Ari S. just brought home a Royal FP and Richard Polt just threw an FP into his trunk. It’s raining FPs. That got me thinking about the Royal FP at Moe’s shop down the street that has been languishing on her shelves for more than a year. I first saw it last May:
The SCM electric has since been sold and I bought the Olympia SG3. I passed on the FP because its Magic Margins weren’t working.
Moe is now thinking about giving it away. I told her that maybe I could fix it, so I brought it home for a look-see.
I feel bad that this Royal FP did not get any love. I understand that they are marvelous typewriters when they are clean and happy. It’s pretty beat-up with lots of scrapes and dings. Perhaps a re-paint is in its future?
Well-known San Francisco columnist Herb Caen used an FP, so you would think this FP would get a lot of love here in the SF Bay Area.Apparently Herb Caen was a bit of a typewriter polygamist. According to Wikipedia, he had four Loyal Royals. Here he is with what looks like a Royal HH: Anyhoo, I brought this under-loved and under-appreciated typewriter home. Here’s Moe’s FP:
The typewriter was typing, but setting the margin on the left using the Magic Margin was not working (the right Magic Margin was a little slow but working). I hoped that it was a gummy/dirt problem that would resolve with cleaning.
The tabs were sluggish, but repeated tabbing freed them up, so I was hopeful about the margin problem – it may just be gummy.
The serial number is located next to the left ribbon spool:
FP = model, E= elite + serial number 6800093 which puts it at 1959 according the Typewriter Database.
What does FP stand for? Flippin’ pachyderm? Formidable package? There was a discussion at Typewriter Talk last year about Royal model names and a former Royal employee who is a forum member said that FP = Fortune Peter Ryan who was President of Royal Typewriters starting in 1951. F.P. Ryan was the grandson of Thomas Fortune Ryan, the railroad, banking, tobacco, insurance, and transportation magnate who financed the incorporation of the Royal Typewriter Company in 1904.
Here’s a teaser from a 1951 article about F.P. in Time magazine:
This makes me want to get a subscription to Time just to read the rest of the article. I am happy to read that Fortune Peter (a great name) started at Royal as an apprentice mechanic despite being a Yale man.
Back to the typewriter at hand. I like these genuine Royal clear plastic spools:
This FP is typing great right out of the box. There was a little stiffness that worked itself out with the quick brown fox:
Elite and and very dirty slugs. Wonderful typewriter.
I pulled out a piece of cardboard that was jamming the indexing.
This typewriter’s name is Number 12. I don’t know what happened to the other eleven.
I took off the ribbon cover, front panel, side panels, paper table and back panel and gave the typewriter a good blow-out with the air blower thing.
The foam insulation inside the machine crumbled to the touch, so I scrubbed it out with a toothbrush and blew it out with compressed air and vacuumed.
The carriage return lever had no BOING. It was stuck in a gummy way. I worried that there was a spring missing, but all it needed was cleaning and lubrication under the lever:
Now it’s great – BOING – BOING – BOING.
I may have mentioned it before, but I am not a fan of complicated margin setting features like Remington’s KMC, Hermes Weirdie Margins™, and Royal’s Magic Margins.
In my mind, this is the perfect way to set margins. Thank you, Smith-Corona Silent-Super, for keeping it simple:
Right in front and what you see is what you get. This is the best system for me.
Magic Margins: those I don’t like so much. I always am flipping the paper table up, peeking back there to see what’s going on. It’s a mystery.
I had problems setting the left margin on this Royal FP, so I investigated when the typewriter was more exposed. There is this complicated set up with long springs and a margin setting mechanism.
I used denatured alcohol to clean the Magic Margin parts. Ta-da! I then had a functional left Magic Margin. I followed up with a little PB B’laster for lubrication.
Skippy the Royal FP
I think I have pretty good technique when it comes to typing. I admit I am not a touch-typist – I use two to three fingers. However, I do have a forceful and quick staccato touch that really does the job. My printed pages are crisp and dark. I type like Olive Oyl. I didn’t think there was any other way to use a manual typewriter and then I observed people pressing the keys as if they were giving the keyboard a caressing massage. What the heck?
Well then. I used to test my typewriters after cleaning with my proper “Staccato Hot Keys” touch. Now when I test, I try to imitate The Pressing Massage to see if there is any residual stickiness in the typebars – which is very noticeable with The Pressing Massage.
I tested this FP after cleaning the segment with denatured alcohol. With Staccato Hot Keys touch, there was no problem.
But check out the crazy skipping when I did The Pressing Massage:
There’s a little stutter and the escapement is twice triggered when I press instead of jab. The Pressing Massage seems like poor technique to me, but I wanted to see if I could decrease the skipping. This typewriter may someday make its way into the hands of someone who uses The Pressing Massage and I don’t want that person to experience the frustration of skipping.
I haven’t experience skipping before (maybe because I use the Staccato Hot Keys Technique), but it is exasperating to those who experience it.
It’s hard for me to emulate the typist who uses The Pressing Massage, but when I do it right (or wrong?) I can consistently reproduce the skipping.
The skipping seemed to be worst with the keys in the middle of the keyboard, especially g, h, b, r, and 5. I first cleaned the escapement with denatured alcohol – it’s not as accessible as on other typewriters – and then gave it a quick squirt of PB B’laster. I also very thoroughly cleaned the segment where the skipping was worst. I feel like the skipping with The Pressing Massage eased up a little, but it persists.
Backspace Does Not Erase had a skipping problem with a Remington Noiseless Portable which he rectified with an adjustment to the escapement trigger. I have a completely different machine, but such an adjustment might fix my Royal standard.
I went to the D. E. Fox repair manual (found in Typewriter Database‘s document library) and found this in the section for Royal standards:
I am hesitant to make adjustments – especially since I don’t have a “Special Dog Washer”. The typewriter currently types great – if used by an “experienced operator”. I am in a kind of WWJD situation. I am fairly certain that this typewriter will make its way to the collection over at The Shop at Flywheel Press where “inexperienced operators” roam. Can they be educated in the touch needed to make this FP sing?
Technique-related skipping aside, I want to address the Royal FP’s appearance. The ribbon cover is pretty banged up. Would it be blasphemy to repaint?
I am feeling pretty good about my sandblasting and powder coating skills, so I think I can do a quality repaint of the ribbon cover, front plate, and paper table.
I am leaning toward a coral pink. I am not really a pink typewriter person, but I recently saw a coral pink FP on eBay that was very popular. If this FP were another color, would it get the love it deserves?
Here are some powdercoat color possibilities from Prismatic Powders:
What do you think? Here’s a poll: