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Hard Luck Pen

Posted by Dirck on 4 August, 2011

Yesterday I was using my Lamy 99, a pen I have used infrequently.  It has, at least in my care of it, led a troubled existence.  Shall I enumerate the issues?

  1. A compressed point;
  2. A footed tip;
  3. A bum piston seal;
  4. Ditto;
  5. … and a third outing for the seal;
  6. A cracked cap.

The point should have taken the most work.  The slit was far too tight to allow ink to pass freely, and the previous owner had apparently addressed this by pressing far too hard in a very consistent way.  This had reshaped the tipping into a flat-faced, square-shouldered configuration, smooth enough if the pen was held just so, but given to digging furrows in paper if held slightly askew.  To open the slit I had to take the front end apart entirely, which is not a vast chore in this shape of Lamy, but the footing required me to spend a couple of years intermittently practicing very basic point reshaping.  While this is still not on the official roster of Stuff I Do, I have progressed in that area, and this past weekend I got the tip to a place where a little bit of pitch or yaw doesn’t make for paper-cutting.

The piston seal was more of an issue.  Its effect, initially, was to prevent filling; as ink was drawn in, the seal would break, and the ink would drop out again.  To treat, dismantle the back end of the pen, which is also not a vast chore in Lamys, but never great fun.  The problem was extremely subtle, and to this day I’m not convinced that it isn’t a deformity of the barrel rather than the seal.  However, I’m not set up to reshape barrels, so I wrestled with the seal to what I thought was my satisfaction.  The last time I used the pen, a great while ago, I found it was dribbling a little, and wrestled again.  Two weeks ago, I wanted to do a capacity measurement for The Great Work (yes, on the new site, I will be listing pens’ ink volumes; one of the many reasons it’s taking so long to roll out), and found that it still wasn’t holding properly.  One more wrestle, informed by things learned in the time since the previous attempt, and it holds its ink properly at last.

…so I went and cracked the cap.  This may have happened when I was taking it apart for an anatomy photo.  It may have been the result of an emphatic re-capping at some point in the recent past, as there is no inner cap to stop over-tightening, and the front of the pen is rather wedge-shaped.  It may, although this is a low likelihood choice, simply have been a spontaneous crack as is known to appear in Parker 21s; low, since Parker 21s and 61s have an evil reputation in this regard, while Lamy does not.  In any event, I’ve used a solvent weld to put things right, and I’m mindful of not over-tightening, but I do wonder what sort of wickedness this pen got up to in the past that so much karmic retribution has fallen upon it over the past five years.

The karmic retribution couldn’t possibly be aimed at the pen’s current owner, after all.

Today’s pen:  Parker 180
Today’s ink: Diamine China Blue

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