Fountain Pen Restoration

Belmont/Rexall and Yankee Cousins

Back on January 27th of this year I wrote about restoring a Yankee Pen, made by a George Kraker Company in Grand Haven, Michigan. The post can be found under the title: A Yankee in Michigan. I just picked the pen up below and it bears a very close resemblance. The clear red top is just a bit wider and brighter, but the chasing, lever, and clip are identical. Both also have the same feed, section and Warranted No. 2 nib. Also, the barrel print type is the same. The only difference is that this pen reads:

BELMONT

PAT

NON BREAKABLE

SOLD ONLY AT

THE REXALL STORE

The Yankee Pen, covered in the referred post reads:

YANKEE

NON BREAKABLE

GRAND HAVEN, MICH. – PAT

As you can see from the picture below, this pen came with a severely tarnished clip and lever, as well as a very grimy nib. There was no pressure bar present, so I replaced the j-bar and added a new sac. I spent quite a bit of time and energy on cleaning the lever and clip. I used Simichrome and a Dremel to grind away the initial caked-on grime and then used tooth picks and q-tips to remove the tarnish from the hard to reach areas. The sac remnants were completely removed from the section and a new size 16 sac was cemented to the section. The nib polished up completely and looks new. The nib and feed were inserted into the section and the pen was water tested.

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Here is the completed pen with shiny Warranted No. 2 nib. I used a white crayon to highlight the crisp imprint.
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I have placed the two pens referred to above next to each other to show the similarity.

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I have read that George Kraker still had the contract to produce pens for Rexall when in Michigan and later possibly in Libertyville, IL (refer to my post of February 7, 2008 titled Rexall Monogram). These pens are just another proof of this. I have read that the contract was then taken over by the Moore Pen Company of Boston, MA. Later Belmont pens contain several Moore-like characteristics which back this up.

I will post some of these in later posts.

May 22, 2008 Posted by | Belmont Pens, Kraker, Monogram Fountain Pens, Rexall, Uncategorized, Yankee Pen | | 3 Comments

A Yankee in Minnesota

In my post of January 27, 2007, titled A Yankee in Michigan, I repaired and discussed a Yankee Pen made by a George Kraker pen company in Grand Haven, Michigan. In that post, I mentioned that I had a Yankee Pen from Minnesota. Well, two weeks ago, I came across another Yankee Pen, from the Minneapolis Pen Company. The clip on this one is the same as the clip used by Kraker in Michigan and on the Monogram Pen discussed on February 7. Having read several expert opinions, I am quite confident that the Minneapolis Pen Company and the Yankee Pen that I am restoring here is another Kraker product. I would place the date in the early 1920s after he left Kansas City and prior to Grand Haven, MI.

The picture below is of the pen after being taken apart. The sac had reduced to a fine dust. As you can see, the hard rubber chasing is in excellent shape, as is the color and imprint. the nib and feed were very dirty and needed to be scraped (feed) and cleaned. The nib is a nice Warranted 14K with no size number. The section needed to be scraped to remove all signs of the previous sac.

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I installed a size 16 sac and the pen works fine. Below are pictures of the restored pen closed and posted.

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I want to point out the unique lever. This lever is one that appears on many Kraker pens of the period. The first photo below is the lever of this pen. You can also see the same lever on a Winter Robbins pen, featured in my post of December 7 of last year, titled Hard Rubber Midwest Style.

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Finally, here is another pen, a Drew Pen Company (St. Paul, MN) with the same lever again. It would lead me to believe that Kraker may have been involved in some way with the manufacture of several of these pens.

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May 15, 2008 Posted by | Drew Pen Company, Hard Rubber Pen, Kraker, Minneapolis Pen, Minnesota Pens, Monogram Fountain Pens, Winter - Robbins, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

Fountain Pen Restoration 101

Esterbrook began in the pen business in this country in the 1850s in Camden, NJ, producing steel nibs for dip pens. I have titled this Fountain Pen Restoration 101 because, for so many, Esterbrook pens are the first vintage pen they acquire, or repair. The most common Esterbrook is one of the J, SJ, or LJ series pens produced after 1948. These were mass produced, colorful, sturdy, and had the famous Esterbrook interchangeable nibs. Here is a nib chart, showing the variety of nibs available to Esterbrook Pen owners. As you can see, nibs ranged from fine hard “bookkeeping” nibs to expressive “signature” nibs.

