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What Are The Dos And Don'ts Of The Parker Vacumatic?


Venemo
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I'm eyeing a Parker Vacumatic as a graduation present to myself. I plan to buy a restored one from ebay. Currently thinking about whether to get the golden brown or the emerald green version.

 

Is the Vacumatic a pen that you guys carry around and use, or is it more of a museum piece for your display cabinet? How durable is it? And what should I do to take good care of a vacumatic, to keep it in a good condition? Is it okay to use Pelikan Edelstein inks with it? How about Rohrer & Klingner? How can I make sure the celluloid remains unstained?

 

Thanks in advance for your answers!

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I have a 1937 Red Shadow Wave Junior (lockdown filler). It's been in constant rotation for nearly 2-1/2 years at this point, without *any* sort of flushing or maintenance (and the Shadow Waves were considered "lower tier" and didn't have the warranties that the top-end Pearl models did). I'll admit that I've only used Waterman Mysterious Blue in it, and just refill when it runs out or if I think I'm going to to a lot of writing). I've used De Atramentis Red Roses (one of the scented inks) in a third gen Vac Dub-Debutante a bunch of times -- it might have shortened the life of the sac but I don't know for sure (I got it repaired again at the Ohio Pen Show and right now it's got Waterman Serenity Blue in it. Trying to remember what all has been run through the Vac Major; the new pen, an Azure Blue Pearl Speedline filler, has been running vintage Quick Microfilm Black since that show, and that's relatively permanent.

I don't have enough experience with R&K inks (other than Scabiosa and Salix, and a couple of their Documentus line inks. I can't imagine having a problem with the Edelstein inks as far as flow, but I can't say for sure.

The celluloid may be already discolored or ambered when you get the pen -- IIRC, that's a function of outgassing. Remember that you're more likely to get staining from colors harder to flush out -- ones with red dye components in particular.

Also remember that Vacs hold a LOT of ink and are kinda a PITA to flush out. But yeah, the only one I DON'T use of all my Vacs (and I think I have about 8 or 9 at this point) is a Grey Shadow Wave that has a crack in the cap. I was able to buy a replacement cap, but it has a chip below the cap band (and at the moment I don't have the funds -- or the skill set for a DIY job) to have the crack repaired in the one cap, or the chip stabilized or patched with the other.

I don't absolutely baby mine. I do try not to do stuff like drop them (particular the Red Shadow Wave, which is one of my babies... :rolleyes:); I do baby them a *bit* more than the 51s because celluloid isn't to the level of Lucite. And keep them away from high heat and open flames....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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If I had a prime collector grade minty minty Vac I would take better care of it perhaps. All mine have been acquired for less than £30, mainly 'in the wild', and they are user grade; ambered, brassed, and one arrived with a big burned hole in the cap. They are pretty reliable little pens, which may be one reason you see so many of them about. Not as indestructible as the Parker 51 but definitely not on the Mandarin Duofold end of the spectrum. The nibs can be marvellous.

 

Just probably don't use the obvious suspect inks in a Vac because the diaphragm is not as easy as a sac to replace. Nothing too highly pigmented and not iron gall.

Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/

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Thanks Ruth & Amk! I asked because I was a bit afraid, I know the 51 is a tank, but I have a 61 whose barrel cracked for no reason... Honestly, I have been un-inclined to use the 61 ever since, even though I had the crack fixed. (Maybe I'll sell it.) Glad to know that the celluloid of the Vacumatic is better and up to the task for everyday use. I will definitely steer clear of iron gall, especially after what it did to my Esterbrook. I believe Pelikan Edelstein is not an evil ink though.

 

The seller of the Vac says that its barrel is very well preserved and cleaned out very thoroughly, so it is transparent. And he agreed to fit the pen with an extra fine nib for me. It looks gorgeous in the pictures!

 

(Initially I contemplated getting a modern pen, but I'm very disgruntled by modern western extra fines (which are basically mediums) and realized that a well-restored Vacumatic is both cheaper and much prettier than a modern fancy pen.)

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Yes, the plastic on the 61 is cheapish one like on the 21/S21. I have been sourcing metal bodies (flighter and signet) for my 61s but again one can't do any thing about the section.

