Watched Royal Typewriter Platen Variable Repair, Roller Removal by Phoenix TypewriterPhoenix Typewriter from YouTube
I was seeing this issue on my 1949 Royal QDL. I figured it’d be an easy fix.

Turns out, it was exactly my issue and the pieces had “frozen up”. A quick clean out and we’re back in business in under 20 minutes.

Yellowed catalog page with photos of 5 portable typewriters labeled A-E with blocks of corresponding text below to describe them all and provide their list prices. The headline over the description reads: PORTABLE TYPEWRITERS.. NEW post-war models

Digging into some typewriter pricing history, I found a copy of the 1949 Sears Spring/Summer Catalog, which lists a version of my 1949 Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter (Sears SKU: 3 NM 4584T with Pica Type) for $95.08 on page 285. 

Converting 1949 dollars to 2024 using an inflation calculator indicates this is now worth $1,247.75. Considering that I got it for less than the original sale price in 2024 (including shipping) and that it works as well now as it did then, I feel like I got a pretty solid deal.

For comparison the competing portable models in the catalog included:

  • Royal Arrow $84.48
  • Smith-Corona Clipper $84.27
  • Smith-Corona Sterling $89.57
  • Remington Portable $84.27
  • Remington Portable with Tabulator $89.57
  • Underwood Leader $63.40

They also listed the Tower, a standard size desk typewriter, for $99.00 saying it was just a few dollars more than the portables.

For further comparison, the prior year, the 1948 Smith-Corona Clipper, a model of which I also own, was listed for $76.85. Adjusted for inflation this would be $995.96.

Listened to The Informed Life: Episode 139 Chris Aldrich on Cybernetic Communications by Jorge ArangoJorge Arango from The Informed Life

Chris Aldrich has the most multi-disciplinary resume I’ve ever seen, with a background that includes biomedics, electrical engineering, entertainment, genetics, theoretical mathematics, and more. Chris describes himself as a modern-day cybernetician, and in this conversation we discuss cybernetics and communications, differences between oral and literary cultures, and indigenous traditions and mnemonics, among many other things.

Show notes and audio transcript available at The Informed Life: Episode 139

A while back, I recorded an episode of The Informed Life with Jorge Arango, and it’s just been released. We had hoped to cover a couple of specific topics, but just as we hit record, our topic agenda took a left turn into some of my recent interests in intellectual history.

Jorge has a great little show which he’s been doing for quite a while. If you’re not already subscribed, take a moment to see what he’s offering in the broad space of tools for thought. I’ve been a long time subscriber and was happy to chat with Jorge directly.

Replied to Want to run a typewriter shop? by Richard PoltRichard Polt (
This is Tom Furrier, owner of the beloved Cambridge Typewriter  in Arlington, Massachusetts. Tom is ready to retire, and he'd like to find someone who wants to take over his small, busy shop.
I’m terribly tempted by this and even have a planned trip to Boston in June. Sadly, I don’t think my wife would approve the career change or the move from Los Angeles…
A wooden library card catalog on which sits a 1949 Royal Quiet De Luxe Typewriter next to a crystal old fashioned glass and a fifth of Glenmorangie in a scotch bottle. To one side is a blue vase with small pink roses.

I’ve seen many references comparing the use of typewriters in an overstimulating technology space to the slow food movement. Since one regularly pairs wine with their meals, it only seems right to extend the typewriter analogy to liquor as well. Today, I’m pairing this smooth 10 year single malt Glenmorangie Scotch with the 1949 Royal Quiet De Luxe.

Surely Hemingway would approve?

Type-o-sphere, what are you pairing with your typewriter today?

Typewritten index card in green elite type repeating the words of the paragraphs above.

Replied to Share with us what is happening in your ZK this week. May 3, 2024 (Zettelkasten Forum)
Swimming with Ideas. This is yet another opportunity to share with your friends what you are working on.
In the past year, I’ve re-acquired an old manual typewriter from my youth and begun using it again for first drafts of some writing work as well as some notes. In the past few months I’ve added a few new (to me) machines to the collection and have been continuing to use them in my reading and note taking practices to see what changes, if any, the modality brings to my daily practice versus computer and/or handwriting.

Richard Polt (see below) has some interesting things to say about getting the writing out without worrying about editing or deleting when using a typewriter which makes for some interesting changes in my process.

Currently reading:

  • Kaiser, J. Systematic Indexing. The Card System Series 2. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., 1911.
  • Polt, Richard. The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century. 1st ed. Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press, 2015.
  • Mattei, Clara E. The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2022.
  • Zakaria, Fareed. Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2024.

A Small Brother Charger 11 Repair Surgery

I spent some time today doing surgery on my Brother Charger 11 Correction typewriter. It was quite relaxing to tinker around for a bit and appreciate the sparse, but clever and solid internals of this late model JP-1 machine that the serial number dates to January 1985. 

Wooden table with a blue towel on top of a portion. On top of that is the internal frame and components of a typewriter with the hood, bottom, and side piece of the machine sitting behind it. Strewn around it are a variety of screwdrivers and small tools as well as a can of compressed air.

I managed to clean out a lot of white somewhat sticky cruft, ostensibly from the correction ribbon this machine once had. I initially thought it would all blow out quickly with canned air, but it really needed some careful work with my typewriter brush and some Q-tips. The spots on the still supple rubber platen and rollers came off pretty quickly with some rubbing alcohol.

I quickly found the re-connected the spring that was preventing the margin release from working properly.  I then tracked down the issue I was seeing with the vibrator assembly. It turns out someone had worked on this before and neglected to replace two small screws and nuts to hold the assembly down to the frame and at the appropriate distance from the platen. Without them it just sort of floats around between the basket and the platen. I’ll have to pick up a pair of them at the hardware store to be able to reattach it and then adjust it to the proper distance from the platen. Hopefully the rest of that assembly will operate properly once attached, particularly the bichrome lever which seems somewhat flimsy.

View of the bottom of a Brother Charger 11 with the bottom plate removed. One can see the metal escapement above which a screwdriver is pointing at two empty holes where screws and nuts ought to be to hold the ribbon vibrator assembly in place.

Beyond this the only outstanding thing I see, besides adding a new ribbon, is that the end of the backspace assembly isn’t attached to anything. It ends in a small question mark-like but very sturdy hook which I presume would have attached to either a spring or a metal wire, but I’m going to need to consult either another machine or find a service manual which details what the assembly is supposed to look like. If anyone has a helpful photo of the bottom of their Charger 11 from that hook to the escapement assembly, that would be most helpful. 

View from the back of an upside down typewriter. In the front is a small copper colored bell  and moving toward the back we see a small question mark-esque hook peeking out from between two plates on the frame of the typewriter. Something should be attached to it to actuate the backspace key.

The last couple of tweaks should have this back in perfectly serviced operating order. Its almost as clean and new as when it rolled off the assembly line 39 years and 4 months ago.

I received this machine on March 12th and just realized that I never really took any photos of it or played around with it at the time in part because that’s the day my car’s engine died. I’ll see what I can do to finish this up soon, so that I can do a proper acquisition post and include some photos of the exterior as well as a proper typeface sample.