Fountain Pen Restoration

1939 Parker Vacumatic Standard

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love restoring Vacumatics.  They present a challenge, more steps, more chances for mistakes, but the reward is high.  The colorful shiny finish and transparency is a nice finish to the project.  They can’t all be burgundy double jewels, but some are better than others.  Large double-jewels are very nice looking pens and I enjoy the larger size for writing.

This weeks restoration is just such a pen.  Measuring in at 5 3/8″ capped and 6 1/8 posted it is a substantial pen in the hand.  I picked it up for just over $20 and these types of finds are why I don’t buy new pens.

As you can see, it came apart to its 13 basic components, not counting the destroyed  diaphragm.  All parts are in good shape, just a bit dirty.  The cleaning was done first, using an ultrasonic cleaner on the metal parts (except for the filler unit).  I really like this model as the speedline filler is still metal and the section and cap / barrel ends are all striped to match the golden pearl body.  As with previous repairs on vacs that I have covered (see the Categories List on the right of this page under Parker Vacumatic), it is important to clean the inside of the barrel, removing all of the old diaphragm.  It likes to hide by attaching itself to the side of the barrel.  Be sure to be gentle in removing it so you don’t scar the barrel, reducing its transparency.

This size Vacumatic took a Standard Size diaphragm which was attached to the speedline filler and inserted back into the barrel using a vac tool.  Always check the barrel by using a gooseneck light (before screwing in the section/feed/nib/breather tube) to make sure the unit and diaphragm are in securely and cleanly.  The light should show the diaphragm in a nice clean circle at the end of the barrel and the unit should move cleanly when the filler is depressed.  I usually put my tongue over the barrel to feel the vacuum suction a few times.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, a good Vacumatic diaphragm lubricant is available at  It aids in getting the diaphragm and filler back into the pen with no bunching.


The finished product is below.  The pen measures 5 3/8″ closed and 6 1/8 inches posted, though I feel this pen is too large to post comfortably.

39 gold 3

From the photos below you can see that this is the normal two-tone nib for these pens.  The pen dates from 1939.  Golden pearl Vacumatics first appeared in 1936 and the streamline fillers began replacing lockdown fillers in 1937.  During WWII, these filling units became plastic to conserve metals.

39 gold 2

39 gold 1

The nib on this pen, aside from being two-tone, has a nice generous medium nib, almost bordering on broad.  This is always a bonus when searching for vintage Parker Fountain Pens in the wild.


September 15, 2009 Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | , | 6 Comments


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