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Ultrasonic Cleaner For Vintage Pens And Different Materials


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Hi All,

A friend just got me an ultrasonic cleaner, I am wondering if it is safe to use on all pen types and materials? I have a very varied collection from vintage to modern pens, is ultrasonic safe for the following:

  • Vintage ebonite pen body and feeds (100 years old)?
  • Ebonite with urushi finish?
  • Vintage cellulose?
  • Precious resin?

Other than just water or water and ammonia or soap and water, is there any other solutions?

Are there any dangers that should be avoided?


Thank you in advance,

Pen Padawan

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Obviously avoid Casein used by the original Conway Steward and probably others, as that is destroyed by water. Most of the other material are fine. Some don't like heat but most are fine in water.


Await the usual response letting everyone know how wrong i am and how great he is from you know who before proceeding ;)

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Old ebonite + water = brown ebonite. Other than that, ultrasonic is fine for it.


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Thanks for adding that, thought it was just heat that turned hard rubber brown, will keep that in mind if i ever get one.

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Old ebonite + water = brown ebonite. Other than that, ultrasonic is fine for it.


Thank you for the great advice. So I will not use the ultrasonic for my Waterman red ripple or BHR. But I was hoping to use it for some vintage Onoto plunger pens, I normally use a toothbrush and bottle brush to clean my pens but an ultrasonic would clean out the nooks and crannies. How else can I clean out a vintage ebonite Onoto plunger rod and barrel?

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@Paul80: Heat makes it worse, rather than being a lone cause. A quick rinse in cold water may have no effect .


@Pen_Padawan: No, I would not put that pen in. However, for Onotos there is no problem cleaning any internal part -- rod, plunger and pins. Most likely those will not have oxidised in the first place because they are rarely light-exposed. As I understand, (and from my experience) it is not that water turns hard rubber brown directly, but rather the washing away of a thin dark surface layer exposing oxidised material beneath. That is also why warm water is worse -- it washes better. On the other hand a small bottle brush should be excellent for cleaning an Onoto barrel internally. I put feed and nib in the USC of course.


Some pens which were already oxidised I have simply dumped into the USC, in bits, then worried about surface improvement later. A non-oxidised section may also be safe. Trouble is, it is hard to tell until you try. :rolleyes:


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