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.