Part One: First attempt at beginning fountain pen renovation.

Received the Parker Duofold 1948 fountain pen two days ago. Excited, I was looking forwards to filling it up and then found a crunchy sound on depressing the aluminium button for ink filling. Located at bottom of barrel and covered with a screw off cap. Groaned, and then thought, £25? Brilliant price if I can renovate it. I knew it was aesthetically rough on the outside. But am usually happy with patina. Adds to the history and vintage qualities. Tried a few tests of ‘unscrewing’ bits and bobs. The ‘section’ which holds the ink feed and nib was immovable. 

There was a fantastic video on YouTube taking one of these Duofold models completely apart and totally renovating it from start to finish. I must admit, it was pretty impressive seeing the result. Superglue involved in filling up a few outside dinks. And you wouldn’t have known it was there afterwards! I love YouTube for this type of knowledge content. See down below for link. . 

Result was that equipment was needed. What it has started has been the realisation that pens do need upkeep. Especially vintage pens with decades of ink application that dries in all corners, channels, crevices and creates general creakiness within the machinations of how a pen is put together.

The easy parts, unscrewing the pen cap and button cap cover off, were easy. The difficult parts had to be thought out in case of breakage. Heat applied, at distance to avoid excessive heat and damage, was a hairdryer gently warming the ‘section’ part that holds ink feed and nib. Held a good two feet away! Those red pliers (spark plug pliers) were used to gently unscrew the ‘section’ from the barrel. It’s the small pleasures in life that bring the greatest smiles of joy. 

The aluminium button push was simply pulled out of the barrel end. It does not unscrew. If you try to naively and unknowingly unscrew it against the hard and perished rubber ink sac it may get damaged. I tried, albeit naively, heard a crunchy sound and stopped immediately. Again, gentle pulling application. The bar may be rusty. You can’t see it until it comes out of the pen. 

So. The bar, which pushes down the rubber ink sac inside the barrel, was caught up in the perished original ink sac debris. Again, you do not want to be shoving and gouging at hard rubber to remove and damage a delicate metal bar. 

A heavy darning needle to gently scrape rubbish away produces rubber dust and small hard pieces. Luckily, initial bits and pieces were followed by the intact half of the rest. The bar then drops out the hole at the nib end of barrel. Not the top half where the button push is. Too small to get through. 

Still have to try to get the feed and nib out of the section. And so. Yesterday I brought a variety of size 17, 18 and 19 ink sacs, a variety of 9 different grades of micro mesh sheets for polishing the pens and an ultrasonic water bath cleaner to really clean up the gubbing’s of decades of unwanted inherent nasties. Received the French Chalk Dust yesterday for powdering the outside of the ink sac to allow freedom of movement once housed. White powder in a packet delivered by the postman? I’ll be the talk of the village!  

I will take off the clip and jewel end and metal screw too. I also need to find what cleaner and polish creams and pastes to buy next. 

The thing is. I reckon when fellow bloggers on here are promoting all these different ink choices, the various inks intermingle and may well cross contaminate. I am pretty hopeless at continued wash out consistency to avoid inherent build up and colours sitting quietly awaiting to join up with new arrivals. Lazy! Must admit. So it’s rather enlightening to see what really happens when pens are left to there own devices versus a good scrub up, spring clean or even need to repair. Interestingly. When I dropped the nib, feed and section into plain water… the water turned deep dark blue. Three times with fresh clean water and it then paled out completely. But inherent must be some caked on hard stuff for sure. That ink sac hasn’t been used in word battle for years upon years! 

This is my very first attempt at renovation. Quite enjoyable. 

A huge nod and thank you to this knowledge and perfect explanation on YouTube. 

Happy Pens.

4 thoughts on “Part One: First attempt at beginning fountain pen renovation.”

  1. Ah, that crunchy sound! Is it shellac, or damage being done??!!
    Great post, Gray. Well done for tackling such a delicate job. I agree re YouTube – it’s great for things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morning Ianto. The shellac is at the section end where it holds the rubber ink sac onto that little nipple extension on the section. Provides a barrier to avoid ink escaping. The hard dried rubber and shellac are still clinging on and I’ll wait for the cleaning bath to arrive to loosen it up a bit. Don’t want to scrape away hard adhered stuff from old vintage pen surface. Haven’t seen perished rubber like this before. Wonder how many years it takes to get like this. Or is it old ink drying out that has performed this result? Who knows? I reckon you have a few fountain pens too. They seem to be the sort of ownership that is right up your street. All the best. Xx


  2. Wow, a man of many talents. And developing new skills too. I must admit in my naivety wouldn’t have thought of renovation … but I’ll think twice if/when the time comes. And refer back here.

    I look forward to reading about how the pen writes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morning Brenda. Thank you. Me? Skills? Jack of all trades, master of none’ as they say. My spell prediction just brought up ‘nine’ not ‘none’. Master of nine skills hey? I’d be on telly competing with Ben Fogle or similar presenters. 😆 How it writes? I should have thought and dipped the nib in ink to test. Looked at the end of the nib tines and they look level and intact. When all apart I ‘dry’ wrote on paper with it and it felt smooth. So should work fine. At £25 accepted offer I should have known really. These, in great nick, can be worth a lot more. I look forward to seeing your post on fountain pen revisit. Hope the cartridges are great. Wise choice getting back into this pastime. All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

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