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:


Shift Lock Key Not Holding

Many of the problems with our old typewriter seem to be the result of the overly enthusiastic application of oil and lubricants and the accumulation of dust and debris over the course of close to seventy years.  I am still scrubbing out the thick gooey gunk from the insides of the machine. Because of this, I am reluctant to put any oil in the newly cleaned parts.

Back to the problem at hand: the left shift lock key was working in a lackluster and intermittent manner.  My hunch was that it was gunk-related: nothing a little denatured alcohol and a careful cleaning couldn’t fix.

The little metal tooth (finger?) was very greasy and dirty

The little metal tooth (finger?) was very greasy and dirty

The shift lock has a little spring that releases a metal finger that “locks” into a notch under the shift lock key.

The metal finger felt a little sticky, so I cleaned it with denatured alcohol (being careful not to get the denatured alcohol on the exterior of the typewriter as it can take off the finish) and worked it back and forth.  It freed up and moved back and forth easily after a little cleaning and the shift lock key began to work consistently.

The right side shift lock has its issues. The little metal finger was completely immovable due to goo and rust. I freed it up as well with careful cleaning and soon it was swinging easily.  However, the right shift lock has another significant problem: a broken spring.

You can see the broken spring hanging down

You can see the broken spring hanging down

I removed the spring from the key.  It’s a fine, tiny thing.  I will try to find a replacement at our hardware store.

It's a tiny thing.  It seems to have rusted aprt.

It’s a tiny thing. It seems to have rusted apart.

Parts Diagram of a Remington Rand KMC Typewriter

This diagram shows a KMC that may be a bit older than mine - note the glass top keys

This diagram shows a Remington Rand KMC that may be a bit older than mine – note the glass top keys

Many, many thanks to Richard Polt of The Classic Typewriter Page and The Typewriter Revolution blog for allowing me to post this parts diagram. I found it in his great listing of  typewriter user’s manuals and service manuals on his Classic Typewriter Page site.

Knowing specific part names helped me research basic operation of our typewriter.

Cleaning the Type on My Remington Rand Typewriter

I was typing along in nonsense for the pure joy of it when I looked down and thought, “Wow, the type looks very gunked up.”


So I opened the lid and noted that some letters (such as “e”) were filled with gunk.


So I pulled out my trusty denatured alcohol, toothbrush (my husband’s, not mine) and paint brush and got to work scrubbing each type letter.


This is what I started out with:


After a few minutes of gentle scrubbing and wiping:


Much better, but a few of the letters needed a little more attention:



Swapping Out a Missing Key

After we fixed the major functional issues of our old typewriter (replacing the drawband, setting the margins, cleaning the keys and getting them moving, replacing the ribbon), we addressed a comfort issue. The key “T” was missing its key cap.

It seemed like a minor problem until we started typing with our newly functional typewriter.  Who knew “t” was so popular?  Our fingers were soon sore from striking the naked stem of the key. The stem was rusty and sharp and though we are up-to-date with our tetanus shots, we decided to do a switcheroo.

The shift lock button on the right had a broken spring and wasn’t functional.  Since we had a functional shift lock on our left, my husband gently pried the blank key off the stem with his fingers and put it on the bare “T” stem.


You can see the broken spring hanging down from the shift lock button

Typing was much more pleasant with a key rather than a bare stem.

I am going to search on eBay and see if I can get a replacement composition key for my right shift lock – I know that I will eventually replace that broken spring and make it functional again.



Fixed the Bell on My Remington Rand KMC

When we first dragged the typewriter in from the curb, we could hear the bell ring now and then when we played with the typewriter. On our typewriter, there is a soft bell that *dings* when you are about five spaces from the end of the line to alert you that you are about to hit the right margin.

After I blew out the dust and debris and cleaned it up with denatured alcohol, the margin bell stopped ringing all together.  I was worried that I had broken something (spring?) in my cleaning.

I removed the top “hood” that protects the margin area:

It pops right off

It pops right off

I popped off the back and checked the bell:

The bell is on the right of this picture

The bell is on the right of this picture – it has such a soft, pleasant *ding*

I cleaned all the inner workings with denatured alcohol (being careful not to get it on the painted surfaces), paying special attention to a little wiggly pawl that hangs down and trips the bell when the carriage is within five spaces of the right margin.

