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Learning how to restore & repair fountain pens.


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60 replies to this topic

#41 wdyasq

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 05:55

QUOTE(Shangas @ Jan 1 2008, 05:24 AM) View Post
I wanted to start with lever-fillers because they look like the easiest to repair. My main concern was pressure-bars dropping out because I'm worried that I'll have a bloody hard time getting them back in.

For only a small fee (to be determined later) I will give you the secret place to put your tongue and exactly how hard to clench the teeth!

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#42 FarmBoy

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 06:22

QUOTE(Shangas @ Jan 1 2008, 05:24 AM) View Post
I wanted to start with lever-fillers because they look like the easiest to repair. My main concern was pressure-bars dropping out because I'm worried that I'll have a bloody hard time getting them back in.

Shangas,

Get a few Esterbrooks or Wearever lever fillers. The Esterbrooks are the best place to start since you don't need to worry about nibs.

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#43 Shangas

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 06:34

LOL!! What was that, Ron!? biggrin.gif
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#44 HLeopold

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 07:36

QUOTE(Fox in the Stars @ Dec 29 2007, 06:55 PM) View Post
I keep watching Richard's site hoping his "Threefers" (bottom of the "restored vintage pens" page) come back into stock... ^_~


And there is always eBay, lots of lots come up pretty often, some seem to have been put together to be repair specials, nice basic fountain pens that need work. Tend to go at reasonable prices as well.
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#45 Shangas

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 09:17

Yay!! I got a reply from Peter Ford via email. Melbourne Vintage Pens in the Armadale Antiques Center on High Street is OPEN THIS SUNDAY MORNING!!

Off I shall go and buy that book! (And whatever else I'm able to afford! laugh.gif )

Wish me luck, guys!...The beginning of phase one is about to be carried out - the acquisition of materials & other necessities.

---

QUOTE
I've just started writing up a glossary and guide, as well as some general notes on fountain pens. Their parts, what they are, what they're used for, how they work etc etc etc etc...*deep-breath*. I'm handwriting it with a fountain pen...I figured this was as good-a-time as any to use my pens! To write about how to restore pens! laugh.gif


So far, I have covered five sheets of paper, both sides, making ten pages of legible, handwritten notes and instructions. I have written one pen from full to empty and had to refill it and I am now doing the same thing with another pen! So far, I've made notes on:

Caps.

- Outer caps.
- Inner caps.
- Cap-rings.
- Cap-clips.
- Ringtops.
- Clutches (for slip-on caps).
- Threads (for screw-ons).
- **I forgot to include click-ons!...but then with vintage pens, I don't suppose there were any of those...were there?**

Barrels.

- Barrels.
- Location of ink & filling mech.
- Blind-caps.

Sections.

- Location.
- Size.
- How it's attached to the barrel.

Nibs.

- Tips & tipping.
- Tines.
- Breather-holes.

Feeds.

- Purpose.
- Construction.
- Cleaning.

Filling-systems. **Doing that now**

- Ink-sacs.
- Sac-filler pens.
- Types of sac-fillers **doing that now**

I'm trying to get myself all info'd up so that when I get my first pen, I know all the parts and what to tinker with and what to leave alone and how to identify everything. I figured writing and reading and notetaking was the best way to academically prepare myself, and I might as well handwrite it on paper with a fountain pen (or two or three) and have fun at the same time. And this is lots of fun!

It's not a perfect project - I have forgotten to add in various things here and there - but at least it helps me remember all the facts.

Edited by Shangas, 01 January 2008 - 13:10.

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#46 Jinnayah

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 16:44

QUOTE(Shangas @ Dec 31 2007, 11:24 PM) View Post
I wanted to start with lever-fillers because they look like the easiest to repair. My main concern was pressure-bars dropping out because I'm worried that I'll have a bloody hard time getting them back in.


On a lever filler with a J-bar (the most common type, I think), you're probably not going to have it come out unless it needed to be replaced anyway. If you're just replacing a sac, you won't need to take it out (usually). If it does fall out, they're easy to put back in; just slide it into the barrel so the long side is against the inside of the lever.

Edited by Jinnayah, 01 January 2008 - 16:45.


#47 Kelly G

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 18:33

Shangas,
I generally like the way you're approaching pen repair - but, be careful to not over-think it. By that, I mean, don't do more to a pen than you need to do. For example, if you don't need to remove the J-Bar, don't; if it's working then don't risk damaging it by pulling it out of the barrel. Or, if you feel confident that soaking or a trip to the UC has the nib/feed clean - don't knock out the nib/feed from the section.

As you start out with junk pens, you may want to ignore this advice in order to learn as much as you can, but when you begin working on more valuable pens, you need to evaluate how far you need to go. You also need to evaluate when it's time to send the pen to a pro. For example, I don't own a inner cap puller, so if I have a nice pen that needs that work, I'll send it to a pro. I wouldn't try to replace the broken clip on my Waterman 452 - not a good pen on which to practice.

