Friday, April 22, 2022

Synela brand S.I.M. portable typewriter

A Synela portable typewriter in glossy black.

This is yet another name variant of the S.I.M. portable typewriter, made in Italy. As is extensively documented on multiple webpages, the Societâ Industriale Meccanica of Turin made the same portable typewriter from about 1932 to 1953 with several different housing styles and a large variety of brands. Most of these 'typewriter brands' were store-brands, although some seem factory-own brands (e.g. SIM, Montana). The Synela is probably a 'private label' variant of their machine.

It has the angular housing (can also be slanted, like e.g. a Wanderer) with a closed top-cover (can also be open spools, like e.g. an early Royal P). It has the push-knobs at the side for ribbon-reverse (could also be had with a lever at front), shift-lock at the right (can also be left) and pillar-lever for ribbon-colour (can also be lever sticking out of front).

This was a bit of an impulse buy - it was a S.I.M. which I thought not a particularly special machine, but hadn't seen a Synela branded one. Also the glossy black angular housing looked neat. It had been on Etsy for several months at 'aspirational' prices. Hadn't spotted it there, but it then it popped up on the national classifieds site for a much more reasonable (but still respectable) asking price. So 'went for it' and got it shipped from a vintage-shop in the Amsterdam area.

Packing was discussed - buffering all around! Yes, buffer all around, no worries. Well. It'd be funny if it hadn't caused damage - yes, there was buffer all around. The machine was placed on its back on the bottom of the box and then very well buffered on the sides. That was a new one...

Ergo; the machine was damaged in transport. A cast frame-bar is broken (see offset between the I and M of S.I.M.).  The draw-band was tangled with the escapement (?), the ribbon-transport only works one-way (broken ratchet), the shift is wonky. A pity is that even the colour of the ribbon-selector is gone; pulverised remains of paint in the box (vibrations?) - before shipping it was still there...

No surprise - this Synela doesn't type. Notable that on Etsy this machine was listed as working (as seems to be the norm on Etsy, although to be fair it did not have the Etsy-usual 'working perfectly'). The transport-damage hasn't helped, but it's doubtful that this typewriter was even half-functional before shipping.

The first result of all this is that for now we'll only be doing pick-up in-person of new typewriters.

Another outcome is that we have a typewriter with 'issues' that is not a particularly special or rare model, so no qualms about taking it apart and seeing what can be done to revive it.

It does have a less common brand-name, so there's also that to find out.

Not quite the outcome as expected ("yes, will be buffer all around", really...), but for sure plenty of enjoyable tinkering ahead.


  1. well, it is certainly a handsome machine (:

  2. How frustrating when people don't use common sense in packing! I hope you can get it working properly. It is elegant.

    1. People can't use what they don't have... :-(