Monday 4 November 2013

Dampening the Sound of My Smith-Corona Galaxie II's Platen. I Think It Worked.

Here's the aluminium platen tube/core once the cotton was removed. Not much to see, but you can tell that the opening doesn't allow for too much clearance. This was going to be a fiddly job, to say the least.

Here's the bucket of hot water. Waste of time, but at least I now knew what wouldn't work. One of Thomas Edison's assistants once complained about the various methods they had used in order to try and get the first telephone working. I'm paraphrasing here, but he said something along the lines of ;" We've tried a hundred different ways, without success."
Edison replied; "Well, at least we know a hundred different ways that don't work."

Here's the spring-loaded metal thingy (not a technical term) that clips around the platen end to hold the other metal thingy in place. If you attempt this procedure yourself, don't lose this thing.

The rubber sheeting was three millimetres thick. I should buy a whole lot more of it and make a Batsuit.

After a while, the dining room smelled like a tyre factory. My fingers turned black as I handled this rubber. I cut out a bunch of these discs, and then all manner of fun (that was sarcasm) cramming them into the platen.

Yeah, I can't do this trick with my tongue, either.

So anyway, I grabbed a 10 cent coin and used it as a template for the next batch of discs. These coins measure approx. 23mm in diameter. I don't know how many of these I cut out. I just kept cutting and pushing them into the platen with the coat-hanger. These smaller-sized discs were a perfect fit. Looking into the platen, I could see that they sat nice and flush against all sides. It was Scott K (The Filthy Platen) who suggested that whatever I filled the platen tube with would have to press against the inside of the tube in order to absorb the sound. This is why I decided against using silicon rubber or roof sealant.
I tamped the discs down with the coat-hanger and a large screwdriver. I'm sure I left more than a few scratches inside the platen tube.
Here's the coat-hanger 'tool' that I used;

I made sure to leave enough clearance so that I could fit that metal spring thingy back in. This left about an inch-and-a-half on the end of the platen where I couldn't fit any more rubber. Hopefully, it would be enough. I also noticed that the platen was now noticeably heavier than when I started. Of course it was. It had enough rubber in it to make a spare tyre.

When I was done fitting these discs into the platen, I gave it all one last hard press and fitted the platen back onto the Galaxie II. I have to hand it to Smith-Corona for making these platen assemblies so easy to remove.

I loaded a small sheet of paper into the typewriter and started typing...and couldn't tell the difference at all.
Ticked off, I put the typewriter back into its case, tidied up the mess I'd made, and walked away from it.
Here's all of the equipment that I used;

The next day, I got out the Galaxie II, loaded a full-sized A4 sheet of paper into it and began typing as much nonsense as I could get onto the page. I wrote about three lines. Still not sure, I kept typing.

This time, I noticed a very definite difference in the sound. It was considerably muted compared to how it sounded before I filled it. Maybe I was tired the day before, after spending three or four hours on this project.

Whereas the typewriter used to produce a loud 'thwack' for about half a line before it dulled down into the 'typewriter sound' that we all know, now it sounded a lot more muted. The more I typed, the more I noticed the difference, as my mind dug up the memory of how it used to sound. I noticed the 'noise' of it didn't bounce off the walls the way it did prior to this procedure.

I should have used the voice recorder app on my iPod to record a 'before and after' of the sound. No matter. I can definitely tell a difference in the sound.

In typing the first page of this typecast, I was now certain that there was a difference. The platen no longer started off loud. It was an even sound throughout. Actually, that's not true. The first couple of inches still sounded a little louder, but this quickly settled into a lower 'tap, tap, tap'  as each typeslug hit the platen. Remember, I had to leave a little clearance for the metal thingy.

