It’s October and here in the US that means Halloween. I’m not much for the scary, gory stuff, but I do like a cheerful jack-o-lantern or two. And I like all the candy that I steal from my daughter’s trick-or-treat bag.
My neighbor’s Pac-Man ghosts are pretty swell.
And now as the leaves have started to fall, Moe from Mozo’s gave me a call. A friend of Moe’s had a Royal HH that needed a look-see. I brought the HH home and took it out to the back patio to investigate.
1952 Royal HH
By serial number this typewriter is from 1952 – the first year the Royal HH was manufactured. The serial number is under the carriage on the right side. You can see it if you pull the carriage way, way over to the left:
It wasn’t too bad: a little gummy, a little dirty on the inside. Its worst problem was that it was cursed with one of those awful black and white correctable ribbons. The horror!
The first thing I did was cut that thing out. So much better:
I blew the inside out carefully with my Datavac Duster:
Despite being a nondescript muddy gray, this HH has wonderful style – the lines are very appealing.
I assembled my supplies for cleaning:
- Old rags
- Mineral spirits in a jar for scrubbing the slugs and segment
- Soft Scrub for cleaning the platen
- Goo Gone for cleaning the key tops
- a stiff tooth brush for slug scrubbing
- a paint brush for applying mineral spirits
- Q-tips to cleaning sticky eraser crumbs and gunk
- a bamboo skewer for getting into tight spots
- a fresh ribbon to rewind onto the old spools
After draping the shell carefully with rags, I scrubbed the type slugs and segment with mineral spirits. After a first cleaning pass, the typebars were all swinging easily.
I then wiped out the eraser crumbs, gunky fluff, and correcting tape dandruff with a lightly damp rag and Q-tips. I vigorously scrubbed the platen with Soft Scrub to remove embedded white of the correcting tape.
The keytops had the frost often seen on Royals of this vintage. A lot of people call it mold or fungus, but I think it’s a chemical precipitate that affects plastics of the era. That sounds xtra-science-y.
I wiped the key tops down with Goo Gone and the white coating came off.
The old metal spools are the distinctive Royal style. I wound new red and black ribbon onto the old spools and tested.
Lovely! When I first started typing, the left margin was a little “soft”, returning irregularly to the left. I find that Royals often exhibit this behavior. Fortunately, the erratic left margin seemed to work itself out with exercise.
The Royal HH has a “carriage control” knob. Here is the description of carriage control from the Royal HH manual:
I played with it, turning it up and down and felt no difference. Perhaps the machine needed more cleaning to appreciate the subtleties of the control.
T. Munk posted recently about a similar feature on Royal portables of the early 50s.
Moving on, here’s a picture of Herb Caen, a well-known San Francisco columnist who swore by his “Loyal Royal”.It’s hard to say whether the HH pictured above was his favorite – apparently he had four “Loyal Royals” including the Royal FP below. Really, Herb, what a player! This HH is a serious typist’s typewriter. It’s got a palm tabulator:
If this HH had had a dirtier shell, I would have pulled out the Scrubbing Bubbles and a tooth brush and cleaned the crinkle paint exterior. However, the HH was pretty clean to start with. I only needed to wipe down the outside with a damp cloth. Here she is, sitting pretty on my front bench.
I am going to call this model a Royal Happy Halloween from now on. I have heard tell that the Royal HH was named for Henry Hart who patented the Magic Margin for Royal in 1938. HH could also stand for Hello Handsome, Head Honcho, Heigh Ho, Hip Hop, Holy Hell, Happy Hunting and more. Happy Halloween seems appropriate for this time of year.
I took the Royal HH back to Moe’s with care and feeding instructions. I am sure that the lady who owns it will now be able to hammer out The Great American Novel. What a sweet machine.
I got an email from Jenn at the Shop at Flywheel Press and she just got a new typewriter for the Shop. It had belonged to a friend who moved to Hawaii and couldn’t afford to bring the typewriter along, so she gave it to Jenn. It wasn’t typing and Jenn thought maybe it had a carriage lock engaged. I went over to scope out the situation.
When I arrived at the Shop, Jenn was conducting a kids camp. I could hear the happy tappity-tap of typewriters as I walked in. Heart-warming!
Here’s the new girl. Really, another HH! I call this one a Royal Hardly Hawaiian (since it didn’t make it off the mainland).
After poking at it a minute or two, I determined that the margins had been set close together so the carriage couldn’t move. Damn you and your mysterious hidden workings, Magic Margin!
I got the margins in order and strung a new ribbon on her, and soon she was typing away happily. I’ll be back to give her a good clean and enter her into TWDB.
I strolled around the Shop and checked the other typewriters. One or two had ribbon issues which were soon remedied, but all were typing. My cheesy fixes like the duct-tape clevis repair and the paperclip spool spindle ARE STILL FINE despite all the little kids hammering on these typewriters.
Looking good, ladies. Til next we meet.
25 thoughts on “The Royal Happy Halloween (HH)”
Kids do tend to activate the Magic Margins and limit themselves to a one-inch typing line.
I agree that the lines of the HH are beautiful, but their typical wrinkly brown paint is … well, yuck. Once in a while you do see them with glossy gray paint.
