Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker Vacumatic Standard (1938) / Last of the Lockdowns

This week I worked on a bit of an odd pen. It is a Vacumatic Standard Size (5 1/16 ” capped) with a date code of 1938.  It is unusual because of the fact it has a lockdown filler and was produced in 1938.  By that time, most of the Vacumatics were produced with metal speedline fillers (1937) and single cap bands.  It is possible that the cap is a replacement, but the imprint and lockdown filler with its short blind cap are not replacements.  So, I am guessing (this opens me up to debate for sure) that this is a very late first generation Vacumatic Standard, produced to use up existing stock.

Whatever the history, these are my favorite of all Vacumatics as they are a thicker pen than the later Majors and have a matching, large section for easy handling when writing.  They just seem more substantial in the hand than later medium sized models.

You can see from the first picture below that the barrel had no transparency to it, but all the parts were present.  Often times, when one finds an earlier Vacumatic, something is missing.  The usual suspects are the clip or jewels.  This was a complete specimen, though quite dirty.

As usual, the old diaphragm took a long time to completely remove from the barrel.  Once done, I scrubbed the inside of the barrel with a qtip (to prevent scoring of the barrel).  This eventually revealed a nice transparecy.  I polisehd the clip, nib, and silver clip and endcap jewel holders.  The section, feed, and breather tube were cleaned in the ultrasonic cleaner.

I buffed the barrel and cap with scratch remover, polish and carnuba wax which gives pens a new looking shine.  Quite a difference from when I found this one.

The lockdown filler unit takes a standard size diaphragm as do all Standard First Generation Vacs.  This is due to the wider barrel which I really like in these pens.


After reassembly, here is the completed pen.  I tested it with water and the barrel filled up nicely.  It measures just over 5 inches long capped.



The nib is a two tone arrow nib, which was the upgraded nib for the first generation Vacumatics.  The date code is for the 4th Quarter if 1936.  After 1936 the USA/PARKER words were switched so that Parker appeared above USA.


This photo shows the barrel and date code.  The 18 signifies production in Janesville, Wisconsin in the first quarter of 1938.  Interestingly, this was the last quarter that this coding system was used.  During the second quarter of 1938, Parker phased in the dot system of date coding.  This pen was seems to have been at the end of several runs ~ The First Generation Production / The USA over PARKER Nib / and The “dotless” numbered Date Codes.


These first generation Vacumatics may not be as plentiful in the wild as later models, but are worth the wait.


December 10, 2008 - Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Nice work on this one. I’ve got one just like it sitting in front of me this morning, inked up with S.T. DuPont Blue. Great writer, and it feels terrific in the hand (I agree with you about the wider barrel and the better-designed section).

    One thing that’s different about mine, though is that it’s got a dotted date code of 37. stamped on it. I swear, it’s nearly impossible to find just a regular ol’ standard production Vac. They’ve all got these weird little differences to them. One of the reasons we love ’em, right? 🙂

    Comment by rroossinck | June 11, 2009 | Reply

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