Digital TS-140

VY2AC on Prince Edward Island - Teletype/RTTY

While today, I use digital means most of the time for receiving RTTY, back in the 80's, I had two teletypes, a Model 15 Teletype for RTTY, and an KSR-33 which I used as a computer printer. Over the intervening years, I had completely forgotten what happened to them (surprise coming later, at least insofar as the KSR-33 is concerned). As part of my Telephone Museum, I have restored a Model 28 ASR machine and am in the process of restoring a 33 KSR machine. I thought that some of our younger amateurs would find these machines interesting.

The first machine I restored was a Model 28 ASR machine given me for the museum by Bernie MacIntyre, a retired CN/CP Telecommunications and Canadian Press technician from Charlottetown. The machine was in relatively good shape, but had not been used in many years. In order to get it home, and to keep the weight down, we had to break it down into several portions, the case, keyboard, printer, tape punch, and reader. Then, it had to be re-assembled here. This is a very heavy unit. It took three people to take the case up a stairs to the waiting truck, then I followed behind them carrying smaller assemblies. On the way home, I followed behind in my car, while Jeffery took the case in Linda's truck. When I arrived home after making a couple of stops, they had the case unloaded and in the museum. The 28's lubrication had dried up in storage as one would expect, and as it was used originally by a stock brokerage, it was equipped with a selective calling unit and a business (fractional) keyboard and type box.

Model 28 ASR

The worst part of the job was tracking down the wiring of the Selective Calling system to return it to normal operating condition. Major parts needed re-wiring, as the Selective Calling unit was wired so that it could poll the machine from the head office to see it there was any tape awaiting transmission in the tape reader. If tape was found there, it would send to the office when they polled the machine. This required re-wiring to allow the tape reader to operate normally. The printer was also locked out unless the S.C. unit in the base allowed it to print. This, too had to be modified to return it to normal operation. A loop power supply had to be built to provide the external loop for operation. The machine was completely cleaned, lubricated, the print box and fractional keys were changed to a communications set, and it is now part of a display where it is fed from the museum computer using a program called 'Heavy Metal" V2.4, which exports text in either Baudot or Ascii encoding. The Model 28, of course is a Baudot encoded machine.

The machine is fed from pins 3&5 of a computer's serial port through a simple Fairchild HSR-312L opto-isolator circuit. The opto-isolator will work with either the Model 28, or with a Model 33, or any other loop-powered machine - the only difference will be that the mode of transmission, i.e. Baudot or Ascii, and speed will have to be toggled in the "Heavy Metal" program, so the correct codes and speed will be sent to the machine.

You can view a couple of videos of this machine in operation which I posted on YouTube:

28 ASR Cover Open:

28 ASR Cover Closed:

Recent Project:

Model KSR-33 Project Video:

Next on the list is restoring the very same Ascii encoded KSR-33 which I owned and used as a computer printer in the 80's. Being a KSR unit, it doesn't have the paper punch or reader. While I had completely forgotten what I had done with it, an old friend called me when he heard I was looking for one, and reminded me that I had loaned him the machine in the mid-80's after I had gotten a Star-Micronics dot-matrix printer to use with my C-64 computer. This was originally an Island Tel machine, one of several given to local Hams in 1985 - I was one of the fortunate ones to get one at the time.

My friend had used it for a couple of years, then it was consigned to his barn, and it spent the next 20 some years there. This is bad news for teletypes, and it suffered the usual barn damage, not only limited to becoming a home to PEI's red squirrels (the size of chipmunks), but also rust damage to many parts, and some heavy item through the years had fallen on its top, breaking the top cover and the platen, and the platen knob at the left hand side and bent the paper guides badly. These machines survive storage best when heated, dry, and kept free from critters! Despite this, I am very happy to have it back and to have the chance to refurbish it to its former glory.

I am trying to restore it. I have it mostly operating now - fortunately much of the rusting was superficial, but some serious. However, if I find too much needs replacing, there is an ASR-33 coming in July thanks to a lady in the U.S. It appears to be in very good shape, and had been in good, heated storage. This KSR-33 will end up serving as a source of parts for the better ASR-33. The major difference between a KSR-33 and an ASR-33, is that the ASR version has a tape punch and tape reader on the left hand side of the machine, making it much more suitable for the display and demonstrations, whereas the KSR version does not. Meanwhile, working on this machine will teach me a lot about their operation and servicing. Thankfully, I have a full set of service manuals for both machines on CD Rom.

Normally, it wouldn't be worth putting all this time, effort and expense into a KSR-33, but this was my machine originally, and to me, it is worth it, if only for sentimental reasons, to get it running again. Many would consider it a lost cause!

