Sunday, May 6, 2012

Royal Custom-III

 I was never able to find a manufacturing date for this typewriter.  My guess is that is a mid 1970s machine since the fellow who gave it to the rummage sale used it for college about that time.
Finished Typewriter

Raised H that only prints the bottom half of the letter U.C. or L.C.

Example of some of the dirt
 This typewriter had more white-out on the platen, ribbon path, and housing than what a single bottle of it can hold.  Honestly there was white-out everywhere!  And dust and dirt.

After Cleaning

Cleaning supplies and the machine is ready for a cleaning.
After I had the machine out of the housing with as much removed as I chose the machine is 90% ready for a spray bath.  I covered the key board with aluminum foil to keep the splashes of chemicals from damaging the keys.

Before cleaning I blow as much of the dirt from the machine with compressed air.

After cleaning I use compressed air to blow all the residual chemicals and any junk out of the machine.

One of my favorite tools for cleaning the type slugs is the green handled brush shown beside the tooth brush.  I call it my Barney brush after the green dinosaur children's program.  It is a denture cleaning brush and works great for cleaning type slugs and is not damaged by lighter fluid or acetone.  I got mine for a dollar at Dollar General.  Or other places sell the same brush for around $5.00.  I also use wooden and plastic dental picks to dig crud out of the slugs.

When I first got this typewriter I had to do a bit of cleaning so the type was not all smudges and I had to free some keys to do the Rummage Sale post from October 2011.

One thing -- a word of warning -- that I cannot stress enough about cleaning typewriters or using any kind of spray or chemical that can splash is ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES. 

Even compressed air can blow dirt into one's eye(s).  I use the dust and mist proof ones.  (or a full face shield).  Normal safety glasses and goggles do not meet my personal eye safety and protection standards.
 I also removed the type bar rest vinyl cushion so it would not get damaged from the cleaning chemicals.

This typewriter (IF I can repair the H) and some of the others are going to become part of Ryan's Classroom Typewriter Project.

Here's a link to all the photos I took for this project:


  1. Nice work, Bill. I really should heed your "safety goggles" warning, I'm not the most cautious when it comes to chemical lubricants and cleaners. It also never occurred to me to remove the typebar cushion prior to cleaning.

    Would the Custom II be comparable to the Safari? They seem to be similar.

    1. Ton, From what I found on line they are both alike. I wonder if they were made different places. I have tried to get an answer on your question as well as serial number information. No luck.

    2. nice job! Don't forget good ventilation!

  2. Good clean-up job Bill. Looks like time for some judicious bending. I recently had an issue with my reading glasses ('someone' sat on them) and though I did what I could, I decided to take them to the dispensing opticians in town. After a 5 second assessment, the lady bent them confidently back into shape - saving me the price of a new pair. So, careful, but confident!

    1. I hope not to bend too much since the H worked on the bench before I made this post. I did not know I had the ribbon selector set to red. H works fine if red is selected. I ran into this before, but with several letters. That made it an easier repair.

  3. This is an especially useful post for me, Bill. Thanks! I am about to commence cleaning a few 1960s and 70s era machines. One questions: what is the "rubber rejuvenator" product you used?

    1. I use Caig CaliKleen RBR Rubber cleaner and rejuvenator or brake fluid. I want to try Fedron. So far none work as good as the left-over Vita-Drive I had. Vita-Drive cleans and softens rubber really nice, but it is no longer made (like many good products). I used it for years at radio stations before trying typewriter platens.

  4. Wow! I'd never thought I'd see one of those on the thyposphere... At first I even thought it was the portuguese Messa 6000. It's good to see a made in Portugal typewriter :)

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  7. I actually have a machine just like this (same make/model/color) sitting in my basement. Very good condition- good working order, all original documents and case, and fairly clean. I picked it up on a whim for chump change at a garage sale a few years ago, just because I thought it'd be cool to have an 'old-school' typewriter. I still think I'd like to hang on to it, but I'm just curious if there is a market for it at all in 'aficionado'/collector circles. I'd hate to be sitting on a collector's dream and not even know about it! :)

    And of course... beautiful job cleaning up the machine in this post!

