So you've gotten yourself (perhaps) your first found in the wild Parker 51 and you are so anxious to fill and test out your new pen friend.
Not so quickly there now, you know they say patience is a virtue.
First a comment for those who have chosen a Vacumatic filler model as their first 51. The Vac filler uses a natural rubber diaphragm which, like the latex sac in lever and button fillers, will wear out and require servicing over time. Even if your "new" Vac 51 will fill when you receive it, unless you are assured by your seller (that you know and trust) that it has had it's diaphragm replaced, it is more prudent to NOT put the pen into continued service until it has been replaced. IF the diaphragm fails with the pen full of ink, you'll not only have a mess in (and on) your hands but the person you send the pen to for servicing has additional clean up work to perform within the bowels of the pen as well. AFTER you get your new Vac 51 cleaned out, you can still enjoy that first fill and use that time to critique the pen and nib so you will be able to notify your service person of any changes to ink flow or nib smoothness that you may desire them to do at the same time as the diaphragm servicing.
The "sac" used in the Aero filler is made from a form of PVC that Parker called Pli-glass that is extremely durable, much more so than the diaphragm in a Vac filler. Unless punctured or torn, so far, the Pli-glass has shown an indeterminate lifespan. (In the event a replacement Aero sac IS ever needed, David Nishimura of vintagepens.com has recently begun to produce and sell exact replicas of the original Pli-glass sacs.)
There are some design features in 51's that are dramatically different from other pens and make the usual quickie one or two filler cycle flushes that may work with other pens insufficient to clean out a P-51. Perhaps the most prominent is the collector inside the hood. Think of it as kind of a car radiator, but for ink. It is much larger with more channels than are in most all other pens. It has numerous fins that help regulate ink flow but that also can become clogged if ink is allowed to dry up inside the pen. This clogginess will manifest itself in a myriad of writing anomalies such as hard starting, skipping, or reduced or dying ink flow during use. It is my opinion that many fountain penners who've not enjoyed their 51's were writing with cloggy pens. They' ve done a quickie (insufficient) cleaning on them and they then just assume that all 51's write like that. Trust me. They don't.
It is preferred, if you are willing to take just a little time to learn how and what to do, that the hood come off either model, and at least the front end of the pen be disassembled, the parts thoroughly cleaned then reassembled. It really isn't difficult to do. We will assume for this thread that you'd like to get the pen up and writing, as clean as you can get it, for at least that first fill before sending it in for service, (Vac) *Without taking the pen apart*. We will also assume that you do not have an ultrasonic cleaner. The use of an ultrasonic cleaner can reduce the soak/flush time to a fraction of what is necessary without one.
(Re; Ultrasonic cleaners. Below is the model I have and have used for about 3 years now. (Image from Amazon) It works perfect for pens. It was formally branded as a Haer brand model and it's new model number is Trent CD-7810. As of 6/2012 they are available on Amazon for around $30 and for that price is a real bargain. You may see a larger model available but be sure the on/off controls Are Not located in the units lid but under it. The units with the controls in the lid will fail due to an eventually broken electrical connection between the lid and the unit itself.)
There is a breather tube inside that can become clogged and in the Aero maybe corroded from the use of Parker's Superchrome ink. While you may be able to clear a light clog in the breather tube by soaking and flushing, a really clogged or corroded one will mean the pen has to come apart for the tube to be accessed and serviced. Luckily, the main aspect of the breather tube relates to filling and while you may not get a full fill with a clogged or compromised tube, the writing of the pen shouldn't be noticeably affected. If you have an Aero pen, give it a light shake and listen closely, you Do Not Want to hear anything "tinkling" around inside. If you do, that is likely a broken corroded breather tube that should be replaced for the pen to fully fill. Continued use of an Aero with a broken tube risks the tube puncturing the Pli-glass sac. That would not be a good thing. Even with a broken breather tube you can still do this clean up and at least your first test write ink fill. (The Vac filler's breather tube is plastic and not subject to the corrosion a Sterling Silver Aero tube is.)
Find a see though cup, glass or other container, the narrower the better, to soak your 51 in. You are going to soak the pen, nib down with the pen standing as vertically as possible. Here is the antique shot glass I use to soak my 51's. Off the top of my head, an empty and washed out Olive jar might make another great soak jar.
In another container mix a solution of 10% household Plain, non-sudsy, non-"flavored" Ammonia to 90% tap water. JB's pen flush, Rapido-Eze technical pen cleaner, R & K pen cleaner or the J Herbin pen cleaner are the only other preferred soak solutions. Put the uncapped pen nib down in your soak container and fill it with the solution to just forward/below of the clutch ring. It is not advisable to drench the part of the either style filler past or aft of the clutch ring, this is why you are soaking vertically, nib down instead of the whole pen being submerged horizontally.
If your pen is a Vac, remove the blind cap and with the pen in the solution, push the plunger down, release it, wait 2-3 seconds for the pen to take up some soak solution and push again. Repeat until no more bubbles come out. If you only see bubbles rise for the first or second plunger push, your rubber diaphragm isn't working correctly and needs replacing. While you can still soak and Maybe flush the pen clean(er) it isn't likely to fill with ink. What you want to see from a good Vac diaphragm is *some* bubbles for at least 6-8 plunger pushes.
With an Aero 51 pen in the solution, cycle the filler 4-6 times with a couple seconds between each squeeze. Then lift the pen out of the solution and move it nib up, nib down a couple times to slosh some of the soaking solution around inside all of the Pli-glass filler sac, then back into the soak container nib down.
You are going to let your pen soak for at least 24 hours, preferably 36. The complexity of the passages within the collector are the main reason for this extended soak time. The idea is to get all parts of the filler forward of the clutch ring as clean as possible which, if there are then writing problems, tends to negate a cloggy pen as the reason. Every couple hours you are awake come by and cycle the filler a few times with the pen in the solution to flush the cleaner through the pen. Remember to nib up/nib down now and then to slosh the solution around inside the Aero's sac. It's a good idea to replace the solution a few times with clean solution so you can monitor how much ink is still coming out or not. It is very common for you to have several hours where there appears to be no more ink coming out then POOF! out will come a big formally persistent clog poof of ink. After 24 hours, replace the solution with clear water, cycle the filler a few times to fill the pen with that, then cycle the filler a few more times every couple waking hours for the last 12 hours as a final rinse/soak. You may desire to do one final "soak" change of fresh water towards the end to be sure All traces of the Ammonia are removed from the pen.
At the end of the 36 hours, remove the pen from the water, cycle the filler a few times to exhaust the remaining water inside the pen and carefully put the pen nib down in a cup/glass with a wadded up piece of good quality paper towel in the bottom of the cup/glass. In 2-4 hrs, the paper towel will remove most if not all of any remaining water though capillary action and your pen will be as ready as possible for it's first test write ink fill.
This extended soak/flush procedure will get the pen as clean as possible short of taking it apart and cleaning each component. If there are writing problems with the pen on your first fill, or when you send the Vac in for it's new diaphragm, mention to the repair person that you've done this extended soak and flush.
Lastly, when you do your first test write fill, remember on the last plunger push or Aero squeeze to NOT release the plunger or filler bar until you've lifted the pen out of the ink. This draws the excess ink up off the collector and makes it less likely the pen will glop on you.
There you have it, good luck with your "new" P-51 and welcome to "The 51 Club".
Bruce in Ocala, FL
Edited by OcalaFlGuy, 20 June 2012 - 02:19.