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Unknown Hard Rubber Pen - How To Restore Shine?


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#1 sherbie

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 19:52

Hi all,

just rec'd a 1920-30s unknown lever fill red ripple pen. The only writing on the pen is on the nib - "warranted, 14Ct", and on the clipless cap - it has a gold cap band, with stamps "18" "R" and what looks to be "G" or an "O" - I presume is 18 CT rolled gold.

But the finish on the pen has lost its shine - its not bad per se, but could do with a polish

Question is - what polish works on these HR pens pls?

cheers, paul

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#2 WanderingAuthor

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 21:38

That is a beautiful pen, even the way that it is. :puddle: It must have been an absolute stunner when it was new. :puddle: :puddle: :puddle: Edited to add: There are times when I really wish I could go back in time, just to buy some of these pens new, and see what they looked like, and how they performed, at their peak. I do know some pens are still available in "mint" condition, but for a pen like this, I have to wonder if "mint" just means "carefully restored". I would love to see what this one was like the day it was first sold.

I'd be careful in trying to polish it. I think just about anything (other than plain water) you might use on this would risk ruining the original colours permanently. And trying to rough polish it has to risk damaging it as well. You might try wiping it with a soft cloth, gently, but with that much oxidisation, isn't it likely to be a bit brittle? And as far as I know, the rubber will just go on oxidising, so sooner or later, you'll need to polish it again. Every time, the polishing will just remove another thin layer of rubber.

Edited by WanderingAuthor, 01 April 2011 - 21:40.

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#3 Roger W.

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 22:31

That is a beautiful pen, even the way that it is. :puddle: It must have been an absolute stunner when it was new. :puddle: :puddle: :puddle: Edited to add: There are times when I really wish I could go back in time, just to buy some of these pens new, and see what they looked like, and how they performed, at their peak. I do know some pens are still available in "mint" condition, but for a pen like this, I have to wonder if "mint" just means "carefully restored". I would love to see what this one was like the day it was first sold.

I'd be careful in trying to polish it. I think just about anything (other than plain water) you might use on this would risk ruining the original colours permanently. And trying to rough polish it has to risk damaging it as well. You might try wiping it with a soft cloth, gently, but with that much oxidisation, isn't it likely to be a bit brittle? And as far as I know, the rubber will just go on oxidising, so sooner or later, you'll need to polish it again. Every time, the polishing will just remove another thin layer of rubber.



Plain water is really bad for hard rubber pens it washes away the broken chains of the color and makes it look even more faded. With a plain (unchased) barrel you can polish down the oxidization but MRHR (mottled red hard rubber) is brittle to start with so you have to be gentle. When unoxidized layers are exposed you need to take care not to expose the pen to UV light, water, humidity, etc. or you will hasten more oxidization.

Roger W.

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 13:03

Simichrome

#5 Beechwood

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 13:25

I think that this is quite an important pen and I would take professional advice, I would suggest FPN member Eckiethump, post the pen to him and ask him to do the work.

Edited by Arthur, 03 April 2011 - 04:36.

How many people does it take to comment on a question on FPN? One to give advice and make suggestions. Another one to repeat everything that the first poster has said. Fourteen to share their own experiences of their pens and comment on how the original advice was flawed.
Seven who just want to increase their post count. One to say that they have no regrets about doing anything and people should follow their example. Another to say that if there is anything wrong with the pen it is just down to using Diamine Shimmer ink. Six to argue over whether its a worth doing anything with it and the OP should just throw it away and buy their Parker 51. Another six to condemn all of the above as being  stupid and anyway they would rather be on FP Geeks. One to say that the pen is cheaper where they live. Five people to post pics of their own pens. One to say that if the OP had Faith then the pen would work - and gets banned very quickly.

Finally, one to close down the thread because it has lost its way.
 


