Round 2 (of 3) – Scott v’s the Royal P


Round 2 – Scott v’s the Royal P. The Royal strikes back.

For those that missed round 1, it can be found – here.

Warning: This blog entry is rated MA – for mature audiences. 
*Occasional coarse language. Which has nominally been bleeped out for you protection.
*Low level violence.
*Frequent bad movie references.

The relative peace from my earlier days was now broken, and the fighting had become heavy and brutal. The battle of wills between the chrome Royal P and myself was now becoming intense. Tools and parts lay strewn across the battlefield. Blood and been shed numerous times from my fingers, and my battle-cry had become a single word that started with an ‘F’.

I tried to asses if the escapement on the royal was repairable, but the Royal P clutched it firmly in its heart and I couldn’t pry the thing from the grip of the rapidly deteriorating screws. It seemed hopeless.

I attempted to ease off the pressure on the draw band one afternoon, in the hope that it would allow the escapement to catch. But my attempt to do so ended in the bloodiest battle of this war. As I released the spring, the coil inside the drum erupted and shattered inside. I heard the spring implode with gusto, and then sound like a baby’s rattle as the pieces flung about internally. The initial crackling sound it made as it gave out was as surprising as much as it was sickening.

It was like I had been punched in the chest. I sat back and caught my breath, before letting out a long and pained battle cry – that also happened to start with an ‘F’. 

I gripped the platen tight and raised it above my head, and hollered: “You can take my Main-spring. But you will never take my FREEEDOOOOOOM”. 

And then I dropped the platen onto myself, and further worsened my dignity injury.


So the decision was made to seek out a possible parts machine, or a machine for transplanting. I remember Robert Messenger talking about how Royal didn’t make a lot of changes to their machines after the first Royal P, so I pulled out my old black Royal that I had restored back to working order some months before, and had a bit of a cursory look to see if there could possibly be a way of using parts from a later model. 


The Black Royal – repair in progress.

It was around this point that I observed that the frame on my Royal Arro, and the frame on my chrome Royal P were pretty much identical in their structure. I looked at the anchor points below the frame, around the ribbon covers, and leading out to the keyboard. Structurally it was very similar. Even the clearances on this segment shifted machine’s carriage and basket appeared to be a good fit. 

I didn’t want to destroy my black Royal, so I didn’t pull it apart to see if I could do it. Instead, I powered up eBay and gumtree and had a good, hard look any kind of cheapish Royal portable typewriter of this era. 

28 days later……

I awoke one morning to see my iPhone screen blink with emails shooting along its face. Blue icons with blurry white text that I couldn’t read flooded the black glass. I put my glasses on, and the white text came sharply into focus.
Ebay: You have won!
Ebay: Invoice for….
Ebay: Please pay for your item. 
Ebay: The seller has contacted you. 
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” I said as I rolled back over and went back to sleep. It was a Saturday. Saturdays are not typewriters on eBay days. Well, not Saturday morning at any rate.
The typewriter in question was an identical machine to my Black Royal – right down to the “Made in the British Empire” decal being stuck on the front at a haphazard angle. The machine was rusty and crusty, and looked like it was looking forward to retirement, but I was sure I could rejuvenate the mechanical side of it and get it going again. 
On Sunday, the seller was contacted. Addresses and phone-numbers were exchanged, and I organized a time and a date to get to the sellers house. I didn’t want to collect late evening, so they gave me a 30 minute window of opportunity to collect the typewriter from 4pm on the Monday. I finished work at 3:30pm that day, so it was going to be a little tight getting to their place in time. 

Enter Roxanne:

I chose my speediest traffic-dodging vehicle for the task: Roxanne the motorbike. I always have Occy-straps at the ready on the bike, so it wasn’t going to be a problem transporting the machine on the luggage rack. I had a blissfully chilled ride to work in the morning, and everything seemed to be going to plan. But by the afternoon I was anxiously looking at the BOM site radar, as I could see something that looked like a storm coming across ‘the range’, near Toowoomba. 

Expecting the worst, I shuffled through the cupboards at work for a plastic bag that would be big enough to cover the typewriter. Much to my dismay the biggest I had, that didn’t have holes in it or would dissolve in water was a big yellow clinical waste bag that had several huge bio-hazard symbols on it. Not to worry… It was only there as a ‘just in case’. I was pretty sure I had plenty of time before the storm hit.

I stuffed my earbuds into my ears, put my helmet on, and Ilet Karen – the voice on my TOMTOM app, direct me to the address. Unfortunately some of the roads leading to the seller’s house were still being reconstructed after the 2011 floods, and as such I had to sort of find my own detour. Time was starting to look very tight, but eventually I got there.

