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Replacing A Very Tight Nib In A Vacumatic

parker vacumatic nib replacement

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22 replies to this topic

#1 Honeybadgers

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 00:49

so I got my nib back from greg minuskin, it's gorgeous, but now I cannot get the nib/feed back into the section deeply enough for the cap to screw down completely. my fingers are raw at this point.

 

I have a homemade knockout block that I'm setting the section in, I'm using a piece of old motorcycle tube for a super secure grip, I've tried heating the grip in 160F water and then pressing it in, I've tried dish soap, I've tried a combination of the two. The nib and feed are correct for the pen, I've tried finding the impression of the nib into the section (there really isn't one I can feel) 

 

I get it in, it gets really tight, I press as hard as I can, and i get it to slide all but maybe 1/4 inch from the bottom, and it just stops. I can't get it any further.

 

Does anyone have any advice for getting this bugger back in? I really want to use this pen again!


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#2 mitto

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 01:51

Try cleaning the section from inside. May be there is dried ink inside. Also use dry heat on both the feed and section.
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#3 Honeybadgers

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 03:08

no ink in it. I managed to get it in there enough to get the cap about half engaged.

 

Unfortunately, that was with the best fitting feed, which also happens to be way too wet. So back to the drawing board.


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#4 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 03:46

Perhaps lightly (very) sanding the inside of the section with wet silicon carbide sandpaper, say, 400 grit? Emphasis on very lightly. Cut a strip, roll it up and give it a few twists in the section. Then apply dry heat to the section. If the section is celluloid stay under 165 degrees F, just to be safe.
And, be aware I'm not a pro!
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#5 peterg

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 10:20

400 grit??? Don't you mean 4,000?



#6 Ron Z

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 14:03

Perhaps lightly (very) sanding the inside of the section with wet silicon carbide sandpaper, say, 400 grit? Emphasis on very lightly. Cut a strip, roll it up and give it a few twists in the section.

 

ACK!!   OUCH!!   NO!!!   NEVER sand a feed to get it to fit.  If the feed came out of the pen, it will go back in. The problem is not with the feed.  Sand it, and the nib and feed will be loose in the section, and you'll end up replacing the feed.  I've seen pens where that has been done dozens of times over, and the outcome is never good.

 

A lesson on pen design first.  A nib is a wedge - thinner at the tail than at the tip.  It is supposed to be a tight fit in the section.  If it weren't tight, the nib and feed can easily shift out of alignment.  If you were to fit a NOS feed into a NOS section, you would find that they are unbelievably tight.  You need to warm the section to allow it to fit the nib and feed into the pen.

 

The suggestion to clean the inside of the section is a good one.  Any crud in the section can cause problems fitting the nib and feed back in.  Clean it with a Q-tip or brush, and then dry it out.

 

I work with a piece of white paper on the bench, and a relatively bright light right over me.  Look down the middle of the section.  The light reflected off of the paper will reveal the impression of the nib on the inside wall of the section.  Reinserting the nib and feed with the nib in the same spot will make insertion back into the section much easier.  Press it home with firm pressure.  I put the back end of the section in the knockout block and press down. 

 

Some folks have fingers strong enough that they don't need a tool.  I don't, and use either parallel jaw pliers with a thick rubber pad (in my case a piece of old truck inner tube) to protect the nib and feed, or my section pliers that have thick pieces of fuel line hose on the jaws that will protect the nib and feed.  If it doesn't go in far enough at first (and it often doesn't) I warm the section with dry heat, and press again.  Sometimes you have to warm the section several times to seat the nib in properly.  The heat allows the section to soften just a bit, and relieves the stress as you press it home. 

 

NEVER put the cap on until you have checked to make sure that the end of the nib will clear the inner cap.  Failure to check (and you should ALWAYS check, even if you think it's OK), can result in a damaged nib.  Ask me how I know....

 

You can make an inner cap gauge, or use to wood coffee stirrers to measure the depth of the inner cap.  One goes on the edge of the inner cap, the other to the farther end.  Hold it up against the edge of the section, and as long as the nib clears the end of the second stick, rod or whatever you use, you're good.


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#7 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 15:29

I figured you would respond such, Ron. The only reason I suggested it is that the OP seems to indicate this is not the original feed but the "best fitting" feed. I've never found it impossible to re-insert the original feed and nib.
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#8 Beechwood

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 15:39

An odd remark.

 

OP says 'The nib and feed are correct for the pen'.


One minute you are driving down the road, every window open, singing along to 'I dont want to miss a thing' at top volume, the next you are driving and turning down the volume on the radio to help you see better.


#9 Ron Z

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 15:39

I figured you would respond such, Ron. The only reason I suggested it is that the OP seems to indicate this is not the original feed but the "best fitting" feed. I've never found it impossible to re-insert the original feed and nib.

 

If it is the correct feed, it will still fit, though if there is no impression of the nib on the feed it may be tighter.

 

I do understand that sometimes it can feel impossibly tight.  Really, I get it.  But if they are identical feeds and correct for the pen they will fit.  If in doubt, measure the diameter of the feed at the tail with a pair of calipers.  A thousandth or so won't make much if any difference.


