Hermes 808 – Swiss Made Typeball Typewriter

Hermes 808 - Swiss Made Typeball Typewriter

Slow motion movie

The lever on the side of the type head which moves down when the ball should rotate by 180° to the side with the upper-case characters:

Pictures taken from the movie

1. Before the movement starts

2. Lever moves downwards

3. Lever is back in initial position

4. A bar is pushed out through the slot in the lever and moves the black spring.

I think this is where the problem appears: the lever should be in the lower position at this time in order to prevent the movement of the black spring. Only if the spring is in its original position the typeball rotates by 180°, if the spring is pushed out the rotation is blocked. The workaround mentioned in my typecast consists of manually moving the lever down and keeping it there until the typeball has rotated. This allows to type upper-case characters.

The same typecast again but in pure text format:

hermes 808 – swiss made typeball typewriter

already more than one week since my last post, the reason is this nice but unfortunately not properly working hermes 808 which i’ve unsuccessfully tried to fix in the last couple of days.

i have got this machine at the final sale in a typewriter store that closes down because the owner didn’t find a successor to take over the shop, the goal of my visit at the shop was to see if any interesting standard size machines were on sale, and yes, there were, leaving aside the ones declared beyond repair by the shop owner and the numerous electronic daisywheel models left me with a choice of about 10 interesting machines, among them a hermes ambassador – too similar to the ambassador i already own, a hermes standard 6 – interesting but quite common here in switzerland, an ibm electric – too dirty, and this hermes 808 – with the issue of not typing capital letters but for an acceptable price.

this is how i got myself into trying to understand and to fix this machine here, as you see i was not successfull, the upper case letters are still missing. i checked all parts that seem to move when the shift key is pressed and none of them – without taking apart the type head – shows an obvious error. i’ve even made some analysis using the iphone’s high speed camera function – see movie – and i have the impression that the issue is with the lever that quickly moves downward on the side of the type head, in my opinion this lever should either stay locked in the lower position until the typeball has rotated to the capital letters or move down later to be synchronous with the movement of the typeball.

so if anybody has such a machine or knows more about it than me and could give any help please let me know.

By the way, there is a workaround to get CAPITAL LETTERS, but it requires opening the machine…

winterthur, 20 february 2014


4 thoughts on “Hermes 808 – Swiss Made Typeball Typewriter

    • It’s interesting to hear that the typeheads seem similar in the Hermes 808 and the Selectric. As I don’t have a Selectric (not yet…) I can’t do the comparison myself. From what I’ve read about the Selectric it uses wires to steer the rotation and inclination of the typeball. The Hermes transmits this information using an array of 8 plastic (Teflon?) bars (some kind of 8 bit encoding?) that are located along the typehead track. Therefore I was assuming that the whole system was quite different.
      So maybe somebody has seen a similar malfunction (typeball doesn’t turn to capital letter position) in a Selectric and could give me a hint?

  1. The black spring you are talking about is the actual shift lock if it doesn’t lock adjust by using the locking screw at the back of the spring try that and see how you get on if not get back in touch I worked on tbese machines before and would be glad to help

    • any chance that you, Brian, are still around? I just picked up a Hermes 808, and have questions about how to work it. Would love to get a manual for it.

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