Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker Vacumatic

The Parker Vacumatic might be my favorite pen to restore. The filling system is unique and requires some specialized replacement sacs and a few tools unique to the restoration. When completed, they can be very attractive pens. Smaller sizes are often available at reasonable prices, unrestored.

Parker Vacumatics were produced by the Parker Pen Company from 1933 to 1948 in the United States. They continued in production in Canada for a while longer. A good reference book devoted entirely to these pens is Parker Vacumatic, by Geoffrey Parker, Dan Zazove, and David Shepherd.

Below is a photo of a Vacumatic after I have taken it apart for cleaning and repair. Clockwise from top left the parts are:

Cap / Section / Feed / Barrel / Nib / Breather Tube / Diaphragm (old) / Filler Unit / Blind Cap

The pen I worked on is a Vacumatic Major (standard size) in blue striated color with a medium nib. The date code on the pen indicates it was produced in the second quarter of 1946 in the US (Janesville, WI). The filler is a “speedline” filler, with a plastic plunger, representative of these later Vacumatics, produced in the 1940s. These also had the typical one color gold nib.

The only part that needed replacement was the diaphragm. The correct size is a demi size for these Major sized pens. Diaphragms also come in a larger size for some large sized Vacumatics such as the Maxima.

I cleaned up all of the usable parts first. It is extremely important to clean the inside of the barrel on these as often times the old diaphragms may have adhered to the barrel, and the repair will be unsuccessful if this is not removed. Be very careful doing this as the inside of the barrel can scratch easily and one of the nice effects of these pens is the transparency of the barrel.

The nib, feed, section, and breather tube were cleaned in the ultrasonic cleaner and the nib with some Simichrome and a dremel. The cap had the usual large amount of dried ink and cleaned up after several swabs with q-tips and water. Finally, the cap, barrel, and blind cap were polished to a shiny glow and the transparency on the barrel is complete.

The diaphragm attachment is the tricky part of the restoration, but once you do it a few times, it is fairly simple. From the picture below you can see that the old diaphragm has been detached from the filler unit. However, a pellet remains in the pellet holder at the end of the filler. This must be taken out of the filler unit before the new diaphragm with the new pellet can be inserted.

There are many different techniques for removing the pellet. However you do so, it is extremely important not to damage the hole to the pellet holder. I use the thin tip of an x-acto knife to pick at the pellet and cut it to pieces. Eventually these pieces fall out of the holder and the filler is now ready for the new pellet/diaphragm. New diaphragms come with the pellet in the tip and ready to go.

First the diaphragm needs to be folded back against itself until the open end reaches the pellet end. This takes some time and patience. Once this is achieved, the pellet pusher tool is placed in the diaphragm against the pellet and the pellet is pushed into the hole in the filler. Now that the diaphragm is attached to the filler the diaphragm is further folded onto the filler unit. It needs to be placed onto the filler until such time as when the plunger is pushed the filler extends to the edge of the diaphragm. At this point, trim off the excess sac so that it covers the filler to the edge as shown in the second picture below.


Here are the completed filler unit and nib assembly with breather tube after restoration. The only non-original part was the new diaphragm/pellet.


After the filler unit and nib assembly have been completed, the filler is screwed in to the top of the barrel. One must be careful that the diaphragm does not get twisted or turned when doing this. It is a good idea to look into the nib end of the barrel after the filler has been inserted to see that everything is straight. If not, it must be unscrewed and reinserted. Next, the nib assembly is screwed back into the barrel. The completed pen is below. The dates on the photo refer to the years this particular pen was in production. As stated above, the date code of .6. indicates this pen was produced around the Spring of 1946. The nib has the same code stamped on it, indicating to me that it is the original.


Several other Parker pens used the vacumatic filling systems including the Parker 51 and later Duofolds. In future posts, I will photograph some of these repairs.

Thanks for reading..


June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | ,


  1. Hi
    Just found your site when googling for info on how to remove jewel to remove the cap clip for retension and straigthening. Your information is just fantasic for the pen collector trying a bit of restoration himself – especially in this time of recession. What’s the secret in removing a Parker vacumatic jewel and how do you retension the clip – any advise would be greatly appreciated. If I am out of order for asking my apologies in advance.

    Comment by Innes Cate | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. Innes,

    I have responded to you backchannel, but in short, I use a tool for removing jewels that I purchased from Pentiques (link on blogroll at right).

    Comment by all of us | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. I have a Vacumatic which my mother left me. I dropped it yesterday and nib is bent on one side, maybe broken off on that side.

    can this be looked at – I think the nib is medium but I have always wanted to change it to either fine / extra fine

    can you help with this /

    Barry Keenan

    Comment by BARRY KEENAN | January 27, 2012 | Reply

  4. I have a ParkerVacumatic,Asure Pearl,Laminated Blue and Clear Celluloid.Looking for buyers or more info.The closet i got was it dating around 1940.Thanks.John

    Comment by John Stevens | December 24, 2013 | Reply

  5. Dear Madam/Sir
    I have a Parker vacumatic 53 which the rubber must be changed.
    Can you pleas help me how can I reach you.
    The pen is in Canada now.

    Comment by Iraj Forouhar | July 21, 2014 | Reply

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