I have an IBM Correcting Selectric III. When I power the typewriter on, the light comes on, but the keys are all dead. I noticed that the "Z" key is stuck down and the rest of the keys on that row seems to be not able to press down as much. What can I do to unstick the "Z"? Is this possibly the reason why the rest of the keyboard is dead?
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The Selectric typewriter has several "interlocks" that can cause the keyboard to be locked. When you turn the machine off there is a mechanism that locks the keyboard. When you turn it on the part should move and unlock the keyboard. Sometimes this part sticks and the keyboard will remain locked. When you type any character the keyboard is locked to prevent two keys trying to type at the same time. The machine locks and unlocks very fast. One keys is locked in and prevents others from working. try turning on the machine and hitting every key just a little bit harder and see if it then types. When you shift, as the ball is turning the keyboard is locked temporarily so it won't attempt to type as the ball is turning as that would damage the machine. Sometimes the shift mechanism can cause the keyboard to remain licked as the shift may not have finished it's complete cycle. Also, the return mechanism locks the keyboard temporarily when the carrier is returning to prevent you from typing when the carrier is moving backwards. Only a qualified technician can resolve those issues.
Your machine has a mechanical part that is either just sticking or needs a small adjustment. The dash (or underscore in upper case) is the character that is preselected when typing. When you hit another character, the machine either adds units or takes them away to give you that specific character. Your machine is not resetting fast enough so it is giving you an extra cycle and that is why you get the dash. A trained IBM technician should be able to resolve this issue for you.
The cycle clutch has dried out and is causing the delay and lockup. These machines are to complex mechanically to repair on your own. I would try to seek out someone who still repairs these and have them do a general clean and lubrication.
If you know how to remove the right dust cover (black inside the T/W below the carrier) next to the R. side frame is the correction set up mech. spray some WD40 on the arms especially where they pivot, they should free up.