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Tool For Safely Opening Seized-Up/jammed Pens?


twingall1
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Hi,

I've wanted for a long time to find a tool designed to safely open seized up fountain pens. Something similar to the rubber/handle device used to open jam jar lids?

 

I end up breaking about 20% of pens trying to open them with fingers then leather wadded pliers, then god knows.. getting more and more reckless as my frustration builds! Hot water bath to soften the shellac seems to work only very rarely..

 

So if there is a tool out there for the job i'd really appreciate and advice on where to buy.

 

Many thanks,

Tom

 

 

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  • Ron Z

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Use dry heat, not water. A heat gun or hair dryer on low temperature always works for me. Sometimes it takes several sessions. Any seized pen will break if you open it cold. Brute force is never a good idea.

Carpe Stilo

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I am first assuming you are talking about separating section from barrel on vintage pens; true?

 

20% seems excessive in my limited experience (standard disclaimer - I'm not a professional restorer - strictly work on my on pens, but with over 10 years experience).

 

The key may be "... then god knows.. getting more and more reckless as my frustration builds!"

 

The first rule of pen restoration is patience - as well as the second rule.

 

Heat is your friend, but dry heat at around 140 degrees F; this is sufficient to soften shellac and "relax" the plastic. Wet heat risks clouding celluloid and discoloring hard rubber. Dry heat from a source such as a heat gun or hair dryer works best - but know what temperature with which you are working.

 

Buy or make some decent section pliers - search around these parts and you will find a source or check out your local auto parts supply and look for spark plug pliers (don't know what they are called in the UK). You can accomplish the same thing by grinding the teeth from a pair of slip-joint pliers and covering the jaws with short bits of poly tubing.

 

Did I mention patience?

 

You have to heat the barrel threads sufficiently but not to the point you scorch, shrink, or ignite the material - thus the 140 F temperature target. It may take several cycles of heat/cool to loosen the section and you will need to apply gentle force to the section - gentle being the key. If you become frustrated, put the pen down and take a break.

 

Read Ron Zorn's (www.mainstreetpens.com) Articles and Essays section for tool and general advice - pay particular attention to the article "Seeing With Your Fingers."

 

Good Luck.

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.

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Hi Tom!

 

Maybe this thread may help, you'll see a tool made by myself a little way down the page.

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/234213-big-ben-piston-trouble/

 

It's doing an incredible job when opening piston fillers from the rear of the pen. If this is not what you were looking for - well, there are many of us around here who will help you. And mind Kelly G's advice, he's surely right!

 

Klaus

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look for spark plug pliers (don't know what they are called in the UK)

 

 

 

"Peter's Pegs".

 

 

 

 

:D Only kidding, they're called spark plug pliers here too, and they're ace for fps - especially if you get two. Mine are from eBay, and look like these ones from Eurocarparts. And I agree with the advice about dry heat.

Latest pen related post @ flounders-mindthots.blogspot.com : vintage Pilot Elite Pocket Pen review

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I'm the cranky old guy who finds spar kplug pliers to be pretty much useless. I don't like the fact that they come out at an angle instead of 90 degrees to the section, and I don't like the fact that the coating on the tip wears out and comes off. THEN what are you supposed to do? Plastic Dip is too smooth, and not nearly tacky or flexible enough to do any good, though I have recoated mine with it.

 

I find a pair of slip joint pliers with the teeth ground off and fuel line hose to be much more useful. In truth, they're ideal. They're what I've used for the better part of 10 years, doing a retread about every 4 months or so. One piece of hose is less than a buck and will let you replace the cushions on the jaws a number of times VS $10-$15 from NAPA for each pair of spark plug pliers.

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I concur with Ron.

 

Might I also point out that the best use of any form of section pliers/grippers is not to apply more force, but to increase feel and control. Pliers of the sort Ron and I use, do just that. The ergonomics of spark plug pullers are not so beneficial, both in terms of angle and distance from workpiece to gripping hand.

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I also agree with Ron, though I would point out that NAPA's "section" pliers are guaranteed for life and I have successfully swapped mine out for a brand new pair free of charge when the rubber coating failed after a few months. I did invest in a real pair of section pliers from Pentooling (they look suspiciously like hog ring pliers with tubing over the business ends) and have been using them more lately, but there are times that I find the spark plug pliers to still be useful, too. They seem to fit some sections better than others (particularly the small Parker Vacumatic sections).

