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Stuck Conway Stewart lever


essayfaire
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I usually re-ink my pens promptly when they run out/dry, but I was out of town for a month so did not refill my empty pens.  I am now having difficulty filling my vintage Conway Stewart.  The lever will only go up a teeny bit.  I thought I had managed to give it some ink last night, but today it seems empty.  I just tried to fill it again but I am afraid of forcing it and bending something. The photo shows how far I can open the lever; it does not appear bent to me.

 

I've been looking forward to returning home and getting to use this pen again, as it doesn't leave my house.  Any ideas?  Thanks. In the meantime it's soaking.large.IMG_1892.JPG.5319676f5b2d0541fba13d6ebbd43ad7.JPGlarge.IMG_1893.JPG.2bc0256492f5468a4845233ba95db0b3.JPG

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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Nice looking FP. Have you tried cleaning the pen? If you have and everything is hunky dory, it could be time to replace the ink sac.

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I'm currently soaking it in water.  It is a lovely pen that I have had for less than six months, and it came fully restored so unless I damaged the ink sac the sac should be okay.  I was careful about using vintage-pen-friendly inks in it as I so wanted to avoid any such complications!

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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8 minutes ago, essayfaire said:

I'm currently soaking it in water.  It is a lovely pen that I have had for less than six months, and it came fully restored so unless I damaged the ink sac the sac should be okay.  I was careful about using vintage-pen-friendly inks in it as I so wanted to avoid any such complications!

I hear you, and hope for the best. Unfortunately, sometimes the best laid plans...  Fingers crossed.

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The tab on the lever is fragile, so do not use excess force. I slide a pin down the lever to relieve the pressure on the end of them. The locking mechanism can also produce this effect. I've had to relieve the end of the lever where it contacts the barrel with a file before.

 

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Could it be a problem with the pressure bar? The suggestion to slide a (non-pointed) pin down the opening where the lever sits could be helpful to figure out whether the pressure bar moves down and up properly. It shouldn't be a major problem to open the pen though.

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So today I was able to successfully move the lever and fill the pen properly.  When I initially started soaking it nothing ran into the water, but the next morning the leftover ink had been drawn into the water.  The lever then moved properly.  I was able to flush with water at that point and refill with ink.

 

I find it odd that some crusted ink(which is what must have happened) could impair the functioning of the lever. @peterg, I could tell it was fragile and was scared of having it snap if I forced it; did you slide the pin under the lever?

Festina lente

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Looking at the picture does suggest to me that the pressure bar might be the problem.  It can be  bit tricky getting a loose pressure bar connected to the lever, so sometimes it is (wrongly) left wedged between the lever and the ink sac. It can then slip and cause a jam.

 

What Peter is suggesting is to slip something under the tab, so that the pressure you apply is distributed along the lever, rather than just at the base of the tab. This is particularly useful for NOS / near mint CS pens.

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Hang on , did you submerge this pen in water by any chance? Whats the model number printed in the barrel? are you sure this is not casein?

 

If its made of casein then putting the barrel or the cap in water can be a death sentence. I was told it can generate micro cracks and can eventually snap :(. That said i am no expert in vintage Conway Stewart pens. You may want to check the model number to be safe  http://conwaystewart.wesonline.org.uk/csbook/page1.htm 

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Gulp!  It's a 475.  I checked and that group of 1930s pens doesn't mention casein.   I hope I didn't do anything as it is a lovely pe and seems to be working properly now.

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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Pen would function normally , as I understand it would cause micro cracks over the barrel and at some point can cause it to snap as it dries out. Although I could be completely wrong here. carefully check the surface of the barrel on the casein bits to see if you can spot hairline cracks all over the surface. water is also supposed to make the barrel soft (as pliable)  and deform
 

https://vintagepens.com/pen_repair_donts.htm

 

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So I found a picture of the same pen:

 

http://timsvintagepens.com/pens/conway-stewart-475/

 

and it isn't listed as being made of casein in the description but the link you provided indicated that in the case of British pens, even marbled ones may be made of casein, so now I'm curious if anyone knows what this particular model is made from.

 

My pen looks okay as far as I can tell, and the only thing that I feel under touch is the CS engraving information.  If I did have a problem with micro cracks, is there anything that can be done or would I just be sad?

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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49 minutes ago, essayfaire said:

So I found a picture of the same pen:

 

http://timsvintagepens.com/pens/conway-stewart-475/

 

and it isn't listed as being made of casein in the description but the link you provided indicated that in the case of British pens, even marbled ones may be made of casein, so now I'm curious if anyone knows what this particular model is made from.

There are four possible courses  coming to mind.

 

1.) Contact Tim since he had or has a Conway (the model name).

2.) Stephen Hull wrote "the" book on Conway Stewart. Buy a copy to see if it has your answer.

3.) Track down Mr. Hull to query him directly.

4.) Join the Writing Equipment Society, and pose your question on their forum. They have more than one thread on Conway Stewart FPs, but you have to be a member to participate.

 

Apologies for not being more helpful.

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2 hours ago, PPPR said:

There are four possible courses  coming to mind.

 

1.) Contact Tim since he had or has a Conway (the model name).

2.) Stephen Hull wrote "the" book on Conway Stewart. Buy a copy to see if it has your answer.

3.) Track down Mr. Hull to query him directly.

