Thursday, October 15, 2015

Heavy or Light: the KMM Mid-Production

The Rt. Rev. Munk's squiggly photo of
Bill Wahl.
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.

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.


  1. I hope you get some interesting and useful results. I can't add anything because I do not have a KMM (yet).

  2. well, I submitted one I worked on a bit, a '46. Don't know the exact weight, but it was a heavy one, as I distinctly remember it being denser and weightier than I expected it to be for it's size.

    PS: I was at MTE that same day, Bill says I missed you by like 30 minutes. :D

    1. If you have a magnet handy you could check to see if it sticks to the front frame. My gut tells me that they moved from a cast iron to cast aluminum.

    2. haven't had it for months, It was an easy fix, just slide the gear back on underneath on the spool post and tighten the setscrews. However, I also remember that it was difficult and awkward to fish out the little gear with the "magnet on a stick" dealy I use. It kept sticking to everything, including the frame. So yeah, pretty sure it was ferrous.

    3. BTW, if they haven't sold it yet, it'd be down at "The Green Gurl" in Phoenix. 3122 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
      (602) 956-0464

      You could run down there and stick a magnet to the frame to find out for sure. :D

  3. Ryan, an interesting project. I have submitted two data points and they may help a lot as both are 1946 and the later one is six pounds lighter than the lower serial number and the earlier one is all ferrous metal (probably cast iron frame and steel panels and doors) while the later one has a non-ferrous frame (probably aluminum) and all its panels and ribbon cover are ferrous.

    Note that both have 12-inch platens, so there may be a discrepancy with other submissions.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I just bought one! When it comes I'll fill it out :-)

  6. Jan Ruitenberg
    If you are interested, let us know.
    Greetings from the Netherlands

  7. Dear Mr. Adney.
    Sorry for to be incomplete with the information.
    We have a Royal KMM and if you are interested at that typewriter, please contact us by email
    We don't know other way tot contact you.Excuse.
    If you wish we can send some photos from the KMM.

    Greetings from Jan en Els Ruitenberg, from the Netherlands