Sometimes You Need Professional Help

Things happen. Age, time and wear take their toll on pens. The thing I love about fountain pens is that most problems can be fixed and the pen can be put back to work.

I consider myself lucky I haven’t done some serious damage to my pens in attempting to repair some of them. There are some repairs, however, I know are beyond my skill, tools or patience. Thus a pen repair professional is required.

Even so, patience is often required even when you give the pen over to a professional restorer or to the pen manufacturer. Even with large pen manufacturer’s we’re not dealing with a warehouse full of pen repair people. Even Chartpak who handles Pelikan repairs in the U.S., well, I’ve only ever heard the name of one person there ever mentioned. (She’s amazing BTW.) Some of the well-known restorers have queues taking as long as 16 weeks before your pen comes up to be worked on. People tend to want the quick fix and often, in relation to the small world of fountain pens,  it’s best to slow down and enjoy the wait.

Repairs Not For Me

Piston knob end of the Ragtime Blonde.

Recently my Ragtime Blonde leaked ink out the piston knob end. No way can I tackle that. Visconti fortunately will and so off that

Ragtime went to Coles of London who is facilitating USA repairs for Visconti. Which means, of course, the pen is now in Italy and I await its faithful return some day. As of this writing Coles of London charges $25 to send your Visconti to them.

Wahl-Oxford Twist-Filler

Last March I obtained a Wahl-Oxford twist filling pen that needed a new sac. How complicated could that be? Well, after much reading I decided to leave the twist filler restoration to an expert. I await that pen’s return, too, in a few more weeks. On FPN a detail of how to repair the Wahl-Oxford twist-filling pen exists in a wonderful tutorial. Personally I stopped at the idea of making a split-screw driver. What the heck is that?

Broken Ventidue piston.

An original Stipula Ventidue had a worn out piston. Stipula repaired the piston. And then had to repair the pen again because they forgot to repair the cracked piston knob. All either of these two Stipula repairs cost me was postage to the US Colorado drop box. (From there, the pens are shipped to Stipula in Italy.)

Broken Pelikan cap.

A cap on a Pelikan demonstrator fell apart. Pelikan fixed it and then had to fix it again when the problem recurred. The 2nd fix actually meant the cap was just replaced. A sad thing because the cap lost a baby bird in the process. I still don’t know what caused the cap to fall apart in the first place. My theory is it was damaged in the mail when the pen once was sold and returned because I didn’t realize the nib was, uh, steel instead of gold. Then I think it happened during transit from Pelikan because it didn’t look right when I opened the box. Pelikan repair (an absolutely kind and skilled woman) said it looked like the cap had been crushed somehow. I’m so meticulously caring for my pens I’m pretty sure I didn’t crush it. Anyhoo… a new cap and a new home eventually made this Pelikan whole. I am less willing, however, to mail pens around the country willy-nilly without good cause. The trips to Pelikan/Chartpak USA cost me postage to Massachusetts.

Bexley Submariner nib. Look close enough and you see the problem.

Lastly a problem I’ve lived with for a long time concerned my beautiful Bexley Submariner. The pen originally had a medium nib. It was re-ground by a professional in what was supposed to be an extra fine nib. While the pen was finer it was still not as fine as I would like. This pen too suffered in a mailing and the nib has been quite scratchy. Looking at the nib I could see the tines were horribly aligned. An 18K nib is kind of soft and I know that I was only going to mess the nib up more if I touched it. And so this pen was recently sent to Michael of MikeItWork to be restored to prime writing glory.

Pen Mailing Tube

For those of you thinking I must have packaged my pens poorly for mailing,  I typically use mailing tubes. No doubt blaming the mail or the pen tube (did I twist the tube closed too tightly?) is a little magical thinking on my part. Dunno. On a side note, nearly every professional pen repairer or dealer has sent me pens merely wrapped in bubble wrap. Sometimes even from overseas. All of those pens came to me trouble-free. Hmmmm… fascinating.

And what were some of those pens doing in the mail? Sometimes trying to find new homes. Ultimately the Stipula and the Pelikan did get re-homed. The Bexley tried to leave but I find can’t part with it. The pen re-homing project, by the way, has gone quite well. There are only two that have not been adopted (both great Wahl Signature pens) and they may just have to stay with me. By the way, when pens are re-homed I always disclose any pen’s known repair history. It’s only right and kind.

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