Posts Tagged ‘breaking a pen’

The most dangerous moment…..

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I’ve had people suggest that I hire someone to help me with pen repairs.  “Let them do the easy stuff like recacing pens,” they say.   But there’s one thing that I have to do, and  until they’re really skilled it’s too dangerous to just hand them the pen and tell them to go at it.  So three guesses.  What’s the most dangerous moment in pen repair?

Knocking out the nib and feed?


Resetting the nib after cleaning?


Taking the filler out of a Parker 51?  Close.

The single most dangerous moment in pen repair is opening the pen to restore it, across the board, without exception.

Sometimes a lever filler will almost fall apart for you.  Sometimes it does fall apart, but that’s another thread.  Even so when parts are loose there are risks because there may be a surprise lurking before the section comes out.  But when a pen is really stuck together, you start sweating bullets, antennas go up, and your fingers go to maximum sensitivity.  It’s the first moment of your journey in restoring the pen, when you and the pen test each other and get to know what the issues are.  It’s the moment of the great unveiling of surprises, and the one moment when you are inclined to be the most hasty (thank you Treebeard).

The inclination is to think “but I have to get the pen apart if I’m going to repair it!…”  and then we start to crank on the section. True, you do have to open the pen, but if you try too hard the barrel can crack, it can sheer off, it can distort, the section can snap off….   I’ve done it all.

SO, how do we avoid breaking the pen?  Start with gentle, dry heat applied by a heat gun.  I like the craft embossing guns with the 1/2″ or so opening.  Warm gently, twist, wiggle a bit, warm gently, twist, wiggle a bit,  repeat, becoming ever so slightly more aggressive.  Been at five 5 minutes?  What,  you expect to beat a 60 year old pen that quickly?  Maybe ten minutes?  Getting better.  Take whatever amount of time it takes to open the pen.  You can be a little more aggressive with the heat on hard rubber, a little less on 40’s Sheaffer plunger fillers.  Just take your time.

I won’t say that the problems are over once the pen is open, but that’s what I consider to be the critical, the most dangerous moment in pen repair.  The second – putting it back together.  Again, heat is your friend.  But that’s yet another whole post.