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Unknown Hard Rubber Pen - How To Restore Shine?


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#41 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 15:48

I'd say if you can remove cap bands just to make polishing easier you've got some skills! I wouldn't remove cap bands for fear of breaking the lip and the whole swagging it back on.

I think it is being sold (the idea) as sandpaper to make using semichrome look like an acceptable practice in comparison. Clearly one would be using extremely fine grit micromesh giving a flat profile to assure the high points are only hit and not digging out valleys as semichrome can do. With a light application only of semichrome you are not likely to notice anything but a flat surface though, it can be taken too far very quickly. Unfortunately semichrome is seen as a cure all polish though it is often too aggresive and leaves residue that needs to be washed off.

Roger W.



Frank Dubiel, on page 95 of "Da Book" recommended toothpaste and caution. I'm not recommending a fist full of Simichrome and rubbing like life depended on it; I'm talking about a little dab on a soft cotton cloth using one finger. This does NOT require a professional.

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#42 eckiethump

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 16:22

I'd say if you can remove cap bands just to make polishing easier you've got some skills! I wouldn't remove cap bands for fear of breaking the lip and the whole swagging it back on.


Unfortunately simichrome is seen as a cure all polish though it is often too aggresive and leaves residue that needs to be washed off.


Roger W.


Hi Roger,
The pen has the metal cap lip, rather than a cap band, a far easier proposition to remove and replace than a well fitted cap band. The ethos behind removal being to protect the gold fill. When not practical to do so I protect GF parts with aluminium, sticky sided tape, this includes imprints, the type of tape used in building ducting installations.
I also use Simichrome as well as Autosal which is even more aggressively abrasive than Simichrome, but very seldom, my preferable polishes being less aggresive,Wenol and for gf, PEEK, where a jewellers gold cloth will not clean it up well enough.
At the end of the day, these applications are about the cosmetics on pens, not pen repair, per se. They tend to be time intensive, as done properly there are no short cuts and results are not instantaneous.
Eric
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#43 Roger W.

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 18:22


I'd say if you can remove cap bands just to make polishing easier you've got some skills! I wouldn't remove cap bands for fear of breaking the lip and the whole swagging it back on.

I think it is being sold (the idea) as sandpaper to make using semichrome look like an acceptable practice in comparison. Clearly one would be using extremely fine grit micromesh giving a flat profile to assure the high points are only hit and not digging out valleys as semichrome can do. With a light application only of semichrome you are not likely to notice anything but a flat surface though, it can be taken too far very quickly. Unfortunately semichrome is seen as a cure all polish though it is often too aggresive and leaves residue that needs to be washed off.

Roger W.


Frank Dubiel, on page 95 of "Da Book" recommended toothpaste and caution. I'm not recommending a fist full of Simichrome and rubbing like life depended on it; I'm talking about a little dab on a soft cotton cloth using one finger. This does NOT require a professional.


Your first recommendation was simply "semichrome" without explanation. Your second contribution was a lack of knowledge on what the difference between semichrome and an abrasive on a substrate would be. That difference has been explained. You assumed that a person would only use a small amount and moderate rubbing. I would agree that good results with little damage to the pen could be acheived with semichrome. You'd be sure not to do any damage on this pen material using very fine grit micromesh kept flat on a block as David emphasized.

I guess we should all be clear on what we mean by our applications. Polish can easily be taken too far and such caution should be made. You might think is reasonable that someone would only use semichrome sparingly. The OP could easily start seeing good results and keep at it until the ripple effect is acheived as warned by Eric which is more likely to be avoided using micromesh. Of course (should have been exlained) micromesh makes little difference from semichrome if you don't take advantage of keeping it flat to keep the barrel of the pen flat.

People don't always act in a reasoned fashion. I know a dealer that all of their pens have a shine on them that is practically a mirror finish which is very far from factory original. You'd think a dealer would know better than that. So, yes a little semichrome used sparingly can improve the look of this pen. If the oxidization runs a little deep micromesh used flat would do a better job and not risk causing ripples in the surface.

Since you brought up Frank are you recommending toothpaste instead or what was the point there?

Roger W.

