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Beginnings of a Journey: How should I start FP restoration?


achao613
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Hi, my name is Aidan. 

 

I've been collecting vintage fountain pens since September and now have 6 of them. I would love to make the leap into restoration, but don't know how....

 

The tools involved, many steps, and just the pen to start off with overwhelm me.

 

If anyone can provide me with the information to start, it would be much appreciated!

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15 years ago I was where you are now.  My entire repair knowledge and skill set consisted of replacing nibs in Esterbrooks.  After a year of diligent practice I graduated to swapping the nib on a Pelikan as my wife wiped the sweat off my brow....

 

There is a lot of information available to get you started.  Marshall and Oldfield's Pen Repair (fourth edition) is a gold mine of tips, photos, and practical knowledge.  Richard Dubiel's Fountain Pens The Complete Guide to Repair and Restoration is invaluable but is a bit dated and has a few procedures that make people cringe (pens and alcohol lamps should never come together).  Richard Binder's website has a lot of good pen repair info.  This repair forum is also an invaluable resource.  Some of the best professional restorers out there (and a lot of very skilled amateurs) post here and answer all kinds of questions. 

 

On the practical side, start with inexpensive pens.  You can still buy third tier and below pens in lots on eBay and in some antique shops.  Practice on those.  You will break pens.  I think I broke less than my share and only two that I really cared about but the carnage was mostly limited to pens of little or no value.  Pen pieces can be used to practice things like replacing levers.  Start simple with resaccing.  Work your way up.  The tools you need will become apparent as your skill levels increase.  Be creative on sourcing tools.  American Science and Surplus is a good source.  So is Harbor Freight.  My sac removal tools came from my dentist, worn out scalers that were headed for the scrap metal recycle bin when I got them.

 

The best advice I have learned came from this forum:

 

Be patient.  Don't rush procedures.  If a section refuses to budge be patient.  If you get frustrated walk away and come back later.

 

Do no harm.  Do not attempt procedures you are ill-prepared or ill-equipped to tackle.  I still have pens that I send out to the pros for work that I am not competent to do or feel uncomfortable attempting.

 

If you damage a pen make sure you know what happened before attempting that repair again.

 

Be safe.  Celluloid barrels can burst into flame and some of the solvents (like MEK) can cause permanent brain damage.  Safety goggles when needed.

 

Embrace your ignorance.  Ignorance leads to curiosity which leads to a search for answers.  Everybody on this forum had to start somewhere and we have all asked questions of each other.  We learn from our own mistakes and from the mistakes of others.  The latter are far less expensive and painful.

 

Have fun.  The satisfaction of returning an old pen to life is my favorite part of the hobby.  I just finished working on a Conklin S3 that is 115 years old and had some issues.  Tomorrow I will fill it with ink and it will write again for the first time in a century or more.  I hope you can work up to experiencing the same thrill and satisfaction.

Dave Campbell
Retired Science Teacher and Active Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.

fpn_1425200643__fpn_1425160066__super_pi

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Everything above plus:

 

Http://richardspens.com

http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/

https://www.mainstreetpens.com/articles.htm

 

 example: tonight i just did this to a “51” for the first time

http://www.richardspens.com/ref/repair/sac_nipple.htm
(bottom of the page)

 

 more great stuff:

https://www.mainstreetpens.com/articles/FPNlinks.htm

 

ps: @Ron Z thank you. (And @Richard) the knowledge and advice you guys have shared is indispensable. 
 

pps: any time you feel like doing a detailed write up on refrosting the two styles of “51” caps, that would be great :P 

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

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  • 2 weeks later...

All I can say is that the quip, "don't force it...use a bigger hammer" is NOT the restorer's axiom.  I destroyed a nice WWII era Sheaffer 875 Balance with military clip because I was ignorantly less than patient in trying to remove a stubborn section so I could replace the sac.  I have saved the pieces in order to look at them from time to time, not because I have some sort of "favorite bad feeling," but so I can remind myself that an unrestored vintage pen is better than a destroyed one.

 

Cliff

“The only thing most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”  John Adams

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51 minutes ago, Bristol24 said:

All I can say is that the quip, "don't force it...use a bigger hammer" is NOT the restorer's axiom.  I destroyed a nice WWII era Sheaffer 875 Balance with military clip because I was ignorantly less than patient in trying to remove a stubborn section so I could replace the sac.  I have saved the pieces in order to look at them from time to time, not because I have some sort of "favorite bad feeling," but so I can remind myself that an unrestored vintage pen is better than a destroyed one.

 

Cliff

I feel your pain

I ruined a late style (with the outer barrel cover) vac-fil with a triumph nib... :( still makes me feel kinda sick when I think about it

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

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5 hours ago, IThinkIHaveAProblem said:

I feel your pain

I ruined a late style (with the outer barrel cover) vac-fil with a triumph nib... :( still makes me feel kinda sick when I think about it

I mean this in a kind way when I say it is good to know that I'm not alone, although I'm certain that it would be far better for many people if I were.

 

Cliff

“The only thing most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”  John Adams

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1 hour ago, Bristol24 said:

I mean this in a kind way when I say it is good to know that I'm not alone, although I'm certain that it would be far better for many people if I were.

 

Cliff

I know exactly what you mean. 
a friend of mine, when i confessed my sin said “that sucks. But don’t feel too bad, we’ve all toasted a few pens while learning” it did make me feel a little better. 

Just give me the Parker 51s and nobody needs to get hurt.

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I'm ready to sell my first pens that I've restored! A Wearever Deluxe 100 and a few estebrooks.

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Like most of us who have made the trip down restoration lane, I have destroyed several nibs and pens that I wish I’d been more patient with…..

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