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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Recent Typewriter Sightings - Catch and Release Edition

Summer travel, garage sale season and time to browse have coincided to present some interesting typewriter sightings. As my tastes become more refined, fewer machines make the cool typeface or rarity cut that would cause me to bring them home. Hence, another round of catch and release typewriters.

This was my favorite from the weekend. The machine is electric, needs a ribbon cartridge and relatively common, but the placement with black velvet is 100% win!

More from the same antique mall...

Note the changeable key on this SCM electric.
At least this Royal would not interested key-choppers. Those are replacement keys. The carriage is huge!

This QDL was nice and overpriced.
Going back in time a bit, here are a few more interesting machines. We'll start with the uber-cool Raspberry Pi powered IBM Selectric at the Kansas City Maker Faire.

And back to normal machines...

Most of the standard machines I run across are of the Underwood and Remington variety. I was overjoyed to find a Noiseless and an early IBM electric. What a tank! This was in one of those odd, outdoor flea market zones. Given the heat and humidity in our region, these are doubtless hunks of rust by now.

Witness the King of the Ginormous Carriages. Dang.

Nice Remington. It had pretty good action.

This Underwood species is not the best typer around. Nevertheless, I have an interesting variant to show off in a future blog entry.

Bow before the huge and powerful Royal Empress! The action felt good on this machine and the price was right. I had no place to put a beast like this.

 "Recent" is a relative term. With kids in middle and high school and two working parents, time has flown by. Some of the machines below are from April and May, but that seems just like yesterday.

This brother deserves two photos. Finding a German keyboard in middle-America is an odd experience.

Yet another Galaxie. It seems to me that the age of machines appearing in thrift stores and antique malls is creeping upward. That would make sense as households are liquidated and cleaned up.

Two Royals. The white QDL was an interesting sighting. It functioned perfectly. Alas, it had a standard typeface dating back to the earliest Royal portables.

"I am Futura of Borg. Prepare to be bored to death by my color scheme."

This poor Underwood was probably harvested for its keys.

Finding any Hermes in the wild is rare in my part of the world. This one worked well and I was sorely tempted to bring it home.

I've been impressed with the light action on the Underwood standards I've found in the wild. They aren't sexy, but they appear to be good machines.

I'll leave you with a really nice Remington portable located in one of the better monthly antique stores in the Kansas City West Bottoms.

I'm pretty far behind in my blogging. The good news is that I typed almost everyday during our family vacation. The night before Tesla's birthday, I hit the 50,000 page view mark. That is a blog topic of its own, but it will have to wait. I also have two newer arrivals to show. One is a rarity and the other is an oddity. But first, I have yet more shooting to do at upcoming County Fairs and demolition derbies. Ah, summer!

Thanks for viewing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DANGER! Work in Progress

Typed on Margo, the Royal Quiet de Luxe (and me with one gimpy finger. please forgive the typos)

The 'brains' of this operation.  Not a good sign.
More about the Royal Arrow at A Royal Study in Toughness

So there you have it.  Should these pathetic misfits get it together, the Royal Arrow will roll on with the heart of champion, Richard Polt's flames and the brains of a Hot Wheels toy.  The crew will have to take a break for an upcoming living room floor installation.  More delays.  Worse than the Big Dig, I tell you.

Claire F. has not yet forgiven me for starting this particular project.  Ah, well.

This post was created several days ago and scheduled to go live later this evening.  I had to throw in a little fresh custom Turbo Torpedo typewriter goodness from Richard Polt Turbo Torpedo: the nitty gritty  I am in awe of the purple platen.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Meet Margo: The Gold Royal with Star(let) Power

"Give us that, Deagol my love."
"Because it's my birthday, and I wants it."

Thus began Smeogol's slow descent into madness.  Fortunately, I didn't need to drown anyone or scale Mount Doom to acquire the Precious now known as Margo.  But I had a birthday, and I wanted a gold plated Royal.

What is it about gold?   The whole concept of a gold based economy always mystified me.  Why not big stone discs or beads?  Obsidian.  Yeah, it's durable and relatively uncommon.  Why not obsidian? 

To understand the whole concept of gold, one must gaze upon it and think of a time past where few shiny things existed unscathed in our corrosive atmosphere.

Whole empires rose and fell with gold symbols and artifacts at their center.  Wars have been fought over gold.  And why?  Maybe because it is just so pretty.  We covets the Precious.

As suggested in the title, Margo is a typewriter with Hollywood starlet power.  Fortunately, the warranty card came with the machine and provides at least partial provenance.

