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New Pocket Clip For Old Push Pencil

esterbrook repair pencil

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27 replies to this topic

#1 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:00

Today we had some snow, and it hasn’t stopped yet so we can’t go out and clear it quite yet.  That gave me the chance to finish up an essay about replacing the pocket clips on Esterbrook push pencils.  It’s a little long-winded.  So fill up your coffee mug, sit back in your chair, and enjoy the ride.  (Note that this is a companion article to an earlier essay about “Replacing Pocket Clips” on Esterbrook fountain pens.  See that thread for additional details about some of these steps, and more helpful pictures.)

- - - Jim


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#2 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:00

On the day after Christmas it was bright and sunny, so I got up and out (late), and scouted most of the antiques emporiums and flea markets in Columbia, PA.  My sole find was a pretty dark green but mortally wounded Esterbrook push pencil, with the pocket clip broken off right at the tassie (a picture of it disassembled is several posts below).  It’s about 5" long, has the J-style “three rings” cap band, the writing tip is plain with no “annular rings” to indicate the lead size (but it uses 0.046" or 1.1mm lead), and it absolutely wasn’t functioning properly.

- - - Jim


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#3 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:01

Please understand that I’m a mechanical pencil freak (CPA; almost retired now).  I’ve used mechanical pencils on a daily basis all my life, although nearly every one of those pencils is/are/were made by Autopoint.  A mechanical pencil is no good to me if I can’t clip it to my shirt pocket.

- - - Jim


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#4 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:02

Pencil people often refer to these type mechanical pencils as “click clicks”.  Many vintage Esterbrook, Parker and Eversharp mechanical pencils have that same type lead advance mechanism.  You push the end of the pencil repeatedly, until the lead emerges from the writing tip.  Each push results in a definitive “click” as the mechanism advances the lead, and another “click” as the mechanism resets itself in preparation for another lead advance.  While that type mechanism may be convenient for the user, it is decidedly more complex than the typical Autopoint lead advance mechanism.

- - - Jim


Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#5 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:09

Esterbrook push pencils, like many other mechanical pencils, frequently get jammed with lead.  Sometimes the lead is too soft, and gets stuck in the barrel.  Sometimes the leads get jammed against each other, in the barrel or at the reservoir exit point.  Sometimes the pencil has laid around so long the lead seems to adhere to the pencil innards, due to corrosion.  Whatever the reason, the first order of business is to remove the lead jam - if there is one - and attempt to restore proper function.  I use a long piece of thin metal rod (similar to a straightened paper clip) which is mounted in a short piece of wooden dowel (the assemblage is a sort of finger operated “lead drill”).  The very tip of the lead drill is filed flat, like a the tip of a standard screwdriver blade, and similarly tapered a bit toward the tip.  The diameter of the metal rod is just less than 0.046", which is the outside diameter of the lead for this pencil.  (This tool was purchased many years ago from the famous pen and pencil repair person Fr. Terry - RIP.)
- - - Jim
PPleaddrill.jpg

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#6 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:10

I use the following method(s) to clear the lead jam.  First I remove all of the spare leads from the reservoir up under the eraser, since those spare leads automatically feed into the barrel and might further jam the lead advance mechanism, if left in place.  Then I hold down the “click click” mechanism of the pencil so the writing tip opens up and releases its pressure on any lead still inside the barrel of the pencil, and withdraw the piece of lead that sticks out the end of the pencil (if necessary, with a household tweezers).  If that doesn’t seem to restore proper function, then I hold the pencil cap down on my desk (on top of a pad of paper, to keep the resulting lead shavings mess off my desk), and press the pencil downward against the desk so the writing tip opens up and releases its pressure on any remaining lead.  While the writing tip is thus held “open”, I start “drilling” down through the writing tip with the lead drill.  Often you don’t have to “drill” very far, since the jam is usually confined to the area behind the very end of the writing tip.  In this particular case I only had to turn the drill two or three revolutions.  Gently pushing down on the drill rod then dislodged the rest of the lead jam, which exited the pencil through the (empty) lead reservoir at the other end of the pencil.  Then I checked for proper functioning with a fresh 1-7/8" piece of lead, loaded into the pencil the “wrong way” (from the writing tip end, with the mechanism held “open”), and the “click click” mechanism now worked just fine.