#6 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 15:04

Simichrome


Nope sorry, the red and black have differing hardnesses, from the colouring agents use in manufacture, red(iron oxide) black (coal dust). If you try to polish back to colour, you will remove more of the softer black than the red, a shiny but unsightly pen with rippled surface.
Using from 600grit up to 12,000 on a fairly hard surface, you want to remove the surface evenly to reveal the original colours below the oxidised dull layer. Eventually applying a light polish, this is one of these circumstances where less is more, and knowing when to stop.
et
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#7 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 17:26

Simichrome


Nope sorry, the red and black have differing hardnesses, from the colouring agents use in manufacture, red(iron oxide) black (coal dust). If you try to polish back to colour, you will remove more of the softer black than the red, a shiny but unsightly pen with rippled surface.
Using from 600grit up to 12,000 on a fairly hard surface, you want to remove the surface evenly to reveal the original colours below the oxidised dull layer. Eventually applying a light polish, this is one of these circumstances where less is more, and knowing when to stop.
et



Pardon my astonishing ignorance, but it's always worked quite well for me. After all, you only want to polish off the oxidation, not the pigment beneath. Besides, what is the difference between a paste abrasive and an abrasive impregnated on a substrate? I think that one is more likely to produce flat spots with grit paper than with Simichrome.

#8 Mickey

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 17:34

Let me start by saying I don't really know much of anything about the care and feeding of hard rubber pens, but I wondered, seeing as they are made from essentially the same material as old bowling balls, it there might not be some product from the bowling ball business which could help. Just a thought.

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#9 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 17:55

Simichrome


Nope sorry, the red and black have differing hardnesses, from the colouring agents use in manufacture, red(iron oxide) black (coal dust). If you try to polish back to colour, you will remove more of the softer black than the red, a shiny but unsightly pen with rippled surface.
Using from 600grit up to 12,000 on a fairly hard surface, you want to remove the surface evenly to reveal the original colours below the oxidised dull layer. Eventually applying a light polish, this is one of these circumstances where less is more, and knowing when to stop.
et



Pardon my astonishing ignorance, but it's always worked quite well for me. After all, you only want to polish off the oxidation, not the pigment beneath. Besides, what is the difference between a paste abrasive and an abrasive impregnated on a substrate? I think that one is more likely to produce flat spots with grit paper than with Simichrome.



You are excused , the pigment goes right through the material, it's not flat spots that are created, the red is harder than the black , when polishing with a cloth and abrasive, you will remove more of the black material than the red, creating ripples. No, wait a minute I'm just repeating myself. I am commenting on my experience of handling many such pens, which have been "polished" by the method you advocate. I very strongly advise against this.
et


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#10 rogerb

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 18:03

My advice would be to send it to Eric (eckiethump) and pay a little for his considerable experience, rather than learning yourself, the hard way!
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#11 sherbie

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 18:19

thanks all for the sound advice

I'll seek professional advice from ET (Eric - maybe meet up at the NorthernPenshow, if you're going this year?)

I've been like a kid in a candy store the past week - as I was left 40 pens from a dear friend who passed away recently. This "unknown" was the oldest pen of the 40, and I beleive it belonged to his mother. So it would be really nice to give this one a little TLC and restore it to its former glory.

Over the past 10 days, I've been de-inking them all (all had (mainly dried) ink in them), cleaning them up, identifying them and have just started to write with a few of them.

There were some real gems amongst the 40 as well:
- 12 Sheaffers (including 3 Targa by Sheaffer, a snorkel, a touchdown, 4 Triumphs);
- 18 Parkers (including AF Button filler Duofold, Slimfolds, UK Duofolds, 2 x sonnets, 2 x 51, 1 x 61, 4 x 45, 2 x 25 (including the rarer matte black 25B));
- 2 x Mont Blanc - a 1990s MB149 broad and 1980 Turbo,
- 1 x Pelikan M200 grey marble
- 3 Watermans (Forum, Laureat II and Expert II),
- 3 Cross (Century II Medalist) and a black Solo
- and a mint Conway Stewart No 70 lever fill (bought from Max Davis)

