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Vintage 51 Woes ...


Avocet

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Recently, I acquired a vintage Parker 51 Vacufill. It's a really pretty pen; India Black barrel, Gold filled cap with a perfect Blue Diamond and jewel and a fine 14k gold nib. The barrel says its 1st quarter 1948 and the nib is stamped 1947.

This was an eBay pen, and seller purported the pen to be cleaned, flushed, re-sacked, and in good working order. Contrary to the best advice, I filled the pen with Montblanc Midnight Blue (the old batch) and observed a little bit of tooth, a very fine and somewhate dry line. After a short while, I emptied the pen and soaked her for about 20 hours ... re-inked her in Diamine Evergreen and tried again. She remained toothy and writing on the dry side. I flushed and soaked her again, and inked her up with Shaeffer Black Skrip, which my other Parker 51s absolutely thrive on. Same result .. she wrote fine and dry for about a paragraph or so, and then quit altogether.

Time for a look under the hood, pardon the pun. The hood was removed (strangely, without any heat) to inspect the collector and the breather tube. The tube, was a plastic replacement type (fine with me I think) and the collector was soaked in pen flush (soap, water and some ammonia) for 30 hours ... I managed to get the collector clean enough, though it was badly stained, but the fin gaps were very clear and the breather tube as well. Long story long, reassembled, inked up with the Diamine Evergreen. She was nice and wet for a paragraph or two and then slowly and completely died away.

Although the genius of the Parker design has become evident to me, I'm thinking the issue here is a nib issue. The right side of the nib looks a little worn compared to the left, but I'm not sure that is the issue or not. Other than that, I'm fairly well in the dark here and ready to send the pen out for a professional remedy.

Anyone have any input before I box her up? Do I send her to a nibmeister or a general repairman? I'm confounded for the moment and would like to hear the general brainstrust, perhaps others with a common experience ... I also obtained a Parker 51 Aerometric from eBay around the same time, a 1954 Special, and it is the sweetest, most reliable and enjoyable writing instrument I own, or close. Thanks .... Parker 51s ... I certainly DO get it!

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

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I don't think you'll find a "nibmeister' who isn't also a good general repairman. If you suspect the nib is the problem, send it to someone who can fix it. They most likely will be able to troubleshoot and fix any other issues.

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I don't know why others would advise you not to use MB Midnight Blue. That ink should be perfectly safe in a P51. It is an iron gall ink, but the nib is 14kt gold and the plastic Parker used in the 51 (Lucite) was designed to withstand stuff that would eat through many a competitor's pen (Superchrome ink).

 

It could be a nib issue. I had a 51 Aero that was experiencing similar problems. I had the nib adjusted and it has worked fine ever since. However, it could be a number of things (faulty breather tube, a pin hole in the diaphragm, diaphragm installed incorrectly).

Parker: Sonnet Flighter, Rialto Red Metallic Laque, IM Chiseled Gunmetal, Latitude Stainless, 45 Black, Duovac Blue Pearl Striped, 51 Standard Black, Vac Jr. Black, 51 Aero Black, 51 Vac Blue Cedar, Duofold Jr. Lapis, 51 Aero Demi Black, 51 Aero Demi Teal, 51 Aero Navy Gray, Duofold Pastel Moire Violet, Vac Major Golden Brown, Vac Deb. Emerald, 51 Vac Dove Gray, Vac Major Azure, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, 51 Vac Black GF Cap, 51 Forest Green GF cap, Vac Jr. Silver Pearl, Duovac Senior Green & Gold, Duovac Deb. Black, Challenger Black, 51 Aero Midnight, Vac. Emerald Jr., Challenger Gray Pearl, 51 Vac Black, Duofold Int. Black, Duofold Jr. Red.

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I used MB blue-black for years in all my pens, including vac and aero 51s. No harm was done to any of the pens.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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This is the point when I would send the 51 to Tom Mullane, who is missed by all who talked with him or sent pens for repair or just simply met him. There are many good repair people...in fact, every pen repair person I've tried has been very good. Tom was my first choice, though.