- - - Jim


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#7 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:10

With the pencil’s proper functioning restored, I now deemed it possibly worthy of further restoration efforts.  So I investigated the inside of the cap with a small flash light.  I discovered that it has a thick metal band just inside cap lip, apparently to connect with and drive/propel the “click click” mechanism in the lower part of the pencil barrel.  I also discovered a thick, flat bottomed object up near the top of the inside of the cap (there was no inner cap like an SJ fountain pen cap would have, so I could view the bottom of the cap jewel directly).  It sure didn’t look like the typical bottom of an Esterbrook SJ fountain pen  jewel that you “drive out with a knockout block and a flattened metal nail”.

- - - Jim


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#8 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:11

So I assumed that it was the type jewel that needs to be unscrewed from the cap.  I simply used a piece of junk rubber inner tube I had lying around, to press against the top of the cap jewel and attempt to unscrew it.  The first few turns of the jewel were very difficult - it probably had never been removed before.  Ultimately with patience and several rest periods for my fingertips, the jewel unscrewed from the cap top, and the broken pocket clip tassie fell right off the top of the cap.

- - - Jim


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#9 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:14

Here’s what the push pencil looked like, when disassembled into its major pieces.  Note the pocket clip tassie with the pocket clip completely broken off; you can see that the inner edge of the pocket clip tassie is flat, not "cupped" (will be important later).  Also note the threaded cap jewel.

- - - Jim

PPapart.jpg


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#10 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:14

To insure that I restored this Esterbrook push pencil correctly, I visited Brian Andersen’s great Esterbrook web site at www.esterbrook.net.  I discovered that this particular push pencil is considered a fourth generation J series transitional model, that it features a round black jewel on the cap top, that the cap jewel is of the screw-in variety, and that the pocket clip has “Esterbrook” imprinted on it.  (The corresponding pen is described on the J series pens page, at the very bottom of the “J transitionals” page.)

- - - Jim


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#11 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:15

Next I went to my Esterbrook parts box.  I wanted to keep any replacement pocket clip consistent with the way it looked when it left the Esterbrook factory, if at all possible.  I realized that I had many SJ/LJ junk fountain pen caps, with round “friction type” jewels and good pocket clips imprinted with “Esterbrook”, but no push pencil donor caps (push pencils are fairly hard to find, especially early pencils with the thick 0.046" lead and no “annular rings” around the writing tip).

- - - Jim


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#12 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:15

Accordingly, I decided to disassemble a black Esterbrook SJ fountain pen cap which had been left out in the sun by a flea market vendor, and was thus hopelessly misshapen - but which still had a good pocket clip with “Esterbrook” imprinted on it.  I wanted to see if that pocket clip would fit the wounded push pencil.  First I removed the clear plastic inner cap from the fountain pen cap, using a suitable bolt and my fingers.  Then I drove out the cap jewel from inside the cap, using a knockout block and a long finishing nail which had been flattened at the end.  Finally I used my drill press to carefully drill out the brass “eyelet” which holds the pocket clip and tassie in place.  (See the Esterbrook thread “Replacing Pocket Clips” for more details about these steps, and some helpful pictures.)  Once the top of the eyelet was drilled out, the pocket clip with tassie simply fell off of the top of the SJ pen cap.

- - - Jim


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#13 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:16

I discovered that there was good news and bad news.  The outside diameter of the SJ fountain pen clip tassie appeared to be the same as the outside diameter of the push pencil tassie.  However, the inside diameter of the hole in the SJ fountain pen clip tassie was much less than the inside diameter of the hole in the push pencil tassie (since the jewel on the SJ fountain pen was a “friction fit” type with a thin “neck”, while this push pencil, as in the picture,  has a threaded jewel with a much thicker “neck”).  And the push pencil tassie had a different cross section than the fountain pen clip tassie.

- - - Jim


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#14 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:16

Observation:  Both tassies also had very small “protrusions”, which get pressed into the plasic of the cap top, to keep the tassie from rotating on the cap top, once the jewel is tightened down on the top of the cap.  But the vertical plastic end of the cap top of the SJ fountain pen has very thin top “edges” upon which the clip tassie is mounted.  In contrast, the vertical plastic end of the cap top of the push pencil has very thick top “edges” upon which the clip tassie mounts.  I believe this difference is simply attributable to the difference between the functions performed by those caps.  The top of the SJ fountain pen cap needs only to be strong enough to hold the pocket clip tassie firmly in place.  The push pencil cap takes an additional beating, since it not only has to hold the pocket clip tassie firmly in place but is also frequently pushed/banged upon to advance the lead, thus doing double duty and needing additional strength.

