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Maintenance & Care Of Hard Rubber Pens


Sinistral1
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I've now got several vintage Waterman eyedroppers, all around 100+ years old. I just got another one last week with a very badly damaged cap with probably about 1/2" broken off and gone forever. It got me to thinking, when did they start making pens using hard rubber? And, since most of these old workhorses are passing the century mark for age, is there anything I should be doing to them to ensure they will last another 100 years and not just crumble in my hand a few years down the road and be tossed in the bin in pieces?

 

As an aside about these pens - I can barely stand using many of the newer pens because I am so particular about how the pen feels in the section while I'm writing with it. The Waterman eyedroppers have no bumps, ridges, rings, grooves, etc. just one long smooth line and I love that! I want them to live longer than I do, if you know what I mean.

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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Sinistral1

 

I love hard rubber pens also, and I've found that if you use them the natural oils in your hand help to preserve their original black colour - and actually get rid of some of the brown-ness that creeps in with oxidation.

 

They are a pleasure to hold and use! I agree wholeheartedly.

 

Best to you

Andrew

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Each HR pen you own should spend 2-3 hours daily in a sunny window...

 

No NO NO--- just kidding!

Sensitive Pen Restoration doesn't cost extra.

 

Find me on Facebook at MONOMOY VINTAGE PEN

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My Parker Duofolds are hard rubber. I love 'em. The use of hard rubber pre-dates the

twentieth century. With this extreme age, the material becomes brittle. Patch repairs are

nearly impossible.

 

In the 1930's Parker used the first acylic for its Vacumatic -- Lucite (Plexiglass in England)

I think you will like the feel and function of this one.

 

Good luck.

Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön !

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Regularly apply a light coat of linseed oil, let penetrate overnight wipe off and polish, does wonders !

I was recently told olive oil does the trick equally,although Ive never tested it….

Francis

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What do you mean by "testbeds"? I'm just concerned that as it ages, the rubber changes it's chemical or molecular properties to the point where nothing is ever going to revive it to it's original flexibility, or even close to what it was like when it was first made. Like, you can't put a person's body back together once it's been mummified, despite what the movies suggest. I hope the veggie glycerine works. I wonder if people who restore old cars know about this, because so many of the bits and pieces in cars are made of differnt kinds of rubber.

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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Oh, that's interesting! When you said testbed, I imagined you burying them in a field somewhere! You could pretent you were looking for buried Roman stuff and happen upon them next spring.

 

Have you tried any kind of petroleum jelly - isn't that stuff based on oil (petroleum), the same as rubber is?

 

By the way, I'm looking for a cap to replace a broken one (slip cap) for a #15 Waterman eyedropper - were any of those donated caps from a #15 by any chance? I could swap with you and give you the broken one for a non-broken one, since your experiments probably don't need the pieces to be in working order....

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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I don't know about its impact on ebonite pens, but in my automotive hobby we were always taught that petroleum distillates, oil and grease all acted to deteriorate rubber products. That was one reason why the synthetic "rubber" compounds were developed. How the rubber we use in cars differs from ebonite I do not know. I just know that I keep all petroleum products away from my ebonite pens - just in case.

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...

Edited by Moondrop

"We have only one thing to give up. Our dominion. We don't own the world. We're not kings yet. Not gods. Can we give that up? Too precious, all that control? Too tempting, being a god?"

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Regularly apply a light coat of linseed oil, let penetrate overnight wipe off and polish, does wonders !

I was recently told olive oil does the trick equally,although Ive never tested it….

Francis

I'd stay away from cooking oils. Boiled Linseed oil and tung oil oxidizes into a hard surface. Vegetable oils and other cooking oils oxidize into a gummy mess.

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I'd stay away from cooking oils. Boiled Linseed oil and tung oil oxidizes into a hard surface. Vegetable oils and other cooking oils oxidize into a gummy mess.

 

Hard rubber (ebonite) is made from a mixture of natural rubber, linseed oil and sulfur.

So I doubt that linseed oil will harm it.

Hard rubber is mostly resistant against chemical influences like acids and bases.

Are you a chemist to know this for sure.

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Hard rubber (ebonite) is made from a mixture of natural rubber, linseed oil and sulfur.

So I doubt that linseed oil will harm it.

Hard rubber is mostly resistant against chemical influences like acids and bases.

Are you a chemist to know this for sure.

There is a difference. There is a "boiled" linseed, which has been heated and treated with a drying agent, and there is the plain jane variety you might find in a health food store. When cooking a batch of ebonite, the linseed oil undergoes the same process as the boiled linseed, which when fully oxidized, becomes a hard film. Boiled linseed is not edible, and is usually in places for finishing wood. It's not about how the oil interacts with the ebonite, as it's pretty inert to most chemicals. It's all about how hard the film is after the oil oxidizes, hard and tackless for boiled linseed oil, and tacky and soft for plain linseed. It's this reason you don't use vegetable oil to finish your cutting boards, because it's non-drying, as in, it drys tacky, as well as becoming rancid. Drying oils, like tung oil and boiled linseed oil, will become a hard film, and not become stinky like rancid oil. You don't need to be a chemist, as I am not, but I am a woodworker. If you're finishing woods, you need to know how your finishes dry.

Edited by Inkling13
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Thanks for your detailed explanation :) , sounds very reasonable, I knew that linseed oil is used to finish wood surfaces.

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I've used carnauba wax and a jewelers or eyeglasses cloth to hand-polish my (admittedly newer) HR pens, but maybe I'm destroying them slowly? They look and feel pretty awesome when I've finished.

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I've used carnauba wax and a jewelers or eyeglasses cloth to hand-polish my (admittedly newer) HR pens, but maybe I'm destroying them slowly? They look and feel pretty awesome when I've finished.

Somewhere I read, that Carnauba wax will destroy ebonite slowly because the wax is acidic, and will gradually eat at the pen, despite looking fine after treatment.

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This sounds not reasonable to me as ebonite is highly resistent against acids.

I suppose not, since ebonite was what they used to make car battery housings just because it could resist the acid. I don't have the source, but I'd just be cautious until a more authoritative voice speaks up.

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So, in summary:

 

Hard rubber and ebonite are one in the same

 

Hard rubber is not the same as an old tire that has gotten hard

 

Boiled linseed oil is a preservative for hard rubber when lightly applied, allowed to dry overnight, then wiped off and buffed the next day.

 

Has anyone ever handled an old hard rubber pen that has been maintained with boiled linseed oil during it's lifetime, or even during the last decade or two?

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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