Yesterday I started my new year with a new achievement: I restored a Sheaffer Snorkel!
I’m sure that’s not exactly a “stop the presses” moment for most of you, but it was a bit of a watershed for me. I’ve been collecting and using fountain pens for some years now, and I’ve done a bit of light tinkering along the way. I’ve learned to swap standard #5 and #6 nibs around freely, made some basic nib adjustments, got a sonic cleaner. I even replaced rubber bulbs on my bulb-fillers, which is about as easy as it gets, because it doesn’t even require disassembling the pen at all.
But the Snorkel… It’s got a reputation as possibly the most advanced—and most complex—fountain pen ever produced. Jumping into this was a leap of faith for me. With three non-functioning Snorkels in hand, I snagged a fresh bottle of shellac and a parts kit from eBay. Then took a while to work up my nerve.
The most scary thing to me is disassembly, if a pen was put together with glue and not designed to come apart easily. I figure if I’m going to break one, or scar one up, that’s when it’ll happen. Fortunately, a lot of Snorkels seem to come apart quite easily. Unfortunately, the one I picked to start working on was stubborn and seemed like it got a triple shot of glue back at Ford Madison. I had to apply heat and a fair bit of torque (with latex-coated gloves for extra grip) before it gradually turned loose.
My parts kit came with three O-rings, three point seals, and three sacs. After getting the pen apart, the orginal factory O-ring and point seal were in great condition. They weren’t hard or cracked or gummy, and I decided to just keep them. (Getting that O-ring back in place after examining it was pretty comedic, though!) The sac, though… It had turned to crumbly, stubborn goo. Or gooey crumbs. Either way, it didn’t want to come out. I eventually discovered that a 22-caliber bronze bore brush was very helpful with this.
I probably shouldn’t even call what I did “restoration” because all I ended up doing was replacing the sac in this pen. It was already a superbly preserved “eBay minty” specimen. Even so, I can’t help feeling a little pride that I managed to disassemble the notorious Snorkel, replace that sac and reassemble everything correctly without damaging anything or losing any parts, and I got it working as it should.
One down, two to go!