I posted an in-process image on my Instagram account yesterday. That image is of the section of the Estie with a new ink sack attached with some fountain pen shellac and drying.
The backstory (such as it is) is that I pulled my favorite old Esterbrook J-Series fountain pen from storage. I think it was my very first vintage Esterbrook. The cap and the body are slightly mis-matched. That is, the cap color is slightly different than the body color. My expectation is that someone down the line either mixed caps or a restorer pulled a matched up a set to make a whole pen from part-pens.
Regardless, when I received the pen, I renewed the ink sack (my very first Esterbrook restore) and added a brand-new 9556 Master Series nib unit. It’s classified as a fine-firm nib. In my experience, all of the Esterbrook nibs are nails. (Heh…)
When I decided to ink the pen yesterday, I dropped the nib into my bottle of Noodler’s Zhivago, a green-black ink that is bulletproof. The fill lever would not activate. So, I knew the pen needed service. I wicked the ink from the nib and set it aside.
After lunch I pulled out my tools and parts kit and started sorting through those items. It’s been nearly two years since I sorted through my pen kit. That was a kind of trip of itself. I mentally inventoried the parts and tools and found what I needed — a fresh Size 16 ink sack, my X-Acto knife (and blades), and the sack shellac.
I pulled the section from the body, with a little heat to loosen things up. The old sack broke apart in my fingers — ossified. It was, indeed, time for a new ink sack.
Back at my worktable, I removed the remaining parts of the old sack that clung to the section, scraping a little with a fingernail and my X-Acto knife. That done, I fitted and trimmed the new sack, shellaced the section, and attached the new sack. The assembly was then set aside to cure.
After an hour of puttering with other things, the shellac was dry enough to reassemble the pen. I dipped the fresh ink sack into pure talcum powder to lubricate it during operation of the fill mechanism. I lined up the nib unit and fill lever and pressed the section back into the body of the pen.
A function check followed and then the thumbs-up that all was well. I filled the renewed fountain pen with Zhivago and did some test writing. For an inexpensive pen (they cost a couple bucks new with the better nib units — now they’re about twenty bucks on ebay) it writes very well. The nib is wet and smooth.
I remembered why this inexpensive little vintage pen is one of my favorites. Like me, it’s a bit of a mashup of bits and pieces. But it’s functional and reliable.