Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How not to adjust a fountain pen nib

In a recent discussion on The Fountian Pen Network, I decided that I ought to clarify my intent when posting up these "how not to's".

Some people took some very light offense at repairers posting about how badly people goof up stuff.

I prefer to look at it in a different light:

We all make mistakes, and we need to learn to laugh at them! So, posts like these will be given a very lighthearted manner to them, thus ensuring that we are not mocking anyone, or discouraging people from doing "home-repairs". We are all here to learn, and we can benefit from others mistakes, and have a good time doing it too. I prefer to laugh with my clients, not at them when I get a busted pen. I laugh with them, because I've made the same mistakes before!

Now onto the post. :)

So, onto my workbench rolls this lovely Sailor 1911. Black in color, and with rhodium trim (a favorite classy-combo of mine). I was told by the client that the pen was originally rather scratchy and unpleasant to write with, and so he attempted some nib tuning.

When I uncapped the pen, one definitive thought came to my head - razor blade. I know the look of a nib that has "danced with the knife". It's not a pretty look either, though it does exhibit a bit of "rustic-charm". :) I do commend you all to not take a knife to your $200.00 nibs, but this man obviously has confidence, and that's a good thing!

Here's what was presented to me:

At first glance, it's a lovely pen. I always thought black and silver made for a striking combination.

Doesn't look to bad uncapped, so far...

And then we take a closer look at that nib.

The tip of the nib was spread apart in a rather unsightly manner. It also prevented any type of capillary flow required to put ink on to paper! There were a few nicks to the side of the left tine. Not to bad - I've seen much worse. Sadly though, this nib being rhodium plated means I cannot polish out the scratches/nicks in it, unless the client wants a gold nib instead. :)

The bottom of the nib looked a little worse. Indeed, I find the feed rather reminiscent of a snakes tongue. :)

So, it was time for some cleaning, burnishing, and solvent welding!

After removing the nib. I slowly worked the tines back together. It's amazing how many ways a tine can be out of alignment. It was spread to far open, the tines were up/down misaligned, and they were twisted. Still not to bad though, but enough to prevent the nib from writing at all. I think the twist in the tines was already here. I'm not saying anything particularly against Sailor, but... This is the third time in a row I've seen this problem on one of their pens. The tines were twisted, and the nib was flat-footed, thus creating a scratchy writing surface for the user. Now luckily it's not terribly difficult to twist the back, and smooth them out. But I think Sailor ought to get that right at the factory.

Again, maybe it's just chance that all three Sailor pens I've worked on recently have had this exact same problem. But this is really besides the point, pun intended. ;)

After getting the tines aligned, it was time to tackle that split feed. Surely enough with some precision, and patience, a good MEK solvent weld was established. Then some polishing took care of any marks still left on the feed.

And now, after much work, patience, and time:

Looking much better I think. And guess what? She writes again! Beautifully too.

Now this one's a cool repair.
Check that feed out! I sealed up that snake-tongue good. :)
*I did notice that the feed somehow got askew for the photo - time to go tweak it over...*
You'll want to click on this picture. It'll open it up "super-sized" in a new tab, so you can really look at that feed.

So, I think we can mark this nib off as saved! I'm sure the owner will be much happier now with a nib that looks cosmetically good, and writes properly too.

Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, I had a really good time working on this nib. :) I love these types of repairs. They don't come up that often, but when they do, I'm all over them!

Well I hope you've enjoyed this little repair lesson! Please drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.  I'd love to hear from you.

Also, you can me and yourself a huge favor by subscribing. It keeps you updated on all the newest posts here, and it lets me know that you enjoy reading my blog. It's particularly helpful because this blog is new, and subscribing puts it up higher in peoples search-engines. I want people to be able to find and use the information here, and to gain some help from reading through it!

Until next time then!

Tyler Dahl

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