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.


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.


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.




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:


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



Look at those beautiful little decorative accents:


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:


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


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:


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.


01 03

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.


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:


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



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.


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:


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:


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


I bought the Royal-style ribbon spools on Amazon.


Two Royals and Birthday Lemonade

I went into Mozo’s about a week and half ago to check out Moe’s latest find: a 1970 Hermes 3000 with script typeface – mint condition:




1970 Hermes 3000
Serial number: 7059922


It had the original manual as well as an original brush:


Not only that, it had the original warranty card:


I felt like I should have completed the warranty and mailed it in.

There was also a receipt for a draw band repair. It cost $8.50 to get a draw band repaired in 1973:


My question: how does a draw band snap in just three years of use?  Hermes was obviously not using 80lb fishing line for its draw bands.

I congratulated Moe on her find and told her that while I wasn’t in the market for a mint condition script Hermes 3000, she would certainly find a happy buyer.

Typewriters in need

Moe asked me if I was interested in cleaning up a couple typewriters for her friend Tim.  Tim is a retired newspaper reporter with a fondness for typewriters. He had two portable Royals that needed care. Both were very dirty, one with a broken draw band, one with a lot of rust and a cemented segment. I told Moe that I was up for the job.


I love before and after typewriter photography. I may have a fetish for decay—if I know that it’s a temporary state. Here I indulge in what I call “Beforn”, a form of ruin porn:


That’s a dead spider by the spool


Aahh – it speaks to me…”help meeee…”


White residue on the keys. Baby Blue had the same stuff. It’s probably some chemical precipitate from the 1950s plastic of the keys.

Bad News and the Philosopher Queen

Moe called me the next day while I was working on Tim’s Royals.  Bad news.  The Hermes 3000 got dropped.  Could I come in and take a look?  Of course.

It didn’t look too bad:



DSC03722 DSC03723

Moe was philosophical about the Hermes.  She said: “I don’t get upset about that sort of thing.  Why should I?”

Indeed, she’s right. Why should you?


Philosopher Queen Moe, her bevy of beauties, and a stable of stallions

When Life Gives You a Broken Hermes, Make Lemonade

Moe asked me if I could do anything to get it typing again.  The carriage was mashed into the body and not moving.  The plastic carriage housing was shattered and the cool margin indicator was pulled out. Blurg.

Then I had an idea.  My birthday was this past weekend.


I had my husband buy the mashed Hermes for my birthday (because nothing says “Happy-Birthday-Darling” like a broken typewriter).  Now I will be able to dismantle and investigate the complex mechanisms slowly and methodically at my own pace and not worry that I may never get it back together and working.  At this point, it’s an interesting parts machine, but who knows? Perhaps it will type again.

Here are the ladies of Mozo’s. Roia (mother of the Arduino Kid) is posing with the LC Smith and Moe is posing with the Parisian wrestlers:


I think this poster of turn-of-the-century Parisian wrestlers could look great framed and hung in the bathroom: