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Replacing Pocket Clips


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49 replies to this topic

#1 Autopoint

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 09:09

I'm a new member, but have been collecting pens and pencils for over 30 years. Esterbrooks have always interested me and I picked them up whenever I found them to be cost-effective (cheap). Only last year when I finally counted did I realize I had over 200 Esties! Many are now gone, but the admiration and interest remain.

At this point let me simply announce that I'm working on a tutorial (with pictures) to explain how to replace J-size Esterbrook pocket clips. This would help those with severely bent clips, with "spinning" clips, with no clips, or (like me) with a clip that got broken off right at the edge of the jewel. It should also make life a bit simpler for those who want to replace jewels and/or inner caps, since those tasks are just one step of the overall surgery necessary.

I've already accomplished replacement of the J-size Estie pocket clip on an experimental basis, outside the pen using parts from a broken cap. After that successful attempt, I decided I just needed a real "swaging" tool and a thicker brass "eyelet". I've ordered those items (less than $10), which will take a week or ten days to arrive.

If I'm lucky, I'll be able to post the entire process with pictures and explanations in about a month. Like an old pen friend "Father Terry" (RIP), I'll make every attempt to figure out how to modify every day items into the tools to use for this project (like using common finishing nails with the tip cut off as a punch, to remove the jewel).

As they say in show biz, please stay tuned.
- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

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#2 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 22:57

In the meantime, could we see a pic or eleven of how the new clip looks on the cap?

Mousey Gracy Us!

Bruce in Ocala, FL

#3 PenFisher

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 23:28

I'm fascinated by what you are doing and it will be a tremendous boon to all of us who service/repair/collect/use/admire Esties. Thanks for your efforts and please keep us "tuned in". :clap1:

Edited by PenFisher, 02 October 2010 - 23:28.


#4 PaFitch

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 03:40

I'll be looking forward to your demo. Always good to learn more about the pens I enjoy.

#5 FarmBoy

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 05:36

See the clip tool in Post #10.

T

Edited by FarmBoy, 03 October 2010 - 05:36.

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#6 Autopoint

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 22:35

Thanks for the reference FarmBoy. I PM'd him for details about that tool. I'd hoped I could make my own from common materials, but it'd be quicker to just use his. Thanks for the citation.
- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#7 Autopoint

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 09:04

If you're watching this thread, please be patient. I've already tried 2 different types of "metal tubes", have hand made 3 different types/sets of tools, and have progressed from hammering things together to pressing things together. Each attempt at "joining" the cap and pocket clip involves banging or pressing the parts together, examining the resulting joint under a magnifying glass and testing its strength, then taking it apart and doing it again. I do this repeatedly to analyze the effects of using different materials, different tools and different methods of affixation. Last night I finally got a test "joining" of the cap and pocket clip to work to my satisfaction - a 90% solution, with a little tweaking still needed before I can claim complete success.

As a way of introducing the result, the process of "expanding the end of a metal tube" is commonly called "flaring" or "swaging", and there are a variety of ways to accomplish that. Right away I think of a plumber using a "flaring vise and tool" to expand the end of a piece of soft copper tubing, e.g., so it can be connected to a dishwasher, sometimes using a torch to heat the tubing so it's easier to form. But in the context of our Esterbrook pens, we can't use heat because of the adjacent plastic. There's no room inside the barrel to use a vise to hold the metal tube being "swaged". And the pieces to be joined together are relatively tiny, with precision tolerances.

Then when someone said it couldn't be done, replacing the clip on an Esterbrook fountain pen became a challenge I just couldn't resist.
- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#8 FarmBoy

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 00:25

Then when someone said it couldn't be done, replacing the clip on an Esterbrook fountain pen became a challenge I just couldn't resist.
- - - Jim

Jim,

I can assure you it has been done.

The issue is the rivets. I found some at an estate sale that were perfect. Have never found more.

