Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker Canadian 51 Set

This set came to me in a trade for some extra parts that I had in my possession.  I was interested in this particular set because it is a Canadian one and the gold caps are in quite good shape.  You can see from the photo below that there is one small ding in the pen cap, but that everything else seems to be in order.

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I first started with the pencil.  Vacumatic pencils were rotary pencils, meaning the cap is twisted to load the lead and to expel new supplies.  I used 0.9mm black lead in this pencil and it is ready to go.  I polished the cap and cone with metal polish and then cleaned up the pencil body with a combination of scratch remover, polish and wax.

The pen presented no particular problems other than the need for a new diaphragm and general clean up.  I thoroughly cleaned all of the parts above, paying particular attention to the barrel and any stray pieces of the old diaphragm that always seem to stubbornly stick to the barrel, just inside the top where the vac filler sits.  The breather tube, another problem area, was in good shape with no cracks or  holes.   The nib was a pleasant surprise as it is probably a medium, which is always a nice find as so many of these vintage 51s have fine nibs.  I used a debutante sized diaphragm on this 51 and the re-installation went well.  I polished the cap and nib with metal polish and the barrel, cap, and hood with scratch remover/polish/ and wax.  The blue diamond (which I failed to capture above) was devoid of its blue coloring. To replace this, I use Testor’s Enamel Model Paint Number 110 – Blue. I dip a pin into the paint and get a small amount on the pin head. I then touch the pin head in the diamond and the small amount usually fills the diamond perfectly without spreading over the edges. The resulting pen and pencil set is below.

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The date code is located on the barrel, at the point where it meets the trim ring and the hood.  It reads

PARKER 51

MADE IN CANADA

6
Thus, the pen is a Dove Grey Canadian made set from 1946.  You can see from these photos that the pencil has discolored (the last photo in the box is the most accurate).  This is attributed to the fact that they were made from different materials.  The pens were made of Lucite and the pencils were made of Celluloid.  The celluloid has not stood up as well over time.  These Dove Grey pencils tend to turn darker and greenish.

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Referencing the excellent book on Parker 51s ~ Parker 51, by David and Mark Shepherd – gives some background on the box that this set came in.  It was a designed by Robert Gruen and Associates of New York during the 1940s for Parker 51 sets.  Another Gruen presentation box appears in my post of April 9, 2010 – Double Jewel Parker 51.  This box is a little different in that it is a lighter faux leather and designed for single jewel models.

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The photo below is the best representation of the color difference between the pen and the pencil of this set.  Aside from discoloration of the pencil, this is an excellent set and representation of Canadian Vacumatics for a collection.

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May 9, 2011 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , | 1 Comment

Parker 51 Damaged Filler Units

Happy New Year!

This past week I worked on a Cordovan Parker 51 Vacumatic.  I have each of the primary 51 Vacumatic colors in my collection, but not Cordovan Brown.  When I had the opportunity to acquire this one to complete the four color run ~ India Black. Cedar Blue, and Dove Grey being the other three ~ I jumped at the chance.  The price was very reasonable, and the photo below will confirm why.  After taking the pen completely apart, I discovered that someone had already attempted to repair it, as is evidenced by the filler unit below.  The top unit is what I found after I removed it from the barrel.  There was no sign of a diaphragm in the barrel which confirmed to me that the pen had been taken apart at some point and an attempt at repair had been made.  It is always a good idea to have extra filling units if you are going to work on 51s and Vacumatics, as this is not a rare problem.  As you can see from the top photo, the cup that holds the diaphragm pellet has been damaged and will no longer hold the pellet and thus the vacumatic filling system will not work.  This usually occurs when attempts to remove the old pellet are done incorrectly or with lack of care.

Fortunately, I had some spare units, accumulated over the years.  The bottom unit was a perfect fit and you can see that it is in fine shape.

