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An exiting project. Restoring a lot of old and forgotten 1938 No Name German piston filling fountain pens.

Recently I acquired a bunch of really old and dirty New Old Stock pens from Germany.
I was told they were kept in an old trunk for more than 70 years and they were recently rediscovered when sold at an auction. At the bottom of the trunk was an old newspaper from Hamburg, 1944…

 

It was difficult to determine the origin of the pens as they did not carry any brand or manufacturing mark except for a vague ‘EDEL – Chromstahl Qual.’ stamp on some of the nibs.

Picture 1: Some of the pens in the lot as I found them
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/3951/knrq.jpg

The rough finishing of the steel nibs indicated that they probably were made in the mid/end 1930’s (‘War nibs’; in that period the use of gold for instruments like fountain pens and nibs was prohibited by the German authorities).
The caps and barrels were made of a material that at first resembled Bakelite, but it proved to be much softer and so I think the manufacturer used an early black thermo plastic, that was also used by other German manufacturers in that era, when they started looking for and develop new plastics that could replace the laborious hard rubber (Ebonite) and could be used in molding machines.
Still, the sections, feeders and a part of the piston filling mechanisms were made of Ebonite and details showed that the majority of the parts were still hand (lathe) made in the traditional way of pen manufacturing of the late 20’s and early 30’s.
Also the filling technique pointed to the mid 1930’s, the total design of the pens was obviously inspired by the new successful innovation of the piston filler pens by Pelikan, the model 100 in 1929.

Picture 2: Pelikan 100 – 1929 ( Photo borrowed from ruetinger-web.de)
http://img547.imageshack.us/img547/8089/fhuy.jpg

Picture 3: Two of my (restored) No Name pens
http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/4745/omcx.jpg

All together, i think this was an interesting find, but also a tricky investment, because the pens were completely non usable in the condition I acquired them. They were very dirty and oxidized as a result of 70 years of bad storage. Some of the ‘gold’ plated iron clips had rust marks and, probably the worst problem, practically all the piston systems were completely stuck, probably due to shrinkage of the plastic barrel and filler mechanism parts. The fact that some of the pen parts were shrunken also indicated that the material was not Ebonite or Bakelite, but (thermo) plastic.

So I decided to buy a modest amount of the total of several hundreds (!) of pens offered to me, to give myself the opportunity to have a sort of learning project to restore these old piston fillers.
Furthermore I decided to disassemble and rebuild the pens one by one.

To document the project I made a little photo report of the process of restoration. You can see pictures of the disassembling, the cleaning and re-polishing and finally the rebuilding of the pens.

 

The problems with disassembling the piston mechanism were less difficult than I expected and the best of it was that most of the cork piston seals proved to be still in perfect condition.
Some of the corks were damaged in the disassembly process, as in some cases they were stuck to the inside wall of the barrel, but in most cases the pistons came out with the complete and undamaged corks. Where for some pens the corks were broken, but the rest of the mechanism was still good, I decided to replace the corks with new, made to measure rubber seals.

Another problem was the screw system that had to move the piston up and down. In most cases the inside screw was stuck in the hollow piston body, because the latter was shrunken and in some cases the piston screw (some made of a brittle zinc like metal, some of plastic) broke and in that case it was obviously end of story… But the other parts of these pens could be used as spare parts for the rest of the lot…

Not all the nibs were in a usable condition. I readjusted and where possible reground the nibs that were not affected by rust, others I replaced by modern, new nibs I had in stock for general repair and restoring jobs. Pleasant surprise: The original nibs that could be (re)used proved to be extremely flexible! They were able to write a line variety from Medium to BBB! To be able to deliver enough ink for such a wide line I had to modify the feeders by widening the feeder channels. But as the feeders were just simple, classic ebonite friction mounted ones it was rather easy to widen the channels with a blade. After heat setting the nib/feeder combination the ink flow worked fine.

Result: a bunch of nice, old fashioned Pelikan 100 style pens. Fully functional and some with a Super Flex nib! I obviously will keep some of the different varieties for myself and the rest will sooner or later turn up for sale, but that will be another story: check the classifieds in near future!

Some pictures to show the process:

Picture 4: One of the pens in the condition I found it in (without the dirt and the dust).
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/3413/04fo.jpg

Picture 5: The ebonite piston filling systems were screwed in the plastic barrel. Due to shrinkage of the barrel the piston system was heavily stuck and I had to place it in a vice (protected by a piece of rubber gas hose) to hold it tight.
http://img802.imageshack.us/img802/6580/vmjl.jpg

Picture 6: Unscrew the piston system from the barrel with some force.
http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/4279/om70.jpg

Picture 7: The piston system unscrewed from the barrel.
http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/1235/q57v.jpg

Picture 8: The completely disassempbled pen.
http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/648/wapo.jpg

Picture 9: Polishing the rough ebonite of the section.
http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/2749/ntl0.jpg

Picture 10: That looks better!
http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/1016/xu5s.jpg

