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Learning The Basics Of Fountain Pen Restoration



Alexcat

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I would very much like to try to learn the basics of how to restore, look after, and nurture fountain pens....I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of suitable websites ( very much a beginner) or books.

Alex

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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(1) The best book is "Fountain Pen Repair", by Jim Marshall and Lawrence Oldfield. The third edition -- the current one -- is $60 at New York's Fountain Pen Hospital. You should find it at a store in the UK...it is written and printed over on your side of the Atlantic.

 

(2) Read some of the reference pages at Richard Binder's site, http://www.richardspens.com/ Richard is great at describing how a fountain pen works and how filling systems evolved from about 1910 - 1960. Pens have not changed much since 1960, when Parker introduced the all-component Parker 45.

 

(3) Try your own repairs on "third tier" pens...simple lever-fillers that most people used -- and could afford -- back in the '30s. Read "How to re-sac an Esterbrook" pinned to the FPN's Esterbrook sub-forum: The Estie is similar to most lever-fillers, so the principles will work for most of the old pens you'll find on Ebay. It lists tools you will need...not many. You won't need a lathe or other fancies. What third tier pens? Richard lists many US pens, such as Wearever, Arnold, Stratford. I don't know British equivalent makers. On the US Ebay, I often found that third tier pens would be sold in mixed batches, "as found". A batch might include a mid-30s Wearever, an early '50s Arnold, a Venus, a few pens so dirty that it takes work just to read the name on the clip. Put another way: do NOT spend 1,000 UK pounds on an un-restored Onoto Magna, one of the greatest pens and a complicated one, and use it to teach yourself pen repair! https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/189313-how-to-replace-an-esterbrook-sac/

 

 

(4) Consider joining the UK Writing Equipment Society, http://newsite.wesonline.org.uk/

 

Enjoy! I like learning about pens made 1920s - 1940s. It gives a feel for the people who used the pens and made them...their world comes alive...even through reading old advertisements.

Edited by welch

Washington Nationals 2019: the fight for .500; "stay in the fight"; WON the fight

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I'm only about six months ahead of you, and the steps listed above are what I've done. When I'm home, I'll try to post more links to help. I've found some nice reference sites at Munson Pens, and the Penhero pen gallery.

 

At some point, you'll need to know who to buy your supplies and tools from, and I'm sure others will jump in with that information before too long.

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(1) The best book is "Fountain Pen Repair", by Jim Marshall and Lawrence Oldfield. The third edition -- the current one -- is $60 at New York's Fountain Pen Hospital. You should find it at a store in the UK...it is written and printed over on your side of the Atlantic.

 

(2) Read some of the reference pages at Richard Binder's site, http://www.richardspens.com/ Richard is great at describing how a fountain pen works and how filling systems evolved from about 1910 - 1960. Pens have not changed much since 1960, when Parker introduced the all-component Parker 45.

 

(3) Try your own repairs on "third tier" pens...simple lever-fillers that most people used -- and could afford -- back in the '30s. Read "How to re-sac an Esterbrook" pinned to the FPN's Esterbrook sub-forum: The Estie is similar to most lever-fillers, so the principles will work for most of the old pens you'll find on Ebay. It lists tools you will need...not many. You won't need a lathe or other fancies. What third tier pens? Richard lists many US pens, such as Wearever, Arnold, Stratford. I don't know British equivalent makers. On the US Ebay, I often found that third tier pens would be sold in mixed batches, "as found". A batch might include a mid-30s Wearever, an early '50s Arnold, a Venus, a few pens so dirty that it takes work just to read the name on the clip. Put another way: do NOT spend 1,000 UK pounds on an un-restored Onoto Magna, one of the greatest pens and a complicated one, and use it to teach yourself pen repair! https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/189313-how-to-replace-an-esterbrook-sac/

 

 

(4) Consider joining the UK Writing Equipment Society, http://newsite.wesonline.org.uk/

 

Enjoy! I like learning about pens made 1920s - 1940s. It gives a feel for the people who used the pens and made them...their world comes alive...even through reading old advertisements.

Welch,

Thank you, thank you, thank you....that is splendiferously wonderful, and exciting, and encouraging....really chuffed, am so pleased!

Did I say...thank you? ;)

Alex

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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I'm only about six months ahead of you, and the steps listed above are what I've done. When I'm home, I'll try to post more links to help. I've found some nice reference sites at Munson Pens, and the Penhero pen gallery.

 

At some point, you'll need to know who to buy your supplies and tools from, and I'm sure others will jump in with that information before too long.

Gweimer1,

 

Thank you....that's really encouraging. Thanks a lot

Alex

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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Alex,

As stated above, start with pens that are appropriate for your skill level. but also not too crappy pen either!

Really cheap pens were not intended to be repaired, the material and build are poor, and as they say, "you cant make a silk purse from a sows ear"!

It can be very frustrating and in the end, its still a crappy pen.

 

Look for good quality, low cost pens for example, Parker Dupfold, Junior. These pen can fetch a lot, but they are quite common and can be found an a reasonable price. Easy to work on, and after restoration they are beautiful pens, that work well.

 

There are a lot of pens that fall into this category, find one you like and get to know it.

 

Working with pens is very unique, hard rubber, celluloid, and old shellac are not commonly encountered materials and require a feel.

Some pen require specialized tools, trying to work on them without them, is a recipe for disaster.

Some pens require a good stock of replacement parts, a junk yard.

 

Since there are so many pens out there, I concentrate on a few brands and models.

If I need something outside my ability, I ship it off to someone with the specific expertise to address the job.

 

Bringing a pen back from a neglected, broken state to its original beauty, is a very rewarding endeavor, enjoy

 

Mark

http://www.maryhatay.com/Mark/Fountain-Pens/Mixed-Pens/i-qv5h3mN/0/O/atramentum%20Digitis%20small.jpg

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Hey Alex, I know this is a cliché, but all I can say is that "practice makes you master", so this is something you need to actually do in order to become good at it.

Follow the hints that the others gave you and learn by doing it.

 

One very important advice, though: do NOT start trying to fix your favourite pen. One little misstep and you can kiss the pen goodbye, so start on ones that are cheap and that you aren't emotionally attached to!

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Car boot sales are your friend. Buy everything you can find under five quid (well, maybe not everything, but you get the idea). If you're lucky that will include some nice pens, quite a few nice pens with big problems, and a lot of crud, the great thing being that you'll end up doing a lot of research, learning a lot, and not risking too much money. If you're really lucky you'll find someone with a job lot of pens they want to get rid of for an all-in price. Get a supply of sacs from the Pendragons website, as most of the pens you find will be lever or button fillers. Get a heat source and a bottle of shellac and start work!

 

Ebay lots *can* also be a good idea, for practice. But be careful what you pay.

 

All the sources of information above are good ones. Let me add for a good view of pen mechanics SBRE Brown's 'Disassembly line' videos on Youtube. Not vintage pens, but the Lamy 2000 one for instance gives you a good idea of how to get the pen apart.

 

And remember: patience and gentle hands. If you start getting frustrated, go and make a cup of coffee. Or take a walk. The pen will wait.

Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/

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The first two pens I ever restored were a Parker 51 Vacumatic and a Conklin Nozac. The point being, just do it.

 

Lawrence's book is a must and all the gear-heads over at the Repair forum are a great resource, particularly Ron Zorn, kirchh, FarmBoy, Bruce and even the good Dr. Oldfield will pop in from time to time.

 

Anybody I left out?

 

Glenn

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Pick a pen you want to restore and focus on that particular pen, especially by checking out the repair forum here which has lots of threads about most pens. Once you've restored it move on to the next pen you want to fix up.

