Fountain Pen Restoration

Hybrid Gold Bond Fountain Pen

This was a unique pen restoration and I am not certain that I followed the correct procedures, but it works and is worthy of discussion. I like Gold Bond pens. I have a few Gold Bond Stonite pens and they are very well made, solid, and are good writers. So, I jumped at the chance to purchase this one. What I found on the inside was a mystery to me. As you can see in the first picture below (of the pen after taking it apart) the section is a screw fit. This means that it screws in to the barrel. While this is not unique, what is unique is that there is no place to attach a sac to the section. Also, on the inside of the barrel there is a collar. The pen was easy to clean up and all of the parts were salvageable, except for the sac, which was dust, and provided no clues as to where it was attached. My first thought was that the section had an additional part to it, extending into the barrel. But it was not there and this did not explain the collar inside the barrel.

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I decided to put the pen down, think about it for a while, and I went to my Moleskine notebook to draw it out. The idea I came up with is shown below. I will apologize here for the poor artwork (especially the head scratching). What I decided to try was to attach a narrow (size 14 1/2 – usually used in Snorkels)sac to the collar. In doing so, I was creating a filling system that has two chambers: the sac / lever chamber and the chamber between the collar and the section/feed/nib. This is essentially an eyedropper section. The section is a clear (visualated) one, so the ink level will be entirely visible. The only areas for leakage would be the lever opening which will be protected by the sac, and the section, is a screw fit and can be sealed by silicone grease. I was not sure this was the correct solution, but was willing to give it a try.

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I cleaned all of the parts above, put the nib/feed/ section back together and inserted the sac to the collar, by carefully coating the collar and outside of the sac with sac cement. I let this dry for a day, before continuing, as it seem to me to be the weakest point in my plan. I tested this adherence by pushing the lever several times and checking my cement point. It seems to have held. I then coated the threads of the section with silicone grease to give a water tight seal and screwed it into the barrel. The finished pen is shown below. Now to try it out with water. I put the tip in a glass of water and moved the lever to deflate the sac. Water was sucked up into the pen. I let it sit for a day and then pushed the lever and water came back out of the nib. I then unscrewed the section and checked my sac, which was still solid against the collar. So, I have a working pen. I am still not sure if this is the way this pen was designed, if I am missing some original parts, or if my head scratching clouded my vision. But, I have a nice looking Gold Bond pen ready to write.

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Gold Bond pens were a Montgomery Ward Store brand – sold in Stores and through their catalogs. In my December 11, 2007 entry – Store Pens – I talked about another Montgomery Ward brand – Lakeside. Possible manufacturers / parts providers are speculated to be National Pen Products (Chicago) / C. E. Barrett.

Here is a close-up of the nib. As you can see, the iridium tip is still intact. As with all of my restorations, comments and questions are welcome. I would love to know the correct restore on this one and if I am missing any original parts.

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March 28, 2008 Posted by | Gold Bond Pens, Montgomery Ward | , | 2 Comments

Sheaffer Skyboy Surprise

Sometimes, a new pen find provides some pleasant surprises. This is such a pen.

Sheaffer Skyboy pens were made by Sheaffer in Fort Madison, Iowa in the early 1940s. As you can see, they have a short clip (or military clip) with the word “Skyboy” engraved on it. Military clips were a response to Military Regulations that a pen would be unseen when the pocket flap was buttoned over the shirt pocket. Sheaffer used standard clips and folded them over to form the military clip.

The term Skyboy was coined in a time when airplanes were “taking off” and Sheaffer wanted to capitalize on the attractiveness that they had. Eversharp did so with the Skyline and Waterman with the Skywriter.

This particular pen appeared in Sheaffer catalogs in 1941. I have also seen a magazine advertisement from this time period for pens similar to this one, called Sheaffer Skyboys, but with standard clips and in red and green striated versions. Apparently Sheaffer went to the military clip after 1940 on the Skyboy models.

