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Thread: General Restoration tips?

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    Junior Member joolstacho's Avatar
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    Default General Restoration tips?

    Apologies if I've missed an existing thread on this, but as a newbie with a dozen or so nice old pens needing TLC, It would be good to have a few restoration tips.
    (I've been restoring classic motorbikes and old cameras for years so I'm not so dopey technically).

    Most of my pens came from my 101 year old foster mum, who received most of these pens as presentations from various organisations. As a headmistress in a particularly 'challenged' South London school she was awarded an MBE for services to education, and of course I'm very proud of the ol' gal. It's wonderful to have her old pens, you just wonder how many reports and submissions would have been written with these pens.

    Anyway, they're up for a new life!!! Poor ol' things, -they thought they'd been put out to pasture in some pot for an easy life. But NO! I'm getting them back for a new life... and if my plotting is successful, some of them may end up in the hands of her great grandchildren.

    Well. What I've been doing is lots of soaking and cleaning with water. Careful blowing out with air, careful work with 1200 grade carborundum paper to smooth out any scratchiness out of the nibs.
    Successful so far. I haven't pulled any nibs out yet. Is that an option with stubborn-flow pens?

    Any other tips? Disassembly? (Pulling nibs sounds entertaining, is that like pulling fingernails?!) A couple have suction issues (they won't draw ink up). Perhaps they'll need new 'bladders' (or whatever).
    I will post a pic of them just for fun, soon.

    -Jools
    Last edited by joolstacho; December 21st, 2019 at 12:57 AM.

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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Regards,
    Deb
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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    You will need a dry heat source for disassemblies, and as Deb mentions, your own copy of Pen Repair by Jim Marshall and Laurence Oldfield, now in its 4th edition. That invaluable volume has a description of what you'll need for restoring each of a wide variety of pen models. Have patience, have fun and have at it!

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by joolstacho View Post
    careful work with 1200 grade carborundum paper to smooth out any scratchiness out of the nibs.
    Hopefully "1200" is a typo as I tend to only use 12,000 micromesh for nib smoothing
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Many here have forgotten more than I will ever know, but I have successfully restored 10 Esterbrook pens. Not realizing I shouldn't, I used warm water and Dawn dish soap to wash the pens and loosen the screw in nib. On my last two restorations, the '34 and '38 "dollar" pens I used a hair dryer.

    The baby bulb syringes have been useful for clearing our debris from the section holding the sac and j bar. I used an e mandolin string to successfully clear a stopped up 1932 type nib feed once.

    I use Mothers mag wheel polish on the plastic and metal parts just because I had it from my straight razor restorations.

    Being patent pays off. I've never broken anything.

    For attaching a new sac a tool to spread the opening is handy. I already had such a tool, but others have made one using tweezers. Long tweezers are also useful for extracting a j bar. I've found restoration supplies from Anderson Pens and an eBay dealer.

    My experience has been that a good wet ink works best and I only use Waterman now.

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    Senior Member jbb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Welcome! I'm not an expert but there are certain old, hard rubber fountain pens that shouldn't get wet because it discolors the plastic. Also some pens are pressure fit and others screw together SO if you post pictures of your pens you might get even more specific advice.
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Junior Member joolstacho's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Plenty of good info, thanks guys.

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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Don't use hot or warm water on ebonite
    Don't use any kind of water on casein
    Don't use alcohol or acetone on celluloid
    and the big one;
    HAVE PATIENCE.

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Another basic resource, freely available, is the Repair Section on Richard Binder's site. Lots of info all over the rest of his place, but this is the concentration on the actual repair activities.
    "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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    Junior Member joolstacho's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by amk View Post
    Don't use hot or warm water on ebonite
    Don't use any kind of water on casein
    Don't use alcohol or acetone on celluloid
    and the big one;
    HAVE PATIENCE.
    Patience is my middle name (I've spent over 30 years collecting parts for and restoring a 1938 Velocette KSS - I imagine I might qualify?) Good tips, thanks again.

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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Oh dear, I'd seen some online advice to soak in warm water with a bit of dish soap and I did that to loosen dried ink from the nibs of a couple of old pens. I only have Dawn. Could you elaborate on why we're not supposed to do that, is it a specific issue with Dawn or something else? Thank you so much!

