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Re: IBM Selectric II
When you turn the platen by hand is there a ratcheting noise?
If not the ratchet release lever may be in the wrong position or not engaging the platen. orthe spring for the detent arm is broken if it's not the lever you probably need a tech.
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Sounds like the return lever arm is not putting enough pressure on the return clutch, or the clutch is slipping. The exp key uses the same clutch but the pressure comes from your finger. Theres no way you can fix this yourself. Get an IBM mechanic.
Several possible causes. Needs lubrication most commonly. Sometimes the velocity cable is hung up on the left side and under the carriage. remove the ribbon and shine a light down on the left side and look for a cable hung up on the pulley, make a hook with a paper clip and lift the cable up and past the pulley
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.
Selectric I and II type elements are identical (88 char) where Selectric III uses a different element (96 char). The 88 character element will have white lettering and the 96 character element will have yellow. Directly underneath the lift-up tab to remove the element will be a 3-digit number. That's the last 3 digits of the element's part number, which will be preceeded by 1167 for 88 character, or 1352 or 96 character. For example, if you have a '052" stamped on the element, and it's an 88 character style, the P/N will be 1167052.
The correcting mechanism is an intricate additional function of the backspace function. To test it/adjust it/or repair it requires the machine be hand-cycled using a hand cycle wheel which is screwed into the right hand side operational shaft. It's unlikely that an un-trained party would be successful repairing this..