lining up too well, but at least it has ink in it, even if it is no longer a ‘Correct-o-riter’.
Brother Cassette with black and correction paint ribbon. A gift. I have always found Brother gear pretty reliable and well-priced, so I had good expectations that this would work pretty well.
Model 3912C (JP-12), not labelled as such but it is also effectively a Correct-o-riter.
Ser. no. M23616537
Based on TWDB, it’s December (M) 1972 or 1982 (2). Based on the colour scheme and model number, I’d guess 1982.
These are fitted with a cassette, which is rather like an enclosed version of a conventional ribbon. It certainly makes changing the ribbon easier, but of course the cassettes are out of manufacture and can’t be bought. You can open the cassettes and put a normal ribbon in, as is shown here, (and here) which is an improvement over film cassettes, like on the Casiowriter or EP-44. The top half of the ribbon is black, the bottom half is thick white paint (‘wite out’, ‘tippex’, ‘liquid paper’ whatever) that can be used to make corrections. From what I understand, some of these machines lacked a colour selection lever, so only the black could be used, and the white only switched in when the delete key was pressed. This thing has a colour select lever, meaning one could respool it using a two colour ribbon and have the classic black/red arrangement. I use all-black ribbons.
Issues: As usual with these ‘Correct-o-riter’ models, the white ribbon flakes and fills the machine up with dandruff. These machines are easy to remove from their shells (two screws under the ends of the platen plus four in the bottom in the centres of the feet). (Sneaking the top case off around the platen can be tricky, but is perfectly doable, without removing the platen or anything major — the trick is to take the bottom off first.) Then you can used compressed air, brushes and a vacuum cleaner to tidy up — that and a bit of Jif on the case and it’s come up nicely.
The belt drive was squeaky (though the belt appears to be in excellent condition, knock wood), but a judicious bit of light oil on key bearings, applied when the case was off for cleaning, sorted that out quickly enough.
There were other issues. The machine locked up on hitting the power return. It turned out that when you hit return, two little stops, one mounted on the left margin, are supposed to collide and switch off the carriage drive and allow the fluted bar that drives the type bars to rotate, but they were missing each other and the carriage was driving into the left hard stop and staying there, trying to drive further.
The yellow arrows on the blurry picture below show the two bits that were supposed to meet. Best solution was to bend the lower one just a little!
That fixed that. Then I noticed that the caps and lower case were not lining up very well. There are a couple of locking adjustment grub screws, one at each end of the platen rail, that fixed that.
And once the ribbon was replaced with a newer, all-black one, the Brother showed itself to be a fuss-free and very effective typing machine. Here’s the character set — pretty comprehensive, though not perfectly aligned majuscule/minuscule (though better than was). Of course, the delete key no longer works (well, it types black not white), but I can’t say I’m much troubled by that.
Here’s the character set — bloodless Brother typeface that it is. Grubby paper, sorry.
The full stop, and underscore are both repeating keys. Since the underscore is on the 6, it also can repeat 6, making it very handy for typing the number of the beast — it’s Hell’s favourite typewriter! Also has repeat spacer, keyboard tab setting lever and the H/L lever, probably touch control though I can’t tell any difference.
Last thing: To get it out of the case, remove the 4 screws in the feet and take off the bottom. Then remove the two screws, one at either end of the carriage. Then tilt the top moulding and fiddle it off.
What can I say? It was $5. A significant problem with these old things is that the cartridges/cassettes/ribbons/whatever are proprietary and no longer getting made. On the other hand, this old Casio can print thermally as well as using ink, and I have a bunch of old fax rolls kicking around.
Here is the test page (insert paper, hold down ‘code’ while turning on). It actually looks a lot better than this scan.
Did not come with a carry bag or AC adapter, but runs fine off 4 D-cells. Of course, they are worth more than the machine is.
At first it would not print properly using ink. It turned out the little cog that drags the tape through the cassette had come off. I found it inside the machine and, with a bit of jiggery pokery and a little dismantling and remantling, got it to work again. That was pleasing. Here is a fuzzy picture of the ‘compliance plate’. According to http://typewriterdatabase.com/, 1034105 is as unknown as all the others. I think they came out around 1984 or so.
So the consumables are the batteries and the fax paper, and the ribbon, but at least the ribbon is optional. You can have ribbon and plain paper or no ribbon and fax paper. Options, 1985 style.
This is the cassette. They are meant to be used once. If you rewind it, you can see the letters that have been pressed out of it. When these kinds of machines came into offices and such, this became a security concern. I have not bothered to read the previous owner(s) correspondence, but I did rewind the tape a little just to see if I could rewind it. It works pretty well. Not very well, since where the ink has been used there is no ink at all, but it was just an experiment. You can see the sticky tape I put on it (the clips that hold it together did not work too well on reassembly…)
Oh, here’s the LCD. It does not hold a lot of words, but it is useful, and easily viewable in bright light, unlike the screen on a modern laptop. Indeed, this is quite a reasonable machine for typing outdoors.
Actual user review: This was a fairly low-end machine in its day, but it is quite usable. It can print 12 or 10 pitch, double width, bold, underline. It has direct print (like a normal typewriter), line print (print a line once it is finished, either by return key or reaching the margin) and a reasonably effective fully justified mode, in which when it hits the right margin it adjusts word spacing before printing the line. It is easy to fix spelling mistakes, though much quicker if you don’t need to use the spell checker. The keyboard is not great. It lacks the positive feel of a good computer keyboard (say IBM-M), and also the sensitive touch of a modern keyboard. I found when I tried to type fast I often dropped letters. That’s probably the main failing, really. It’s quite large, not really compact, either. For example, does not fit in a standard-size briefcase. So it is a bit odd — it can run off batteries, as if it’s meant to be ported around, but it has a large footprint and is bulky to carry — bulkier than, say, an Olympia SF. (Which was not the last, was it?)
The 24-pin dot-matrix type is a bit spidery, especially thermally, though there are 5 impression levels. There is a good range of characters, including proper superscript 2 and 3, a few Greek letters and mathematical symbols. Can set line spacing, tabs, margins, etc. Recommends against using textured paper.
Conclusion: In 2017, even free is probably too expensive, but in its day it would have been a useful compromise between price, portability and capability. At least the thermal printing means the lack of replacement cassettes does not brick it.