Platens, Writers, Readers, and Livers

I’ve been getting some questions about platen recovering recently. Last year, I recovered a Remington Portable #2 platen and an Underwood 5 platen that were in sorry shape.  In their cracked condition, the bad platens made the typewriters unusable.  I thought: well, what’s the worst I can do?

Since I am into typewriters for the journey, I decided to recover the platens myself with heat shrink tubing instead of sending them out. Keep in mind, Steve Dade and JJ Short will do a much more professional job on your bad platen than you or me. Regarding DIY platen recovering, there are a lot of naysayers and opinion-havers out there.  However, if you are into typewriters for funzies and personal growth, heat shrink recovering is an entertaining project.  I have found that I have accumulated many interesting tools (electronic calipers, heat gun, durometer) and materials during this journey of personal growth and self discovery.

I used about five layers of heat shrink polyolefin tubing for the platens—1.5″ for the Remington Portable and 2″ for the Underwood 5. A gentleman with whom that I have been corresponding used bicycle inner tube as layer under his heat shrink. It looks really good in the pictures he sent, but he still needs to reassemble.  I am interested in his final results.

So my platen recovering  was over a year ago: how did all that work out? The Remington Portable went back to its owner and then probably to a charity, so I don’t know its current status. However,  my Underwood lives in my garage workshop, so I stepped out there to see how it’s doing 1+ years down the road.

The 2″ heat shrink produced a very hard platen on the Underwood, and I got a 96-98 reading by my cheapo durometer.  It’s a little chilly in the workshop, so the platen may be harder in the cold.

The imprint is still good.

I think the heat shrink worked out fine.  I don’t think I would recover an intact platen, only a cracked or broken one, since the polyolefin heat shrink that I used produces a very hard platen that may be too loud for some people.

Beyond platens, I have been keeping a low profile online and avoiding the internet for mental hygiene reasons and because I have a bunch of different projects that need my undistracted focus. One of those projects is to finally finish up my Great American Novel that has been years in the thinking.  Folks, it’s a historical romance. Historical romance is my guilty pleasure, my secret shame, my sin, my soul.  I want to write something that I want to read, and historical romance is that.

I am a hyper-recursive writer, writing bald and fast first. I then go back over and over and over again. My writing progresses in three stages:

Right now I am in stage 2 with a first draft completed. It is very unlikely that I will ever get to stage 3.  Right now, it’s so bad, it’s embarrassing. I won’t even let my husband look at it, and he saw me give birth twice. There’s a lot of work to do here.

Last thing: if you are a writer or a reader or even just a life liver, check out the following book:

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders

This book is so sweet and humane. I cried in parts, it was that good. And don’t take my word for it, here’s a review:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jan/06/a-swim-in-a-pond-in-the-rain-by-george-saunders-review-rules-for-good-writing-and-more

That’s it for now.  No new typewriter projects for the time being—well, unless some fascinating project typewriter crosses my path. I’ve got to get back to writing, reading, and living.

8 thoughts on “Platens, Writers, Readers, and Livers

  1. Darrin Davis says:

    I love following along in your typewriter journey. I absolutely adore the way you write. Your quirky, hilarious and open-hearted ways are wonderful. My heart skipped a beat when I saw your mention of Saunders’ new book, which I am also reading. He is my favourite author, and it ALL makes sense to me now, knowing that you cherish him also. 🙂 Thanks for doing the good work.

    Like

    • I keep bumping into members of the George Saunders Fan Club. I love his writing – so funny and so compassionate. He really is an inspiration. I want to be George Saunders when I grow up. I think I am going to have to type him a thank you note.

      Like

  2. Another great tutorial and 1-year-later result report. (:
    I’ve not had any platens as bad off as the ones you’ve done, so I’ve mainly been sleeving hard platens with the shrink tube, and adjusting out the extra dimension using ring & cylinder adjustment. I’m liking the results.
    PS: keep it up with the bodice-ripper, practice makes perfect!

    Like

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