What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Posts Tagged ‘Eclipse’

So Much Busy!

Posted by Dirck on 13 February, 2017

Well, I promised an old-style entry.  Not only lots of gabble about fixing pens, but as you shall see presently there’s also a powerful demonstration of my camera’s unreliability at close-up work.  We start all of the above with a Parker 51 that wanted to destroy itself rather than be repaired.  The client got it for cheaps, happily, the first 51 to come his way, and thus the rather amazing bend of the point wasn’t instantly obvious as a problem; there was no other damage to the pen, and it worked, so why question one more element of odd configuration in a pen that is, from the tradition fountain pen design standpoint, made of oddities?  After playing with it for a while, though, he realized that all was not as it was meant to be, so he handed it along to me.


Bent point, and also very blurry. I’m not sure I can fix that.

The first thing I said when I looked at it was, “That shouldn’t be so haaaaa…. oh, hell, it’s going to be a big hassle to get that hood off!”  And so it was.  Why?  Well, after the first rotation of unscrewing the hood, you’d have the very thin plastic of the widow’s peak riding over the upthrust metal of the point.  Like this:

It's not just an unnecessary upward bend presenting gold to the writing surface, it's an effective stop-peg!

It’s not just an unnecessary upward bend presenting gold to the writing surface, it’s an effective stop-peg!

I foresaw the pointiest bit of the hood snapping off, and then there’d be extra hassle in cosmetic remediation which would still leave the end of the hood looking more like a manicured finger-nail than a vampire’s hairline.  The solution was to rotate the shell only half-way, leaving enough clearance for my tiny little pliers to get in and do a rough re-shaping ahead of full disassembly.  That did the trick, allowing me to then pull the point right out and get at it with all the necessary tools, and return it to something very like the original form.

Although it's still blurry. I don't have the tools to get that dealt with.

Although it’s still blurry. I don’t have the tools to get that dealt with.

I haven’t actually contacted the owner yet, as there was also an unusually splendid Eclipse turned in for a new sac at the same time, and I haven’t had time after the shellac’s setting to put it back together.  Oh, on that point– if the lever of a pen isn’t working properly, it might not be just an ossified sac.  It might be that some underpaid person in a long-ago factory put the pressure bar in sideways and the lever binds on it during travel.  This would go a long way toward explaining why the pen seems to have never been used.

Seriously, I don't think anyone got past "this thing isn't going to fill". As a bonus, it's not blurry, either!

Seriously, I don’t think anyone got past “this thing isn’t going to fill”. As a bonus, it’s not blurry, either!

This weekend I also got a pen of my own back in shape.  Today’s pen, in fact, which has been laid up for… cripes, years with a bad case of shattered collar on the point/feed unit.  A big hoorah to Custom Pen Parts for running up brand new components for old pens, and a big smack on the back of the head for me for not asking them for the part sooner.

The final triumph of the weekend was getting this poor thing back in shape:


“Never been used” is not something I suspect of this item.

This was sent to me by a… I hesitate to say “client”, because the Pelikan 140 she sent me a while back needed little more than a sharp look and an imperious gesture to return to function, and only slightly more effort was called for with her Parker 51.  This was not only more challenging a Challenger than she wanted around the place, it was surplus to requirement, so she passed it on to me– not for my own enjoyment (I too, have a sufficiency of Challenger in my life) but so I could act as a link in a chain seeing it into worthy hands.  We’re about to enter the audience participation portion of the programme…

I think this will have slightly better performance now.

I think this will have slightly better performance now.

My first thought was to find someone who hasn’t had a vintage pen and hand it to them, a kindness in a world in need of such things.  But… apart from figuring out how to find a recipient, that damage I sorted out is likely a result of someone who had not previously used a vintage pen overdoing things.  I don’t want to deprive someone of a chance at a pen of this sort, but I also don’t want their experience of vintage pens to be “Oh, boy!  A vintage pen! *gloink* Awwww….”

Plus, who would wish more injury upon this poor waif?

Plus, who would wish more injury upon this poor waif?

So, I turn to my long-suffering readers for advice.  Do I persist with the original plan, with its potential for disappointment?  The other alternative that struck me is to auction it, careful to point out its not-quite-mint condition, with the stated goal of gathering money for a charity.  If I get shoved in this direction, I may come back asking which charity to direct the proceeds to; I’ve got some in mind, but I don’t think this thing will draw in enough to make splitting the donation a sensible prospect.

So, everyone who isn’t me reading this:  OPINE!  I’ve got a poll, but comments are also open for reasoned arguments for or against the options, and to provide alternatives.  I’ll give this a couple of weeks, and then with a decision in hand I’ll start the process of acting upon it!