The trail is a bit cold.  There is no absolute proof that this typewriter belonged to the actress, Jane Wald.  She would have been 22 when this machine was purchased in Hollywood.  That at least fits a narrative.  And even though the ebay seller stated that "It looks like it has never been used!", it in fact had plenty of evidence of extensive use including paper shreds, eraser shavings and lack of mechanical upkeep.

According to the Typewriter Serial Number Database, this machine was manufactured in 1948.  That at least gives a hint that it was not built to order other than the name plaque.

Margo had two primary mechanical issues along with a number of clean and lube related eccentricities.  She was missing an odd screw widgy thingy that actuates an armature for the back spacer.  Also, every shift was accompanied by resistance followed by a "cla-clunk!"  That turned out to be a lever out of adjustment.  I think its purpose was to keep the type basket from moving around during transportation.

The seller was located in Florida; a sensible place to retire.  The case sure smelled like the perpetual mildew that is Florida (no insult intended to Floridians, but every hotel and rental car I've been in there smells of air freshener or mildew).  I removed the side and back panels for mechanical access and to remove the irredeemably stinky wool sound deadening pads.  Relatively damp storage helped keep the rubber parts supple and the only evident pitting was at the high contact points.  Richard Polt has commented on the relatively thin plating on these machines.

I used the Cape Cod Polishing Cloths for Fine Metals to clean the gold plate.  The innards were mildly corroded and required a bunch of PB Blaster, mineral spirits and elbow grease  to get everything cleaned and loosened up.  I think she looks lovely.

The bodywork is really a lovely bit of industrial design by the renowned Henry Dreyfuss.  I have a Gray Magic once owned by a professor and the beat-to-heck Arrow featured at the beginning of Royal week.
But, in my opinion, neither of these color schemes bring out the design detail the way Margo's contrasting black and gold does.

Henry Dreyfuss was concerned with aesthetics and the human/machine interface.  The keys are shaped just so.  The glass tops are slightly concave and have just a bit of texture molded in.  For a great writeup on Henry Dreyfuss and the the QDL, visit Robert Messenger's blog at

There are a few more gold Royals living out in the Typosphere.
Towards the bottom - this is Richard Polt's collection

The main claim to fame for the gold plated Royals is that one was the weapon of choice for Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.  I can see the attraction.

The gold plated QDLs were reportedly a limited edition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company.  It's only fitting that I share images of the Royal portable and its shiny first generation ancestor.

More on the chrome and wood grain Royal portable at

What's in a name?  Why is this typewriter named Margo?  Well, MEK and I like Wes Jackson movies.  The machine is all shiny and glitzy, but rough around the edges like Royal Tenenbaum.  This machine doesn't look all that masculine to us, especially with Jane's name on the paper table. She is vaguely exotic, has a mysterious past and is a little tarnished. So Margo Tenenbaum it is.  Bonus:  She even likes guys that are rough around the edges, just like Margo!

One thing that I absolutely love about this machine is that Royal didn't skimp on the number of gold plated parts.  How many modern "special edition" cars have you seen with a carbon console insert and some chrome bezels on the dashboard?  Even portions of the ribbon vibrator are gold plated.

Here are a couple of parting shots for the road.

Unless a zealous dragon or hafling takes Margo away, you will see more of her.  It's going to be hard to put her in a case since she complements the slate bench so well.  So shiny is the Precious...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Royal Study in Toughness

Before we go any further, I want to assure you that this post is not an April Fool's Day prank.  The typecast below is from this typewriter, as found, with no lube, adjustments or ribbon replacement.  It was going to be taken apart until I happened to try a few keys.  Sigh.

Just like the Arrow (a rebadged QDL) said, I bought it for the sole purpose of cannibalizing a funky screw that actuates the back space mechanism.  (Correction:  that was $2.00 and worth it just for the screw.)  The love interest mentioned above is much prettier and exclusive and theoretically had an easier and pampered life.  However, the screw in question was missing or had been removed.  And I assure you that she required much lube and adjustment to work properly.  (Famous ebay seller quote:  "Looks like this has never been used!")

This beast looks like it has been to Hell and back, but it works nearly perfectly with only two typebars sticking at the platen.  I'm not sure if the margin release key works; I'll have to bend it back into position to find out.

In high school, when I first started working on cars and motorcycles, I liked the ones that were rough around the edges with good, strong engines.  It was partly due to not having much to spend on cars and partly because I just making things work.  I self-taught on engine rebuilding way back when and drove some really scroungy looking cars.  But they ran, and I respect that.

The guy I bought this and a mint Polaroid 95 Land Camera from organizes a great rod show that I absolutely must attend.  If you like homebrew rat rods and customs, check out photos of Greaserama taken by a friend of mine at 

My family unit has engaged me in a "discussion" on what degree of clean this machine should be.  I'm leaning towards the barn rat rod approach.  The essential nature of this machine is expressed through total neglect and still having the heart of a champion.  My three girls gazed upon me with various expressions ranging from baleful reproach to Sheldon-is-trying-to-make-your head-explode as they argued for continued existence and mechanical cleaning and lubrication.