#44 Raiche58

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 19:14

Good topic! I would like to hear more about the finishes used on hard rubber pens and the pros and cons of them--if it's not considered OT.
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#45 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 19:31


I'd say if you can remove cap bands just to make polishing easier you've got some skills! I wouldn't remove cap bands for fear of breaking the lip and the whole swagging it back on.

I think it is being sold (the idea) as sandpaper to make using semichrome look like an acceptable practice in comparison. Clearly one would be using extremely fine grit micromesh giving a flat profile to assure the high points are only hit and not digging out valleys as semichrome can do. With a light application only of semichrome you are not likely to notice anything but a flat surface though, it can be taken too far very quickly. Unfortunately semichrome is seen as a cure all polish though it is often too aggresive and leaves residue that needs to be washed off.

Roger W.


Frank Dubiel, on page 95 of "Da Book" recommended toothpaste and caution. I'm not recommending a fist full of Simichrome and rubbing like life depended on it; I'm talking about a little dab on a soft cotton cloth using one finger. This does NOT require a professional.


Your first recommendation was simply "semichrome" without explanation. Your second contribution was a lack of knowledge on what the difference between semichrome and an abrasive on a substrate would be. That difference has been explained. You assumed that a person would only use a small amount and moderate rubbing. I would agree that good results with little damage to the pen could be acheived with semichrome. You'd be sure not to do any damage on this pen material using very fine grit micromesh kept flat on a block as David emphasized.

I guess we should all be clear on what we mean by our applications. Polish can easily be taken too far and such caution should be made. You might think is reasonable that someone would only use semichrome sparingly. The OP could easily start seeing good results and keep at it until the ripple effect is acheived as warned by Eric which is more likely to be avoided using micromesh. Of course (should have been exlained) micromesh makes little difference from semichrome if you don't take advantage of keeping it flat to keep the barrel of the pen flat.

People don't always act in a reasoned fashion. I know a dealer that all of their pens have a shine on them that is practically a mirror finish which is very far from factory original. You'd think a dealer would know better than that. So, yes a little semichrome used sparingly can improve the look of this pen. If the oxidization runs a little deep micromesh used flat would do a better job and not risk causing ripples in the surface.

Since you brought up Frank are you recommending toothpaste instead or what was the point there?

Roger W.



Thank you for your reply.

My single word reply to the OP was based on the belief that a pedantic, step-by-step tutorial would be insulting, and I wanted to avoid that. My question about the difference between Simichrome and Micromesh was rhetorical. I've been using the same tube of Simichrome for 10 years and it will likely last for another 10. As for Micromesh, I personally wouldn't attempt that procedure so therefore I would not, and could not recommend it in good conscience, it's far too aggressive for my taste. I will use Micromesh for nibs, though. I was taken aback by the brusqueness of the rebuke I received for trying to be a helpful member of this community, and while I am indeed new to this forum, I have been doing my own restorations for about 10 years and learned what I know from the Zoss List, "Da Book" and the web sites of the acknowledged masters. My reference to Mr. Dubiel and toothpaste was to illustrate that my recommendation of Simichrome was not as egregious as has been implied and if my expectation that another pen person would naturally take a cautious, measured approach was wrong, then so too was the assumption that I was trying to lure the OP into a dangerous procedure. I was simply trying to participate in good faith.

--Darren

Edited by Subvet642, 04 April 2011 - 19:34.


#46 FarmBoy

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 20:20

For those that care, Semichrome is a suspension of Alumina (Aluminum Oxide, Al2O3) in Ammonium oleate, water, white spirits, and kerosene. Iron oxide is added for as a colorant.

The alumina is 8-10 micron in size.

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#47 Vintagepens

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 21:24

I think it's worth pointing out that if the intention is to remove enough material from the surface so that the fading is no longer apparent, there's no point in pretending that that removal isn't the goal.

Clearly, one doesn't want to use sandpaper so coarse that it removes more material than necessary. But at the same time, there's no point in using an overly fine abrasive when a significant amount of material needs to be removed. Again, it's akin to woodworking: you use coarse abrasives to get the surface down close to where you want to go, then you switch to progressively finer abrasives to get to the final level. Although it may feel less damaging to use fine abrasives for the entire job, it's an illusion: remove it fast or remove it slow, the same amount of material is still being removed.

