What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Posts Tagged ‘Parker Challenger’

Anti-Nausea Treatment

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2017

A bonus entry!

In the progress report, I have today’s pen down as the Parker Challenger, but I am in fact carrying a second pen today.  This is not the only transgression of my usual policies, because that second pen is not mine– it belongs to a client.

I am at least as shocked as everyone else.  But it’s done for a noble cause.

The reason this pen is in my clutches at all is because it has been throwing up in its cap.  That’s not good.  It’s also very unusual behaviour for the model.  The Parker “51”, after all, invented having enormous buffers between ink and outside world, and the only thing I could think of was that the owner wasn’t filling it properly… except in discussion with that person, I got a sense of someone who actually knew what was what in the filling of pens.  Like me, they are a user of collected pens, seeing little point in a pen left sitting on a non-marking velvet pillow in a safe-deposit box.  If it wasn’t pilot error, then… what?

Exterior inspection first.  The “51” is well known as being durable, but it’s not Kryptonian.  Might there be a covert crack in the hood?  Careful, well-lit turns under the loupe said no.  And that meant I had to take it apart and look at it’s guts.

There are, of course, two main sorts of “51”.  There is the initial wave, using a Vacumatic filling mechanism, which was swapped out after seven years of production for the Fotofil press-bar rig, which we call today the Aerometric… and actually, this word is of some importance.  It described a breather tube in the very heart of the filler, so long that it reached to nearly the end of the Pliglass sac (oh, so many neologisms out of Parker!).  This allowed the sac to fill fully by working the bar several times, but to avoid catastrophic leakage during air travel, there was a teeny little hole in the side of the tube, close to the open end of the sac that equalizes pressure inside and outside the tube; that’s what was originally meant by “Aerometric”.  This pen has a Fotofil reservoir, and all the other outward signs of being a post-1948 product.

…so imagine my surprise when I opened the pen and found the stubby little breather tube of a Vacumatic filler peeking out the back of the collector.  There was a 1951 date-code on the point, which is entirely appropriate, but the feed and the associated breather were Vacs.  It seems that at some point before the current owner got this pen, something awful happened to the feed.  Whoever had it at that point cast about for a spare, and had only the older Vac type at hand; the breather tube in question was a new plastic item, not the original celluloid, so modern monkeyshines are indicated.  “Oh, well,” said this imaginary repair-person.  “It all fits; where’s the harm?”

Frankly, I don’t really blame my figment, because it took me a while to figure out how the symptoms developed.  That short breather would prevent a complete fill, and I suspect if it had been a little shorter, nothing would have come of it other than the owner occasionally wondering at how frequently fills were needed.  However, the narrower ink chamber of that style of filler meant that the relatively shallow fill was still enough to cover the inner end of the breather tube, and also gave slightly greater thrust when the air in the reservoir expanded.  If the collector was partially full, as it might be in a freshly-fed pen, that’s enough to overwhelm it, and there’s your cap-full of ink.

What remedy, then?  Ideally, an Aerometric feed and a fresh tube.  But I don’t have a spare feed.  What I do have is about a meter of the very same Teflon tubing Figment used to make the problematically correct Vac-length tube, which fits very nicely in the back of the Vac feed, and so I cut an Aerometric-appropriate length from that.  I also have a pin and the capacity to warm it, allowing me to put a teeny little hole in the tube, close to the open end of the sac.  Theoretically, then, problem solved.

But I’m in the business of practical solutions.  So, we need a field test.  The first aspect of the test was see if the pen filled at all; the Vac tube is of a wider bore than the Aerometric, and there was some chance this would afflict filling.  Trial proved this fear unfounded, and so we move onto phase two of the field trials.  That is me sticking the pen in my shirt pocket, staggering around for a few hours and exposing it to my raging personal furnace (I have a surface temperature approaching 30C!), and then taking the cap off.


Over a disposable sheet of paper.


Alas, I lack an aircraft to test against serious changes of external pressure.  My parents live on the fifteenth floor of their building, but I don’t expect the 0.07 psi change will really prove much one way or another, so any visit to them will be purely for the pleasure of their company.

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 17 manuscript pages (plus two of utterly useless gibberish that ate time pointlessly on Monday); the muse but whispers this week.

Posted in Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Dirck on 4 May, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 23 manuscript pages

Posted in Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Joy of Science

Posted by Dirck on 28 April, 2017

There is an argument to be made that today’s film has some educational content.

…but I don’t have the energy to construct one that will stand up.  Here, then, are two people having fun with science, but not at the expense of science:

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Diamine Evergreen

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Dirck on 20 April, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 19 manuscript pages

Another lost Monday, alas, this time to a phone-call which ran long over the start of my lunch break.  By the time I had basic sustenance down me, there wasn’t time to get the machinery churning properly on the novel.  As petty revenge for this, I filled free moments in the rest of the afternoon doing some preliminary world-building for a future story with a (relatively) hard SF setting– I now know just how big my ship is, and how quickly it rotates to provide 1G on the main working deck and Mars-equivalent gravity in the recreation area.  Idle brains are the Devil’s plaything, after all.