Additionally, learn the idiosyncrasies of various pen models. Example: Eversharp Skylines - some of the barrel plastic is quite brittle - always use heat to remove and replace the section; also, there are three different lever styles and if you need to remove the lever, you need to know which you're dealing with; Skylines are also notorious for the plastic on the cap dome threads shrinking; and you need to clearly understand how the clip is constructed before you try to remove one (this is another one you don't want to do just for fun unless it's a junker or you have some spare parts as they're easy to break). Also, know that you can take some pretty nasty looking Skylines with gf caps and restore them to great looking pens - with some of the best writing nibs around.

Each vintage pen model has a similar list of stuff to think about - which is why the pros are such a valuable source of knowledge and we're fortunate we have some of the best on fpn willing to share with us hack amateur newbies (as David I. used to say, or maybe still does).

As always - have fun!
May we live, not by our fears but by our hopes; not by our words but by our deeds; not by our disappointments but by our dreams.

#48 Shangas

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 23:38

Thanks, Kelly. I don't THINK I'm overthinking it, I just want to be prepared. Sac-replacement is one of the most important things...obviously! If there's no sac there's no ink...so I want to start with that. Pull the pen apart, hack out the old sac and put in a new one in.

I understand what you're saying - Don't do more on a pen than is necessary, and that is within your abilities. I'm not about to try and do more than I can, so don't worry biggrin.gif I reckoned I'd start with sac-replacement and cleaning feeds & nibs for a few months and once I've got that down to an art I'll move onto other stuff.
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#49 Shangas

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 12:34

Thought that I would post a little update...

Went pen-hunting on Friday. I found one British-made lever-filler (And that was the ONLY PEN I FOUND ALL DAY) - And it was in ATROCIOUS condition. It's cap had been broken in two places, it had a crack around the lip, the sac was petrified (Yay!!) and it's nib had been seemingly smashed into a desk-surface because the tines were bent criss-cross (How the hell someone achieves that, I don't even KNOW!!).

It's price was $10 as-is. Well as it WAS, it was worthless as practice-repair because it was in a completely unusable condition. I had to pass. And it was so pretty. It was all wood-grain finish. I couldn't make out the brand but it started with A, I think. And it was made in England.

Tomorrow, I'm heading off to the various markets on my list to find more trash-pens. And I'm heading to Peter Ford at the Armadale Antiques Center to buy DA BOOK.

Wish me better luck than that god forsaken fountain pen that I found on Friday!!
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#50 Kelly G

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 19:41

If your experience is anything like most of us, you'll find a lot of really bad pens at crazy high prices, some repairable pens at tolerable prices, and maybe, just maybe, a pen or two that are diamonds in the rough at reasonable prices. Occasionally, dare I say rarely, you'll find a great pen at a sumgai price. If you look long enough it will happen. Check out estate sales and auctions - they've been good to me.

Have fun!
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#51 Shangas

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 01:05

Damn right, Kelly! ohmy.gif I found that out today!! $30 for a pen with no threads, a bent nib and a petrified sac!? PASS!

I found a lot of stuff at the Market today, but nothing worth buying. I dropped by the Armadale Antiques Center, and met up with Peter Ford. I HAVE DA BOOK! And I am reading it and finding it very interesting. If I have any questions about whatever's inside it, I'll ask them here.

While at Melbourne Vintage Pens (MVP), Peter gave me a small calligraphy set. A wooden pen-shaft, 4-5 nibs, one sheet of blotting paper (I'm using that one sheet VERY sparingly, until I can find more blotting-paper) and one packet of ink-powder. (Says - "mix w/20ml of water"). He advised that I should perhaps NOT try to use it. I'm reading DA BOOK now, and I'm learning a lot. Lots of fun!

Peter suggested I should start with Conway-Stewart lever-fillers, which seems like a reasonable suggestion.
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#52 Maja

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 01:35

QUOTE(Shangas @ Jan 5 2008, 05:05 PM) View Post
Peter suggested I should start with Conway-Stewart lever-fillers, which seems like a reasonable suggestion.

There are some lovely Conway-Stewart pens out there that just need a new sac and little TLC....so I wish you much luck and success, Shangas! smile.gif

I was combing through some old Pentrace articles and came across this one written by well-known CS collector Jonathan Donahaye:
"Conway Stewart Repairs"
(article on Pentrace.net by well known CS collector Jonathan Donahaye)

The article is from June 2003 and there is a lot more info than you need in order to resac a CS (eg. steps on how to replace a CS lever, removing CS clips, etc.) but it's interesting to read the perspective of someone who knows CS pens so well. Oh, and, incidentally, that link to Jonathan's CS collection (at the bottom of the article) has been moved to : http://www.ftic.info...ewart/index.htm

(edited for grammar only)

Edited by Maja, 07 January 2008 - 02:12.