In terms of this being a reversible procedure, I have a feeling that it is, but it would require quite a bit of elbow grease, another coat-hanger tool with a flattened, hooked end to dislodge the discs, and a pair of long-nosed pliers to wrench them out of the platen.
Although, I doubt I'll have to worry about that.
The more I use the typewriter, the more I realise that this procedure worked. It now sounds a lot more like most of my other typewriters. If I ever get the platen re-coated, that will probably quieten it down even further.

Yes, it was indeed a fiddly, pains-taking job, but the end result was worth it. I just wish I'd known the exact diameter at the start. This would have made it a lot more straightforward.
Still, I can't complain about the result.
Definitely made a difference.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Congratulations on your platen sound reduction. Nice work.

    I have not tried anything on either of mine yet. I just finished an Underwood enough to add to the collection and use. I am far behind on projects and posts. When I try one of my aluminum platens I will be sure to let you know.

  2. Congrats on the fix! You totes deserve mango and icecream. Mmmmmm.

  3. Congratulations! I read your previous post on sound-damping the platen and am glad to see that it's a success. I wonder if Clark Rubber would consider offering the service to recover platens if asked? Or they may know of someone who could do the job.

  4. Congrats on pioneering a new Galaxie trick (:

  5. How gutsy, cheers to you!
    If I ever attempted anything like that, I would probably not be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

  6. I've got a Super Sterling that I love using but is the loudest typewriter I have. I think I'll try this out. Hopefully it's one of the Galaxie style machines with an easily removable platen. :)

  7. could always try covering the platen with an inner tube form a bike? Works a treat for me, and if there's a bit of leeway in the platen bay area, it shouldn't be a problem diameter-wise. I've done it on a Remington and a Hermes and it makes a big difference in sound and impressions. cheers, rino

  8. Ah! Excellent work. I don't think we have scientifically proven why it works, or how well, but you have given me some hope!
    Also, I have found Clark rubber stuff useful, but my local one never seemed to carry that 3mm thick sheet. I need to go and find a bigger store I think! I've been using several products from them to fix typewriters (check out Nat's blog, I've been recovering rollers for the last 8 or so months with stuff I bought from there).
    Also, I saw something at my local Clark that gave me hope that I could get the materials to recover platens there.

  9. Lovely story and glad it had a happy ending. I'm scratching my head to think if any of my typewriters suffer from sonorous platens, but can't. Maybe it is a Galaxie thing. Also, impressed that Rino's had the courage to remove an H3K platen and the dexterity to reinstall it!

  10. @ Bill M, it was a dog of a job to get started, but worth it in the end.

    @ Nat, Haven't seen a mango in this house since last summer!
    I had Apple Crumble with double thick cream instead. That hit the spot.

    @ inkleaves, I asked them if they do custom work and they said 'no'. Shame because the sheet of rubber that I bought looked to be the same thickness as what was on the platen already. I briefly thought about attempting to recover the platen myself, but if I botched it up, I'd be left with a great looking, but unuseable typewriter.

    @ Ted & Ton, thanks, gents. It was worth attempting, given how easily the platen comes off the Galaxie.

    @ Nick, worth doing if you have a very noisy machine, especially if it's a nice one to write on.

    @ Rino, I remember your post on this bike tube method. Did you sort out the issue with the seam along the edge of the tubing? Or wasn't it an issue?

    @ Scott K, I used the typewriter to hammer out a 2 page letter and it worked a treat. Definite improvement.

    @ Rob B, it seems that S-C used aluminium tubing for their platens in the 1950s and '60s and this appears to be the reason for the loudness. And yes, I doubt I'll be doing any platen removal on any of my other machines. Unless it's just a matter of removing a couple of screws.

  11. I don't have any problems with the tube seam - it's pretty minor. I'm sure that if I got the verniers out I could detect a very small raise, and maybe the feed rollers might notice, but on the whole, the improvement is so good it hardly matters. Also, I figure that in the long process of hardening, the platen will also have shrunk somewhat over time.

    1. Good call, RB. I'm gonna have to give it a shot. First up, the Royal QDL. See if I can make it a 'Quieter De Luxe'.