Posted in Restoration

Really, The Dog Ate My Pen

The Esterbrook Purse or Pastel pen, were produced with women in mind, they were smaller, dainty, and designed to fit in a purse. The initial pens were made between 1954 and 1957. These Pastel pens were constructed using a much softer plastic, today they are usually found with cracks in the cap and their color is faded. The object of this project was “cherry” when I got it, so I gave it to my wife as a Christmas present along with a sweet bullet journal (160gsm paper) so she could use a fountain pen, markers, etc without the bleed through associated with the cheap stuff we call paper. This is where the trouble begins, the pen was stored in a cute little bag that somehow ended up on the floor (I blame the cats) and our dog thought she would try it out as a new chew toy. Fortunately, she wasnt impressed.

CYA announcement; do not do this and if you choose to ignore my warning please don’t do it to anything of value.

Fortunately, she managed to miss the nib, the clip, the cap ring and both jewels. Also she didn’t put any holes completely through the plastic. I’ve read in numerous blogs, where people have used hairdryers to loosen the nib section from the barrel, knowing this plastic is a lot softer and more pliable maybe it could be leveraged to soften the plastic and remove the teeth marks.

Beginning with the damage to the barrel at the lever, this type of pen uses a snap ring system to hold the lever mechanism in place. When the lever pulled up it will actuate a J-bar which compresses the ink sac thus allowing ink to be drawn into the sac – think eye dropper.

Lets start by removing and inspecting the nib section, hah no damage to the section, nib or the ink sac. Using forceps I easily removed the J-bar, and now it is time to focus on the lever. Remember, there is a bite mark that appears to have grazed the mechanism and partially displace the snap ring. Normally, a lever is removed by raising to the 45 degree angle and pushing forward, but in this case that wasn’t possible. I managed to raise the lever and pulled it backwards. The snap ring popped out of the slot with a loud snap (pun intended). Turned the lever to the right until it lined up with the slot in the barrel and out it came snap ring and all, everything looks good.

Next I got out an old hairdryer we use for crafting and started intermittently applying medium heat to the barrel. After a couple minutes the plastic started feeling hot, so I inserted a dental instrument into the barrel down to the damaged area, and began rotating the tool so that the curved side would press against the indentation. This I did until I succeeded in pushing out the damaged area. Then I began the process of sanding the barrel to remove the residual mark. The process is progressive, starting with 1000 grit paper, which will remove the bite marks then progressing to 2000, 3000, 5000 and finally 7000 grit paper leaving a perfectly smooth surface. The process removed all evidence of bite marks, and scratches. Now we reinstall the lever and snap clip, the J-bar and the nib section. Looking good!

Now feeling empowered and overly confident I moved on to the pen cap. The cap has a hard plastic insert unlike the barrel and one of the bites also made a dent through this insert. This will require more heat, more effort and more attention. Using the same basic principle I began applying high heat to the pen cap. Using a wax carving tool, I applying pressure to the indentation left in the hard plastic insert. I made progress then I noticed I could also apply pressure to the outside and made more progress. This is when my over confidence got the better of me and I applied too much heat and took my eye off the cap for a split second. The tapered end of the pen cap opened up like a flower allowing the jewel and clip fall out. Ah shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit! Now what am I going to do? I was already patting myself on the back for a job well done.

Wait I have an idea! (Oh no, not again)

To Be Continued…

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