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View Full Version : First Experiences Cleaning a Gold Washed Nib



Jeph
July 12th, 2013, 04:41 PM
I see plenty of information about cleaning metal parts on nice pens, but nothing about working on the cheaper pens. The squeeze filler cage I (finally) took out of a plain old Platignum pen was badly discolored and corroded. It was interesting to see how the different cleaning methods gradually cleaned the parts, eventually being very close to perfect condition. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures. The nib where it was enclosed in the section and where it sat above the feed had similar discoloration so I decided to record the progress on the nib.

For the squeeze cylinder, there was ink discoloration, plus a brownish/orange crud along the split along the length of the cylinder and where it contacted the pressure bar on the inside diameter. The pressure bar had similar marks where it contacted the cylinder. The barrel (with the trapped squeeze mechanism inside) had soaked in water for 1 day, and when it came out I rubbed it down briefly with a cotton cloth and then put it back in to soak for another day.

The next day, I used a cotton cloth and almost all of the ink and some of the discoloration came off.

I cleaned it with soapy water and a toothbrush and nylon bore brush and the rest of the ink was gone and more of the discoloration.

Next I used a Sunshine polishing cloth and the discoloration and most of the oxidation came off.

Finally, I used Simichrome on a cotton cloth and almost all of the oxidation was removed except for the few areas of pitting and the pits along the edges of the split. Compared to what it looked like originally, I considered this a victory and moved on to the nib.

The assembled nib, feed and section had been soaking for 3 days in distilled water. I was finally able to disassemble the section with the help of the section pliers and a gripping square. I saw the previously noted discoloration on the nib so I let it soak another day in water.

The next day I took it out of the water and polished it with a cotton cloth. Most of the ink stains came off, although some of the gold wash below the circular stamp also came off. This was the area of heaviest discoloration, so I figured that there was some surface corrosion there. This is the state of the nib in the 2 lower pictures to the left.

I placed the nib in some Gouletís Pen Flush overnight. The next day, there was no discoloration in the pen flush and I was not encouraged. I scrubbed the nib with a toothbrush and managed to get some color on the bristles and looked again. I did not see any change. I checked again with the loupe and now that the rest of the ink was out of the pits, I could see several areas of significant pitting on the nib. The pits were along the feed slit, and a cluster on the bottom of the nib on the tines roughly centered between the air hole and tips, and several areas on top behind the circular stamp where it was being gripped in the section. There is no picture since I am not skilled enough to take a picture that can show the difference, even at full resolution. At this point I decide that the nib is toast and the pen will become the first addition to my parts collection. I keep going, to see how much more was is taken off by the polishing cloth as compared to the Simichrome, and then the buffing sticks at various grades.

So the next step was the Sunshine polishing cloth. I placed the nib on an old folded sweatshirt, held it with one finger and used light finger pressure or a rubber tipped dental pic to rub with the polishing cloth. Even with the very light pressure, you can see in the picture that it completely removed the gold wash, except for inside the lettering and near the tips were I was not thorough. I could also see with the loupe that any more steps would be pointless.

I am glad that I have these garbage pens to learn this stuff on. I was more curious than disappointed when this repair went wrong and I was free to try crazy stuff.

My main takeaway from the first 4 pens I have worked on (2 were just Sheaffer school cartridge pens that I cleaned up) was that Simichrome is only really useful (and there it is REALLY useful) in areas of heavy discoloration. For just buffing and moderate cleaning, simple water and a cotton cloth/toothbrush and maybe a polishing cloth on the metal bits is actually less work and is just as effective.

I also had one junk chrome cap that I went after aggressively with the Simichrome, and while it did make an impressive shine, the resulting surface, once fully buffed, was SO shiny that a simple fingerprint made it look filthy.

Hopefully this will help someone as they first start out, although there really is no substitute to seeing and doing it yourself.


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Jon Szanto
July 12th, 2013, 05:21 PM
My main takeaway from the first 4 pens I have worked on (2 were just Sheaffer school cartridge pens that I cleaned up) was that Simichrome is only really useful (and there it is REALLY useful) in areas of heavy discoloration. For just buffing and moderate cleaning, simple water and a cotton cloth/toothbrush and maybe a polishing cloth on the metal bits is actually less work and is just as effective.
I would hesitate to have *any* takeaways with only 4 test cases, especially skewing to lesser-quality pens. It is never a bad idea to start from the most benign methods possible and work your way up into tougher stuff, but it is a little too soon in your restoration journey to write off anything at this point, and Simichrome certainly has a long track record in this type of work. Additionally, it can be used minimally - it isn't just a heavy-handed approach material, but one that can be used judiciously.

It sure is fun figuring this out, though, isn't it? :)