I'm a lucky boy, but these will be cherished

cheers, Paul

#12 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 18:54

Hi Paul,
Yes I'll see you at he Northern Show in two weeks time, if the guys are there with their micromesh kits, I can show you what to buy and let you know how this needs to be done. First thing is BTW, removing the cap band to work on the cap, fortunately no clip.
ATB
Eric
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#13 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 19:51

Simichrome


Nope sorry, the red and black have differing hardnesses, from the colouring agents use in manufacture, red(iron oxide) black (coal dust). If you try to polish back to colour, you will remove more of the softer black than the red, a shiny but unsightly pen with rippled surface.
Using from 600grit up to 12,000 on a fairly hard surface, you want to remove the surface evenly to reveal the original colours below the oxidised dull layer. Eventually applying a light polish, this is one of these circumstances where less is more, and knowing when to stop.
et



Pardon my astonishing ignorance, but it's always worked quite well for me. After all, you only want to polish off the oxidation, not the pigment beneath. Besides, what is the difference between a paste abrasive and an abrasive impregnated on a substrate? I think that one is more likely to produce flat spots with grit paper than with Simichrome.



You are excused , the pigment goes right through the material, it's not flat spots that are created, the red is harder than the black , when polishing with a cloth and abrasive, you will remove more of the black material than the red, creating ripples. No, wait a minute I'm just repeating myself. I am commenting on my experience of handling many such pens, which have been "polished" by the method you advocate. I very strongly advise against this.
et



Well then, I must be incredibly talented because I've polished many such pens, and they all came out beautiful.

#14 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 20:24

[/quote]


Well then, I must be incredibly talented because I've polished many such pens, and they all came out beautiful.
[/quote]

Pens of your own, or for a customer ? where their opinion is of more importance than your own. What you advise is bad practice, I carry out many practices, I would never advise others to try, just because they work for me, utilising talents that I have.
et
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#15 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 21:54

Pens of your own, or for a customer ? where their opinion is of more importance than your own. What you advise is bad practice, I carry out many practices, I would never advise others to try, just because they work for me, utilising talents that I have.
et


Pens that I did for myself some of which I subsequently sold. BTW, the OP asked for a polish and I was happy to oblige. Furthermore, I've been doing my own restorations for a long time, when there was only the Zoss List to learn from. Personally, I would never advocate "grit paper"; Simichrome is far less aggressive than that, and if you've created ripples with a polish, then you were rubbing way too hard. Like you said: Less is more.

#16 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 22:42

Pens of your own, or for a customer ? where their opinion is of more importance than your own. What you advise is bad practice, I carry out many practices, I would never advise others to try, just because they work for me, utilising talents that I have.
et


Pens that I did for myself some of which I subsequently sold. BTW, the OP asked for a polish and I was happy to oblige. Furthermore, I've been doing my own restorations for a long time, when there was only the Zoss List to learn from. Personally, I would never advocate "grit paper"; Simichrome is far less aggressive than that, and if you've created ripples with a polish, then you were rubbing way too hard. Like you said: Less is more.


A sad, sad attempt at twisting my previous statements, from someone obviously now on the defensive. Most abrasives have a place, your misguided ad vocation of Simichrome in this instance is misplaced Posted Image
et
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#17 eckiethump

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 22:48

OP asked what polish works, my statements are that polish on it's own can cause more harm than good on red/black pens. It's about doing a job properly not just a polishing though really.
here are a couple of my pens
Posted Image
Posted Image
and how one of them started out
Posted Image
et

Edited by eckiethump, 02 April 2011 - 22:52.

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#18 WanderingAuthor

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 01:09

Plain water is really bad for hard rubber pens it washes away the broken chains of the color and makes it look even more faded. With a plain (unchased) barrel you can polish down the oxidization but MRHR (mottled red hard rubber) is brittle to start with so you have to be gentle. When unoxidized layers are exposed you need to take care not to expose the pen to UV light, water, humidity, etc. or you will hasten more oxidization.


