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The Pen Doctor XXXVIII

(This page published January 1, 2022)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

Ink to use with “Rite in the Rain” Paper

Q:I use Montblancs, Lamy Safaris, and Pilot Metropolitans with varying inks by Noodlers, Montblanc, Waterman, and Lamy in whichever pen suits my fancy. I'm looking for an ink that will write well on "Rite in the Rain" paper. All of the inks mentioned don't absorb or mark the paper as it seems to be coated so as to make it water proof. Ball point pens such as Fisher Space and Sharpie markers white on that paper well. Perhaps you might offer a suggestion for an ink to use in my fountain pens?

℞x:I'm sorry, but you're out of luck with fountain pens. The paper is treated to make it waterproof, and fountain pen ink is water based. The paper works for ballpoints because their ink is grease-based, not water based. It works for laser printers and copiers but not for inkjet printers for the same reason: inkjets use water-based ink.


Good Material for Polishing Pens

Q:Can you recommend a good material for polishing the plastic part of the pen and also metal parts?

℞x:For general cleaning and maintenance, Flitz Metal Polish is excellent. Flitz comes either as a paste or as a liquid. I recommend the paste for ease of application. Follow the instructions on the tube, and don't over-polish. The thin gold plating on many cheaply made vintage pens can be rubbed off quite easily.


For restoring the shine of a pen that has dulled from wear, a more aggressive polish is needed. I use Simichrome Metal Polish for this. Be careful with Simichrome. It is abrasive, and it will take off cheap gold plating in seconds.


Use only a 100% cotton flannel cloth with these or any other polishes you use on pens. The fibers of some synthetic materials are harder than the materials of which many pen bodies are made, and they can scratch your pen.

There is additional information in this site’s page about Essential Tools and Supplies for Pen Repair. Please read it before you start working.

Removing an Ossified Diaphragm from a Vacumatic

Q:I love restoring my own pens but run into problems on Vacumatics when the diaphragm is ossified to the seating cup in the distal end of the barrel. How can I more easily remove the remains of the ossified diaphragm and not mar up the cup in doing it?

℞x:To do the job most easily, you need a dental scaler of the right shape. I show two scalers here. The first one is the tool I've been using since I started working on pens back in the 20th century. An intensive Google search, however, has failed to turn up this exact tool, so I’ve found something different that will do the same job if you’re willing to modify it. That’s the second scaler. It’s a Towner-Jacquette U15/33 dental scaler, and you can buy it for about $7.00 at Amazon. The right end of this tool will serve well if you straighten out the bend a little to match the curve of my scaler and then grind or file it so that the blade is thinner, more like a dull knife. The “edge” will be on the outside of the curve; it must not be sharp, or it will cut into the material of the pen’s barrel. I have a scaler that I modified in this way, and it works exactly as expected.


After you’ve removed the filler pump and as much of the diaphragm as will come out easily, use the scaler to carve around the conical seat (the “cup”). Don't dig at the rubber or try to pry it out, carve around the opening as shown in the photo here. The upper arrow is pointing to the edge of the diaphragm, which shows as a distinct ridge. The lower arrow is pointing to a red line that shows where the scaler’s edge contacts the diaphragm.

Carving out the diaphragm

The rubber could be so ossified that it’s really hard; if that’s happened, you will be almost scraping it out. Work until you have it all gone, as shown in the next photo (highlighted to bring up the barrel interior). I used a brass brush to remove any clinging bits of adhesive or ossified rubber. You should not use shellac or any other adhesive to secure the diaphragm when reinstalling it.

Barrel with the diaphragm cleaned out

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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