KSR-33 before with only some cleaning - much work done since then. Platen broken on left
side, and the left hand protusion which the knob slips on is broken off.

Seems I have been cleaning this machine for a week. During cleaning, various seed husks were found inside the machine - even a small spruce cone was found under the keyboard where someone had stored it in case of a rainy day, and despite all the husks I have already removed in the last week, these have continued to be a problem. I finally decided to soak the base of the printer in Varsol April 27th, 2010, of course first removing the motor, starter and capacitor. You should have seen all the husks flooding out of inaccessable areas when I poured the Varsol into the Rubbermade tote I used to contain it! Aside from the husks, it will also remove old dried up grease, oil, and 20 years of dirt from it's storage. Tomorrow, I will use the parts brush on it, and then blow anything I missed out with a compressor. Once this is done, it will have to be re-lubricated again.

Front - After soaking - still wet.
Motor end (back) after soaking - still wet.

One of the major problems I am having with this machine are springs weakened by rust breaking near their ends. I am replacing these one by one as they break, and am trying to locate replacements for most of the small springs in the unit. They are the ones most effected by the rust.

The gummy print hammer bumper has been replaced by a 7/16" clear plastic tubing, the preferred replacement as even NOS hammers have gone gummy with age. After the old bumper is removed, a half inch section of this tubing is slipped over the hammer from the top to the "T" portion to replace it. It is a nice, tight fit, and easy to replace. This has been found to be an adequate replacement by others. If this isn't done, it will beat up the print head in short order.

When done, it will have had extensive cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment. I have been able to find a source for a new cover, new platen, new knob and a replacement print carriage shaft. These been received and installed in its heavily damaged upper printer section. I am hoping it will soon work great again, as it did when loaned to my friend. I will eventually post an after shot when done. It should look significantly better than it does in the first shot above.

April 30, 2010 - The printer was re-mounted after cleaning, and the platen replaced. The machine sure is a lot cleaner. I am having problems with the carriage return and paper feed but all else seems to be working. Of course, I won't be able to tell for certain until the CR and line feed is working. Work is continuing on the project!

Overall view before major cleaning, Paper guide flipped up to show
platen break and missing end the manual feed knob fits on.

Machine cleaned and new platen installed - looking better!

Saturday, May 1st, 2010 - I didn't get too much done on the machine due to other comittments - but did get a lot of much needed clean-up done in the teletype display area. The solvent was poured from the Rubbermaid tub in which the machine was soaked, back into the jugs it came in, tools put away, and a general consolidation of the mess. A small cabinet found in a yard sale this morning was placed in the display area and loaded with teletype supplies. Then the afternoon was spent helping some people pick up my spare phone booth to clear up some valuable space in my barn. I guess one could call it a day of consolidation. The top cover and new platen cover has been placed on the machine temporarily until I work on it again to keep the dust out.

Bernie may drop down some time in the next couple of weeks, so we can figure out the CR and line feed problem, and do any needed adjustments to the machine. To provide a continual source of parts for this machine, a full printer unit is coming from the U.S. It will provide a source of any part needed on the printer section now, and in the future. This is not the full machine, just the printer assembly.

Sunday, May 02, 2010 - I got a about half an hour to work on the machine early this morning. I removed the stop clips for the automatic CR and LF, to allow me to exersize the mechanism, and ran the carriage back and forth a few times to make it feed. This appears to have loosened up the manual line feed and carriage return. Keep in mind that this machine has been in very poor storage for 20+ years, and had considerable rusting. By exersizing the functions, I hope to free up sticking parts. The CR and LF are not yet reliable, but working much better than they did. I finally put a ribbon in the machine, and tried printing on the machine. Not all characters print reliably - some try to print the upper case character, so there is more work to be done to the CR and LF mechanisms and to the carriage. It is nice, however to have reached this stage. Now, here is a amusing note: After all the cleaning that has been done to this machine, today, I found the cores of two small spruce cones in between components of the power supply. These were hidden behind the selector driver card. I can't believe I am still finding debris left by the squirrels!!!

Model 33 Printer Details and Photos

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - I received the new "parts" printer from Wayne Durkee yesterday morning, and as it was in so much better shape than mine, decided to install it in my machine, and to use my old one for parts, rather than continuing my battle with the rust on it. After re-installing the "hereis" tab on the front of the printer (which had been removed for shipping so it wouldn't be damaged), I swapped the two printers. I did a basic lubrication on it, then installed the ribbon, then tried it out on paper. The original problems with the old printer are gone, and it will be used as a source of parts for this machine, and an ASR-33 coming in the summer.

