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Writing-In What Happens During The Process?

writing-in vintage

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16 replies to this topic

#1 AidenMark

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 07:23

Having accumulated a fair number of older pens now, there is a consistent observable experience in their performane: the pen improves steadily over the first few months of writing.

 

Here is the scenario - buy an older pen (50s to 90s) from ebay. Clean it thoroughly, ink it.

It skips, or had bad flow or is just boring to write with.

 

After persevering for a month or so, the pen improves its flow, stops skipping and develops a character. The nib ever seems to become softer.

 

So what is happening in this 'writing in' process for older?

 

Is the pen shedding microscopic dried ink particles (despite cleaning with flush)?

Is the metal in the nib tempering, changing at a crystalline level? 

Does tipping develop oxide over years which gradually wears off during writing?

 


Less is More   - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Less is a Bore - Robert Venturi


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#2 Anderglan

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 07:34

I guess, to an extent it's not unlike old cameras, and their lenses: almost all experts will tell you that you should shoot your LEICA, CONTAX, whatever, at least once a month. If you don't do it, the innards gum up.


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#3 loganrah

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 10:52

It seems most likely to me that the change is with the user, not the product.

 

Especially if we are talking about used pens that would have, presumably, gone past any mechanical break in period during the use of the original owner(s).

 

Meanwhile, having the chance to use a pen for a decent amount of time allows you to get used to the exact angles and level of pressure it uses; even if a lot of this is subconscious. And, likely, optimise the ink that you are using it with. 

A good way to do a (rather unscientific) test might be to take a pen that you like using. Clean it thoroughly. Put it away for a year or so. And then try using it again. If the difference is mostly with the user then you would expect that after a year or so you will find the pen has a few issues again that disappear with a bit of use. Whereas if the issue is primarily mechanical/ink based you wouldn't expect much difference with a well cleaned pen that no one else has used.



#4 Estycollector

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 11:55

Having accumulated a fair number of older pens now, there is a consistent observable experience in their performane: the pen improves steadily over the first few months of writing.

 

Here is the scenario - buy an older pen (50s to 90s) from ebay. Clean it thoroughly, ink it.

It skips, or had bad flow or is just boring to write with.

 

After persevering for a month or so, the pen improves its flow, stops skipping and develops a character. The nib ever seems to become softer.

 

So what is happening in this 'writing in' process for older?

 

Is the pen shedding microscopic dried ink particles (despite cleaning with flush)?

Is the metal in the nib tempering, changing at a crystalline level? 

Does tipping develop oxide over years which gradually wears off during writing?

 

 

Judging from my experiences restoring old Esterbrook FP's, I find all of them have worked well from day one. I mean, the mechanisms were made to work so that when they are put back into use, they work as intended. I haven't noticed an evolving positive experience. 


"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"


#5 eachan

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 12:27

 

Judging from my experiences restoring old Esterbrook FP's, I find all of them have worked well from day one. I mean, the mechanisms were made to work so that when they are put back into use, they work as intended. I haven't noticed an evolving positive experience. 

I agree.  A properly restored old pen won't have skipping or flow issues.


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#6 Uncial

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 12:46

I think there's probably a general consensus that says you adapt to the quirks of a particular pen rather than the other way around. That said, a few pens do seem to have that 'break in' period. Sometimes it can be a bit of skipping from left over manufacturing oils that work their way out of a nib by use. I would argue that the ef and f nibs of the Platinum President improve over time. They initially start out a scratchy and dry, but become a good bit wetter with use, even if you've done a very thorough cleaning beforehand. Why this should be, I have no idea. But I've noticed it a few times with mine and it's been noted by others. Some pens with ebonite feeds can be a little finicky at first; again, I've no real idea why but suspect it might be something to do with priming the feed over time and use.



#7 AidenMark

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 18:49

 

A good way to do a (rather unscientific) test might be to take a pen that you like using. Clean it thoroughly. Put it away for a year or so. And then try using it again. If the difference is mostly with the user then you would expect that after a year or so you will find the pen has a few issues again that disappear with a bit of use. Whereas if the issue is primarily mechanical/ink based you wouldn't expect much difference with a well cleaned pen that no one else has used.

 

 

A genuinely interesting idea. The first serious pens I bought were 3 Montblanc model 25x pens from the 50s. They exhibited the improvements I noted in the OP. I could put aside a few contemporary pens but I would have to bet on receiving a second lifetime. Not sure it would work out :)


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#8 SenZen

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 19:02

I didn't have vintage pens but this happened with pens that took me a while to appreciate, an old style m600 and a Man 100: the nibs seemed clingy, but the more I've used them the better they seem to be. Conclusion at least for myself: don't mess with the nib and just use it. Inks can make a big difference in how nibs feel too.