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#53 MarcShiman

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 10:12

Shangas,

I'm sorta traveling the same path as you, maybe not as publicly. The order of events seems to be a bit different:

1) Buy a bunch of pens on Ebay at oh-so-tempting prices
2) Cuss like a sailor when you find they are way beyond ready-to-use
3) Bring them / mail them to your friendly pen restorer.
4) Realize that buying a pen for $15 that is worth $25 restored - and spending $30 on it to restore it isn't the math that MBAs are made of
5) Look at Giovanni's site... again... and again....
6) Read this message board
7) Tear apart some of the more disappointing pen lots I bought on ebay. Tell myself I could fix these. Maybe
8) Get a reasonable Parker ($30) on Ebay that when dipped writes oh-so-smooth. The section separates from the barrel just by twisting (threaded) and the old sac just... comes out. The button works, everything works. It just needs a sac.
9) In a heavily caffeine induced state, go to Giovanni's site and buy almost everything there (yes, there is a bit of a compulsive disorder at play here)
10) Pretend to read Da Book... skip the practice, skip the beater pens, skip everything else. Put a sac on that pen.
11) Wrestle with the sac, the shellac, the talc - smile when you finally reassemble the pen and realize that you fixed it!!!
12) Get a pair of scissors to remove shellac from the cat (he has a 6th sense for showing up at the most inopportune times...)
13) Enjoy your pen.
14) THEN read Da Book.

I think the final push came from holding a pen that I really wanted to use, not just practice on, and that sending it off for weeks just simply didn't seem... necessary? Plausible? There is definitely a pride thing here of using a pen you worked on (ok, yes I know - it was just A SAC). So the Sailor King-of-Pen sits in a drawer while my British Duofold goes into my pocket regularly for now.

#54 Ruaidhri

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 20:03

Maya's post just reminded me - there is a ton of info over in the articles list on Pentrace*

Check here

Regards,
Ruaidhrí

* we aren't in a competition, all just pen nuts biggrin.gif
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#55 chud

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 21:37

I'm in about the same position you are Shangas, just a few months ahead. :-)

I started into learning repair partly because it looked like fun but largely because as I started growing a collection I quickly realized that sending off everything that needed basic work was not going to scale well financially.

After a little practice you'll find that many of the basic things are pretty straightforward; I can do most lever fillers, touchdown, and snorkels now (snorkels are more complicated but not really *harder* - just more steps). Button-fillers too, I expect, I just haven't acquired one needing work yet. I still stay away from vacumatics, Sheaffer vac-fils, Parker 51s, and some of the other more complex ones. 51s are probably next on my list to tackle, though some problems (like broken breather tubes) I will probably leave to the pros indefinitely.

Crack repair is finicky; I've done a few with mixed success. ("Mixed" means structurally successful, I think, but cosmetically only partly successful.) Anything requiring the fabrication of replacement pieces is for the pros; I don't have the tools or the skills to do that anytime soon.

Tools can make a huge difference in how easy some things are, and also how risky - I cracked the lip off of a Sheaffer section with poorly improvised section pliers, for example. As people have said, you *will* break something sooner or later.

And speaking of tools... anyone know where I could get a decent nib block for less than hundreds of dollars? Next step (tools permitting): reshaping bent nibs. Hopefully.

#56 Ron Z

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 00:00

QUOTE(chud @ Jan 11 2008, 04:37 PM) View Post
And speaking of tools... anyone know where I could get a decent nib block for less than hundreds of dollars? Next step (tools permitting): reshaping bent nibs. Hopefully.


Alan Stytler was making them two or three years ago, but the cost to machine and finish the blocks has been too high to justify the price for them. Last round was about $350, which is hard for most people to justify for occasional use.


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#57 Ruaidhri

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 16:33

And I'm afraid I got the last one smile.gif

Regards,
Ruaidhrí

Now that I think of it - there is a post in here somewhere from one of the gang who showed how to make a very serviceable substitute, very cheaply. You'll have to do a bit of digging though smile.gif

Found it!! - from Buzz J - here

Edited by Ruaidhri, 12 January 2008 - 16:37.

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#58 chud

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 17:54

QUOTE(Ruaidhri @ Jan 12 2008, 09:33 AM) View Post
And I'm afraid I got the last one smile.gif

Regards,
Ruaidhrí

Now that I think of it - there is a post in here somewhere from one of the gang who showed how to make a very serviceable substitute, very cheaply. You'll have to do a bit of digging though smile.gif

Found it!! - from Buzz J - here


Hmm, that looks like it should be doable... thanks!!


#59 Penbeggar

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 22:47

I have never used simichrome on my pens for cleaning or polishing the barrels, only on the metal... The best product I have found is Novus Fine scratch remover #2. It is basically for the vinyl or plastic windows on convertibles and is made in Minn. by Novus Inc.. It leaves a high gloss shine and does a great job on the small repairs that have to be sanded or bulls wooled.(very fine) steel wool. Good luck with your repair quest. I have met more great people doing this and have made many new friends. If you can get the repair videos made by Jim Marshall and Arthur Twydle they will help. There should be copies out there somewhere. Maybe PCA has a library copy?

#60 Maja

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:54

QUOTE(Ruaidhri @ Jan 11 2008, 12:03 PM) View Post
Maya's post just reminded me - there is a ton of info over in the articles list on Pentrace*

Check here

Regards,
Ruaidhrí

* we aren't in a competition, all just pen nuts biggrin.gif

Agreed.....on both counts! laugh.gif wink.gif
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