Monday, 19 August 2013

Cleaning Parker 51 Collectors

Aside from perfect size, shape, weight, balance, strength and affordability, one of the things I really appreciate about the seminal Parker 51 is the enormous ink regulating collector within the section. It's a large part of what makes writing with the 51 such a sublime experience.

Disassembling the hood and cleaning out the collector is something I generally do only once per pen, on first receipt of each 51. After that, I periodically clean them out by flushing through with clean water, occasionally filling with water and leaving aside for a week while out of rotation. With standard Diamine ink, that's all they've needed - I'm not into super saturated inks or archival iron galls.

The collector is full of thin fins, and even after flushing, half a century of old ink can leave debris trapped between them. To floss without fear of damaging the fins - which are far less delicate than they look - I like to use a humble plastic CD/DVD envelope.

The flap of this CD envelope easily slots between the Parker 51's collector fins.

These envelopes are:

  • Thin enough to fit between the collector fins easily.
  • Very flexible - it's almost impossible to damage the collector through clumsiness.
  • Inexpensive and ubiquitous.
  • Lint free - there's nothing to shed off the plastic envelope and potentially clog the fins.
  • Transparent - you can see exactly what you're doing.

Holding the collector off the desk so that there's plenty of light around the fins, I use the open flap of the envelope to floss out any dried up detritus. Occassionally, there are deposits that prove reluctant to be flossed. These can be walked around to the broad air channel, then flicked out using the same flap.

In the example collector below, the majority of the fins are clean and clear. The arrowed fins have some kind of gunk trapped between them right at the root, near the thin ink channel. The CD envelope flap in the background will get rid of it in a few seconds without stressing the fins.

Out, damned spot! Out , I say!

Zap! A pass of the flap between the fins' gap picks up the crap before you can, er... doff your cap.

The outed spot.

The CD envelope is also thin enough to help clean out the collector's thin ink channel itself.

Cleaning out a P51 collector's ink channel using a
CD envelope and fragrance free, pH neutral soap.

Before reassembly, I like to double check the shim is still in place, if cleaning an early style collector.

A shimmed early collector. The shim shown is a substitute
for the missing original, which tend to be a bit longer.

Toodle-oo for noo,


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