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13-8-2017 08:11:43  #11

Re: Wintergreen oil for hard rubber

Repartee wrote:

Where did you get your wintergreen oil? 

Amazon. There are a bunch if people who make it.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. -- Ernest Hemingway

13-8-2017 08:18:40  #12

Re: Wintergreen oil for hard rubber

Repartee wrote:

Wearing a distant class in organic chemistry I note they are both based on a single benzene ring with doodads (not accepted nomenclature). 

Just like I said, this process obviously has something to do with the light side or dark side of the force.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. -- Ernest Hemingway
     Thread Starter

27-7-2018 11:15:49  #13

Re: Wintergreen oil for hard rubber

tricnomistal wrote:

Hi everyone. I've asked a fair number of questions on this forum, so today I've decided to change it up and post a tip of my own that I found while experimenting. I haven't seen anything on this forum about it, so I thought I would throw it out ther, because I know a lot of pepole have asked about refreshing the rubber parts on their types. So, here's what I found.

I've spent the last couple days soaking a hardened platen in a mixture of wintergreen oil and alcohol, and the results have been better than expected. I discovered this on a few automotive sites where people were attempting to refresh hardened rubber hoses on their vehicles. Because I'm no chemists, all I can say is that some mystical property of wintergreen oil has some sort of power to return the elasticity to rubber. I'm not sure if we're dealing with the light side or dark side of the force here, but it works pretty well.

The platen I used was off my Remington model 5 portable and it felt as hard and smooth as a PVC pipe. Two days soaking in a mixture of alcohol and wintergreen oil and it's got enough give for my fingernail to leave an impression and it feels softer overall. (Not to mention it smells like a Christmas tree). And I didn't even use a high concentration of wintergreen oil. Most of the people I read about used a 2:1 ratio of alcohol to wintergreen. Mine was probably closer to 10:1 or 15:1. The alcohol is necessary to help the oil penetrate the rubber, or so I'm told. Either way, the process takes between a few hours and a week (after which time there won't be any more softening so there's no fear of over softening.) I'll see if it lasts, but I'm hopeful.

The only downside to this all--wintergreen oil gets a bit pricey. But I think it's not terrible. Hopefully that can be of use to someone out there.

I've just had great success with this on the rock-hard platen of a banged up old SM3. After 3 days in a 3:1 mixture of IPA and synthetic Methyl Salicylate, the platen rubber is very supple. I don't think the diameter of the platen has increased much if at all.

I'm not 100% sure I'd do it again however. The SM3 sounds amazingly quiet now and it's nice to know that I'm possibly not damaging the type heads each time they strike, but... the problem of the full-stops punching holes in the paper as not gone away, and OH that smell... It doesn't smell minty to me, it smells like Germolene and while that's nice in small doses, I've been smelling it so much in the last few days that I really don't like sitting at the typewriter for more than 10 minutes!

The only source of Methyl Salycilate in my living room is the platen in my SM3, and as soon as I enter the room the smell is so strong!

Did you find that this lessens over time? And did the rubber remain pliable after the smell went?


11-8-2018 08:57:54  #14

Re: Wintergreen oil for hard rubber

The smell was so unbearable that I took the platen out again and put it in a tub of warm water overnight, then in front of a fan for a day to see if I could speed up the loss of methyl salicylate molecules from the outer surface of the rubber. It didn't really seem to make much difference, but anyway, 2 weeks later and the smell has now become bearable. Almost pleasant, even.

So I would definitely consider this again.

In terms of cost, the bottle of isopropyl alcohol was £14 and the synthetic methyl salicylate was £6, so it cost £20 (that included postage). I used 1/4 bottle of synthetic methyl salicylate and 1/3 bottle of isopropyl alcohol, so it cost about £5.50 in terms of what was actually used. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the used liquid could restore another platen, so maybe the cost per platen could be as low as £2.50 ish.

I had a quote for refacing the platen of the SM3 and it was about £115, so this alternative is very cost effective but does need to be considered carefully. Do you want your home stinking or have you got somewhere out of the way to do it? If you have a much-loved typewriter is it worth getting the platen recovered instead? Are you going to be selling the typewriter on - if so, you'll have to mention the smell as it is going to raise eyebrows!

For me it made sense - my SM3 was cheap, extremely tatty and full of crud, leaves, dead insects etc and I just wanted to restore it to a condition whereby I could use it. So I gave it a blow out with an air gun, worked the typebars till they returned freely, used soap & water on the key caps and shell, and used tissue and elbow grease to clean up the chrome trim. I also put rubber spacers between the mechanism and the casing as the originals had perished so the return lever was scraping against the ribbon cover. Also I fixed a couple of other issues - a bent paper support; auto ribbon reverse and other stuff. After all that it actually looked pretty good and typed extremely nicely, both in terms of key action and the printed characters.

So it made sense to go the extra mile and restore the platen, but it didn't make sense to pay £115 after only spending £30 on the machine itself. The platen was rock hard and I was using triple backing material - Mylar, nitrile-coated nylon, and paper, which was getting a bit silly and it was awkward aligning the sheets.

It's now a dream - my nicest-action typer, very quiet and very fast. I have a few more old typewriters that I quite like but they have rock-hard platens, so am likely to be giving them the same treatment.


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