Try modifying a punch so that it has a shoulder that will hold the bottom half of the rivet inside the cap then use a flaring punch to dish in the top against the clip.

Want fun? Change a clip on a dollar pen.

Todd
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#9 Autopoint

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:35

OK - The secret IS finding the "rivets" - but they are actually the easiest part for me. I'm an accountant. In ages past we used "Bates brass eyelet machines" to bind together paper documents like financial statements. An eyelet is just a brass or aluminum tube, flanged at one end by the manufacturer and bent over at the other end in the field. I haven't done financial statement work since about 1972, at Price Waterhouse Philadelphia, but I still remember those Bates eyelets and the old machines that "set" them in place.

Bates eyelets are made of good quality brass; they have a preformed flange at one end and they're open at the other end. The dimensions for the "Bates #1 Long" eyelets are 3/16” outside diameter, 5/32” inside diameter, 5/16” flange OD, and 3/16” high from the flange to the tip. Thus it is essentially a 3/16” OD brass tube 3/16” long, with a 5/16” OD curved flange at one end. Go ahead, measure your Esterbrook J cap "fastener" - the Bates eyelets appear to exactly match what Esterbrook used. (Note well: at least in the J size cap there is also a brass "finishing washer" which grips the inner part of the cap, through which the eyelet is inserted - I've not tried to find a replacement for those, but simply reuse them since if you're careful they're not damaged whatsoever from the eyelet replacement.) You can google "Bates eyelets" and find the #1 long size in boxes of 500 or 1000 (I paid an ebay seller less than $10 for a box of 500 shipped to my home).

I'm currently trying to absolutely perfect the "swaging" process, before I take any pictures. I find that if I file off about 1/32" or so off of the open end of the brass eyelet before swaging it, it's much easier to subsequently seat the jewel - obviously any excess material at the swaged end of the eyelet could preclude the jewel from sitting precisely on the top of the pocket clip tassie. Some eyelets will have a crack or two after being "swaged", and I'd like to eliminate that problem by trying some soap or something as a lubricant during "swaging", even though there doesn't appear to be any/much loss of holding power regardless whether the eyelet is cracked in the swaging process. I've also been using a hand press (formerly used to sink nails into picture frames) to operate the "swaging" tool(s), which I hand made using my 3/8" electric drill (drill in one hand, metal file in the other). Last night I picked up a well used drill press, to expedite my experiments with other "swaging" tool tips, to use in place of the hand press (more mechanical advantage), and ultimately to very precisely drill out the very top end of the existing eyelet when I need to take the pocket clip off an Esterbrook fountain pen. I've also contacted the former "equipment guy" for the Wearever Pen Company, who happens to live in the area and who may well have some valuable insight into these "cold swaging" techniques.

I truly believe that by pooling our knowledge and resources we can reach a solution that is simple enough for anyone mechanically inclined to accomplish without the need for expensive special tools. And that should significantly prolong the useful life of the remaining population of Esterbrook fountain pens. Of course, will the mechanically unskilled want to pay a technician for the effort involved in this particular repair? Probably not, since for the moment it's much cheaper to just buy another cap.
- - - Jim

Edited by Autopoint, 07 October 2010 - 09:42.

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#10 Autopoint

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 14:37

BTW, FWIW here's a link to a web page which provides the exact dimensions of the various sizes of 3/16" OD Bates eyelets (part way down the page). There are definitely better prices for the eyelets, but this is the only place I found the exact dimensions listed.
- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#11 Ron Z

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 15:00

It wouldn't surprise me if Esterbrook used a standard, off the shelf product for their rivets.

You might try an arbor press to stake the rivet. Harbor Freight sells them, and I would think that a 1/2 ton press would be plenty big. 3/4 at most. It's not so much the pressure needed, as it is the size of the opening that would be an issue. A drill press will flex, where the arbor press won't.

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#12 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:43

OK, I've been experimenting long enough. Pull up an easy chair, kick up your legs, sip some coffee. And so the story begins.....