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by seattlec257 View Post
    Oh dear, I'd seen some online advice to soak in warm water with a bit of dish soap and I did that to loosen dried ink from the nibs of a couple of old pens. I only have Dawn. Could you elaborate on why we're not supposed to do that, is it a specific issue with Dawn or something else? Thank you so much!
    I don't think you've done any harm, depending... on how you did it. Water (warm or cool) is not an issue nor is a small amount of Dawn. The main thing is to not soak an entire pen and *never* soak hard rubber. If you are trying to de-ink and/or unstick a nib/feed in the section, you should go one of two ways. If you can remove the section and nib/feed intact, then you can safely soak that as a unit. If you can't, then I would fill a small glass with the liquid and then suspend the pen so only the section is submerged but not any of the barrel. The easiest way I've found is to have a piece of semi-stiff foam rubber that you can put a slit or hole in, poke the back end of the pen through it and set it on the glass, adjusting the pen so that only the nib/feed area is in the water; a piece of cardboard would probably work as well.

    As noted penman David Nishimura so well expresses: fountain pens are meant to contain liquid, not to be immersed in it. Never soak an entire pen and/or barrel.
    "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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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    It's perfectly possible to repair any pen without soaking. I never do. If there is a troublesome accumulation of old ink, I disassemble the pen and use brushes, cotton buds and water to wash it away. For sticky sections I use dry heat - always successful, though some require more patience and persistence than others.

    Each to his own, of course. We had the argument about dry heat/soaking last year. I don't have the energy to do it again. The most important thing, whatever methods you use, is don't work to a deadline. Some of these pens have been around a century and more. They won't mind waiting another day or two to be repaired, if it means they won't be broken through haste and impatience.

    Yes, we've all done it at one time or another...
    Regards,
    Deb
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Warm water with dish soap as far as I can see would work with modern acrylic pens. But vintage pens could be ebonite (doesn't like *warm* water at all), celluloid (might not harm), or casein (dissolves in water!)...

    I will soak sections, but only after they are removed from the pen and only if they are absolutely full of dried ink. Otherwise, they just get flushed through till the water runs clean.

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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    I followed Debs advice and avoid water unless I am positive that it will be ok, such as on UK Duofolds and 51s.

    there was one time when I was wanting to soak just the nib of a pen, I put a 1/2 inch of water in a small pott and left it overnight, the water did not touch the pen material. Next morning the section and barrel had swollen and were soft, I was cheesed off I can tell you.

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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Until I read the admonishment not to use water, I used water on all of my Esterbrook restorations except the Dollar rubber pens. I used a baby bulb syringe to clean out any old diaphragm residue and cap ink spills.

    The same rubber used in the old Dollar pens were also used to make scales for straight razors. This tells me the material had to be able to be wet.

    A very useful took is a toothbrush size copper/brass brush for gently removing rust from j bars. 0000 steel wool is another useful material as is 2500 grit wet/dry sand paper.
    Last edited by Chuck Naill; January 14th, 2020 at 06:38 AM.

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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    There are also oxidation removal fluids that you can use in an ultrasonic cleaner. Takes a bit of effort out of rust removal.
    Regards,
    Deb
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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fermata View Post
    I followed Debs advice and avoid water unless I am positive that it will be ok, such as on UK Duofolds and 51s.

    there was one time when I was wanting to soak just the nib of a pen, I put a 1/2 inch of water in a small pott and left it overnight, the water did not touch the pen material. Next morning the section and barrel had swollen and were soft, I was cheesed off I can tell you.
    That's a good one!
    Regards,
    Deb
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    It's worth asking your dentist where you can get some of the dentists' tools like a Tofflemire retainer (for clamping barrels that need cracks mended) and the various scrapers and probes - all very useful when you're repairing pens. I was lucky enough to pick some up from a sale - I think someone's grandad had been a dentist and the tools had last seen use some time in the 1960s!

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    Senior Member Deb's Avatar
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    Default Re: General Restoration tips?

    You can usually find the dental picks on eBay. They're quite inexpensive and very useful.
    Regards,
    Deb
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