Fountain Pen Restoration

Final Year for Parker 51 Vacumatics – 1948

The most recent pen I worked on is this 1948 Parker 51 Vacumatic.  It is a single jewel ( I am still looking for the elusive double jewel – maybe later this year) with a Heritage Sterling Silver Cap.  As you can see by the photograph below, the pen came with all of it’s parts included, but it was not without major blemishes.

First, the cap jumps out as being very dirty and with minor dents.  Second, the hood came with several deep scratches that I suspect came from someone trying to twist it off with some pliers or similar tool.   The hood did come off, but with doses of heat from a heat gun and my padded section pliers.

I attacked the severely gouged hood with 1500 grit paper and worked it for several 10 minute sessions until all traces of the scratches and cuts were gone.  This did not damage the hood and after polishing the hood with scratch removing liquid, then polish and wax, it looks as good as new.

I cleaned the nib with polish and cleaned the feed, collector and breather tube in an ultrasonic cleaner.

As with all vac repairs the inside of the barrel needs to be completely cleaned out of all old diaphragm remnants in order for it to function properly.  Having done this, I polished the barrel outside using the same process as the hood.

I fitted a new debutante size diaphragm to the plastic speedline filler unit and reinstalled it to the barrel using my vacumatic tool.  Before inserting in the barrel, I made a change to my usual procedure.  I have moved along and am no longer spitting on my vacs!  In the past, I have mentioned that prior to installing the filling unit. I would coat the diaphragm with my saliva to help ease it into the barrel as it is twisted back in.  Well, a product has emerged that replaces this saliva, and is probably a lot more sanitary.  now sells a Vacumatic Lubricant that I would recommend.  It will save you the embarrassment of having people walk by your workbench and seeing you with vintage pen parts in your mouth, and I am sure it is more effective.

Next the cap – as you can see, it was a mess.  I spent several hours over a few days, polishing this with metal cleaner, a dremel, and then a jewelers cloth.  Both the cap and clip now glisten.  The Blue Parker Diamond is absent of blue, however.  I prefer to leave my Parker Blue Diamonds empty if they have worn, but if you want to fill them in, the correct hobby paint is Testors 1110 or 1111.

As with all vacs, make sure the breather tube is clear and has no holes or dents.  This one is fine, but if you do need new tubing, you can purchase additional from Woodbin, who I have linked on my blogroll at the right.


The completed pen is shown below – a Cedar Blue Parker 51 (Vacumatic) from 1948, the last year that 51s formally used the vac filling system.  In 1949 Parker began to market the Aero-metric Filling System.


The Parker Vacs came in four standard colors:  Cedar Blue, India Black, Dove Grey, and Cordovan Brown.  Less common vac colors were Nassau Green, Tan and Mustard.


This pen also has another nice surprise -a rather broad medium nib.  More often than not, fine nibs are found on these pens, and it is a treat to get a bigger nib on occasion.


January 15, 2009 - Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company |


  1. Hi,
    This is a general comment. I truly appreciate your sharing these notes from the field. They are useful, informative and at times, surprising. I am amazed at the number of quality “second-tier” pens that you have restored. I had no idea that so many of them had gold nibs.

    Comment by Greg Koos | January 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. i have a parker 51 vacu fountain pen , sterling silver cap ,cedar blue, chevron with blue diamond mark on clip, albeit worn away ! but it is evident,,it says made in canada on the barrel and on the silver cap,, also it got one jewel on cap ?? please can u help identify this pen ,, it needs to be restored !

    Comment by linda jones | September 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. Nice article on the 51 restoration.

    Comment by Chris | October 16, 2017 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: