A Royal Visitor

I temporarily fostered a Royal KMM from Moe’s shop – it cleaned up nicely. I blew out the insides, doused the internal mechanics with mineral spirits and repeated the blowout.  I then lubricated the sticky rails and the tab system with a little PB B’laster and scrubbed the outside with Scrubbing Bubbles.  Lastly, I threw a new ribbon in her.

What a charmer!  No wonder David McCullough loves his KMM so much.

Her gumminess banished, the KMM is as giddy and spry as a new colt that’s found its legs.


The only problem is that the line lock fails to engage at the end of the line.  The space bar locks up nicely, but the typebars continue to strike at the end of the line.


I think the line lock issue is somewhere in here. I cleaned and lubricated around the Line Lock Lever and Center Stop (see arrow), but that did not seem to fix the problem. I didn’t have time to skin the machine since I needed to get the typewriter back to Moe’s shop so she can try to sell it.  If it sits longer, I’ll bring it home again and remove the cover plates, so I can get a better look at what’s going on inside.

And oh yes, and there’s that Royal left margin issue I keep running into – so quirky.


The erratic left margin seems to have worked itself out with lots of typing, so I think there’s a disuse/gumminess factor involved.  Almost every Royal I’ve worked on seems to have an erratic left margin issue, at least initially.

Despite my earlier reservations, the Royal KMM and my Remington KMC got along great. They hit it off immediately.  Well, they have a lot in common: both are heavier than hell, both have charcoal crinkle paint, both are superb mechanical typewriters. They have almost identical footprints though the Remington is slightly taller.  The Royal is four pounds heavier than the Remington. I can’t say which is the better typewriter because I am loyal to my Remington KMC which is such a solid, good old-fashioned thumper.

Make sure you read Richard Polt’s post on a KMC vs. KMM showdown. It’s entertaining and chock-full of informed observations.

Mother and Child Reunion

I brought my little 1939 Royal Aristocrat out to meet the big KMM.

motherChild01 motherChild02

After the photo shoot, I took the KMM back to Moe’s shop.  I made sure to send the KMM off with care and feeding instructions.


The typewriter drew immediate interest. I think I almost talked a guy into buying it when I dropped it off. I’m a pretty smooth talker.  It’s amazing what a little cleaning and a new ribbon will do for a typewriter’s self-esteem.

This KMM would be a good typewriter for a serious writer. Solid but fun for the fingers and gentle on the hands. I typed and typed several pages of nonsense (hunt-n-peck) as I worked out the erratic left margin issue – and my hands didn’t tire at all. I could see a serious person sitting down at her writing desk and generating 5-10 pages of good writing each day on this machine.

Several internet sources say that Joan Didion used/uses a Royal KMM.  There is this photo of Joan Didion with what appears to be a KMG – but perhaps it is a pale KMM. She did use a Royal KMsomething, so I leave you with a favorite quote:


12 thoughts on “A Royal Visitor

    • I edited my post and added a link to your KMC vs. KMM showdown. I love that KMC vs. KMM post. It was one of the first things I read in the typosphere. I had gotten my first typewriter, the KMC, and didn’t know anything about it. Your post filled in a lot of the gaps.


  1. I may need your help in a bit. I just purchased my second KMM from a Craigslist ad. The carriage is jammed and has come off its rail. In other respects the machine looks solid, just dusty. I’m glad to fix it just to keep it away from keychoppers!


    • I’ll try to help. The KMM I recently worked on just needed a good cleaning and a little lubrication. Let me know if you need pictures or video – the KMM I cleaned up is still at Moe’s and I could document parts if you need them.


  2. Javier Bonafont says:

    Hi there. I also have a KMM problem and maybe you can shed some light? I cleaned up nice a couple of years ago and it was working just fine, but then it was used for a photo shoot and when it came back only half the keys work. half the keys and the spacebar are binding somewhere, but the other keys work perfectly. I don’t want to take the whole thing apart again if its just something stupid i’m not seeing, because i figure it has to be a single thing that somehow affects a lot of keys and the spacebar. The binding letters move about halfway and then stop, the spacebar depresses only slightly and then stops. They all return home fine, they just won’t advance enough. Its bizarre because it seems like a random set of letters and i don’t know what the common connection could be. Any ideas? Thank you!


    • Wow! That’s too bad. My hunch is that there is a mechanical obstruction like a stray piece of cardboard, plastic or metal that’s hindering the key strokes. Try tilting the typewriter back and follow the connections from the spacebar and affected keys and see if you can identify an obstruction. Does the problem affect a particular section of typebars in the segment? If so, pull out a flashlight and check for obstructions in that area (under/between) the segment.

      Besides obstruction, you may have a bent internal mechanism – though KMMs are built like tanks – they can put up with all sorts of abuse. But if it was dropped…

      I once had an Underwood portable that would have keys that hung up. After some investigation, I found a stray part that had migrated into the internal mechanics of the machine.
      Thumb nut wedged inside typewriter

      Good luck with your investigation and let me know if you find anything.


      • Javier Bonafont says:

        hey, thanks for the reply. I’ve fixed it! so underneath i discovered that some of the keys were striking a plate. I actually have no idea what that plate is for. it seems to a control rod on one side but I can’t see where it goes. From some diagrams I think its what is called the LINE LOCK and is somehow connected to the Tab function, but I don’t know exactly how or why it operates. In any case if this plate is pulled into place it catches a tooth on the key, preventing it from moving further. it has a control rod on on side of the machine and an adjustment screw on the other so i loosened the screw and pulled it further out of the way and all the keys now miss the plate and work fine. But I’m not sure if my futzing with it will have some adverse affect on the Tabs (none obvious that i can tell so far) cuz i really don’t know what its supposed to do or how its supposed to be calibrated. Anyway YAY at least it types. Thanks for pushing me along. Best.


      • Javier Bonafont says:

        OK, sorry for the repeated postings. I now know what the line lock is *supposed* to do, and maybe when I have some inspiration I will try and tackle the adjustment to make it work properly. It seems pretty complicated…. :-/


  3. Janice Porter says:

    Hi…. do you know where I can find ribbon for a typewriter like this? My son received one for Christmas – I am desperate to find ribbon to make it work!!


    • Does the typewriter have the original metal spools? If so, great! All you’ll need is new 1/2″ ribbon which is easily found from a variety of online sellers (eBay, Amazon). You’ll need to re-spool the new ribbon onto the old metal spools.

      If the metal spools are missing, the situation changes. “Universal” spools do not work on these Royal standard typewriters. They need unique spools which are hard to find and expensive. I found a couple sellers online that offer the spools (with new ribbon):

      Ribbons Unlimited
      Typewriter Chicago

      Hope that helps!


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