Fountain Pen Restoration

1935 Parker Silver Pearl Vacumatic Junior

Last night I worked on this pen, a nice example of the larger size of the 1935 Parker Silver Pearl Vacumatic Junior. In my post, Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler, dated June 20, 2008, I restored a Junior Vacumatic in Burgundy Marble, produced in the same year.  These pens, measuring in at 4 7/8 inches are among the most colorful, and transparent, of the mainstream, commonly found Vacumatics.

Here is a photo of the pen after I have taken it apart.  The process was fairly standard, but the section was glued to the barrel.  These are threaded, so remember to twist out, after applying heat.  The glue made it a longer project than I was expecting, but after many applications of heat, it came apart.  I used the vac tool to get the filler out of the top of the barrel, and this was fairly straightforward as covered in various vacumatic posts which can be found by clicking on Parker Vacumatic categories to the right.

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I then thoroughly cleaned all of the parts.  You can see from the picture above that there is a bit of the old sac still on the filler unit and this needs to be scraped off.  Do not use water on this metal unit (i.e. ultrasonic cleaner) as this can cause problems down the road.

Three more items to remember on these Juniors –

The diaphragm size for these is the Standard size, not Debutante, and

As this is a lockdown filler, make sure the filler is fully extended before unscrewing it from the barrel.  If not, the filler could be destroyed, and

Make sure to completely remove any remnants of the old diaphragm.  In a pen that has never been restored and sat for many years, the diaphragm will be caked to the barrel and it will require a lot of work to pry all of it off.

The next two photos show the pen after cleaning and reassembly.  The barrel is ambered, but the transparency is good.  The vacumatic filler works well and the pen filled up with water when tested.

Typically, the trim on these is Silver, though I have seen examples of Gold trim in print.

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The pen was made in the 4th quarter of 1935, as you can see by the imprint below.  What is interesting about this imprint is that it is rotated 90 degrees to the rest of the imprint.  Apparently, the 4th quarter of 1935 is somewhat unique in this.  Most of the Parker date codes are in line with the rest of the imprint.

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Here is a photo of the two Juniors that I have. This model also was produced in a Green Marble. I will have to be on the lookout for one to complete the common First Generation Marble Jr. Vacumatics.

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February 24, 2009 Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | , | 3 Comments

Rentz Fountain Pens

I was lucky enough to find a Rentz Pen recently and the photographs of this mottled hard rubber pen are below. No restoration necessary, but I want to discuss this pen for three reasons. Reason 1 is that it was made in Minnesota, my home. Reason 2, is that it has a really unique filling system that I will discuss, and reason 3 is that it has an interesting and incomplete history.

George and Bert Rentz resided in Wells, Minnesota in the early 1900s. They were inventors and claimed inventions of a phonograph, fishing leaders,  night driving glasses, and fountain pens.

Three Rentz fountain pen patents that I have located are as follows:

Patent 1,036,149

Patent 955,475

Patent 896,576

As you can see, these are dated between 1908 and 1912.

I have not seen too many Rentz pens and this one came with a glaring problem.  What you see in the photo below is all there is.  The section, feed, and nib are all missing.  But, I have wanted one of these for a long time and the filling system is the attraction, so I couldn’t resist picking it up.  A fellow collector has a Rentz pen and they were produced with proprietary Rentz nibs.  I will keep my eye out for a section/feed/nib in another pen, but they are not very plentiful.  In the last two years, this is the only Rentz I have seen.

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The filling system does work well in this pen.   As you can see in the next two photos, the top shows the button locked while the pen is in use.

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To fill the pen, the button on the right is pulled out, allowing for the button to be pressed against the pressure bar and sac to deflate the sac, releasing it again fills the pen.  Bert Rentz’ patent 955,475, referred to above, covers this system.

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Here are close ups of the two imprints showing the patent information and the Wells, Minnesota location.

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The pen measures a long 5 7/16 capped and the hard rubber is in excellent shape, though the imprints are a bit faded.