 

If the right side of the nib is badly worn, you might want to buy a replacement from Ernesto Soler, Parker51.com. His gold nibs are about $35 (or were, last time I bought some) and his "octanium" nibs are $15 or $20.

 

Of course, the important thing is our notions of "badly worn". Mine would be that the right side of the tip is so worn that it cannot be re-shaped to fit with the left. Call that "drastic" or "hopelessly worn".

 

(...and, as others have mentioned, the P51 was designed when many inks were "iron gall" and it survived. Parker even had a "Parker 51 Ink" so harsh that the company suggested it be used only in 51s.)

Edited by welch

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Any vintage pen restorer should be able to get your 51 to working. Sadly Tom Mullane (oldgriz) passed recently.

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Indy pens, Tim Girdler or Danny Fudge should work nicely with not so bad turn arounds.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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Some general questions:

 

Would a significantly worn right side tine completely stop the flow?

 

Could a competent nibmeister add tip material to an original Parker nib? I'd like to keep the original parts of the pen as I received it.

 

Through some testing I did, I was able to ascertain the pen is filling properly - with some work, emptying water fills yielded about 1.5 to 1.9 ml of water. I believe this is within the known quantitative amounts for a 51vacfiller.

 

Thanks for your help, kind folks ...

Edited by Avocet

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

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I would have thought a problem with the nib would show a problem much more quickly than a full paragraph - interference with the capillary action between nib & paper wouldn't allow much more than the first nib's worth of ink onto the page.

 

Have you had a close look with a loupe?

 

Do you have a second nib you could swap in to test the possibility of it being a nib problem? That may be one way forward.

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Hi

 

One point to make every vac fill 51 I have ever taken apart had a plastic breather tube, as far as I know they only fitted metal (Silver) tubes to the Aerometric version.

 

Second point I have read in some of the 51 service books that it is important to have the correct nib to hood contact gape for correct ink flow and some books mention applying heat to the hood so that it can be set the correct distance from the back of the nib, if that information is correct then that might be what the issue is here.

 

Await some replies from some of the more knowledgeable people here before attacking your pen with heat though.

 

Paul

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Recently, I acquired a vintage Parker 51 Vacufill. It's a really pretty pen; India Black barrel, Gold filled cap with a perfect Blue Diamond and jewel and a fine 14k gold nib. The barrel says its 1st quarter 1948 and the nib is stamped 1947.

 

This was an eBay pen, and seller purported the pen to be cleaned, flushed, re-sacked, and in good working order. Contrary to the best advice, I filled the pen with Montblanc Midnight Blue (the old batch) and observed a little bit of tooth, a very fine and somewhate dry line. After a short while, I emptied the pen and soaked her for about 20 hours ... re-inked her in Diamine Evergreen and tried again. She remained toothy and writing on the dry side. I flushed and soaked her again, and inked her up with Shaeffer Black Skrip, which my other Parker 51s absolutely thrive on. Same result .. she wrote fine and dry for about a paragraph or so, and then quit altogether.

 

Time for a look under the hood, pardon the pun. The hood was removed (strangely, without any heat) to inspect the collector and the breather tube. The tube, was a plastic replacement type (fine with me I think) and the collector was soaked in pen flush (soap, water and some ammonia) for 30 hours ... I managed to get the collector clean enough, though it was badly stained, but the fin gaps were very clear and the breather tube as well. Long story long, reassembled, inked up with the Diamine Evergreen. She was nice and wet for a paragraph or two and then slowly and completely died away.

 

Although the genius of the Parker design has become evident to me, I'm thinking the issue here is a nib issue. The right side of the nib looks a little worn compared to the left, but I'm not sure that is the issue or not. Other than that, I'm fairly well in the dark here and ready to send the pen out for a professional remedy.

 

Anyone have any input before I box her up? Do I send her to a nibmeister or a general repairman? I'm confounded for the moment and would like to hear the general brainstrust, perhaps others with a common experience ... I also obtained a Parker 51 Aerometric from eBay around the same time, a 1954 Special, and it is the sweetest, most reliable and enjoyable writing instrument I own, or close. Thanks .... Parker 51s ... I certainly DO get it!