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The best way to learn about repairs is to do them. its easier if you are starting out with lever fillers and button fillers. just go slow and try and find out as much about a given pen as you can before you work on it. most pens are pretty strait forward but there are often known weak spots for certain pens, or little tricks you will need to know. some pens have screw in nibs so you cannot / should not nock them out. some pens have threaded sections so you have to make sure you turn them the right way when you are opening up the pen. some pens, like the colored hard rubber ones are known to be very fragile, so extra care is needed when opening them.

 

at first you will need a heat gun or hair dryer, section pliers, sacs, shellac, talc, dental tools, a pen flashlight and bulbs to clean out the feed.

 

later things like a loupe, a nock out block, and an ultrasonic cleaner are helpful.

 

A good first pen to work on is an esterbrook J. they are built like tanks. i have only ever cracked one of them opening it up and that is because i was being careless. and they are often really good pens once you get them working. the only common problems to look out for on them are missing jewels and loose caps. wearevers are also another good practice pen to fix up as others have mentioned. if you find a nice clean one or an early hard rubber one they can be ok pens, but some of them are absolutely terrible.

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Just a wee message to send a huge thankyou for all the lovely replies, tons of suggestions and help and encouragement....what a kind and helpful bunch you are!

 

I have a couple of pens which came in a cheapie bundle from eBay....will have a look at them, and think, practice, learn, and just try to 'get my chops'(is that the correct expression?) and make a start....learn by doing

 

Thanks again

Alex

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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The first two pens I ever restored were a Parker 51 Vacumatic and a Conklin Nozac. The point being, just do it.

 

Lawrence's book is a must and all the gear-heads over at the Repair forum are a great resource, particularly Ron Zorn, kirchh, FarmBoy, Bruce and even the good Dr. Oldfield will pop in from time to time.

 

Anybody I left out?

 

Glenn

Love that description...."gear heads".... :)

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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One very common place to start is with an Esterbrook pen. They are simple, and generally easy to come by. Here's a few more links I've found helpful in learning about the pens that are out there.

 

Esterbrook reference - http://www.esterbrook.net/index.shtml

 

Penhero gallery - http://www.penhero.com/PenGalleryMain.htm

 

Munson Pens - https://munsonpens.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-tandem-pen-and-pencil/

 

Vintage Pens (David Nishimura) - http://www.vintagepens.com/pen_profiles.shtml

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are reasons an Esterbrook should be both your first vintage pen and your first pen you restore.

 

The Estie pen material is quite stout along with the trim and hardware. Somewhat more forgiving of nOOb pen repairperson mistakes than other pens. Just get one with unbroken jewels and a non spinning clip.

 

This thread here is worth it's weight in gold.

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/189313-how-to-replace-an-esterbrook-sac/

 

It is Generally applicable to other lever filler pens too.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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nascentcowboy

I just wanted to add that You Tube has a great number of videos to show you different aspects of pen repair. They are especially helpful if you are a visual learner.

I have a number of pens that I am working on at the present time. Most are Wearever, with a couple of Esterbrook, Fineline(a Sheaffer pen), Everfeed, Berwick(can't find any info on this one) and on and on.

Use the book and the available videos to guide you as others have said. I believe it will get easier in time when you are not so worried about the process.(I am still in this phase :wacko: )

Carl

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I just wanted to add that You Tube has a great number of videos to show you different aspects of pen repair. They are especially helpful if you are a visual learner.

I have a number of pens that I am working on at the present time. Most are Wearever, with a couple of Esterbrook, Fineline(a Sheaffer pen), Everfeed, Berwick(can't find any info on this one) and on and on.

Use the book and the available videos to guide you as others have said. I believe it will get easier in time when you are not so worried about the process.(I am still in this phase :wacko: )

Carl

Thank you Carl....that's really encouraging. I'm trying to get my paws on a starting project....preferably an Esterbrook. eBay is my friend ;)

Alex

"As many nights endure Without a moon or star So will we endure When one is gone and far "Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory(21/09/1934-7/11/2016)

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