Here is the pen after I took it apart.

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This is a closeup of the military clip above the “Lifetime” white dot.

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The Surprise is this white feed. I had read about the mysterious white feed in fountain pen literature, but had never seen one. It was a pleasant surprise to see this one when I pulled the cap off and examined the nib. There are several theories as to the origin of the white feed. They are:

That is was simply a prototype, not meant for public use, that escaped the factory

That it was a response to the wartime rubber shortage

That they were painted white to cover up a bad batch of feeds

Pick your favorite, I do not know. I do know that it was a pleasant surprise to uncover this fountain pen oddity. They seem to appear on pens produced during this period around 1940.

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The repair was very easy, as I do not believe that this pen was ever used. The white feed would seem to indicate this as well as the clear visualated section. All I needed to do was clean up the nib, polish the clip, band, and lever, and install a new sac as the old one had solidified.

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Above and below are the finished product. This is one pen that I will probably not use as I don’t want to discolor the unique feed.

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March 21, 2008 Posted by | Sheaffer, Sheaffer Skyboy | , | 2 Comments

Parker Lapis Duofold Junior Fountain Pen

Parker Duofolds were Parker’s flagship pens starting in the early 1920s. Original colors were Orange and Black. Hard rubber was phased out and plastic (Permanite) became the material of choice in 1926. In 1927 the Duofold line of pens added Jade Green, Mandarin Yellow and Lapis Lazuli Blue to the colors of Senior, Junior and Lady Ringtop versions. Today the Blue and Yellow versions are the hardest to obtain in decent condition. The Mandarin Yellow is even more difficult to find than Blue and is prone to cracking, especially on the cap.

Up until acquiring this pen, I had restored numerous red, jade, black, black/pearl (a new color added in 1928), and red/black/pearl Duofolds. I have always wanted to obtain the blue and yellow colors, but prices are quite high on them.

About a month ago I ran across this Lapis Blue Duofold Junior at a very reasonable price, in line with its rough condition. As you can see, the internal pressure bar had deteriorated and I did not bother to include the old sac in the picture as it was basically dust. Note that the hard rubber blind cap, section, feed, and cap end are all discolored to brown. This is due to probably a combination of factors. Contributing would have been the ink that was left in the pen and dried into the rubber as well as where the pen may have been stored. Any dampness, temperature change and light could have also contributed to the destruction of these parts.

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The good news is that I have several spare parts from Duofolds (in this case Duofold Junior) that I could use. Spare parts accumulate as old pens with some good parts start to pile up in my parts chests. About three years ago I picked up a bunch of Duofolds in very bad shape. Some had cracked barrels, were without caps or nibs. But each had a few good parts. Typically, I was able to salvage buttons, sections, clips, blind caps and nibs.

With this pen I wanted to duplicate the exact blind cap, section. feed, and cap end as in the original. Duofolds came in many different versions over the years and these parts differ significantly from year to year. As you can see from the pictures below, I was able to find matching parts for each.

As with all button fillers (see also my post of 12/29/07) the repair was straightforward. I cleaned the inside of the barrel and cap to remove any residual ink. I then polished the nib, clip, and button using simichrome and a dremel. The clip and nib are 14K gold and there is no problem with being a little more aggressive with them to clean them with a dremel. I used just a q-tip with a small amount of simichrome on the cap rings, however.

After scraping the remnants of the old sac from the section and cleaning the inside of the section with water and q-tips, I reinserted the nib and new feed into the section. I then attached a 16 silicon sac to the section, cutting to size so that it would fit to just short of the button hole at the end of the barrel. I coated the sac with pure talc prior to screwing the section (note that most Duofolds are screw-in sections as this is very important when removing the section at the beginning of a restoration project) back in to the barrel. Talc will aid in inserting the pressure bar and keep the sac from adhering to the sides of the barrel in the future.

