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For today’s edition of Things We Find In Fountain Pens, we have something particularly creative.
The patient was a lovely Esterbrook “J”, in vibrant blue. The customer requested that, in addition to a new sac, we pay attention to the lever, as something seemed a bit odd to them. Good instincts!
The sac removal was gooey, but not unusual. The lever was operating as normal. We went into automatic, measuring the length of the space in the barrel with a probe, so as to cut the sac the right length. We prefer to individually measure each pen this way, rather than simply cut sacs to a prescribed length based on internet information. There is enough variability in pens to warrant this approach, and it doesn’t take much more time. But as soon as the sac was on the section, we knew something was wrong! it looked like a stub; just far too short.
A look into the barrel revealed something odd: a glimpse of pink. Could it be? More probing confirmed our suspicions.
At some point in the past, the j-bar had broken. Being brass, a repair person had soldered the pieces together. Now, brass is used in j-bars because, properly treated, it is springy. But if you heat it up (like soldering), it ruins that spring temper. Additionally, the repair was done using lead plumbing solder, which is quite soft. As is, the “repaired” j-bar simply bends, and stays bent.
And so began the creativity.
By jamming a round pencil eraser down the barrel, against the end of the j-bar, the bending force was transferred up the length of the j-bar to a portion which remained springy. And the j-bar was kept in place by the eraser, rather than the springy “J” portion of the bar.
Our solution was a bit more traditional: remove the eraser with a small drill bit (by hand, not in a drill); replace the j-bar with a new steel one; re-sac with a full-sized one.
But we had to share one of the most creative uses of an eraser we have yet seen!