I inserted a debutante diaphragm on to the filler and inserted it back in to the barrel.  I have covered 51 vacumatic restoration in many posts and if you would like a more detailed description of the entire process, here are a few links to prior articles:

Black And Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic September 25, 2008

Parker Vacumatic June 13, 2008

This pen is interesting for another reason.  As you can see by the imprint below, it was Made in the USA, but bears a T7  imprint with three dots.  This indicates that is was assembled in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the first quarter of 1947 from parts that were manufactured in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The following was taken from my article of June 9th of this year, and summarizes some of the US /Canada Parker 51 relationships ~

The Canadian division of Parker was started in Toronto, Ontario in 1923.  It began strictly as an assembly location, assembling pens to be distributed in the UK.  At the time, laws prevented product to be produced and shipped from the US to Great Britain, so the Canadian solution was devised.  Eventually, the Toronto location began to manufacture as well.  During WWII it manufactured war parts for Britain.  By the time the 51 Vacumatic came along, during and after WWII, these pens were manufactured in Toronto, as well as simply assembled there.  This pen (well, at least the barrel) was assembled only in Toronto, based on the T6 (edit: T7 for this pen) imprint.  Had it been manufactured there it would have had a “Made in Canada” imprint and no “T” before the date code.

Business must have been good in Canada, as Parker expanded after WWII and opened up an ink production facility in London, Ontario.  They also began making 51 Vacumatics in England in 1947.

Below are photos of the final result – a full sized Parker 51 / Vacumatic from 1947.  Keep an eye out for the more rare colors ~ Tan, Mustard, and Nassau Green.  They are much more difficult to find, quite expensive if sold as restored, but very desirable, especially with double jewels.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , , | 2 Comments

US Made / Canadian Assembled Parker 51

This week’s pen is another Parker 51.  I don’t mean to repeat myself with another Cedar Blue 51, but this is a bit different.  It was assembled in Canada, and that comes with a little bit of history.

First the restoration ~ the photo below shows the component parts prior to restoration.  The collector and nib are quite clean.  This is due to the fact that I ran them through the ultrasonic cleaner prior to help get them separated.  As you can see, all of the parts are in good shape, and the pen has a plastic speedline filler, consistent with its 1946 date.  The pen is Cedar Blue in color.

cedar T6

I have added a second photo here of the filler unit and nib/feed/collector here for reference.  This is what they should look like prior to insertion to their respective ends of the barrel.  Always put the filler unit in first so that you can see into the barrel to make sure it has settled in correctly and the vacuum effect is efficient.

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Below is a photo of the pen after assembly, showing the correct placement of the filler in the rear of the barrel and a successful placement of the shell around the collector/feed/nib.  A bit of tweaking is always necessary to get the nib perfectly lined up in the shell, but this is simple as the collector is friction fit to the barrel and can be adjusted quite easily.

Closer examination will also show that the cap has changed between the before and after photos.  51s present a myriad of combinations when it comes to caps.  There were well over 20 different caps made for Vacumatics, and there is very little guarantee when you find one in the wild that it is the original cap.  Collectors switch caps (I just did here) and it is very difficult (if not impossible) to determine if the cap is original.

The cap that came with this pen was a Lustraloy with plain silver clip.  As this pen dates to 1946 (see below), I felt that a blue diamond clip was more appropriate.  I know it is not original, as it came from my parts bin, but it looks better.  Should I ever resell this pen, it is very important to let the potential buyer(s) know of this change.  I only wish this was a common practice.

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On to the history lesson.  Much of this came from the Parker 51 book, by David and Mark Shepherd.  Anyone with an interest in 51s should pick this book up.  It is a great read and the photos are comprehensive.

The date code on the barrel of this pen reads Parker “51” Made in USA T6.  This indicates that the pen parts were made in the Janesville, Wisconsin factory, shipped to Canada and assembled there in 1946.

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The Canadian division of Parker was started in Toronto, Ontario in 1923.  It began strictly as an assembly location, assembling pens to be distributed in the UK.  At the time, laws prevented product to be produced and shipped from the US to Great Britain, so the Canadian solution was devised.  Eventually, the Toronto location began to manufacture as well.  During WWII it manufactured war parts for Britain.  By the time the 51 Vacumatic came along, during and after WWII, these pens were manufactured in Toronto, as well as simply assembled there.  This pen (well, at least the barrel) was assembled only in Toronto, based on the T6 imprint.  Had it been manufactured there it would have had a “Made in Canada” imprint and no “T” before the date code.

Business must have been good in Canada, as Parker expanded after WWII and opened up an ink production facility in London, Ontario.  They also began making 51 Vacumatics in England in 1947.

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The pen comes with a 1946 marked fine point and fills well.  No nib smoothing necessary with this nib.

So the next time that you run across a Parker 51, make sure to check the imprints ~ they always tell a story.

Note:  Please read Comment Dated 1-17-10 below in which my information above is corrected and further information is provided.  Thank you.  PM

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , , | 3 Comments

   

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