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Thread: Estie Desk Pens

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    Default Estie Desk Pens

    I just got a couple of Esterbrook Desk sets, An "Eightball" and a #444 Dipless. Last night I cleaned them up and tried inking them. The fountain pen has a very very fine nib, a 2550 which was slightly bent and out of alignment. I attempted to adjust it. It's writing very dry. The dipless pen has a 9668 nib which is more a medium nib. I noticed the 9668 nib has what looks like two small holes in the end of the feed. Are they part of the dipless design? Can I use a nib that doesn't have those holes with the #444 well? I swapped the nibs and they both seemed to have weak flow, so I left them soak overnight.

    Also, the top of the #444 well has a piece missing out of the locking flange, the top therefore is loose. Has anyone tried rebuilding the flange with something like J-B Weld or a similar product?

    Pax,
    John

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    You should have two quite different pens. The pen for the 8ball would be a desk pen that has an internal sac, as the base does not contain any ink. It can use any standard threaded Estie nib and since the internal construction is essentially the same as the J series, any functional issues, such as flow, are addressed in the same way, usually tweaking the nib.

    The 444 ("hockey puck") Dip-Less unit should use a different pen and nib: these have no internal ink reservoir and the nib just pushes (plugs) into the front of the nib holder. The only ink it carries is the ink that is drawn up into the feed by capillary action as it sits in the base. The base has a reservoir for ink and there is a unit that sits deep enough in the ink, filled with little rods, that pull the ink up right to where the tip of the pen sits in the holder. All of that can be seen if you take the top off and look underneath.

    I'm a little unclear to your last question. The 444 has a round inset underneath the rim where a plastic/rubber gasket goes, and it press fits into the glass bottom, holding itself in place through a friction fit. I've often wondered if an appropriate size o-ring might work.

    Be certain to check out information at esterbrook.net and if you have more specific questions you might drop a line to Brian Anderson through that site, as he knows more about Estie stuff than most anyone I know. Good luck.

    (Odd fact: I just cleaned out my 444 yesterday after letting it dry out, now it's all spiffy!)
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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Jon,

    I get the difference between the pens themselves, but I hadn't realized the feeds on the nibs are different, I'm assuming then, that the two small holes in the feed assist in drawing the ink up into the feed of the dipless pen. So if I want to change that nib I'll have to track down one specifically for the dipless pens? I know the dipless pens need time to draw up the ink so I did do a regular dip in a bottle of ink to check it out, I'm thinking the rinse I did wasn't enough so that's why I let them both soak over night. They may need a flossing as well?

    On the underside of the top of the #444 there is a rigid flange below the black rubber gasket (not the red one with the ink fill warning) it has, or had, three small bumps along the diameter which snug the lid to the well. On the one I got, which I think is a later model; the top is convex with a depression around to hole for the pen, there's a large chip missing on that flange where one of the bumps was. So the top is not tight fitting. I was thinking of attempting to fashion a new piece out of J-B Weld, if it will adhere to the plastic. I had some luck years ago doing that with a potmetal tonearm on a portable acoustic phonograph.

    Pax,
    John

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by JFB View Post
    [FONT=Georgia]I get the difference between the pens themselves, but I hadn't realized the feeds on the nibs are different, I'm assuming then, that the two small holes in the feed assist in drawing the ink up into the feed of the dipless pen. So if I want to change that nib I'll have to track down one specifically for the dipless pens? I know the dipless pens need time to draw up the ink so I did do a regular dip in a bottle of ink to check it out, I'm thinking the rinse I did wasn't enough so that's why I let them both soak over night. They may need a flossing as well?
    You can mess with it a bit, but bear in mind these weren't made for extended writing periods, as they simply don't/can't hold much ink. Yes the nib units are different but (AFAIK) the nibs themselves are the same as the standard nib units. It would be theoretically possible to pull apart the collar and feed and try a different nib, but they are so fragile that... I wouldn't. Andersons might have spares. Those pens are good for signatures and a few lines of text, something just a bit more than a basic dip pen.

