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First Vintage Pen - Problem And Advice Request

vintage lever swan le merle blanc

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16 replies to this topic

#1 NobodysPerfect

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 16:11

Hi everyone!

 

I have been interested in vintage pens for a while, and finally bought my first one at the DC show yesterday.  I got a Swan Le Merle Blanc pen that looked like it was in great condition, and the seller was really informative.  I ran home and inked up the pen, excited about my new purchase. 

 

However, this morning, when I was journaling with it, it ran dry after a little more than a page (which made me think that only the feed got saturated, even though I had searched for tips on fully filling a vintage lever-filler before inking it yesterday).  I tried filling it again, and the same thing happened.  So now I'm worried that either I'm doing something wrong or there's something wrong with the pen.

 

When I filled the pen, I opened the lever, submerged it in the ink, closed the lever, and let it sit for 10 seconds.  I didn't hear any sloshing liquid that would indicated a low fill, but now I think that just meant that it didn't fill at all.  In terms of something being wrong with the pen, the seller (who had a large stock of well-restored pens) told me that this was an unused vintage pen with a new sack.  Is there something else I can try to do differently?  Does it sound like its definitely something wrong with the pen?

 

If it is a problem with the pen, how and where would I go to try to get it fixed?  I don't think I'm comfortable doing repair work on my own, but I also am not trying to spend a lot of money, since I was trying to stick to a budget and bought this pen thinking it was already restored and in good condition.  I'm really disappointed that this happened, especially with my first vintage purchase. 

 

Also I've read a lot of different advice on what inks are or aren't safe for vintage pens.  It sounds like my iroshizuku inks (which are my lowest maintenance inks) might not be the best choice.  Would Aurora or Montblanc inks be safer?  Are there any other tips people need to know when they get their first vintage pens?  

 

Thank you in advance for the advice.  I really hope I can get this worked out soon, since I was so excited to finally get a vintage pen.

 

 



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#2 PaulS

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 16:36

sorry to hear of your problems  -  regret I don't have any experience of this particular pen, but just a suggestion or two, that might help.

 

Instead of lifting the lever then dipping into the ink, put the nib into the ink first, then lift the lever to expel air before dropping the lever  -  allow several seconds for the sac to lift up the ink before removing from the ink bottle. 

 

Looking side on at the nib and it's seating on the feed  -  do you see any space/gap between the nib and feed  -  if there's a gap then this could possibly be a source of running dry.               If you're getting a page of writing then ink is getting through, and the problem may be a lack of maximum ink fill that's the issue.

 

Did the seller provide any information as to how recently the sac might have been changed?           Believe Le Merle is some indication of a bird's name, but not too sure there  -  would be interested in seeing a picture of the pen, and perhaps some idea of age  -  thanks. 


Edited by PaulS, 04 August 2019 - 16:40.


#3 peterg

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 16:51

Le Merle Blanc is a Swan Blackbird made for the French market.

 

My simple test would be to put the nib to the section in a glass of water and pull the lever. You should see a profusion of air bubbles. If not either the sac is finished or the feed has become blocked



#4 sidthecat

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 18:20

Sometimes the problem can be cleared up by soaking nib and feed in water or a flushing liquid for an hour or so. There’s a chance there’s some dried ink in the feed that needs clearing out.

#5 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 18:23

Stick nib in the bottle up to the section. Lift the lever 5-6 times to fill completely. Clean section with a paper towel.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#6 PaulS

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 19:26

all these ideas much better than mine  -  if made for the French market, then presumably this pen has an 18 ct. nib? 



#7 OMASsimo

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 00:35

Posts #3 and #5 describe exactly what I'd suggest. If the sac is shot, I would contact the seller who sold you the pen as "restored" and ask him to fix the issue.

 

I'm sorry that your first vintage experience started a little bumpy. But I hope the writing experience will make up for it very quickly as soon as the pen is repaired.


Edited by OMASsimo, 05 August 2019 - 00:37.


#8 NobodysPerfect

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 02:34

Thank you for the suggestions everyone!

 

I tried filling it again, and no bubbles when I used the lever when the pen was submerged in water, so I do suspect it's a problem with the sack.  I examined it with my pen loop and couldn't see anything wrong on my own, but I'm not really confident I would know what to look for.

 

Luckily the seller is great and responded to my email to him (I had his card).  I'm going to mail him the pen to get fixed or refunded.  But I hope it's able to be fixed because I really love this pen already.

 

And hopefully after I get it working, I won't be scared away from future vintage purchases!



#9 Addertooth

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 02:55

Diversify next time, consider trying some other brands, before you decide on a favorite.  I was completely sold on Waterman initially (and for solid reasons).  But every now and then you will try something different, and just say Wow!


Edited by Addertooth, 05 August 2019 - 02:58.


