Thursday, 31 October 2019

Resacking and other repairs, and a lovely little Swan

I've finally managed to make some time for pen repairs, and I've been busy pulling pens apart, and in some cases, getting them back together again.

The job is complicated by the fact that so often, you think "easy, that pen looked fine, I'll just resack it" - only to find that it's missing a j-bar, missing a nib, got a crack in the barrel, a cracked nib, the lever has come adrift from its bar or c-clip, or there's some other little fault that means you'll have to put in some time on the lathe, order more components, cannibalise another pen...

So I now use the pulling-apart stage as a form of triage. I have boxes marked

"need nibs"



"need sections". They are filling up much too quickly for my liking.

And then I have the box marked "ready to sack". It's rewarding when more than half of the pens go into that box!

Then there are also the pens that go back into the box because they still won't come apart. I have a couple of gorgeous Parker Modernes that simply will not separate. I just give them a go every time I'm working. One day I will, I'm sure, feel that little sideslip that means they're ready to give...

This is the nice thing about restoring only your own pens. You can leave them as long as it takes. I'm really glad I don't work on other peoples' pens; I can run a batch processing system like this, and no one is going to ask me why, for instance, I haven't done their piston filler, because this is lever fill month...

Batch processing means those pens needing new sections or end tassies or blind caps will all be put away till I get the mini lathe out, and then they'll all be done at once. All the safety pens will be done at once.

It's also useful because it means I never work on a pen that's above my current level of skill. The Vacumatics can wait! By working on the easy stuff first, I've got reasonably good at taking pens apart, I've got good at resacking (only one disaster, an Edacoto where I managed to shellac the channel in the feed closed, and had to knock out the feed and nib to solve the problem), and I have got started on a few pens that needed their nibs knocked out, straightened and reinserted. (The reinsertion is the hard bit.)

Anyway, I did get a few pens all the way through the process, and I've been using one today. It's a sweet little Swan, just 12cm long, with a nice flexy nib. I think I've underestimated Swans in the past - this is a delight of a pen, in 'snakeskin' effect spiral wrapped celluloid. I did a little extra work filling in the swan engraving on the black cap top with gold pencil (yes, it probably should really be white, but I'm keeping this pen for myself, so never mind authenticity) and cleaning up the rather inky threads.

I was about to see if I could remove the scratches on the section when I realised: those aren't scratches! "SWAN" is actually engraved across the section (with the double quotation marks), just in case you had missed the swan on the cap top and the three-line barrel imprint, again with the little figure of the swan. Branding gone mad.

Apologies for the rather poor photo - my compact camera is out of action so I had to resort to the Nexus 7.
I've been trying to improve my handwriting with this nice flex nib. I think my pen restoration skills are some way ahead of my copperplate.