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Alright, I bought a P51 Aero a while ago, sold it, and now I find out that I can't live without one. I've had to make do with pencils and cheap ballpoints, but writing isn't fun. I've decided to get myself a great P51 that'll last me decades, I'm not selling it this time. I have a few questions though...


#1. Aerometric vs Vacumatic

This is a common topic, but here are my main concerns. I am looking at refurbished pen sites (not eBay), so the Vacumatics should work fine out of the box. However, my concerns are twofold. I don't want to ever have to experience my pen turning into a sopping inky disaster, or otherwise lose faith in it because it ruined my things. The second is taking my pen on planes, I expect to do this a hell of a lot and I want to know if the Vacumatic would give me any trouble in that regard. In fact, I want to know if the Vacumatic will give me any trouble at all. It's not so much that I don't want to look after it (I'm OK with being attentive to my pen), I just don't want an unpredictable pen.


#2. Flighter

The Flighter is one of the best-looking pens I've ever wanted. However, I want a date-stamped pen, and one in excellent condition (i.e. frosty with no visible signs of use). How much is this going to cost me? I think buying new old stock is out of the question as I'd like to stay under $300. Is it a realistic goal to find an almost-mint to mint Flighter in this range? If I can't get a date-stamped one, can you at least tell what decade it was made in for certain?


#3. Cleaning

What's the best cleaning regimen for a P51? I'd like to know what do do with it on recieving it (before first fill) and then any monthly/bimonthly routine I should have to keep it in absolute tip-top shape for many, many years.


#4. Nibs

Is there such thing as a Medium/Broad nib, that is, neither Medium or Broad? This term continues to pop up and I think it has something to do with UK-made pens. I'm looking for a Medium (again) but I'm open to thinking about a Broad nib (I have small handwriting though).


#5. Dealers

I've looked through most of the pens for sale right now and I haven't found what I'm looking for. Until an Aero in Midnight Blue or Black, date-stamped and in frosty condition comes along (or a good M-nib Flighter), where should I look? My first P51 was bought from parker51.com, any other dealers that would have what I'm looking for? Is it important to have the nib retouched or no?



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Hi Inflection,


1. Take your pick with either the vac or the aero. While I appreciate the vacs, I love the aeros. As far as flying goes, don't worry about it. Read the dozens of questions and answers here on the forums. I fly professionally and commercially with aeros, use them in flight, and used one during a pressurization emergency. The aero presented absolutely no problems under all conditions (but I don't use them during climb). I fly internationally once a month, filled out paperwork, and had no problems with vacs either. These pens were designed during the golden age of aviation.


2. I love my Parker 51 Flighter. It's in my flight suit right now, and I'll bring it tomorrow when I'm out flying. Mine's a pen and pencil set, so I have the absolute best of both worlds. Your price range is very fair and compatible for what you are looking for. Good luck finding a NOS--just look for a nice-looking pen.


3. I tend to not change ink with the 51 because cleaning is a great deal of work due to the enormous amount of ink that stays in the collector. Go over to the Parker forum and read the pinned post about finding a Parker 51 in the wild (https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/223983-youve-got-your-first-found-in-the-wild-parker-51-in-your-hand-now-what/). It's a great guide that I still use for every "51" I get. I will say that if you get your pen from a good restorer, then you've got it pretty easy to do a quick rinse then fill and write. After four or five fillings, give it a flush, and then reload with the same ink. If you really want to change colors, keep using the guide from the forum.


4. I have a M/B Parker 51 that I got from Richard Binder, and it's a USA pen. They exist, and the nib is great to write with. If you aren't sure, then your standard sizes M and F will do a great job for you like they did for all of the owners long before us. I have XF, F, M and M/B, and each tool has their purpose. My Flighter is an XF that works great with the right ink on just about any paper.


5. You started with a great source; look at vintagepens, peytonstreetpens, and richardspens (monthly tray), and you'll have a great shot at finding your "51".


Good luck with the hunt!



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In day to day use that Does Not include flying about about 10k' I don't think an Aero is any "cleaner" than the Vac. The Aero filler was designed however to specifically be better during pressurized flight than a Vac 51.


$300 would be at the low end of what I'd expect a Nearly NOS to be from a dealer. You should be able to get a very nice set for that, maybe a hair more. (Flighters)


I'm not sure when dating stopped (Parker51.com/Chronology) but there are enough dating clues to at least get to a decade. (Flighters)


For absolute found in the wild leaning more towards Aeros, there's a pinned topic in the Parker forum. Otherwise the same as any other pen.


Approximately 80% of the US 51 nibs were Fines. The wider nibs are in UK pens. A UK Medium is about the same as a US Broad.


For the money you are talking about, I'd stay on Fleabay but I also know a little of what to look for. I still think you can get more for the buck there. NOS or nearly so are still fairly common there. Be sure and search sellers TBickiii and Ros7261 on Fleabay.


I probably wouldn't consider it for a Fighter but for a Lustraloy cap pen it might be cheaper, just take longer to get a pen finished that's about a 7-8 cap wise and send the cap off to be refinished than getting one nicer than a 7-8 in the wild. Not BIG different but maybe enough to make it worthwhile. ($$)


Bruce in Ocala, Fl

Edited by OcalaFlGuy
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I have a number of Vac Parker 51's. Nostalgia. It was a great design and innovation. However, the Aero version is newer.

There is a reason Parker switched to the Aero for its Parker 51's. At very least, it is simpler and easier to service. I am told

that the replacement silicon sac will last 50 years. (I can vouch only for 30 years, so far.) All my Parker 51's write rather

wet, so a fine nib will do just fine. Besides, it seems to be the standard in that pen.


I have never hesitated to put a Parker 51 into my shirt pocket (nib up, of course) and travel commercial air. In daily use,

use good ink. Flush a couple times annually. There is a protocol for a thorough flushing, but that is someone else's post.

He's probably on the way, as we write.


Good hunting.


(Please check your PM.)

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

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I think a vac will go 15 to 20 years before needing refurb. When one of mine failed, the ink seemed to be contained in the blind cap.


Flighter near mint -- If you find one sub $300 you are extremely lucky. Run of the mill Flighters go for $300 plus. I saw one with a dent in the end of the barrel go over $300, and a while back.


When I used to fly for business I carried a nice P51 or MB ballpoint, or both. I didn't obsess over FP withdrawals.

"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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I've looked at "rebrushed" Flighters, does rebrushing damage or otherwise devalue the pen, or just restore it to the original shine?


I'm concerned that a Flighter might pick up more noticable wear over the years than the regular plastic 51's. This is a daily pen (although it will have a pen case), so it'll be writing a lot, and I don't want it to start looking beat up in a few years.


I think I like M nibs more, but do you think it's worth it to switch to Fine for faster ink-drying? It wasn't a huge problem before, I was using Noodler's Black ink, but on some papers it took a pretty long time to dry. If it dries noticeably quicker, I might consider getting a F nib. Honestly I forgot to consider ink-drying as a factor, I don't think I'm going to go with an M/B or B nib now.

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I like flighters because the finish is more durable.

If you are going to be really fussy, then get one and put it into a non-use collection.

That is where I have some of my pens.

You have to accept that a daily use pen WILL see wear. All you can do is to minimize it.

I have a 75 and 180 that went through grad school with me, and they look just fine.


IMHO, most anything you do to the finish will devalue it, to a collector.


As for the nib, "it depends." If you get a dry M, the ink will dry faster than a WET F, and that is the luck of the draw. It just depends on the amount of ink put down on the paper, and how fast the ink is absorbed into the paper. Therefore it also depends a LOT on the paper, and how fast it absorbs the ink. I have to use a blotter when I write on the calendar (with a F nib), as that hard finished paper just does not absorb much ink, and the ink stays wet for several minutes.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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As for the nib, "it depends." If you get a dry M, the ink will dry faster than a WET F, and that is the luck of the draw. It just depends on the amount of ink put down on the paper, and how fast the ink is absorbed into the paper. Therefore it also depends a LOT on the paper, and how fast it absorbs the ink. I have to use a blotter when I write on the calendar (with a F nib), as that hard finished paper just does not absorb much ink, and the ink stays wet for several minutes.


Are you saying that Parker 51 nibs have variations even within their own sizes? Would you say a P51 writes dry or wet?

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"Refrurbished" I would take to mean the internals of the pen. In the US there are only 3 or so men who can come close to recreating the original factory finish on a Flighter. That is usually referred to as "refinishing". That's about $40 for a cap, I'd guess $100 for the cap and barrel. (The cap requires some fiddly disassembly that the barrel doesn't.) The problem with refinishing is that for it to really work best the gold trim has to also be as nice Already as the cap and barrel Will Be refinished or it will Look refinished. The gold furniture is gold filled, it can't be re-gold filled only gold plated. Not as nice.


I am still pretty confident of the $ figures I gave earlier.



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Are you saying that Parker 51 nibs have variations even within their own sizes? Would you say a P51 writes dry or wet?


All I can say is my personal experience with a sample size of 3 pens. FYI, 3 pens is not a valid statistical sample.

I have a P51 with a F nib that wrote well with dry Cross ink. That it wrote well with Cross hints that it is a wet pen, however I do not recall that is was ink pooling wet when I used it in college with either Sheaffer or Parker ink. The pen is currently deinked and in my collection. It is my mother's pen.

I currently have a P51special with a M nib that is WET, and I have a P51-MK3 with a F nib that is DRY.

- The 51sp is loaded with the dry Cross/Pelikan ink, with the wet Waterman ink the pen practically pools ink on the paper. That is a WET pen.

- The 51-MK3 is loaded with the wet Waterman ink, with the dry Cross ink the pen would hard start, skip and generally have trouble putting down ink. That is a dryer pen.


From what I have read on some posts, I think the 51s tend to run a bit dry, so the ink would dry fast. But my 51special is a WET pen. So it could come down to manufacturing variance that could give you a wet or dry pen. And what the prior owner might have done to the pen. Also as you can see above, using different inks will give you different results.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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