Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Second Carey

The Carey pencil I scrounged up at the DC show and blogged about here on August 22 ranks right up there as one of the most significant things I’ve found this year. So imagine my surprise when I received an email from Tom Heath shortly after the article ran: he had another one!

With a last name like Heath and my discussion of the Heath clip and the pencil’s manufacture by the George W. Heath Co., I took his email as adding additional information to my knowledge of the pencil. But still, I remembered one of the rules of life one of my friends used to live by: "It never hurts to ask." That rule served me well this time, and a second example of the Carey made its one-way trip to Ohio. Here they are shown together, the smaller example from DC and Tom Heath’s full sized one with floral engraving:

The imprint on Tom’s is much clearer:

But as beautiful as it is, it had one problem: it didn’t work. The mechanism was frozen solid. Fortunately, since my earlier experience with the other Carey taught me the connection with Heath, I had a cadaver from which I was able to figure out what was wrong:

This was a sterling Heath leadholder, identical to the gold filled example I blogged about here on August 23. It did have the clip at one time, but before I knew it was a Heath, I had Stuart Hawkinson transplant the clip onto a sterling Heath-clip Ever Sharp I had with a broken clip. Although I might now think twice about doing that, knowing what I know now about Heath, I’m still glad, since I’d trade a Heath leadholder for a Heath-clip Ever Sharp any day of the week!

Inside, these leadholders are really simple.

The metal band in the middle of the threaded section is soldered inside the barrel, so that when the top is turned, the inner sleeve moves up and down about half an inch to either clap down on the lead or release it. When the mechanism is turned too far – either one way or another – that sleeve can get stuck where the threads end, either at one end or the other.

Any lead inserted into the Carey would simply fall out. A little probing with the pencil mechanic’s most trusty tool – the bent paper clip –confirmed that the prongs were intact and frozen in the open position. I theorized that someone had simply retracted the mechanism too far and jammed it. So I sprayed a tiny amount of PB Blaster (available in any hardware store, and better than WD-40 since it stays put better to keep moving parts lubricated) in the nose, and also in the top, waited a few minutes, and with a pair of padded pliers, applied a little force to try to advance the mechanism forward . . .

That pop you hear is the moment of truth – either I broke the weld that secured the sleeve inside the barrel, or the problem was solved. I’ve broken a lot of pencils over the years trying to repair them, as every person attempting to do repairs will do . . .

But not this time!

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