Photo of Print test

This was done with a considerably dried out British Navy ribbon, but at least is a great initial test. Now, I have to finish lubrication, then put the covers back on, and give it a test printing from Heavy Metal, and finally buff the outside of the case. I do have some proper ribbons coming now.

Friday, May 14, 2010 - I have fabricated a plastic roller for the paper roll to mount on - the original was missing when I got the machine back, cleaned the platen, done further testing and lubrication, and finally dropped the cover back on. What a difference from the way it started out a couple of weeks ago when I got it back. I still don't have it connected to the interface - I was going to do that today, but I got a call, and CBC is coming down to film other items in the museum (for CBC's National News), so I decided I had better stop for the day and clean up. Rest assured the Model 28 ASR will be in operation when they arrive!

This unit is now operational from its keyboard. I have only to buff the case, and hook it up to the interface. Once I have the case cleaned up and get it fully operational with Heavy Metal, I will post videos on YouTube of it in operation, as I did with the Model 28 ASR. I ran into one more relatively minor problem a couple of weeks later, when an electrolytic capacitor went bad (likely a result of its many years of humid storage), resulting in the loss of the internal loop power. The capacitor has since been replaced, and the unit is operating top notch again!


See the You-Tube video of this machine completely restored above!

Ongoing Project:

Friday, May 07, 2010 - Brian Gough, who visited the museum last year as part of a small group emailed me the other day. He is coming to the Island again, and is bringing an item for the teletype display. It is a Fairchild Teletypesetter Standard Perforator. It was a unit designed by Morkrum-Kleinschmidt just around the time they became Teletype Corp. Eventually, the Teletypesetter Corporation split off from the original Company, but still under its ownership, then in 1958 it was sold to Fairchild. By this time, Teletype Corp. was part of the Bell empire, and they wanted to specialise only in communications products.

Fairchild Teletypesetter Standard Perforator

The perforator was a device with a keyboard and a 6 level 7/8 inch paper tape punch. It was used to prepare paper tape made for typesetting purposes, and this in turn, was used to feed linotype machines with text for printing. Thank you, Brian!

Saturday, May 15, 2010 - The punch arrived today. It is in very poor shape, but I have already started to free up the works with a penetrating lubricant. Sunday morning, I took the complete device outside, lathered it down with dish soap, and pressure washed it to clean and de-grease it. Amazingly, when I took off the bottom cover, I found all sorts of signs of insects, but also some earth and a small rock!. Will it ever run again? We will see how it turns out! Photo above, machine with only basic cleaning!

Monday, May 17, 2010 - If you look almost dead center of the keyboard unit above, you will note a bent lever, pointing up towards the motor. This is not its normal position. As near as I can tell, this lever translates the motion of the camshaft to the keyboard. It looks as though it was likely bent quite intentionally to prevent re-use of the machine after it was decomissioned. It wasn't in a position where anything could catch it, to bend it as severely as it was bent. So, it took a couple of hours, but I carefully removed it, then bent it back and into alignment this morning, relubing that mechanism as I went. Thankfully, it was made of fairly maleable metal! Afterwards, I re-greased the motor and drive gears. I also replaced that AC cord even though it was obviously in such great condition :-) I have manuals on CD coming, but alas, it looks as though the outboard part of the punch (i.e. part with the pins) is missing from the machine. It will be a difficult part to find - bear in mind this is a 6 level punch as opposed to a 5 level punch used in Baudot machines. Therefore, I will restore the machine at least to the point of where it could operate if I had the punch part. I have been told that there is a good chance the punch plate from a Model 20 teletype will work with the unit.

If anyone has a parts unit, I would be interested in getting their parts punch (section hanging off the left hand side of the unit). Not only is mine missing the outboard part of the punch, but the rest of the punch is frozen with rust. The rest of the unit should be no problem to restore.

I decided to try out a product I had heard of on the punch, Evapo-Rust. It worked well beyond my expectations! Seldom have I found a product which meets or exceeds the claims made by its manufacturer, but this is one. See information on Evapo-Rust, and photos taken during the process

June 09, 2010 - The major problem on this unit was the rust - that, and the print head was completely missing from the punch unit. I haven't been able to find a 6 level print head, but have found a 5 level one which is virtually identical, other than the number of pins. It is the head off a Teletype DPE-500 perf. This will prevent the unit from punching the 6th level - that containing the Teletypesetter specific commands, but will allow it to punch all standard TTY characters. I still have work to do on the major unit, including spring replacement chiefly. I have springs here, thanks to a member of the Greenkeys list, and just am awaiting the time to do it.

