Friday, February 20, 2009

Seals for Waterman safeties and Conklin Nozacs

We've been experimenting with substitutes for traditional seal materials for some time. In many cases, cork seals can be replaced with O-rings -- though finding the correct and almost always special-order sizes can take some doing.

After considerable trial-and-error, we've found what we believe to be the perfect seals for Waterman safety repair. The pen itself requires no modification, and the seals can be installed with minimal effort (cork seals in this case have to be cut very thin, with a high discard rate in both cutting and installation). The seals are listed here (scroll down), with a link to illustrated installation instructions.

Coming up very shortly are sets of seals for Conklin Nozacs. The Nozac is not like most piston-fillers, in that the Nozac piston does not come apart to allow a new washer-type seal to be slid into place. Replacement seals either have to be stretched over the piston head, or -- if made of cork -- sliced and glued around it. We will shortly be listing kits of O-rings that can be installed in pairs to provide a better-than-original seal with minimal effort and cost. Since Nozacs come in different sizes and with some variation in internal dimensions, our kits include four sizes of O-rings that should fit all Nozacs from 5000 to 7000-word size.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Los Angeles show recap

We got back from the LA pen show Tuesday night, totally exhausted. It was a good show this year, with lots of great pens on offer and consistently good crowds. Despite concerns about the economy, there was a real buzz throughout the whole event. Many dealers reported particularly active buying of cheaper pens, but whether this was the result of purse-tightening or the impact of new collectors making their way to shows after discovering pen collecting online is impossible to say.

A big show like LA is usually tiring enough, but this year it was nonstop, at least for me. Not only was there the usual vintage pen hunting and trading and networking -- this show was also the occasion for the soft launch of a new venture, American Art Plastics, with partners Mark Hoover and Lynn Sorgatz. Our aim is to offer a range of old-time plastics for penmakers and restorers, of the sort that are now for all intents and purposes unfindable. We are starting with that queen of vintage plastics, celluloid, and the response has been overwhelming. We had samples on display at the show, with delivery of the first batch of colors expected within the next couple of months. The Art Plastics website has only just launched, and is still rather rudimentary. It too should be coming into shape within the next several weeks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yet another snow day

What a winter we've had! No sooner had all the ice begun to melt, than another snowstorm arrives. We shut down the office early today and will be working at the repair bench, but we did manage to get several Parker Vacumatics posted to the catalog this morning -- overdue, since we'd come perilously close to selling out on the more common varieties of single-jewel pens from the 1940s.

Next featured update should focus on Waterman, with some notable pieces. We will be away at the Los Angeles pen show next week, by the way, assuming no weather delays at the airports!