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Archive for November 4th, 2013

Opening Lividicus

Posted by Dirck on 4 November, 2013

It has been rather I while since I made any noise about repairs, hasn’t it?  Well, the definitive arrival of Winter has put me in a mood to gripe a little, so let’s have at it.

Let’s see… actually, I’m going to start with a non-gripe, because it’s always nice to have a little ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.  One of the pens I was engaged with over the weekend is a both a wonderful example of its breed, and a wonderful example of how such things should be treated.  A Sheaffer Balance, what I take to be a pre-naming 74TC in red-veined grey pearl (and which I was too busy working on to take a picture of; I’ll get there before it goes home), arrived in showroom colour if not condition– it needed a new sac and there was a chip out of the cap lip.  The former is down to decades of inactivity, the latter the sort of accident that might befall even the most careful pen-user– even I’ve managed it once– but the fact that there was no hint of ambering in the plastic means that it has been taken very good care of throughout its existence.  This care has been in the hands of a single family, too, as it was sent to me by the grandson of the original buyer, and the son of the man who may have set it aside in the 1970s but did so only after clearing it of ink properly.  That, to the sort of person which I’m one, is a deeply heartwarming set of circumstances.

I should mention, just to keep things from being too shiny, that it was not easy to get into that pen.  The barrel was gripping the section fiercely, and I wasn’t able to give it any soaking to convince it to let go.  You see, the pen was old enough that it predated Sheaffer’s switch to celluloid for the section.  In this case, the section was hard rubber, also as black and shiny as the day it hit the shipping box in Toronto (it’s a Canadian model), and the usual expedient of putting it head-down in a shotglass of water would have been disastrous for the finish.  Happily, the client when told the entry might be a long one admitted to habouring Patience in his bosom; the pen heard this, and stopped putting up such a fight when it knew I had all the time it would take.

The first serious gripe is with a Parker Duofold of the mid-1930s, which also put up a bit of a struggle in the area of opening up to receive a new sac.  It was, to put not too fine a point on it, hair-raising, as it down to slowly “walking” it out of the barrel, a process which puts more stress on the barrel than one would like.  This developed because a previous sac replacement effort had apparently been rushed, with the section reinserted before the shellac holding sac to nipple was quite dry.  Not only did this stick the section to the barrel, but it took up space where there is very little space to be had.

The more serious gripe is a mid-1940s Parker Vacumatic, which came in need of a pretty basic refit of its filler.  It was a little resistant to the unscrewing of the section, but the filler itself came out without undue complaint.  The client has asked if I could see about cleaning out the barrel while I had it apart, which is something I do anyway, and from the look of the ends which ink hadn’t gotten to, it promised to be a very nice, clear example.  Two cycles in the ultrasonic tank later and… nothing had changed.  There was still ink down the impression on the point.  Running some paper towel up the inside of the barrel got some blue out, but it was very dry.

I’m pretty sure it’s the sort of ink one uses to refresh a stamp pad.

I’m casting about for solutions that can get that sort of ink off celluloid without damaging the plastic, of course, but I’m quite out of joint at the thought that someone would have filled the pen with that stuff in the first place.

I am, in fact, livid.  I think to work out the emotion, I’m going to write my own quasi-biblical set of injunctions, and I shall call it the Book of Lividicus after the state I’m in and one of the most injunction-intensive portions of The Old Testament, and it will read something like…

Lividicus 2:12Thou shalt not put the ink of the stamp pad into the pen, for it likes it not and shall take injury thereof.

I don’t promise the wrath of any particular god or gods as a consequence of breaching the injunctions set down in the Book of Lividicus, but since I don’t know any more about the afterlife than the next self-proclaimed prophet, I also can’t promise one won’t suffer torments in the hereafter for maltreatment of pens.  I suspect it will be a living, growing document as more abhorrent and unnatural practices come to my attention,  but that’s also in line with at least the way some folks have of interpreting my model to suit their own needs.  Keep an eye out for a new sign above– by which I mean a tab in the selection bar at the top of this page.

Today’s pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Black 

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