The Regal Royal and a Broken Typebar

The other morning my husband spotted my dear neighbor Connie standing silently, patiently outside my front door with a Royal 10 in her arms.  She had carried the machine up the street from her house despite the fact that it weighs a full third of her body weight. The Royal 10 had been in the family and no one wanted it (!), so she hauled it up the block to my home for unwed typewriters. I haven’t lived here long, but the neighbors are already on to me, familiar with my strange quirks and enthusiasms.

Always in motion, Connie is in impressive physical condition  – she proudly turns 80 next year!  I frequently see her scampering across her two-story roof, addressing gutter issues. I want to be Connie when I grow up. #BodyByRoyal

I thanked Connie profusely and told her that I could clean it up for her young grandson, but she said no – it was all mine.

Only lacking spools, the Royal 10 was intact and appeared to be in OK typing condition.

It has an interesting serial number: Y-37-108373

 

And the right shift key has a “Regal Precision Rebuilt” insert:

Well, I’ll be darned!  It’s one of those Regal rebuilt Royals that I have read about. I am assuming from the serial number that it was rebuilt about 1937.  Will Davis has a whole blog dedicated to rebuilt typewriters of various makes: https://rebuilttypewriters.wordpress.com/. 

On the back I see the faded ghost of a Regal decal:

Right now, I’ve got  a lot of Royal 10 action going on in the garage:

Though I don’t need a third Royal 10, I am looking forward to cleaning up Connie’s Regal and finding a good home for it.

Recently the DC/VA/MD Antique Typewriter Collectors Facebook group reacted with horror at this tweet by a DC area journalist who is starting a poetry project that requires a typewriter:

There are Right Royals and Rong Royals.  Most typospherians agree that this is just Rong.

At least a couple of us in the Facebook group have reached out to the poor guy. I haven’t heard back, but thanks to Connie, I have here in my hands a solid piece of iron that may be up to the task.

I took the Regal out to the garage and blew out the dirt.

At some point in its life, the Regal had sat in about an inch or two of water.   It has a bottom cover plate my other Royal 10s lack – this was rusted onto the machine. I doused its screws with penetrating oil and hoped I would eventually be able to peel it off so I could get the rest of the chunks I heard rattling around inside..

As I gently examined the machine, I found a serious problem.

The letter “D” typebar was broken.  I have never swapped out a typebar, but I have a perfectly nice Royal 10  parts machine 10 feet away with an identical typeface and pitch.  I haven’t done this procedure before, but I found a nice little tutorial on YouTube:

I may be wrong about this, but the Royal 10s do not appear to have fulcrum screws that need to be loosened.  I tried to use wire from a coat hanger as my chaser wire, but my parts machine was still too rough and too rusty and I couldn’t “chase” the fulcrum wire.  I ended up used a very thin punch, a hammer and a pair of pliers.  I decided that my parts machine did not need a fulcrum wire and I could really use a decent chaser wire for my tool box.

I sanded down my chaser wire with steel wool and greased it up and it went in smoothly into the Regal with the broken typebar.

I made the mistake of pulling back my chaser wire and a bunch of typebars fell out.  I had to slowly reinsert them and inch the fulcrum wire back all the way through.  In the end, everything was fine, but it took a while. This old dog has learned a new trick.

The typewriter also had a line spacing on return problem.  The rubber part of the platen was not moving with the ratchet part.  I removed the platen rod and popped out the platen. Phoenix Typewriter has a video of a 1960s Royal Sabre with a similar problem. My 1920s/1930s rebuilt Royal has essentially the same mechanism and it was the same problem: the “fractional cylinder end” was all gummed up and not springing back and forth.

I cleaned up the fractional cylinder end with mineral spirits until it was springy and reassembled the platen and everything worked fine. I think it had been taken apart before because it’s missing a set screw and possibly a variable spring.  Fortunately for me I had my Manual Typewriter Repair Bible for reference during reassembly because a little tongued washer fell out and I wasn’t quite sure how it went in.

Now we’re cooking with gas.  I was finally able to remove the bottom cover plate.  I put all the bottom parts in a citric acid rust bath for the night. Everything about an inch or two up the machine was rusted including the line lock bail.  It was rusted on its pivots so the line lock was nonfunctional.  I lubricated it and moved it with my hands until it was springy and functional.

Line lock bail – pivots rusted at the ends

I ordered some Royal ribbon spools for this machine.  I’ll do a little paint touch up, and I think I’ll be done here.  This is a very nice 1920s/30s Royal standard typewriter that someone will love.

Here are my three Royal 10s in a row: one donor and two appreciative recipients.  Left to right:  the dunked Royal 10 parts machine, Mr E’s former parts machine, and Connie’s Regal Rebuilt Royal.

