Monday, January 21, 2013

The Clipectomy Was A Success

Matt McColm sent me a care package a few weeks ago that included this little gem:

It’s a WASP (short for W. A. Sheaffer Pen Co.) Pencil in the unusual "lahn" pattern, in which strips of tinfoil were inlaid into the celluloid. It’s a great pencil that I didn’t have, and the mechanism works great, but there’s one obvious problem with it:

Someone apparently forgot that you’re supposed to replace all divots! What’s happened here is that the clip, which was stapled into the barrel, was pulled away from the barrel, still clutching the rectangular shaped piece of celluloid in its prongs. Is the pencil a total loss? Well, knowing that I couldn’t really do any harm to it, I took up the challenge to fix this poor little guy back up again.

The first step was to locate a donor clip, and fortunately, Matt’s package arrived just shortly before the Philadelphia Pen Show. It took a lot of digging through parts bins, but on the last day of the show I found this at Terry Mawhorter’s table while we were sitting and chatting:

The same clip was used on the pen and the pencil. This cap is even in the same lahn pattern, but that didn’t matter. While I was hoping to find a cap that was chipped or messed up in some way, this was all I could find, and as you can see the celluloid is starting to degrade.

Now I don’t want to hear any of you pen guys whining about this part, because you’ve been harvesting clips off of perfectly good pencils for years!  But, since I’m a sensitive guy, if you're squeamish about pen pieces being dismembered, you might want to turn your head for a minute:

I started by breaking the plastic away from the clip rather than trying to just pull the clip away from the cap, because I didn't want to risk breaking the prongs. After I had most of it broken away, I used a utility knife blade to gently open up the prongs and remove the last of the celluloid:

Then, I inserted the clip into the barrel of the pencil. While holding the clip firmly against the barrel, I pushed a crappy metal pencil that happened to be just the right diameter into the barrel, using the tapered point to gradually bend the tongs outward in order to grasp the celluloid on either side of the hole.

It took several passes, and then I used a screwdriver to finish flattening them out as much as possible. Once the prongs lay flat enough that I was able to get the top back into the barrel, I put it on the buffer for a couple minutes, and the end result was good enough for me:

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