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Fixing Up An Aurora 88K

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21 replies to this topic

#1 ralfstc

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 19:58

Hi folks,

 

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.

 

Cheers,

 

Ralf

 

 

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.

 

 

r0jBIWu.jpg

 

 

When it’s loosened, like this:

 

6baiONE.jpg

 

 

 

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.

 

15Ckayg.jpg

 

 

 

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.

 

EU1uAyY.jpg

 

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.

 

 

CTyfVeH.jpg

 

 

 

When fully removed you have this:

 

 

wykvEJg.jpg

 

 

And now it gets interesting.

 

The section goes into cold water for a soak.

 

LQ1d8lx.jpg

 

 

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.

 

 

KSv3oHv.jpg

 

 

 

And when removed, the hex-nut slides off the brass shaft:

 

 

n7vn2CS.jpg

 

 

Now the piston and brass shaft come out the front of the pen, leaving you with:

 

GI8IZTf.jpg

 

 

                 

These are the actual parts that move the piston:

 

 

RaU3Gbe.jpg

 

 

The hole in the brass shaft is, of course, where the pin through the nut goes. The piston looks like this:

 

 

ZlyVcJs.jpg

 

 

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:

 

 

LOq4mG1.jpg

 

 

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:

 

 

SXVDu4t.jpg

 

 

And when re-installed into the piston unit, the whole assembly looks like:

 

 

7QHGlB3.jpg

 

 

(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:

 

 

laXYlYG.jpg

 

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).

 

 

W7YnH9b.jpg

 

 

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).

 

 

ZnqGJmV.jpg

 

 

Look at that poor nib! It slides off the front of the feed.

 

 

9Ib9Toj.jpg

 

 

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.

 

 

X6SFEZK.jpg

 

And here are a couple of it re-assembled:

 

 

gO9SW6g.jpg

 

 

 

K7lh2H7.jpg


Edited by ralfstc, 11 August 2017 - 21:30.


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#2 praxim

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 23:46

Thank you ralfstc, your clear photos and exposition are very much appreciated. I have not needed to disassemble an 88 entirely, so far, although from previous reading I had understood it all to be mechanically straightforward (as you show it) with the plastic piston itself the component at greatest risk.


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#3 Russ

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 16:27

Thank you so much!  I love the 88's, and was wondering how to disassemble.  Your photos were very helpful!



#4 praxim

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Posted 22 May 2018 - 00:02

This thread having been bumped from elsewhere, I would like to add the comment that I have now fixed several Aurora pistons using a single O-ring rather than two, between the end rings with one of the old fibre washers on each side. This gives ample room to compress the o-ring to the right degree, easier to wind the piston seal back (I add compression after it is returned) and has yet to leak in any instance to date. A dab of silicone grease is also used on the washer and on the piston thread of course. 


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#5 cabbie

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 00:43

I am considering buying an 88K from a friend.  He mentioned the "rings" had recently been replaced.  Now I know what he was talking about.  Thanks for the great pics and commentary.

 

Cabbie


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#6 truphae_inc

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 16:39

Whoah, awesome job there!!  :o


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#7 Tas

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 17:34

Brilliant!

I nearly pulled the trigger on an 88 like yours a couple of times.
This post will prove most useful to anyone out there braver than I who did.

 

FPN is a goldmine for information like this and I applaud you for making the time to share your knowledge  :) 



#8 ralfstc

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 23:52

I'm very happy that people are finding it useful!

 

Ralf



#9 Shrimpkin1

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 16:49

Thank goodness this post is still available--I just took the plunge to restore my first 2 88s, and this was invaluable! 


Najeeb


#10 Aysedasi

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 19:09

I fixed my 88 Aquila with the help of this info and kind input from praxim.   It's nowhere near as complicated as I'd thought.  


Edited by Aysedasi, 18 August 2019 - 19:09.


#11 superloaf

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 23:14

Hi,
Can anyone tell me the size for the O rings? Are they available from usual sources locally such as auto parts or similar store?
Just got a super deal on eBay for a beautiful 88k pen but the original and deteriorated seals are inside the pen so after assembling and cleaning, all I need are some O rings.
Many thanks for the help as it really is a beautiful pen and I'm excited to get it flowing.

#12 praxim

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 08:22

How easy they are to find may depend on your country. vintagepens sells them. I buy from there (somewhat expensive, especially with shipping) because i have not found them on any available shelves in Oz. I have the sizing somewhere but it was not much use for that reason.


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#13 superloaf

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 01:45

How easy they are to find may depend on your country. vintagepens sells them. I buy from there (somewhat expensive, especially with shipping) because i have not found them on any available shelves in Oz. I have the sizing somewhere but it was not much use for that reason.

 

Yeah, I saw them through vintage pens but thought I might try some cheapie local rings. I found a couple at the hardware store but they aren't a perfect fit. I will try one to see if it seals or not. The outer size is good but the ring I have is a bit thin so not sure if ink will be able to past the washers and then through the center of the O ring. The outer seal is controlled by how much you tighten the plastic center nut so that is adjustable. I'll get this together and if it works, I'll post the O ring size. They cost me $1 for 2 rings so they are quite cheap. 

