On the last day of the DC Pen Show my wife decided that she wanted to purchase a pen for herself. This surprised me since she had shown little interest in my hobby to date. After walking the show floor for the better part of an hour we found a vintage Sheaffer pen for her. I had never seriously considered buying a vintage pen but seeing how nice her new acquisition was, I thought that I wouldn't mind one for myself. Alas, most vintage pens run smaller than the average modern equivalent and I was leery of buying one off of ebay.
Later that evening we were in the hotel bar talking with our pen friends and a gentleman named Stacy Hills joined us for a very enjoyable conversation on vintage pens among other topics. He had come to the show to pick up unrestored vintage pens that he would take home to refurbish for resale. One pen that he had found at the show was a Sheaffer's Balance Premier Oversize. This pen is a brown celluloid vacuum filler with a gold nib. When he showed it to me in the bar it was in pretty rough shape but he assured me that it would clean up well and once restored, it would have years more life in it. I thought on it for a few days and then I emailed him to make further inquiries about adding the pen to my collection.
Stacy had a few pens in the queue in front of me but a couple of weeks later I got an email to say that he was starting on the project and that I could watch the progress through a Google photo gallery. The photos included in this post are the ones that Stacy took while he restored the pen.
As you can see in the photos above, the before pictures of the pen show significant cosmetic blemishes from the pen's 75-80 years of use up until now. As with most unrestored vintage pens, the seals had reached the end of life and had to be replaced.
These seals are found at two locations within the pen. The first is a flexible washer that seals against the pen's barrel wall.
The second seal to be replaced is the packing unit that forms the seal around the plunger rod at the end of the pen's barrel. The flexible washer is an easy fix and you can see in Stacy's photos that he cuts a new washer from gasket material. The packing seal though is more of a chore. The seal media is inside of a packing unit that is glued into the end of the pen barrel. The only way to replace the seal media, while still retaining the existing threads that interface with the blind cap, is to drill it out from the inside of the pen's barrel, fish the original packing out, replace it with an o-ring and glue a backup washer in place to retain the seal. This is not a trivial task.
Once the seals are replaced, it is time for polishing the pen. Imprints and threads are masked and then blemishes are buffed to reduce their prominence.
Miracles can not be performed and the deeper scars are still evident but these were all earned honestly through use by R. E. Hesler or the pen's subsequent owners and I'm OK with that.
After the polishing is complete it is time to reattach the pen's section and perform any nib adjustment that may be required.
I'm pretty happy with the outcome for this pen. It may not be a pristine example but I'm not precious with my pens. They are meant to be used and this 80 year old one has fewer blemishes than I do at half of its age.