Some Recent Repair Q&As

Here are a couple of recent repair Q&As exchanged by club members:

QuestionEvery now and then I seem to get a little bit of paper stuck in one of my fountain pen nibs when I’m writing. I was wondering if anyone else has that happen and any suggestions for cleaning it off.

Answer – I did a bit of research and thinking (based on my own experience) regarding the “paper” in your nib problem.  I think there are a number of possible explanations as set out below:

  • How hard do you press on the nib – if it happens on all different types of paper, try lightening up your pressure, let the nib glide along the surface of the paper.
  • Check the nib – if the nib is aligned well and smooth, the paper fibers should not get stuck.  So check the nib alignment first – is the slit off-center?  Then with a loupe, check for rough spots, craters, or sharp points on the tipping – it should be smooth and shiny all around – and then check to see whether the inside of the tines have a sharp edge (if so, they may need to be smoothed – don’t try this yourself unless you know what you are doing!).
  • If your pressure and nib are fine, you should check the nature and quality of paper that you use – crappy or cheap paper will fiber up and also the coating on “coated” paper specifically for use with Ink jet printers will eventually begin to “clog” the nib.
  • It could also be your writing style – some nibs will simply not tolerate significant variations from “standard” writing angles. If you have a writing style other than the typical right handed 50 degree angle, the nib may never work for you properly and needs to be swapped.

You could use a number of items – a piece of brass shim stock (0.002″ thick, available in hardware stores, Lee Valley, etc…), a piece of overhead transparency, a piece of film – all nicely washed in detergent – to floss the nib.

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QuestionDo you have any suggestions on how to remove a jewel from a Parker cap (Vacumatic and Parker 51)?  I have a few that have loose clips and find it very hard to remove the jewel to tighten the clip.  What tools do you use?

Answer – Well, I’ve heard of a few things to try but didn’t have any success on the “51” I had with a loose clip.  I think someone had set the jewel with some sort of adhesive; I probably should have tried a little gentle heat before attacking the cap jewel.  In the end, after recognizing my own shortcomings, I had John Culmer fix it up for me – he had to break the old jewel and replace it with another.
Here’s what I tried for removing a Parker cap jewel:

  • Slide a piece of a drinking straw over the clip to keep it from scratching the cap as it turns.
  • Try a soft pencil eraser.  Put the eraser on your table or bench and press the cap jewel into the eraser and turn the cap.   The idea is that the soft eraser grips the jewel and allows you to turn it out.
  • Try some sticky tack/blu-tack used for hanging papers or posters to a wall.  Put a piece of sticky tack/blu-tack into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up and then press the cap jewel into the sticky tack/blu-tack and turn the cap.
  • Here is what “The Complete Guide To Repair & Restoration” by Frank Dubiel aka “Da Book” says about Parker caps:
    • “The Parker jewel must come off for clip removal.  In theory the jewel is pressed firmly against a rubber surface which is supposed to grip the jewel as the cap is turned.  The jewel may be in too tight.  Heat will help.  An ultrasonic cleaning may help.  Using super glue or contact cement to glue the jewel to a rubber pad and twisting it loose once dry will usually work at the risk of damage to the jewel.”
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