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Cleaning out dried ink from pens after 40 years


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32 replies to this topic

#1 RMehta248

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 16:49

Hi, as my family hears of my passion for pens, many aunts and uncles are unearthing old, neglected but beautiful pens from attics. For Instance I have been presented two Geha piston fillers from the 70s that have dried ink in them but are otheriwse perfect. I have flushed, soaked and rinsed them out about 50 times and they still let out watered down ink. I now have them filled with (and nib and section soaking in) 10 % household ammonia and every time I pass, I flush and fill them. They still give out the stuff! What more can I do or should I just airdry them and refill them with ink? (these are sort of twist action pistons with no amateur-accessible parts. Suggestions welcome. Thnks in advance. Rajesh

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#2 jar

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 16:50

Patience. It's like pealing wallpaper. Just continue what you are doing.

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#3 GouletPens

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 17:05

If the water still coming out has ink in it, that means there's still ink there! Keep doing it until there's no ink left, even if it's 200 flush/fills. One thing about fountain pens, they are a labor of love!!!! :cloud9:

#4 Penturner

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 17:18

10% nonsudsing household ammonia and cool water solution will break down most ink... follow that by cool water flushing..
If that does not work get some technical pen cleaner from your local hobby shop... Rapidoeze is a good brand and use that....
Larry Korn
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#5 Robert Hughes

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 17:20

Old pens from the 70's? Those are newer than almost all of mine... soak, soak, soak. Flush, flush, flush. Happy, happy, happy!
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.

~ Bernard Shaw.

#6 dizzypen

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 17:21

Patience is a must. If you rush it you will ruin them. I'd suggest that you disassemble them as much as you can. Without the appropriate tools you won't be able to get them completely apart, but do what you can. Just continue with room temp water soaks. You can also add one drop of dish-washing liquid to one cup of water and flush with that. Finally, you can use a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part ammonia.

NOTE: I see you mention using 10% ammonia. I hope you are not using undiluted household ammonia (which is usually marked 10%). That is too strong for the pens. You should be using a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part household (10%) ammonia.
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#7 Possum Hill

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 17:23

Patience. It's like pealing wallpaper. Just continue what you are doing.

+1
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#8 jorgerp1

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:10

Patience. It's like pealing wallpaper. Just continue what you are doing.

+1


+2

#9 RMehta248

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:17

Thats what I have done! thanks

Patience is a must. If you rush it you will ruin them. I'd suggest that you disassemble them as much as you can. Without the appropriate tools you won't be able to get them completely apart, but do what you can. Just continue with room temp water soaks. You can also add one drop of dish-washing liquid to one cup of water and flush with that. Finally, you can use a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part ammonia.

NOTE: I see you mention using 10% ammonia. I hope you are not using undiluted household ammonia (which is usually marked 10%). That is too strong for the pens. You should be using a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part household (10%) ammonia.



#10 RMehta248

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:21

Thanks all of you. My takeaway so far is patience and persistence. I will persevere....here is a good quote I picked up (advance apologies for the stream of consciousness mode here):

Minds, like fountain pens, will work when willed,
but minds, like fountain pens, must first be filled!!

( or in my case, flushed, and flushed and flushed and flushed)!

Thanks and Cheers,
Rajesh

BTW, am in the UK, so none of those ink removing products available here, I think. Cheers

#11 lapis

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:39

A. Soak, soak, soak, and then replace liquid.
B. That applies to a dilute ammonia solution too (which I've not yet tried out).
C. Don't just soak but fill and refill the pen (manually!).
D. Use also luke warm dishwater soap.
E. Finally, try out a sonication.
F. If it is/was a good pen (which I do believe) then that should work. If nothing works, send it to Richard.

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#12 View from the Loft

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:46

As you are in the UK, if you need to send it for service, try the Battersea Pen Home. No affiliation, just a satisfied customer.

But patience, flush, flush, flush and flush.

#13 Kelly G

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 20:50

The use of a combination of 10/1 water/10% ammonia solution and an ultrasonic cleaner (UC) may be your best bet. UC's can be purchased relatively inexpensively but you tend to get what you pay for (up to a point); if you buy one, just make sure the controls are not on the lid - the wiring will wear out quickly. You may find a Jeweler who will let you run your pen in their UC. If you do use a UC, don't immerse the entire pen, just the nib/feed/section.

Without the UC - keep up the soaking/flushing in the ammonia solution or technical pen cleaner.

Also, if the ink residue is showing up as very light, you might try flushing with room temp. water, then let the excess water "wick" out into paper toweling, fill the pen with ink and see how it goes. It may work just fine and if so, mission accomplished. If it doesn't work, you won't have ruined your pen, you just need to clean it some more or send it to a pro.

If you plan to mess with pens much, I would advise spending a little money on a UC - they come in handy.

Good luck and have fun.
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#14 psfred

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:05

Just fill them with washable ink and start writing. A trace of color (as opposed to dark inky fluid) coming out is normal, there are lots of small crannies in the feed that will hold traces of ink forever.

A nice blue washable ink will let you know when all the old ink is out, since it will change color quite visibly. It will also so a much better job of dissolving the old ink than water. Writing will pull the ink out of the feed better than flushing, too.

Peter

#15 ilvecchio

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 06:38

As noted by many folks, patience is required. Just to provide a data point. It took me over a month to clean my Parker 61 but now it writes as well as it ever did. I soaked it in water and flushed it every day and then soaked it again until the next day.

#16 shaqin93

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 08:36

+1 on the ultrasonic cleaner.

#17 two2tone

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 18:19

2% Hydrogen peroxide has worked for me. Pour it into a glass full strength and soak the nib overnight.
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#18 jar

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 18:24

2% Hydrogen peroxide has worked for me. Pour it into a glass full strength and soak the nib overnight.
Twotone


You want to think long and hard before using hydrogen peroxide. It can do amazing things to older rubbers and plastics.

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#19 RMehta248

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 22:34

Thanks all. Upto 80 flushes and still getting colour!! Will keep all posted. Call out to UK members on source and brand of a good pen-friendly Ultrasonic Cleaner in the UK??? Thanks again. rajesh

#20 troglokev

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 23:47

You want to think long and hard before using hydrogen peroxide. It can do amazing things to older rubbers and plastics.

I'd put it differently:

Think long and hard, and then don't use hydrogen peroxide.






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