Everything You Need to Know About Reinking a Typewriter Ribbon

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Everything You Need to Know About Reinking a Typewriter Ribbon

The typewriter ribbon, sometimes known as an ink ribbon, functions as an inkwell for the hammers of your keys. The ribbons last a long time, but they do eventually wear out. One will know that it is time to replace their typewriter ribbon when the ink begins to wear thin. Here are a few tips that might help you on what you need to know about reinking your typewriter ribbon: –
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Step One: How to Know When to Change Your Typewriter Ribbon

1. Understanding the function of the ribbon

  • Classic typewriters use a silk ribbon as an inkwell for the keys. 
  • The ribbons can last for quite a long-lasting time, as the keys are not constantly hammering them in the same place. 
  • The ribbon moves around the spools each time that you clack a key: first from the left spool to the right, and after the left spool is empty and the right spool complete.
  • Your typewriter ribbon may only run black ink, or it may have a red portion. 
  • If you are mostly typing in black ink, the black part of the ribbon will run out much more quickly.

2. Watch the ink of the typewriter

  • Pay attention when your typed words grow thin and pale. 
  • The ribbon won’t wear through all at once as you should begin to see sporadic faint patches in your text. 
  • You can type around your typewriter for a time by spacing back and double-typing over the inkless letters. 
  • However, you should start considering changing your typewriter ribbon once you begin to notice that the machine is running out of ink.


Step Two: How to Remove the Typewriter Ribbon

1. Find the ribbon spools

  • First, carefully lift the top “bonnet” of the typewriter. Then, look for the typewriter ribbon wound around two metal or plastic spools: similar to the sort that you’d use for sewing thread or rope. The spools are set up in an S-shaped configuration on two axles. The ribbon itself stretches between the spools and through an aligning scale.
  • Remove your typewriter’s cover by pressing it on both sides, next to the separating line. Press gently but firmly until the cover clicks open.
  • The spools may be covered up in newer typewriter models. Look for a small clasp or button to remove this cover.

2. Remember the Layout

  • Before you take your typewriter apart, make sure that you know how to put the typewriter back together. 
  • Consider taking a photo of the insides to remind yourself later on. 
  • If you have access to a physical or an online PDF copy of the typewriter manual, then this document should include basic and simple instructions on how to change the ribbon.

3. Disengage the Ribbon

  • The process depends on what type of typewriter you have. If you have a manual typewriter, then lift the spools directly out of the machine. On a cartridge typewriter, you should simply press the release lever to disengage the ribbon.
  • To disengage the spools, you can simply pull them straight up out of the typewriter.
  • There may also be two additional spring-loaded metal pieces that hold the ribbon in place. They’ll be located close to the ribbon spools. Apply pressure to finger-holds on these pieces, and you should be able to loosen the ribbon tension enough for you to pull it out

4. Remove the Ribbon and Spools

  • First, open the ribbon gate: you will notice the small piece of metal that holds the ribbon against the paper, where the keys will hit it. 
  • Then, pull the whole ribbon out of the machine. 
  • Be gentle so that you don’t damage any of the components. 
  • Put the old ink cartridge to the side. Now, you are ready to install the new ribbon.


Step Three: Replacing the Typewriter Ribbon

1. Buying a new ribbon

  • If you are using an older model of typewriter, then the hardest part of this process will be actually finding an original ribbon that was designed for your particular machine. Search online for retailers that are selling suitable or similar typewriter ribbons.
  • Check eBay and other online marketplaces. You can usually find a reputable seller to send you an appropriate ribbon. Check around your town for shops that sell paper supplies and ephemera.
  • Many manufacturers have ceased ribbon production due to the last of orders. However, you can always contact the company that manufactured your typewriting machine.

2. Load the New Spools

  • Wiggle the new spools into place until they fit snugly. 
  • Make sure to be gentle. 
  • Simply reverse every step that you took to retrieve the old spools

3. Thread the new Ribbon

  • Pull it through the wire that holds it in front of the roller. Look around the spools and make sure that it’s right-side up. Be careful and accurate when engaging the ribbon as it must be lined up correctly for the typewriter to function.
  • If you are using a multi-toned ribbon, make sure that black stripe sits on top of the red stripe when you’re installing the fabric.
  • Check to ensure that there are no twists in the ribbon

4. Replace the Typewriter Lid

  • Be careful not to bump against the spools or the ribbon out of place. 
  • Once the lid is back on, your typewriter is now as good as new and you are ready for typing again,


 Now that you know these three steps, you are all set for knowing how to re-ink your typewriter ribbon with ease.