Showing posts with label Royal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal. Show all posts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Heavy or Light: the KMM Mid-Production

The Rt. Rev. Munk's squiggly photo of
Bill Wahl. http://bit.ly/1LcCUgI
A few weeks ago I was in Tempe picking up some supplies from Tempe Camera. Since I was in the general area, I visited Bill at the Mesa Typewriter Exchange for a few hours.

It was nice to talk about the weather, our respective families, Arizona history, and the Royal KMM.

Among the many Royal standards I have in my collection, this is one that has eluded me. I have been waiting for a long time for a nice example but, there just hasn't been one that I wanted. Actually, I take that back. Early in my collecting experience there was a gentleman in Flagstaff that had a KMM that I wanted, but the price was too high and we could never agree, so I let it go. The superstitious part of me thought that maybe I cursed myself.

What's so special about the KMM? Nothing really except that it's crowning feature is honored in the name of my blog!

Richard Polt's Royal KMM
In reality, it's a fairly common Royal standard. There are people who love them (Richard Polt) and others have generally positive comments about them. I think they are very handsome in the same way that a late-40s QDL is a handsome typewriter. The dark gray finish is classy without the fussiness of a gloss. I have heard that the touch and feel is similar to many of the other Royal standards; very good. It is the quintessential typewriter.

Bill and I were talking about the KMM and in the course of the conversation he asked if I knew about the heavy and light versions. Two versions? I didn't know that there were two versions.

He told me the story. One day long ago when Bill was young man he had two Royal KMMs on the bench. He had to move both of them and noticed that one was very heavy while the other was noticeably lighter. In all honesty light is a relative term. A Royal desktop typewriter has never been known for its portability.

Bill took note of the serial numbers and NOMDA indicated that they were on either side of the 1946/1947 dividing line.

"Heavy"
1946
"Light"
1947
⇦|
|⇨
3096000 3273000

Magic Margin's aluminum? bodied Royal HH.
At some point between 1946 and 1947 Royal changed the KMM in some way to make it lighter. I know from experience that my HH has body of a non-ferrous metal as do my KMGs. These are probably aluminum and I would hazard a guess that Royal decided to use an aluminum frame to save money. Perhaps this is what Royal did to the KMM to make it lighter?

Do you have a KMM? What's the serial number? How much does it weigh? I am calling on the Typosphere to help me solve this mystery. I created a Google form (see below) that would let us gather the information in an easy way. It would be really cool to narrow it down and find out how much weight was saved by switching materials. With time and enough data points we could find an answer. We might even find out that this was the beginning of the cost-saving culture at Royal that would lead to the terrible Litton merger. Would it be fair to draw a line form that point all the way back to the 1946/47 KMM? We'll see, but let's find out how much these beast weigh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas with Royal

With Christmas fast approaching I thought it would be fun to see how Royal advertisements throughout the years reflected this time of family tradition.

We start with some stately pre-war grace. This kind of image makes me think of Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street.

Now on to something that really puts the cheer in the holiday...

...as if you were hoping to make your children juvenile delinquents for Christmas.

Here little Jane and Billy are admiring the fine Christmas gift that will last for years. And they are not even remotely juvenile delinquents. their parents heeded the warning from Life magazine last Christmas.


As we move out of the 1940s into the 1950s the obligatory weird cute/ugly elf makes an appearance. This time, he is shilling a tombstone keyed Royal portable. I can't entirely tell, but is this a new version of Royal's portable?


Now, an advert from September:


I know Santa is magical. That has been made very clear. If Santa is so magical, why is he carrying a typewriter around and sweating? Wiggle your nose and be done with it! Also, that belt Ms. Claus bought Santa is too small. Is she telling him something? 


Santa hat and a typewriter. Genius! Don't over-think it!


Does this look like an angel is loitering and an elf-woman is being mugged? Merry Christmas!


 Look at these hip, young people communicating. Now I want some eggnog.


Does it seem like those four fake Santas and one real Santa are judging Royal's manufacturing? I mean, Litton-era typewriters are nothing exciting. Even the copywriter couldn't  muster an overtly positive thing to say about a Litton Royal. "The people who make a variety of good portables." Good portables. Not: great, fantastic, rugged, precision, or quality. Good. Maybe Litton outsourced the copy writing to Portugul along with Sabres.

That was fun. Now, I hope that there is a typewriter under your tree this Christmas.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghost Blog Writer


I can hardly believe that it has been nearly two months since my last post. I bet you thought I was a ghost or as my title indicates--a ghost blog writer. My metamorphosis has been greatly exaggerated. I thought I would drop a little Halloween hello to the Typosphere. Here's hoping you have a spooky and safe Halloween.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Very Odd Visual Aids

When you integrate typewriters into a class lesson it makes for some very anachronistic PowerPoint slides.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Typewriter Day 2014


My Typewriter Day contribution is this Polaroid print with an assist from me. Typed on a Royal HH. The typewriter pictured is my Olympia SG-1.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rogues Gallery

Here are some pictures of typewriters that have gained notoriety in my classroom. This comes, mostly, from their erratic behavior and unique dispositions.


