About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Changing a SM-3/4 Platen

     A friend wanted to change the platen on her Olympia SM-4 and I said I would post instructions on how to do it because I think it is a project most people can do. All you need are two screwdrivers ( one medium flathead and one small blade flathead) and a flashlight. So let's get right to it.
     Let us do the left side first. Use the medium screwdriver to remove the left platen knob. The screw comes off, then pull the knob off. The second thing is to disengage the index detente. That is press down the chrome lever behind the left platen knob so that the platen rolls without clicking.

     Now over to the right side. First, remove two screws from the carriage end cover ( the front and top screws).

     This gives you room to remove the three small screws in the platen collar. You'll need the small screwdriver with a thin blade to remove these screws. Be careful not to lose them.

     That's great, now grab the right platen knob and pull the shaft out all the way of the machine. Now lift the platen out of the machine. It's best to lift the right end first and twist and pull. Now we just do everything in reverse. Put the new platen in, left end in first and twist and jiggle it to make sure it's seated in the index mechanism securely. Now you must put the platen shaft back into the machine. This is really the only tricky part and it's where the flashlight comes in. There's a mechanism inside the platen that the platen shaft must pass through but it's hard to do blindly. So, put the platen shaft halfway through the platen, then have someone shine the light in the right end of the platen. You then have to look into the hole in the left end so you can see in the platen and then guide the shaft through and out the left end.
that may sound like a lot but it really isn't and only takes a few minutes.

     Twist and push the right platen knob so it is securely in place. Now slowly turn the right knob so the holes in the platen collar line up with the holes in the platen shaft. When they do, install the three small screws in the platen collar. If you can magnetize the tip of the screwdriver it makes life easier. Just rub a magnet on the tip of the blade and screws will stick to it. When that's done, reinstall the two screws in the right side carriage end cover. Lastly, reinstall the left platen knob and push the index detente lever up so the roller clicks when you turn it. That's it. As platen replacements go, this one is a 5 on a 10 scale. If very platen popped out as easy as a SCM machine, I'd be out of a job.

     I finished fixing a customer repair this past week that was a lot of fun. It is a L.C. Smith & Bros. No.2 Standard Manual. It was in terrible shape with lots of rust , mechanical problems, no feet. This machine had the lowest serial number I've ever seen so I did some checking up on it.

     L.C. Smith & Bros. was founded in 1903 and in 1904 produced their first machine, the No.2. A year later they came out with the No.1, go figure. The serial number on this machine is 3651, meaning it was one of the first machines made by the company. The young owner and her mother were very excited about this. In order to repair the machine, I had to soak the machine several times over a couple of weeks. I then had to replace the drawband, repair the ribbon advance mechanism, make four new feet, replace the ribbon and polish the case and ta-dah! It works great. I could type at a pretty good clip. I was very happy with the way it came out.
    I had an exciting day today (Sunday) when I went on a long distance service call to Woods Hole on Cape Cod. I'm sorry I don't have the time to tell the story now but will next week because elderly gentleman and his wife are fasinating people (scientists).
     I really have to go now but thanks for checking it out. Everyone have a great week.


  1. Very cool old machine. Can't wait to hear about Woods Hole.

  2. Excellent how-to! Also, that LC Smith looks wonderful now, very nice job on the restoration (:

  3. Wonderful job on the LC Smith! I own #19901-2, but this one has got me beat by quite a few serial numbers.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. I messed up by not taking a before picture on the No.2. It really looked like someone pulled it out of a dumpster.

  5. Your repair instructions are so clear that even I might be able to understand them, if I ever need to replace a platen!

    It's very cool to see such an old machine brought back to working order. I was very fortunate that my recently-acquired Underwood No. 5, made in 1911, needed only a cleaning and some oiling. Someday I'd like to learn how to do minor repairs, and I thank you for this site!

  6. Thank you Tom, excellent instructions. We were able to get the new platen in there. I see what you mean, it's a little tricky, but totally do-able. How fantastic to have a new platen in this machine, makes a HUGE difference. Great to get such wonderful service and help from your shop even though I live so far away!

  7. Hi,

    thank you very much for this information on changing the SM-3 platen. Actually you do not need to pull out these three small screws completely. You have to loosen them only so far that the shaft goes out. Also I have no idea why you would need the flashlight. I cannot see through the platen anyway. It is much easier to do it with some finger feeling. Actually it is a very easy process, you push the platen a little bit down while you are pushing the shaft in, turning it - and snap, the shaft is inside. Very easy. It takes one minute doing it so. Great blog though :-)


  8. I was just working on my SM3 this afternoon and I was searching for information on the SM series when I found this post. Have you ever had to remove the impossible pressure / feed rollers?

    This post reminded my of one of my first expeditions into the typosphere blogs when I found your post on removing a Hermes 3000 platen. That is what got me started in the hobby. Thanks!

    BTW, I've not been there for many years, but I love Wood's Hole. To me it is one of the nicest places on the Cape.

    Bill M.

  9. Do you know if it's relatively the same for the Olympia SF?

  10. There were a couple washers sitting on the right side of the shaft on my SM4, on the inside of the machine, up against the platen. Just thought I'd mention that. Probably not critical, but still there....