Khan M. Ilyas

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I have a 61 with a small crack in the hood, right at the threading. At first, I was having some issues with it oozing ink, but now it doesn't seem to be a problem (and I have trouble even spotting the crack unless I look very carefully -- and I know where it is :rolleyes:). It does not seem to affect the filling or writing at all (all my 61s are capillary fillers). At the moment, I'm still just using the reconstituted ink in the pen (which I'm guessing -- but am not certain -- is probably Quink Black). If it appears to be getting worse, or starts leaking again, I will see about trying to find a replacement hood, but at them moment I haven't had any trouble after the first day or two of using it.

If my experience with the other two 61s is any indication, I will be using the reconstituted ink, flushing to get it started again as needed, until at least the end of February and possibly even into March (and the second time I reconstituted the pen by flushing from the back of the filler and down through the nib and feed with distilled water was over a week ago -- and I haven't used the pen much this week...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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​I have no qualms about using and carrying my vintage Vacs, they are one of my favorite pens. there is only one down side and that is that they are a PITA to clean (compared to many other pens). As for the color, in three years time I suspect you will have a green, blue and brown model, and maybe even the silver/grey version. Somewhere along the way you will stumble upon a burgundy version, then ... all hope is lost.

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The Vac and 51 pens can be difficult to clean out, but they don't have to be.

 

You need a salad spinner centrifuge. It simplifies life quite a bit. I use a powered one in the shop that I made, but have the salad spinner version in the thread handy because it can take oversize pens quite easily.

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The Vacs are beautiful pens that hold a lot of ink. And they have the look of a traditional fountain pen. I have a green and the golden brown. Green ink in the green pen and Waterman's Havana Brown in the brown one. Both are good writers. I think you'll be happy with whichever you choose. As an odd bonus, the pattern tends to hide flaws. I have a silver vac that has been personalized with something like a dremel tool. Really ugly job, but it tends to disappear into the pattern. Good luck.

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Again, there is Ron Z's note about the salad spinner. You will also most likely have other pens that are easier to use for change of color work. The plastic on the Vac seems much stronger than the 61. If you want to do frequent changes of color, have on hand pens that are easier to flush and I don't think you should let the more involved flushing practices scare you off. I have one of the Vacs, a small brown one. It works and writes pleasantly, and I use blue black in it, Montblanc Midnight Blue. I don't plan on buying more Vacs, but this one is pleasant to use from time to time.

"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 have a 61 with a small crack in the hood, right at the threading. At first, I was having some issues with it oozing ink, but now it doesn't seem to be a problem (and I have trouble even spotting the crack unless I look very carefully -- and I know where it is :rolleyes:). It does not seem to affect the filling or writing at all (all my 61s are capillary fillers). At the moment, I'm still just using the reconstituted ink in the pen (which I'm guessing -- but am not certain -- is probably Quink Black). If it appears to be getting worse, or starts leaking again, I will see about trying to find a replacement hood, but at them moment I haven't had any trouble after the first day or two of using it.

If my experience with the other two 61s is any indication, I will be using the reconstituted ink, flushing to get it started again as needed, until at least the end of February and possibly even into March (and the second time I reconstituted the pen by flushing from the back of the filler and down through the nib and feed with distilled water was over a week ago -- and I haven't used the pen much this week...).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

I remember your cracked 61 from the other thread. Let's hope the crack doesn't widen further! My 61 barrel's crack was hardly noticable at first (it looked like a micro scratch), and then it widened... and then widened some more... so I asked someone to fix it and now it won't widen anymore, but it's still there and quite noticable. I wish you better luck with yours!

 

​As for the color, in three years time I suspect you will have a green, blue and brown model, and maybe even the silver/grey version. Somewhere along the way you will stumble upon a burgundy version, then ... all hope is lost.

 

 

Is the Vacumatic one of THOSE pens that multiply?

I remember at first I had only one Esterbrook J, and I could even somehow justify buying a second, but the third one I must admit I only got for the color...

 

These celluloids definitely have a charm!

 

The Vac and 51 pens can be difficult to clean out, but they don't have to be.

 

You need a salad spinner centrifuge. It simplifies life quite a bit. I use a powered one in the shop that I made, but have the salad spinner version in the thread handy because it can take oversize pens quite easily.

 

I read in other threads that the vacuum filler mechanism is designed to let ink in, but not out.

Guess I will be okay with just sticking to one specific kind of ink with this pen, and see how it goes from there.