#10 Honeybadgers

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 01:34

no bubbles = split in sac or the feed is completely clogged (either by some moron who used india ink, which wouldn't show up, but you'd have other indicators of that issue, or with normal ink, which you'd see as a ton of ink rushing out when you dunked it in water)

 

Even a good "new" sac can sometimes fail because who knows how long it was sitting around. Same rule goes for tires. A new off the rack set, if it's old, can sometimes just fail because it's been sitting on that rack for nearly a decade. It's not super common, but it does happen. I've had a new sac installed by a highly respected restoration expert fail within a day of getting it. Sac looked completely new, just developed a split right at the shellac line because it was either made incorrectly (sometimes the dip process results in some thin spots too) or was just an older sac before being installed.

 

One other thing to consider, which had happened to a 1920's sheaffer that I have, is that the feed can just become a little plugged up and flushing with water alone can't get at it. That sheaffer came apart fairly easy, and when I scrubbed the feed (I like those cheap mascara application brushes. Don't tell my wife) a TON of dark ink came out of the channel, and solved the very VERY bad flow problems.

 

Alternatively, a mild ammonia flush followed by lots of water can get rid of ink that water alone can't.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 06 August 2019 - 01:36.

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


#11 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 11:14

A rubber sac once lasted 30-40 years.

When I first got on the Com a decade or so ago, there were still antique still working rubber sacs.....I had one that was 60 years old (Esterbrook DJ pen was from '48-52; could tell from the shape of the lever, and I don't think sac pens were repaired in Germany so the age) but it sat empty for 30 years, in the Dark of two Drawers.

 

Now new sacs if they last 10 years it's a good sac.

Do Not use supersaturated inks in a sac pen.................some of the top reputable repairmen say it can ruin a sac in days to weeks.

Supersaturated ink lovers skoff at that, claiming their pen is still working.........didn't say how many years they were using supersaturated inks in it.

 

There are 100's or more classical or non-uspersaturated inks that will work just fine.

Just remember there are lots of C/C pens to use for supersaturated inks.

 

I believe it was Honey Badger who said supersaturated ink is lots harder to clean out of a sac pen that the old classic inks.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 06 August 2019 - 11:18.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#12 sidthecat

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 18:36

The climate in my home town - or more precisely the air pollution in my home town, causes rubber to decay swiftly.

I was put onto this by my OB-GYN, who told me to replace my diaphragm every couple of years...or is that too much information?



#13 PaulS

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Posted 06 August 2019 - 21:20

not at all  -  on FPN we love candour.               Sorry and sympathies to hear that LA is quite that bad - though presumably pen sacs would be equally discreetly tucked away.



#14 NobodysPerfect

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 03:16

Haha I appreciate that.  I'm not sure how great the water is in my city, so I'll make sure to clean my vintage pen with filtered water.

 

Would Aurora blue, Aurora black, or Montblanc midnight blue be too saturated or harsh for a vintage sack pen?  



#15 Honeybadgers

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 05:53

A rubber sac once lasted 30-40 years.

When I first got on the Com a decade or so ago, there were still antique still working rubber sacs.....I had one that was 60 years old (Esterbrook DJ pen was from '48-52; could tell from the shape of the lever, and I don't think sac pens were repaired in Germany so the age) but it sat empty for 30 years, in the Dark of two Drawers.

 

Now new sacs if they last 10 years it's a good sac.

Do Not use supersaturated inks in a sac pen.................some of the top reputable repairmen say it can ruin a sac in days to weeks.

Supersaturated ink lovers skoff at that, claiming their pen is still working.........didn't say how many years they were using supersaturated inks in it.

 

There are 100's or more classical or non-uspersaturated inks that will work just fine.

Just remember there are lots of C/C pens to use for supersaturated inks.

 

I believe it was Honey Badger who said supersaturated ink is lots harder to clean out of a sac pen that the old classic inks.

 

I do say that supersaturated inks are a b*tch to clean from sacs.

 

but I disagree completely that sacs are made any differently today. The companies making them are still using the original equipment and latex rubber formulas.

 

One thing we haven't discussed is hydration. Rubber is going to last longer when it's not kept dry. Hence why rubber seals on cars "dry rot"

 

When people only had one pen and used it constantly, the sac was always wetted and lasted longer as a result.


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


#16 Honeybadgers

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 05:53

The climate in my home town - or more precisely the air pollution in my home town, causes rubber to decay swiftly.

I was put onto this by my OB-GYN, who told me to replace my diaphragm every couple of years...or is that too much information?

 

Your avatar speaks volumes here.


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


#17 Honeybadgers

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 05:56

Haha I appreciate that.  I'm not sure how great the water is in my city, so I'll make sure to clean my vintage pen with filtered water.

 

Would Aurora blue, Aurora black, or Montblanc midnight blue be too saturated or harsh for a vintage sack pen?  

 

Nope. When we talk super saturated, we're talking the modern chique trendy inks like organics studio nitrogen or most of the noodlers colors.

 

Mont blanc inks are quite saturated though, definitely on the higher end. I might dilute lavender purple or irish green.

 

Super saturated inks can easily be made safe by just mixing them 50-50 or 75-25 in a sample vial with some distilled (ONLY DISTILLED, the last thing you want is the dye component to interact with the minerals and create precipitates) water. Noodlers inks are almost all designed specifically to be diluted in order to make your money go further. 


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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