What's up at Ravens March.

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Posts Tagged ‘repair’

Posted by Dirck on 17 May, 2018

Before we get to the week’s numbers, I want to mention to for those who are relatively close to me geographically that I will be conducting another of my pen-tuning clinics at Paper Umbrella on Saturday.  Precise details of when and where are in the link.

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 14 May
  • 15 May
  • 16 May
  • 17 May
  • Third draft of “The Monster in the Cabin”
  • First draft of “No Easy Way Out”
  • A genteel sufficiency.
  • 19 manuscript pages.
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The Miracle Worker

Posted by Dirck on 9 January, 2018

That’s the title of that thing where the guy pretends to be Dread Pirate Roberts and then he gets mostly killed by Prince Humperdink, isn’t it?

Well, failing memory aside, I got to play the role of Miracle Max over the weekend, restoring a hopeless looking case to full vibrant life.  Let me introduce you to the sufferer who appeared on my doorstep, more dead than alive.

The front of a fountain pen, with the end of the point bent downward at about 45 degrees

Poor ol’ droopy

A slightly different angle of the previous image; the pen is rotated so show the deformity from the edge.

You wont get much writing done with that.

Graphic images, to be sure, but I’m sure you can all handle it, and it is in the cause of science.  This pen was dropped, and since the Carène is such an aerodynamic shape, it made sure to drop on the point.  I’m sure this saved the lacquer from chipping, but I do wish pens would understand that their points are not crumple zones.

The main problem with putting this point back in shape lies in the area of leverage.  There is not a lot of point sticking out past the end of the plastic, which limits angles from which one can apply the tools of reshaping.  This is frequently the case with more conventionally-shaped pens in need of similar reconstruction, and the answer is to knock out the point.

…which brings in the other problem.  The Carène’s point is an inset type.  Not, happily, an inlaid point, a trick almost exclusive to Sheaffer, in which the point is fused to the plastic, but still a bit of a problem.  In the usual fountain pen, the point is basically just wedged in between the wall of the section and the feed.  With an inlaid pen, it had a special little mounting that it fits into.  With a Carène, it is also glued in place.

Shocking, but true.  The glue is less to keep it in its mounting than to act as a sealant; still, it adds a layer of complexity.  One has to free that glue as the first step of pulling out the point.  I was lucky, from a morale standpoint, in that the pen’s owner was prepared to buy a whole new section anyway; if I botched the operation completely, I wouldn’t really be making things worse.  So, off we go!

How, then, to release that glue?  You need to run something up under the horns at the back of the point, providing a slight outward tug, to pull them free.  Something thin enough to fit, firm enough to provide the pressure, and also forgiving enough to not scrape up either plastic or gold.  An experienced Carène dismantler on a forum suggested a scalpel; perhaps not quite forgiving, but offering enough of the other two virtues that a skilled user could get away with it.

I don’t trust myself that far.  However, thanks to a touch of lycanthropy (a great-grandparent who would not stay on the path through the moors), the nail on my right index finger serves the bill admirably; thin, firm, and non-marking.  A little caressing, and the job was done.  Then came the tugging with my soft nylon-jawed pliers and the majority of the worry was behind me.

Fountain pen with its point separated from it. The point is shaped like an Isosceles triangle, with rounded edges on the long sides, and a rectangular cutout intruding into the base. It is made to slot into the body of the pen.

The act of tugging took about care of about 72% of the work of straightening, too.

Once the point was out, it was a fairly straightforward application of tiny anvils, burnishers, soft pliers and a little bit of finger-tip.  A few minutes of work, then, and I was able to give a cry of voilà (as I was working on a French pen).

An apparently good-as-new pen, in front of a hand-written message reading FEELING BETTER

I am entirely proud of the final result.

But… what of the matter of glue?  The little bits of thin, clear material that I found suggested something like a PVA white glue.  If I’m right, I’ve got plenty– who with a child in elementary school does not?– but I’m not sure I’m right, and I also had other qualms.  The scalpel-wielding person above spoke of the perils of glue migrating into the feed before it set, which would not be good.  That aside, while I know that white glue is impervious to water once set, I have no idea how long it would take to set in that setting, enclosed between non-permeable materials.