 

When you took the pen apart and tinkered with the collector...

 

1. Did you see a little black (hard rubber) piece in the part of the collector that goes into the barrel? It's about the width of a pencil lead (0.5-0.7mm)

 

2. Is the wide channel in the collector lined up with the feed?

 

If the hard rubber plug is missing, the collector won't work correctly. The plug is there to hold the end open so that the ink continues to flow properly.

 

The wide channel is supposed to be lined-up with the nib and feed.

 

Let me know what you find.

 

Tim

Tim Girdler Pens  (Nib Tuning; Custom Nib Grinding; New & Vintage Pen Sales)
The Fountain Pen: An elegant instrument for a more civilized age.
I Write With: Any one of my assortment of Parker "51"s or Vacumatics

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When you took the pen apart and tinkered with the collector...

 

1. Did you see a little black (hard rubber) piece in the part of the collector that goes into the barrel? It's about the width of a pencil lead (0.5-0.7mm)

 

2. Is the wide channel in the collector lined up with the feed?

 

If the hard rubber plug is missing, the collector won't work correctly. The plug is there to hold the end open so that the ink continues to flow properly.

 

The wide channel is supposed to be lined-up with the nib and feed.

 

Let me know what you find.

 

Tim

Hi Tim, thanks for the reply. In the event someone else is the recent laughing stock of 'newb' boneheads, let them rest assured that I will take their place on the Darwin Award throne. :lticaptd: :lticaptd: :lticaptd:

 

This rubber plug, (of which in spite of the hours and hours of vids and web sites I've used regarding fountain pens, Parkers included,) was completely and totally an unknown entity for me. As such, just after soaking the collector and carefully flossing the fins and cleaning it by hand, I noticed, with magnification, that one of the tines from the brush I was using had lodged itself in a channel at the back of the collector. I proceeded to rid this freak placement of my cleaning efforts by removing it with a small tool ... (uproarious laughter and knee slapping) ... of course, this in all likelihood was the now famous plug that you mention. :excl:

 

After a good 20 minutes crawling around on the rug in the bathroom, I concede its presence to some unattainable abyss, lost for the ages. :wallbash: :wallbash: :doh: :doh:

 

I believe I had the proper set of the nib on the feed and the both of them aligned properly with the wider channel running on the dorsal of the collector.

 

This might explain why she wrote much worse after a serious cleaning, methinks.

 

Now for the interesting part, --- how does one acquire a replacement one of these dad-burned plugs? I have never seen them being sold in the usual Parker repair supply sites, etc. I would be interested in replugging the collector before I would send her to you methinks.

 

Thanks for your wisdom! :unsure: :unsure: :unsure: :unsure: :notworthy1: :notworthy1: :wacko: :wacko: :wacko: :wacko: .

Edited by Avocet

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

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A sliver of hard rubber or stainless steel wire.

 

I myself would use an appropriate size piece of mono filament fishing line inspite of some pros saying it would collapse on itself. I don't think there's THAT kind of force/pressure involved.

 

The originals are hard rubber.

 

[EDIT] All this brings up something else to keep in mind for the future. Later on, Parker stopped putting the plug in and heat sealed the hole open. It Isn't Easy to see where they did that until you look Very Closely. Sooo, you might want to check the collectors Without the plug to see whether they Really Are missing it or the channel has been internally sealed.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

Edited by OcalaFlGuy
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Oh, I saw it alright! :wub: I would like to replace it properly though.

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

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I have a solution I'll share with you when I can be on my computer (instead of the iPhone).

 

Tim

Tim Girdler Pens  (Nib Tuning; Custom Nib Grinding; New & Vintage Pen Sales)
The Fountain Pen: An elegant instrument for a more civilized age.
I Write With: Any one of my assortment of Parker "51"s or Vacumatics

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I have a solution I'll share with you when I can be on my computer (instead of the iPhone).

Tim

Thanks Tim, sounds of interest ...

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

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Avocet,

 

Ok...here's the solution:

 

1. Obtain a piece of 0.7mm mechanical pencil lead.

 

2. Obtain some fine abrasive. I suggest 2000 wet/dry auto sandpaper.

 

What you're going to do is make a new plug out of the pencil lead. Now, the plugs I've measured have been 0.64mm. So, the 0.5mm lead is too small and the 0.7mm lead is too big.

 

Here's how to make it work:

 

1. Put the pencil lead into the round-shaped hole in the channel that the hard rubber plug was in. Put it in all the way (and be gentle, because it will be too big).

 

2. Break the lead off at the end of the collector. It's OK if it is too short. It just can't be too long. If it is, file it down.

 

3. Once you have the lead at the proper length, take out your sandpaper and roll the lead back and forth on the paper so that it takes off material evenly. You still want a cylinder, not an octagon.

 

4. Test often. If the collector is naturally loose-fitting, leave the plug a bit bigger. If it's naturally tight fitting, shoot for a size that doesn't expand the clear plastic part of the collector when putting the plug in.

 

I'm not sure if every plug is the same (ie. 0.64mm). When roll-sanding the lead, be sure that your testing is often--we're talking about 0.xx mm here.

 

I've used this on several of my own pens and it seems to work great. The graphite of the pencil lead is likely to be impervious to ink, etc., so there should be no issue.

 

I hope this helps and your pen is better with this fix.

 

Blessings,

 

Tim

Tim Girdler Pens  (Nib Tuning; Custom Nib Grinding; New & Vintage Pen Sales)
The Fountain Pen: An elegant instrument for a more civilized age.
I Write With: Any one of my assortment of Parker "51"s or Vacumatics

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Thanks Tim, I've been doing some reading on this and found those old repair threads from this site. A number of opinions but I did notice Richard bender gives the diameter of this plug as .025 mm. I've got some .07 and .05 pencil lead to try, if I can sand it. I wonder if the graphite would dissolve or otherwise powder up, clogging fins?

 

I was also thinking that a trimmed tine from a small black plastic hair comb might do the trick? Trying to avoid buying a Post Office to mail a letter, if you'll allow the metaphor.

Edited by Avocet

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

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Thanks Tim, I've been doing some reading on this and found those old repair threads from this site. A number of opinions but I did notice Richard bender gives the diameter of this plug as .025 mm. I've got some .07 and .05 pencil lead to try, if I can sand it. I wonder if the graphite would dissolve or otherwise powder up, clogging fins?

 

I was also thinking that a trimmed tine from a small black plastic hair comb might do the trick? Trying to avoid buying a Post Office to mail a letter, if you'll allow the metaphor.

 

Avocet,

 

Be careful. the lead I'm suggesting is 0.7mm, not .07mm. Also, I think Richard's site lists the measurement, .025, as inches.

 

I've not experienced the lead (graphite) deteriorating. If it does, it may not happen for quite some time. The "dust" I have not found to be an issue.

 

As far as a piece of a hair brush, who knows? If it is the proper measurement--.64mm or .025in--it should work. The reason I took the pencil lead route is that it is changeable, which is to say I can customize its size based on what I need it to do. Again, some collectors are too loose. A wider plug can help the collector to fit tighter in the barrel.

 

If you go the route of the pencil lead, let us know how it works.

 

Blessings,

 

Tim

Tim Girdler Pens  (Nib Tuning; Custom Nib Grinding; New & Vintage Pen Sales)
The Fountain Pen: An elegant instrument for a more civilized age.
I Write With: Any one of my assortment of Parker "51"s or Vacumatics

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UPDATE: Well, I removed the collector, nib and feed once more, flushed the ink out of the collector. I had a few pieces of both .7 and .9mm pencil lead. With my magnification on, I test fit the .7mm lead into the collectors spreader channel. It was a perfect, firm fit. Snapped off the excess and also took another close look at the nib.

 

It looked like the nib slit narrowed shut as it reached tips, so I exercised the tines a bit hoping this would contribute to healing this pen.

 

Well, so far this has done wonders, the pen is putting down a juicy fine line, for the first time since acquired a couple of weeks ago.

 

I will need consistency through 2 or 3 full inkings before I take her off of Injured Reserve.

 

Stay tuned and thanks for all of your assistance ...

 

Best

Edited by Avocet

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

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