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Softening Vintage Typewriter Platens?

Discussion in 'Skills and Smarts' started by Atterbury Dodd, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. Hey Everybody!

    Just finished cleaning/oiling and replacing the drawstring on a 1930's Royal portable typewriter. Everything is working great, but the platen is a bit hard. It looks good but it makes a lot of noise. Is there a good way to restore it to it's original supple state? I've heard of putting DOT3 brake fluid on it but that sounds like something that could damage it. Help please!
  2. Look for a chemical product called "rubber rejuvenator" or "rubber revitalizer." This is a vile-smelling formula that basically dissolves the hard, glazed surface on rubber rollers and platens and gives you a reasonably resilient "new" surface to work with. Have lots of clean rags to wipe the platen down -- this is a filthy, dirty job, because not only will you get the old glazed rubber surface but also however many decades of ink and dirt that have accumulated.

    It's best to remove the platen to do this job -- you don't want to get the solution on the paint or any plastic knobs. Make sure you also do the little drive rollers underneath the platen -- these are critical to the paper feed, and if they're glazed and slippery you'll still have problems.

    Keep in mind that the platen won't be spongy soft even if you do this -- typewriter platens were pretty solid even when new. You were expected to use at least two sheets of paper and a sheet of carbon paper in an office typewriter, and that thickness of paper absorbs much of the force from the keystrokes.

    If your platen and rollers have flat spots, there are places where you can get them recovered. Always remember to store your typewriter with all platen tensions disengaged to keep flats from developing.
    Atterbury Dodd likes this.
  3. Great advice Lizzie, thanks!

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