My response to these worries was to fall back on traditional techniques.  Rather than some modern adhesive, I made some tiny little snakes of the softened beeswax I use for a soft seal in pens of much earlier design.  It provides a fluid barrier and it doesn’t go wandering around from where it’s put.  The tiny little snakes went into the space under the point-horns on the shell, where the flimsy little glue residue had lain.  Because I don’t trust ink, I also formed a barrier on the top of the point, the line following the curve behind the big W.  And yes, it would have saved me a lot of descriptive effort if I had taken a picture.  The end result, though, is a seal which is more durable than the original (which a small blow might loosen, as some owners report) yet which won’t interfere with any future repairs.

I mention future repairs with a bow toward Fate.  The owner joked when he collected it, “I’ll likely be back in a week when I drop it again.”

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential
Today’s ink: Waterman blue-black

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Forgotten Thing!

Posted by Dirck on 20 October, 2017

I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, so I forgot to mention it here!  Let me show you the notice from my site:

If you’re at all like me, that picture of a link to Paper Umbrella which remains unclickable will be driving you nuts.  That link is this one.

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Looking at Things Sideways

Posted by Dirck on 18 August, 2017

To mark the completion of the novel’s* first draft, how about an entry in the old style?  I started the week with a film, so I’ll end it with a ramble.

Last week, I was able to hang a new page up on the site, giving a very brief profile of the Jinhao X750; you may click on it, but the gist is, “It is a fountain pen of modern manufacture and low cost, which is slightly heavy.”  The reason I had this item in my hands is that a client who had sent some other pens to be looked at admitted a curiosity regarding the architect grind; this pen whose loss would not be a great cost to the world could travel with the others if I thought I could make the alteration.  Since I have also been nurturing a small curiosity regarding this grind, I agreed.

“What is this architect grind, then?”

Ah, right.  It is, in essence, an italic grind rotated ninety degrees.  Here’s an artist’s(?) conception of an italic point:

The image had other things in mind than the illustration of the style of point, of course.

An architect grind, then, has the slit running parallel to the tipping’s contact area rather than perpendicular, so the wide strokes are lateral and the narrow ones vertical– the opposite effect of an italic.  “Architect” gets its name from a preference of Frank Lloyd Wright, or so legend has it for this sort of variation.  This possible-legend also allows one to nicely avoid the earlier names for the shape, because some people object to “Hebrew nib,” others to “Arabic nib,” and still others to “Semetic nib.”  Humans can be a mysterious and complex bundle of prejudices and antipathies, eh?

This drawing I did for an entirely different reason shows the difference between a regular (top) tipping and an architect modification.  That different reason was “someone has done something to the point of this Lamy Studio which is why you’re having trouble with it.”

In any event, I have been contemplating the theory of this grind for some time, but never committed to it.  Because it requires a large vertical component, any point that’s going to be amended needs a pretty big dollop of tipping if there’s to be appreciable line variation, and I haven’t had a pen with the requisite blob that I was willing to commit to the transformation.  Yes, I’ve got a couple of Jinhaos of my own, but the curiosity to perform the operation was not quite strong enough to give me a shove.  When someone else offers a pen to me, though… well, that changes things.†  And what of the result?

Success, although it’s not one I’m tempted to follow up any time soon.  Among the theoretical ponderings which were borne out by this experience was a likely down-side; what I might call “scratchiness” although it’s really more of an enhanced harmonic feedback.  You see, with an italic pen moving on a wide downstroke, the sharp sides of the slit follow the movement of the pen.  On the narrow side-stroke, the presentation of the slit to paper is like a round-pointed pen’s– just a miniscule gap in the otherwise smooth face of the tipping.  This is enough to cause a lot of discomfort to the writer if the tines come out of alignment, which a lot of pen makers try to avoid through their flirting with the baby bottom problem.

The rotation of the slit relative to the long axis of the tipping turns the preceding on its head.  On the down-stoke, you still find the sharp edges of the tipping following the movement of the pen, and that’s as smooth as a knife being drawn across leather, but then on the cross-stroke, the length of the slit in contact with the surface of the paper just about the same as the width of the mark being made.  That’s a lot of chances for the relatively sharp edge of the slit to catch on irregularities of the paper.  It’s not flat-out scratching, but you are very aware of the pen passing over the paper.

