Only Connect!

Last weekend I hosted a typewriter get-together at my place in Arlington for DC-area typewriter enthusiasts.  I have missed in-person social situations where I could talk typewriters with typewriter people, and I wanted to connect with local collectors.

There’s a depth in human connection when you meet people in real life, and there are subtle qualities in conversation that you just can’t replicate on a computer.  Communicating online is easy and fast, but social media can be overwhelming and dissatisfying to me.

So I have some mixed feelings about online life and don’t do much social media—except lurk in the Facebook Typewriter Maintenance Group. While researching my blog post title, I stumbled upon a very prescient essay from 2001(!) about the very prescient E.M. Forster that clarified my own ambivalence about the online world.

The world is a healthier place if you pull yourself together and pull people together. Hence, the get-together in my garage last weekend.

It was very warm for early November (about 75°), the perfect day for an open garage despite some rain early in the day. I set up folding tables, opening all the doors and windows to ensure good ventilation.  I put out some snacks—and the trap was set:

Right off the bat, my trap caught a nice-sized group of unsuspecting typewriter enthusiasts.  They arrived with interesting machines and interesting tools and good cheer. There was showing, telling, testing, and light repair.

Among the  oddities was this unassuming Olympia SM7—with a “Typit” set for scientific characters!

Insert the character you want into the type guide “anvil”, type any key, and voilá: your selected scientific character:

[Update 11/14/2022: Read more about the Typit system in the September 2012 issue of ETCetera.  Many thanks to Richard P. for forwarding the link.]

And here’s a re-branded Barr-Morse, a Macy’s portable #1 with beautiful lines:

And we had fun tools to play with:

and demonstrations of said tools:

Me want

Here is a group photo of some attendees with faces obscured to protect the innocent.

During the course of this event, I learned that I don’t have good screwdrivers.  It was fairly humiliating to bring out my sad collection of screwdrivers.  I will ask for this fine Chapman set for Christmas.

We managed to fix an attendee’s Lettera 22 that was suffering from an intermittent fail-to-index problem despite my sub-optimal screwdrivers (jewelers screwdrivers + wrench, ugh).  It was a group effort.  It typed really nicely afterwards.  I forgot how much I like Lettera 22s.

A benefit to an in-person event is that attendees brought typewriters that I haven’t experienced before.  One was this lovely Olympia Splendid 66 (?) with the  Senatorial typeface.  We cleaned some sticky keys, and wow – I kinda love it!

And my attendees brought gifts including this sweet little Remington Portable #1 with a tippy, draggy carriage issue. I am hoping that it’s just a missing ball bearing or has a poorly-seated part.

And another attendee brought me a Hi-Lo typewriter stand that was made in Philadelphia:

It’s called a Hi-Lo because it has a lever at its base that allows it to roll around in “Hi” position and to remain stationary in “Lo” position.  I did a spot test, lightly sanding its beautiful walnut top (end matched grain!) with 220 grit sandpaper and wiping it with mineral spirits afterwards.  It will look great with a little sanding and a protective finish:

And lastly, one lovely attendee brought a very special gift: a dismantled Royal 10 in a box with parts in bags.  Though I hate to see a carriage off a machine, she had indeed brought me catnip:

By serial number X267914, it is a 1916 Royal 10 :

It’s one of those old double window Royal 10s. I don’t have one of those. The  106 year old decals are in pretty great condition considering how bad the internal mechanics are:

After a very, very careful wipe-down with diluted Simple Green

The get-together wound down, and I closed up the garage for the night. The next day, I spread out the Royal 10 parts from the box on an old white sheet to see what I had:

Only connect!

Re-assembly wouldn’t be too bad, but I noticed that part #1782 was missing.  There should be two of these.

These star-shaped bearing pinions AKA the Bottom Rail Ball Pinions hold the ball bearings in the carriage rail.  ¼” ball bearings I had, but the pinion retainers are mission-critical to keeping the ball bearings in the machine and preventing them from rolling all over heck-n-gone.

Speaking of ball bearings, The Screw That Shall Not Be Removed was out and the shifting mechanism was dribbling tiny ball bearings. I put in a temporary replacement (without ball bearings) so that the machine could be semi-functional while I tested it. This video from Trusty Old Skool describes the shift set-up and the problems that can happen if you loosen or remove the shift screws.

I cleaned things up with mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, PB Blaster and compressed air.  It was fairly gunky and rusty, but I was able to get the escapement to trip when I manually ran the machine with my fingers.  At that point I felt it was worthwhile to proceed further.

