What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements


Posted by Dirck on 17 December, 2013

A little story about the unexpected, with a happy ending.

Once upon a time… well, actually, it was last month.  In any event, I had a pen sent me by a client which had taken a terrible injury from something it drank.  Not only was the diaphragm turned to a mass of corruption, but the metal components of the filler had been slightly compromised and no longer moved past each other properly.  A little bit of gentle scaling after a complete dismantling, and it was back to work.  Reintegration and return followed.

And then came a note from the client.  “I don’t remember the filler shaft spinning freely,” he said.  Nor did I, and I asked him to send it back.  Spin it did, and on once again dismantling the filler I found this:

Graphic content may not be suitable for all viewers.

Graphic content may not be suitable for all viewers.

Look carefully at the tops of the slots in the upped part of this component.  They’ve gone topless.  This is a problem in a lock-down filler– there’s a little crossbar that bridges those slots which acts as the holder for the stem when it locks and as the thing the stem’s spring presses against to run it up.  The slot should not be open-ended.

The exact mechanism of the damage eludes me.  Obviously, 75 years or so of fatigue has a role, as does the assault of the ink on the part.  It was also travelling from me to him in some rather cold weather, so that may have added to the brittleness already inherent.  The corrosion which caused the stem to bind as it passed through that collar may also have worked to induce some preliminary cracks.  I’m trying to think of a blow to the parcel that would have been transmitted to that part of the pen which wouldn’t have done other injuries to it and the two it was travelling with, but nothing occurs.  As I said to the client, it would have been nice if the thing had shown the courtesy of failing during the first trip to me rather than on the way home.

The solution, since I have none of this part in spares, was to make a ribbon of metal to go in place of the cross-bar.  Wrapping around the top of the collar, it catches under the shelf at the top, and is held in place nicely by the threaded over-collar that fixes the assembly in the pen.  It’s not elegant, but it’s also not visible and it works.  In the absence of spares and a machining shop, it’s the best I had, and the client (with some understandable reservations in the area of long-term service) seems happy enough with the solution.

I had over the past weekend a pen of the same specs from another client, the diaphragm of which had also gone off, but which had not introduced ink to the metal bits.  It very nearly fell apart in my hands when told it was getting new rubber, presented no resistance to reassembly, and is on its way home even now via Canada Post’s oppressed workers.  I’m confident that it isn’t going to pull the same trick in transit, and a brief superstitious dread of Vacumatic filler’s I’d begun to foster has vanished.

Well… mostly vanished.  The spectre will be entirely dissipated when I’ve head that pen is home and doing its job.  For the moment, it and Hubris are hanging around behind a corner of my subconscious, having a smoke.

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire


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