What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Hearty Partying in Newhaven

Posted by Dirck on 3 March, 2014

I’ve just sent home a pen from a first-time client, and it had an interesting story to tell.  It was a Parker “51” and the complaint was that it was rather intermittent in its flow and somewhat scratchy.  These are, as the client pointed out, not attributes usually connected with that make, and even less so with the UK-made sub-species.  There’s a few possible causes, all of which are well within my capacities to put right, so I was happy to have a look at it for him.

To assist in following my technicalities (click for bigness)

It didn’t present any gross deformities when it arrived, but when time came to open it up… well, I’ll admit, I was slightly taken aback.  I’d suggested that something that might be behind the problem was a dirty collector.  To avoid ink-cementing, I’d given the pen a darned good cleaning prior to taking it apart, and the collector was rather cleaner than the one in the anatomy photo.  Except for the light purplish material that was stuck between the vanes on the lower third of it.


The same stuff was on the connector, above the o-ring that came into use in models later than my dissection subject, and this put me in the picture.  It was a sealant of some kind, not shellac nor the rosin-based stuff one more usually associates with Sheaffers, but something similar in that it could be painted onto the threads just before final assembly.  Whoever had been applying this stuff was using a broad brush indeed.  Happily, it was softer than Lucite and not too serious about adhering, so a few minutes work with little thin bits of brass saw it cleared away.

There were a few other issues with the pen.  The slit was compressed, also a source of flow woe, and also addressed with little thin bits of brass.  The point and feed were out of line with the collector; there are some who say that the factory-approved alignment of these parts isn’t a big deal, but I like to observe it and it’s easily done.  The worst thing about it was that the slit was cut at a slight angle to the axis of the point; this is a big deal only in as much as it affects the size of the pen’s “sweet spot”, and it renders the point a little more open to deformation, but there’s not much to be done about it.

Looking at the list of problems, my initial thought was “Monday morning production.”  I refine that thought, though.  Not only Monday morning, but one following a rather boisterous weekend.  Crapulence is given form, as it were, and the pen is made to suffer someone else’s hangover for decades.  Poor thing.  Hopefully the veil has parted for it, and it can get on with being a rather good pen without having to squint and mutter.

Today’s pen: Parker 45
Today’s ink: Private Reserve Supershow Blue


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