    On the underside of the top of the #444 there is a rigid flange below the black rubber gasket (not the red one with the ink fill warning) it has, or had, three small bumps along the diameter which snug the lid to the well. On the one I got, which I think is a later model; the top is convex with a depression around to hole for the pen, there's a large chip missing on that flange where one of the bumps was. So the top is not tight fitting. I was thinking of attempting to fashion a new piece out of J-B Weld, if it will adhere to the plastic. I had some luck years ago doing that with a potmetal tonearm on a portable acoustic phonograph.
    Must be a different design (if I am reading all the words correctly): mine has no bumps, etc, and is held in place by the rubber/plastic gasket. You could try an internal fix but these are made of Bakelite, not plastic (I believe) so adhesion may be an issue? In any event, one reason for the gasket is to make as airtight a coupling as possible (my inference). Considering the pens don't sit in the holder with a very tight tolerance, there is a lot of air getting in, and the well tends to dry out. When I've gone through periods of using it on my desk, I periodically pop the top and put a couple drops of water in to keep the ink thin enough and hydrated. Not a perfect system! Honestly, you might be better off just sourcing a second one for a few bucks on eBay, unless you truly want to tinker.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Jon,

    I just wrote a whole response and accidentally deleted it ARGH!


    Here's the seller's image:


    You can sort of see one of the bumps at about 2 o'clock

    After looking on-line it seems the earlier model didn't have these bumps.

    Pax,
    John
    Last edited by JFB; October 1st, 2017 at 02:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    I have to say, that's just a bit of an anomaly. I just took a look at mine, give me a second while I do some bogus phone pics...




    You should be able to make out the gasket that sits in the 'groove' between the flange (which on your set has a chunk broken out) and the top of the cover. The bottom part is *not* wide enough to hold it in place in the glass well, and being hard plastic (Bakelite?) would not be suitable anyway. Yours needs the gasket, which might be made out of something else or a o-ring or something. Again, Brian Anderson may have some ideas. If you were to put a gasket in there you wouldn't even need to fix that broken part. I know they aren't great pics but hopefully will give you some insight into how these are put together and what you'll need to do to make it functional. FWIW, I think the piece on mine has hardened and deformed somewhat - I have a feeling they were initially more pliant and would make a better seal. One day I'm going to try making a new seal for this one, too.

    P.S. You'll note in the second pic that there is a place on the inner lip of mine that also has a bit missing - not as large as yours, but the material is brittle (my came that way).
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Jon, the gasket is still pliable but it's not enough to snug the top to the base. From what I've read on-line generally a coin was needed to pry the lid off. I just got an older model today, probably similar to yours. The gasket on it is curled inward and quite stiff and there are no nods or bumps on the ring, but it does look like there might have been one originally.


    My first, the newer model.


    My second, the earlier model. The arrow shows where something was snapped off.

    Does the lid of your sit snugly or does it just loosely rest on top of the base?


    The two together

    Pax,
    John
    Last edited by JFB; October 4th, 2017 at 09:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Wipe silicone grease on the gasket, so it will be easier to remove the top next time.

    Loose fit indicates a shrunk gasket that is not sealing against the bottom. As far as I can determine, the gasket is only to prevent the ink from sloshing out when you move the ink well on the desk.
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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Sorry I've not been paying attention...

    I think Gary (above) is right: once the gaskets get hard they don't seal, but I think it is mainly to keep things tidy and not have the lid fly off or the ink get out. These used to be used in public places. To at least snug it up, you might be able to wrap some Teflon tape around it a bit.

    I often wondered if it made sense to have that gasket seal well and then to find some way to make a tighter seal where the pen goes, maybe an o-ring. I say this because the worst part about these is the gradual evaporation of the liquid. If it was a high-use object, you'd use the ink up with writing, but if it sets on the desk more often than is used, the ink starts to dry. I got in the habit of putting a couple drops of water in every so often, just so it wouldn't get thick and then have a tendancy to take a long time to dry. Fun objects but they need to be utilized a certain way.
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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Sorry I've not been paying attention...

    I think Gary (above) is right: once the gaskets get hard they don't seal, but I think it is mainly to keep things tidy and not have the lid fly off or the ink get out. These used to be used in public places. To at least snug it up, you might be able to wrap some Teflon tape around it a bit.

    I often wondered if it made sense to have that gasket seal well and then to find some way to make a tighter seal where the pen goes, maybe an o-ring. I say this because the worst part about these is the gradual evaporation of the liquid. If it was a high-use object, you'd use the ink up with writing, but if it sets on the desk more often than is used, the ink starts to dry. I got in the habit of putting a couple drops of water in every so often, just so it wouldn't get thick and then have a tendancy to take a long time to dry. Fun objects but they need to be utilized a certain way.
    That's a very thoughtful analysis of using these items. I have often been tempted to use one of mine with ink in the base, but ink seems much more expensive these days. I have thought of looking for a jar gasket that might fit, or of cutting a new gasket out. I have so many fountain pens that I want to keep in use, though, that I have ended up using these bases for ballpoint pens in some cases, or partly filling the base with water and putting a desk type fountain pen in the base, to keep the point moist.

