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The Pen Doctor XIV

(This page published October 1, 2007)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

Fixing Parker “51” Cap Clutches (Not!)

Q:How can I remove the split/clutch ring inside Parker “51” aero caps? I’d like to be able to get inside and chase out a few minor dings.

℞x:Rx Unfortunately, what you want to do is, at least sometimes, not feasible. I’ve discussed this with Daniel Kirchheimer, who removes cap dings professionally, and his answer is that it’s possible with precious-metal caps (gold filled, solid gold, sterling, and coin silver) but difficult if not outright impossible with stainless steel (Lustraloy, Flighters, etc.). The image here will help you to see why. Note how the edge of the cap is rolled inward to form a lip that holds the clutch spring in place. With precious metal, you can use a special tool to roll the lip open and gain access to the spring. But stainless steel goes through a change called work hardening; when it is bent, it becomes harder than it was originally. (To see work hardening in action, bend a coat hanger, then try to get the bent place perfectly straight again.) Rolling the lip during manufacture work hardened the cap material, and attempting to roll it open can damage the cap beyond repair by bending the exposed surface and often splitting the rolled-in lip.

More on Leaking Targa Nibs

Q:Thanks for your advice on the how to repair leaking Targa Nibs. Would you give further information about how to disassemble the nib?

℞x:To disassemble a Targa nib section, you need heat. Do not run out and buy a $24.95 heat gun with two settings; these settings, although they’re usually labeled Low and High, should actually be labeled Too Hot and Even Hotter. I use a rubber stamper’s embossing-type heat gun like the one illustrated in How to Replace a Pen Sac. A hair dryer might work on its highest setting, but most hair dryers do not concentrate the heat in a small enough area. You also need section pliers; I find that this works best if you have two pairs, but you can get by with one.

Empty the pen and flush it until the water comes out clear. Put the barrel back on and wrap the nib end in several thicknesses of paper towel. Grasp the barrel and shake the pen down vigorously the way you used to shake down a medical thermometer before electronics took over the world. Remove the barrel. If you are using a cartridge or a piston converter, remove it and replace it with a squeeze converter; this will provide extra strength during disassembly.

Pen Now heat the section, concentrating most of the heat toward the joint (indicated in the image here) near the threaded connecting bushing that screws into the barrel. Using your section pliers, unscrew the two halves; you can grasp the threaded bushing and the tapered section shell, exercising due care not to crush them. With the two halves separated, you can now push the internal parts gently backward and out the rear end of the section. Do not lose the rubber gasket that seals between the feed and the cartridge nipple.

Following the directions on the sealant container, apply the sealant from the underside of the nib, at the edge where the plastic section ends. When it’s time to reassemble the pArts, use orange shellac or sac cement to seal the threaded joint. (You may need to clean off some of the original cement before the parts will screw back together.)

Finding Replacement Nibs for Inexpensive Pens

Q:My mother-in-law owns a Waterman Phileas Fountain Pen. Not an expensive pen, but one she enjoys using. Her pen has a Medium nib and she would like a Fine nib. Where would I purchase a replacement nib that quite frankly wasn’t more expensive than just buying a new pen? Are nibs standard sizes, or do you have to buy the specific nib for the model of pen you have?

℞x:Waterman discontinued the Philéas in 2008, and the supply of replacement Philéas nibs that Waterman’s repair center used to have is gone. This means that the only way to find a nib for your mother-in-law’s pen is probably to seek one on the secondary market, including auction sites such as eBay — and this could mean buying a complete NOS pen or a used one that might or might not have been reconditioned. If it’s not necessary that the new nib have the same gold plating that the existing nib has; the Waterman Kultur, never sold in the U.S.A. but available in Europe, is a less expensive model that uses the same nib, minus the plating. Section assemblies, although not the same color, are interchangeable. Here are photos of a Philéas and a Kultur for comparison:

Waterman Kultur, Red

A more generalized answer is that nibs are not standard. Each pen manufacturer decides on the shapes and sizes of its nibs, and whether the manufacturer makes the nibs or buys them from a nib maker, they are still unique to some extent. That said, there are many cases in which nibs can interchange; for example, all Edison pens that use the larger of Edison’s nib sizes can use each other’s nibs because Edison is a small company and buys nibs in quantity for use in several pen models. This also applies to Visconti, Stipula, and nearly all small makers that buy from Bock JoWo, or Schmidt, the three big German nib makers. Larger companies like Aurora, Parker, Pelikan, Sheaffer, and Waterman, however, make their own nibs, and each pen model uses a nib that is unique to that model.

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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