Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1941 Royal Arrow - the Lost is Found

I like the chrome accent, the black deckle finish, and the comfortable concave key tops
1941 Royal Arrow 
SN C88-1064749R

I knew I had it. But my searches through the dungeon - the dim workshop storage areas filled with troubled typewriters - failed to reveal it. It finally showed up under a desk in the office. It was as pretty a typer as I remembered from when I spied it at the local Salvation Army Store. A word with the manager, pointing out that it had been there for two months, and it was mine for $40, half the marked price.

Really its only crime was filth and a bit of corrosion, some sticky keys, and misalignment of the upper and lower case characters. I suppose that was why it was consigned to the low security detention area under that desk.

I'm enjoying releasing these machines from incarceration, cleaning and tinkering with their innards to find and fix what ails them, then final polishing and the pleasure of using them. I'm working on convincing myself that it is at least as fun as the hunt for more, and the anticipation of eBay packages which I have resolved to forego, at least for a while. It is especially enjoyable to share and get help from the friendly community of Typospherians.

It was the help I'd received from John Lewis in New Mexico, who had recovered the platten of the Royal No. 10 I've had since the late 1960's, that gave me the confidence that I could remove - and again replace - the platten on this Royal. So out it came, along with the feed rollers front and back. This gave me access to the innards so I could do a good job blowing out the dust bunnies with my air compressor. That done I polished the paper guide, and cleaned and very lightly lubricated (drops of Three-in-One Oil on the end of my small screwdriver) the feed roller bearing points and pivot points in the line advance mechanism which had been squeaking.

By the way, removing the platten and feed rollers on Royals, at least on the two I have, is fairly simple. The left-hand knob is removed, and the set screws on the right hand end of the platten are removed. This allows the right-hand knob to be removed, along with a shaft that reaches through the platten. The spring-loaded cap with the ratchet gear on the left end of the platten is removable. Be aware of the tongue washer inside that end of the platten - don't let it escape and get lost. When re-installing, after cleaning the platten, mark it on the left to show where the tongue is - you need to know that too facilitate fitting the shaft, slotted at that end, back in. Be aware, also, that one of the set screws for the right end of the platten is longer than the other, to fit into a hole in the shaft. And of course, employ your "best practices" for taking stuff apart throughout. For example, a white terry cloth towel under everything helps to catch those little screws that are always trying to squirm away. Don't tell my wife about the towel.

That done I cleaned up and freed the sticky keys by spraying xylene at the segment. Alcohol, daubed liberally with a small brush, also works. Then, since I had a bit of fine steel wool available from my work on the paper guide, I decided to polish the corrosion on the visible part of the segment. It did a good job, but the tiny bits of steel wool got into the segment slots, jamming up the type bars again. Another trip down to the air compressor and thankfully all was well. Lesson learned.

Then on to adjusting the upper/lower case character alignment. The upper case characters were printing slightly higher than the lower case. Since the lower case characters, like "l" and "h" where printing well, but the upper case characters faded out on top, especially the fractions, it was apparent that the upper case characters were impacting the platten too high, rather than the lower case being too low. This being a segment shift machine, adjustment would involve allowing the segment to drop a bit lower when shifted. Fortunately the adjustment stops are accessible beneath each end of the carriage when it is slid out of the way. The stops are made up of a screw held at its setting by a lock nut.

Noting the position of the screw slot, I loosened the lock nut with a 5,5mm socket, then gave each screw a half turn CCW, allowing the segment to drop a bit lower when shifted. Too low. Back a quarter turn. Perfect. But then, how to maintain the setting while tightening the lock nuts? I removed the tiny socket from the wrench, fitted it carefully over the nut without turning it, then inserted the screwdriver through the socket into the screw to hold it at its setting while finger-tightening the lock nut. A final touch with the wrench, another test, and I sit back, quite proud of myself, that another typewriter is functioning again and looking good.

Looking at this image this morning, taken late last night, I see there is still an issue with upper/lower case alignment. Back to the work bench, where I will keep in mind that Japanese esthetic that finds beauty in imperfection. But, all in all, I find this machine very pleasant to type with, and I like the straightforward font. It will go into the permanent collection in the correspondence rotation.


  1. What a coincidence, I just got my hands on a Royal like that! Those are very beautiful machines; congratulations on making yours run again!

    Re the trademark Royal VLM (Variable Left Margin), I've found it ot be a common trait of these machines, just like Olivetti's red tab key and Remington's weird (to me) way to handle the accents. It's something that adds character and personality to our typewritten works, don't you think?

  2. Congratulations on the repair. You have a very nice looking typewriter. I have a Companion that looks nearly like your typewriter on my repair pile if I ever get that far down the pile.

  3. Nice work. I have two of these, and honestly I am surprised by how good they are.

  4. Great work on the repairs! :D
    wabi sabi!

  5. Great article, brings back fond memories of what typewriters were like in the pre-Selectric era.

  6. I just got one without key-tops. By using the plastic key-tops from a Sears Citation 88 my 1939 Arrow is now typing once again. I feel proud to have saved such a wonderful machine. Thank you for sharing the information especially the alignment part. Your machine looks great, enjoy.

    1. Good on you for bringing one back to life, Jose, especially after the key choppers had had their way with it.