The taupe gray crinkle paint does mask a variety of sins – the dirt and grime blend in nicely. I’d like to see an HH in gloss gray though.
This is the tickling in the mind, the black cat you see cross the doorsill twice, the first clue that you have crossed between shadows: when you start experiencing “pairing” in your typewriter encounters. Your strong interest in typewriters is breaking the matrix of localized reality because of its intensity. (:
Typewriter pairing! This is freaking me out. I knew that there was something weird about seeing two HHs back-to-back.
It gets worse. I have two 1964 H3000s just a handful of serials apart, and just unloaded a pair of 1964 Adler Tippas that came into my possession a couple days apart, also about 30 serials apart. That happened last month. When I find two machines exactly 1 serial apart, the universe might implode. /:
If I see a third HH this week, I will know that the End Times are nigh.
I keep seeing a royal HH at a local antique shop for $40 but keep buying everything else that comes in instead. It looks like a solid machi e except for the left shift key is missing.
Last month I picked up a royal portable with the black and white tape and I cant remember a worse mess to clean up from the white out. I feel your pain. Lol
The two Royal HHs that I recently encountered were experiences of smooth, solid typing satisfaction. You really could type the Great American Novel on one of these.
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I tend to write crime and sci fi. Maybe I should raise my expectations.
Perhaps the Great American Novel is a sci fi crime novel.
If thats the case Philip k dick beat me to it. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
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I got an HH like these two over a year ago — frame casting is cracked clean through in the back on one side, which doesn’t look good but also doesn’t seem to affect the operation of the machine. However, the left side Magic Margin won’t engage, so not only can I not set the margin, but the mechanism causes extra drag when returning the carriage. Not sure how to go in and work on it, but indeed, the Magic Margin is more trouble than it’s worth overall. The HH is indeed a fine looking beast, however.
While you probably have a mechanical issue with the Magic Margins because of the crack in the back frame casting, you may want to see if cleaning helps. I have a Royal FP with Magic Margins that weren’t working. I cleaned and lubricated the MM mechanism with PB B’laster and the Magic Margins began to work.
Starting to wonder — there hasn’t been a new posting in close to three months. Hope all is well.
All is well! I’m in the midst of a slow-motion cross-country move, but I’ll be posting soon. Thank you for checking in.
Wow! Looking forward to the update. Hope all goes forward without too much stress.
Just bought one of these younger royals. Still needs cleaning and some love but so far looks like it will work as well as the older royals I have in my army.
These 1950s Royals are built like tanks – a nice addition to your army.
I find that to be true with most royal models. I have to wonder if some were built from old tanks after the war.
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I can’t say enough good things about these Royal HH machines. In fact, I’ve got FIVE. I intended to use them as wedding props for hire, and expected at least one or two to be parts machines. But, true to form for the HH, they ALL fixed up nice and workable. Now I could outfit an old-school secretarial pool with these, two MC models and a KMM. But I’ll say in parting, the Royal HH, sitting on your desk or bench, waiting to be used, will outlive you and your grandkids.
Good Gravy! Five Royal HHs – that’s quite a harem! I love the way a Royal standard types – solid, satisfying, smooth – like a really good cup of coffee. Growing up, we had a KMM. It was already a million years old at that point, but it was solidly reliable though it had to endure the fingers of eight children. It never took a day off. I figure that if you keep the rust away, those things will last thousands of years.
I’m not sure if you are continuing to post, but I just recently got a typewriter from my grandpa, and I think this is the one! Thank you for posting this, it will really help me to try and restore this typewriter! I had a question: what ribbon did you use for this typewriter? I know pretty much nothing about typewriters, and I could use all the help I can get. Thank you!
Hi Jocelyn – I am still poking around with typewriters and posting. Hopefully I will have a new post soon.
Congrats on a wonderful typewriter. Your Royal HH needs special spools that the big Royal standard typewriters use. Open up the lid and see if you still have spools. If you do, great! Then all you will need (if your current ribbon is dried out) is very common, inexpensive 1/2″ ribbon that you can buy on eBay or Amazon. You will then re-spool the new ribbon onto the old spools. This is a link for just the 1/2″ ribbon:
If you are missing your spools, you’ll need the special Royal spools and ribbon. Regular spools won’t work. The cheapest are plastic:
More expensive are metal spools:
Help! I wanted a typewriter similar to the one used by Darren McGavin’s character in the 1970’s series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” I bought a Royal HH (1950’s, I think). It looks a LOT like the one you found just after repairing the ’52. It even has the slightly recessed rectangular border around the word ROYAL and is smooth textured (not powder-coat painted like the ’52 appears to be). You mentioned it has the margins set narrow, and so does mine! How do I fix that? Also, can you tell me where I might download a manual at a reasonable price? I would greatly appreciate any assistance you can offer! Thanks!
Congratulations on your HH! Those Royal standards are top-notch.
There is a FREE download of the HH manual at Richard Polt’s typewriter manual archive:
The margins are a little counter-intuitive, but per the manual:
Typewriter Justice has a good 15 minute video on the Royal KMM – very similar to the HH. He discusses margins starting at 10:30 in the video:
Hope that helps!