 

My one vintage Vacumatic was probably optimized before I got it, as it has been smooth from the beginning and seems to help my writing, even though I have to grab it by the threads instead of the tiny section.


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#9 OMASsimo

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 19:29

Some vintage pens improve over time due to the ebonite feeds they have. It might take a week to saturate them with ink - and it takes at least a week to wash out the ink from the feed in case you want to change the colour. During the saturation period the ink flow improves and potential skipping issues disappear. I have quite a few pens like that. Others just write straight out of the box no matter what. In some cases residues from production or restoration disappear gradually, which improves the writing experience.



#10 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 21:50

I guess, to an extent it's not unlike old cameras, and their lenses: almost all experts will tell you that you should shoot your LEICA, CONTAX, whatever, at least once a month. If you don't do it, the innards gum up.

Tell me about it... I possess my father's old Agfa Karat camera. This was a compact 35mm rangefinder -- compact in that the fixed lens is on a collapsible bellows system. It's gotten so "gummy" that moving the focus knob nearly twists the front (with the lens/shutter/aperture) off the bellows and extension rail mechanism.

 

The Agfa is two years older than I am...



#11 Karmachanic

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 21:56

The pen is breaking you in.


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#12 Anderglan

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 22:01

Tell me about it... I possess my father's old Agfa Karat camera. This was a compact 35mm rangefinder -- compact in that the fixed lens is on a collapsible bellows system. It's gotten so "gummy" that moving the focus knob nearly twists the front (with the lens/shutter/aperture) off the bellows and extension rail mechanism.

 

The Agfa is two years older than I am...

OT, but I guess it's useful:

"One of the most common faults on the Karat is that the focussing mechanism seizes. The grease used turns to glue. Forcing the focus lever spreads two legs that stabilize the lens and mechanism. On early Karats, the link to the rangefinder on one of these legs is screwed from underneath, making it necessary to partially remove the bellows, but on the 36, the screw is from the top making it easy to disconnect the rangefinder. It is then possible to undo the mechanism retaining ring inside the camera and drop the mechanism and lens out, leaving the bronze focussing mechanism exposed and possible to free up. One recently required heat from a hair drier to loosen the two pieces, but most just require oiling to free up, then cleaning, then re-greasing.

Laurie Pettitt. (Learning the hard way)"

 

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Karat


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#13 AidenMark

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 06:15

The pen is breaking you in.

 

Yes, a valid point. There is a learning period of angle and rotation. Some nibs even demand a certain style of writing, but beyond that I am still observing a pattern of improvement in flow and skipping with use, in many older pens.


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#14 Estycollector

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 10:46

I had to clear out a flat feed Esterbrook 2556 once with a mandolin E string. I suppose that if the feed is partically clogged, using might eventually clear entirely and the pen perform better. 


"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"


#15 AidenMark

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 16:03

Some vintage pens improve over time due to the ebonite feeds they have. It might take a week to saturate them with ink - and it takes at least a week to wash out the ink from the feed in case you want to change the colour.

 

 

You might be on to something there.


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#16 sansenri

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 19:11

Some vintage pens improve over time due to the ebonite feeds they have. It might take a week to saturate them with ink - and it takes at least a week to wash out the ink from the feed in case you want to change the colour. During the saturation period the ink flow improves and potential skipping issues disappear. I have quite a few pens like that. Others just write straight out of the box no matter what. In some cases residues from production or restoration disappear gradually, which improves the writing experience.

 

 

The pen is breaking you in.

I believe both of these to be true. The "saturation of the ebonite feed" certainly is something I am also experiencing on older pens, on the other hand, if I compare my current use of pens vs a time when I would use one pen only for extremely long periods (years) I do notice that there is a period of becoming accustomed again to that specific pen and its characteristics. You can sort of test that if you try the "one pen one month" challenge...



#17 AidenMark

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 04:38

 

Judging from my experiences restoring old Esterbrook FP's, I find all of them have worked well from day one. I mean, the mechanisms were made to work so that when they are put back into use, they work as intended. I haven't noticed an evolving positive experience. 

 

 

If I could ask - what process do you apply to restoring the nibs. Do you re-polish the tipping ? Is oxidation a problem?


Less is More   - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Less is a Bore - Robert Venturi






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