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28-7-2020 21:43:52  #1

Keeping Things Original

Greetings All

Does changing the platen on a vintage typewriter affect it's originality? My reason for asking this question is I bought a 1960 Olympia SM-4 from the daughter of its original owner who was a secretary at a doctor's office. The unit was not very well advertised on eBay, just 5 blurry pictures, but I could see that it had cursive type so bought it.

Needless to say I gave it a full cleaning and servicing, but the platen is hard as rock. I just bought a platen from another eBay'er who was parting out an SM-4 and had the platen sent to J.J. Short to be re-covered. If I install this re-covered platen on my 100% original SM-4, will that detract from its originality, or should I have its platen re-covered in order to keep it 100% original? Thanks and all the best,



29-7-2020 03:54:24  #2

Re: Keeping Things Original

It  really shouldn't matter which platen you fit.  Back in the day, when these were sent out to specialist firms by typewriter shops, you may or may not have got the same platen back from your supplier.  And no-one bothered because it would be the correct platen which would fit your customer's machine.


29-7-2020 08:37:27  #3

Re: Keeping Things Original

Further to Tom's comment, what proof is there that the platen on the doctor's office SM4 is the one that originally came with the typewriter? 

If you end up fitting the renewed platen from the other SM4 you will still have the 'original' one, and can keep it with the machine. On the flip side, why not just have the first platen renewed? It's a wear 'n' tear item that is supposed to be serviced; would a vintage car be any less original if you replaced a fan belt?

All of this assumes that you plan to type with it, regularly. If it's main function will be for display or infrequent use, you can just leave the platen as is. I would just treat it to a few courses of rubber rejuvenator and use a couple of backing sheets.

Stay Safe! 

29-7-2020 11:02:39  #4

Re: Keeping Things Original

Hi Tom and Uwe

Thank you for your learned answers to my question. The main reason why I bought the second SM-4 platen is this.

I was given an SM-4 with standard typeface, so decided to clean it up and donate it to a charity auction. While reassembling it after cleaning, I noticed the platen was fractionally too short and didn't fit properly which seemed a little odd. Ended up drilling a second set of holes in the right hand platen support so the line advance gear would engage the ratchet.

Later on in the year, I was servicing an SM-7 an noticed the platen was slightly shorter than an SM-4 platen, so compared the two. Sure enough, the SM-4 had an SM-7 platen which is why it didn't fit like it should.

When I found the SM-4 platen on eBay for a mere pittance and only a few dollars to ship it to J.J. Short, I figured I'd have this one re-covered to install on my cursive SM-4 and put its platen on the SM-4 to be donated. I would then end up with one spare platen for an SM-7.

As for the re-covered platen on the cursive SM-4, my niece loves that typeface and really enjoys the letters I type to her every 2 or 3 months. I know I will use that SM-4 a lot more once it has the renewed platen. Hope this makes sense,


     Thread Starter

30-7-2020 03:40:17  #5

Re: Keeping Things Original

Possibly not in your case, but the SM2/3/4/5/7 platen is fitted with a large diameter washer on the right to take up the gap between the end of the platen and the bearing in the RH carriage cheek.  I have come across machines with the washer missing (and corresponding platen side play) , or sometimes two thinner washers in the same location.  The two thinner washers could well be to compensate for production tolerances (fractionally shorter platen).


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