Paper-Eater McGill
Known to really curl and rip your paper. Only attacks on even-number days.


Terence "One-Knob" Oaks
Even with the set-screws nice and snug, the knob falls off. Usually on a carriage return.


Kaiser Drag
Once a fortnight you must tighten the carriage return arm.


The $10 Man
$10 for a tub of Instamorph made loading paper much easier.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dip and Dunk

When a typewriter is so dirty or filled with dried pineapple juice, you sometimes have to take drastic measures. Soapy, drastic measures.



It's the 'old dip-and-dunk.


Vigorous dunking loosens all the dirt. A rinse with hot, hot water comes next. Then, it's off to the oven for a bit of drying. I think 130° F until all the water has evaporated. Oil (ribbon spool posts, carriage rails, shift linkage, other similar parts) while warm and enjoy a very clean typewriter ready for another 60 years.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's a Shame

It's 1934 and Clarence H. Bills is set to task by Royal to create a new "mask" for a portable typewriter. Bills, inspired by the daring industrial design of Sakhnoffsky and Earl, creates this striking face:


I don't know about you, but I think this in gloss black which chrome accents would be offensive, entirely vulgar, and absolutely something I would want. It's a shame that the design was shelved and  never came to market.

Friday, May 31, 2013

November 1957

More Royal News. I shared the edition from November 1956 a couple of weeks ago and now here's  another one from a year later. Please enjoy the typewriter-y goodness.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wild Hearts Can Be Tamed

Just take a thoroughbred name, like Mustang, have Litton's contract-man Nakajima slap together something that is almost a typewriter and you have this:


Green. Avocado green. Why would a Mustang be green? If you ever see a green wild horse, run away quickly because the zombie apocalypse is upon us.

While I have my reservations about these mass-produced-same-as-all-the-rest-why-even-call-it-a-Mustang typewriters, my students have a different opinion. It has been so popular that I have had to recondition it a little bit. Nothing major, mind you, but the rubber grommets that hold the ribbon cover on have disintegrated. Every tap of the keys is followed by the clank of the ribbon cover.



Instead of a hinged ribbon cover, this machine uses a compression fit that requires grommets. I turned to a grommet selection sold by Harbor Freight.


$5.99 for a varied selection. I used the 5/16" ones for this machine. The Brother Valiant in my private collection also needed the grommets replaced. The size; 5/16". This same size also fit the Webster in the CTP. 5/16" must be a popular size grommet in Japan. The grommet fits snugly and drastically improves the machine's sound.


As for this typewriter...the touch is insipid, but can be snappy on the return. Bonus points to Litton for making the shell out of metal although I think that has more to do with the time period and less with Litton's desire to create a quality product.

Royal typewriters form this period always make me sad. There was no desire to create a quality product that would last a lifetime. Gross margins and volume were the designers of this typewriter. Litton wanted to leverage brands and make money. That always sits poorly with me. Craftsmen are craftsmen because they create art. This typewriter was made with monotony. It's a shame because I have a very high regard for Brother's machines and they're mass-produced six ways from Sunday. Oh well, I'll have to reconcile my hypocrisy.

I think this pony looks more like a turtle.

Note to page view essayists: I will be sending out your posters this weekend!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

10 or X or What?

I have a Royal desktop standard machine with single glass sides from 1927. It's a beautiful machine and I am really proud to own it, but I have a problem.


I don't know what to call this model. Is it a Royal 10? Should we designate that it's a single beveled window rather than the dual window? Royal 10 Single Window?


Should I follow the convention and use the letter prefix from the serial number? In this case it is X-1089085, so this would be a Royal X.


Or maybe 1927 Royal Standard? What do you, the Typosphere, think?

Monday, April 22, 2013

For Nick and All Typospherians

Nick emailed me and asked if I would be willing to scan the instruction sheet for a Royal Portable Model O. Happy to help the Typosphere. I scanned it and made two versions. The first version is for printing on 11x17" paper and folding to your heart's desire. The second is for on-line viewing.




I've also run off a few copies and folded them for you. They are for sale (via this blog) for $1 including postage.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

November 1956

I found this interesting document and thought I would share it with the Typosphere. Royal's human resources department published this monthly magazine for the benefit of its workforce. While typewriters are present, this magazine primarily lets us have a glimpse inside the everyday life at a major typewriter manufacturer during the 1950s. 

The people who worked at Royal were not typewriter users like us. They worked for Royal and were probably loyal to their employer, but typewriters were not the cultural artifacts they are today.  No doubt, they would thing that owning more than one typewriter was just plain unusual.

