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scrivelry
March 23rd, 2014, 02:31 AM
I realize this sounds a little bit like grinding my own flour, but... has anyone made j-bars?

I ask because I have about a billion pens to re-sac and, not surprisingly, a bunch - not a small bunch - also need j-bars.

Now for the more expensive pens, I could just buy them - but some are quite small. Also, I have a bunch of Wearever Pennant, Pioneers, and other, even cheaper pens, that need j-bars and I am sure the bar would be worth more than the pen when I was done - and those cheap Wearevers have bars that look like one piece, bent. I can bend a piece of metal, if I know what type to get and what you'd call that shape.

So if anyone has made J-bar, and could fill me in on what they used and how it worked, I would appreciate it very much

broadoblique
March 23rd, 2014, 09:48 AM
Bending spring steel isn't easy with good results. I haven't bought any in a while, but I know they're not expensive. There may be cheaper places, but look at this (http://www.woodbin.ca./PenSacsAndPressureBars.html) as a sample

scrivelry
March 23rd, 2014, 11:03 AM
Thanks, broadoblique! That site has the best prices I've seen.

The advice I've read and also been given by reputable pen people is that if you need to shorten a j-bar, you cut it at the curved end and rebend it to the shape it had, so whatever those bars are made of is probably not spring steel, although you'd think that's what they'd be.

The old Wearevers have one piece bars out of some gold colored metal, I was thinking it might be bronze or some other alloy. If I could get a roll or strip of that it would probably work to repair those pens with. I may just go to a hobby store and see what they have...

All this aside, I pulled a very interesting bar out yesterday. That one was spring steel, and it was both narrower and lighter, tons narrower and lighter, than any other I have seen. The failure was at the end where it attached to the second bar, of a similar metal. I saved the pieces - I may try to stick them together again and see how that goes... I don't know how it performed in the pen, but it wasn't a failure of the usual metal-fatigue kind.

D Armstrong
March 23rd, 2014, 02:15 PM
Woodbin is definitely the plae to go. The sizes Martin has available will fit in 90% of the pens you come across, with little modification.

Brass was often used for j-bars. One advantage is that it hardens (and therefore gets springier) as you work it. I'd have to look it up, but I believe that from soft (fully annealed) brass to springy hardness you would need to compact the metal's crystalline structure by about 40%. Most hobby shop-types of brass come "half-hard", so you would be looking at about a 20% reduction in, say, thickness, before it would be properly springy.

Bending steel which has been tempered for spring-hardness is a recipe for a broken piece (or one with a severely shortened lifespan). It is treated to return to form, not to be bent permanently. Thus, it will crack at the stress point, especially if said point (the bend) is constantly made to flex, as with a j-bar. So, with all due respect to reputable pen people, leave the bend alone and shorten the straight part. It may be that the person you consulted was concerned with preserving the flat pressure bar which sometimes was attached to the flat length (and which always comes on new j-bars). If you run into this dilemma, remove the pressure bar before taking the option of cold re-forming of spring steel.

Speaking as someone who both hand-hammers metals, and mills his own flour, you are looking at an hour's work, plus almost as much cost for the brass as for a ready-made j-bar. Sometimes it just pays to let someone else do it for you!

If you are interested in good metalworking references, Tim McCreight's "Complete Metalsmith" is an excellent one, both general and very readable. Good for learning specifically about steel is Tubal Cain's "Hardening Tempering and Heat Treatment" (most libraries have these little books, and he also sports an excellent name). For more hard-core reading, try John D. Verhoeven's "Metallurgy of Steel for Bladesmiths & Others who Heat Treat and Forge Steel" (2005)

LagNut
March 23rd, 2014, 02:25 PM
Thank you for these references. These are subjects on which I know enough only to be dangerous. I've wanted books at this level for a while and these will help a lot.

D Armstrong
March 23rd, 2014, 02:36 PM
Try looking for references in connection with both knifemaking and jewellery making. Both have direct application to pens. The jewellery reference site Ganoksin (http://www.ganoksin.com/) has some great stuff in their mailing list archives.

scrivelry
March 23rd, 2014, 08:41 PM
Thank you, D Armstrong, for a ton of information expressed concisely!

