Number 12 the Royal FP

Ari S. just brought home a Royal FP and Richard Polt just threw an FP into his trunk.  It’s raining FPs. That got me thinking about the Royal FP at Moe’s  shop down the street that has been languishing on her shelves for more than a year.  I first saw it last May:


Across a crowded room…

The SCM electric has since been sold and I bought the Olympia SG3.  I passed on the FP because its Magic Margins weren’t working.

Moe is now thinking about giving it away.  I told her that maybe I could fix it, so I brought it home for a look-see.

I feel bad that this Royal FP did not get any love.  I understand that they are marvelous typewriters when they are clean and happy. It’s pretty beat-up with lots of scrapes and dings. Perhaps a re-paint is in its future?

Well-known San Francisco columnist Herb Caen used an FP, so you would think this FP would get a lot of love here in the SF Bay Area.

By Uyvsdi - Own work, Public Domain,

By Uyvsdi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently Herb Caen was a bit of a typewriter polygamist.  According to Wikipedia, he had four Loyal Royals. Here he is with what looks like a Royal HH:

By Nancy Wong - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By Nancy Wong (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Anyhoo, I brought this under-loved and under-appreciated typewriter home. Here’s Moe’s FP:


The typewriter was typing, but setting the margin on the left using the Magic Margin was not working (the right Magic Margin was a little slow but working).  I hoped that it was a gummy/dirt problem that would resolve with cleaning.

The tabs were sluggish, but repeated tabbing freed them up, so I was hopeful about the margin problem – it may just be gummy.

The serial number is located next to the left ribbon spool:


FP = model, E= elite + serial number 6800093 which puts it at 1959 according the Typewriter Database.

What does FP stand for?  Flippin’ pachyderm? Formidable package? There was a discussion at Typewriter Talk last year about Royal model names and a former Royal employee who is a forum member said that FP = Fortune Peter Ryan who was President of Royal Typewriters starting in 1951. F.P. Ryan was the grandson of Thomas Fortune Ryan, the railroad, banking, tobacco, insurance, and transportation magnate who financed the incorporation of the Royal Typewriter Company in 1904.

Here’s a teaser from a 1951 article about F.P. in Time magazine:,9171,821750,00.html

This makes me want to get a subscription to Time just to read the rest of the article. I am happy to read that Fortune Peter (a great name) started at Royal as an apprentice mechanic despite being a Yale man.

Back to the typewriter at hand. I like these genuine Royal clear plastic spools:


This FP is typing great right out of the box.  There was a little stiffness that worked itself out with the quick brown fox:


Elite and and very dirty slugs. Wonderful typewriter.


I pulled out a piece of cardboard that was jamming the indexing.

This typewriter’s name is Number 12. I don’t know what happened to the other eleven.




Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!


I took off the ribbon cover, front panel, side panels, paper table and back panel and gave the typewriter a good blow-out with the air blower thing.


The foam insulation inside the machine crumbled to the touch, so I scrubbed it out with a toothbrush and blew it out with compressed air and vacuumed.


Gummy Lever

The carriage return lever had no BOING. It was stuck in a gummy way.  I worried that there was a spring missing, but all it needed was cleaning and lubrication under the lever:


Now it’s great – BOING – BOING – BOING.

Mystery Margins

I may have mentioned it before, but I am not a fan of complicated margin setting features like Remington’s KMC, Hermes Weirdie Margins™, and Royal’s Magic Margins.

In my mind, this is the perfect way to set margins. Thank you, Smith-Corona Silent-Super, for keeping it simple:


Right in front and what you see is what you get. This is the best system for me.

Magic Margins: those I don’t like so much. I always am flipping the paper table up, peeking back there to see what’s going on. It’s a mystery.


I had problems setting the left margin on this Royal FP, so I investigated when the typewriter was more exposed. There is this complicated set up with long springs and a margin setting mechanism.


I used denatured alcohol to clean the Magic Margin parts.  Ta-da! I then had a functional left Magic Margin. I followed up with a little PB B’laster for lubrication.

Skippy the Royal FP

I think I have pretty good technique when it comes to typing.  I admit I am not a touch-typist – I use two to three fingers.  However, I do have a forceful and quick staccato touch that really does the job. My printed pages are crisp and dark. I type like Olive Oyl.  I didn’t think there was any other way to use a manual typewriter and then I observed people pressing the keys as if they were giving the keyboard a caressing massage. What the heck?