I honestly don’t see a way around it, either, without losing the line variation.  In the example above, the downstroke is about 0.3mm wide, and the cross-stroke about 0.8mm.  The latter is limited by how much tipping there is to start with, while the former is a function of how close to a couple of tiny little razors I dare to make the tipping.  It was a little thinner during an intermediary step of the grinding, but it also would hardly move side to side.  There’s a similar math which goes on in the choice between italic and stub, adjusting the roundness of the contact surface for more writing comfort at the expense of some of the distinction between vertical and horizontal… but without the extra variable of the contact surface having a trench in it.

I can understand why some of the people who offer this grind state a preference for uncommonly chubby starting nibs– with a 3B you might get a broad enough cross-stroke that a 0.5mm vertical would be thin enough, and that might be round enough to see the slit over the ripples and proud fibres.  Starting with a Jinhao’s not-very-big medium point is not ideal.

The other issue with this grind, as far as I’m concerned, is that it makes a serious demand of consistency of the writer.  With most points, even italics, one has a range of pitch angles to touch the paper with…

The original caption of this image admits that it is a result of… well, basically obsessive thinking about a topic.

…while an architect grind, if you wobble around in your pitch, you lift the most of the tipping off the page and lose the variation.  Unlike an italic, you’d still get a mark, but it would be very thin because only one corner of the flat edge will be touching the paper.  This isn’t a huge problem, as most of us are pretty consistent in this aspect of writing, but if you’re pursuing an architect grind, you should know that it takes on extra importance.  You should also make sure whoever is amending your nib is aware of your preference– if you like to hold the pen well at the back and hit the paper at 30º but the grinder assumes everyone is comfortable at 60º, there’s apt to be unhappiness, hard words, and the expense of a new point for the pen.

Unless it’s a Jinhao.  Those things are cheap.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant TD
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

*A little something to add to the Freudian slip file; the initial typing of “novel’s” saw my fingers emit “marvel’s.”  I am not consciously aware of believing the novel to be any more than reasonably good… at least at this stage of its existence, but we have some evidence that I may be inwardly bloated with pride.

†An aside– because this was something I had never attempted, the amendment was done without charge; the pen was not dear, and we both knew that destruction was possible, so the most this would cost was the replacement of a pen you can have for $4.23 on one side and a quantity of wasted minutes on the other.  Success saw me convert theory into skill, which is payment enough, while the pen-owner had a desire satisfied (and, in an email since, sufficiently so to express contentment).  Consideration, in the legal sense, flows without any cash involved.

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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.

Carefully.

Over a disposable sheet of paper.

SUCCESS!

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.

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Public Acknowledgements

Posted by Dirck on 8 March, 2017

I have mentioned time and again that this pile of words was born out of a need to distract myself from the perils of eBay.  Since I began it, all those years ago, that need has slipped under the waves– I have found other and more useful distractions in the shape of fiction writing, and have become increasingly alarmed at the ratio of income to demands for payment in my household.  Sometimes, however, a peek into the den of temptation is required, and therein lies today’s story.

In December, I was contacted by a fellow that needed some point-work done on a Parker 75 and a Montblanc 149.  The former has some resistance to dismantling in its fabric, but I know its ways and can overcome it.  The latter, though… to get that apart needs special tools.  However, as coincidence would have it, I had just been reading on the forums about a place for those of us not anointed with the white bird splat of approval to get functional tools.  Where?  An eBay storefront belonging to someone with machining skills.

Here was the impetus as well as the opportunity to order the tool, or rather tools, because they vary with era, and a wrench capable of drawing out the piston mechanism as well.  So I said yes to the fellow with the pens and placed the order on eBay.

…and as of yesterday, I was thinking that I would have to send an apology to the pen-owner for my inability to deal with his pen, as the tools were clearly never going to appear.  “I will,” the inner voice said, “hold off until Friday to send this note.”  Patience and timidity combine, then, to make way for joy– the package with the tools in it arrived today.  It is postmarked for December, so it was definitely sent briskly; apparently this global shipping crisis is affecting the mails as well.  Or, possibly, Canada Customs are giving a parcel of mysteriously-shaped bits of metal a long hard think before passing it through.

The joy is tinted, though, because the window for providing eBay feedback is closed.  So, let me share with you the note I dashed off to the vendor:

I mean it, too, and am making good here on the promise.  They’re as professional a set of tools as you could hope to find, and I’m delirious with glee at the prospect of unsanctioned rummaging in the guts of Montblanc pens.

