Among my many Soennecken pens, this Soennecken 1306 is the only Soennecken I’ve had a rather tough time getting along with. It keeps testing my devotion to the brand and my own resolution to continue to pursue the collection.
It snapped cleanly in two just two weeks after I’ve received it nearly two years ago. I remember the day it “perished” for the first time. I was still taking notes with it in the morning, and, just like every other day, I put it in my pen-roll and thrash the whole roll of pens into my backpack. In the evening, after I’ve settled everything else, and was about to begin my every night’s scribble, I pulled my pen-roll out, and tried to fish the 1306 out of its dedicated socket. It came out, or rather, the end of it came out – the section and nib is still stuck within the cap. Mortified and frustrated, I cleaned the pen and tucked it inside my drawer, for I do not know anyone who possessed the skills to repair a damage of this magnitude at the time.
About a year later I casually brought up the pen during discussion with a skilled and respected dealer through email, and he said that he would try to resurrect my poor Soennecken 1306 from the “dead.” Thankfully he did, and I was a happy man once more, with my Soennecken 1306 in my loving arms again. Yeah, we all wish that the story ends here. It didn’t.
A fortnight ago, I was again using the pen when I discovered that my right hand had turned partially blue. Ink had seeped out of the piston knob, and covered my thumb and index finger with Royal blue. I was worried. I know what the problem was, given the experiences of meddling with vintage fountain pens for three years now, that it was most likely the fact that the piston seal had shrunk, or had lost its elasticity, resulting in tiny passages between the piston rod and the inner pen barrel. Ink thus seeped through the barrel and got out somehow. I had never repaired a piston-filling fountain pen’s piston seal before. Where can I get it fixed?
I’ve got no other options. I didn’t know any pen repair maestros who were available at the moment. The only one I know hasn’t replied my emails for three months. I had to, again, take matters into my own hands. I asked around friends who know a bit about repairing. I consulted pen shop owners who fixes the pen he sells (I didn’t ask him to repair my pen for it wasn’t bought in his shop, and he doesn’t accept repair orders.) ask them how and what they use to fix piston fillers.
I set out to buy a electric sculptor used by model-builders, a David 360. Gathered plenty of wine corks from family and friends. Fished out silicone oil, a sheet of mesh and a candle. Let’s do business! I thought to myself.
Removed the blackened and shrunk cork seal. Repairmen uses corks to make piston seals. The cork material can be obtained from wine corks. Waste nothing! Anyway, so I tried to cut a couple cork seals. Urgh, didn’t go so well.
A total disaster. The corks I’d cut were absolutely un-usable. So I got the following tool after I hideously ruined 3 wine corks (each cork can cut out 4~6 cork seals under the best situations).
And the cork seal came to pass in beautiful form. The circle cutter is used to cut circles from paper, and since wine corks are fairly soft, the blade dug into them with ease.
The round corks cut out had to be sanded on the piece of mesh, and dipped in melted candle wax to seal off possible holes in the cork. After that the waxed cork had to be dipped into silicone oil, for the oil shall act as lubricant once the seal is inserted back into the barrel.
So, I’ve finished repairing my Soennecken 1306 (my blasted laptop ate two paragraphs of my previous editing and now that I forgot what I wrote earlier so I shall keep it short. Man I really hate electronic products. So very unreliable. Fountain pens are much much better.) I’ve conquered yet another obstacle on my way to a skilled repairmen. I can finally say to my Soennecken 1306, “All is well.”