#48 Wahlnut

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 22:26

I know this thread has skewed away from polishing hard rubber a few posts back, but polishing is a gritty subject and only a matter of degree away from grinding, sanding, and other bad sounding abrasive based processes bandied about therein. The nitty gritty is that most folks think that "polishing" is somehow different from these harsher sounding words, when actually it is only a matter of degree of grit. The Micro Mesh hobby kit is a good case for the whole array of true grit. When taking a scratch out of a smooth surface one is actually bring the surrounding surface down to the scratch. (Reminds me of an old joke about whether Preparation H actually shrinks anything or just swells the surrounding area). The Micro Mesh package comes with grits running from 1800 to 12000. The way it goes is to start with the coarsest grit you need to get the surfaces almost even, then move up grit by grit, 1800,2400,3200,3600,4000,6000,8000,12000. When you get done and did not skip a step the surface will be almost glass smooth. Anyway each and every one of those numbers is removing some material, just that when you get past 6000 the human eye can not see the micro abrasion and at 12,000 it is hard to see under magnification. Finish it all off with even finer liquid than those grits and Shazam! Beauty emerges!. Simichrome has 2 things that get to the job on hard rubber. Grit (about 6000, if memory serves) and Ammonia. Ammonia was the original curing agent for rubber back in the day and breaks down oxidized surface rubber easily. Too much ammonia, too much grit and you get that rippled ripple effect on those Watermans. In my hands ammonia breaks down red hard rubber faster than black for some reason.

This thread has slid into reblackening in recent posts too. You can polish a pen down to "newly exposed" dark(er) rubber but maybe to the point where the details get worn away. An alternative for pens that are already in bad shape and as has been said many times for pens that would otherwise never be used because they are perceived as being too ugly, is reblackening. At 32 microns carbon particles or finer no visible surface details need be lost.

The whole thing about this is that the black has to get put back into/and onto the old rubber to make it black again. As David points out it is the broken down oxidized, UV'ed rubber on the surface that has let the carbon black go and it is this very dull, microscopically uneven surface that permits at least one of the relatively accepted blackening methods to work so well. There are only 2 main ways to do this (apart from shoe polish (don't do that) and paint (really don't do that). One way is "molecularly" out of solution (G-10 for example) where the carbon comes out of Carbon Disulfide (carefully as this liquid is extremely toxic) molecularly into the rubber, or from carbon black at under 32 microns (not coal dust, puleese) and is carried into and onto the rubber by a vehicle that will place it there evenly and leave an even protective surface shell (PMBHRPPNo.9 does it that way). The placement agent in that case is diluted ammonia. Ammonia is soluble in water, and it does not take much ammonia to create the right surface conditions to let the carbon black settle into the nooks and crannies,even things out, adhere and stay put. There IS real science involved here, but even a commercial banker pen hobbyist can be taught chemistry, by a rubber chemist with 50 years in the industry without having to get an advanced degree in biochemistry. Ooh now I sound defensive - sorry.

Not meaning to be tooo self serving here either, but there just aren't many people available to comment who have actually worked closely with all of this) outside of the 900 or so do it yourselfers that have worked with it, but who probably are not sure they are qualified to post authoritatively. So I thought I should speak up.
Syd

Edited by Wahlnut, 05 April 2011 - 15:27.

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#49 FarmBoy

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 23:03

I find this all very interesting and worth while.

Some high points in the discussion worth noting:

Abrasion of any kind removes material.
Polishing compounds are abrasives.
Polymer chemistry and surface chemistry are complicated.
Chemical treatment alters surfaces on the molecular level and adsorption is different from absorption.
Different materials react differently, even when they look alike.
Restoration work on pens should always be disclosed when selling a pen. (Wasn't there a proposed code of ethics once?)
Don't practice rubber restoration on a Waterman #20.

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#50 beak

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 00:03

.......................

Thanks for that interesting post.