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Thanks for all the advice: Dry heat, section pliers/spark plug pliers, got it, much appreciated

 

.....and patience by the boatload. Do take a moment and look at the articles on my web page. You can make the pliers yourself, and the concept of "seeing with your fingers" is a good one to learn from the start.

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Thanks for all the advice: Dry heat, section pliers/spark plug pliers, got it, much appreciated

 

I would also add that, as you are UK based (given the flag showing), you would do well to attend a WES pen repair workshop.

 

The question you originally asked is covered in the first two hours, so I am sure the other 16 hours will also be educational ;-)

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  • 7 months later...

Gentlemen, I just want to make sure that when you refer to "slip joint pliers" I know what you mean. These?

 

http://www.grainger.com/product/CHANNELLOCK-Plier-3LY75?s_pp=false

 

 

And is there anything available here in the US (perhaps at one of the pen shows?) similar to the WES pen repair workshop mentioned in the UK. I'd be really interested in taking such a course.

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I would also add that, as you are UK based (given the flag showing), you would do well to attend a WES pen repair workshop.

 

The question you originally asked is covered in the first two hours, so I am sure the other 16 hours will also be educational ;-)

 

Definitely concur with Northlodge. I attended the 3 sessions of the WES pen repair workshop and it has helped me a long way in not damaging any more pens.

 

PM me if you want to know more about this workshop which occurs in several cities in UK.

Kind regards,

 

Rui

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I recently took apart three Parker 51's. Watched a video on You Tube ( Grandmia Pens ) on how to do it, and pretty much followed it step by step. Worked a treat. Overnight soak first though. THe most useful tool was an inner tube from a bicycle, cut into small strips. Wind it around the pen tightly - great for getting a good grip on the hood after genbtle heat by a hairdrier. Lesson learnt? Never use a set of pliers on a P51 hood. No matter how good the padding is.

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THe most useful tool was an inner tube from a bicycle, cut into small strips. Wind it around the pen tightly - great for getting a good grip on the hood after genbtle heat by a hairdrier.

 

+ a metric butt load!

 

The secret being that the bike tube is far thinner than a motorcycle or car/truck tube. You get just as good of a grip but are also able to see with your fingers more clearly.

 

My bike tube section gripper is masking taped tacked down to be like a rubber tube that I slide over the nib and section before heating the thread area to separate. This helps keep the hot air on the threaded barrel area and away from the section such that the barrel expands faster and both pieces come apart easier. (Speaking mainly of non hooded traditional sections and barrels.)

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

Edited by OcalaFlGuy
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Just for fun...we all know Parker made a gripper tool specifically designed to remove 51 hoods, right?

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Just for fun...we all know Parker made a gripper tool specifically designed to remove 51 hoods, right?

 

They did. I have a couple. They're just taking up space in the tool box. The ones I was sold are so slippery that they really don't grip the section enough to get it to budge. The hose covered slip joint pliers work best.

 

The reason that I don't use inner tube to remove sections/hoods is that I'm afraid that the pieces will come out of alignment and I could gouge or mar the surface somehow. I haven't done it, but I've seen many that are damaged and have had to clean them up or replace them. I think that section pliers of one sort or another are far more efficient and safer.

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I have had good luck removing sections and hoods using a BIONIC wrench and a piece of rubber tube. The wrench has 6 contact lugs that contract when the handles are squeezed. This creates an equal pressure on all sides of the section or hood. The rubber tube prevents the lugs from marring the part's surface.

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The reason that I don't use inner tube to remove sections/hoods is that I'm afraid that the pieces will come out of alignment and I could gouge or mar the surface somehow. I haven't done it, but I've seen many that are damaged and have had to clean them up or replace them. I think that section pliers of one sort or another are far more efficient and safer.

 

I should have been more clear if this inner tube comment was towards my earlier post. I don't use inner tube with a tool other than my fingers and they aren't going to do any gouging. I don't think any tool is as sensitive to movement and force applied than my fingers, certainly not being isolated by section pliers. I think my fingers grip tight enough distributed at least as wide an area as with pliers.

 

I use section pliers with 51s only to GRIP the clutch ring/filler area with and Turn the hood with my fingers, which were right in the heat flow beside the hood.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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