Finding the Art in Everything

07 January, 2009

The Lazarus Pen

Over Christmas break I undertook some significant pen-repair projects. After extensive online research, I found the causes of scratchy nibs and limited and skipping inkflow. Over the last couple of days, I repaired the first one I ever bought, the Rotring Freeway.

My first year of teaching, a student knocked it off my desk and, uncapped, it landed on the tip of its nib. It never wrote the same after that. Since it was my only pen, I couldn't tell the scope of the damage. The tines became misaligned, and the point of the nib actually curled under itself! Since the inkflow was really poor, I would open the barrel and force more ink through from the cartridge to simulate the former flow. Over time, the ink built up and it was a clogged mess.

I was lamenting the other day about how we don't live in a society that fixes things--this pen was the object of my frustration. I didn't want to throw away my first pen, but sending it somewhere for repair would have cost as much as the pen did. I am probably the only one who found it that valuable, and I think it costs so much because pen repair is really rare. It's an indicator of how little we take the chance to repair things instead of dispose of them.

I figured that the pen couldn't end up any more unusable than it was, so i tried fixing it myself. Success! With total disassembly, some heat, full flushing, and a pair of jewelry pliers (not entirely recommended), my pen feels like it's supposed to--how all fountain pens are supposed to, which is, according to a friend," like you're not writing on paper".

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