Posted in Pens, Restoration

Really, The Dog Ate My Pen

(Originally posted on 6 April 2021.)

In the spirit of TBT and the ghosts of Christmas past, I thought I’d reblog this post with updates. I’m sure everyone was good last year and Santa brought you lots of nice things. Did you put those nice things away? Are they out of reach of the dog? Yes, there is a lesson or two to be learned.

The Backstory

The Esterbrook Purse or Pastel pen was 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 pen in this tale 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 wasn’t impressed.

CYA announcement

Do not do as I do, but if you choose to ignore my warning please don’t do it with a pen of value.

She managed to miss the nib, the cap clip, the cap ring, and both jewels. And, 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.

Restoration

Beginning with the damage to the barrel at the lever, this type of pen uses a snap ring system to hold the fill lever mechanism in place. When the lever is engaged it will actuate a J-bar which compresses the ink sac thus when released ink is drawn into the sac.

Let’s start by removing and inspecting the nib section, confirming there is no damage to the section, nib, or 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 it 45-degree then pushing forward, but in this case, that wasn’t possible. I managed to manipulate the lever until it and the snap ring came out, everything looks good.

Using the crafting hairdryer, I started intermittently applying medium heat to the barrel. After a couple minutes the plastic felt hot, so I inserted a dental instrument into the barrel. At the damaged area, I began rotating the tool so that the curved side of the instrument would press against the indentation. This I did until I succeeded in pushing out the tooth-mark. Next, I sanded the barrel removing the residual mark. The process is progressive, starting with 1000 grit paper, which will remove significant damage 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. Looking good!

Now feeling empowered and overly confident, I moved on to the pen cap. The cap has a hard plastic insert that seals the cap to the section preventing ink leakage. One of the bites made a dent protruding through the 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 to apply pressure to the damaged area of the hard plastic insert while simultaneously applying pressure to the outside – it’s working!

This is when my overconfidence got the better of me, I applied too much heat plus I took my eye off the cap for just a split second. The tapered end of the pen cap opened up like a budding flower allowing the jewel and clip to fall out. Oh 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…

Author:

I'm a loser as my wife likes to tell me, I enjoy researching dead cousins and playing with fountain pens.

3 thoughts on “Really, The Dog Ate My Pen

  1. Lol, I’ve always seen dog horror stories on Reddit, and wondered how common it is. Your post has shown me that it could really happen at any time. I myself have a cocker spaniel, so she can’t really reach table tops, and I’m glad to say that I’ve managed to avoid situations like this to date. Looks like a stressful time though. Am seeing if you have a follow-up to this. Thanks for this post!

    Like

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