While I’m at this, I think I should also do my small part to boost the Google results of Custom Pen Parts, since I’m very nearly as happy with the small purchase I recently made from them– my Pelikan 140 is back in circulation thanks to a part they provided, and their PFM fore-seals are really hard to tell from the factory originals.  I don’t doubt the rest of their catalogue is as satisfactory.  I mentioned this a little while ago, but I don’t think I mentioned it vigorously enough.

Are these, a cynic will wonder, paid endorsements?  Not at all.  Any money connected to this contented burbling has moved away from me; I feel I’m repaid in quality goods, but the fact that I’m saying it out loud is perfectly non-commercial.  I’m not uninterested, but I am the dictionary definition of disinterested… except to the extent that it serves my own interests to see their enterprises flourish.  Quality tools and parts for elderly pens?  YES, PLEASE!

Today’s elderly pen: Sheaffer Imperial Triumph
Today’s quality modern insert: Herbin Lie de Thé

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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.

dscn3436

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:

gachalptb4

“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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I Need Cheering Up

Posted by Dirck on 13 May, 2016

Yet another rejection for a story yesterday, alas.  The fact that I’ve gotten more rejections this year than I have previously made submissions is, in a way Superman’s imperfect duplicate would understand, positive… yet I do find I’m a little blue.  Therefore, today’s imported film is a comedy.

There, that’s buoyed me up a bit, and reminded me that it took one of my favourite authors a while to find a market.  All set for tomorrow’s free tuning clinic.

Today’s pen: Waterman Phileas
Today’s ink: Herbin Poussière de Lune

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Spring Tune-up Upcoming

Posted by Dirck on 25 April, 2016

Caution: Goon at Work

Caution: Goon at Work

A small self-promoting note; there will another free pen-tuning clinic at the usual venue, Paper Umbrella, on 14 May from 11 am to 3pm.

Of course, I’m also promoting Paper Umbrella and fountain pen use in general.  It’s not all about me.

Today’s pen which is mine: Waterman Master
Today’s ink that I chose: Waterman Florida Blue (which when a sample is actually on the page, this parenthetical note will vanish; this is my foolish blunder, mine alone!)

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More Than Usually Complete Progress Report.

Posted by Dirck on 21 April, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 18 April
  • 19 April
  • 20 April
  • 21 April
  • First draft of “A Mistake of Timing.”
  • Second draft of “A Mistake of Timing”.
  • More second draft effort.
  • Yes, still more.
  • Ten manuscript pages, and done.
  • 1,070 words typed.
  • 804 words.
  • 934 words.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.

…and also, let me brag a little.  Last weekend, after a bit of a dry patch, I got an absolute mass of pens repaired, all but one one of them for other people.  These included a PFM, three Snorkels, a Vacumatic with a lock-down filler, and a Balance First Lady, plus some slightly less challenging objects.  The Balance, Vacumatic, and two of the Snorkels were moving between generations in one family, which I find always provides a happy glow the the work.  Since the Balance and one of the Snorkels were more than usually resistant to being taken to bits, a happy glow was a welcome counterbalance to black vexation.

The PFM, which was otherwise in quite good shape, had suffered a refit at some past date under the hands of one who was mislead into thinking rubber cement was an appropriate sealant.  I’ve grumped about this sort of thing before, so I’ll leave that link and its contents to express my refreshed thoughts on such behaviour.

The third Snorkel dealt with was, for a joy, one of my own; yet another donation from a friend mentioned many times before who keeps finding things at garage and estate sales.  It is also not a model I owned until she handed it to me:

That model being a Saratoga

That model being a Saratoga

I have a before picture, but it failed to quite capture the squalor this pen had fallen into.  I suspect it lived in a smoking house, because the yellow-brown patina I mercilessly polished away certainly seemed to be nicotine (I know this because our own house was owned for fifty years by the same smoking person, and the hallway still breaks out in a nicotine sweat every winter).  It cleaned up nice, and I’ll be taking it out for its first run tomorrow, making very very very thin writing in pursuit of the day’s labours.  The Sheaffer catalogue of the day only claimed to go down to extra-fine, but this thing, despite acceptable wetness, is toying with the limits of human perception in the fineness of its line.

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