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Waterman's 45 Safety Fountain Pen


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10 replies to this topic

#1 angio

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 21:49

Waterman 45 Safety Fountain Pen.

So I says to myself; angio, me old mucker, you need a Safety pen in your life and not one of those pretend "safety" pens that just have screw-on caps on either end but a proper one – an eye-dropper with a knob-actuated, cam-driven retractable nib made by Mr. L.E. Waterman and Company. So off I went to hunt for a Safety pen to sate my cravings for bizarre filling and monsterously over-complicated pens and, Lo and Behold, I stumble across this (not so little) beauty:

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Appearance & Design (6 out of 10)
A pen with unusual proportions but quite imposing size
I had done my homework before I started looking so I had seen quite a few pictures of the Waterman's Safety pen range but it didn't prepare me for my first in-the-flesh experience of this pen. At just over 13.6cm long and just under 14mm wide this is not your normal short and thin hard rubber pen and when you hold it whilst writing you are aware of its size which for me is a major positive. The chasing and the imprints are pretty even and a very pleasing pattern. The downsides to this pen in my opinion are twofold; first off is the oxidation of the hard rubber from black to an olive green but that is to be expected in a pen that is as old as this one and the second is the proportions of the pen. The cap is very short in relation to the length of the barrel and for me this just makes it look odd.
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Construction & Quality (9 out of10)
A hundred years old pen that could quite easily used everyday
Hard rubber is a notoriously fragile material if not treated well but this pen has, a little discolouration aside, stood the test of time. It feels very sturdy in the hand and when using the mechanism you certainly don't feel concerned that the pen's internal mechanism might break. I took the pen apart to replace the seal and was very impressed with the quality of the internal mechanism – the precision of the internal fittings and how well they had survived 100 years of use.
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Weight & Dimensions (10 out of 10)
Large but well balanced pen suitable for long periods of writing
At just over 13.6cm long capped, an impressive 16.7cm posted, just under 14mm wide at the cap and completely devoid of any sort of streamlining this is an imposingly proportioned pen. Combine the size of the pen with a filled weight of 21g and it makes writing with the 45 for me a "Goldilocks" experience – not too big and heavy, not too small and light; it's just right.
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Nib & Performance (10 out of 10)
A smooth point with a great deal of line variation - worthy nib for a 1st tier pen
Again after doing my homework I knew that the #5 New York nib was going to be bigger than the #2 nibs I'm used to in my Waterman's 52s and again reading about it and actually experiencing it are two very different experiences. This nib is a broad 1mm stub that flexes to at least a triple broad line and has the flow to keep up without being too wet. It delivers a very consistent flow of ink and after a week of using it daily has not once misbehaved.

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Filling System & Maintenance (7 out of10)
A surprisingly clean and efficient filling system but with the potential for disaster.
I have to admit when I first read the filling instructions I thought I was missing something. You fill the pen with the nib retracted and then once filled you just put the cap on over the exposed ink reservoir? Really? Really. My biggest surprise was that not only does this system work really well but it means that you don't have to wipe excess ink off the pen. The 45 comfortably holds just over 3ml of ink which equivalent to about 3 or 4 large Parker Quink cartridges, i.e. loads. The downside to the filling system on this pen is that you have to remember to unscrew the cap and extend the nib when the nib is pointing up otherwise it will leak the 3ml of ink all over your hands and your desk. Also, you have to remember to retract the nib before re-capping the pen or you'll knacker your nib. Maintenance-wise this pen is great if you want to change inks frequently as the large hole at the front where the nib comes out of means that draining the pen is very easy but as it's an eyedropper flushing the nib and feed is only really an option if you completely dismantle the pen. The restoration was straight forward but very carefully done as every article on the subject repeatedly warned that the internal parts are fragile. For anyone who is even considering having a go at restoring their own safeties I have one piece of priceless advice: forget cutting your own cork seal – it's not worth the pain and suffering and the two hours spent making nothing but a horrific mess of cork crumbs that in no way resemble a usable cork seal when you can buy the ubiquitous Nishimura O-rings and have the job done in minutes.

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Cost & Value (8 out of 10)
A great value workhorse pen
I honestly don't know whether or not I got a bargain or paid over the odds for this pen as I've not been able to find more than one or two examples of the Waterman's 45 up for sale out there on the internet to compare prices. I justified the £100 or so I spent on it by the fact that it is one of the larger models of the Waterman's Safety pen range and that I was very confident I could do the restoration work myself. The condition of the pen and the way it writes makes me think it's a good deal but to be honest I like the pen and that is good enough for me
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Conclusion (Final score 8.3 out of 10)
A great pen with an interesting filler which is an experience worth having
I have to say I'm glad I took the plunge with this pen - it's very different to almost all the pens I have had the pleasure of trying in a lot of positive ways but the only problem is that the Waterman's 48 and 20 pens are suddenly looking mighty appealing...
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#2 Scribblesoften

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:13

Wow. What a nice pen. I have never seen one of these in action before. Thanks for the review and the pictures. I also have an oxidized Waterman. I have heard that they can be reblackened. Any idea what is involved in that process?

#3 angio

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:59

As far as I'm concerned there are two or three potential re-blackening techniques that can be used on hard rubber. First is the removal of the oxidised to layer, i.e. sand/polish the pen until the black un-oxidised material underneath is exposed. Obviously this weakens our completely removes the barrel chafing and imprints and in my opinion is barbaric, but then that is just my opinion. The second is to use a treatment formulated and sold by Syd Saperstein (fpn id: Wahlnut). I have not used this concoction nor have I seen the results of using it either but I have read several accounts of people who have and the opinions are mixed. I have to admit I'm tempted to try it out but on some of my oxidised junker pens but I haven't got around to trying it out. The third way is using paint our boot polish but I don't recommend either.

Unless someone else has any suggestions, I think we are just going to have up learn to love our oxidised pens as they are!

#4 jandrese

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 13:51

Fantastic pen and what a nib! Thanks for sharing. And don't call it oxidation, that sounds bad. Call it natural patina, which gives it character, massive character no plastic pen will ever have.

#5 terminal

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 14:21

So would you daily carry it? Or is it too risky?
"One always looking for flaws leaves too little time for construction" ...

#6 angio

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 15:26

Yes, I would use it daily and I have been for over a week now without disaster. I have fitted it with a pocket clip for carrying out around and in it's current guise I would whole heartedly recommend this pen as a workhorse daily user!

#7 Uncle Red

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 17:05

You lucky stiff, a 45 with a stub nib for 100 GBP! I think it's a great deal. Looks good to, I'm glad you're a user. I hope you enjoy it for many more years. One thing though; the 45 model code is from the post-1917 code, before 1917 this would have been a 15 S. Not quite 100 years old but it'll get there in your hands.

#8 CraigN

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 22:44

Angio,

Thanks for a nice review of a lovely vintage pen. I was able to win a Waterman 42 1/2 a while back on eBay, with box and eyedropper. Color and chasing were excellent and the seal even held. I used it briefly, but was afraid that I would eventually do something that would not be good for the pen. I cleaned it and put it in its box. This week, I won another safety pen on eBay, a Waterman 42 with fading and a missing pin. I intend to rebuild it and put it into the rotation with less fear of damaging it.

I hope you continue to enjoy your pen.

Regards,
Craig

#9 Malcy

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 23:03

I saw a 45 for auction on ebay recently and thought about it. After reading your great review, I may look more closely at experiencing a safety.

I don't know if you have seen the original instructions for your pen but here they are:

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Thanks for posting your review. :)
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#10 DanF

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:40

I have both a 42 1/2, and a full size 42 that need to be resored. The larger one has a nice broad flexy stub. I really need to get these things into service. Even the smaller vest pen has a nice girth at the section, much more comfortable than a 52 for me. I think your 45 would be a little too fat for me to write with comfortably, must be quite an imposing pen. The 42 is about ideal for me.

Dan
"Life is like an analogy" -Anon-

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#11 hari317

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 18:51

Superb, thanks for reviewing the 45. i have one 15S with clip cap that I really enjoy using.
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