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by pajaro View Post
    That's a very thoughtful analysis of using these items. I have often been tempted to use one of mine with ink in the base, but ink seems much more expensive these days. I have thought of looking for a jar gasket that might fit, or of cutting a new gasket out. I have so many fountain pens that I want to keep in use, though, that I have ended up using these bases for ballpoint pens in some cases, or partly filling the base with water and putting a desk type fountain pen in the base, to keep the point moist.
    Pajaro, you just gave me an idea: I wonder if one could find a mason jar with a locking lid that has a gasket near that size? It might be a bit of a pain to trim, but the material would be perfect to replace that stiff old gasket on these "hocky puck" desk sets. I'm thinking of a jar like these:

    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    That was my first thought. Measure the old gasket and find a jar with the right size gasket. Sometimes you can find the Mason Jar gaskets separately.

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by pajaro View Post
    That was my first thought. Measure the old gasket and find a jar with the right size gasket. Sometimes you can find the Mason Jar gaskets separately.
    You can - I've just seen a bunch of them on Amazon. I've got some time tomorrow and will see what I can come up with.
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    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    You can either buy a replacement o-ring or make one yourself with a splice kit.

    You'll need a set of calipers. Measure the diameter of the cap where the o-ring sits (ID). Then measure the opening of the glass base (OD). Subtract the ID from the OD and you get the thickness of the o-ring. Find an o-ring specialty shop online (or local if you're really lucky) and see if they make an o-ring with those specs. If not get a splice kit of the thickness required and make one.

    Much easier than trying to trim rubber to fit.

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Thanks everyone.

    I now have three (just a wee bit obsessive aren't I?) of these. Two old style-on NOS and a new style. The NOS one which is missing the piece with the rods, has a fairly soft gasket the snugs the top very nicely. The other have dried gaskets and the tops lift right off.

    One of the things I was thinking of trying was heating the lid up enough to soften the rubber temporarily to see if it can be pried off then treating to soften it more permanently. There's a few products out there that are supposed to resort of rubber and well as a home made formulas with rubbing alcohol and wintergreen oil—but I would only do this if I could get the rubber off the Bakelite.

    I did use some Novus #1 on the Bakelite on the first old style one and I think I probably shouldn't have.

    I suppose for a quick fix something like these https://www.amazon.com/84-Black-Plat...k+rubber+bands could be tried over the old gasket depending on the size.

    I brought the 8-Ball into my office over a week ago. I'm in there usually only once a week. I use it last night after more than a week and it wrote nice and wet. The bladder, BTW, is an original I think. It's a really nice pen! (I did just get a second one of those too.)

    Pax,
    John

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    John, replace the ink sac. If it is original, it is over 60 years old, and could fail at any time . . . yuk.
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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by ac12 View Post
    John, replace the ink sac. If it is original, it is over 60 years old, and could fail at any time . . . yuk.

    Isn't spilled ink a part of the FPWorld?

    Both of my desk pens have pliable bladders-which surprised me. I assumed they had always been cleaned or had never been used. I just got a Transitional J & M2 which both need new bladders. So once I practice on them I'll tackle the desk pens. It looks easy in the videos, but there's always a fly in ointment.

    Pax,
    John

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Buy some of this and make your own to fit. Use super glue to join the ends, works great.

    The rings and the Bakelite shrink over time; the rings get hard, brittle and inflexible.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...ds=o-ring+cord

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    Quote Originally Posted by Plexipens View Post
    Buy some of this and make your own to fit. Use super glue to join the ends, works great.

    The rings and the Bakelite shrink over time; the rings get hard, brittle and inflexible.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...ds=o-ring+cord

    Plexipens,

    Looks good, thanks!

    Pax,
    John

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    Default Re: Estie Desk Pens

    John
    Be VERY VERY CAREFUL when prying up the top, or you could crack off the lip.
    I used running warm water to try to dissolve as much of the ink from the junction of the top to the base, to reduce the cement effect of dried ink. And yes it was MESSY.
    Then I used an old credit card to GENTLY try to lift the cap. I used a credit card to spread the lifting force over as much of the lip as possible, rather than concentrating the lift in once place and CRACK the lip. A thin butter knife could be used similarly, and lift on the inner side of the lip.
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