Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies

Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team


How Should I Get Old Iron Gall Out Of An Aerometric "51"?

iron gall 51 aerometric ultrasonic

  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Mercian


    Egregiously prolix

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 700 posts
  • Location:Poundland
  • Flag:

Posted 27 December 2014 - 17:46

Hi all,

I've been trying to get all the dried-in iron gall ink out of a Parker "51" Aerometric, but it never seems to stop coming out.



I've been using R&K ‘Salix’ iron-gall ink in the pen for the last eighteen months. I'd only ever used dish soap & tap water to clean it out, as I'd never had flow problems and the pen was in constant use, so the ink was never anything other than ‘fresh’.


My mother had to go into hospital for a while this year, and while she was in (and for a short while after she'd been discharged) I was rather preoccupied and so hardly used the pen for about a month. When I came back to it, the pen still wrote ok but the ink had become noticeably darker.

Once I'd used it up I decided to clean the pen out with a solution of white vinegar, then dish soap & water, then vinegar soultion again.

Although the dish soap fill came out ‘clean’, the second vinegar solution fill dislodged as much old ink as the first. So I decided to keep doing vinegar soaks until no more ink came out.


The Process So Far

I started out by filling the pen with a solution of white vinegar, and leaving it for a day or so with occasional nib-up to nib-down rotation & longitudinal shaking to try to circulate the solution through the breather tube & sac.

I would then prop the pen up on a piece of kitchen paper to enable capillary action to drain/wick the vinegar solution out through the nib.

After a few weeks of this, and small amounts of old ink coming out each time, I have increased the concentration of the vinegar soultion, and have been leaving the filled pen on top of a radiator in order to use the heat to increase the speed of reaction.

Old ink is still evident on the kitchen paper after each cycle of filling with vinegar solution & wicking through the nib. I can never see any colour in the pen's sac (I had a NOS one fitted to it), but there is still always some depsoited on the kitchen paper after the vinegar solution has wicked through the nib.

After a couple of weeks using the radiator & the stronger vinegar solution, I am becoming rather frustrated now, and would really like to expedite the process so that I can get my "51" back into rotation.

Being both a ‘restoration virgin’ AND an inveterate klutz, I feel in no way competent to disassemble the front section of the pen without fatally damaging it.

So, I am thinking of buying an ultrasonic cleaner to help to get my "51" clean.


After reading old threads about best practice with USCs, I am thinking of pushing the pen into a piece of thick cardboard and placing that across the USC's bath so that only the section of the pen to just in front of the clutch ring is suspended in the cleaning solution, but I still have some questions that I'd like to ask:



1) As I am (I think) trying to remove layers of iron salts that have precipitated inside the pen's collector, should I actually be using a solution of white vinegar in the ultrasonic cleaner, rather than ammonia (or whatever is in the detergent that comes with the USC)?

2) Should I fill the pen's sac with the cleaning solution before placing the section inside the USC's bath, or should the sac be dry and ONLY the section that is submerged contain solution?


3) Am I right to think that I should put the pen through a USC cycle, then empty it (squeezing & wicking onto kitchen paper), then another round of USC-then-emptying, then further rounds as necessary?


4) Am I wrong about the identity of the dark blue patches that have been appearing on the kitchen paper after every vinegar soak?

Are these bluish-grey patches (that are the same colour as the dye component in R&K ‘Salix’) actually patches of the salt (Silver Acetate?) that results when the sterling silver breather tube of a 1950's aerometric is exposed to vinegar?


5) Is there anything else that I need to know before I go ahead with my plan; do you have any general advice for me (apart from ‘type shorter posts already, you blethering Windbag!‘ ;) )? Or;


6) Should I actually just ‘bite the bullet’, and take my pen's life in my hands by attempting to fully disassemble it?


Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Foul in clear conditions, but handsome in the fog.



Sponsored Content

#2 Cepasaccus



  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 755 posts

Posted 27 December 2014 - 23:08

I had good experience with ascorbic acid solution. Ammonia is a historic cleaning solution, but I don't know why it would help cleaning.

#3 Freddy


    Museum Piece

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,644 posts
  • Location:Gold Coast, NY
  • Flag:

Posted 27 December 2014 - 23:16



For your consideration..use Koh-I-Noor Rapido Eze full strength....



A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank

check made payable to  The United States of America. For an
amount of up to and including my life. That is Honor, and there are way too many in this country who no longer understand it.
 Redacting..to add link to Ron Zorn's Salad Spinner Centrifuge

Edited by Freddy, 28 December 2014 - 01:09.

#4 pajaro


    Amblin along like I had good sense.

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 13,010 posts
  • Location:Tecumseh, MI
  • Flag:

Posted 28 December 2014 - 00:03

There was a thread about using salad spinners to clean all the ink out of Parker 51s (centrifugal force).  I recommend searching for it.  Salad spinners aren't too expensive. 


I remember that Carter's red ink took a very long time to stop coming out of my first 51.  It took years.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.


They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .

#5 Threadbear


    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Heidelberg, Germany
  • Flag:

Posted 28 December 2014 - 23:03

First off, I don't know anything about ultrasonics. Perhaps one would do the trick.

P51s are tough, though - they look a little mysterious but I don't think you are likely to run into trouble taking one apart for a good cleaning, especially if you have one of the excellent guides floating around the Internet to hand. Admittedly I've only fixed up a couple, but I wouldn't be shy of opening it up and having a good crack at the collector with some vinegar and a toothbrush. It costs nothing, and you will be able to *see* that it's good and clean. Also, you're missing half the fun of a P51 if you haven't had a look under the hood and seen how it all goes together!

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: iron gall, 51, aerometric, ultrasonic

Sponsored Content