- - - Jim


Edited by Autopoint, 25 January 2015 - 01:46.

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#15 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:17

I figured no pain, no gain.  It couldn’t hurt to work with the junk SJ clip tassie, to attempt to make the fountain pen tassie “match” the push pencil tassie.  I just needed to convert the SJ fountain pen clip U-shaped tassie to an L-shaped cross section with a larger diameter hole in it, so it would pass the threads of the cap jewel (I know, I know - just keep reading for a bit; it will become more clear).

- - - Jim


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#16 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:18

The crude sketch below is a side view of the cross section of just the round pocket clip tassie, as if you sliced it vertically right through the center of the tassie.  The upside down “cupped sections” fit on top of the fountain pen cap.  But the inside edge of the “cupped sections” won’t sit down properly on the more flattened top of the push pencil cap.  So you need to cut off or file down the inside/center of the tassie at the dotted lines, and thus remove the part of the tassie at the X below.  (Spoiler Alert:  When you enlarge the center hole in the tassie enough to pass the threaded jewel, you will have accomplished the necessary “conversion”.  And the “protrusions” will remain usable.)

- - - Jim

PPXsect.jpg


Edited by Autopoint, 25 January 2015 - 01:47.

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#17 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:19

I started filing the inside of the SJ clip tassie with a small round rat tail file, by hand.  Pretty tough to do, since the Esterbrook pocket clip and tassie appear to be made of stainless steel, which is a fairly hard material.  An hour of junk TV programming later, I had sufficiently enlarged the hole in the SJ tassie and, at the same time, had eliminated the U-shaped profile of the SJ clip tassie, making it flat near the center hole, just like the push pencil tassie.

- - - Jim


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#18 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:20

Observation:  Knowing Esterbrook’s penny-pinching, “dual use” manufacturing style, clearly both the SJ and push pencil pocket clip and tassies could have come from the same manufacturer, with tassies destined for push pencils simply having a slightly larger hole in the center, either drilled out by the original manufacturer or by Esterbrook.  I chose not to enlarge the hole in my SJ clip tassie with my drill press due to the difficulty of holding it in place while drilling, without marring the finish.  It proved much easier simply to hold the SJ clip tassie on the plexiglass covered top of my knock-out block, and just use a small round file for that surgery.  (In the future, if I need to do this task again, I’ll certainly try to utilize my drill press and successively larger drill bits for this hole enlargement surgery, since the task could probably be accomplished much faster that way.  I’ll use a block of soft wood to hold the clip and tassie in place while the hole is being enlarged, so the visible portion of the metal pocket clip doesn’t get scratched.)

- - - Jim


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#19 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:20

While enlarging the hole with the very small round file, it was nearly impossible to keep the hole in the clip tassie perfectly round.  So I periodically tested my work by inserting a tapered metal reamer into that hole, and looking for spots where I could see daylight between the reamer and the inside of the hole in the clip tassie (the tapered tip of the barrel of a cheap ballpoint pen would have worked just as well).  Wherever I didn’t see daylight needed more work.  Ultimately I had a fairly well rounded hole of the exact size needed to pass the threaded end of the cap jewel.  Note that perfection isn’t necessary - the diameter of the cap jewel is a good bit greater than the diameter of the necessary hole, and thus the cap jewel covers up a multitude of sins.  In fact, some roughness of the surface of the flat top surface of the clip tassie below the jewel is desirable, so that once the cap jewel is screwed into place it won’t come loose very easily.

- - - Jim


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#20 Autopoint

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 01:21

When the hole in the tassie was enlarged to the point where the jewel threads would just pass through the hole, my restoration effort was basically complete.  I just pushed the pocket clip and tassie firmly on top of the push pencil cap (so the “protrusions” would sink firmly into the plastic “edges” of the cap top), threaded the jewel into the cap top to hold the pocket clip and tassie in place, checked the alignment of the pocket clip on the barrel, and gave the jewel a final twist with my handy piece of rubber inner tube.  To complete the project, I found a red rubber eraser in my parts box that was just a bit larger in diameter than required by this Esterbrook push pencil, and sanded it down to reduce the diameter to what was needed.  I also found an “eraser ring” in my parts box, which is the C-shaped piece of metal which holds the eraser at the correct level in the top of the metal tube inside the cap of the pencil, so I installed that part (it probably came from a 1950's Sheaffer thin model pencil).

- - - Jim


Edited by Autopoint, 25 January 2015 - 01:48.

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