Dec 252011

A collector who just bought a Fialka cipher machine asked me how to load the paper tape, which is tricky until you’ve done it a few times. Here’s how I load the wide paper tape (for printing and/or punching) into my Czechoslovakian M-125-3 machine. His machine is a Polish M-125, but hopefully the paper path is about the same (I’ve never handled the earlier model of Fialka, so I’m not sure about that). The paper tape path is a bit different when using the narrower print-only paper tape, but I don’t have any to demonstrate with.

First, here’s how the bottom edge of the paper reel holder fits onto the clips on the rear of the machine. There’s also a bracket (not shown) near the center of the tape holder which fits over a metal bit poking up from the rear of the machine.

Route the tape over the two rollers on the reel holder, and through the guide that’s between them.

Give the tape a twist as shown, and route it through the angled guide as shown. It’s OK if the tape falls out of the guide while you’re loading it; just slip it back in later. At this point, we’re just sticking it through the guide to make sure we twist it the right direction.

Feed the tape into the hole on the back of the machine’s cover, and then out the hole on the side. Pull through a foot or so of tape to make it easier to handle in the next step.

Feed the tape back into the machine, just in front of a small, hard-to-see roller.

Gently fiddle with the tape until it passes to the feed roller, then turn the knob on the feed roller to engage the tape. There’s also a lever that you can pull to release the feed roller, if that helps. If you need to unload tape, then pull that lever and draw the tape out from the reel; don’t try turning the feed roller backwards more than a click or two, of the tape will jam up inside the machine.

Finally, put the tape back into the angled guide if it slipped out, and turn the reel to take up slack and eliminate the loop hanging out of the side of the machine.

Here are a few pictures with the cover removed, to show the tape path in more detail.

The tape feeds out through a slot on the left side of the machine.