Well then.  I used to test my typewriters after cleaning with my proper “Staccato Hot Keys” touch.  Now when I test, I try to imitate The Pressing Massage to see if there is any residual stickiness in the typebars – which is very noticeable with The Pressing Massage.

I tested this FP after cleaning the segment with denatured alcohol. With Staccato Hot Keys touch, there was no problem.

But check out the crazy skipping when I did The Pressing Massage:

There’s a little stutter and the escapement is twice triggered when I press instead of jab. The Pressing Massage seems like poor technique to me, but I wanted to see if I could decrease the skipping.  This typewriter may someday make its way into the hands of someone who uses The Pressing Massage and I don’t want that person to experience the frustration of skipping.

I haven’t experience skipping before (maybe because I use the Staccato Hot Keys Technique), but it is exasperating to those who experience it.

It’s hard for me to emulate the typist who uses The Pressing Massage, but when I do it right (or wrong?) I can consistently reproduce the skipping.


The skipping seemed to be worst with the keys in the middle of the keyboard, especially g, h, b, r, and 5. I first cleaned the escapement with denatured alcohol – it’s not as accessible as on other typewriters – and then gave it a quick squirt of PB B’laster.  I also very thoroughly cleaned the segment where the skipping was worst. I feel like the skipping with The Pressing Massage eased up a little, but it persists.

Backspace Does Not Erase had a skipping problem with a Remington Noiseless Portable which he rectified with an adjustment to the escapement trigger. I have a completely different machine, but such an adjustment might fix my Royal standard.

I went to the D. E. Fox repair manual (found in Typewriter Database‘s document library) and found this in the section for Royal standards:


D. E. Fox Typewriter Repair Manual, 1950, pp. 79-80, TWDB

I am hesitant to make adjustments – especially since I don’t have a “Special Dog Washer”.  The typewriter currently types great – if used by an “experienced operator”. I am in a kind of WWJD situation.  I am fairly certain that this typewriter will make its way to the collection over at The Shop at Flywheel Press where “inexperienced operators” roam.  Can they be educated in the touch needed to make this FP sing?

Aesthetic Appeal

Technique-related skipping aside, I want to address the Royal FP’s appearance.  The ribbon cover is pretty banged up.  Would it be blasphemy to repaint?


I am feeling pretty good about my sandblasting and powder coating skills, so I think I can do a quality repaint of the ribbon cover, front plate, and paper table.

I am leaning toward a coral pink.  I am not really a pink typewriter person, but I recently saw a coral pink FP on eBay that was very popular. If this FP were another color, would it get the love it deserves?

Here are some powdercoat color possibilities from Prismatic Powders:


What do you think?  Here’s a poll:

23 thoughts on “Number 12 the Royal FP

  1. Tyler A. says:

    Some machines can actually be adjusted as to when the universal bar is struck or when said bar activates the escapement (such as the wondrous Fox portable, the Underwood 3 bank, Underwood 5, etc) and can actually be tuned to work well with the Pressing Massage. I’m not so sure about Royals, though.

    On another note, I didn’t quite find an FP, but I found its little brother the other day; an aesthetically identical Royal Aristocrat portable. I passed on it because it was missing half its keys, but that specific branding of Royal seems to indeed be falling from the sky all around.


    • Right now the escapement triggers when the type slug is about 1/4″ from the platen. According to DE Fox, it should trigger at about 3/8″. There is a little hole in the skin of the machine back
      hole in back on machine

      I see a little screw in there that *might* be where the escapement trigger is adjusted. I am tempted to turn it.


      • …But hold the phone… I see another likely screw if I turn the typewriter on its back and gently move the springs aside:

        adjustment 2

        Could this be the escapement trip adjustment screw?


      • Tyler A. says:

        You know, it almost does look like it could be the adjustment screw. It’s similar to a lot of other machines at the very least in general look.


  2. If I find a screw adjuster and I don’t know what effect it will have, I turn it just a little bit and see what happens. Then turn it back the same amount from the start point but the other way – then see what happens. I do have a feeling that some continuous use might just see the problem become less obvious if not disappear entirely. And yes, one day, an FP. Maybe.


