Monday, 6 March 2017

A few repairs

I always have pens waiting for repairs. Since I do a lot of 'pen safari in the wild' at car boot sales and junk shops, it's only to be expected. Occasionally I get down to a day's work on a whole batch, and I have just got ten pens nicely polished up. Four of them need a bit of work on the nibs, but the others are good to go. (Interestingly, all three Waterman pens with their original nibs write beautifully, despite the fact that two of the nibs were horribly bent and had to be carefully tweaked back to shape and burnished.)

Several of these pens are still missing their clips. I'm not too bothered. They fill with ink, and they write, and the celluloid is beautifully polished. That'll do.

The first batch;
  • Waterman 92V. This lovely little pen is the star of the lot; a really flexy wet nib and the most amazingly rich red celluloid. It goes with the pencil I bought for seven euros at Nogent-le-Roi vide grenier, though this is such a cute baby pen that the pencil seems a giant next to it.
  • Unnamed cracked pearl button filler, with a Mallat steel nib. A very sweet pen with a crisp fine nib. I love these 'pearl' celluloids so I'm happy to have such a good example.
  • Waterman 32 1/2, an incredibly thin pen in green - I had difficulty finding a sac thin enough to put in the pen!
  • Waterman 32 in mahogany, which again amazed me with a medium flexy nib. This one's a keeper!
  • Conway Stewart with Duro nib in black cracked pearl, but with a mismatched cap. I was a bit disappointed with the nib - it's a huge bit of precious metal, but it's not particularly pleasant to use, and writes rather dry on a dip test. Things may be better once I load the pen up with ink. On the other hand, the material is simply gorgeous. One day I hope to find the cap... then again, a big CS for eight quid is a steal.

The second batch begins with two no-names:
  • a stripy steel-nibbed pen which I have nicknamed 'sexy pyjamas' - the nib's still a bit scratchy so it will get a few swipes of micromesh.
  • a tiny snakeskin pen - a bit of a cheapie, but with lovely material and a super flexy nib that needs a bit of smoothing.
  •  'The Lincoln Pen' in Lincoln Green, with a cute flower and foliage motif on the clip. A nice lurid oversize, but the nib needs to be adjusted as the tines meet at the end, and the feed needs heat setting.
  • Parker Duofold Junior in jade. The barrel is pretty browned off, unfortunately, and it has a warranted nib that's a bit scratchy. A user pen, but a nice pen all the same.
  • A Valentine, in a browny-golden-greeny candystripe pattern. It has lost its clip, and the nib will have to be stubbed as one of the tines is broken at the tip.
Next to them is a wooden pen I rescued - every single part of it was broken when I acquired it for a single euro. Epoxy, patience and micromesh have got it working, though it will never look a hundred percent and the cap is not guaranteed to clip securely.

Of course, the delicate floral motif on the clip would be exactly where the light decides to glare, wouldn't it? A lovely display of celluloid, none the less.

What did I learn with this batch?
  • Patience is the key to success. Particularly when you're warming the barrels to remove the sections - and also when putting the sections back again - you can't afford to hurry. If I feel myself getting stressed, or if it's getting towards the end of the day and I'm getting careless, I stop. It's not worth ruining a pen. 
  • I've still got another ten pens that just won't come apart. I keep trying. Three of them did actually move this evening so they'll be my next repair batch now they're in pieces. The others will just get another ten minutes each every day till they decide to move.
  • Almost every pen has taken a lot longer to finish than I thought it would. Getting the section out. In some cases, knocking out the nib and repairing it. Chipping out ossified sacs, cleaning up rusty j-bars, cleaning up the nipple. Finding the right sac and shellacking it on is the easy bit. Then polishing up, if required, and cleaning the inside of the cap, and the threads, and finally testing the nib - and I've still got all the nib work to do.
  • A good parts box is useful. I had to replace one nib and a feed. I always look in the corners and at the bottom of pen boxes at sales to see if there are loose caps, nibs and feeds, and broken bits which might come in useful.
  • There is greater rejoicing in heaven over one perfect flexy Waterman nib in a pretty pen than any number of restored Esties or Parker 51s. 
  • And I lo-o-o-o-ve pretty celluloids.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Fountain pens get Wired!

I was intrigued to see that trending tech mag Wired has now decided fountain pens are a Thing.

Comparing the Lamy Vista and Delta Serena is a bit of a cheat. There's no Delta Serena fan club - there very definitely is a Lamy Safari/Vista/Alstar fan base, and even if you don't like the Lamy, there's no doubt that like its more expensive sibling the Lamy 2000, the Safari is a design classic.

But the other points Richard Baguley makes are good ones. I think quite a lot of FP users would agree that the price point around £100 and just over is where you'll find some excellent value - Platinum 3776, Edison Collier, Lamy 2000. Although there are plenty of great cheapies (and I've featured some of them here), pens at this level make a huge step up.

He also points out that the fountain pen needs a bit of expertise to use. Moving from a ballpoint to a fountain pen is like moving from Microsoft to Linux - to adopt an analogy that will be familiar to Wired readers. There's a bit of work to do to adapt - but once you have made the move, a fountain pen offers so much more flexibility.

Now - go read the article!