I don't claim to be an expert - but every time you need to flush out your pen, you're going to get water on it. So any pen made of something that would be harmed by water is an essentially unusable pen. Now, if the pen in question were some rare model, made of something ruined by water and thus quickly withdrawn, with most of the instances sold being destroyed, that might make sense. But hard rubber pens have been made and used for decades without problems.

In fact, I recently read of an Onoto which was recovered from a ship sunk by the Germans in World War One, which was successfully restored without much more than any old pen of that vintage would need. That would have been a hard rubber pen, and it was immersed in seawater, which is much more destructive then plain water. So I really have a hard time imagining that brief exposure to water would cause a problem. Not that I'd recommend soaking a pen in the sea for seventy years.
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#19 Roger W.

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 02:36

Plain water is really bad for hard rubber pens it washes away the broken chains of the color and makes it look even more faded. With a plain (unchased) barrel you can polish down the oxidization but MRHR (mottled red hard rubber) is brittle to start with so you have to be gentle. When unoxidized layers are exposed you need to take care not to expose the pen to UV light, water, humidity, etc. or you will hasten more oxidization.


I don't claim to be an expert - but every time you need to flush out your pen, you're going to get water on it. So any pen made of something that would be harmed by water is an essentially unusable pen. Now, if the pen in question were some rare model, made of something ruined by water and thus quickly withdrawn, with most of the instances sold being destroyed, that might make sense. But hard rubber pens have been made and used for decades without problems.

In fact, I recently read of an Onoto which was recovered from a ship sunk by the Germans in World War One, which was successfully restored without much more than any old pen of that vintage would need. That would have been a hard rubber pen, and it was immersed in seawater, which is much more destructive then plain water. So I really have a hard time imagining that brief exposure to water would cause a problem. Not that I'd recommend soaking a pen in the sea for seventy years.


This is the very problem with vintage pens. They are all made using variable formulas and the material is far from uniform. So generally, water is bad for hard rubber. Washing a HR cap in water for a couple of minutes to clean the inner cap will fade it - I did that about two weeks ago. Does this happen on every HR pen - no. But be very warned that it can and will do so often.

To say HR has been used for decades without problems belies the very fact that it was abandoned as the main pen material in the mid 1920's. I love HR pens but, they got problems a plenty. I have some 250+ vintage HR Sheaffer's and Boston's but I rarely actually use one of them. The risk of cleaning them today is not one I wish to take. It appears based on manufacturing numbers that we know that extremely few hard rubber pens exist today. This is due obviously to two factors, breakage and obsolescance when plastic pens were introduced. We know from Walter A. Sheaffer's testimony in 1915 that Boston Fountain pen was one of his major competitors. Sheaffer was making over 100,000 pens a year so we will extrapolate that Boston was doing the same. Discounting Boston as having made few pens from 1904-1908 ramping up during 1909-1912 and head to head with Sheaffer 1913-1916 (they sold January 1917) I would think a guess of 500,000 pens made over their history would not be unreasonable. A database of the 6 largest collection of Bostons known contains only 219 examples. So I don't think you can tell me that hard rubber is not delicate! 72% or the database is hard rubber with mottled contributing only 8% to that number.

The other point of examples that we have today are pens that in many cases were the best ones that were made and that is why they survived. To say they can be indescrimanently cleaned with semichrome or rinsed out with water shows a lack of understanding of the material. Can you get by doing these things, sure but, you sure as hell should not be advocating such things to others.

Roger W.

#20 beak

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 05:24

I don't put this forward for anything other than comment by the more learned, but in antique restoration, Vulcanite is refreshed very easily by a light application of olive oil, not by any sort of abrasion. The effect is one of removing (more likely disguising) oxidation and of giving a sheen. For what it's worth, I have used olive oil (sparingly!) on hard rubber with good success and no other effects that I have ever noticed.

Edited by beak, 03 April 2011 - 05:25.

Sincerely, beak. God does not work in mysterious ways – he works in ways that are indistinguishable from his non-existence.






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