The three kings

ROYAL 10 DUNKING ADDENDUM:

Trenton J. commented on my post about dunking a Royal 10 typewriter for rust removal.  I used five gallons of de-ruster liquid.  He describes a process using just one gallon – a brilliant system!

When you need 5 gal. of Evapo Rust you only need 1. I’ve done this. Here’s the deal. Wrap typewriter in double layer of heavy duty garbage bags leaving the top open. Use duct tape to make it form fitting. Now fill all the voids inside with glass marbles or “gems” and/or smooth pebbles. You want to reduce interior volume. Place the whole thing in a big plastic tub. Actually do that first since it will be heavy. Now fill tub with water just below the garbage bag opening. Hydraulic pressure further reduces interior volume. Now you can fill the bag with Evapo Rust. One gal. was just enough for my Continental standard desktop. When finished bail out the water, cut the bag and recover your Evapo Rust.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (Probably)

A few weeks ago I had the run of the house while my husband and  daughter were out of town, so I conducted a science experiment that involved dunking a very rusty typewriter in a citric acid bath.

The experiment wasn’t a failure, but my outcomes were different from my expectations – and that’s not a completely bad thing. This is an ABC Afterschool Special where everybody learns something from a challenging experience and grows a bit.

Following a 7th grade science fair outline, I describe my experimental process below:

Abstract

I dunked a solidly rusted 1929 Royal 10 into a 10% citric acid solution in an effort to remove rust.  The goal was to either a) make the typewriter functional or b) render it a usable parts machine for another Royal 10 project I have. **SPOILER ALERT** While the citric acid solution effectively removed rust, it did not produce a functional typewriter.

Introduction

I bought a 1929 Royal 10. It was completely rusted but intact with the exception of missing carriage ball bearings and pinions.  I thought, yeah, I can make that work.  The machine had apparently spent much time in a damp environment, as it was an immobile, solid block of rust.  It was so rusted, I couldn’t remove the ribbon spools.

Despite liberal application of penetrating lubricants, nothing was moving. I have worked with rusty machines before, and usually after a few days of lubricants and gentle urging, the machine will move.  This one didn’t. Not a thing moved.  I couldn’t even remove the screws or cover plates. I finally was able to remove the ribbon spools using some naval jelly, but it was a struggle. Those special Royal ribbon spools are expensive, so that’s a win.

Here it is on my work bench.  It doesn’t look bad in this picture, but it was so, so solid.

Blurg.

Solid. Solid as a rock.

Materials and Methods

I read an interesting forum post about a citric acid dunk for a rusted typewriter, and became intrigued. Maybe, maybe I could get this thing moving.

Here’s what I used:

  • Simple Green
  • Big plastic tub
  • A collection of brushes in different shapes and sizes
  • Plenty of rags
  • Drop cloth (old curtain)
  • 5 lb bag of citric acid powder
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Air compressor
  • PB Blaster

The very first thing I did was remove the carriage. I did not want to dunk the platen since it has a wooden core that would swell and split. I did a dry brush with my bottle brushes and brass bristle brushes to loosen junk that my lubricants loosened.  I then placed the typewriter in my huge plastic tub and blew out loose debris with my air compressor.

I then hauled the typewriter up to the upstairs bathroom to de-grease it prior to its citric acid bath.  Wrapping the keys in plastic wrap to keep them dry, I dunked the typewriter into a solution of Simple Green and water to de-grease the typewriter since it was full of lubricants.  Then I scrubbed the heck out of the typewriter.

This is something I have always dreamed about: scrubbing a dirty typewriter like a pig going to the state fair, but it was, in reality, really gross. The typewriter was slippery and awkward and left a nasty brownish ring in the tub. I felt a wave of irritated exhaustion wash over me, but I knew I had to complete the mission. After some therapeutic swearing,  I rinsed the typewriter and dragged all 30+ slippery pounds of it back downstairs to the garage. I was already so very tired.

I had bought a 5lb bag of 100% citric acid powder online (it was about $11.00).  I liked the idea of using something fairly safe (citric acid is used in canning and soap making). In my big plastic tub, I mixed up an approximate 10% solution by mixing the 5 lb bag of citric acid (about 2268 grams) and about 6 gallons of very hot water (about 22.7 kilograms). I converted everything to metric to make my calculations simpler. If my math is wrong here, let me know in the comments.

After I filled my tub, I gently lowered my typewriter into the solution.  The level was not high enough to completely submerge the typewriter; and I wanted the level to be just shy of the keys, so I filled buckets with clean water and placed them in the tub to raise the level of the solution.

