Thursday, 20 October 2011

Royal KHM - answers

KHM

Well, I have dusted, polished and oiled this old Royal and in the process found out a few things:
  • Why's it so heavy? That's a cast iron body!
  • Typewriter covers are sort of OK, but not as effective at keeping the dust out as a proper box. Good reason to stick with portables?
  • Adwoa: the cover is one-piece alloy with hinged ribbon tops (re-coined 'bongos' from now on). Not hinged but bolted on. And I honestly don't have space for this typewriter either...
  • Mike: thanks for the pointers. The ribbon advance is actually driven by the clockwork motor. Incredible, ingenious! Disconnecting the carriage strap and pulling and releasing it you can watch the ribbon inch its way along.
  • Richard: soft lighting hides a multitude of defects. The paintwork isn't up to usual Royal standards. The front plate especially has a slight 'orange peel' look about it - not dead flat.
  • Matt: the top left lever is to enable free-spooling from left to right - it disengages the ribbon drive. This will help when re-spooling fresh ribbon.
  • MLG told me about the cunning key tension control knob and indicator - nice touch.
  • The Royal KHM is an amazingly well-designed and built bit of pre-WW2 machinery.
Most things started to work once the dust was cleared out of the segment and the carriage tracks were hosed down. But there's stuff that still needs attention, like the strap tension. Can't figure out how to adjust it - any advice welcome - or I could just wrap the strap around the drum twice? It is good enough to advance the carriage during normal typing but not strong enough for tabulating. The fiddly bell-ringing trigger is only sort of half-working - a solution'll come to me though. And one side panel's been backed into by something - needs careful bending so it lies flush.

Back story on this one is that my friend had it getting on for forty years after his dad brought it home from a place he'd been working. It was used for essays and college work but was forsaken by a switch to a Selectric when he went into fanzine production in the '80s. Needless to say, the ribbon works but badly needs replacing. Lowercase 'o' punches holes in it from time to time - interesting effect but that's some serious ribbon fatigue.

The bigger picture
    [Addendum: I get questions about the ribbon advance and why it might not be working. Yes, half inch ribbon is fine but you do need spools as illustrated showing top and bottom views. Unlike most other typewriters, the advance is not connected to the ribbon vibrator but to the travel of the carriage.]

    19 comments:

    1. What an impressive, solid-looking machine!

      Even with its issues, it is a beauty.

      Utilitarian, yet elegant.

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    2. With all that glossy black, there's a danger old typewriters can look like they are taking themselves too seriously.

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    3. That flashing BONGOS! sign certainly drives the point home. Thanks for the answer and the laugh :)

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    4. You wouldn't happen to have a manual for this or know where to get one? I have one of these that has been sitting in my dad's house getting pounded on by the kids for years, but I'd like to fix it back up and actually use it. There are just so many daggum levers and buttons on it that I have no idea how to operate. I'm also curious where you got the brand new ribbon? This piece looks absolutely gorgeous, btw!

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      1. Josh, thanks for dropping in. Try Martin at Johnstown Typewriter Conservatory and read this page. Still no joy? Make a plea here in the Antique Typewriter Collectors Facebook group. I was lucky to come by such a well looked after example. New ribbons? Your local stationery store (depends where you are) or Ebay. Expect to pay between GBP £3.00 and GBP £5.00. Use the spools already on the machine by rewinding new ribbon onto them.

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    5. I've got one of these too! My bell only works half the time as well. And The ribbon doesn't like to advance on its own. But, I love typing on it anyway.

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      1. If the ribbon isn't advancing, open the bongos and take the spools out. There are directional arrows embossed in the metal bases that tell you which direction the ribbon should travel. When I got my KHM, both spools were wound the wrong way, so would not move while typing. That should do it Good Luck

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    6. Yours is a great looking machine.
      I just came into possession of a 1938 KHM. Got all the keys working, a few had been sticking, but I'm having trouble with the carriage itself. If I push it all the way to the right, like to the start of a page, it's so tight that the keys don't advance it. If it's near midpoint the keys advance it fine but tab is real slow. The bell also doesn't really work unless I manually push the carriage through it, otherwise the bell mechanism itself seems to provide enough resistance to stop the carriage rather than sounding the bell and advancing through a few more strokes.