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#13 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:46

Here’s why I decided to experiment with the replacement of Esterbrook fountain pen clips. Someone severely abused this nice red J by snapping off the pocket clip right at the edge of the cap. A pen without a pocket clip is virtually useless to me. So I began some experiments.

Posted Image


Credit is due to Frank Dubiel (RIP), the virtual grandfather of fountain pen repair, to Father Terry (RIP), the inspiration for simple but effective fountain pen repair tools, and to Al Kahn, the go-to guy for designing and setting up pen manufacturing equipment at the former Wearever Pen Company.

- - - Jim

Edited by Autopoint, 15 November 2010 - 00:46.

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#14 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:48

To get to the pocket clip, you have to remove the inner cap. First I clean the inside of the cap thoroughly to loosen any old dried ink. I put the cap directly under cold running water, and use a stiff bottle brush to scrub out the old ink. Shaking some water up inside the cap top doesn’t hurt either, since water is a good lubricant.

Posted Image

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#15 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:50

Pay particular attention to the area where the outer edge of the inner cap meets the inside of the outer cap. Any dried ink here will make extracting the inner cap much more difficult.

Posted Image

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#16 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:51

Then I thread a 5/16” X 18 NC tap into the inner cap (others have posted this method). Note that the tip of the tap is tapered. This type of tap tip fits the inner cap much better than a “bottoming” tap. The overall tap length is 2-7/8”, which means you can screw it into the inner cap and still have enough of the tap protruding to grip the end of the tap with your
fingertips.

Posted Image

Now heat the outside of the cap with a hair dryer. Get the cap hot enough that you don’t want to hold it in your fingers. Use a small piece of rubberized shelf liner to hold the cap, which will insulate the heat from your fingers. Grip the square end of the tap, and gently wiggle the inner cap back and forth, until it walks itself out of the cap.

- - - Jim

Edited by Autopoint, 15 November 2010 - 00:52.

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#17 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:53

If the inner cap won’t come out using the tap, and many times it won’t, then I try a No. 4 Easy Out, which has a very coarse, reverse thread and is tapered its entire length. This tends to better ease out the more difficult inner caps, since it usually mates better with the tapered inside of the inner cap, at the cost of incurring more damage to the inside of the inner cap, due to the coarse threads.

Posted Image

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#18 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:54

If you’re patient, this is what the inner cap looks like when it comes out of the cap, on the threads of the tap.

Posted Image

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#19 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:56

Now you need to drive out the cap jewel. The object is to turn the cap upside down, and use a punch of some kind to drive the stem of the jewel down and out of the center of the pocket clip. I use a knockout block, which pen repairers generally utilize to drive out the nib and feed from the section of the pen (not Esties, which thread into place). My dad made this one in the wood shop at his retirement village, using a simple block of tight grained wood and a junk piece of plastic I supplied. He screwed the plastic to the top of the wood block, and basically just drilled a hole all the way through the plastic and the wood block, with every different drill in the set (each hole in the wood block is slightly larger than the corresponding hole in the plastic above it). For a punch, I use an empty metal ballpoint cartridge with the tip removed, of appropriate diameter (about 1/8”). The longer the cartridge the easier it is to see how well it’s lined up. And a fair amount of force is needed to drive the punch – these jewels are very tight!

Posted Image

If you don’t have a knockout block or something similar, just find a piece of wood at least ½” or ¾” thick, with a real tight grain, and drill a 3/8” hole completely through it. Either way, set the cap upside down on top of the suitably sized hole so the outer edge of the pocket clip “washer” is being held in place while the jewel is unsupported, right over the center of the hole. Stick the punch down into the open cap, line it up with the center of the stem of the jewel, and tap the punch until the jewel pops out of the pocket clip.

- - - Jim

Edited by Autopoint, 15 November 2010 - 09:43.

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#20 Autopoint

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 00:58

At this point the pieces should look like this.

Posted Image

- - - Jim
Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator






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