Fountain Pen Restoration

Gold Bond Stonite Desk Pen

I have previously covered desk pen restoration in my posts of December 21, 2007 and January 19, 2008, titled Rube Goldberg Ink Delivery Machine and Fishing For A Desk Base.  Both of those were Sheaffer Desk pens. This week I worked on a Gold Bond Stonite Desk Pen.

After taking the pen apart, a couple of items stand out.  First, there is quite a bit of discoloration at the end of the barrel, where the section was seated.  I am not certain what caused this, but suspect it was the hard rubber of the section bleeding into the plastic of the green barrel.  There was no sign of an old sac or pressure bar inside the pen.  This leads me to believe that someone had taken the pen apart at some point to attempt to clean or repair it.  They may have just decided to use it as a dip pen as the nib and inside of the base were caked with ink.

I, unfortunately, did not take a picture of the base before restoration, but the black marble material was quite clean.  The “trumpet”, or black holder for the tip of the pen, was coated with dried blue ink.  The gold swivel base between the trumpet and the base was tarnished and stained.

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I removed the section, which was friction fit, from the barrel and had a bit of trouble removing the nib and feed from the section.  I finally soaked it in the ultrasonic cleaner for 3 minutes and then was able to knock it out.  I cleaned these out and polished the nib.  One thing to remember on desk pens – the feed needs to be thoroughly cleaned as it is often much dirtier and caked with ink than in a regular capped pen.  The nib and feed have often been sitting in the base for years and the ink has pooled in the base.  This feed was a good example as the dried ink had filled all of the channels.  So, I gave it a long swim in the cleaner and then used dental floss to clean out these channels.  It worked surprisingly well and there was no risk of damaging the rubber.  Thanks to my local dental hygienist!

The barrel needed to be cleaned and I wanted to try and remove the stained area near the section as much as possible.  The stain seemed to extend through the plastic, but I used a small piece of 1000 grit sandpaper to work on a 1/2 inch strip near the section end.  After about 10 minutes of careful sanding, I polished the entire barrel using scratch remover, then polish, and them carnuba wax and a buffing wheel.  The results were very good and the brown staining has disappeared.

I needed to place a new j-bar into the barrel which is quite narrow.  I had to bend the j part of the barrel inwards a bit to allow it to seat properly into the barrel and align with the lever.  Then I attached a thin sac (size 15 1/2) to the section/feed/nib assembly.  After allowing the sac cement to dry I reinserted it into the barrel.

The base was the next project.  As I mentioned, the black marble base was clean.  It no longer had a felt cushion underneath to prevent it from scratching the desk, so I went out to the local craft store and purchase some green felt, cut it to the right size, and glued it to the bottom.

Next, I polished the black trumpet and then the gold swivel.  Special attention needs to be paid to the trumpet because, as with the feeds, they are often filled with caked on ink.  This was no exception, and I sat it upside down in the ultrasonic cleaner (before attaching the felt) for a while to help dislodge more blue ink.

Below is the finished product.

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Here is a close-up photo of the Warranted No. 4 Nib.  I have seen Gold Bond pens with Gold Bond nibs and with Warranted Nibs.

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As I have mentioned in previous posts, Gold Bond Pens were produced in Chicago, probably by National Pen Products. They were marketed by Montgomery Ward Stores, both in stores and through catalogs. I do not know the exact year that this pen was produced, but given the green marble plastic and its popularity with other pens of the time (Parker Duofolds / Sheaffer Flat Tops ….) I would speculate it was sold in the late 1920s.

I also do not know if the base is original to the pen.  I purchase it with the pen, and the pen seats well in the trumpet, but the only way to be certain would be to see advertising from the period, which I have been unable to locate thus far.  I will put this forward as a research project and add to this post at a later date should I find further information.

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I am not a desk pen user, except for a simple Esterbrook set on my workbench that I use to write in my repair journal, so I will probably not use this one.  It will occupy a proud spot on top of my pen case however, as the green plastic really shines.

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December 17, 2008 Posted by | Desk Pens, Gold Bond Pens, Montgomery Ward | , , | 2 Comments

Lakeside Thumb Flller

The pen I worked on this week is a Lakeside “thumb filler”. I will call it a thumb filler, though there is not a sleeve on the barrel that protects the bar which is inside the thumb hole. You can see the components, prior to repair, below. The top three items are the barrel, internal sleeve, and pressure bar which will sit atop the sac inside the sleeve. The sleeve is made of brass or similar metal and the barrel and cap of black chased hard rubber (BCHR).

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In a previous post (12/11/07) I talked about a Lakeside pen that was one of the fountain pen brands of Montgomery Wards. I am less certain about this pen. In the early 1900s there was another Chicago based retailer of various items, Lapp & Flershem, that had brand pens by the names of Banner, Lakeside, and Remington. Lapp & Flershem went out of business in 1922. I do not know if there was a relationship between the two companies either before or after the end of Lapp and Flershem.

Thus, I am not sure who made this pen (National Pen Products / Chicago) and where they were sold (Montgomery Ward, Lapp & Flershem). If someone has some insight, I would appreciate a comment to this post to educate us all. To me, that is half the fun of vintage pens – unraveling their pasts.

Here is a closeup of the imprint. The shading on the BCHR leads me to believe there was a small cover for the thumb hole at one time.

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The restoration involved cleaning the pressure bar, nib feed and section completely. I also polished the internal sleeve, though it is not visible. It now shines and is a brass color. I put the nib, feed and section back together and attached a size 18 sac to the section with sac cement. After drying overnight I placed the pressure bar on to the top of the sac and slid the sleeve over the bar and sac. The pressure bar sits on the sac below where the sac attached to the section to allow free movement when pressed and to allow the sleeve to fit to the section. The barrel is then screwed into the section, being careful to align the pressure bar with the barrel thumb hole.

