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 | ,


  1. That’s a lovely pen. The only oversize First Generation Vacumatic I own, a Grey Pearl, I got for a similar price at a flea market. Spent $100 to get it worked up at the Fountain Pen Hospital, but it was well worth it. One can imagine this pen would cost eyes-out-of-the-head, especially given the final, pretty result.

    I use 51s as my regular work pens, but I adore the design of the Vacumatic. Feels wonderful, too. I’ve been slowly trying to get one of each colour in working condition, and then getting the various types.

    (I’d love to have found that Shadow-wave you had some days ago!)

    Comment by Eric O. Costello | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. What a looker 🙂 Have been searching for a pen like that to fix up too…

    Comment by leon | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. What a great find. I think that most restorers do not strip a pen down to component parts the way you do, and your end results show that it’s worth the extra effort.

    Comment by Jon | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

    Comment by JimmyBean | October 1, 2009 | Reply

  5. Great site! I just got my first Vacumatic, on eBay. Looking forward to having it restored.

    Comment by waynekspear | July 22, 2010 | Reply

  6. i have a 37 juniorette vacumatic pen and pencil set

    it has a blue emblem in the arrow-shaped clip on pen cap, twist-on cap

    its also got a two tone nib but it has an arrow on it as well, arrow is gold, rest is silver. also it says parker/usa .25

    transparent in the middle of the pen, “vacumatic/made in usa/ 37” enscribed on middle (past the transparent part)-end of the pen

    pencil is opaque and in good condition. came in a white box and gold plated trimming


    Comment by lisa | November 8, 2010 | Reply

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