A few months ago I saw a damaged Aurora 88K in the classifieds. The owner, Bamapen, very kindly agreed to pass it along on condition that I would take a couple of pictures when I was fixing it up. So I did . . .
John bought the pen back after the work was done, and was happy enough with it (and my couple of pictures) to post my report of the fixing up on his blog. He also told me to put it on here. Not being one to mess with Southerners, I follow instructions. Hope this might be useful to somebody.
Fixing up the 88
The Aurora are good to work on. The parts are stable and pretty strong, designed to be fixed up easily. There’s one exception, which I’ll come to later. The first step is to remove a tiny plastic cover on the butt of the pen to reveal a screw.
When it’s loosened, like this:
You can remove the piston knob. There is a tiny spring on the screw- it’s used to tension the piston knob. The screw isn’t tight, it’s just got enough torque to hold the assembly together. If you over-tighten, the knob won’t turn.
Under the piston know there are a couple of different designs. In this case there is a hex-nut that the knob fits over. When the knob turns, it drives the hex-nut which in turn works the piston mechanism. It’s a brilliant design for a couple of reasons. First, the piston knob does not back away from the body of the pen when the piston is being operated, so it’s a very clean operation aesthetically and mechanically speaking. Second, the parts are light but not so specialised that a handy person couldn’t jury-rig something if they had to- quite an asset in post-War Italy.
The white plastic piece is a bushing for the piston mechanism. I usually don’t remove them (I’m always wary of screwing things in and out of celluloid) but in this case I had to, so we’ll see more of it later! The piston mech can be removed as one unit from the back of the pen, or in pieces from the front (section) end.
Now to the front. After application of heat, the incredibly tacky substance the factory use to hold the section on gets a little softer, and the section can be loosened. I find two bits of old inner tube work well for this- section pliers make me nervous.
When fully removed you have this:
And now it gets interesting.
The section goes into cold water for a soak.
And it’s time to strip the piston mech. Careful examination of the hex-nut shows that there is actually a tiny pin running through it. It’s not tight, but it is tiny. I usually knock it out with a drift until there is enough showing to pull it out with pliers. Here it is halfway out.
And when removed, the hex-nut slides off the brass shaft:
Now the piston and brass shaft come out the front of the pen, leaving you with:
These are the actual parts that move the piston:
The hole in the brass shaft is, of course, where the pin through the nut goes. The piston looks like this:
It’s hard to see in a photograph, but the piston consists of the big black piece with the hex shape (this fits into a hex shape in the white plastic bushing to prevent the piston just spinning when the piston knob is turned), a strange slotted nut that goes on the end nearest us in the photo, and a range of felt/leather/fibre washers in between. Taken apart it looks like this:
The most delicate piece of these old pens is the black piston itself. In the case of this pen it was definitely crumbly, which led to some challenges. The recommended repair is to replace all those little washers with two o-rings of a specific size (available from David Nishimura). This gives you:
And when re-installed into the piston unit, the whole assembly looks like:
(I left the pin slightly out for the photo, then snugged it home)
The problem with this 88 was that the piston was so soft that I couldn’t tension the o-rings correctly. By turning the slotted “nut” you squeeze the o-rings and change their diameter to get the right “snug but not draggy” fit inside the barrel. Eventually, I was able to get it right with one o-ring, a couple of packing washers, and a spare slotted nut I happened to have from previous Aurora repairs.
Talking of the barrel, after a good wash and scrub with a bottle brush, it looked like:
The ink window was back!!!
So now I had the piston assembly back in a nice clean barrel (This picture captures the hole for the pin through the hex-nut quite nicely).
And so to the front.
There are only three parts to the front end of an 88- the section/nose, the feed and the nib. They tend to be a tight fit, and to glue themselves together with ink. After a good soak (there was a LOT of blue ink in this 88) they come apart, with the feed coming out the FRONT of the section (this is quite counter-intuitive looking at the parts).
Look at that poor nib! It slides off the front of the feed.
You can see how tiny the nib is (the paper is 5mm square). I really thought this one was wrecked, and actually ordered one I found in Italy. To my surprise I was wrong, and managed to get it lined up and working again. After some smoothing it’s very acceptable. Now I have a spare nib I paid $50 for. Oh well. Here is an overview of the whole pen.
And here are a couple of it re-assembled:
Edited by ralfstc, 11 August 2017 - 21:30.