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The pen that I worked on yesterday is not the standard J series pen, but a CH series pen, dating to the 1955-57 period. These were also known as “purse pens” and appeared in many pastel colors, with varying end jewel colors as well. They were sold with matching pencils and had colorful carrying cases. An H series also existed, without the clip. The picture below shows the interchangeable, screw in point. This is one of the reasons that these are so easy to restore and a good place to start if you want to experiment in restoring your own vintage pens. The nib unscrews from the section and then the section needs to be removed from the barrel. Remember here that gentle heat is a good way to do this, as described in many previous posts. Often times a new j-bar will also need to be secured if the old j-bar is damaged or corroded after removal from the barrel. The j-bar for this pen was in fine shape.

As you can see below, this pen was very well preserved, down to a unique Esterbrook sac. The good news is that it is still in good shape, I filled it with water and there are no leaks. I am going to leave it on this pen as an original Esterbrook sac is kind of cool (at least to me). The color of this pen is aqua, and it has the standard 1551 Student nib. This is a plain nib, without any special characteristics. I do have several other Esterbrook pens and should I decide to use this pen, I can just exchange this 1551 for a more expressive nib, such as a 2314M, a medium stub, which I enjoy.

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After removing the section, I put the nib assembly in an ultrasonic cleaner to remove any old ink. I cleaned the inside of the cap, which was also loaded with old blue ink. I use q-tips for this. The threads were also ink stained as you can see from the picture above. I used an old toothbrush to remove this. The resulting pen is below. A nice aqua Esterbrook CH, dating to the 1950s.

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Here is a picture of this pen with a pink CH, which I have had for quite some time.

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If you are interested in learning to restore vintage pens, these pens (especially the J series – not shown) are an excellent place to start. They are readily available and at very reasonable prices. For the price of a new sac and j-bar, they can be brought back to life again.

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Esterbrook | | 5 Comments

1949 Sheaffer Valiant Touchdowns “The Big Ones”

In 1949 and 1950 Sheaffer produced a Valiant Touchdown that predates the Thin Model (TM) touchdowns that were developed for sale in 1951. I much prefer this earlier model, produced only for a short time. The Valiant Touchdown differs from other touchdown fillers of this time in that the cap and barrel are the same color and, of course, the nib is a wrap around triumph nib. Also produced were a standard nib Statesman, Silver and Gold nib Deluxe, and Gold Capped Crest. Colors were Black, Brown, Burgundy, Blue, and Green.

Here is a picture of the pen prior to restoration.

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The first good thing about this repair is evident from the picture above. I will not have to scrape the inside of the sac protector (upper right) as the old sac has come out in one piece. This is usually the most time consuming part of repairing a touchdown or snorkel. A dose of pure talc to the new sac will be all that is needed when it is inserted back into the sac protector.

There were no surprises with this restoration. The old “O” ring came out without a problem and a new one (larger size that TM and snorkel) was inserted. I then secured the blind cap to the end of the barrel by using a long screwdriver. The old sac remnants were scraped off the end of the section and the entire section and nib were cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. A new sac was secured to the section after it dried, measuring it to make sure it was just large enough to reach the end of the sac protector. I covered the sac with pure talc and secured the sac protector over the sac and to the section. The entire nib/section/sac/ sac protector was then inserted into the barrel and I tested the filler by pulling out the touchdown tube and inserting the pen in water. Then, pushing down on the filler with the nib assembly in the water. This filled the sac up with water and the restoration was complete, except for general clean up of the gold and black plastic parts. The gold was polished gently with Simichrome and q-tips and the black plastic was polished and preserved.

The end result is below.

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The triumph nib, a medium, is pictured here.

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Finally, here is a comparison of this pen on top, comparing it to a TM (thin model) Touchdown, which began production in 1951. I prefer the older, fatter touchdown to the TMs as they fit my hand better, and hold more ink. The thinner model must have been very well accepted, as the snorkel, which appeared next, held this thin size.

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May 2, 2008 Posted by | Sheaffer, Sheaffer Valiant | | 2 Comments

   

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