Robert E. De Barth - Let's Talk Platens, Feed Rolls, Bail Rolls, and Finger Rolls

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Let's Talk Platens, Feed Rolls, Bail Rolls, and Finger Rolls

The platen and feed roll assembly is the paper feeds life blood of the typewriter. If these “rubber” items are hard and un yielding, they do a poor job of feeding the paper and securing it in the carriage of the typewriter. Time and the thousands of repeated impact of the type faces against the paper cause a great deal of oxidized hardening and loss of grip for the platen specifically.

In years past, since early in the 20th century, it was the practice to change platen and feed rolls on an annual basis to keep up the performance of the typewriter. Remember, those were the days that typewriters were used two to fours hours a day, every day. In some cases, like insurance underwriting, typewriters were used up to eight hours a day and even more.

Now, with typewriters being used as only support equipment, the workload only requires these changes as needed. Hard platens cause poor printing indicated by cutting the paper on the smaller closed loop letter like "o" "a" "e" and others. A poor platen can also cause poor paper feed and poor cushioning for the typeface that can be shocked into being dislodged from the type bar. 

Some machines, due to the technique used to fasten the type face to the type bar specifically some S/C/M models, have a frightening effect on the type faces with hard platens. The repetitive striking of often used characters will loosen the typeface to a point that it will “fly” off of the type bar into oblivion, never to be found again.

When this happens, in years past, the typeface could be replaced with general parts availability from manufacturer sources. Now, however, there are no parts available for these machine and it is even more important to prevent these loses or it could make a perfectly viable machine useless.

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Page last modified: April 15, 2015