Above, I mentioned in passing the antique trade practise of using olive oil to refresh the appearance of Vulcanite ('HR') and you may be the one to tell me more about that, technically speaking. It would have seemed that the normal antique restorer's weapon of choice would be a hard wax or linseed oil in some form, but that seems not to be popular. Given that there is often much experience (though perhaps not much science!) behind such trade practises, could you comment on the use of olive oil any further?

Again, I was merely mentioning the practise, not necessarily recommending it.
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#51 dweit

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 01:10

Wow, i just read thru thus entire thread and i have to say i certainly have learned more then a thing or two here. Very interesting. But, getting back to the OP and the photos with it, dare i say the pen looks great as is! Why not just leave it and its well earned history as is, and enjoy it for what it is - a very cool old pen that wear's its age with honor!
Just mho.

#52 asiwalkhome

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 02:15

Nice post Wahlnut - thanks.

#53 ru32day

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 07:33

There was a brief mention of waxing in the middle of this thread - Can I use Caranauba (sp?) wax on pretty much anything without damaging it or do I need to be selective? Is it like waxing floors where after a while grit and grub gets into the wax and it needs to be taken off (like stripping floors) before applying a new lot?
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#54 sherbie

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 14:56

well thanks all, for all the advice and discussion

After all the advice, I couldnt resist a light application of extra virgin olive oil - pls see pictures.

The nib tines will still need some adjustment, but after this its ready to go

ps - I've also left the tissue paper close by so that you can see what came off the pen

cheers, paul

#55 eckiethump

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 18:10

That looks perfectly acceptable Paul, and LOT less effort than other methods, including my own, described. the excess and colour on the tissue is just the oxidised surface layer removed with rubbing. Long term I think if handled, not exposed to excess moisture or light, the pen colour would be fine. The light abrasion and oils from your hand, would I think keep at bay further oxidisation. That is just a thought with no evidence to substantiate it.
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#56 Guest_Subvet642_*

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:15

Beautiful pen!

#57 beak

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:25

Hey - thought my olive oil thing was being dumped / ignored!

I'd still like to hear form any technical experts that have input for its use.

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

#58 viclip

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:09

Has anyone experimented with silicone brake fluid for restoring ebonite?

#59 Wahlnut

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 03:42

Olive Oil is known to help help keep soft rubber soft. And Synthetic Silicone DOT 5 brake fluid is likewise designed for use in soft rubber situations and will not damage soft rubber found in brake system parts. I don't think either will make hard rubber soft. As for brake fluids in general, DOT5 Silicone fluid is no more or less rubber friendly than standard DOT 4 or 3 brake fluid. The benefit of DOT 5 is that it is less hydroscopic and keeps braking systems more water free and less likely to cause rust in brake likes and parts. Maybe there is a forum member out there with technical organic and inorganic chemistry expertise who has worked with these products on hard rubber and who will chime in?

Rhetorical question: If you use brake fluid on an ebonite bowling ball will the bowling ball make it to the pins? Or will the brake fluid stop it? :rolleyes:
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#60 viclip

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:38

Olive Oil is known to help help keep soft rubber soft. And Synthetic Silicone DOT 5 brake fluid is likewise designed for use in soft rubber situations and will not damage soft rubber found in brake system parts. I don't think either will make hard rubber soft. As for brake fluids in general, DOT5 Silicone fluid is no more or less rubber friendly than standard DOT 4 or 3 brake fluid. The benefit of DOT 5 is that it is less hydroscopic and keeps braking systems more water free and less likely to cause rust in brake likes and parts. Maybe there is a forum member out there with technical organic and inorganic chemistry expertise who has worked with these products on hard rubber and who will chime in?


I don't disagree that conventional brake fluid is compatible with the rubber used in automotive brake systems. However I keep it away from pens because of its alcohol (glycol) base. Among other things conventional glycol-based brake fluid will lift automotive paints & I'm thus confident that it'll damage those plastic parts in pens which are incompatible with alcohol, in addition to acting as a paint & shellac remover. If I come across a damaged black hard rubber pen component I'll try to pretty it up with silicone brake fluid just to observe the outcome & report back to the Forum accordingly.






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