The platen on my Remington Portable no.1 was pitted and hard and not very good. I tried scrubbing it with Cif kitchen cleaner, which worked a little bit in making the rubber more grippy, but the typing was LOUD. So I sent off for some heat-shrink tubing. This stuff was 35mm diameter unshrunk, and about £3.50 f0r half a metre, enough for two platens. Or a mistake and a retry. My platen was a slim 26mm in diameter after my scrubbing – I didn’t measure it before the scrub but the difference was unlikely to be measureable with the calipers I have anyway. I spent about 15 minutes this morning with a hairdryer on full-blast with a test-strip of the tubing on a rolling pin – to absolutely no effect whatsoever. Not having a heat-gun, and not wanting to buy one specially for this job, I put the electric grill on my oven on high and shoved the rolling pin under. Bingo! Shrunk before my very eyes. The rubber, not the rolling pin. Almost in a fever of excitement (really) I prepared the platen – ie, take it out of the machine, and shove it inside the tubing. The shrinking process was really quite simple, but you need to have a pair of oven gloves. I shrank the line-space end first because I had not taken off the metal whatsit doodah – no need, because it all comes out very easily. I lined up the end of the tubing with about a centimetre spare on the end, and turned the platen under the grill. I expect you could barbecue your platen as well. There was almost no smell of shrinking tubing. In fact the smell was less than that you get with cooking Fimo modelling clay. Excellent. Still, I had the windows open anyway.
After trimming with a Stanley knife, I put the platen on a baking tray and gently rolled the platen on that under the heat, taking it out every 30 seconds or so to check the progress. There was a moment of dodgy-looking unevenness going on in the centre of the platen, but it all smoothed out. Like magic!
Getting the platen back in is pretty easy. The new diameter of the platen is 27.1mm or so. I thought it might end up being more, but no.
Right, it’s not perfect. One of the problems with this machine is the lack of cylinder scale and paper fingers. But by ‘eck, this little typewriter is looking and feeling and typing so much better than it was a week ago. An extremely satisfying little renovation project. I also touched up the chipped paint with model-maker’s enamel and a tiny brush. Put some Sugru on the broken paper release lever to save my fingers from nasty cuts, and also fitted in a tiny bit of felt to realign the Q typebar:
Ok, so that’s it, I think I’m just about there with this typewriter. The typing is noticeably less noisy now with the new platen covering, and I am not fearful for the typebars on that hard surface. The only slightly peeving thing is that the punctuation marks still puncture a bit. Too much. But you can’t have it all!