For one reason or another, I now have four Royal 10s in my stable. On this table are three of my Royal 10s from left to right: The gifted New Kid of 1916, The Royal Turkey of 1925, and Krusty McOldie of 1929 (a generous parts machine that I had dunked in citric acid to free up rusted parts):

My fourth Royal 10 lurks in the background on the shelf

The Royal Turkey (a former parts machine) is completely functional. I have removed the covers from it because I plan to repaint them black and apply these decals:

I should get back to that project.  It makes me laugh.  Calling someone or something a turkey is such a funny 1970s thing to do.

Many, many thanks to E. B., the typewriter collector who posted many detailed images of his 1916 Royal 10 at Typewriter Database.  These images were invaluable to me as I re-assembled and re-attached dangling springs and rods underneath the 1916 machine.  There are subtle differences between the 1916 typewriter and my newer Royal 10s.

I decided to re-seat the carriage and run it on bare ball bearings to see if the 1916 Royal could indeed type. I wound up the mainspring, reattached the drawband—which looks like it will rip at at any moment.  I used blobs of lithium grease to keep the ball bearings in place while I did the delicate dance of threading wheels and arms through rails to get the carriage placed:

Bare ball bearings seated in blobs of grease on carriage rail

I got the carriage back on the machine after removing a bent backspace arm, and I found keystrokes would trip the escapement but not advance the carriage.  There were so many pivot points that were rusted and corroded and thick with gunk.  The card holder was bent and interfering with the ribbon vibrator.  Long story short: after many hours of mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, PB Blaster, compressed air and manually freeing frozen parts, it gradually began to type.

That type basket looks like a mouth full of rotten teeth – bent links?

I needed the bearing pinions for the carriage.  Krusty McOldie had already surrendered hers to the Royal Turkey, so I ordered a parts lot from eBay that included the bearing pinions from a Royal standard.

Off came the carriage again.  While I wait for those bearing pinions to arrive from Alaska, I will try to clean up the 1916 carriage.  It’s pretty rusty and bent up.  I hate the feel of flaking chrome on my fingers.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, breathing down my neck.  Since I’m hosting 13 for dinner, I should probably start polishing the silver, ironing the linens, and shopping for turkey.  As I prepare for Thanksgiving, my thoughts will be with the New Kid Royal 10—and the other Turkey in the garage.


18 thoughts on “Only Connect!

  1. Paperblogging says:

    Great quote from E.M. Forster. How did he know??? And I absolutely laughed aloud at, “And the trap was set.” I would have been thoroughly caught if I’d been local. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scott Bierly says:

    Very cool gathering! I’m out in Leesburg, a bit of a haul but it would be great to get added to your list for any future local gatherings.


  3. Agree- if I’d been driving past that garage, you’d be hearing some tires screetch! 😀
    Also, love the “Royal Turkey” decals – I had a laptop once that came to be called “the Turkey” due to my wife half-asleep asking me to “take the Turkey” that she had in her lap while taking a nap. Oddly enough, someone took that turkey in a 4am burglary in 2011. 😛


    • We had a “tires screech” moment during the typewriter meet-up. A neighbor from a couple streets away (who we had never met) heard the typewriters as he passed and decided he had to find out what was going on. He’s a retired printer and loved the idea of a typewriter get-together. Also, “Turkey” is a great name for just about anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It always makes me happy to see a new post on your blog as they are typically very inspiring — this one was no exception. Your typewriter get-together appears to have been a great success. I really dig the Royal Turkey decals. Best of luck with all of your various typewriter projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope I inspire other people to do small group local meet-ups. I met some really nice local enthusiasts and learned an awful lot – and it really didn’t require much effort to host. The attendees brought the party.


  5. Catalina says:

    Mary, Great to read this post and to see some pictures of classic typewriters. I love my Remington Portable Model 1. It is as old as my California Bungalow house. I thought you were in Menlo Park, CA. Did you move? Or, are you just visiting in DC?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We moved more or less permanently to the DC area about five years ago from San Mateo. Half my collection is still in San Mateo where my son keeps an eye on them. I go back and visit my California typewriters now and then and soak up the wonderful Bay Area weather.


  6. Mark Majoros says:

    I’ve been following your wonderful work for a while. Your postings introduced me to the vaunted Rev. Monk maneuver for threading a draw string (helped me salvage a very nice 1949 SC Sterling!). So now I learn from you SC Super G post that you are in NOVA and hosting typing enthusiasts. How do I get invited to the next gig?


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