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      1. Hi Adam,

        Thanks for dropping by Typewriter Heaven.

        I'd start by removing all the top cover plates (fairly straightforward with a good, smal screwdriver) and then checking that the carriage runners are clean. Dust and old oil can combine to gum things up. If so, clean them up with white spirit.

        If the runners look clean, check the clockwork motor. The strap is easy to unhook from underneath the r/h end of the carriage. DO NOT LET GO OF THE HOOK! But if you just pull on the strap independent of the carriage, you'll be able to feel if there's freedom of movement and at least begin to isolate the problem further.

        Withe the strap still unhooked but held onto, see if the carriage glides freely now. If it doesn't, the trouble might very well be with the ribbon advance. If the ribbon is jammed, the carriage won't move. This is one of the things about the KHM. Whereas in most typewriters, the keystroke action advances the ribbon, on KHMs it is the carriage return. Remove the ribbon to double check and not the fact that the ribbon winds onto/off each spool from the side nearest the keyboard, not the carriage - another Royal quirk.

        If none of this works, get back to me and I'll try to help further.

        Good luck!

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    7. Hi I'm thinking of getting an old one, the rubber does have splits but it still rolls the paper in, do you think it is worth getting and then try black electric tape? Also what is the margin release button used for?

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      1. Black electric tape won't work - it won't grip the paper. If the platen has splits, the best recourse would to have it re-covered professionally. The only place I know of that does that is JJ Short Associates. Drop them a line for pricing.

        You set the left and right margins on the toothed rail at the back of the carriage by sliding them inwards and outwards from the middle of the carriage. If they are set as you want them but just need, say, an extra couple of characters to finish a word on the same line, hit the MR button and it will let you carry on typing - otherwise, it will lock the carriage and prevent further typing until you return the carriage to the start of a new line. Good luck!

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    8. Hi..

      How can you access the inside? I need to clean out the dust so I can use it but I don't know how to take the bottom off. There are no screws or anything.

      Thanks!

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      1. Hi Taylor, in the remote possibility any help I can give is useful to someone else, I'll post my approach on the blog here.

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    9. Having trouble with the carriage sticking about half way across the page. It's a Royal KHM. Any suggestions on what the problem might be?

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      1. Hi Kmberly, thanks for visiting Typewriter Heaven. Carriage sticking or running out of steam? If the latter, it could be the mainspring needs more tension. With the carriage release lever pressed and the margins set full width, does the carriage run freely then? If not, could be the rails are out of alignment. Does it stick at the same exact spot every time or does it vary? If, under normal typing, it gets halfway, it probably isn't the escapement. Could be something as simple as a stuck paperclip. The possibilities are legion but if you can more fully describe the issue I might be able to help.

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    10. Hi there,

      I'm having trouble installing a ribbon on my KHM so that it advances correctly and maintains the correct tension on the ribbon. I'm using a universal ribbon with plastic spools so I think that's my first problem. There doesn't seem to be anything on the spools to pick up the notches in the ribbon advance mechanisms.

      Do the Royal-style ribbons with steel spools have a pin of some sort to keep the spool from spinning?

      Can you possibly show me what the correct spool would look like?

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      1. Hi Mike, thanks for getting in touch. Universal 1/2" ribbon is fine but you do need a pair of the correct spools as they have lugs underneath which connect to the drive mechanism. I'll drop a picture in at the end of the above post. The silver tab drops down at the end of the ribbon to effect ribbon-reversal.

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    11. How much do I miss my KHM? My pen name is Manuel Royal.

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