    1. The Custom-III us a nice full-feature typewriter as you know since you have one. They are very nice to use.

      Yes, I think there is a market for these as I get more questions on this model than any of my other ones. I think these were quite popular and many are still available. What they cost or what someone is willing to pay, I do not know.

      I would check on line market places like Ebay, Etsy, Craigslist or similar if you live in the United States or similar sites in you country and look for the completed auctions (Ebay) or watch what other people can get for theirs. Asking price many times is more than what a machine will bring.

      Selling tips is to clean the machine as best you can.
      Get a toothbrush and some alcohol to scrub the type slugs.
      To clean the slugs you will need to remove the cover over them and the ribbon and I cover the rest of the machine so it cannot get splashed with ink dots. I put foil under the type bars to keep liquid out of the rest of the machine as much as possible. Then scrub away at the slugs until they are clean. Excess liquid can be wiped from the type bars and any place else with an old cloth.

      The platen can also be cleaned with alcohol and a clean cloth.

      Canned compressed air like used in offices can be used to blow the dust from the ribbon vibrator. It can also be cleaned more vigorously with a clean brush and alcohol, but when the alcohol gets into the lubricated linkages underneath they can dry and if you are not experienced I do not recommend taking a machine apart as much as I do.

      I am self-taught and by no means a proficient typewriter technician. I learned on old non working machines. If the machine did not work I could not ruin it by taking a working machine and making it a non-working machine.

      Below are some links that may be of help if you decide to clean your typewriter:

      Richard Polt's restoration page

      Diagram of where to clean/lube

    2. Wow... thanks for the great information! I went and pulled it out last night to put it through its paces after seeing this post, and all keys work in upper and lower case, and on both red and black ribbon. I'll definitely use the clean/lube diagram to give it a thorough once over, but I think I'll be holding on to this one. It's too cool to let go! Thanks again for the great info!

    3. You are very welcome. I hope the information I post and experience I gain helps others to enjoy this hobby.

  8. Hello Bill, did you ever find a year for this Custom III? I just bid on one on eBay (the first typewriter I will have used in almost 30 years), and it will drive me mad if I can't find out the exact year of mine. Do you think contacting the Royal website will produce any results?

    1. Rex,
      I have not been able to find a date of manufacture or even an estimated closest year. There is not much on the Royal website and none of the on line serial number data bases have any of the newer machines on them.

      I posted to several on line typewriter groups a few times over the past 2 years and no one has been able to give a date.

      It sure would be nice to know when it was made. The only thing I know is it was made in Portugal (stamped on the machine).

      I no longer have this typewriter, but it is being used by students in a typing class in AZ.

  9. Hello! My husband is a writer and for Christmas he said he wanted a typewriter. He's military, so I am used to the solitude but today I decided to go out and check some yard sales.
    I found a gem! Royal Custom III with instructions and serial number paperwork!
    It's been kept very well since 1976, which I assume is when the buyer originally purchased it. The case is dusty but the typewriter looks very good.
    I am going to follow your instructions to clean it up, but I do want to type my husband some things too while he's gone.
    The ink needs to be replaced and there was only one sheet of paper already installed.
    What ribbons should I buy and what type of paper? Christmas is a ways away, but I want to start typing him letters for him to have a grand present this year!

    Thank you for the blog Post!

    - Jade Trent

    1. Jade,
      If this is your first go at cleaning a typewriter please be very careful with the chemicals. Wear safety glasses or goggles, and maybe rubber gloves. The typewriter case is plastic so if you do not take the case off the typewriter it will need good protection from splashes, especially if you scrub the type slugs with acetone or denatured alcohol. I do not know if rubbing alcohol will harm the plastic. Ribbons can be purchased on Ebay, but be careful of getting good quality ones that are not on universal spools. If you have this same model it uses standard Royal spools. Please check out The Classic Typewriter Page for a list of ribbon suppliers. I have purchased ribbons from Jay Respler, Tony Casillo, and Baco. For paper I generally use 98 white 24 pound copy paper. For special documents I buy linen paper in either white or beige (canary sort of color). Office supply stores and stationary supply stores generally have good selections.