I was given several tips by the seller about how to use a typewriter (Really? You turn the knob which turns the big rubber roller to put paper in? Who knew! The lever is the return key? Fancy that!) before long money was exchanged, and the sale was done. I had mere minutes left of the allotted time, and I was pretty happy to have got the transaction done. Meanwhile, what apperred to be an army of children had surrounded me to check out this typewriter.

I strapped the Royal onto the back of my bike… Took a photo for blogging purposes, and then took off, with Karen again in my ears – telling me how to get home. 

Rev it up, Rev it up, little boy and ride…. Or write. Your choice.
 I sped and weaved through traffic with the greatest of ease. Over my left shoulder I could see the storm clouds closing in, but I sighed with relief as soon as I when back on a familiar road, and ever so close to home. There was a traffic jam at some roadworks, but no matter… I just darted around them. I was stopped at a set of lights, looking down the length of a very busy main road – unaware that tragedy was about to strike. 
As always, it is something small and unexpected that starts the tragedy. In this case, it was an itch on my neck. As I took off from the lights, I accelerated hard ahead of the traffic. I felt my engine sputter a little, but it still accelerated just fine – until I took my hand off the accelerator to scratch that itch. 
The engine just simply shut down, dead. Deader than a dead parrot. Deader than the main-spring on my Royal P. Deader than the sales of the HIghlander 2 DVD. (gosh, that really was a sh*t movie). 
I coasted to the side of the road, put the kickstand down and told myself ‘don’t panic’. Just then a Vogon starship….. oh wait….. 
I tried to start it again a few times, let the engine dry out from being flooded and then tried to start it again. No good. I popped off the seat, checked the fuses and found they were fine. I wiggled them a bit, tried to start the engine, and still didn’t get any life.

So, I popped out the tools from the little caddy on the side of the bike, and pulled out the spark plugs to see if I was getting any spark. No spark… nothing. I checked the spark  making box thingy (how’s that for a technical term) and all connections were fine. I resolved that the magic little black box itself must be shot. 

A guy on a Triumph Boneville, suavely parked his bike next to mine. Small drops of rain started to gently patter down around to us, and he asked me if he could help. He was a member of the 59 club, and was on his way to a meet. We both stood there looking at my motorbike, talking dirty finger-nails and trying to look as manly as possible without scratching our balls. 
“I don’t actually know anything about the mechanics of a motorbike. I hope you know what you’re doing” he eventually said. “But I can offer you a lift”. I politely declined, he gave me a card for the club and suggested that I should look them up “when you get it (Roxanne) working again”, and then took off into the slightly spitting weather. 
My bike was going to need to be towed. I didn’t have the number for the tow guy in my phone, so I called up Ms Jane – who just happened to also be riding today, and had used the guys towing services a couple of times in the past. “You’ll need cash”, she reminded me on the phone. “About $100. He only takes cash. I’ll message his number to you. Are you near an ATM”? Jane was always aware that I never carried much cash, and usually used EFTPOS for most transactions. 
The spitting rain started to turn into random fat drops of rain, and I could see that I was mere minutes away from a tropical down-pour. I reached into my bag and pulled out the big yellow Clinical Waste bag, and dropped the typewriter into it for protection from the elements, before strapping it back onto my bike. As I did so, I noticed the heavy traffic on the road near me started to slow even further. It seems that a big yellow bio-hazard symbol with bold lettering saying “Clinical waste” under it, is a bit of a head-turner. “Oh well” I thought, “at least no one was going to steal it”.
I began to walk towards the Warner shopping center, which was about 1.5km back up the road. I HATE the Warner shopping center, but there was no avoiding it. You will never find a more wrenched hive of scum and villany. But I needed folding money. Just as I started to walk, the sky opened up with the fury of as much rain as it could possibly drop, and I was soaked to my toes within minutes. 
It took me 45 minutes to walk to the Warner shopping center and back, all the while I walked along a muddy roadside strip (because no one uses footpaths in Warner, as no one walks) and I was as miserable as I could possibly be. People – stunned at seeing someone ‘walking’ were yelling abuse at me from their cars. The traffic had slowed right down now (mostly because of the roadworks, partly because of my bio-hazard typewriter), and had a prolonged period of having to cop sh*t from lengthy row of Warner bogans in rust-bucket racers with big stereos, big exhausts, and a big complex about their small penises.

Somewhere… there was an in-bred kid playing a banjo. Or, knowing Warner, a plastic guitar and guitar hero.

I got the cash, walked back, and was surprised to not have received the number from Jane on my phone yet. So I called her.

“Where are you”? she asked.
“I’m about a K or so past Warner Tavern”.