4.) Join the Writing Equipment Society, and pose your question on their forum. They have more than one thread on Conway Stewart FPs, but you have to be a member to participate.

 

Apologies for not being more helpful.

This is  helpful, I only wish I had known before soaking my pen in water that such a move might be ill-advised!  Thank you!

 

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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Although not a perfect way, you can usually check the smell to see if its casein. It will have a sort of a burnt milk smell to it. Can you post the full imprint / photo of it. This is likely to be casein with the 1937-40 imprint.

I am not a Conway Stewart collector and only have 20 or so vintage CS pens. almost all non-black pens I have are casein bar a couple. Even one of the black ones are casein if I'm not wrong. when dealing with British pens of this period its best to assume its casein unless you know its not. Number 12 pen in the bottom (3rd from left) is water damaged. note the gray color in the middle  that's an example of what water can do to these pens originally marbling would have been gold, black and blue (you can see the original colors at the very edge of it. Also note that's its kind of bent as well.

large.csset.jpg.450fca80d85820ad8646b783c88aa0b5.jpg

Closeups of water damages:
Green black marble (I believe what you have is the same pattern but in blue, although I could be wrong).

 large.IMG_20220809_122254.jpg.18344806b15263972e4f70cc7c1ddbd8.jpg


In this case color remains the same and cracks are not that visible when looking at it normally. but when looking carefully you can see them. Although its not that easy to see, cap on the pen with the missing clip (damaged one) is split around the middle in to two parts. its broken along the line of the pattern so very hard to see. I just placed the two halves together for the photo. 

large.IMG_20220809_122324.jpg.e94d30708202f4803616aa54bc5bc8ca.jpg

Blue color pen is the obvious one. you can clearly see discoloration. little dinky is the undamaged pen.

large.IMG_20220809_122412.jpg.4a8e38be16e01e02adf170c1074ccbca.jpg

large.IMG_20220809_122501.jpg.e38397dfd179d8efb1c52a315bc20114.jpg

There is also a water damaged red pen in the first pic.

As you can see a number of pens I have have suffered water damage :(. Not all generate micro cracks but some can .
I'm hoping your pen is fine and is un-damaged. Again I'm no expert on this , and wouldn't have a clue on how to restore / recover these pens. 

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2 hours ago, essayfaire said:

This is  helpful, I only wish I had known before soaking my pen in water that such a move might be ill-advised!  Thank you!

 

I feel your pain. A GEM in my collection was purchased just because it would be my only casein FP, and I liked the color. Eventually, it self-destructed sitting in the drawer. Apparently there was damage before my purchase.

 

Also, you might not have to join WES to participate in their forum, just sign up for an account. Since they're located in the UK, there should be a number of knowledgeable Conway Stewart aficionados.

 

Hoping for the best.

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The best way to distinguish between casein and celluloid marbled vintage Conway Stewart pens of the 1930s and 40s is to look closely at the barrel. The celluloid tubes used to produce pen barrels were made of strips of material spirally wound on a former, and the edges are solvent-bonded together to make them into a rigid tube. This means that you can see a spiral seam line running down the finished barrel, and the marble pattern is discontinuous either side of this seam. Casein pens were never made in this way as there is no solvent to bond casein. However, beware if you see a celluloid barrel closed at the end by a separate black piece - this is sometimes a casein plug. For this reason it is best to avoid completely submerging vintage CS pens unless you have a good deal of experience with them.

 

The pictures of the pen in question do appear to show the spiral seam indicating a celluloid barrel, but there is also a black end plug...

 

Some CS model numbers (for example the Dinkie 540) were made in casein or celluloid at various times, so the model number itself is not a foolproof indication. As for damage to vintage casein pens, many more suffer from extreme dryness (as in modern centrally heated homes) than excess moisture. Casein inherently requires a small water content to be stable, and if it dries out totally, the material becomes very brittle.

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Good news! I heard from Tim: the pen is not casein.  If it were, apparently I would no longer have a pen.

 

That being said, he's also explained to me that it was still a bad idea to the soak the vintage pen, and that I should refrain from soaking them in the future.  @andyr7I did not completely submerge the pen, I had it soaking nib down in a half-full glass, so the water wasn't in contact with the cap. I think I must have gotten lucky on a number of fronts this go-round.

 

Tim also told me soaking was bad because it increases corrosion of metal parts and can change pens' coloration even if the pen is not casein.  Lesson learned.

 

@PPPRIt may be too painful, but do you have any pictures?  So sorry you lost a beloved pen.

 

I will check out the WES group when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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7 hours ago, essayfaire said:

Good news! I heard from Tim: the pen is not casein.  If it were, apparently I would no longer have a pen.

Definitely good news, glad to hear it.

 

7 hours ago, essayfaire said:

 

@PPPRIt may be too painful, but do you have any pictures?  So sorry you lost a beloved pen.

Below is a photo of the GEM FP, a minor manufacturer in New York. I live in an arid region, which exacerbated pre-existing problems presumably. Besides being casein, the nib was the second reason for acquiring it. The pen came from Nathan Tardiff before his ink business and was part of attempts to create more flexible nibs.

 

Apologies for the quality, but I think you get the idea.

 

IMG_20220809_184510609_20220809184918059.thumb.jpg.92fd5037353dfc4bae71d9280a8e5f8a.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Egads.  I would have been horrified to discover that in my drawer.  So sorry.

Edited by essayfaire
typo

Festina lente

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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