The Pen Doctor XXV

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Dealing with a Loose “51” Collector

I’m restoring an Aero “51”. It’s a USA, ’49 marked nib and barrel with a 6 times filler. I pulled the hood and put the whole filler assembly vertically to soak in ammonia water. The collector assembly dropped out of the connector all by itself. It was missing the spacer rod in the rear of the collector. I made one of those that fit fairly snugly in the channel from a piece of nylon “cord” that holds price tags on retail items, but the fit between the collector assembly and connector is still very loose. Will tightening down the hood snug it up or do I need to maybe put a few dollops of section sealant on the lip of the collector before I put it in the connector? [REDACTED] also suggested building up the connector part of the collector with dried shellac like you’d build a loose section up.

Rx:Tightening down the shell (hood) will not snug up a loose collector, and if you tighten too far you can crack the shell. The proper course is to replace either the collector (relatively easy) or the connector (difficult because, unlike the way ’50 and later pens were made, the sac guard screws onto the connector in ’48 and ’49 pens). I really can’t recommend sticking the collector in place with thread sealant; that’s a spit-and-baling-wire fix, not a repair, and so is trying to bulk up the back end of the collector (or a section, in other types of pens).

You do find collectors that are not the right size. This would be my first guess — but replacing your nylon spacer with a hard rubber spacer from another collector might improve the fit. You can break a hard rubber spacer in half, especially if it's longer than usual, and use the halves in two collectors. If this doesn’t solve the problem, I recommend finding a replacement collector.

Scoring the collectorIf you absolutely cannot find a collector, then the best course of action is to locate a small piece of 0.001" (0.025 mm) stainless steel shim stock. Do not use brass shim stock for this! Cut a strip 14" (~6 mm) wide and just long enough to extend around the shank of the collector without an overlap. Wrap it around the collector’s shank and fit the collector into the connector. If things won’t go together, cut the strip of shim in half so that it extends only halfway around the shank, and try again.

Another way to close the gap is to use a sharp X-acto knife to score the sides of the collector’s shank. Lay the edge of the knife against the shank at an angle as shown in the photo here, and cut into the shank. This will raise a small amount of material as the blade goes in. Repeat this cut at several places around the shank; the collector will then probably stay put in the connector. Please bear in mind that this technique, unlike the use of a stainless steel shim, does irreversible damage to the collector. It is not a technique I would use willingly, but in extremis you might have no alternative.

Removing a Waterman’s Lever

How do I do it? I have been able to bend the forward/inner tab down (as described by Da Book) so that the lever and box lifts up and out of the barrel, but the pressure bar inhibits its removal from the barrel. While Da Book describes how the bar is attached to the lever, I can't get to that fitting to separate them! Help!

(Conversely, how am I going to get it in the new barrel?)

Rx:The process is long, and it’s relatively painful. Instead of describing it here, I’ll refer you to my article How to Repair and Replace a Waterman Lever Box Assembly. But just to whet your appetite, here’s how to free the pressure bar (excerpted from the article):

To remove the pressure bar, you must press the tab down so that it will clear the end of the pressure bar. Raise the lever almost all the way, allow the pressure bar to slide toward the open barrel end until the tab comes to rest against the end of the lever, and then raise the lever the rest of the way. While holding the lever securely with your finger and thumb braced against the barrel so that you will not push the lever box into the barrel, use the crescent-shaped dental scaler to locate the tab and push it down as shown here:

Pushing the tab

With the tab pushed out of the way, the pressure bar will fall out of the barrel when you upend it. Lay the pressure bar on your bench block with the “channel” side down, and use the crescent-shaped dental scaler to push the tab back into its original position so that the assembly will stay together when you reassemble the pen.

Pelikan 120 nibs?

I was looking at a Pelikan 120. I want to find some extra nibs for it, but I don't see them listed on anybody’s site.

Rx:It’s very difficult to find nibs for the 120. The 120 was made for Pelikan by Merz & Krell, and it was made in more than one version over the years. The various versions’ nibs are not compatible with each other, and they’re not compatible with any other Pelikan nibs. I’m sorry, because 120s are good pens, but I can’t in good conscience recommend purchasing one unless it comes with the extra nibs you want. Even then, there’s always the possibility that you might damage or wear out a nib, and then you could really be in the position of needing a replacement. (One way to replace a bent or worn-out 120 nib is to knock the damaged nib unit apart and replace the nib with the nib from an M150 nib unit.)

Parker “51” Shell Adjustment

Frank Dubiel, while noting that the shell of a Parker 51 must touch the nib, says that if it contacts the nib too tightly it will restrict ink flow. Is heating the shell and either pressing the nib against the shell or the shell against the nib a reliable means of increasing or decreasing the flow in a 51?

Rx:I’m afraid that this is one area in which Frank missed the target. He got his information from a Parker repair manual that was printed just after the “51” was released. The point of having the shell touch the nib was to ensure that capillary action would carry ink to the nib’s slit — but the feed will do the job just fine when adjusted right, especially if it was made in 1946 or later so that it has an ink fissure. The shell does not need to touch the nib. It should be close to the nib so that writing pressure won’t bend the nib upward and damage it, but a slight gap is perfectly all right. Also, as you mention, if the shell is pressed too firmly against the nib, it can force the nib downward and close the slit, cutting off the flow entirely.

Adjusting the flow can be done entirely by adjusting the width of the nib’s slit, and that’s how I recommend you do it.

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