Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's restored?

This post is really about something that's been on my mind for a while.

It seems like everyone's got a different definition of what "restored" means, when referring to a fountain pen. Fact is, there is no exact definition of that word, in this application. Each restorer pics his own meaning, based on what he or she thinks is the best thing to do. Or at least that's how it should be (were we in a perfect world).

Sadly these days I run into a lot of "restorations" that have suffered from lack of attention to detail.

In the last week or two, I have come across more than 5-6 different pens that have suffered from a poor repair job! I am surprised by that number, even with the high volume of pens that I deal with.

This is something that really disappoints me, knowing that there are repairers out there who lack the proper attention to detail for the job. I'm not talking silly little mistakes - I'm talking mistakes that put the pen back in the repair shop in a matter of weeks or months. Those kind of mistakes are unacceptable to me, and I expect they are to you as well.

Take a look at some of these examples of "restored" pens. You'll be pretty amazed to know that these are not the worst of them! :)

Here's a quick snapshot (with my iPod Touch - bad photo I know) right in the middle of a restoration job. This pen was "restored". What you see below is a large chunk of ossified sac, that was still inside the pen stuck to the wall! That is NOT restored in my book. How about you?

Here's one where someone cut this Esterbrook sac to long. Restorers, know what you're doing before you do it! This caused the sac to crumple as you can see in the photo below. It was also causing problems with the lever.

 Here's an example of the word "restored" really being abused. Or the right side you see someones definition of a restored sac and j-bar. Not only was the sac to long, the j-bar was never de-rusted! Look at how this sac looks, after only a few weeks of being "restored". I can't imagine this pen lasting for much longer than 2-3 years before needing another job. On the left is my section and sac, trimmed to the proper length. Needless to say, this j-bar spent a lot of time with me, and a piece of steel wool shortly after this picture was taken.

It's pens like this that make me want to be all the more sure that not just me, but my customers know what I mean when I say restored. For me, restored is not just getting a pen to work.

To me, "restoring" is bringing a pen to the point where it is functioning at the maximum of it's abilities.

It's getting a pen to work at it's maximum. To function as best it can. Cutting corners is always an option, but not for those who seek to provide a writing instrument that will truly last. Here at my workshop, it's always quality over quantity. I'd rather get one pen-a-month done properly, than do 10 pens a day improperly.

To me, a fountain pen is an instrument of quality, craftsmanship, and a thing that deserves respect. I reason that restorers should put quality, true craftsmanship, and respect into all their work. The pen deserves no less, but most importantly, the customer.

To all of you who attempt home repairs, or repairs for your friends: I encourage you to keep doing those repairs! DIY repairs are fun, educational, and exciting. But make sure you are doing them the right way. Check your pens carefully, take your time, and don't cut any corners!

Finally, if as a restorer you do happen to make a mistake (we all do, including me), this is the #1 thing you need to know: Be 100% honest, and tell them the truth. I have made mistakes before with paying customers,  and you know what: They all responded so positively, kindly, and gently to me. Why? Because I told them the honest truth, and I offered to make it right with them. Yes, make it right. That means you pay for whatever damage, and a little bit more. It can hurt a little, but for me it's always been easy. I feel good knowing that my customer is satisfied, and that even though I made a mistake, now that I've set things right I can say that I've done my job well. :)

That's all for today's post. I really felt I needed to share with you all. Like I said earlier, it's really been on my mind this week due to the number of pens I've seen with this problem.

Leave me a comment and share your experiences. Have you ever had a pen that was improperly repaired? Was the problem corrected, by the restorer? I'd love to hear your take on this.

Don't forget to subscribe for all the latest news and updates! And thanks for taking the time to read this today. It's important to me that the word gets spread, about how to properly go about repairing fountain pens.

Tyler Dahl

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