Happy Ending: Ragtime Black Repair

Once upon a time while writing with the Ragtime Black the nib slid out of the section. I slid it back only to have this behavior repeat. In fact both the nib and feed easily slid out together. I discovered that the collar—the little piece of plastic holding the nib and feed together—was cracked. Horrors upon horrors for my favorite little pen which had been in my possession for about a week.

Crack in collar revealed. Photo taken with loupe held up to camera lense.

And so, of course, I bitched about this problem to a pen friend who knows quite a bit about Ragtimes. He told me that unlike other Ragtimes, the Black’s nib screws out of the section.

I inserted the nib and feed back into the section and managed to unscrew the nib/feed/collar out together. Below are the pieces that were retrieved. There was a funny washer at the end of the collar which my pen pal says is not evident in his Ragtime Black. One wonders!

Nib, section, collar and a clear washer.

When I first received the Black I remember seeing a little mark or blip of sorts in the section ring which I now know was the crack in the collar. Had I known at the time that the nib unscrewed, I probably would have done so “just because” and found the crack immediately.

Checking in with Coles of London, the company that is the USA repair contact, I was informed the pen would have to be sent Visconti in Italy to be fixed. Coles does not stock spare parts and seems mostly to act as a facilitator between US Visconti owners and the Italian company.

Frustrated about another long wait of some six weeks or more, not to mention the $25 Coles requests when you send them a pen, I did what all pen people do. I complained to my pen friend about it.

As luck would have it my Ragtime pal had a spare nib unit he was willing to send me. A friendly transaction that took take far less time than sending my pen to VIsconti. Even though my Ragtime friend also lives in Italy. *ahem* (Did I mention that he did this out of friendship and did not charge me anything?)

My friend’s nib unit consisted of a medium nib, a feed and an un-cracked collar. Like me, he prefers fine nibs and his “spare” was created when he had his medium replaced with a fine nib.

Ragtime Black Nib Unit

My nib with its cracked collar was also a fine point which I hoped to use. Best case, I would be able to replace his medium nib with my fine nib. Worst case, I would crack the collar in the new unit trying to do so.

As fortune and a trusty nib block would have it, the spare nib unit easily came apart. I fit the my old nib and new feed together and plunged them into some hot water in an attempt to “heat set” them. Then I carefully inserted the two into the new collar. Success! The pen is back to writing wonderfully.

The person from whom I bought the pen was all for trying to glue the collar back together. While glueing or welding the crack can be done, more experienced pen people than I have suggested to me that, due to the stress placed on that part of the pen, mending a cracked collar is not a reliable long-term strategy.

I suppose if there’s a cautionary tale it is to be mindful when you are purchasing a used pen that all may not be as it initially appears. The fact that the Ragtime Black comes up rarely meant I was reluctant to return it to the seller. I was fortunate to have found a simple and friendly repair option. (See the Inkophile’s Tips for Buying From a Pen Board.)

Of all the Ragtimes I have, the Lucite Ragtime Black is rather flimsily made. I assume that the Medici which is similar to the Black holds comparable production values with the same Lucite body. Even still, the little Ragtime Black is one of my favorite pens and is in regular rotation. All thanks to a pen friend who I’ve never met.

Ragtime Black writing again
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