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Parker Vacumatic Leak?


requiescat
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Is it possible for a Parker Vacumatic (the stripey kind with a partly translucent barrel for checking ink levels) to develop a leak right around the threads where the cap screws on? I'm persistently finding inkstains on my fingers where I grip the pen there even long after any ink from filling the pen should be gone and despite repeated wiping of that area.

 

No photos; I've never been able to see a physical source for the leak, I just feel the ink on my skin, and in any case I'm not sure how well ink would show up against the mostly-black pen.

 

And if leaks do happen there, is this fixable? I adore the way this pen writes and I would hate to have to relegate it to the pen-box just as a decorative object.

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  • Ron Z

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Yes. It just means that the grip section is not sealed well in the barrel. It's fixable. You would probably have to use gentle heat to loosen and unscrew the section (getting the right amount of heat can be tricky, and using too much heat can cause the barrel to melt or burst into flame). Then you'd use shellac or rosin-based sealant to seal it. There are threads (no pun intended) on this here at FPN.

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First. NO SHELLAC please. Shellac sets and can make it quite difficult to remove the section. Vacumatic barrel can handle the extra heat but can still soften enough to distort if you aren't careful. It's even worse on Sheaffers; you can shear the barrel off trying. Ask me how I know.

 

The leak is most often in the section/barrel joint. Though not often, I have seen cases where there is a leak in the threads of the barrel. Sometimes the spacing between the inner and outer threads gets a bit thin and a leak develops. Wet you finger and roll the joint along your finger. The leak will show up as it transferrs ink to your finger.

 

If the leak is at the joint, you will need to seal the threads. Rosin based sealant is preferred, a really thick, sticky toilet bowl ring wax works, then shellac. Note that silicone grease is not included in the list of options.

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Ron, just curious about the reason for no silicone grease at this joint. Does it not play nice with the celluloid?

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Silicone grease is a lubricant, not a sealant. Any (and it is limited) sealing you may get is the result of it's hydrophobic properties. It makes it possible to overtighten and stress the threads - and I have seen section threads broken off as well as barrels broken off in the thread area. Silicone grease when applied generously, can get where you won't want it, and that hydrophobic property repells the ink, and you have to use solvents (like xylene) to remove it. Thread sealant gets into the gap between the threads to seal. The tacky nature of the rosin based sealant also acts as a thread lock when cool. That is it helps to keep the section form unscrewing when you don't want it to, but softens and releases so that it will come apart when you want it to.

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Hi Ron!

 

Quite interesting what you said about silicone grease, because I've used it some times too for some vintage german pens. No complaints so far, I always applied only the smallest possible amounts. And since the grease is almost wax-like none of it can mix with the ink or get into the feed or nib. I agree that silicone oil would certainly be risky! Fountainbel once suggested a mixture of paraffine and beeswax, which seems to work well for this kind of sealing, I tried it on an ebonite eyedropper with good results.

 

Klaus

 

P.S. "Rosin based sealant is preferred, a really thick, sticky toilet bowl ring wax" - I did not quite get what you mean by those two materials, I'd like to find equivalents here in Germany. Could you name those two sealants by name or manufacturer?

Edited by newlife
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Thank you all for the insights--I don't think I have the expertise to attempt a repair myself (I do have a variable heat gun, but I have only used it on a junk pen for learning purposes), especially with a pen I love, so I will look into sending it out.

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