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Thread: Recommendations for Pen Repair

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    Default Recommendations for Pen Repair

    I have a lovely black hard rubber eyedropper pen that has a very substantial crack in the cap. At first I thought I'd just get some epoxy from Lowe's and go at it. It didn't take long to realize that might be a very bad idea. So I'm looking for someone who will repair the crack properly. The Southern Scribe has a nice article on repairing cracks, so he's under consideration. I understand, though, that turnaround time is quite long. This wouldn't be a particularly complex or interesting repair--just one requiring tools, materials and skills I don't have. I want the crack repaired to prevent it from getting worse, and to improve the pen's appearance (the rest is quite nice). I didn't make the crack--I bought it that way, assuming the crack would be worse than it is.

    In any case, I'd love to have suggestions for a good pen repairer who likes fixing cracks and is good at it.

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    Ron Zorn (Main Street Pens) easily fits into the first and last criteria. Whether he likes fixing cracks in hard rubber eyedropper pens is an unknown. However, I believe that wherever you send it, you will have to wait in line with all of the other repair jobs that need doing by your selected repairer.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    I don't mind waiting in line. I simply want to find a good repairer, which rules out me, my brother or my late grandfather. We all have the "take it apart" gene, but our "put it back together" skills are somewhat wanting.

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    Even the "best" hard rubber repairs are not so good. The adhesive commonly used is a specialized Locktite super glue with a filler that just does not return the full structural integrity to an object made of hard rubber. Glued cap lip cracks, especially on the sharply tapered edges of cone caps, are never going to be very durable. I have done some of these, and the adjoining surfaces must be properly prepped, which is tedious, for the adhesive to work at all. If there is a chased design, that can really complicate things aesthetically. Bear in mind that slip on eyedropper caps rely on tension to stay put on either end of the pen, so it's not just a posting issue. Another option is sleeving, but that requires some delicate machine work. I don't know how much folks charge, as I currently only do this kind of stuff to rescue my own pens and experiment with techniques. I enjoy the challenge... in moderation. I have to imagine that the time involved is often worth more than the pen. What kind of pen are we talking about?

    I say all of this because a replacement cap may be a better option if one can be sourced, as then the money spent nets you an intact and correct pen. If you want to just use the pen, or use while you hunt down a cap, this might work... I did a slap dash repair on an old Watermans 'dropper years ago that someone just wanted to use, by putting a piece of thin-walled black heat-shrink tubing on it. It served quite well, was cheap, and was only a little odd looking. Tools required are scissors/razor and a hair dryer or heat gun. Best of all, it is a repair that is totally reversible. The purists among us will sometimes prefer a cracked original over a glued up and re-surfaced repair of a significant pen.

    Bob

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    Chrissy (February 21st, 2021), eachan (February 20th, 2021), Jon Szanto (February 20th, 2021), TFarnon (February 21st, 2021)

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    My experience too. Even the specialized Loctite repair is not durable. The heat-shrink tubing is a good idea for a user pen!

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    Heat shrink tubing has all sort of uses - I've found the smaller sizes invaluable in getting feeds to fit tricky sections (especially for some of my more curious frankenpens) as well as for stabilising both caps and barrels. It's also useful for holding repairs together whilst they set, especially for longer pieces where I'd otherwise need multiple dental matrices.

    It's also a good way to protect fragile threads before trying to grip them - it's just that bit tougher than ptfe tape - and can be just partially shrunk down to grip without being too tight. Just avoid the version with glue inside (don't ask me how I know).

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    You make some excellent points and suggestions. I think what I'll do is leave the crack as it is, and take the pen to the San Francisco International Pen Show, whenever that happens again (2021? 2022?) to try and find an appropriate uncracked cap that fits. Having never been to a pen show, I know that might not be the best venue, but I would guess that I can get leads on where to find such a cap, and even that's more than I know right now.

    The kind of pen I asked about is of unknown manufacture, probably made between 1900 and 1920, eyedropper fill, with a gold nib that may or may not be original to the pen, and an attractive embossed gold overlay on the barrel. Even once I have the cap issue resolved, I may still have a pen that doesn't work particularly well as a fountain pen. I haven't tested the feed or section for function and/or leaks yet. The nib appears to be in good condition, unbent, with no cracks or breaks.

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    Default Re: Recommendations for Pen Repair

    You can work through this in steps. Dip test the nib, to get an idea of smoothness, and how well the tines and tipping allow ink flow. View nib from the side, to see if feed is tight to nib, then press nib down on your thumb nail to make sure that the body of the nib stays tight in the section and against the feed as the tines lift and spread (assuming that they do, but don't over flex things). If you can unscrew the section, you can make sure that the barrel is flushed, put some ink in it and try it out. If you don't want to put your cracked cap on it, perhaps you have a cap from a Sharpie, or something else that will allow you to cap it temporarily. Let it stay it stay inked for a while, and write with it. If you can't find a temporary cap, just empty and flush when you are done. How hard you hunt for a cap may as well be based on how well you like the pen as a looker....and as a writer.

    With an overlay on the barrel and no maker's marks, any hard rubber cap that fits makes sense. Who is to say whether the cap had a matching overlay, or not. There were certainly a lot of half overlays, early on.

    Bob

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