IBM Wheelwriter Troubleshooting: Common Issues & Solutions

IBM Wheelwriter Troubleshooting: Common Issues & Solutions

Posted by Julie Greenbaum on Sep 05, 2019


Mastering IBM Wheelwriter: Addressing Common Typewriter Concerns

Does your IBM Wheelwriter electric typewriter lose margins? Does it print two vertical lines sometimes? Or is your typewriter just doing something that you can’t quite explain?

Have no fear because Jim Riegert and our team are here! has encountered those issues before. Sometimes it is just a simple fix that the user can do, a specific part that needs to be ordered or replaced, or something that may require a more extensive diagnostic by our team.

Whatever the issue might be, we wanted to provide you with this quick go-to list to help you troubleshoot common issues with your IBM Lexmark Wheelwriter series electric typewriter.

So here are some questions you may find yourself thinking about … along with solutions:

1) What should I do if my typewriter margin is stuck or I lose margins?

Solution: If you are experiencing the issue of your typewriter margin being stuck or if you are losing margins with your typewriter, it may be preceded by a screeching noise, which means it is usually a lubrication problem.

What can you do to solve this problem? Try cleaning the two chrome rails (pictured below) and oil with a light oil. This will usually fix the problem. sells this Tri-Flo oil at $8 for a small bottle, but it is not available on the website. You can contact Jim at (404) 377-1884 to purchase.

Oil Rails

If the problem persists, you may need a new transport motor. The transport motor moves the carrier back and forth and is available on the website for $30 and takes 1 hour of labor to install.

2) What should I do if my typewriter sounds like it is hitting the paper but the ribbon is not printing? Will I need a typewriter ribbon replacement?

Solution: The ribbon is either defective or not seated right with the drive gear so it would be a matter of replacing or repositioning the ribbon.

3) What should I do if my typewriter correction tape is not working?

Solution: The correction tapes available today usually do not sit on the drive gear without a little work. You may have to jiggle it into place. It does not click so you will need to visually inspect that it is in place.

4) What should I do if the typewriter spacebar is not working?

Solution: The spacebar not working is usually an issue that occurs after shipping, where the spacebar comes off and will reset itself incorrectly.

There is a stabilizer bar that must be properly seated in its guides. The metal rod just needs to go under the little lugs on the keyboard. See picture below.

Wheelwriter Space Bar

5) What should I do when I get two vertical lines printed on the paper?

Solution: This may be happening because of a bad printwheel or the machine will need to have a new printwheel motor. This will require a service tech to install new parts. You can call us at (404) 377-1884.

6) What should I do if my typewriter prints two vertical lines on a specific character every time?

Solution: This means that there is a broken petal on the printwheel and will need to be replaced.

7) What should I do if the bottoms of the letters are not printing?

Solution: A ribbon or platen not seated properly can cause this issue. You can follow these steps and refer to the chart below:

  1. Double-check that the ribbon is seated under the blue ribbon latch.
  2. If the ribbon is OK, try reseating the platen latches in the side frame by pushing down hard on each side.
  3. If it will not stay down, it probably needs a new platen latch.
  4. If the left latch is broken, the platen will need to be replaced. You can contact Jim at (404) 377-1884.
Wheelwriter Platen Removal

8) What should I do if the underline is not printing?

Solution: This means that the ribbon is not seated properly. The ribbon will need to be adjusted.

9) What should I do if the punctuation is very light or not printing at all?

Solution: You will need a new print hammer solenoid. This can be purchased through our website and Jim can help with walking you through how to install the print hammer solenoid.

10) What should I do if the printwheel is not hitting the paper?

Solution: 95% of the time a new print hammer solenoid will do the trick. For the other 5% of the time, it will require a main board.

We hope that this list of IBM Wheelwriter troubleshooting questions and solutions for IBM Wheelwriter electric typewriters has helped to quickly answer some of the questions that you may have!

But wait, you may be wondering: What should I do if I have an issue that is not listed here? If you need further assistance, you can call us at (404) 377-1884 and we will be happy to assist you.

Are there any typewriter topics we missed that you would like to see covered? is committed to being America's best resource for everything IBM Wheelwriter typewriters, so we welcome you to write: or call (404) 377-1884 with any questions you did not see on this page.

And before you leave ...

Check out these nine useful tips on how to care for your electric typewriter.