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Repair Service and Tips

Repair Service and Supplies

I no longer offer repair and restoration of Esterbrook or other pens. I recommend contacting Joel Hamilton and Sherrell Tyree of Ink-Pen. They are experts and will take good care of your pens.

For those wishing to perform their own repairs, I am now offering my own line of repair products:

For easy ordering of repair supplies, you can now visit our new site here!

15cc bottle of orange shellac in nice wide mouth bottle with applicator brush in cap - $5
10 ml container of pure silicone grease for threads and other applications - $4
10 ml sifter jar of pure talc for sacs - $3
sacs in sizes 14 (M2's), 16 (most other esties and other brands), 18 (some $1.00 pens), and 20 (other brands) - $2 each

Repair Tips

From time to time I get requests for instructions as to how to remove and replace jewels on Esterbrook J series models.  Here is the method I use to do so:

Tools you'll need:
Dremel or drill with a drill bit long enough to extend past the cap you're working with
T-15 Torx screwdriver or similar sized flat, flush object for pushing out the jewel
Knife or pick to remove remnants of bad jewel
Superglue or other similar adhesive
Eye protection (for shop safety as Norm Abram of New Yankee Workshop fame would suggest)
Donor cap or barrel with good jewel

There are several types of Esterbrook jewels. Starting with the Visumasters in 1941 which had all metal jewels, followed by three ribbed varieties with the twistfiller and so called "Transitional" pens with flat barrel ends. For the purposes of this discussion, I am limiting this to "Transitional" jewels with three ribbed cap jewels and later models with round jewels. There are only two sizes of jewels, the largest is only found on the J cap jewel, whereas all others are of the small type, including the J barrel jewel, and all cap and barrel jewels on LJ and SJ pens. With this, you can replace cap or barrel jewels easily as they are all interchangeable. This is also an easy way to tell whether that pen in that antique shop is a J or not, as the cap and barrel jewels will be different sizes on a J.

Trasitional pens with three ribbed jewels simply unscrew from the cap. I've found some of them have been glued in place and are almost impossible to remove, short of breaking the jewel. Then again, if it's already broken and you're replacing it, and have a replacement, there's no harm in drilling it out or chipping it away.

Transitional pens also came with round jewels with both plain and engraved Esterbrook clips. Both models also unscrew, but be careful, because caps may have been exchanged as they look identical to 1948 model caps and clips.

Starting sometime around 1948, Esterbrook eliminated the screw style jewel and press fitted the jewel into the clip. These are the most difficult to replace, as they must be drilled out from the back to release from the clip. So, for cap jewels only, you can follow the procedure outlined below, but always try to see if the jewel will unscrew first. If it does unscrew, you'll notice the clip is actually different than those that don't unscrew and you'll either have to find a matching screw type jewel, or be forced to glue on a similar jewel with no stem.   Rumor has it some barrel jewels unscrew from the barrel. I've yet to find one in my parts bin that works this way, but have on good authority some will. If so, simply unscrew and use.

In the case of the bad jewel, you can pry that out with a knife or pick, however you want to do it is fine, but get it clean. The jewel looks like a little mushroom with a stem that fits into the top of the clip, make sure the old stem is completely removed from the inside of the clip.

Now that the cap is ready for transplant, find your donor cap (I'm assuming it's cracked or warped, but the jewel is good). If the cap is cracked or otherwise damaged, resist the urge to break off as much as possible of the cap, as you'll be eliminating your ability to hold on to the cap as you remove the jewel. If you have an inner cap puller, pull out the inner cap. If you don't have an inner cap puller, or don't really care about the donor cap's inner cap (my personal choice), take a dremel or drill with a long small diameter drill bit and drill through the inner cap to reveal the bottom of the stem of the jewel. The jewel is press fitted into the clip and by drilling out a small portion of the back end of the jewel stem, you can push out the jewel. I usually drill just a little bit and then check. I use a T-15 sized torx style screw driver (only because it was handy and has a flat, flush end, unlike a screwdriver, and turns out to fit really well) to push the jewel out from the inside. If I can't push the jewel out with a reasonable amount of force, drill for a few seconds longer, trying to not drill off the stem of the jewel completely. If you go too far, you'll end up breaking the good jewel altogether. Try to push out the jewel again, being careful, as when it goes it may very well shoot across the room like a horse out of the gate at the Kentucky Derby. If you have shag carpet, or a heater vent nearby, you'll be in for a grand search.

If you manage to successfully remove the jewel with a portion of the stem from the donor cap, you should simply be able to push the good jewel into the good cap and be on your way. If you are feeling a bit nervous, you can apply a drop of superglue into the cap before putting in the jewel. The longer the stem, the better chance the jewel will fit tightly and not need any excess adhesive. Keep in mind, if any adjustment is needed, you'll want to be able to remove the good jewel, so if it's obvious it's going to be loose, don't push it all the way in, remove it apply adhesive and retry. Always apply pressure from the center of the jewel and push straight down on the jewel. Any off center pressure could break the jewel you've worked so hard to replace.

So there it is, happy jewel replacements everyone!
Brian P. Anderson
Copyright 11/28/2004