Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hero 616 Vacumatic Mk3: Fountain Pen Network PIF Giveaway

The completed 3rd vacumatic 616.
[January Update - the third vacumatic is complete. It's been given away on the Fountain Pen Network's Pay it Forward thread, now that it is fully tested. Scroll down past the video for a few photographs from the build process.]

I've used the parts I have left to modify a 3rd 616 Jumbo, the completed pen will be given away as a "Pay It Forward" on FPN.
At last, the filler unit is complete, the barrel is cut apart, the blind cap lip has been bored out, the diaphragm is attached to to the filler rod's pellet holder, the filler unit is sealed in the barrel and the blind cap threaded insert is installed.

The pen is complete, the barrel tested for leakage, the nib dip tested for smoothness, and the completed pen fill tested - average maximum capacity is between 1.6 and 1.7ml.

Here's a couple of fresh photos of the finished pen, next to a 1948 Parker 51 for comparison.

 From top to bottom: the vacumatic Hero 616, and a vacumatic Parker 51.
Blind caps removed, and filler units exposed.

As well as the filler swap, the tines have been spread apart slightly to make the ink flow more generous, then aligned with one another, and the nib and feed have been aligned straight with the hood. The nib has been smoothed with micromesh, a brown paper bag and a wet mirror.

The PIF barrel on the improvised cutting spindle. The blind cap on the mark 2 is kept stealthy, with no visible trim ring. The mark 3 gets a trim ring taken from the old button filler 616.

As with the Mk2, the Mk 3 gets an alteration to the internal filler. Instead of  being mounted on an oversize washer with a rubber sleeve taking up the slack, an undersize washer is first slightly bored out, then hammered into place with a hollow drift. The friction fit between the two is very strong.

The barrel washer, about to be fitted to the filler housing.

As the irregularity of this barrel was quite severe compared with the others, I opted not to go for a stealthy blind cap. For strength and durability, I first superglued a 616 trim ring to the filler housing's washer, then sealed it to the barrel, so that the entire available surface area was sealed to the filler.

Once exposed, I found the Mk.3's barrel wall thickness (on the right) was very eccentric, so chose to have the filler housing in contact with the entire available surface area.

A completed vacumatic filler, with the blind cap in background. The blind cap lip is bored to accept the filler housing washer.
With the filler installed, the blind cap is held in decent alignment till the sealant sets.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Cold Hands Cure Attempt, Days 3 & 4

Friday's (day 3) went the same as yesterday's session; rather a trial. Today my hands are super cold and there is no way in Hades I'm plunging them in an ice bath. I'm having a glass or 2 of vino (as a vasodilator) instead.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cold Hands Cure Attempt, Day 2

Today's was my second session attempting the cold hands cure over at the backcountry skiing blog.

Day 2 - sunny, high of 3, low of -3 degrees Celsius.

Hmm. This was quite different to yesterday's experience, being uniformly unpleasant from start to finish with no noticable change in sensation after the first few alternations. I did notice that 1 hour afterwards, I experienced a glowing feeling within the hands for a while, palm and fingers warm to the face, back of the hand colder. They were quite clumsy for a while, including during the glowing feeling.

Anyway onwards and upwards. 2 days down, 12 to go!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cold Hands Cure Attempt, Day 1

For the next fortnight, I'll be attempting a cold hands cure, as detailed on the backcountry skiing blog. Winter is here and I am just royally fed up with my hands being cold while the rest of me is warm. From what I've read, the idea is to have one bowl of hot water, one bowl of ice water, and alternately submerge the hands in each long enough to shock the blood vessels in there to pump blood during the winter already!

Day 1 - A clear day, ground frost, high of 0, low of -1 degrees Celsius.

Off we go. Here's a big metal bowl of ice topped up with water, and here's a big plastic bowl of hot water with a kettle standing by to top up when it cools. The ice water is very hard going the first couple of times, but toward the end of the session (when all my ice trays were used up) I did notice I could keep my hands in the ice water comfortably for much longer before the old sharply unbearable feeling appeared. It was an interesting process and change in sensations. I'm going into this with an open mind, it is a shame I haven't some sort of heat sensing camera to record any change day by day. Hopefully, by blogging each day's effort, I'll force myself to keep at it for at least a fortnight!

A bit of background info:

Now, everyone gets colder hands when the weather turns. I'm not saying I have to bring a can of antifreeze when I walk out the front door,  I just feel mine are overreacting for the conditions compared to most people's. In normal outdoor winter conditions, wearing sensible attire, they function fine, but are cold enough to hurt my face if I touch it. Wearing a metal wristwatch bracelet soon makes the joint painful.

A further comparison: I played rugby (compulsorily) for most of my school years. Every time I stepped on the pitch, my hands would stop working within 15-20 minutes, guaranteed, every time. First they would ache, then turn white, then lose all strength and most sensation. There was some articulation in the wrists, but the fingers simply would not move. After a scrum or tackle, I noticed the skin on my hands had lost elasticity and would be quite torn up.

Even after a hot shower, there was not enough response to button a shirt or tie a shoelace. Normal function would return approximately 1 to 1.5 hours after dressing, if memory serves - I would either be on the bus home or almost at my door. The point is, the only time I ever saw anyone else with the same issue (hands cold past the point of movement or sensation) was after games in almost blizzard conditions.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Forcing Google To Show Pages from UK

Now that Christmas is looming, google's minor irritation of changing the whereabouts of the "Show pages from the UK" button becomes a full blown annoyance. If you're doing your Christmas shopping now, you hardly want to gamble that presents will make it in time shipping in from Guatamala.

Here's the quick fix. What used to be a simple one click radio button is now a four step neopainism.
[click to zoom all photos]

1st, type out your search term:

2nd, click the "Search tools" option.

3rd, choose "the web" pulldown (how staggeringly disingenuous!).

4th, choose "Pages from the UK".

Happy hunting, happy holidays, and remember, "possessions are fleeting".

Sunday, 9 December 2012

RIP Sir Patrick Moore

Casting my mind back to a inky black Scottish night, a myopic twelve year old self is trying to train a heavy and ancient pair of binoculars on Rigel, after using the belt of Orion to get his bearings. He's given up on squinting really hard at the blackness around Sirius A for a glimpse of its faint twin. He knows this is an impossibility, but nevertheless, maybe tonight...

Eventually, my interest in astronomy tailed off, along with an alarmingly thorough loss of nearly everything I learnt along the way. One thing stayed as fixed as those stars (which I have had to look up on google's Sky Map app to now locate); a warm affection for the Sky at Night, and specifically its presenter Sir Patrick Moore, in whom that twelve year old self had noted a new category of adult educator, whose authority is not inferred from bellowing orders, but rather an affable and infectious enthusiasm for the subject at hand.

So it was with great fondness I watched the Sky at Night on BBC4 on Thursday night, and with a twelve year old's pang of unreserved despair read today of Sir Patrick Moore's passing. What dignity he had in the face of the ill health of advancing years. What tireless dedication to his field, presenting the cosmos to our television screens pretty much continuously since the 1950's - a true amateur in the old sense of the word. What a loss.