    • I will do some tentative adjustments as you suggest. I’ll need to watch my type alignment as one of these two screws might be for vertical type alignment adjustment.

      The skipping may recede with use as you say. Most of this typewriter’s problems (nonfunctional Magic Margin, sluggish tabs, gummy carriage return lever) were gummy/disuse issues that resolved with cleaning and working the parts manually.

      What I wouldn’t give for a Royal FP service manual. This big standard is so different from the Royal portables I have cleaned recently.


    • Thank you! Both the 1945 and 1968 Ames manuals have helped me identify the trip adjustment screw (the screw seen blurrily through springs). I am going to do careful, slow adjustments and see if I can get the escapement to trip when the typebars are further from the platen.

      I’d like to see your FP after its “slow transformation”.


  3. Nick Merritt says:

    Glad to know that you fixed the left side Magic Margin with solvent — I have a recalcitrant one on my HH, and can’t quite get at it to apply naphtha to it. I’ll keep trying.

    By the way, “Special Dog Walker” seems like a pretty hip job description….

    I voted to repaint in the same color, by the way! Call me boring, I guess.


    • You may be able to flip the paper table forward to get better access to the Magic Margins on your HH. It was amazing what a little denatured alcohol did for the setting mechanism.


  4. nombre7 says:

    I have that exact FP that’s my Standard Home Daily Typer. It’s an excellent Typer and I love the Royal font. You might just find you’ll fall for it like I did mine (I thought it was kinda *blah* at first, but now I love her lines…).


    • I learn so much from reading other typewriter blogs – I would be stumbling blind without the helpful resources I have found online. The typewriter community is such a friendly ecosytem.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can hear it say “I AM NOT A NUMBER, I AM A ROYAL FP!”, or maybe it’s “NUMBER TWELVE (formerly number four) IS ALIVE!”. Can’t tell for sure.. 😀


  6. Hey, what’s wrong with Hermes “Weirdie Margins” (Flying Margins™)? They’re not over-complicated at all. Just pull one lever, then pull the other lever. Smith-Corona has a very primitive margin system. Not near as nice as Hermes Flying Margins. Even Royal Magic Margins aren’t as good, because there’s no easy way to tell where the actual margin is—you have to rely on the bell. The Hermes has an awesome Red String™ to tell you where the margin is.

    The plastic ribbon spools are actually the fore-runner of the disposable ink cartridge. The ribbon is glued onto the actual spool itself (rather than using metal barbs as usual), and an unopenable plastic shell is moulded around it. The advertised reason for this is so the typist does not stain her fingers while changing ribbons, but a side-effect is that one can’t buy generic ribbon and put it onto said Roytype cartridge.


    • I do love the Hermes 3000’s “thermometer-style” margins sighted in the bail – it’s a bit of over-the-top fun.

      I’m glad just about any 1/2″ ribbon works on most machines if you have the original or a compatible spool and take the time to re-spool.


  7. Donald Lampert says:

    This is late, but I just got back an FP that I had cleaned up for a neighbor several years ago.
    She was cleaning out her garage, and asked if I wanted the FP…..and I had to say yes! I like it’s simple, but attractive lines….and while it may not win any beauty contests, it is pretty cool!
    How did you end up painting your machine?
    Thanks for the great article…..


    • I really love my FP – such a solid typewriter for the way I type.

      I ended up buying pretty pink powder coat paint – and then chickening out. I eventually recovered my nerve, but the maker space where I had done sand blasting and powder coating before closed their doors last year and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy early this year. 😦 I need to find a new maker space where I can conduct my experiments.


  8. Lake says:

    I acquired a 1959 FP at a thrift store for $5.00 with exactly each and every flaw which yours has. After a cleaning with cloth, brush, compressor and a touch of naphthalene. and a touch of t-9 Boeshield oil (Best on the market), the skipping has ceased and the return arm springs free. I did not reinstall the magic margin spring, and simply set the margins manually., and I am also considering repainting the ribbon cover. Based on the fact that our 1959 FP’s have identical issues, I would expect that others will find the same. It is an excellent typer now, and because I collect portables and semi-portables this is going to make a great donation to a friend.


    • That’s really funny. I guess Royal FPs get gummy in these certain places and then exhibit these behaviors. I’m glad you got yours cleaned up and running nicely. Your friend is going to get a terrific typewriter gift.


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