Today’s pen (at long last): Pelikan 140
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black (which is, to be honest, too free-flowing for the pen)

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A Clever Thing

Posted by Dirck on 17 March, 2014

Rather longer ago than I would like, I mentioned that I had used part of my lunch break to go and get some materials for doing A Clever Thing with a pen.  A good deal of thinking, pondering, shouting “Where the hell is Tool X?”, repeated lifting of things looked under not two minutes earlier and buying of new Tools X later, that cleverness is complete.  Let me brag upon it.

A correspondent of mine had mentioned that a Parker “51” of hers was lacking its filler stem.  This is extremely problematic, not unlike the discovery that there’s no hole into which a gas nozzle might be stuck under your car’s filler flap.  I’ll recycle a picture from a previous entry about a clever thing I done did (sic) to give those without early “51”s a chance to see what I’m talking about:

One of these things is, once again, very much like the other.

The previous clever thing is the replacement of the black bit at the front.  The missing item in question today is the clear shaft at the back.

I told her to send it along and I’d see what I could do for it, and so she did.  Taking apart the pen, I found that it has also, somehow, lost the pellet cup (the above-pictured black bit) and the diaphragm was a horrid mess of rubber turned hard and clinging to the inside of the pen.  These extra curlicues weren’t really a big deal, as scraping out bad rubber is more or less a quotidien chore in pen repair and as the existence of the picture suggests I already had a grip on the fabrication of new cups.

The easy route would have been to just replace the whole filler and have done.  I even have a spare on hand.  However, there were reasons to not come at the problem that way.  The most sensible of these is the problem of getting the blind cap and the barrel of the pen to agree with one another.  When replacing a diaphragm, a smart person makes subtle marks on filler and pen, so that the filler is turned in to exactly the position it lay originally.  This is done because the blind cap and barrel were turned together when they were made, and the process had sufficient human intervention that the two pieces usually share an eccentricity, or if you prefer an ellipticality.  If the filler gets moved, the wow of cap and barrel don’t meet, and the whole thing looks goofy and can even feel wrong against the hand.  Without the subtle marks, sorting this sort of thing out is an unhappy chore.

With a new filler, it can become impossible, but you don’t know it’s impossible without a lot of trying.  Not, then, the easy route in fact.  But, to reuse the filler, what might I use to make a new shaft.

What I probably should have gone with was plastic.  What I went with was brass.  Both materials are available in convenient widths and at reasonable prices at hobby shops that cater to model-makers; The Regular Job is only a block away from one, and that’s where I went.  Plastic is a lot easier to work with, both in the cutting and in the sticking together.  There wouldn’t have been the delay of getting a new hacksaw blade.  But brass looks a lot better.

The parts, before final assembly.

The parts, before final assembly…

...and all together.

…and all together.

This nice thing about doing this as a gift is that I didn’t feel I had to rush to accomplish it.  Festinat lente is a useful way to come at this sort of project.  I learned some valuable lessons about the process, I have plenty of left-over brass should the matter arise again (it comes in four-foot lengths), and I know a few things to not bother trying.  Also nice to discover is that the replacement of celluloid with brass doesn’t horribly throw off the pen’s balance; the difference is detectible but has no real effect.  Isn’t it wonderful when doing something clever works out?

Installed and ready for action.  If not for fear of come-uppance by the Fates, I would preen a little.

Installed and ready for action. If not for fear of come-uppance by the Fates, I would preen a little; that’s pretty sharp looking.

Today’s Blarney pen:  Eclipse button filler
Today’s ink, so it is so it is:  Chelpark Emerald Green

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Unwanted Refinement

Posted by Dirck on 24 July, 2012

I gave into a very foolish impulse yesterday.  I had a look at eBay.  This is frequently a prelude to looking at a huge list of not very large bids and thinking, “Oh, I hope I don’t win on most of those” (the same effect comes, I hear, from a not very large list of huge bids).  However, it appears the only urge I was open to was the investigative one; the investing one was out round the back with the brandy, I guess.  I should be happy that I have not got myself into a monetary bind, and I am, but there was an obverse to the coin that showed itself, and the happiness is tinged with concern.

To some extend, the exercise was one of seeing how well I could spot makes and models from the frequently dreadful pictures (I’ve taken enough of them to know them when I see them).  This is even more of a challenge when looking at “Grandpa’s desk drawer had all these!” lots; a great jumble of pens, pencils, and other similarly-shaped objects.  Given the nature of my site, I don’t think it’s bragging when I say that I’m not too bad at this sort of spotting.  Had I been in a buying frame, I certainly would have known it was a Parker “21” rather than a “51” and felt a clever chap for knowing it was already over-bid.  However, this cleverness appears to be somewhat alloyed to a cynicism I hadn’t felt creeping up on me.

Looking into one of those Grandpa’s Drawers photos, after about a minute of doing it that I was actively cocking a snook at the lower-tier pens.  I willingly concede that I don’t have much love in my heart for a lot of the post-1950 Wearever lineup, but I had never thought to find myself snorting derisively and even, indeed, sneering at Remingtons, Eclipses, and similar decent if lowly pens.  If this sort of thing keeps up, I might find myself chuckling at the notion of Esterbrooks with the wrong sort of intent.

I suppose it is to be expected that several years of playing with some of the better pens history has to offer will result in a somewhat jaded outlook.  While those lesser pens are as nice as their nature allows, there are some limits on them.  A pen with actual tipping cannot fail but be nicer to write with than one with a set of folded “butterfly” nibs.  A good solid Permanite or Radite barrel gives a better sense of security than an extremely thin mystery material.  If I’ve got the nice ones, why not treat myself?

Well… in part because I might forget that there are some charms to the deadly cheap pens.  I might not recommend Wearevers as a group, but I should continue to commend the Supreme for the amount of performance that it shakes out of a 29¢ price tag.  I might not altogether enjoy the way a very cheap pen writes, but I should remain open to the merely skin-deep beauty of many depression era pens, since looks were frequently all they could offer and they went quite over the top on them.  I should, in short, remember where I came from and not give into the urge to be a snob.  That’s a narrowing of mind, and I’m of the opinion that that’s not a healthy activity.

As an aside; if the first sentence in the third paragraph doesn’t draw some Google hits for people looking for an entirely different sort of online experience, I’ll be very surprised.

Today’s relatively lowly pen: Lamy Safari
Today’s ink: Herbin Perle Noire

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A word from our sponsor.

Posted by Dirck on 15 September, 2009


I’ve always wanted to do that joke. More seriously– while I frequently go off on some peregrinations through matters more or less pen related, the original point of this thing was to offer a more regular evidence of my pen repair (and, one day, book binding) business actually progressing. So, as I don’t have anything else demanding to be mentioned, today is merely status keeping and a brag.

The Australian Snorkel is on its way home. This frees me up to attack a pile of resacs which have appeared from Edmonton (a mere 800km distant, not even in a different country), which are mainly 1940s and ’50s Watermans, with a couple of Eagles and an Eclipse for leavening. I look forward to the site update pictures of these demand, although I can’t see when I’ll manage it (whine, whine, whine).

I’m putting off, on account of this crowd, pursuing the study of vac-filler Triumph point removal. This is unfairly pushing back a commission as well, which will see me sending a load of pens back on my own dime to make up for the prolonged wait while I’ve tried to sort out a pretty but non-functional “Golden Pearl” Sheaffer Valiant. When I do get it fixed, it’s a freebie. And now that I think of it, I should email the owner of the bunch in question and let her know this directly.

House guest departs this weekend, hooray. We’re all still friends, but I think the hooray is unanimous. Less making way for others’ schedules should help get things done around the house.

And finally, the brag. My son resists sleep through jollity. While this doesn’t help knit up the ravelled sleeve of care for his parents (especially his mom, whom I treasure above all), it at least makes bedtime happy. His laugh is so stereotype for an infant, one might think he’s being dubbed, and of all the sounds that emerge from a baby, that’s about the best one to be kept awake by.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Mailin’ old school.

Posted by Dirck on 23 July, 2009

Yesterday I was speaking to a co-worker (whom I had previously drawn into the Way of The Fountain Pen) about writing letters. I write with some frequency, in the main to acquaintances from the Fountain Pen Network and with whom the main point of commonality is membership in the FPN. It is, after all, a way for us all to play with our inky toys.

The co-worker said that she only sends one letter a year, to a friend who moved to New Zealand. It goes with a big parcel of Christmas joy (which I can only imagine is substantially more joyful in New Zealand’s temperate summer).

You could, I suggested, write more frequently– postage, even to the definitive antipodes, is not so much for a standard envelope. She dismissed this, saying that the writing was an ongoing thing, and a whole year’s worth of letter went along with the great parcel. It’s just the sending that is infrequent.

This is the most romantic (in a broad use of the word) thing I’ve heard in a long time. Patrick O’Brian’s work is a large part of my current library, and the notion of getting letters in the same way as a Napoleonic era sailor sent a shiver down me. Once a year, or so, a great long serialized letter, date after date, few events needing comment because by the time that comment arrives another year will have passed. Astonishing! I almost wish I had a great and distant friend to try it out on.

On a side note– the pocket protectors have arrived, and I must declare a small disappointment of my own generation. They are, in essence, a subsidiary pocket, and they are (as is clearly illustrated on the site) not very deep– the ball of the clip can get purchase on the top of the newly-lined pocket, but the clip’s shoulder remains high in the air. This makes me nervous, and I believe experimentation is in order.

Today’s pen: An Emu (honest!)
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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