I did a little bit of work with metal years ago, and I agree if I am going to have to hammer something for an hour it is cheaper to buy it at 3.50 each.

Farmboy
March 23rd, 2014, 09:03 PM
Postage will cost you a little.

Still a good deal to order them.

OR

Buy some junk lots on eBay and rob them from the nth tier pens like Wearever and Arnols.

scrivelry
March 23rd, 2014, 10:58 PM
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Buy some junk lots on eBay and rob them from the nth tier pens like Wearever and Arnols.

Ah, yes...

This is sort of how I got into this situation to begin with... junk lots on Ebay, and a normal person could probably toss the old Wearever Pioneers, the Frankenpen that has a cap from one thing, a section from another and a barrel from a third but since they all seem to look ok together, why not ink it up and write with it...

Farmboy
March 23rd, 2014, 11:27 PM
You could take the other approach.

You can rob them from those Sheaffer and Waterman and Conklin and such ...

D Armstrong
March 24th, 2014, 06:11 AM
Heh heh. The problem is that the parts that break tend to be the same parts no matter what pen it is. Friction, stress points, rubber pieces in the barrel; physics works. (Or, should I say, entropy works.) Buying a bunch of old pens often ends up being a pile of the same sort of good parts, and the same sort of broken ones.

scrivelry
March 24th, 2014, 10:22 AM
Heh heh. The problem is that the parts that break tend to be the same parts no matter what pen it is. Friction, stress points, rubber pieces in the barrel; physics works. (Or, should I say, entropy works.) Buying a bunch of old pens often ends up being a pile of the same sort of good parts, and the same sort of broken ones.

This is true. I have to say that if I was buying them for parts, I would probably be very sad. Since I was buying them for practice and usually for one or two really pretty celluloid pens among the others, I should be very happy, and mostly I am.

My current project is an Osmiroid. Not too old, It's a ten minute job I am halfway through, but priceless - a non-pen friend had remembered having one exactly like this in school, losing it, and still wishing it was not lost. So this is a surprise present to a nice person, because very serendipitously one of those lots had a red Osmiroid among the other *cough* treasures. (I'm sure it's not the pen I bought the lot for...)

broadoblique
March 24th, 2014, 10:39 AM
The other approach is to not replace them. If you're using them yourself you might not even want them.
Growing up, old Esterbrooks (with Osmiroid nibs) were my everyday school pens. When the j-bar broke I would pull the section, roll up the sac, dip it in the ink and let the sac fill. I got a lot more ink this way. And I used a lot of ink back then. I didn't fix any of those broken j-bars until I didn't use the pens anymore.

scrivelry
March 24th, 2014, 11:03 AM
The other approach is to not replace them. If you're using them yourself you might not even want them.
Growing up, old Esterbrooks (with Osmiroid nibs) were my everyday school pens. When the j-bar broke I would pull the section, roll up the sac, dip it in the ink and let the sac fill. I got a lot more ink this way. And I used a lot of ink back then. I didn't fix any of those broken j-bars until I didn't use the pens anymore.

hah! I have this action working on a few at the moment, including this cute as a button little tiny Sheaffer that also needs a lever which will clearly be a PITA to fit. However, some of these pens I would like to pass on to people who may not yet be dedicated FP users, so I figure that making it as simple as possible for them is a better lure...

I may experiment with a cable tie if I can find one just the width I want. Given the pen I would be experimenting with, this is not exactly a big risk...

scrivelry
May 12th, 2014, 06:01 PM
Haven't tried a cable-tie yet, but did make a J-bar today from some brass strip I got at the hobby store. It is not terribly different from what's in there, which is not really exactly springy like spring steel to begin with. We will see how it goes.

One annoying thing is that the originals have a sort of bump down the middle, and that helps keep the lever from flopping around when you're not actually filling a pen - this one of course does not. I am contemplating this problem...

If anyone tries this, protective eyewear - bits of brass did go flying...