Typewriters were devices intended to do a job. So, within these pages you'll see no mention of the power of unplugging from the digital hegemony or any of the usual tropes of the Typosphere. Instead you'll find celebrations of birthdays, information on major medical plans, and pictures of employee barbecues. You might even see the odd typewriter here-and-there. 



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Select-A-Type

It was a dollar on eBay.


 Here is a radical/pi:


Shipping was free. Actually, shipping was a Forever stamp. So that's good.

We are all familiar with Smith-Corona's more popular changeable types, but here is Royal's version. It's not a changeable type as much as a changeable type bar. 

They look completely unused.


I don't have a typewriter that can use these, but I thought they were strange enough to hazard the bid. Further investigation led me to one small clue at the bottom of this advertisement from around 1956.



It reads:


Could these be the interchangeable type bars mentioned in the ad?

The logo on the case is the same that Royal used all through the McBee years especially on the Safari. I am guessing they are from the 50s or 60s. The "Select-A-Type" typeface makes me think 1950s.

My mind also started thinking about why you don't see more early electric typewriters around? In all these years I have maybe seen 5 Royal electrics from the 50s and only one of the colored versions. (I kick myself for not spending the $30 on it.) Where have all the electrics gone?

If anyone has some ideas as to what machine could use these interchangeable type bars, I would be interested in hearing from you. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Big and Little

While I place the finishing touches on the next installment of the Underwood restoration, I wanted to share two photos. These machines are contemporaneous to each other and share many stylistic choices. I like both of them for their sober gravitas.



This weekend has been very difficult. The final deadlines for yearbook came around the mountain and I had to spend a few longer nights going over pages. My yearbook kids are nice, but they can sometimes miss the small details. That means that I get the singular pleasure of going over every page to make sure that there is nothing amiss. The up-shot is that my brain is tired right now.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year


2012 proved to be a fantastic year for typewriters. I hope to do my small part in making 2013 another great typewriter year. I also wanted to take a moment and and thank all the people who have worked to make the CTP and my tiny corner of the Typosphere so rich. I could never have dreamed that this blog, the Typosphere, and the CTP were even possible.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Handy Little Thing

The carriage for my HH was feeling a little sluggish so I called Bill at MTE to see if he could help me do some on-the-fly diagnosis. The problem is that the carriage grabs and feels heavy in the same place. Letters pile up and some spacing between letters can be dodgy.

I was able to walk through a few diagnistic things when Bill said, "You can take the tension by removing the drawband."

That was a good idea, but I only had two hands to do this and there is a good chance I would have lost control of the the drawband causing damage to my fingers and havoc to my typewriter.

Royal's engineers thought of that and provided a handy screw for temorarily affixing the drawband to the body.


I could see that this feature might also be helpful if you were trying to fit a new drawband.


My KMG, FP, and HH all have this little knobly screw. I would have to check the other Royal desktops when I get home, but this was new to me and I could see it being a handy little thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

History Comes Alive


The Royal "Radio Mill" in my private collection is one of the more interesting typewriters I own. The typeface (10 pitch all-caps) is very easy to read. Considering its purpose, that makes sense. I've been using it recently to make lists for our Sunday shopping. It is a fairly mundane task and I am sure that there have been far more important things that a 10 pitch radio-mill Royal would have done in its life.

Here is one such thing:


This is a naval dispatch is dated 7 DEC 1941; a date that will live in infamy. I found it while browsing the National Archives web page. This particular dispatch was sent to Sqantum Naval Air Station outside of Boston.

What caught my eye wasn't the historical import of the document, but the typeface used to type this dispatch. When I saw it it looked very familiar. I had and idea, so I went to the office and typed this out on my Royal:


My ribbon is a little drier and the original form might be a carbonless carbon, but the similarities are there. What clinched it for me was the number "4." It is very distinctive as you can see in this earlier post:


 When you see something like this it really makes history come alive.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

So, Where's the Classroom?

So if this blog's sub-heading is "Classroom Typewriter Project" I am sure you are noticing a lack of classrooms and projects. Typewriters? Plenty of those, but very few classrooms and projects.

Well, I am happy to say that the final spool has been wound and the ribbons are set to go back into the machines. It looks like Tuesday will be the introduction to the project with a presentation for my classes and the first typed documents will be coming out of the machines shortly after that.

There are a few new typers to be added to the list. These were donated by Ton S. and Bill M. Right now, I would like to give Bill M. the "Typewriter Packer of the Year Award" for his beautiful attention to details and twist ties. Here are some photos:










Ton's' second donation is still in a case at home. I am going to be taking it to school on Tuesday. If I remember, I'll post a copy of my presentation for everyone to see. 

I also desperately need to update the donors list and the machines currently in rotation. So, in reality, there are quite a few projects.