The new pressure bar was then inserted through the end of the barrel through the button hole so that the bar rests on the end of the section. It is important to smooth the end of the bar so that it does not cut into the sac at the end of the barrel. The button is then placed on the pressure bar so that it fits in it’s slits. After this process it is a good idea to test the pen with water by placing the nib/section in tap water and depressing the button. Bubbles should appear as the pressure bar presses against the sac and pushes air out. As the button is released and the pen is held in the water, the water should replace the air in the pen. After the pen is removed from the water, press the button again and a nice stream of water should squirt out of the pen into the water again. If this is the case, you have successfully restored the filling system. I tested this pen and it works well.

The blind cap was screwed in over the button, the cap end screwed in over the clip and the plastic was polished and a coat of carnuba protectant buffed on gently. A final touch of white crayon was rubbed over the imprint for highlight.

The only restoration that was not possible, as in so many vintage pens, was the discoloration (darkening) of the permanite plastic due to the deterioration of the sac and ink. There is no reversal of this, but I am happy to finally have an example of a Lapis Lazuli Duofold Junior.

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Research indicates that this version dates to 1929 or after, given the two cap bands. At that time, it sold for $5.00. .

My spare supply chest still has several Duofold parts. I will keep my eyes open for a Blue Senior Duofold and maybe even a Mandarin Yellow.

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Duofold, Parker Pen Company | , | 10 Comments

Golden (Fountain Pen) Dreams

Gold pens are highly sought after, some more than others. Here are a couple of extreme examples. The first two pictures are of a Morrison 14K Gold Filled Flat top that measures 5 1/8″ capped. These are a nice pen to find (as well as other third tier makers) to satisfy the vintage gold need. The price can be very reasonable. I paid $26 for this pen. It did not look quite this good when I found it, but as with most vintage Morrison’s, the Warranted 14K #4 nib is a good one with a little flex and repairs are straightforward.

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The filler is a standard j-bar and lever and I did need to replace the jbar as well as add a size 16 sac, as the barrel is quite narrow. One needs to be very careful when cleaning the exterior of these, as the gold is a gold plate and aggressive polishing will probably lead to a worn exterior. I did minimal cleaning of the exterior and the results are satisfactory. These pens seem to be quite plentiful in varying conditions and I would suggest waiting for one with a nicely preserved exterior. This design also came in a silver as well.

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Just for comparison, below is a Parker Lucky Curve, probably dating to the early 1920s, in 14K Gold. Roughly the size of a Duofold Junior, it is stunning in all gold, including the section.

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Both pens are vintage gold, and the bank doesn’t have to be broken to find a nice, restorable example.

March 7, 2008 Posted by | Duofold, Morrison Fountain Pens, Parker Pen Company | , , | 4 Comments

Webster Fountain Pens

Webster pens were a brand sold through Sears stores and catalogs in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Here is an example of a catalog page with a selection of pens, including Websters from the Spring of 1924. This exact pen is not there, but many BCHR (black chased hard rubber) pens similar to it appear.

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Additional information on Store Sold Pens appears in a post that I wrote on December 11, 2007.

I finally had some time to take this pen apart and it was no easy task. The section was very stubborn and I actually had to walk away from the pen yesterday and come back and try again this evening. Finally, the heat worked and the section came out with no cracks. Here is the result of the extraction of the sac and lever. Both would need to be replaced and I used a new j-bar and size 16 sac. The gold polished up well and the Warranted 4 nib has some flex to it.

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The restored pen looks quite good and this is a bit surprising to me. The insides of the pen were quite dirty and the sac/pressure bar were a mess, but the exterior trim, rubber chasing, and imprints are almost mint.
It must have been stored very carefully for many years. As a collector, I am very thankful for this, and wish it happened more often.

Here is a picture if the finished product and side imprint. The SR on the logo stands for Sears and Roebuck.

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March 1, 2008 Posted by | Hard Rubber Pen, Sears, Webster Pen | , | 3 Comments

   

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