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White Vinegar To Clean Old Lever Fill Pens? Tips?


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#1 Spartcom5

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 21:56

I am just starting to get into fixing up some of my pen finds. I am only starting off with lever fills. I have gotten to the point of getting the section off and cleaning the old sac material out.

 

First question, is it necessary to clean the inside of the barrel other than getting the old j bar and sac remnants out? 

Secondly, is one tablespoon of white vinegar mixed with one cup of water good enough the flush the dried ink out? I know some people use ammonia with dish soap but I would prefer to use vinegar if at all possible.

 

Thanks for any tips provided! 



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#2 Honeybadgers

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 23:51

It's not going to do much. Vinegar won't attack old ink as well as dilute ammonia. Get a bottle of cheap household ammonia and dilute it 1:10 with regular cool to lukewarm water (not hot water, hot water is bad for ebonite feeds and will turn 'em brown) Vinegar is an acid, which doesn't really respond with dyes, and acetic acid isn't very strong. You'd really be no better off than with water, and vinegar will leave a much more pervasive odor, whereas ammonia odors will disappear within moments. Ammonia is a mild base and works MUCH, MUCH better (like damn near magical) on dried ink. I was a skeptic until I tried it and ammonia just chews up old ink like magic. 

 

Dish soap won't do much, it is a mild base as well, but it's more about the polarity than the basic-ness, and as such, won't really grab onto anything fountain pen related. 

 

rinsing the barrel depends on how much the sac disintegrated and if the pen is translucent enough that you can see anything. I'd rinse it with water after getting the sac out and see if there's any ink coming with it. If so, just flush it well with water as long as the barrel is opaque and any potential stains or minor residue, as ammonia isn't GREAT for pens, though it's mostly harmless and won't really hurt anything, the less you do, the better.

 

So, long story short, don't use vinegar for several reasons. Use 1:10 diluted ammonia, it will get sh*t done. And just rinse the barrel with water unless it's a translucent barrel with some staining or visible chunks of dried ink, in which case use ammonia.

 

And don't use hot water, it turns ebonite brown. Lukewarm at most (100 degrees max) 

 

Don't knock out the nib/feed unless absolutely necessary with vintage pens.

 

A cheap $30 ultrasonic jewelry cleaner is a godsend for cleaning old crusted out ink. Just don't use it on lacquered stuff like urushi coated pens.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 11 July 2019 - 23:52.

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


#3 Spartcom5

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 01:36

Thank you! Two more things I can think of is that, is polishing fountain pens a good or bad thing? I collect vintage watches and polishing the metal case on them is a huge no no. Is it the same for pens?

Also, when done with the ammonia solution is it diluted enough that its safe to dispose of by pouring it down the drain?

#4 sciumbasci

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 08:40

I use vinegar to soak and flush out pens which had iron gall inks for a long time (3~4 weeks), although I dont dilute it as much as you do.

#5 Honeybadgers

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 17:30

Iron gall will not really respond to vinegar as much as logic would seem, as it's not free iron oxide for the acetic acid to attack. The ammonia solution to get rid of the dyes or pigments, followed by mechanical agitation is how you're gonna get this gallic bits off best

Ammonia at a household concentration (like 0.010 molar or less) is going to be destroyed quickly, you can just pour it straight down the drain. Worst it'll do is maybe grab some oil from your pipes and clean them a teeny tiny bit.

Polishing nibs and furniture and barrels is perfectly fine unless the pen holds some unique historical value. Just be careful not going too hard on furniture or plated nibs, as the plating is usually very thin. I never polish furniture with anything more than a sunshine cloth

Edited by Honeybadgers, 12 July 2019 - 17:42.

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







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