Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jones' Typewriter: A Testimonial


I'm very excited about this week's post. You know why? Because I get to share the wonderful work that Jones' Typewriter Company did on my machines.

My internship in Jeff City is over (had a wonderful time), and I picked them up on my way back to Paducah. They did everything I asked of them and even threw in a few surprises.

Front of the store. The Jones sign is in the other window.
It was really bright outside. Sorry for the reflection.
First time I visited these guys I drove right past them...

Cashing in my claim checks. Free contact information!
There were more machines around the front desk than the last time I went.
Someone's been busy.

My Royal KMM. They painted the serial number!

And treated the platen. Looks like new!

My Remington Rand Model 1.
For some reason, the previous owners had removed the tab stops.
No problem! Charlie didn't just replace them, he manufactured them out of scrap metal!
You need a pair of pliers to move them around, but they work! 

The Remington back home. The "N" was crooked. Fixed.
The "P" keytop sagged because of a worn spring. Fixed.
Various escapement problems, aka "skipping letters." Fixed.
The right line guide snapped off during one typing session. Fixed
(and I had to mail them that part).
Feet replaced. Ribbon replaced. Platen treated. Carry case latches fixed.
This thing has a new lease on life!

Sadly, this original paint is going to need attention soon.
Perhaps I can get some stencils...

The Remington needed more repairs than the Royal, and I'm very glad I brought it along. Thanks to the new feet, the machine doesn't dip forward in the case, which means I can use it in my lap! It types so quietly...but I'll save that for an in-depth review.

The Royal's line lock problems was caused by some bad links in the machine. Charlie replaced the rubber feet and now it's ready to write that novel!

These guys are the real deal. They don't do paint or other cosmetic restoration work, but if you want your machine to function like the day it rolled out of the factory, then give them a call! I'll certainly be taking my Underwood Touchmaster Five to them next time I get up that way.

Total waiting time: about five weeks

Total cost (both machines): $157.70

Customer satisfaction: 100%

Before I left, Vern let me look at a really interesting machine.

In case you can't read it, this is a Williams typewriter.
The patent dates range from 1875 to 1890.

From this angle, it looks like a cross between the Oliver and the Scholes.

Vern said that a customer brought it to the shop and asked him to fix it. Trouble was, he'd never seen one of these before. I was stumped, but told him I'd look it up on Google when I had the chance. I didn't have to look very far, as it turns out, because (ta-da!) Richard Polt has already done an extensive writeup on the subject.

Since they don't have internet at the shop, I'll be printing this page and mailing to them along with my check.

And since this is the first typewriter-themed post I've been able to do in a while, I thought it fitting to close with an excerpt from a book where the typewriter plays a crucial role.

Cover art of the version I own.
I'd been on the lookout for this book for awhile. I loved the James Caan movie, and since I'm a writer, I love to read King stories that feature writers. This one goes into great detail about the mental process of a writer who's been chained to a certain character for years, a character he doesn't like. He wants to break out of his mold and write other stories, but his fans keep demanding more of the same (something King has talked about several times). This is the book that King wrote after his fantasy novel The Eyes of the Dragon was rejected by the fan base. 

About two years ago, OzTypewriter wrote an article featuring the novel and the film here.

The novel's protagonist, Paul Sheldon, is from the era when electric typewriters were the industry standard. In fact, in the first few chapters (as he drifts in and out of consciousness while recovering from a severe car wreck) he reminisces fondly about his IBM and the correcting tape.

We all know the premise of the story: best-selling author gets kidnapped by a psychotic nurse who claims to be his "number one fan," and then forces him to write another book reviving a character he killed off.

The typewriter in the novel and movie is the ubiquitous Royal 10, by far one of the most iconic typewriters ever made, even though it debuted exactly 100 years ago.

One of the few machines I'd be willing to drop serious cash on...assuming it worked and looked this pretty.

What I like about the novel is how the typewriter takes on a personality of its own. Sheldon is kept on drugs while being held hostage, and as a result, he hallucinates...a lot. It's so bad that the machine appears to grin at him (this is supposed to be a reference to the type basket, but on later models like the KHM and KMM, it could be the paraph underscoring the Royal logo). The machine taunts him, daring him to outdo himself, to write a great book and stay alive.

Many subsequent publications feature a typewriter on the cover of the novel, but they're usually a direct descendant of the Royal 10, like the KHM or KMM. Experienced collectors can tell immediately, even if only by the shape of the silhouette. I'm already half way though, and even though I know how it ends, I'm enjoying it.

Meanwhile, I've taken up flash fiction. These little gems of fiction are about 300-1000 words long. You could fit one on a single sheet of paper if you type single space. Writers get lots of ideas or concepts that can't be fleshed out into full-length novels or traditional short stories. Just one joke or a single "ah ha!" moment in the middle of a scene. I think it's the perfect way to try out a new typer.

Tune in next week when I talk about my very first repair project!

Power to the pen!


  1. What a great experience at Jones. And the price is very reasonable. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Loved the fight scene in that movie when the Royal is used as a lethal weapon (not that I'm condoning it)!

  3. Oh that book is amazing! I haven't watched the movie yet, because I'm too scared it will ruin the book... You think I should?

    1. Spider, I watched the movie years before I read the book. I think the novel has many things to offer that the movie could not, due to time constraints. For example, while writing Misery's Return, you get to see inside Sheldon's thought process and learn a thing or two about the writing trade. I say go for it!