 

The Vacs are beautiful pens that hold a lot of ink. And they have the look of a traditional fountain pen. I have a green and the golden brown. Green ink in the green pen and Waterman's Havana Brown in the brown one. Both are good writers. I think you'll be happy with whichever you choose. As an odd bonus, the pattern tends to hide flaws. I have a silver vac that has been personalized with something like a dremel tool. Really ugly job, but it tends to disappear into the pattern. Good luck.

 

I think that ugly personalization could be repaired. This guy has a video on fixing a hole on his brown Vac.

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Is the Vacumatic one of THOSE pens that multiply?

I remember at first I had only one Esterbrook J, and I could even somehow justify buying a second, but the third one I must admit I only got for the color...

 

Uh huh. Only a much bigger dent on your wallet than Esties.... :o

I still have more Esties (because it's a game of "Hunt the Nib". But a most of them I paid $10-20 US for them. The Vacs? Much pricier. I think the cheapest one is the Silver Pearl Major I got on eBay, because it didn't need to have a new diaphragm installed when I got it. Of course, I haven't used that pen recently, so all bets are off.... :rolleyes:

The advantage for me is that I don't like all the colors. And therefore don't need to subscribe to the Pokeman "Gotta get'em all" philosophy. An Emerald Pearl? Check. A Green Shadow Wave? Check. A Red Shadow Wave? Check. Azure Blue Pearl? Check and check (a 3rd Generation Sub-Debutante, and -- my most recent acquisition -- what is probably a Debutante-size Speedline filler).

If a Burgundy Pearl fell into my lap for an extraordinarily good price, I might get one. But it would have to be a really extraordinarily good price (because personally I think the Red Shadow Wave is prettier). YMMV

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I think that ugly personalization could be repaired. This guy has a video on fixing a hole on his brown Vac.

 

 

I may give it a try, thanks. But I will need a lot of superglue. I said it looked like it was personalized by a dremel but I really think they used one of those vibrating engravers. Very big and in cursive. but it might be worth a try. I'll practice on a few Wearevers first, though.

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I think that ugly personalization could be repaired. This guy

on fixing a hole on his brown Vac.

 

Take Grandmia's repair advice with a truck full of salt. i.e. look elsewhere for the right way to do things. I've tried the superglue method, and found it to be less than unsatisfactory. Suplerglue does not polymerize (harden) without pressure or some kind of activator. When buffing it will wear away rather quickly than the surrounding celluloid when you try to polish it.

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If I was trying to repair a hole in a celluloid pen I would never use Suiperglue. If I didn't have my Araldite 2020 I would use a 2-part epoxy, in thin layers and build it up to the point where I could then sand it down.

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Take Grandmia's repair advice with a truck full of salt. i.e. look elsewhere for the right way to do things. I've tried the superglue method, and found it to be less than unsatisfactory. Suplerglue does not polymerize (harden) without pressure or some kind of activator. When buffing it will wear away rather quickly than the surrounding celluloid when you try to polish it.

 

Well, maybe I'll just leave it as it is. The personalization is large, cursive and ugly, but it does disappear into pattern. I don't really notice it unless I'm really looking for it. Where do you suggest I look to try and do it the right way? (Without revealing trade secrets, of course).

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One of my Vacs (the Red Shadow Wave) has been engraved. But honestly, the name just blends into the pattern (possibly even more so than if it had been one of the Pearls). It's not noticeable, and sometimes I even forget it's there. It may mean for a lower resale value in the long run -- but it also possibly meant that the people bidding against me decided to drop out. Leaving me the winner. And since the pen turned out not to need the diaphragm replaced, it was *seriously* a case of "score -- ME! :D Ron was running that auction and even HE said I did well on the price; of course I forgot about the buyer's premium :o -- so when I went to pay I was thinking "Did I just really pay that much? I didn't think I had gone *that* high...." :blush:

Ironically, that was the only pen I really wanted in that auction, and I never thought I'd get it -- I was sure I'd be outbid. I did bid briefly on the Green Shadow Wave but then talked myself out of it -- after all, as far as I was concerned the Red was the prize item.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Well, maybe I'll just leave it as it is. The personalization is large, cursive and ugly, but it does disappear into pattern. I don't really notice it unless I'm really looking for it. Where do you suggest I look to try and do it the right way? (Without revealing trade secrets, of course).

Depending on how deep, perhaps it can be blended or minimized by using Micromesh. Vacs clean up really well with some elbow grease, and can be taken down pretty far, perhaps far enough to remove the entire engraving.

One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.

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