Below is the finished product – water tested and ready to write.

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Just for fun, I thought I would post a modern version of this old filling system. In 2001, the Ohio (USA) based fountain pen manufacturer, Bexley, produced a sleeve filler. I was able to acquire one of these last year and replaced the sac.

Here is a picture of this new version of an old filler. It is fun when one of these old systems is brought back.

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The total cost for the Lakeside pen was about 10% of the modern Bexley. Both are nice pens, but it shows that you can obtain quality pens that write well (and with flex) at an attractive price. The restoration and history lessons are an added bonus.

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Hard Rubber Pen, Lakeside Pens, Montgomery Ward | , | 2 Comments

Hybrid Gold Bond Fountain Pen

This was a unique pen restoration and I am not certain that I followed the correct procedures, but it works and is worthy of discussion. I like Gold Bond pens. I have a few Gold Bond Stonite pens and they are very well made, solid, and are good writers. So, I jumped at the chance to purchase this one. What I found on the inside was a mystery to me. As you can see in the first picture below (of the pen after taking it apart) the section is a screw fit. This means that it screws in to the barrel. While this is not unique, what is unique is that there is no place to attach a sac to the section. Also, on the inside of the barrel there is a collar. The pen was easy to clean up and all of the parts were salvageable, except for the sac, which was dust, and provided no clues as to where it was attached. My first thought was that the section had an additional part to it, extending into the barrel. But it was not there and this did not explain the collar inside the barrel.

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I decided to put the pen down, think about it for a while, and I went to my Moleskine notebook to draw it out. The idea I came up with is shown below. I will apologize here for the poor artwork (especially the head scratching). What I decided to try was to attach a narrow (size 14 1/2 – usually used in Snorkels)sac to the collar. In doing so, I was creating a filling system that has two chambers: the sac / lever chamber and the chamber between the collar and the section/feed/nib. This is essentially an eyedropper section. The section is a clear (visualated) one, so the ink level will be entirely visible. The only areas for leakage would be the lever opening which will be protected by the sac, and the section, is a screw fit and can be sealed by silicone grease. I was not sure this was the correct solution, but was willing to give it a try.

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I cleaned all of the parts above, put the nib/feed/ section back together and inserted the sac to the collar, by carefully coating the collar and outside of the sac with sac cement. I let this dry for a day, before continuing, as it seem to me to be the weakest point in my plan. I tested this adherence by pushing the lever several times and checking my cement point. It seems to have held. I then coated the threads of the section with silicone grease to give a water tight seal and screwed it into the barrel. The finished pen is shown below. Now to try it out with water. I put the tip in a glass of water and moved the lever to deflate the sac. Water was sucked up into the pen. I let it sit for a day and then pushed the lever and water came back out of the nib. I then unscrewed the section and checked my sac, which was still solid against the collar. So, I have a working pen. I am still not sure if this is the way this pen was designed, if I am missing some original parts, or if my head scratching clouded my vision. But, I have a nice looking Gold Bond pen ready to write.

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Gold Bond pens were a Montgomery Ward Store brand – sold in Stores and through their catalogs. In my December 11, 2007 entry – Store Pens – I talked about another Montgomery Ward brand – Lakeside. Possible manufacturers / parts providers are speculated to be National Pen Products (Chicago) / C. E. Barrett.

Here is a close-up of the nib. As you can see, the iridium tip is still intact. As with all of my restorations, comments and questions are welcome. I would love to know the correct restore on this one and if I am missing any original parts.

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March 28, 2008 Posted by | Gold Bond Pens, Montgomery Ward | , | 2 Comments

Store Pens

Not storing pens – that will be the subject of another post at another time – but Store Pens. Many “department” stores, or “drug” stores, had their own brand of pens that were only available at their stores (or through mail order from them). In the introductory post of this blog, I showed an Eaton Pen, available through the Canadian Eaton Stores. Many US stores also had their own brands of Fountain Pens. I will highlight a few that I have restored with a bit of their history.

Lakeside

Lakeside pens were made for Montgomery Ward Stores to sell both in-store and through catalogs. Here is a discolored green flat-top lever filler that I have had for quite some time. I picked up the box and instructions at a later date, thus they are not original to the pen. The discoloration is due to the sac and ink inside deteriorating over time and reacting to the celluloid exterior.

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The nib is a nice Warranted Number 8, and this pen is ready to write.

Webster

Webster is one of the Sears pens. They sold more than Webster’s, and I will get to some of those brands in later posts, but I will show a couple of examples of Webster Pens here. The first is a BCHR (black chased hard rubber) pen that probably dates to the 1920s. Sears contracted with Chicago area manufacturers to make their pens and their are several theories as to who manufactured these pens.

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As you can see, the chasing of the black hard rubber is excellent on this pen. I have not yet restored this pen. It is in my repair queue and I hope to get to it shortly. It will need a new sac and pressure bar, but the rest of the pen is spotless, as you can see. The nib is a Warranted No. 4.

Here is another Webster, dating to the 1930s which looks very similar to a few Parker pens of the time period. There is speculation that Parker Pens made some of these for Sears at their Janesville, Wisconsin location. This is a button filler and I installed a new pressure bar and sac, as well as cleaning up the nib, feed and button. It writes well and has a Webster 14k No. 4 nib. I really like this pen due to the similarities it shares with the Parker Parkette and Challenger, which are of the same era.

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These pens are just the tip of the iceberg, when discussing store-brand pens. Future posts will discuss Rexall, Thompson, and other Sears brands.

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Lakeside Pens, Montgomery Ward, Parker Pen Company, Sears, Webster Pen | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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