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Shrink Tube Typewriter Platen Re-covering DIY: Hermes 3000

I posted this to the Facebook Antique Typewriter Maintenance group last week, but nobody had tried the shrinktube platen re-covering method on an H3K yet…

So, since nobody had tried, I needed to do it myself to make sure that the slightly larger-diameter platen would still work within the tolerances of the Hermes 3000 carriage. Fortunately, C.A. Bennett had done the DIY shrinktube method on some of her machines, and had some tubing left over that she generously sent to me to use for the experiment. The smallest roll you can buy of this stuff is 25ft, so if you do this, you may want to share the cost with a buddy unless you have 20+ platens to re-cover. (:

Easy, my 1964 Hermes 3000, has a pretty good platen in her already, but for the purposes of the experiment, she gets to be the guinea pig anyway.

Platen removal/reinstallation from the upcoming Hermes 3000, Media 3, Baby and Rocket Typewriter Repair Bible.

Once I had the platen out, I cut a length of the shrink tube a little bit longer than the platen is. About a half-inch extra on each end.

Alternate heating the tubing with rolling the platen on a clean, smooth surface to help with uniformity. start with the creased edges of the tube so you round those out first.

When the platen cools down and you are happy with the uniformity of the covering, trim excess tubing from ends of platen and replace into machine.

So yeah, it fits just fine and works great. Not as good as a professional full re-covering like you get at J.J. Short, but it’ll do if you’re cheap. It does quiet down the typing, pads the action a bit and helps with paper-cutting. It doesn’t solve it completely, as I noticed on my Olympia SM3, whose platen I also re-covered today, but it helps.

Where do you get this magnificent stuff? You can get it in rolls of 25ft or 100ft here. Look for the 3:1 shrink tubing that is 1 1/2″ to 1/2″, the order number is HS3-150-25FT for the 25ft roll. You can get it any color you want, pretty much, but the black one I used is HS3-150-25FT-BK.

Updated: November 19, 2017 — 7:31 pm


Add a Comment
  1. Awesome post! I’m so glad it worked out! 😊

  2. Congratulations on your project.

    I’ve never done any H3k, but I have done a few others. First time I did turn down the diameter on a lathe (sanding not using a cutter blade). Then I got lazy and did not turn down the platens. I think the spring loaded paper trays and pressure rollers make up the difference for larger diameters. Tom Furrier has a good step by step on changing out an H3k platen on his blog Life in a Typewriter Shop.

    BTW, you can get heat shrink with adhesive inside and it will stick fast much better than plain heat shrink, but I’ve not noticed any difference in use. I generally have the weather proof (adhesive kind) for working on antennas and I got some really thick stuff to try from one of the linemen at the phone company.

    1. Yep, I saw the adhesive ones, but the non-adhesive works fine, and I feel like adhesive would just get messy if I wanted to strip off the layer at some point in the future to re-cover again.

      There does seem to be a lot of leeway in how big the platen can be, I was mostly worried about fit, but I can imagine that there will be cases where the extra 1mm or so will necessitate re-adjusting things like escapement trip & other settings that depend on the distance between slug & platen. Didn’t seem to be a problem this time, though.

  3. Cool. I’ve used heat shrink to recover an Adler Special, and it typed fine. It’s not a typewriter I use much, so I can’t say how long the heat shrink will last. Not as long as a real new platen, I bet, but it is pretty tough. This is not a bad DIY solution.

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this method bandied about the Typosphere before, I have a vague memory or either Clemens or notagain doing it years ago. I need one of them to pipe up and say what the longevity of the method can be, or I guess just wait a few years and find out myself. :D

      1. Oh, the other machine I did this on was my pimped-out Purple Prose Producer. I used purple heat shrink, of course. I type on this one on special occasions. The typing has definitely left some indentations on the heat shrink, but it hasn’t broken or anything.

        1. I wonder if you can smooth out the indents by applying a little heat? In any case, it’s good to hear that it lasts a few years without sagging or coming loose. Hopefully it lasts acceptably long under normal use too. (:

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