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My Celluloid 149 Journey

silver rings celluloid 149 refurbish

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#1 zaddick

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 06:59

I am embarking on the journey of having a 149 refurbished, and I would like to share my story as it happens with all of you. Hopefully you will feel better about your good pen buying decisions and maybe even cheer on the successful rehab of an old pen. As they say, let’s begin at the beginning…

 

Thanks to this forum and all the lovely vintage pen photos, I decided I want to get my hands on a silver rings, celluloid 149. The fool that I am, of course,  I did not want to just pay the good folks at Penboard.de for a near mint condition pen. Instead one night, while paying for an eBay auction win on my phone (lovely Danitrio Genkai limited production pen), I looked at my saved searches and saw a just listed 149 silver rings with a seemingly reasonable price and a “best offer” option. I quickly looked at all the pictures and read the description pretty carefully. The pen looked “well loved” but was only used by one person since new. I would say it was heavily used, but I thought to myself that these pens are workhorses, and it could probably be brought back to life. Since I am a glutton for punishment and Christmas was coming, I put in what I thought was a fair offer and hoped it might be too low to get the pen.   

 

Now at this point in the story you should be asking yourself, “Who is foolish enough to buy a pen that will be hard to refurbish just looking at pictures on a mobile phone?” Apparently I am. After a little back and forth on the price, the seller and I came to an agreement and the deal was done. That night I was digging around on FPN and I found a thread where I think someone was discussing the pen I bought a few months ago. The consensus was that then pen was one to avoid. Unfortunately, I did not have the links or pictures to confirm one way or the other if this was the pen I just bought. I tried to convince myself the pen was going to be fine. Instead I just lay in bed wondering how big of a mistake I made.

 

The next day at work I went to eBay and looked at the photos of my pen on my nice monitor. Oh (bleep)… the cap looked worse than I thought with discoloration around the star and the nib definitely was missing a tip. The gouges on the pen seemed deeper on my computer in the light of day. Now I wondered if the piston worked or I would have to add that to the list of reasons not to impulse buy a vintage pen. This disappointment was followed by another FPN search where I learned you cannot “refresh” the color of celluloid once it has changed. You certainly can buff the black off the body, but apparently not blacken the cap. Well, nothing to do now but wait for the pen. Thank goodness the seller was willing to accept returns. At least I had an out if needed.

 

Christmas break came and I was on holiday for two weeks for the first time in 17 years. The pen was going to be delivered while I was away. In the mean time I contacted some of the usual suspects in the restoration game and asked some initial questions. As you can guess, responses were along the line of “it depends” when it came to refurb estimates. Some were optimistic of success, others probably more realistic with a bigger forecast cost. Still no certainty.

 

Once I returned to the office there was a nice little stack of “me presents” I had purchased - mostly ink and the like. And there was THE BOX. Waiting for me to be disappointed or relieved. I decided to wait until afternoon to open it. No reason to be downtrodden at work if the pen was a mess. The time eventually came and I dove into the box to fetch the well packed pen. Once freed from the wrapping, I was struck by two feelings… “Boy that cap looks terrible” and “I like the way this pen fees in my hands.”

 

You have read long enough. Here are some of the pictures of the pen as it arrived.

 

cap view.jpg

Cap discoloration.jpg

cap dent.jpg

cap crud.jpg

gouge on body.jpg

section gouges.jpg

more gouges in section.jpg

nib tip missing.jpg

ski slope feed.jpg

made in Germany.jpg

nib size on cone.jpg

149 cone.jpg

 

Here was my quick inventory of the initial pluses:

  • Masterpiece edition
  • Ski slope feed looked good
  • Model and nib markings on cone
  • Rings still pretty tight

 

The bad news:

  • Did you see the color of the cap? Yikes!
  • Cap is a little too tight. Hello shrinkage.
  • What is that inside the cap? A bad repair? A tropical disease?
  • Don’t nibs need a tip?
  • There seems to be some type of gouge brail on the section.

 

 


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#2 zaddick

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 07:02

After spending several days thinking about it and going back and forth, I decided to keep the pen. I wanted to restore it and bring it back to usable condition, or more accurately pay an expert to bring it back. I think a pen like this could easily have become a parts pen, but I wanted to save it. I know it is never going to be mint, but that just means I will be less afraid to use the pen and take it on the road with me. Perhaps there is some attraction to the idea of saving a bit of history from the scrap heap. So with the decision made, it was time to use the safest cleaning product available (aka water) and see if that piston worked.

 

First, the soaking to remove old ink.

first ink flush.jpg

more ink.jpg

 

Then the piston test… success! It moved. It had the two stages. It extended all the way down and sucked up plenty of water. I am sure the cork is in need of replacement, but at least the piston seemed to work. Hooray.