“Ohhhh” I could hear a whince in her voice “Funny the message didn’t go through. I’ll be there soon. Could you have picked a better spot?”.
I could hear traffic noises around her, and I could tell that she was talking on her head-set while she was on her motorbike.
The rain started to ease a little as I waited, and then just stopped. Jane, on her big and shiny Yamaha V-Star pulled up next to me – virtually dry, and briefly looked at the Clinical waste bag with a confused look, before asking me what had happened.

“Show me it starting again” She said. So I did. I had put the bike back together, so I just sat on it, put the key in and gave it an attempted rev. Jane twiddled the accelerator for a bit, and then looked at the kill switch to the left of it.

“When did you turn this off” she asked while pointing to the switch. I looked, and saw that the switch was indeed to the ‘off’ position – which typically kills the engine dead.
“Eeeerm… I didn’t switch that off” I replied. I turned the switch to on, gave the engine a bit of a squirt, and the bike again roared back to life. When I had lifted my hand to scratch that itch earlier, I must have accidentally knocked the switch. 

I again let out my Battle-cry starting an ‘f’, while Jane looked at me with a little bit of frustration. I on the other hand felt like an utter dickhead. We rode home, and I could see Jane shaking her head from time to time as I looked at her in the mirrors. 
I got home and sat the Royal out on the back deck of the house to inspect it. 
The machine had seen much better days. A fair bit of the chrome had flaked off, and parts of the typewriter were pretty dirt filled. But it wasn’t horribly rusty, and the machine actually worked really well. This would have to be my first ever Royal portable that arrived in fully operating condition. 
A few days later I pulled the shell off the machine, and attempted to put the shell from the chrome Royal onto it. As I had estimated, the frame was almost a perfect fit – except of course for one very crucial difference. As I wrapped the shell around the frame, it seemed to end about 5mm to short. As it turns out, Royal were still using the same identical frame as the Royal P, but had welded an extra piece of metal onto the back of the typewriter, to give the shell at the rear a little more clearance – in order to keep it looking flush with the shell that was bolted onto the carriage. 
I was so… very, very close! I could just cut the metal off. The frame structure for the Royal P was still there, located behind a tack-welded piece of sheet-metal!. All I had to do was grind off the extra pieces, drill 4 holes and tap them, and I could have my chrome Royal working! With nicer, smoother black keys!
But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just ‘chop’ up a machine that still had plenty to offer. I knew I could use parts from both the original machine, and the newer one, and get a pretty awesome typewriter out of it. But I couldn’t just kill off a great working Royal.

And it IS a great Royal. I bolted the shell back on, cleaned and serviced it and scrubbed up the metal a little while getting rid of the dirty bits and the corrosion. I now have two identical Royal typewriters, and I have no idea what to do with either of them. Does anyone want a Royal? No, seriously.

The chrome Royal was going to have to wait. I packed it up into a box, and dropped it down with a few other project machines. 
But it wasn’t a long wait. About a month later I eyed off a Royal P on ebay with a shell in shockingly bad condition. If there ever was a machine that was born to be a donor. It was this one. I tapped in a figure into and hit enter and waited for the auction to finish…. Hoping no one else would bid.

But that’s another story. 

Coming up in Round 3 – Scott v’s the Royal P:

I fight with eBay buyers and sellers. 
Then do some rather painful work getting my chrome Royal back together.
And I add a special tool to my typewriter repair kit.

13 thoughts on “Round 2 (of 3) – Scott v’s the Royal P

  1. I'm gonna have to read this post properly when I get a little more time, Scott, but DO NOT give up hope on that Royal. It's one of the coolest typewriters ever made, if my '47 QDL is anything to go by.
    Nice bike, too. Thinking of one day going for a bike licence, but I may opt for a decommissioned Postie's Honda or a Vespa, if I have the bucks for it. A Bonneville would be gorgeous, but it's probably more bike than I could handle at my age.


  2. Okay, I just had a look at Part 1 of your Royal Pain in the Ass Saga. I STILL say hang in there. The Royal P is a great machine. Types like an old farm tractor, but oozes so much olde worlde charm that it's worth the repair attempt.


  3. I know what you mean. I'm currently writing my next watch review and it will take on epic proportions. Especially if I can get ahold of a '57 Chevy from a neighbour of mine.
    A Bonneville in a 500, you say? Hmm, interesting, and no doubt expensive.


  4. Ah, the pursuit of the perfect operable “favorite” machine. Which sometimes requires shredding slightly less operable examples of same, which in itself is sickening. And which also explains why I have a mostly non-operable but still fairly attractive Reliance Visible on one of the shelves. I did take the bell off of it, though.


  5. “and told myself 'don't panic'. Just then a Vogon starship” yeah! \o/

    But, back to the real story, damn! You must've felt really stupid when Jane showed up. Luckily the Royal wasn't damaged any more than it was during that rain.


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