The last bit of information I would like to discuss briefly is, Why Wells, Minnesota? I don’t know specifically but Wells was on a rail line leading east to Wisconsin, Chicago, and east giving them a source for the delivery of materials and distribution. I don’t believe Rentz pens existed for a long period of time, but they may be a good example of the small manufacturers and assemblers that popped up during this era, only to disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Finally, if you come across a Rentz pen, let me know. Mine needs to be used and I would love an original section, feed and nib!

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Rentz Fountain Pens | | 3 Comments

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery ~ Wilson Pen Company

I waited a few weeks to get to this one, as I needed to do some background research first.  As you can see, this is a very good replica of a Parker Vacumatic.  Without careful examination of the parts laying on the workbench, one might think this is a 1940s Vacumatic.  Well, its not and I will attempt to tell a little about this Wilson pen and walk through the restoration.

The first photograph shows the pen after I have taken it apart.  I am not sure where the nib is.  I noticed it is missing from the photo after I had finished.  I do remember that it had faint traces of gold wash on it, and was quite dirty.  You can see that it looks quite a bit like a broken-down vac.  The filler unit has a plastic plunger, much like the later wartime vacs, with solid metal threading.

I was a bit concerned about the clip and cap band.  I was worried that they were gold plate like the nib and would polish to a dull silver, but they are 14K gold and polished up well.

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The repairs went just as with a Standard Vacumatic.  I needed to replace the diaphragm and you will note that there is no breather tube.  I had purchased tubing from Woodbin (see blogroll) quite a while ago for this eventuality.  I cut a piece one inch long and it fit perfectly into the hole in the end of the feed.  Having completed that I began to clean all of the parts, not only to make the pen look as close to original as possible, but to eliminate a smell that I had never experienced before in a pen repair.  When I initially opened up the pen from both the nib side and filler side, the smell that came forth was one I had never experienced before.  I don’t know what caused this, but it was very foul.

I made sure to completely remove all remnants of the old diaphragm from the barrel and cleaned the filler as many of the metal parts had old diaphragm and adhesive on them.  Having cleaned the filler, which was comparable to a  Parker plastic speedline filler, I installed a debutante diaphragm.  The pellet holder was the same size as a Parker as the pellet fit well in the holder, after being pushed in with my pellet pushing tool.  If was a relief to have the same size parts between the Wilson and Parker products and I did not have to make any modifications.

As I mentioned above, the clip and cap band polished up well with my metal polish (I am now using polish purchased from pentiques.com) and look as good as new.  The biggest difference is in the nib when you compare the Wilson to a Parker Vacumatic.  The nib on this pen is a cheap steel nib.  There was a small amount of gold color on the nib when I found the pen, but this immediately polished out.

The following two photos show the completely restored Wilson Vacumatic.   The barrel reads WILSON VACUMATIC and MADE IN INDIA.

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As you can see, there is quite a bit of transparency to the barrel as once the barrel cleaned out, the plastic has a nice finish.

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The details are eerily similar to a Parker.  Here is a close up of the clip, band, and nib.  The clip is a very close copy of the non-blue diamond vac clips of the day down to the feathers and placement of the name.  I have seen examples of Wilson’s that do have the blue diamond on the clip.  I would love to handle one to see what the differences, if any, are.  The cap band has the familiar cross hatch design and in the space for engraving ( on Parker vacs ) they have placed their name.

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The nib keeps the same design, but is not 14K gold.  As you can see, in an effort to clean it up, the gold wash was stripped away.  There was actually little left when I obtained the pen, and what was left, disappeared quickly.  In case you can not read the nib it say ~ WILSON  IRIDIUM  TIPPED ~.    The design of the nib is similar to the Parker nibs.  Prior to putting the nib back in the section, I checked and a Parker nib fits perfectly.  I may be tempted to put one in should I decide to use this pen.

