Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quick (and Dirty) Platten Refreshing

Nick Beland asked me to expound on the platten cleaning method I'd adapted from a post by McTaggart and used on my Olympia Monica. I had an opportunity to give an improved version a try this evening as I was pounding through my Christmas notes, so here's a brief share of the method and the results.

This Christmas note marathon has been a good opportunity to rotate through the stable of typers and update the sticky notes on the cases, mentioning any needed fixes, the typeface, ribbon color, SN, date, model, whether a keeper or a gifter, and so on. This afternoon I got around to a 1957 Royalite and re-discovered its paper feed hesitancy. The only way to get it to feed was to release the feed rollers, push the paper in a bit, then clamp them down again. Same deal with either the heavy 90lb stationary I was using, or copy paper. A good subject on which to try my platten rejuvenation method. The platten on this machine is rock hard, but the feed rollers are round and have some life in them.

That spray can of Max Rubber Rejuvenator is basically the solvent, xylene, and a propellant. I've found it useful for freeing gunked up areas, like the segment, and also for cleaning the type slugs. I found it with a search on Amazon. About $9 plus shipping. I will probably get another can or two when it is used up. Do use it with plenty of ventilation. 

As you see, I first fed in a sheet of copy paper to keep the crumbs from dropping into the machine. Then I sprayed the length of the platten, and scrubbed it back and forth lengthwise with a fresh area on a piece of 150-grit wet/dry sandpaper. I then rotated the platten a bit and repeated until the whole thing was treated

A horrible-looking mess results, but it cleans up pretty well with water. After carefully rolling the paper out, wiping the platten the while with damp paper towel to pick up adhering crumbs, I used another piece of damp towel to clean up what smears were left around the platten. I then ran a few more sheets of copy paper through to pick up any remaining crumbs or moisture.

The effectiveness?  Not spectacular, but the platten does grab just a bit better - sheets do start to feed now with a light pressure without the need to open the paper release lever and slide them in. And the platten does look better. I will use this method again on reluctant feeders.

You will note that, wuss that I am, the job was done with the platten in place. Having lost or damaged those tiny set screws before, as well as rarely knowing what I am doing, I am hesitant to disassemble unless absolutely necessary. Kind of a risk/benefit analysis sort of thing.


  1. Thanks for the pictures and explanation! I'm really going to have to try this now.

  2. Thanks for the demo. The paper to catch crumbs is a good idea.

    Then there's the brake fluid method. Once the platen is clean, wipe a little DOT3 brake fluid on it, let it sit overnight. It has varying results but has never caused any damage in my experience. It helps the grip by softening the exterior of the rubber.

  3. I've never seen that brand rejuvenator before. I use a similar method, but I remove the platen and turn it on a lathe to rough it up a bit before using rejuvenator or brake fluid on it. Sometimes I just clean/rejuvenate the platen in place without roughing it with ScotchBrite or sand paper.

    I have also used heat shrink on rollers and platens. Problem is that the platen should be turned down to compensate for the thickness of the heat shrink.