The pawl was a little stiff with goo, but I got it to wiggle freely by painting it carefully with denatured alcohol. And guess what?  The margin bell began to *ding*.

Once the little pawl was moving freely, the bell began to chime as it should.

Once the little pawl was moving freely, the bell began to *ding* as it should.


Broken Drawband Repair on My 1948 Remington Rand KMC Using Fishing Line

One of the first things we noticed about our old typewriter after we had hauled it in from the curb was that the carriage did not advance with typing or hitting the space bar.  My husband noted a suspicious strip of fabric strapping hanging from under the right carriage:

The suspicious stray threads hanging from under the carriage

The suspicious stray threads hanging from under the carriage – that doesn’t look good.

On further investigation we found the other piece of the fabric strap still attached to the mainspring drum on the left side of the carriage.

From the left of the typewriter, you can see the old drawband on the maincase

From the left of the typewriter, you can see the old drawband on the mainspring drum

A quick internet search confirmed our fears: the drawband that pulls the carriage along while typing was broken. I did find some great information on replacing the drawband:



Though the above links describe drawband repair on non-Remington typewriters, the general concept is the same: replace the drawband with something strong and attach it to a wound-up mainspring so that the carriage will be pulled along as you type.

Here’s a video of a gentleman replacing the drawband in an Oliver – I found it very helpful though my Remington Rand set-up was very different:

Replacing My Typewriter Drawband

I removed the old broken drawband from the mainspring drum and laid it out.  It was pretty cool looking, like a super tightly woven shoelace. Looks like it should have lasted a million years.

The drawband end that connected to the main case

The drawband end that connected to the mainspring

With the two ends laid out, the original drawband was about 25.5 inches long.


Since they probably haven’t manufactured these in about 50 years, I went to my local sporting goods supply shop and bought 80 lb fishing line (I didn’t need 400 yards):



I liked this fishing line because it was braided and looked like it would be easier to knot that regular monofilament.

I cut the fishing line and added knotted loops at both ends, making it 25.5 inches in length.

Made a loop.  This braided fishing line was very easy to work with.

Made a loop at each end. This braided fishing line was very easy to work with.

Starting on the right side of the typewriter, I attached the first loop to where the old drawband was attached – a little notched projection.

One loop goes on the notched projection under the end of the carriage

One loop goes on the notched projection under the end of the carriage; this picture was taken after I fed the fishing line through to the mainspring and attached it. I think I made the knot a bit close to the loop.  Hope it holds.  If not, I’ll film replacing the drawband.

Next, I taped two wooden skewers together to make a tool that I could use to feed the fishing line under the carriage to the mainspring. A huge thank you to Robert Messenger of oztypewriter.blogspot.com who suggested using a wooden meat skewer.

Taped together, my skewer is about 20 inches long

Taped together, my skewer tool is about 20 inches long

Like Robert Messenger, I modified the end of one wooden skewer with a utility knife and slipped the knotted loop over the slit.

I then fed the skewered fishing line straight under the carriage to the mainspring, being careful to feed straight across the back to the mainspring drum.

loop inserted into a slit cut into skewer

Loop inserted into a slit cut into skewer. This held the fishing line as I fed it through to the mainspring.

The path the fishing took.  I used wooden skewers as a tool to guide it straight through the typewriter

The path the fishing line took. You can see the attached fishing line in white just below my dotted lines.

Once the fishing line was fed through the typewriter to the mainspring, I came to the tricky part: winding up the mainspring and attaching the looped end of the fishing line to it without it unwinding.

I put on disposable gloves for this because it was dirty work and the little teeth of the mainspring drum bit into my fingers. My hands are pretty small, but this was a very tight situation.

I pulled the looped end of the fishing line out of the way for the time being.

I then wound the mainspring clockwise 3.5 turns. It got to a point where it was difficult to turn and hold a grip on it. I kept losing hold of it and it would rapidly unwind and the little teeth of the mainspring bit into my fingers like mad piranhas.  On my last attempt, I wound it up clockwise 3.5 turns and with a pair of tweezers, set the fishing line loop onto a hook on the mainspring drum. I let go and the mainspring wound up the extra fishing line, pulling the line taught.  There was a enough tension for the carriage to advance with typing.  I had a semi-functional typewriter.

I will try to post a video of how I replaced it. Since I am not an expert knot maker, I may have put the knot too close to the right loop.  It may come undone; and if I have to replace the drawband again, I’ll film it for posterity.