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Posts Tagged ‘Conway-Stewart’

Pure Fabrication

Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2015

The close observer of past entries may have noticed a bit of an anomaly lately.  While Bleu Pervenche remained the ink in use, the pen changed.  This may have nurtured curiosity in that close observer’s heart, and I can now clarify the events.  I did indeed have a moment of frivolity in my choice of pen and ink when I brought the Stylist out of storage on the 10th, although I only admitted to it for the ink.  This frivolity was repaid shortly after the entry for that day, when I found my fingers festively blued… but the source of the ink was the joint of the pen.

That’s not good.

Over the weekend, I moved the ink from a modern converter which wasn’t seating excellently into a cartridge, cleaned up the pen, gave it a couple of hours of lying on its side… and found that the ink was getting out into the barrel.  The cartridge went into the Agio and I had to put on my thinking cap.

My history with Sheaffer cartridge pens betrayed me slightly in this.  There is not a lot of dismantling to do with the old school pens nor NoNonsenses, both of which were companions of my youth.  I was thus slightly blind to the anatomy of the Stylist, but when presented with a leak, there must be a source, so rather than relying on the wisdom of the ancients (that’s me!) I actually looked inside the section.

There I found a suggestive slot on either side of the steel fang that enters the unsuspecting new cartridge.  Suggestive indeed, because it suggests that with the right tool, one could unscrew… something.  Well, unscrewing something is what inquisitive apes like to do!  There was, however, the issue of that rather important fang in the middle of the thing.  Here we meet the title of the piece, because I had to take a piece of brass tube left over from a previous bit of cleverness and make a tool to the purpose by grinding away bits of the end  until left with two protrusions.  The tube goes over the fang, the protrusions engage the groove, and I get to plumb the mysteries of the Stylist.

Anatomy Stylist2

They’re not THAT mysterious.

There’s more buffering in there than I had given it credit for.  The source of the problem was that seal mounted towards the inward end of what I will call the feed because “collector” is a part of a different pen and I think properly has to be separate from the bit that conducts ink from reservoir to point; this thing appears to be all one piece, because the threads are at the far end from the slot.  The seal is similar to ones found in Imperials and Targas, and in those situations I find it isn’t quite eternally reliable either.  I think it’s made of nylon.  My remedy, thus far functional, was to try reviving it with some silicone grease, although if that starts to fail I think the best alternative is to pack some wax into the seam between the walls of the section and the feed rather than take it apart and try to mount some kind of o-ring.

The tool I am not showing because it is extremely ugly.  It is functionally similar to the Conway-Stewart cap tool or the Visofil nut tool made by The Pen Practice, but without any of the evident skill of construction found there.  I’m shy about my limitations.  If I were to make another, by the way, I’d probably find a tube closer to the outer diameter of a Sheaffer cartridge, to get better leverage.

While I had the thing apart, I made an interesting discovery about the contact between the point unit and the feed.  There’s less of it than I thought:

Quite a gap, eh?  You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too.

Quite a gap, eh? You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too, just short of the right end of the feed.

The stem at the back of the point unit is bottomed out in its cup on the feed.  I don’t know if that’s some clever use of dead space to insulate the feed and add buffering space, or if it’s an idiotic leaving of places for ink to dry and cause trouble.  It saves the need to line up the little vent hole in the lower part of the unit with the air-return on the feed, and I guess that’s what the reason for it is, but it troubles me.

While fabricating things this week-end, I also ran up a tool to ease the dismantling of Snorkels, as I’ve a sick one in hand from a client.  It’s a stick with a slot in it, and a hole drilled in it.  That one I just forgot to get a picture of, which is a shame because it’s damn useful.  Maybe later.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche


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Posted by Dirck on 19 March, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 16 March
  • 17 March
  • 18 March
  • 19 March
  • Choose Your Own Unspeakable Doom.
  • …plus that entry I wrote.
  • More Choice! More Doom!
  • Ditto.
  • Eight manuscript pages.
  • Six pages
  • Seven pages.
  • Nine pages.
  • 45 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 45 min.

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Hairy-Chested Conversions

Posted by Dirck on 17 March, 2015

My wife suggested to me last night, as I was filling the pen that will be out for today only, that I might put in orange ink rather than green.  “Just to get the whole flag represented,” she said with a smile that suggested she knew just how inflammatory she was being.  As I mentioned in the 2010 entry for this day, I’m enough of an avatar of the Irish flag on my own not to need that, and I don’t want to get the saint down my neck for injecting a note of protestantism on his day.

Not, as I think I’ve made clear on many occasions, that I’m one of the faithful.  I am, however, inconsistently superstitious, and I’ve recently learned a thing about ol’ Patrick that seriously disinclines me from making any fun of him.

He turns people into werewolves.

Yep.  Chases snakes out of Ireland, sermonizes long enough for his walking stick to grow roots, chats up old pagan mythic heros, and makes the occasional monster.  The walking stick bit indicates he is very patient with common or garden ignorance, but the last item is suggests that he doesn’t have a lot of that virtue available for hecklers.

The story has a a couple of versions, the more impressive being the cursing of a king who pointedly declined conversion, but the one that rings more true is the one in which the saint is followed by three drunken jerks who alternate between caricatured impersonations of Patrick at his preaching and derisive laughter.  After putting up with a little of this nonsense, Paddy turns on his pursuers, says something along the lines of “You like howling so much, let’s make sure you can do a proper job of it,” and there’s three wolves with startled looks on their faces.  This version also involves the full moon as an catalyst, while others had a seven year cycle of some sort– either once every seven years, or for seven years at a time.

More impressively, St. Patrick did this (whichever version you prefer) and then walked away without getting savaged by a bunch of wolves.  That’s a hard saint.

Be warned, then, to keep your St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans somewhat in line.  May your beer be the colour nature intended it to be, and may you come back from the pub the same shape you left.

Today’s pen: Conway-Stewart 106 (the sainted Patrick was, after all, not from Ireland originally)
Today’s ink: Lamy green

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…Lizzie Borden.

Posted by Dirck on 12 July, 2012

How can I resist closing yesterday’s ellipsis?  The title, though, has some basis, although less red-handed than the purportedly-patricidal lass.

I will first, though, briefly return to yesterday’s entry.  Mice, prior to the invention of the germ theory of disease transmission, were seen in many cultures as at very least an indicator of prosperity; after all, if you’ve got enough food lying about to keep mice on, you’re doing rather well in the view of most of humanity through most of history.  Mice, or their larger cousins, are seen in Japanese myth as the messengers of the Fukujin and are often depicted in conjunction with the odd wish-producing mallet of Daikoku (it’s hard not to picture him saying, “Just close your eyes, and your wish shall be granted” in one of Mel Blanc’s voices).  I may, therefore, be forgiven in associating the handling of a pair of mice– the gentle, humane handling– with a couple of items of good fortune which came my way.  Post hoc ergo propter hoc may be a logical fallacy, but it’s extremely persuasive.

The mail, rather than a possibly comic mallet, brought my good fortune to me.  Two packages, whose contents were to some degree expected, but exceeding the expectations in so many ways, and both entirely free of the lackadaisical want of care that so many of my deliveries experience.  The less impressive is a Peter Pan fountain pen; it is less impressive, though, because it exceeds expectation in the direction of how very very very small it is.  I thought I had handled small pens before, having had contact with pens revelling in the names Dinkie and Bantam.  The Peter Pan, though… man, that is small! That it was in a mostly intact original box and came with its original glass filling dropper compounded the joy.

The other item was one of those online auction flutters that so often ends in disappointment.  The pictures were not terrible, which is unusual for this sort of gamble-purchase, but what they showed was an unremarkable black rubber pen with a point that almost certainly had long since shed its tipping.  There were a couple of things in the pictures and descriptions that made me think is was of more interest than a mere semi-anonymous cheap pen from the early part of the last century.  Unwrapping it from the gratifying mountains of padding, I found that not only was it in much better shape than one finds many black rubber pens in, but my suspicions about the nature of the item were entirely justified.

The pictures showed a lever-filler, close to… but it was oddly far down the barrel.  Inspection proved the reason for this was because it wasn’t a lever-filler at all, but… a hatchet filler, bearing the “Fount-Filler” impression of the John Holland company.  Not the sort if item one is going to deliver a set of death blows with, unless one is H.L. Mencken, but as I had no example of the system yet, to have one on hand in such good shape was happiness indeed.  There is even still tipping on the point.

“How about some pictures?”  I must disappoint.  Apart from picture-taking being a weekend, while the son sleeps, activity, there is the perilous weather.  It’s darned hot here just now.  Not quite the killing heat that the US has been having, but hot enough for discomfort.  While old hard black rubber is mostly indifferent if not welcoming to human skin oils, I’m disinclined to handle the pen much with hands quite so sweaty as mine are.  Not only does warm fluid in volume tend to discolour black hard rubber, the sweat also serves to lubricate the finger/pen interface to the point that I fear the outright destruction.  When conditions allow, there will be pictures, but I don’t want to associate this particular hatchet with a tragic dismemberment.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lis de Thé

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Before and After

Posted by Dirck on 18 July, 2011

A productive weekend indeed!  I got to work on a very pretty Conway-Stewart and a slightly less pretty Mentmore, both belonging to a correspondent become client, and I have enough time left over to do something about that Skyline mentioned last week.  For a change, I had the wit to take a pre-operative photo, so it’s possible to show the world the difference a little attention can make:

The hideous Before

The appealing After

The ink component of the staining was happily not India ink, but merely a classic high-acidity blue-black.  It came out fairly readily, and was not impacted into the channels of the feed.  Once the horrible stuff was off the point, I found ay some time in the past, someone had gone at the point with something like a nail– there was a pile of rather deep scratches lying parallel to the point.  A bit of effort with various levels of buffers has produced the current effect, which is nothing like as cloudy as that picture seems to indicate.  There are still scratches there, but to get rid of them would get rid of the impression, and that seems the wrong sort of trade off.  These scratches add to my bafflement with this pen, since as I mentioned previously there is hardly any sign of use on the body.  The nib of Dorian Grey, perhaps?

 I appear to have gotten rid of all the mold that was still viable, too, as leaving the pen overnight full of ink at slightly higher than room temperature (yesterday’s indoor maximum was 28C/90F– summer is definitely here) did not produce the sort of tiny forest in the breather hole that a pen tainted with spores develops in a hurry.  I might declare this job an utter success, within the limits of human powers. Today’s pen:  The self-same Eversharp SkylineToday’s ink: Wancher Imari

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Fobbed Off

Posted by Dirck on 23 September, 2010

I have mentioned time and again in this rambling document my one-time love of modern technology and futuristic living, and the growing disenchantment with the same as my life takes me ever further into what the fiction of my childhood declared was the dazzling future.  As the 2010 equinox passes without any sign of a joint US-Russian manned expedition to examine an alien artifact in orbit around Jupiter, I find another example of domestic technology which is simultaneously an example of the fact that we’re living in the future and of the future’s failure to quite reach expectations.

They’ve changed the locks at The Regular Job.

How is this a source of the bi-phase experience above?  Well, the locks which are going are either the sort of pin-tumbler keyed type which have been current since the late 1800s or the five-button combination lock one frequently sees in industrial settings.  They are being replaced with electronic gizmos of modern science, a little black box on the door frame commanding the door to open to friends and remain shut in the face of strangers.

How does it tell who’s who?  I will quote from the e-mail we were sent (being careful to make sure no corporate secrets are revealed):

The new system is a series of proximity locks.  These locks are designed to open when either a preprogrammed fob or card comes in proximity of a door installed with the technology.

Well, doesn’t that sound neat?  Very Star Trekkish indeed!  When I got my “fob”, it promised to live up to the billing, being an angular thick plastic oblong the size of a finger-joint.  It looks, in fact, very like a prop for the film Aliens.  My inner conspiracy theorist wonders whether carrying this thing through the building renders my movements trackable (and a boring surveillance that will be– “He’s on the move… to the file cabinet, again“), but the neat-o aspects of the affair put that on the back burner.

The system came active today.  With a sense similar to that of a child about to disrobe a Christmas parcel, I walked toward a door.  The little black box stared at me with a single square red LED, but did nothing.  Closer.  Nothing.  I gripped the door handle.  Nothing.  Taking my key-ring from my pocket, I moved it ever closer to the receiver… and at last the light went green.  The lock was released silently.  “Proximity” apparently means a distance of 10cm or less, which means either getting the fob out of your pocket or getting very intimate with the door frame.  Bah.  That’s not Star Trekkish.

I spoke to one of the IT folks in the wake of the disappointment, since the central guidance of the system is in their hands.  I was told that to have a system which acts as I’d expected, the reciever would have to be the size of a hat-box, or at least its lid, and cost a mint of money.  Really?  In a past episode of Top Gear, a prank is played predicated on the fact that a similar set-up allowing access to and ignition of a modern Dodge muscle car– while Hammond was in a diner, Clarkson got into his car and drove some distance before it noticed it wasn’t anywhere near its key.  I rather suspect that this vehicle’s cost is not based on the size of its security system reciever.

This isn’t a personal issue, of course.  It inconveniences everyone here equally, and I suspect the IT department, who are often passing through doors with awkward bundles, are as cranky as anyone else.  Future Shock was expected and braced for.  Future Rash?  Future Chaffing?  All around us, and no sign of a useful ointment.

Today’s pen of proven technology:  Conway-Stewart 106
Today’s soothing ink:  Herbin’s Poussiére de Lune

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Not at all Cross.

Posted by Dirck on 1 June, 2009

I found an email on Saturday morning from, it seems, an “e-commerce executive” of the UK wing of Cross Pens. He asked why it was that there was no mention of his company’s products anywhere on my website.

A fair question, and one which I answered thus– I don’t have any on the site because I don’t have any to play with. I certainly don’t have any specific disenchantment with Cross (there are in fact a few of their modern entries I’d love to lay hands on) and it occurs to me that I should mention this absence of antipathy in a public place.

There are, I realize as I turn this letter over in my head, a lot of pen manufacturers who don’t figure too prominently on my site. Just working from memory– Mont Blanc, Aurora, Conway-Stewart, Bexley, Inoxicrom. There’s far more than that, but I don’t want to spend my whole lunch break shouting names at myself. There’s a lot of extinct manufacturers who also don’t get a look in on my site, and the reason is the same in each case– I don’t have any examples of the marque. Out of sight, out of mind.

So, pen makers of the world, past and present, never fear. Just because I don’t mention you is no indication of snub. Bide your time and one day I’ll have a reason to devote some lines to you.

Today’s pen: Waterman Phileas
Today’s ink: Private Reserve Burgundy Mist (the Phileas is not a fan of it, to be honest)

p.s.– I’m going to see if I can’t get at least the bones for my “history of book-binding” page run up over the next few lunches, so if I do post here, it will likely just be to brag about that day’s pen.

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