 

Oh, one more question:  Since the nib identifier on my pen is long gone, I was wondering about how to identify the nib. My nib is marked with  "Aurora 585 7/05," although the 7/05 is extremely tiny so I'm not sure if I'm seeing the last 2 numbers accurately. The nib appears to be fine but would still like to know exactly and whether it's a flex or not. 

 

Thanks again....



#14 praxim

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 01:57

I will be interested in your results. The size I had recorded was ID 4.0 mm CS 2.25 mm although I know that I fixed one 88P using the same ID but CS 2.4 mm. I normally use only one ring and keep one of the old washers either side.

 

Regarding the nib, I am pretty sure Aurora marked nib characteristic with a coloured ring or dot on the rear tip of the barrel. If so, all of mine have faded.


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#15 silverlifter

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 02:08

I am pretty sure Aurora marked nib characteristic with a coloured ring or dot on the rear tip of the barrel. If so, all of mine have faded.

 

They did:

 

aurora_nib_codes.jpeg


Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.


#16 superloaf

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Posted 12 November 2019 - 23:22

I will be interested in your results. The size I had recorded was ID 4.0 mm CS 2.25 mm although I know that I fixed one 88P using the same ID but CS 2.4 mm. I normally use only one ring and keep one of the old washers either side.

 

Regarding the nib, I am pretty sure Aurora marked nib characteristic with a coloured ring or dot on the rear tip of the barrel. If so, all of mine have faded.

 

I'll let you know about the O ring; I'm waiting for delivery of silicone grease right now. 

 

Yes, I love the nib marking system used by Aurora but my identifying mark is long gone (missing completely) as are most from what I have read. But I'm wondering about the marking Aurora used directly on the nib. It must identify something, hopefully the point and flex info, but I haven't been able to find anything online which even mentions the markings on the nibs. 

As stated earlier, mine is 585 7/05. 



#17 praxim

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 00:23

Where did you find a 7/05 marking? I knocked out an 88 nib (which needed some alignment work anyway). It has no markings top or bottom other than Aurora 585.


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#18 superloaf

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 08:41

Where did you find a 7/05 marking? I knocked out an 88 nib (which needed some alignment work anyway). It has no markings top or bottom other than Aurora 585.

 

It's immediately after the 585 and it is about half the size as the 585 marking; it is a fraction. I took some pictures but even with that, I'm having a hard time identifying the exact numbers. I'll post some pics tomorrow if I'm able; I'm a new member with limited posting allowance so not sure if I'll be able to post photos. 

I got my pen back together once I received the silicone grease. The old pin bent as I was reinstalling it so I ended up using a paper clip which is nearly the perfect size; it's a tiny bit too small but by pinching the ends, it will stay put. My O ring seems to be sealing ok but the pen isn't writing very well. It is quite scratchy and scrapes the paper which then builds up between the tines and spreads them which then causes the ink to flow too much. Also, it will sometimes be too dry. My nib is a flex and it is fairly fine so either fine or extra fine flex nib. I write in all caps and printed so not sure my writing style is what a flex nib is made for. I'm trying to get back into cursive but it's been awhile. However, even in cursive, the pen still has the scratching problem. 

I've played around with the ink flow tab in the feed and it seems to work better with a higher flow of ink, otherwise it scratches too much. 

Oh, my nib is fairly loose. It's very easy to pull out the nib (the feed stays put.) I'm not sure how tightly the wrap around tabs should be on the feed?  Also, the nib can be slid sideways (against the feed) when it is fully installed; shouldn't it be tighter and not moveable? 

Are these nibs installed with heat? Does anyone have nib installation instructions for the Aurora 88K?

 

It's a beautiful pen but right now, it's not living up to its potential and what I've read about. 

 

And the O ring I used is of course in inches (damned Americans!) It is 11/32" OD x 7/32" ID x 1/16" CS or 8.7mm OD x 5.5mm ID x 1.6mm CS.  This is quite different from your's and my O ring is obviously too thin but the ring (I'm only using 1 ring) squeezes out and does seal properly. Not sure how long it will work but it does in fact seal initially. It was the only size my hardware store had that would fit so I just went with it. Thanks for your size measurements as I'll probably see what I can order online. 



#19 praxim

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Posted 13 November 2019 - 10:30

Taking those things in order:

 

I have a mark which may be a gold mark in that position. I had noticed that but it was not a set of numbers so I ignored it, it being too faint to decipher the symbol. Being 14k, it should have a gold mark.

 

The nib tabs should grip the feed. I can not remove the nib without knocking out the feed first, and then in some cases specifically loosening the tabs rather than simply prising the nib off. No heat should be needed, just knock the tabs in a little tighter.

 

I am surprised by your O-ring. Are you sure about that ID? I measured the piston rod end at 4.8 mm, so 5.5 mm should be loose on it, not expanded. Still, an OD of 8.7 mm should work.

 

I would expect a standard non-metric O-ring in the SAE -00x range to be 1.78 mm CS with varying IDs.


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#20 superloaf

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Posted Yesterday, 21:59

Hi, the O ring sizing I gave is direct from the package so the SAE sizes are accurate. I converted to metric myself just so we could compare. 

 

Thanks for the nib info about the fitting and tightness of the flaps; I guess if the nib is loose, that could certainly affect the consistent flow of ink so I will tighten it up. 

 

And as for the post 585 markings, I have no idea what it says. It is so small that the imprinting appears to be less than perfect. Here are some pics:

 

 

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