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#10 mitto

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 15:59

If using dry heat once didn't work, it would work if repeated once or twice or perhaps thrice more. If the feed is correct, it would, ultimately, fit. Patience is your best bet.

I have just fitted a new nib in my VS (from a third generation Vacumatic Major) and I encountered the same problem. But repeated use of dry heat on the section solved the problem.

Edited by mitto, 28 June 2017 - 16:01.

Khan M. Ilyas

#11 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 16:00

400 grit??? Don't you mean 4,000?

.

No, actually I do mean 400, but it is Silicon Carbide wet paper, which is different than standard dry paper.
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#12 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 16:04

An odd remark.
 
OP says 'The nib and feed are correct for the pen'.


The OP also says, "Unfortunately, that was with the best fitting feed, which also happens to be way too wet. So back to the drawing board", thus my "odd remark"
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#13 Honeybadgers

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 16:25

An odd remark.

 

OP says 'The nib and feed are correct for the pen'.

 

The nib is original, the feed had cracked fins, so I replaced it with a correct identical feed (which has thusfar been the tighter fit) and one that is a period-correct vacumatic feed but a slightly different design (the one that does fit, but is also too wet)

 

I've got a whole lot of rubber tubing, how on earth do you go about grasping the nib/feed with pliers safely?!


Edited by Honeybadgers, 28 June 2017 - 16:26.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#14 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 16:38

As per the original advice of the late Fr. Terry Koch: grind smooth the teeth of the pliers. Then fit the rubber tubing over the jaws.
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#15 Ron Z

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 17:08

To expand on Kelly's post.
 
Take a Dremel, or right angle grinder, and hog the teeth off of a pair of slip joint pliers, rounding the inside edge just a bit in the process, then slip the fuel line hose over the jaws. I put the hose on first, and then cut it at the end with an Xacto knife with a fresh blade.  I notch one hose down near the hinge so that it doesn't catch as you separate and close the handles.
 

This is the pair of sections pliers that I made and use.  I've had these for something like 15 years.  I prefer these to the spark plug boot pullers because when the cushion wears I just put on a couple of new pieces of tubing.  I finally put hose on the handles for a cushion too.
 


section_pliers2.jpg
 
This is the end - note that the hose extends over the end of the jaw, but not much past.


section_pliers1.jpg


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#16 Honeybadgers

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 18:55

SUCCESS!

 

Last night I just kind of tried it out with the too-wet feed, and it was indeed too wet. it was a bloody firehose and made the F nib write like a B/BB with any more than the lightest touch. it's a semi-flex nib, but this feed was just overkill.

 

I kind of took everyone's advice - sans the sanding, plus the info I was able to find online, knocked it out again and went at it in one more shot with the drier feed.

 

The section was cleaned in my ultrasonic cleaner prior to all this so there wasn't any gunk. There really wasn't any mark in the section where the nib was before, even careful inspection with a loupe showed no real indentation.

 

I set it up in my knockout block (2 inch thick piece of wood with a 5/16th hole drilled in it is the perfect diameter/depth, lets you knock the nib/feed all the way out without touching the table below). took the nib/feed in my left hand and coated it with dish soap. I took my heat gun (way too powerful for this work, I wish I had a hairdryer but my wife has curly hair, so no hairdryer in the house) and set it to its lowest setting (again, way too hot to use up close) and held it a good two feet away, blowing all over for about 30 seconds. I then set the nib/feed in, grabbed some pliers with a piece of thick motorcycle tube between the jaws, and gently but firmly squeezed and pressed, and it slid in firmly, but tightly, just as I'd have hoped it would go in the first time. Tight, but in the right kind of way.

 

Cap fitment is perfect, nib feels right. Ran it through my ultrasonic cleaner for 5 minutes to get the soap out, filled it up with Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu to match the green celluloid, and boom. it's perfect.

 

I like that fuel line and pliers job. I have fuel hose and some old beat up slip jaws sitting in the garage. I'll make one today for that!

 

Thanks for the advice everyone, it all helped.

 

Last question - I know the sections are supposed to be held in with some sort of shellac. I currently just have silicon grease in there to seal it up. Do I need shellac? if so, which kind?

Attached Images

  • Jaws 1.jpg
  • Jaws 2.jpg
  • Vacumatic 1.jpg
  • Vacumatic 2.jpg

Edited by Honeybadgers, 28 June 2017 - 18:59.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#17 Ron Z

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 19:04

Well done!  Glad to see that you got it.

 

Don't use shellac.  Shellac sets hard and makes it difficult  if not impossible to get the section out the next time.  Better to use either a rosin based thread sealant or bees wax.  I use the first, since it is what both Sheaffer and Parker used to seal section threads.


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#18 Honeybadgers

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 19:26

Where can I get my hands on some?

 

Is there a problem with silicon grease? It's not loose at all, and hasn't leaked yet.


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#19 Ron Z

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 19:53

Contact me by email.


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#20 Kelly G

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 20:57

Good job!  Doesn't it feel good to get a ~70 year old pen up and running properly again!

Glad it all worked out for you.


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