Picture 11: The piston with the perfectly preserved cork seal. Just needed a tiny dab of silicon grease.
http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/139/rf8m.jpg

Picture 12: Some silicon grease to the treading of the piston system.
http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/203/jdxz.jpg

Picture 13: The piston seal viewed trhough the cleaned and polished ink window. Cap thread still needs some more cleaning.
http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/5609/ykfc.jpg

Picture 14: Heating the Ebonite feeder with the heat gun (on half power…)
http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/2961/y8mc.jpg

Picture 15: Setting the warm, softened feeder to the nib.
http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/926/i74z.jpg

Picture 16: I made some small disc grinders to fit on my mini lathe. This one with micromesh 8000 to smooth out nibs easily.
http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/7184/d1a9.jpg

Picture 17: Smoothing the steel nib very carefully as it had just a tiny bit of iridium.
http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/103/98hv.jpg

Picture 18: Final polishing of the pen body. The difference between the brownish part of the piston system and the shiny raven black plastic is clearly visible. Because of the ribbed form it was not possible to polish out the rough surface and the discoloration of the ebonite.
http://img203.imageshack.us/img203/3936/f2td.jpg

Picture 19: Working on the cap. Because of the relatively high speed of the lathe machine one has to take a lot of care with the developing heat when polishing.
http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/5836/drje.jpg



Picture 20: I only use very light pressure and a thin cloth so I can feel the temperature rising and stop in time.
http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/2299/fgim.jpg

Picture 21: Polishing the tarnished clip.
http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/4630/a69x.jpg

Picture 22: Re assembling the cap.
http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/15/9t95.jpg

Picture 23: Removing the last bit of debris from the cap tread on the barrel.
http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/8010/8lz1.jpg

Picture 24: The completely reassembled pen
http://img850.imageshack.us/img850/8460/ov6m.jpg

Picture 25: A classic vintage beauty
http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/414/p776.jpg

Picture 26: Nib adjusted and filled up with Akkerman Shocking Blue: A surprising writing result, with a flex medium to triple B line.
http://img10.imageshack.us/img10/5018/anzc.jpg

All pictures uploaded with ImageShack.us

Hope you enjoyed the report, please comment,
Lex aka LEXAF

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Lex,

So very cool!

Thanks so much for posting this!

This post contains 100% recycled electrons

http://i952.photobucket.com/albums/ae8/Catriker/Pen%20Pics/SmallCzarNikolai.jpg

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Fun find and great restorations! Thanks for sharing this with us!

PAKMAN

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Oh, how most of us would have loved to have found that trunk full of pens! Were there literally hundreds of pens in it? :drool: Good to know that at least some of them have found their way into good hands - yours - where they could be restored and finally put in use.

 

Thank you for sharing the restoration process with us; makes me think that maybe I might be able to give it a try (thus far I have only worked on simple lever fill pens - sacs are easy to replace!)

 

Holly

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Amazing!!

 

A true labor of love. I may have to send you my little no-name German piston filler to restore and find a new nib for. Are you taking orders? (Just kidding)

Breathe. Take one step at a time. Don't sweat the small stuff. You're not getting older, you are only moving through time. Be calm and positive.

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The master at work! Great job Lex. Thank you for sharing.

Enjoy writing with this new additions to your collection.

Happy Writing!, Mainecoon

Dreams are presentiments of what you are able to accomplish (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

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I really enjoyed reading this, thank you! I sometimes see no-name pens at the antique mall, this post gives me a little bravery to bring one home..

@arts_nibs

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The pics have disappeared?

"Tis true, men are destined for short, brutal lives ... and women - long, miserable ones." :yikes:

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*Turns to Classifieds*

 

*Starts pounding F5*

 

Beautiful, fascinating, tantalising post. If it's not too much of a PITA, would you mind PMing me when you put these up for sale? I do try to check the classifieds daily, but sometimes I forget and I would be kicking myself if I missed one of these.

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Beautiful pen, Lex, and since they have no name, they could now be named Lexaf 001 and following...

 

I will definitely keep an eye out on the classifieds! And, glad to see you back on the forum.

a fountain pen is physics in action... Proud member of the SuperPinks

fpn_1425200643__fpn_1425160066__super_pi

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you all for the nice reactions.

In the meantime I sold some of the pens from this lot to FPN members.

I'm sure all these pens found a good home after so many years.

Have fun with it!

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G r e a t find, rescue, and restoration Lex!

Will you also attempt to find more of the history surrounding their production? Might the Hamburg '44, and marks be a start to seek the pre-early war manufacturers? Have you shared the find, and photos with the Euro pen forum?

Please let us know what you learn? Thanks for sharing.

Great story... have to check in here more often.

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AWESOME POST!

 

I loved reading about these pens and the beautiful pictures to boot! ;)

 

Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for sharing these unique pens and your 'exiting project'....

 

Quite a story, with great results!

 

:thumbup:

FP Addict & Pretty Nice Guy

 

 

 

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