Along with the punch, came the above back painted plexiglass placard, and a number of
telephone related items. This was mounted on the left hand side cover of the Teletypesetter.

Learn about the Trans Canada Telephone System and Stentor, its later re-incarnation

Latest Projects!

June 24, 2010 - I have purchased a military teletype unit from a gentleman in Dartmouth, N.S. It is called a TELETYPE WRITER SET AN/VGC -504(V), and is basically a typewriter in a suitcase.It is an switchable ASCII/Baudot unit. I am fortunate that I was able to arrange for it to come over to the Island aboard a friend's tractor-trailer! See the updates, photos and comments via the link below! I have two of these units operating now.

More Details and Photo of this unit!

Teletype ASR-33

New Page!July 30, 2010 - A beautiful ASR-33 teletype was delivered to the door by Catherine Fillmore from P.A. This is a museum grade machine, which was acquired from the University of Ohio radio station by her late husband, Ivan in the late 60's. It is compete with its copy holder and with a box of paper, and aside from an annoying problem with the line feed and frozen platen (now 100% resolved), it worked perfectly..

When it arrived, aside from the platen problem, all it required was a lubrication, replacement of a gummy print hammer, and new ribbon. The machine has been in excellent storage for the past 30 years. Ivan got this machine for the same reason I originally got my KSR unit - to use as a computer i/o unit for his computer. Eventually, he like I, got a printer and the teletype went into retirement. There is no rusting, and it is extremely clean.

I will be interfacing the ASR-33 with the museum printer so it can send and get feeds to the computer, using a Telebyte M65A serial to loop interface. This I picked up last fall awaiting an ASR-33. I have ti connected, and it is now providing the 20 ma current loop for the machine, but I am awaiting a DB-25 female to DB-9 female adapted to wire up the computer end.


See the You-Tube video of this machine in operation below:



New!Model 15 Teletype Just Received and Rebuilt!

Aug 10, 2011 - A Model 15 teletype as been added to the Telephone Museum of PEI. This machine donated by Bruce Rosen of Mass. It was brought to the Island by Paul MacKinnon, and is shown here following cleaning, lubrication, and repair printing "The Quick Brown Fox" test from my Data-Tek 9600 test set. This joins other teletypes in the collection, a Model 28, ASR-33, KSR-33, and a Military high speed machine. This machine was made in the 1930's, and with a bit of work, still runs 80 years later

This machine required a major cleaning and lubrication, plus the replacement of a missing keytop. The lever of the dashpot assembly was frozen in, resulting in no travel of the platen unless released manually, The selector was set to the top of its range, resulting in the machine copying better at 50 baud, rater than the 45.5 it should have - this was reset to the correct setting for the machine. The screw which adjusts the spring on the selector armature was adjusted too tightly, resulting in the machine mis-copying. That was returned to normal, and the machine returned to normal operation.

Because of my health limitations, this was accomplished over a period of several days, while sitting at my desk. It is amazing what one can do in a number of short spells.

After rebuilding, the machine was turned on, and went through a run-in period of about 4 hours of solid printing. Another success story!


Looking For!

I am currently looking for a Model 14, or a Model 19 ASR set for the display, as well as other teletype items - sadly though there are a number showing up in the USA, the shipping cost would be prohibitive, and I am hoping to find one in the Canadian Maritime provinces. This are very heavy machines, and even heavier with their tables. If I find one of the above, it will be refurbished, then it will be included in the working display in the museum. I did have one (Model 15) in the mid-80's, but what I did with it remains a mystery - bear in mind that was 25 years ago. This machine was used with a homebrew interface for RTTY reception. Had I only held on to it! At the time, the Museum was only a distant dream, and I wanted the machines to be used. I am also looking for spare parts for these machines or parts machines, as well as rolls of paper and of paper tape to keep them operating for many years to come. All machines on display will be rebuilt, and will be capable of doing live demonstrations, so people can experience real teletype machines in action.

An IRL FSK-1000 RTTY terminal unit has also been found and restored for demonstrations of RTTY in the museum. When I get my second TS-140S back from servicing, it, too will go in the museum for live demonstrations of RTTY on these machines.

Related Sites:

Thanks to the many members of the Greenkeys Teletype Mailing List - http://www.rtty.com/greenkeys.htm who assisted me throughout these projects with parts and advice throughout these projects! The Greenkeys list is an excellent resource for anyone restoring or using a vintage teletype or related equipment.

Telephone Museum of P.E.I. - http://www.islandregister.com/phones/museum.html

Digital TS-140

Contact me: Dave Hunter -
Last Updated: 8/10/2011 6:48:01 AM
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