If you have read their blogs (which I set up for them) you know how opinionated they are.  I am, perhaps, doomed.

So, gentle reader, what do you think?  Should I give the innards a clean and lube?  Should I clean the dirt off the body?  That risks removing some over spray, but I think the auto paint blobs aren't going anywhere.  Up front, I have to tell you that "boat anchor", "door stop" and "junk robot parts" are welcome opinions protected by the First Amendment.  However, sentimentality for functional mechanical things as outweighed reason in this case.

Also, 1950's car club nickname suggestions are appreciated.

Even the grubby type slugs eventually get their day at vintagetechobsessions.  We have an equal macro opportunity policy.

Heads up:  It is Royal week at vintagetechobsessions.  The aforementioned love interest was my birthday present and it really is pretty.  I'll just say it is a study in contrasts.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Gifted ROYAL Quiet De Luxe

I love typewriters!  And, like many aficionados of these fine machines, my tastes have become more refined.  Sometimes I enjoy aesthetics more than function, but the latter has become more important to me over time.  That and unique typefaces.

With that in mind, I posed a rhetorical question to my brother the recovering newspaper journalist turned teacher (paraphrased):
Me:  Would you be interested in a portable typewriter?
Answer:  Maybe.
Me:  That's as good as "yes" to me.  So, would you prefer something classic with glass keys, or something more modern that might be a tad easier and have a few more functions?
Answer:  You know, I would really like something that Hemingway might have used to write columns in the field.

Ding! Ding! Ding!  We have a winner!

As it turns out, I have two machines that Hemingway might have preferred.  The first, a Corona 3, is still a little glitchy and takes an uncommon ribbon (my brother is unlikely to transfer new ribbons on to existing spools).  The second is a 1947 Quiet De Luxe.  I love the typeface on this one and it is very easy to get along with.  But with multiple odd typefaces to choose from and the Torpedo 18 being my favorite overall machine, this poor QDL spent all of its time in a case.

So out came the QDL for a final cleaning and wrapping up with a bow for Christmas.  Thanks to MagicMargin for posting tips on cleaning wrinkle finish.
The technique worked great on the QDL.  It looked pretty good to start with, but the cleaning pulled off a lot of embedded skin oil and dust.  I cheated a bit with the case.  Even after washing it still looked pretty dull.  I wiped it down with just the slightest bit of penetrating lube and it looks fabulous!

Oh, credit where credit is due to the Classic Typewriter Page for resources on writers and their typewriters:

I was surprised at what a difference proper cleaning makes.  I had already lubed the mechanical bits earlier this year, but it really didn't need much more than that and a new ribbon to work like new.

Such pretty keys - and forever safe from key choppers!

I am helping my Dad resurrect a 50s square QDL.  It received lube service and 25% cotton paper for Christmas.  I am unhappy to report that my local Office Max no longer appears to carry standard large ribbon spool replacements.  There are tiny spools hiding inside the box on the peg where these normally were found.
The bow deserves its own photo.  It is vintage from a collection of ribbons and bows my step-mother had kept from her days of running a clothing store.  So sparkly!

How's this for subtle wrapping?  We hid it inside a bag until time for the official gift distribution.
I am happy this machine has a good home and will be used on a regular basis.   My brother plans to keep it in his office and have students do occasional laps with it just so they can see how old school journalists kept it real.

My girls liked the QDL and its typeface, but understood the need to have machines in use.  Besides, Claire got an Olympia Socialite for Christmas.  But that machine, and her sister's Olympia SF, are a topic for a later blog entry.

Note to the Typosphere:  After creating a more than adequate back story for the Christmas Squirrel, I realized that I have done zippo typewriter related since my travels to Florida earlier in the month.  For those of you that like more regular typewriter posts, thanks for the patience - especially with the weird Star Wars knockoff. 

One of my vacation projects was to get our computer setup more refined.  The scanner now lives next to the Dell Precision 4600 (new refurb) connected conveniently through a Tardis USB hub.  And to think my first exposure to computers was a cutting edge Apple II way back when.  At any rate, scanning typecasts should be an easier task.  Now I just need to clean off my old laptop for Claire and convert an old tower into a RAID Network Attached Server.  Etc.

Bonus factoid:  Claire and I are going to start attending an amateur radio class the first Saturday in January.  This is her idea and she really wants a broadcast license.  Guess that means we'll be shopping for radio gear in the next few months.  I'm guessing that NERDY1 is not a valid call sign.  Too bad.