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Archive for August 7th, 2012

Fishing for Djinn

Posted by Dirck on 7 August, 2012

I’m sure most people will have heard some variation on the story of the fisherman who hauls up an old lamp, or a bottle, or even a talking fish, and finds himself looking down the barrel of sudden financial elevation.  Some of these have a definite “Monkey’s Paw” flavour to them, and were no doubt meant to not only warn the audience about the perils of too-good-to-be-true offers but of the wickedness of trying to escape a life of grinding poverty, but some just leave the fisherman and his wife in a well-to-do state.  These latter, if one is scraping around for sociological subtexts, probably mean to instill a notion of attending to one’s job in hopes of a disproportionate reward, and that’s fine with me.

One can form an analogy involving the ocean when looking at eBay.  It had mysterious and probably unplumbable depths, a lot of the stuff one hauls out of is smells funny, it is frequently worse for the trip from its native pressure, and until it’s in one’s hands one usually has only a murky idea of the actual nature of the item.  I don’t mean to tar all eBay sellers (of whom I’m occasionally one), but the generalities stick.  I’ve been throwing my line into eBay rather less frequently of late than in the past, but my efforts have been rewarded with something rather magical.

“Pen for parts only” said the listing.  In this case, the pictures were clear enough, and showed a pen in pieces.  However, all the pieces were there, and they were jolly interesting.  I took a flutter, one might say, and a couple of weeks later the various components were in my hands, in the same state as in the photo (despite a trip from South America in a thin cardboard box which rode inside a brown envelope).

The pen in question is a very high-end example of the Thin Model line of Sheaffer, and it was, by some estimates, a mere collection of parts for gleaning through.  The outer cladding of the barrel was completely free from the inner plastic liner, the seals were either hardened or absent, and the ink window on the section was entirely dark.

However… the metal was undented, and the parts (except for a couple of seals) were all present.  Herr Doktor Frankenstein can work with this sort of corpse!  Since I didn’t think to take a before picture, again, here is the end result.  You might want to shade your eyes from its radiant effulgence:

Sadly, nothing comes out when you polish it but shine (and, possibly, ink).

The absent seals were an unusual quantity of gaskets that hold pressure around the screw that connects the blind cap to the filling tube.  There is, for those who care about such things, an inner plastic skeleton blind cap which the metal shell surrounds, and the screw holding both to the tube is much longer than in the unclad versions of the pen.  It extends right through the inner component, and it seems that it wants a gasket between the tube and the plastic and between the plastic and metal blind caps, or it lets the air out.  Unexpected, but not a great hassle to fabricate, since I had a quantity of left-over thin rubber from the newly-installed sac right under my hand.

The other complication in this effort was getting the inner and outer barrels aligned, as there’s a little vent in both that has to line up for the Touchdown mechanism to work.  This was more fiddly than difficult, the trick being to put a common pin through the two holes to hold the alignment while the shellac used to re-join the barrels set.

It’s not riches nor a splendid palace, but there’s also little threat of a dreadful come-uppance.  My wish for a(nother) nice pen has been granted, I am enriched in some experience of repair I’d not had before (that two-layer barrel arrangement), and apart from the lurking potential for damage that the world holds in store for such confections, little ill can come of it.  But, unlike the old woman in an similarly-themed Japanese version of the story, I won’t assume that such results are my right.  That’s how you get your dreadful come-uppances.

Today’s pen: the self-same Sheaffer Triumph TM
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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