|Standard Typewriter SHOOTOUT -- January 2006|
|Today, my father and I decided to check out some recent acquisitions, and compared them to some older machines that we'd used. Eventually, we ended up testing out a number of machines for all sorts of qualities. The results of this "shootout" between makes and models is seen here. This is in no way a complete representation of all machines, and is not meant to imply that every model of a given brand will be similar. It's for fun.|
Our first competitor is this Remington Model 16 Standard, with serial number Z622655J, manufactured in 1938. (Note that this model ran from about 1932 to just about a year past this machine's build date.) Labeled 'Remington Paragon.'
The overall impression when compared with the others was one of mechanical brutality. That's not a bad thing -- there's much to be said for the harsh feel and long key-stroke. It strikes a powerful blow, seemingly good for manifold or carbon work. Our feeling was that with practice, we could work up good speed on this machine. With practice.
|For being made as late as 1938, the machine does have a few retrograde features. The very old-style ribbon spool arrangement is retained, as you can see through the open side door. This makes ribbon changes an order of magnitude harder and dirtier than all the others at the time. There's also no paper bail; the machine has two sliding paper holders with rollers. However, each holder has its own spring-tensioned release lever at each side, right near the platen. Margin release is actually the silver device below the front scale.|
|The machine does have key-set tabs, but they cannot be cleared from the keyboard. There is a lever high on the back of the machine for clearing stops, and it will not only clear individual stops but will clear all stops when held in along with left-to-right carriage motion. None of the others tested today had such an "all-clear" feature. We found the machine to be primitive overall, but actually enjoyable in a sense. One other "plus" -- it has shift-lock keys on both sides.|
This Royal No. 10 is actually the very first model (or submodel) produced during the years of transition that eventually led to the long-lived KMM model. You see, this Royal No. 10 is a different beast from most: It's segment-shifted.
The machine has serial number SX-1616291, and was built in 1932. The conversion to basket shift required alteration in the type-bar mechanism and its geometry, with the result that the feel is not quite the same as the previous No. 10 Royals. It feels a bit lighter on the touch than the earlier units (even with the touch regulator dialed up) -- but the addition of the easy shifting means that high speed can be obtained more easily, with less tiring of the little fingers. Our impression of this machine compared to the others today was little different from my usual impression of any Royal machine except the flatbeds: Average. In other words, not the sharpest or crispest feel, but not the dullest. Not the easiest shift mechanism, but not the hardest. Simply a good, hard-working typewriter that will take abuse and work the same for decades.
|1936 UNDERWOOD STANDARD
For the moment, since the model name and number system for Underwood Standards defies description, we'll just refer to this machine by its date of manufacture.
This machine is serial number 4490166-11. You can see the number 11 on both sides of the paper table as well. This refers to platen length, which on this example is actually 10 -5/8 inches. This yields a writing line of about 9 inches. Our impression is that it's sized for old-style 8 x 10 paper.
Extremely crisp typing action on this machine. An impression of speed -- and our feeling was that you could achieve higher speed with practice than you could on the Remington 16, and the feel is more refined.
|This machine has key-set tabs, with the ability to both set and clear stops from the keyboard. It cannot clear all stops at once, though. Use of a true paper bail quickly sets it apart from the Remington 16 tested (which also did not have card holders.) Naturally, the front-set margin stops are a convenience if you don't mind the slight obstruction of the typing, although we should note the presence of these on the Remington 16 as well. Shift action is easier than the Remington, harder than the Royal. Controls are all conveniently arranged. Like the Remington, this machine gives the impression of a powerful type-bar blow, which is a delightfully unrefined sort of feel for those used to either newer standards, or used to portables.
It's hard not to like typing on this machine.
|1947 UNDERWOOD STANDARD
This machine is often referred to as the "Rhythm Touch" model; this advertising name was developed to help indicate Underwood's conversion from carriage to segment shift. This occurred just before this machine was built; it is serial number 12-6250763. Platen is 12-5/8 inches, with an effective writing line of about 11 inches. This is an optional carriage width.
If this machine and that seen above had no labeling, you might wonder if the same company built them. The change in typing feel that went along with the conversion to segment shift is quite incredible. This machine has that "brand new pair of scissors" feel that some others do -- like the Remington 17 (not tested on this day.) The touch is wholly different from the carriage-shifted Underwoods, and while most every other feature on the machine is the same, this large difference really makes this an entirely different machine from the other Underwood we put through its paces.
|We very much enjoyed testing out all the machines, but the final analysis was that if there was a large amount of real work to be done, this would be the machine we'd pick out of the grouping available. The ease of operation of this machine compared with the others made enough difference that there was little question. From an enjoyability standpoint, we'd pick the Remington 16 next -- but, again, if there were real work to be done, the archaic feel of the Remington 16 would doom it, and we'd move to the Royal No. 10. Indeed, one of the greatest factors proved out to be ease of shifting, after we'd run some paper through all the machines. As far as various corporate histories are concerned, relative to this ease of shift and market position, the presence of a 1932 segment-shift Royal alongside the carriage-shifted 1936-1938 Underwood and Remington machines seems telling.|
|We're totally aware of the fact that this comparison wasn't scientific. Or, maybe even fair. But it did give us a chance to really work out several common, or fairly common machines and develop some really intimate knowledge about them that we wouldn't have if we just stared at them. Already, we've decided to do more such things, and naturally you'll see the results on this site.|
|All of the machine you see here are in good mechanical condition -- and the 1947 Underwood was refurbished on purchase. None of the machines had any type alignment problems, and we did note that all of them have slotted segments (as opposed to many earlier machines which had individually-hung type bars with separate bearings.) The tabulators on these machines all operated at about the same speeds, and the only one that operates with enough carriage speed to threaten to move the whole machine is the Royal. Naturally, the machines with both key-set and key-cleared tab stops are always nicer to use; the only wholly-manual setup on any of these was the Royal No. 10, although we note that it is the oldest by a number of years. Carriage return on the Underwood machines is my father's favorite style, with the author displaying no real preference for one over the other. The margin setting on the Underwood and Remington machines is perfectly easy, with that on the Royal being a bit less-so due to the mounting of the margin sets behind the paper table (which flips forward on this machine, rather than pulling up and over the back as it did on earlier machines, such as my 1926 Royal No. 10 which was investigated for comparison with the 1932 Royal but not employed in the testing.|