Posted in Restoration

Really, The Dog Ate My Pen – Part 2

As a quick recap (pun intended), previously I blogged about my dog chewing on my wife’s pen, well things got better before they got way worse when I used a hairdryer to soften the plastic of an Esterbrook Pastel pen. I was able to fix the barrel and lever without issue and got overly confident with the cap.

  • The challenge:

I over heated the pen cap and now it’s deformed, plus the jewel and clip have fallen out. I tried heating the cap and reshaping it but nooooo. The cap wouldn’t stay round and it needed it to be tapered at the end, so how am I going to reshape the cap? That’s when the bright idea hit me! I need a form, to mold the hot plastic back into the shape of the cap.

  • The bright idea:

How to make a mold? A quick trip to Hobby Lobby where I found molding clay. Figured I could shape it into a block then press a similar pen cap into the soft clay then bake it. After it cools all I needed to do is heat the pen cap and push it into the mold and it should reform – right? Yeah right!

I bought a small block of FIMO molding clay (2 oz), it cost less than $3. Using only a 1/4 of it I formed a block and pressed a similar pen cap into clay. It looks good, just like an inverse pen cap. Next, into the oven at 230 F for 30 minutes. After it cooled I inserted the pen cap I used to make the imprint just to confirm the baking process didn’t misshape the mold. It was a bit tight so I took a wax shaping tool and was able to shave the inner sides of the mold allowing the pen cap a better fit.

The moment of truth arrived, I inserted the jewel and clip into the mold, then got out the hairdryer and applied heat to the damaged cap until it was very soft. I pushed the cap into the mold and it mushroomed out. Yup it looked just like a pot belly stove so I return it to the heat, it straightened out and pushed it back in. This time it went in but it took a teardrop shape with the point protruding at the clip. Instead of dragging this out the bright idea turned out to be a failure.

For the silver lining, the pen cap does have that inner cap which completely protects the nib and keeps it from drying out, the offensive tooth mark that started the entire process is gone and finally the pen is fully functional.

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…