Every couple hours I would check on the typewriter in the bath, giving it a good scrub and testing parts for movement. The typewriter soaked for a total of 36 hours. I then removed it from the bath, added fresh water and a box of baking soda to neutralize the acid.  I rinsed it off, blew out the water with the air compressor and sprayed the dry typewriter liberally with PB Blaster to prevent flash rust.

Results

After a couple hours of the citric acid soak, I was able to remove a spool cover plate.   The frozen mainspring began to move. Keys began to move.  I got very excited. And waited. I really wanted the escapement and tab mechanism to start moving. After 36 hours I gave up and removed the typewriter from the citric acid solution.

Look how fresh and clean that thing is.  This citric acid solution effectively removes rust.  However, the escapement and tabbing mechanism still don’t move.

But, I was now able to remove previously immobile screws and pins, and I started to slowly dismantle the typewriter for the parts I needed for its 1925 Royal 10 brother.

The extended soak had caused the paint was to soften and flake in places.   At least one spring disintegrated.

I ended up with about six gallons of left-over citric acid solution.  I don’t think all the hydrogen ions (?) were used up in the chemical reaction so the solution still works as a de-ruster.  I dunked some other rusty parts in the left-over solution and it removed rust.

This guy explains the chemical reaction (starting at about 7:30 in the video). To me, his wonderful voice adds credibility to his description of the chemical reaction.

 

Discussion

My expectation was that the major mechanics of the typewriter would be freed after the citric acid dunk, and I would be able to make the typewriter functional.  That didn’t happen, but I ended up with a good source of Royal 10 parts.  Still, I was a bit disappointed. I will definitely use citric acid as a de-ruster (heck, I’ve got six gallons of it), but I probably won’t do the total dunk again.

Also, I shouldn’t have dunked it for 36 hours. The gentle acid slowly ate through paint and at least one small spring, and the extended soak didn’t improve the mobility of the escapement and the tabbing mechanism.

In addition, I learned these things:

  1. Like murder, dunking a 1920s standard typewriter is a dirty business and everyone and everything associated with it will be sullied.  And like murder, there were many dark-night-of-the-soul moments of “What have I done?”  I am very glad there were no witnesses to this. The  clean-up was interminable, but I left no evidence as to what had transpired.
  2.  1920s standard typewriters seem to gain hundreds of pounds in awkward, slippery weight during the dunking procedure.
  3. Rust never sleeps and flash rust is a real thing. You need to dry that thing after the dunk and grease it up all over.

I was fortunate in finally being able to remove screws and pieces from the formerly rusted typewriter.  This typewriter is slowly dying so that its brother, the 1925 Royal 10, might live.  Thus far, it has given up:

  • four good feet
  • two glass side windows
  • numerous screws
  • two carriage clamps
  • a key lever connector
  • a margin release button
  • platen (getting there – I need to address rusty set screws for removal first)

I was able to donate a right carriage knob to another typospherian in need of a Royal 10 knob.  If anyone needs a Royal 10 part, let me know.  I would like to use all parts of the buffalo.

What I really need to remove is the type bar guide so it may replace the broken guide on its 1925 Royal 10 brother.  After de-rusting,  I was able to finally take out its mounting screws, but the guide remains firmly in place.  Does anyone out there have experience removing a Royal 10 type bar guide? Do you just pry it off the pins? Is it secured in another hidden location?

 

Finding Your Fun

My verdict on the whole experience is that I thought this would be fun, and it wasn’t. It was a lot of gritty, filthy work and slippery heavy-lifting, and though I have a really good parts machine now, it didn’t result in a functional typewriter.

To work through my mild disappointment at this and to find my inner fun, I turned to the curative power of my club music playlist that’s packed with Kylie, J Lo, Robyn, Gaga and robots.  My secret shame is dance music, and this playlist transports me.  Some people meditate or do yoga or drink, but me, I listen to my Girls + Robots playlist.  When I listen to it, I am not eating a banana and doing laundry, I am out clubbing with my Party People. I am alive to the beat:

I really, really need to replace that broken type bar guide.

Seen this week in the neighborhood: a kindred spirit’s license plate

 

Diamonds and Rust: Royal 10 Times Two

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 three amigos. The LC Smith is still a work in progress.

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”).

Tim’s Royals and Other Visitors

A couple weeks ago, Moe at my favorite junk shop asked me to take a look at her friend Tim’s typewriters.  Tim is a retired newspaper reporter who has a taste for fine old typewriters.

DSC03662

One typewriter was a 1950s Royal Quiet De Luxe that was very dirty.  It also had a broken drawband. There was a slightly-typed piece of paper in the platen.  Looks like Tim got through one line before the old drawband snapped.

