Satisfaction And Frustration

Among my many minor competencies, we may now number fountain pen repair and restoration, as long as we emphasize the “minor” part of the phrase. This afternoon I disassembled a smallish Sheaffer; it looks like a small version of an Balance, though not a Lifetime model (no white dot). It’s 4 5/8″ when capped, a lever filler with beautiful carmine pearlescent stripes, and a #5 Feathertouch nib.
The ink sac was the only real problem with this; I extracted the hardened remnants of the sac that had been installed, carefully scraped off the glued-on residue on the section, and attached a new sac. I polished and buffed, buffed and polished, and the renovated pen is quite a beauty. Sadly, it turned out to have a hairline crack from the lip of the cap well up toward the top of the cap. I’ll see about having a more skilled restorer have a crack at it. The pen writes smoothly; the nib doesn’t flex noticeably, but it’s a steady, firm writer.
In the same mail, I received another red celluloid (no-name) pen, but this one defies my every effort to unlock. It doesn’t have a lever; the barrel is bisected rather clumsily, as though it were supposed to unscrew (further down than I’d expect for a blind cap). The section won’t yet let go, and the nib likewise resists my gentle ministrations. Pippa claims that it’s an undercover ballpoint, but I think it’s just a handsome cheapie that hasn’t yet yielded its secrets. I’d give it a soak, but I’m slightly worried about the celluloid. On the other hand, if I can’t get the pen working, the celluloid will remain a secondary issue.
[An hour later: Patience and heat (wet heat in this case, after I tried dry heat for a long while) paid off; the upper portion of the barrel eventually twisted off, revealing a plastic piston. When I finally freed up the piston, it drew and expelled water satisfactorily, and now has proven its mettle as a firm writer.]

6 thoughts on “Satisfaction And Frustration

  1. Have I congratulated you enough for your talent in finding a hobby that both baffles AND amuses me? I even have a theme song for your little club, too!

    Your highly confused and amused daughter.

  2. Did you remember I asked about the Mont Blanc a while ago?
    Hope you have it and that it is still performing well. It should for the $$ I paid for it in 1963!

  3. Ach, Mom, I thought I had answered. Yes, I’m using my dad’s Mont Blanc 149; it’s lovely, and I try to attain a balance between waltzing it around everywhere — and risking its marvelous (but reputedly brittle) finish — and guarding it at home, where it’s safe but less-used.
    As I get the hang of photographing pens, I’ll take some pictures of it and report on its particular characteristics. It’s a precious thing, though, hallowed by its significance to Dad and now to me.

  4. I’m so glad you have it. The “Big Deal fountain pens when I was growing up were Parker 51s. They were very pretty, but except for when I was calligraphing, I didn’t end up using a “real” pen! xx

  5. Ah, Parker 51s! They are still Big Deal pens, out of my price range so far. I do have a couple of Parker 45s, a somewhat less elegant (but more affordable) pen, and a couple of Parker 21s (very like a 51, but with more economical nib construction, I think).
    Anyway, they’re lots of fun and I derive much relief from daily stress by rehabilitating orphaned pens. I just wish there were a more abundant local source of these orphans; the local antique stores don’t have any, and eBay and the fountain pen aficionados’ sites tend to offer pens at higher prices.

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