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.