There was a weird white residue on this QDL that I have seen before on typewriter keys.  My guess is that it’s a chemical precipitate that forms on 1950s plastic.  There is another 1950s Royal Quiet De Luxe at Typewriter Database with a very similar residue on its keys.

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The other typewriter was a very dirty 1940 Royal Companion. It had a gummy and rusted segment, an unreliable ribbon vibrator, intermittent spooling and no bell. It looked very haggard.

DSC03661

DSC03660

DSC03659

I started with the Royal Quiet De Luxe because it seemed to have the fewest problems. I blew out the dust and cobwebs, cleaned with mineral spirits and PB B’laster and replaced the draw band (14 inches long) with my favorite bit of overkill, 80 lb fishing line:

80lb line - overkill

80lb line – suitable to landing one of the larger species of sportsfish – or replacing the drawband on an old typewriter.

Gosh, it cleaned up beautifully:

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The white residue on the keys came right off with Goo Gone:

IMG_5313

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Look at those beautiful little decorative accents:

09a

The 1940 Royal Companion was a bit worse for the wear of years. Fortunately the splatters across the shell cleaned up nicely with Scrubbing Bubbles.  I blew out the internal mechanics and cleaned the segment thoroughly with mineral spirits.  After getting the stuck keys moving, I set about trying to figure out why the ribbon vibrator, the ribbon color switcher, ribbon advance, bell and margin release weren’t working.  The machine was missing some springs from the bottom.  I saw some tell-tale holes in the frame and in pieces in the mechanics and did some detective work looking at fuzzy “bottom shots” of Companions on eBay.

I found some motley springs.  I don’t know for sure if that’s where they go, but everything seems to work better with them:

spring

That’s a ballpoint pen spring for the bell – looks terrible, but it works.

bellspring

The margin release was trickier.  It wasn’t pulling the center stop back far enough to clear the margin stop, so hitting the margin release key was doing nothing.  I bent a little wire connector inside the typewriter to make it shorter.  I got the idea from Knife141’s solution. That guy. Gets. It. Done.

That seemed to do the trick:

IMG_5300

The Champion is a teeny little thing, very lightweight. It cleaned up beautifully. In person, it is just adorable, a teeny little huggable package, slightly smaller than a Royal QDL.

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A commenter on my blog recently pointed out that I seemed to be running a “revolving door” operation.  I know that it looks unseemly with strange typewriters coming in and out of my house regularly, but I assure you: I am a respectable suburban housewife, married, mother of two.  There is nothing illegal going on in my home.  I am just helping needy typewriters.

IMG_5278

These two from The Shop at Flywheel Press stayed for a short time.  The electric Penncrest Concord PCR 12 (a Smith-Corona made for JC Penny department stores) had four sprung clevis linkages.  I found reattaching clevis linkages on this electric so much more difficult than on a manual Smith-Corona because the key arms don’t move without being initiated by an electric key strike. But!  I managed to reattach them and the Penncrest types again:

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I found this drawing in the documents library at Typewriter Database:

linkage

instructions

Service Manual, Smith-Corona “5 and 6 Series” Machines – 1963 Details adjustment and inspection of all Smith-Corona 5 and 6 Series Floating Shift portables. From the collection of Bill Wahl, scanned and PDF by T. Munk.

Ha! That’s what I have been dealing with for the past few weeks: S-C linkages.  The authors of the manual call that typebar linkage a typebar link spring.  I will continue to call it a clevis because it sounds vaguely anatomical.

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Such a FUN typewriter – but pretty noisy.

The Royal 10 is a real honey.  It was a victim of congealed gunk.  The ribbon vibrator was stuck in the up position, the line lock failed to disengage, spooling was intermittent, margin release stuck. It was just really dirty. The stiff and frozen parts responded to strategic application of PB B’laster and manually moving the parts with my hands.  I bought a new Royal 10 style ribbon from Amazon and got down to typing:

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WOW!  This Royal 10 reminds me of the Foster Royal KHM that visited me briefly.  It must be that “accelerating type-bar action“.  This typewriter seems to type all by itself. In fact, I walked out of the room and came back to find the Royal 10 typing a letter to the editor of the local paper rejoicing in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.  That Royal 10 is a right-on kind of typewriter.

The machine appears to have been re-painted at some point: the top, front plate and paper table are a matte crinkle paint while the sides are glossy black.  The decal in front of the type basket is missing and decal on the paper table looks newer than a 1920 decal:

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Still a very handsome machine and a very springy 96 year old typer.

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I bought the Royal-style ribbon spools on Amazon.

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