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Lag Screw For Inner Cap Removal


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In a $$ pinch you may not have to fork out for a tap set - you might try the following. I removed a J inner cap using a storage hook as a substitute tap. The hook is basically a lag screw which has been bent into a long flat "U."
The stage was set when I disassembled a decent (outside) looking J w/2556 nib I recently bought. The barrel jewel was broken, a corroded half of a J-bar (couldn't find the other half), clip was floating on the eyelet, floating band, rusted C ring, and no sac. Sac tray in decent shape, threads OK, and the barrel, cap and section OK with some use - no bites, dings, or deep scratches. I hand drilled out the barrel jewel and proceeded to do so with the cap. Problem -- I drilled through the inner cap. Anyway, I knew I had to get the inner cap out in order to fix the floating clip. So while the cap was soaking in a lightly soapy solution I tried to remember what was in my arsenal in the garage I could readily get at that would work. I had read it needed to be 5/16in but what was recommended - a tap - was out of the $$ realm for me. I figured the next best would be some sort of screw with sharp threads, but what I found were either too small or lacking the "proper" threads.
It is hot and muggy here - and inside the garage probably 10-15 degrees hotter than outside. Frustration building for what I had expected to be a quick delivery. Walked around, outside and back in. There they were begging for a chance to do there part. Hanging from the ceiling were these ladder or bike storage hooks. I was pretty sure I had a couple stashed in one of the containers. Hoping it was the first one -- I pulled the one where I kept fasteners and such. There were two inside waiting for a test run. I barely rinsed out the cap and set the screw in to do its work. First try it slipped; second try there was purchase and the inner cap came partially out. It was stuck in the threads!! Luckily I had already drilled out part of the cap's jewel - through there I pushed a small diameter hex wrench and lightly tapped the inner cap out. Finally!!
For anyone wishing to try it. Lag screws can be bought at most hardware stores. I would not buy a storage hook as the threads are not consistently sharp the length of the screw. Make sure it is 5/16in for a J, has sharp threads, and is long enough. Most have 8-9 threads per inch - the more threads the better I think. Cut off the first thread (root) and file it down so it will not pierce the inner cap. Having measured the depth of the inner cap mark off a slightly shorter length on the lag screw. Remember that the lag on the screw may not be the same taper as that of the inner cap. Then go for it.
Disclaimer: I am clearly not responsible for any damage as a result of YOU repeating part or all of the information provided in this post. Anything can go wrong and it will. So if you have a spare test cap try it first.



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I would also STRONGLY suggest that you soak said Estie cap for a day or so Before trying to pull the inner cap with something threaded.


You would be amazed by how much ink can seep in between the cap and inner cap and dry there over the years to the point of helping almost "glue" the inner cap in. The water that seeps in between the cap and inner caps during the soak will also act as a low grade lubricant during the pull.


I use a paper towel spear to dry out the inner cap just before the inserting the "puller".


A good soak will greatly help in pulling the inner cap with less damage to it from the threads of the tap/screw threads.


Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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Very nice!!!


I would have eventually made one similar, but I was tired - read lazy - it was only one cap. What pen cap model? My inner cap does not look at all like your's. Mine has a small, thin "rubber" band near the collar which caused a problem with the threads. I see that the diameter of your bolt is small enough so it doesn't put pressure on the inner cap near the opening. This - seems to me - would enable the inner cap opening to contract slightly when it reaches the threads.



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  • 11 months later...

I was puzzling over an improvised method for removing an inner cap when a search turned up this thread. I've got a lovely little butterscotch Moore Servo pen that had an unbelievable amount of blue ink between the inner cap and the "real" cap that no amount of soaking seemed to get rid of. It really detracted from the appearance of the pen since the dark blue showed through the light-colored celluloid. The only way I was ever going to get it clean was to pull out the inner cap.

I rooted around in my hardware junk drawer and found a bolt/washer/wingnut combination exactly as pictured above. I inserted the bolt into the cap, gave it a few rotations so the threads bit into the plastic, and then tightened down the wing nut. Within a few seconds, the inner cap pulled right out, along with gobs and drips of ancient blue ink. It's all cleaned up now, the inner cap has been reinserted, and the pen is looking great. Thanks to pastelmaniac for the idea and for the great how-to photographs!


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Be careful. An inner cap puller puts a tremendous amount of stress on a cap lip. Soaking is recommended, and an inner cap puller recommended as well - it's worth the money. Not a big deal if you crack the inner cap or break the cap lip on an Esterbrook, but would be a big deal if you did it on an expensive pen. I use two flat washers that are a snug fit on the threads of the cap puller with a thrust bearing in between so that the washer against the cap doesn't turn as you try to extract the inner cap.


If you don't want to immerse the cap to soak the insides with say a hard rubber cap, you can put electrical tape over the vent holes, fill the cap with water, and then hold the cap upright to soak the inside without risk of discoloration of the HR cap.


In short, soak, use a cap puller, use washers, use heat. Even then it can be risky.

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For Estie caps, IMO, a good prolonged soak cannot be overemphasized. You will be shocked at the amount of ink that can make it in between the inner and outer caps over time. When that ink dries, it can almost glue the inner cap in. Plus water soaking inbetwixt the two caps will act as a low grade lubricant and assist the inner cap in coming out undamaged or less damaged. As Ron said, heat is Really important right when you are doing the pull as you can expand the outer cap a bit with it which will help the inner cap come out easier.


A die can also be used to remove an inner cap. I've posted before with pics of the one I've used before. There are pluses and minus to using a die. It doesn't stress the outer cap IMO as much as a cap puller does But the die can tear up the inner cap some if it doesn't come out fairly smoothly. (SOAK the dang thing!!) I have some junk Estie caps so I'm not so concerned if the die chews the inside of an inner cap up now and then.


In fact, I just put my Woodbin inner cap puller in the mail today to it's new owner. I just never used it enough to warrant me keeping it. It is a nice piece of kit though for sure.


Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the great info. Has me a bit worried about pulling the inner cap on a vintage BCHR pen though.

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