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Here is a photo of the Wilson Vacumatic on top of a 1942 Parker Vacumatic in Golden Pearl.  The Wilson measures   4 7/8 inches capped and 5 5/8 inches posted.

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The Wilson Pen Company got its start in Calcutta in 1939 when Dwarkadas Jivanlal Sangvi and his brother sold and repaired pens.  They then moved to Valsad and began to manufacture pens.  In the beginning they produced two pens per day.  The Company then moved to Bombay in 1943 and they produced 200-300 pens per day.  In 1945 they moved again to Andheri and expanded again to begin using plastic molding machines from England.  This information and much more can be read on their current website here . (Edit 10/2013 – this link is no longer active – see Edit below for current link to Wilson Pen History..pkm)

Finally, another picture showing the 1942 Parker on top and the Wilson below.  There have been other examples of pens that have emulated the Vacumatic in the past.  I think this was one of the best.

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10-12-13 Edit: An outstanding piece, written by Purvi Sanghvi, a relative of the founders of Wilson Pens, can be found here. It details some of the history of Wilson Pens!

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Indian Fountain Pens, Wilson Pen Company | , | 4 Comments

Parker Button Fill Striped Duofold

Last night I worked on a set. I usually do not come across sets, but it seems I have stumbled on a few lately. The matching pencils make a nice contrast to the fountain pens, if they are salvageable.

This is a Striped Duofold Button Filler. I have previously covered two restorations of Striped Duofolds ~

1941 Blue Striped Duofold – November 11, 2008
Striped Duofold – September 10, 2008

The above two linked posts covered Vacumatic Duofolds, one Blue Striped and one Dusty Red.  This pen is the third Striped option, Gold and Green.

The picture below shows the internals, including petrified sac and still usable two part pressure bar.  It is nice to find one of these pressure bars  in solid condition as they have a ridge that sits on the cap-hole perfectly, and no trimming and smoothing of a new bar are necessary.  Also note that the section is friction fit, not a screw in.

As usual, the gold cap band, clip, button, and nib are quite tarnished.  The only new part needed to restore this pen is a size 16 sac.  I gave the section, feed, button, and nib a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and the nib and button an extra scrub with metal polish and a dremel.  The cap band has an engraving (J.W.B) and is very dirty.  Continual cleaning with metal polish ( I am now using Pentiques’) brought it back to a nice shine with a small amount of staining.  The clip polished up nicely and is as good as new.

The cap was cleaned on the inside to remove all of the old ink residue.  Then the section was scraped to remove all of the old sac remnants.  The nib and feed were fit back into the section and the size 16 sac was trimmed to fit just below the cap end button hole.  After the sac was cemented to the section/feed/nib with sac cement it was allowed to dry.  Then it was fit back into the barrel.  The original pressure bar was fit into the barrel and seated against top of the button hole.  The polished button was then placed over the pressure bar in the button hole.  Testing of the bar by pressing on the button revealed a perfect fit.  The button pressed down and came back up when released.  Water testing revealed a nice flow of water after the sac was filled and released.    Finally, I cleaned the blind cap threads and put a bit of silicon grease on them to assure a smooth  twist.

I did not post a photo of the pencil prior to restoration as it was clean and relatively unused.  I polished the barrel and cap at the same time I polished the pen barrel and cap and that was all that was necessary.  The lead was still in the pencil as well.  The mechanism is a twist of the cap to release the lead.

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The finished product(s) are below.  The date code on the pen is the first quarter of 1941, in Janesville, Wisconsin.  Striped Duofolds were produced by Parker from 1940 to 1948.  They were produced in both Vacumatic Filler and Button Filler options.  The two major cosmetic differences between the two are the black blind cap and visulated section (seen in the bottom picture below).

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As I have mentioned before, these Striped Duofolds are not as widely collected as Parker Vacumatics, or early Duofolds, but are very well built pens that are a nice addition to any collection.

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February 1, 2009 Posted by | Duofold, Parker Pen Company, Striped Duofold | , | 1 Comment

   

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