 

In the process of cleaning the pen, the difference between these early 1950s 149s and the later 149s came through loud and clear. I can see why people like these pens. The feeling is solid and the piston substantial. I was cleaning a 1980s 149 out at the same time and it felt almost like a light weight copy of the celluloid 149. I was feeling a little better about my decision.

 

Here is an after washing pic. A little cleaner, but not an amazing transformation. I hesitate to do much more since I am going to send it in for restoration.

 

clenaer nib.jpg

 

The next step is to find funds for restoration and pick someone to breathe new life into the pen.


If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!


#3 slippery when wet

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 07:14

Hello Zaddick, I have been eagerly awaiting your story. These are the type of threads I get excited about. In relation to "is it worthwhile" all comes down to the initial outlay  and the passion one might have for such a iconic fountain  pen. I am interested to know who your final choice will be to undertake the restoration.

Great thread and keep it coming



#4 farmdogfan

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 07:38

I think that the "mystery crud" is a brass band or something, i have the same in my celluloid 144 and 146, maybe it is some sort of reinforcement:



#5 Paul Raposo

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 14:09

Excellent post and pics zaddick :thumbup:  Thank you very much for sharing your progress so far.


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#6 jamesgibby

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 16:00

I love the silver rings 149. I have never seen one or held one before but I always knew I wanted one (and a 139). Kudos to you for saving the pen. The ski slope feeds are becoming a rarity these days and attracting a premium from my investigations. I would only buy a ski slope 149 as for me it is the true silver ring 149.

Congratulations on the pen and I have every confidence that you will not regret it.... And if you do PM me lol

Montblanc Copernicus 4810, J.P Morgan 4810
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Montblanc 234 1/2L

Montblanc Boheme Medium size non-retractable BB nib
Montblanc Starwalker FP & RB

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Want to Buy MB 129, 139 , 138  136  134  132 & 149 Silver Rings


#7 JLS1

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 18:25

Thanks for bringing us along on your journey - FWIW, I think that even though we think we choose our pens, sometimes I feel like sometimes it's the pen that chooses us. I also think you did the right thing by keeping the pen intact and I'm looking forward to seeing the results! 



#8 Michael R.

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 18:27

Love to see a pen like this taken care of and bringing it back to life!

And let me assure you: it can be done!

Some notes:

- export model ("Made in Germany" imprint & "Masterpiece"

- not a first model (they came with a longer ink window) but not a last model either (they already had the later round feed)

- nib can be retipped and is worth it; silver plating still looks good

- dent in the nib most likely comes from the clip pressing into the celluloid; I have seen this on many pens and usually just return the clip into the position covering the dent again :-)

- mark in barrel is a little bit difficult to get rid of; basicly you have four options:

(1) replacing the barrel
(2) gentle sanding and polishing; this will wear the black coating on the outside (barrel is completely clear with stripes of the ink window coated from the inside and black surface from the outside!) and most likely will remain visable
(3) filling the mark with a celluloid solution and sanding and polishing afterwards. Also barrels can be reblackened from the outside using black celluloid or even black car paint. Especially the latter sounds far from being correct but I have done this on some pens which came to me in a really bad conditions. Given the low costs and easy repair this is still an option in case you are looking for a quick and affordable repair.
This will save the ink window and will not be noticeable by most people. Knowing this will be discussed highly controversal I'm not recommending this for a great pen like this!
(4) this is the most complicated and expensive repair bur till could be done. Experienced repair folks will be able to turn away just the outside of the black part of the barrel with a lathe. Then a very thin lack celluloid tube will be solvent welded in place. I had this done on a very expensice vintage Montblanc and the work is not visable at all!

- almost the same of the above will work for the section; maybe sanding and polishing will work in case marks are not too deep. Otherwise filling in with solved celluloid can work as well. This will be easier because you do not have to worry about removing a coating because the sextion should be solid celluloid.

- a slight sanding (3600 grit and higher with additional polishing sould remove the white discoloration on the cap and cap top. At least from the pictures it looks like it was caused e.g. by hot water on the surface.

- the metal ring inside the cap is a little bit corroded. As farmdogfan mentioned this was used as a reinforcemen to prevent both shrinkage and splitting at the cap's opening


I hope this helps and also encouranges you to move on and to enjoy your new pen! I would go this route as those pens are simply great.

Cheers

Michael

#9 sd10521

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 02:37

Thank you for the update with photos.

Good luck on your restoration you will love this pen.



#10 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:05

Hello Zaddick, I have been eagerly awaiting your story. These are the type of threads I get excited about. In relation to "is it worthwhile" all comes down to the initial outlay  and the passion one might have for such a iconic fountain  pen. I am interested to know who your final choice will be to undertake the restoration.
Great thread and keep it coming


Thanks for the encouragement. I must say I had your recent 139 thread in mind when I first started to wash the pen. I could clearly see your before and stunning after picture and how my pen was not transforming with the magic of water. It was little like cooking along with your favorite TV chef ... while they end up with a prefect souffle, I end up with sweet scrambled eggs. :)

The question of who will do the repair will likely come down to schedule and my gut feeling based on initial communications.

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#11 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:09

Excellent post and pics zaddick :thumbup:  Thank you very much for sharing your progress so far.


Paul, you are another one I thought of when deciding on the pen. I think this might be the one you were looking at maybe in August or Sept. last year and decided to pass on because it was a mess. I am not sure, but maybe you can comment.

I hope you were able to find one you liked with less work.

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#12 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:11

I think that the "mystery crud" is a brass band or something, i have the same in my celluloid 144 and 146, maybe it is some sort of reinforcement:


Well that is certainly better than what I was imagining. Thanks for the tip. I have not seen these rings before as my modern 149s don't have any.

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#13 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:15

I love the silver rings 149. I have never seen one or held one before but I always knew I wanted one (and a 139). Kudos to you for saving the pen. The ski slope feeds are becoming a rarity these days and attracting a premium from my investigations. I would only buy a ski slope 149 as for me it is the true silver ring 149.

Congratulations on the pen and I have every confidence that you will not regret it.... And if you do PM me lol


Stay away from these and the 139 until you wallet cools off! You have been on an acquisition streak recently.

If I decide to sell after I am all done, it will go on FPN first for people who will appreciate a good pen.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!


#14 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:17

Thanks for bringing us along on your journey - FWIW, I think that even though we think we choose our pens, sometimes I feel like sometimes it's the pen that chooses us. I also think you did the right thing by keeping the pen intact and I'm looking forward to seeing the results! 


Thank you. I think after reading the posts there will be good results and I will have a pen I am comfortable using on a regular basis.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!


#15 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:21

Michael - a big thank you for taking so much time to give me many useful suggestions and helpful information. I have always appreciated your posts (and been jealous of your pens). Your kindness is a shining example.

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#16 zaddick

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:38

Ok all - since I am not taking my 149 into an auto shop for a $99 paint job, the question remains as to who I should select to work his/her magic on the pen. The most common recommendations can go by one name each (like pop stars). Say it with me now ... Francis, Tom, and Max.

All are capable, responsive, gifted, talented, experienced, etc. They are also all in Europe.

So I ask you, seeing what you have seen of the pen, who would you select and why? Are there viable options in the US?

Besides the obvious considerations like turnaround time and cost, what would help you pick a restorer?

My current thinking is to focus on who would be the best at solving the cap issues, who might have a replacement cap if needed and, of course, solving the nib issue.

If you would like to weigh in, I would appreciate your suggestions. I have contacted the "big 3" already when I was deciding on keeping the pen and they were all helpful in their own way.

Edited by zaddick, 15 January 2015 - 07:40.

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#17 slippery when wet

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 08:11

I'm currently obtaining a quote for some minor work from Max. From what I've read here on FPN, I think all 3 come highly recommended

#18 bmwboris

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 09:01

All 3 gents have completed work for me on various pens over a number of years. Their work has been fantastic, and all have an intimate knowledge of these vintage pens.

I think in the end it may come down to price- but ultimately you will end up with an exceptionally well restored pen.

#19 jamesgibby

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 09:16

i have had conversations with all 3.

 

i consider Max a good friend and i have seen first had his work on my own modern pens as well as the restoration work on vintage ones. the fact that he is recommedned by MB itself shows the talent so i will always send to Max.

 

BUT All 3 will not disapoint you they are all very highly recommened and their work is there for all to see if you trawl the forum


Montblanc Copernicus 4810, J.P Morgan 4810
Montblanc Writers Edition:  Hemingway,  Proust, Dickens,  Mann,  Twain,  Swift
Montblanc 149 1986, 75th 1924 LE, 90th Anniversary, Platinum
Montblanc 146 Solitaire: Hematite, Gold & Black, Silver Fibre Guilloche

Montblanc 234 1/2L

Montblanc Boheme Medium size non-retractable BB nib
Montblanc Starwalker FP & RB

Montblanc Newson (Matt)

 

Want to Buy MB 129, 139 , 138  136  134  132 & 149 Silver Rings


#20 slippery when wet

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 09:24

Just thought I would bring up this old thread.

http://www.fountainp...-montblanc-149/







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: silver rings, celluloid, 149, refurbish



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