They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Ignoring they (or that), I opened up the mouth of this FREE 1990 Brother AX-450 and peered inside, searching for the reason why it wasn’t working.
The obvious answer seems to be that these machines are so poorly constructed they’re bound to break sooner rather than later. Specifically, what’s broken in this instance is the hammer mechanism, which is permanently set to a forward position.
So for zero dollars (not counting the cost of petrol to go and pick it up) I got myself a piece of plastic junk.
A nicely-sculpted piece of plastic junk it has to be said. I particularly like the way the plug and cable stow away at the back of the machine.
This is the only advantage this machine has over the Brother CE-30 — with the CE-30 you have to fold the cable and plug into a small compartment underneath the ribbon cover and it’s a very difficult art to master.
Apart from that shortcoming, the CE-30 is bigger, better constructed, and hence, still working. The rule seems to be that the smaller an electronic wedge is, the more cheaply constructed it is, the shorter its lifespan is likely to be.
At least I got myself another instruction guide to scan (when I get around to it) a spare printwheel and three brand new ribbons (not that they fit the CE-30 which takes a bigger ribbon cassette).
My advice, if you’re going to get yourself a wedge, and if space allows, go big.