Ah, Spring. I think it was Tennyson who wrote, “In the Spring a young woman’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of typewriters in the garage.”
It’s been a cold, snowy winter here, and I have avoided my garage workshop. I read with great interest Bill M’s post about warming his garage. I’m thinking about getting an infrared heater – maybe I should set up some kind of contraption like this? In any case, it’s finally getting warmer, and I thought I’d check into the two 192X Royal 10s out there.
Last June, Mr. E of Just Typewriters posted about a typewriter safari that he went on. I have a taste for junkers, so of course this one caught my eye:
Mr. E kindly picked it up for me and made delivery of this distressed Royal at Herman’s in October. He threw in a Royal parts machine for good measure. Thank you, Mr. E!
Here’s the back of my truck after Herman’s in October: two Royal 10s and an LC Smith:
The Royal 10 that I was hoping to salvage seemed to be complete with the exception of the carriage rail ball bearings and pinions. The serial number is X-1268844. This is a 1929 Royal 10.
The parts machine was in a state of partial disassembly with a few missing parts. It had been sprayed all over with spray paint, creating a lumpy coat. Its serial number is X-854333. This is a 1925 Royal 10.
I have a printed copy of Ted Munk’s Manual Typewriter Repair Bible which includes the 1946 OAMI Service and Adjustment Manual. You can get it in PDF format as well, but I like using the printed version in the garage. It’s coil-bound, so it lays flat. I can get it all dirty if I want. I read through the Royal carriage removal instructions so that I could retrieve the ball bearings from the parts machine.
It is no picnic, but if you follow the instructions carefully, it can be done.
Here’s what I was looking for: the ball bearings and pinions for the carriage rail.
Feeling confident after the first carriage removal, I removed the carriage on the second Royal. I scrubbed the interior the frozen Royal with a brass bristle brush, blew it out with the air compressor, doctored the mechanics with penetrant, and let it sit. It was a solid block of rust. Even the bell clapper was tightly rusted.
I left it to sit for a couple days, intermittently trying to move pieces and re-applying penetrant. Everything that should move was rusted into a solid block: mainspring, escapement, tab mechanism, ribbon drive, universal bar, segment. I began to despair. I then read a post at Typewriter Talk about rescuing a rusty machine using a citric acid bath. I was intrigued. I avoid water and dunk cleaning generally, but what had I to lose? This typewriter was so rusty I couldn’t even unscrew parts. If I could remove some of the rust, it would ease disassembly and allow it to become a useful parts machine at the very, very least.
I started watching videos about citric acid rust removal. I honestly could watch this kind of stuff all day. Here’s a guy who used citric acid to resurrect an antique clamp:
Citric acid is very cheap, but before I went out and bought a 5 lb bag, I did a test with some 98% citric acid that I got in the canning department. I tried it on the very rusty frame that goes around the glass side panel. I would have removed the glass, but it was so rusty, I worried that the rusty tabs would snap off.
You’re supposed to degrease the part first – I washed it off with Simple Green but you could use mineral spirits. You make your 10% citric acid solution by putting the citric acid powder into very hot water in a plastic container – not metal. Then, you put the rusty item into the 10% citric acid solution. I let it sit overnight.
Afterwards you’re supposed to neutralize the acid with a soak in a baking soda bath, rinse, dry completely, and then spray with light oil to prevent flash rust. It’s hard to tell from this picture because the piece still has dark gray tarnish, but an overnight citric acid bath removed all the rust.
My New Plan
I’m going to try to resuscitate the frozen 1929 Royal using a dunk-style citric acid bath. In the meantime, I plan to put the 1925 “parts” machine together and make it completely functional. It will need a few parts that I can salvage from the 1929 Royal: good feet, glass panels, a decent platen, spools, type guide, carriage clamps.
I replaced the carriage on the 1925 Royal. I put a couple blobs of lithium grease on the bottom rail to hold the pinions and bearings in place while I wrassled with the carriage. I consulted the service manual for placement. My orange arrows indicate where I think the diagram shows ball bearings and pinions.
I really didn’t want the pinions and bearings wandering all over the place while I fussed with the carriage and the grease blobs helped a lot. In the event that the bearings did get loose, I wanted to be able to quickly spot them, so I worked on an old beige curtain that I threw on the garage floor.
I carefully replaced the carriage following the instructions in the service manual. The carriage purred on the greasy ball bearings. Nice! I wiped the excess grease off the bottom rail and re-attached the carriage clamps and the drawband. I put the platen back together and threw in a new ribbon.
Well, I’ll be damned. The 1925 Royal 10 is still mad:
The Joan Baez original is truly great stuff. For the curious, the Judas Priest cover is a worthy tribute to the original, converting a very personal story of a failed relationship to Epic Metal Anthem.
The letter alignment is more than pleasantly wonky, probably because the type guide is broken and missing one half. I’ll swap it out and see how the printed letters line up. Some of the type bars may need a little bending (“forming”).