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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Restoring rubber turntable mats

I have got back into listening and enjoying Vinyl records. I have purchased a number of second hand turntables, which can be something of a bargain. Most have required a bit of tender loving care, and an area which often needs attention is the mat. Most turntables have some form of mat. They tend to be either rubber or felt, though you can get glass and cork mats. This article is about the rubber type. Rubber can harden and discolour with time. This can leave the mat looking rather tired and also reduces its ability to provide a firm platform for the record surface.

I recently acquired a second NAD 5120 deck for spares. I had previously restored one of these decks. I may write up a blog on that, but here I wanted to show how to get the mat back to looking good. In the pictures below you can see the mat has discoloured and instead of being very dark grey , it has a green/yellow tint. This is no reflection on the previous owner, its just what happens to this rubber over time. It also feels hard to the touch and has lost a degree of suppleness. if you look at ebay auctions of the 5120, you often see that the mat looks discoloured.
 This picture shows the mat after it has had a wash in warm soapy water, then dried in the sun. It's still discoloured.

 The secret of restoration is a good spray with AF Platanclene rubber roller restorer. This is sold in larger Office supplies stores and on the web i.e through Amazon. A small pump spray of it as in the picture cost a few UK pounds and I'd expect similar price elsewhere.

Spray over the upper surface of the matt. in the picture above I left a few bits to show the change in colour but I subsequently sprayed the whole surface.

Moderate Warning. This stuff has a bit of a chemical smell so I tend to use it outside. Its not dangerous, just it makes sense. It also helps with the drying.
 Then a good wipe with a cloth.

 As you can see the original colour and texture is restored

 The cloth was very dirty afterward. It had lifted off all that discolouring
back to original condition. If you are really precious about your vinyl you could then give the mat a further rinse under a tap to ensure all of the Platanclene agent has gone.

Turntables typically have a number of rubber components in addition to the mat, including a drive belt and rubber bushes internally to anchor subchasis springs. I have found that these also respond well to the Platanclene process. My method is to put the components in a sealable plastic bag with a few squirts of the cleaner, then seal it up and work the stuff into the components, then leave for a while.

 I restored an Ariston QDeck turntable where the rubber feet had started to collapse. They were in tact, just the rubber had lost its sponginess, which on this deck which has little decoupling, is important. I peeled off the felt rings from the base of the feet, removed the feet by removing a screw and washer, treated the feet to the plastic bag treatment, then left them to dry and restored them. I got new felt self adhesive rings from a local hardware shop.

Drive belts respond well too. I squirt a bit of Platanclene on a cloth and drag the belt through between my fingers so the cloth wipes both sides.

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