Posted in Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Concession Speech

Posted by Dirck on 3 February, 2014

I’m having a moment of self-clarity, and it’s just as uncomfortable as one could expect.  My current powers of dashing letters off are such that I dare not commit to InCoWriMo even so far as I did last year.  The most I will manage is getting caught up with the current smallish backlog of smallish letters and sending an apologetic post-card off to someone to whom I owe a great deal of writing.  I’m unwilling to give up these little clumps of nearly-satisfactory fiction writing I’ve been engaging in (see previous comments re: momentum), and I somewhat doubt it would work anyway.

Today, for example, all the sutures on my skull have let go, and my brain is exposed to the air.  Or so it feels.  Before I subside into utter insensibility, though, let me encourage all with a whiff of spare time to mount the InCoWriMo barricades.  I seem to recall it was fun.

Today’s Pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Posted by Dirck on 28 January, 2014

WHAT:  Typing and re-editing a first draft of a short story “Eyeing the Neighbour” (working title).

HOW MUCH: 229 words.

HOW LONG: about 35 min.

DONE?:  This phase, and a quantity of proofing for typos.  Once those are put right, it’s time to importune some friends and family for external input (because I accept that not every word that falls from my open head is a peerless pearl).

Today’s Pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

Posted in Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bullies, Redux

Posted by Dirck on 25 October, 2012

I find that I must be away at other duties over this lunch hour.  Those at leisure might wish to read something uplifting, and then contemplate how less measured their own response in the face of such provocation might be.  I suspect the author will still get called a terrorist by the person he’s responding to.

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mulled Whine.

Posted by Dirck on 23 October, 2012

I find myself unable to focus on any of the usual topics I digress upon here, as I’m on the horns of a bit of a dilemma.  We’re having an election tomorrow, and I have yet to sort out who I dare to vote for.  It’s a civic election, and given a city of under a quarter-million inhabitants, one might be forgiven for yawning and pulling the covers up until the whole thing is passed, but the frequent reader will know that I take my franchise seriously.

We are constantly told that the local economy is not only firing on all cylinders, but has been replaced with a carefully restored Merlin 130.  Which should mean the livin’ is easy, right?  Well… the tangible benefits are a little hard to point out, and the downside is surging costs of living (still low relative to many places, but wages are not keeping up as they seem to be pegged to the more sedate national numbers), infrastructure that’s not able to hold together under the demands being placed on it (the roads don’t do well anyway, given the sub-soil ’round here), and a failure of policy to keep up with reality (loads of people moving here = school closures).  Given that many of the problems that can be addressed at a municipal level are the result of having a city council made up of an amazing proportion of real estate agents and the attendant although evidently non-actionable conflict of interest which arises from setting local land use policy and handling local land transactions, I’m fairly interested in putting my vote in the right place.

Alas, there are no parties at this level of politics.  This is generally a good thing, in that there’s no party discipline forcing foolish behaviour (vis, the shouts of “If he says up, we say down!” heard from the US capitol these last four years), but come time to cast votes it makes getting a real grip on candidates a chore, since one can’t just say, “Ah, the Baby-Eater party; not for me… hmmm, Nihilist-Lumber party hasn’t really got a sound platform….”  Like party-based politics, the talking points are all very similar, and one loses the handy livery to know how to interpret the noise.

…and then there’s the stadium.  How dare one mention the stadium?  I’ve commented briefly in the past on how mad on sports the local population is, with certain holdouts like your correspondent.  The old-style open-air arena in which The Big Game is held every damn weekend from April through November is getting long in the tooth, and there is a move afoot to spend HYYYOOOOOGE! amounts of public money on a new place to play, with a magic roof and fairy-warmed seats and so forth.  My wife has aptly described this exercise as buying a 90″ TV and all accessories for a house with a dodgy floor and half the shingles blown off.  There are a couple of candidates for mayor who have had the bravery to say similar things… but one of them appears to blame the Assyrian Empire for some of our troubles, and the other (honestly) suggests that some of that money would be better spent on a motorsport track.  We’re probably stuck with it, but I’d like to complain with a clear conscience when the inevitable cost over-runs appear and we’re told we have to give up public transit and street lights.

So, you see why I’m having trouble thinking about pens, handwriting or obscure early 20th century weird fiction today.  Heck, even the release of the TWSBI Mini has gone to a back-burner for the moment.  I need to consider platform statements… again.

Today’s pen (a relatively easy choice): Parker Challenger
Today’s ink (hardly considered for a moment): Herbin Vert Empire

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by Dirck on 27 July, 2012

Spirits up, blood pressure down. Yesterday picked up immensely when I returned home to the happy antics of my son and all the moreso as he was pursuing his interest in Warner Brothers cartoons.  On the off chance that anyone looking in here needs a lift, and doesn’t mind the slightly racist notions of the late 1940s, here’s something to brighten the day:

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Tulipe Noire

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »