Restoring a Stratford Bulb Filler

Earlier this year, I purchased a lot of pens on ebay and included in it was a pretty little Stratford bulb filler pen.  The Stratford’s faceted cap and blind cap, its fancy pierced cap band, and the ink level scale (in “drops”) on the barrel caught my eye. The bulb was missing but the rest of the parts were there and I decided to restore it to writing order.

The main problem was that the nipple used to attach the bulb at the top end of the barrel was almost all broken off.  I found a piece of styrene tubing of the right diameter to form a new nipple and carefully fitted it into the top of the barrel.  Unfortunately, the formerly clear, now ambered, barrel was crazed and as soon as I applied even a little force, it simply crumbled into pieces.  The barrel is a rather complex piece, being threaded inside and out for the section and cap, threaded for the blind cap, and necked down to a nipple for the bulb. Replacing it with something hand made seemed beyond my capability

I posted a query in the Repair Q&A forum on Fountain Pen Network (FPN) to see if anyone had a suggestion how I might find a donor pen or fabricate a replacement barrel.  A participant responded, asking for pictures and dimensions.  I posted those and to my surprise he offered to send me a similar parts pen.

That pen arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I decided to see what I could do with all these parts.  I wound up using his section and barrel, my cap and blind cap, and a nib from my parts bin.

I was able to pull the feed and nib from his section without having to knock it out from behind.  The bulb filler has a breather tube that runs from the back of the feed completely through the barrel to facilitate complete filling.  That tube would have interfered with any attempt to knock out the feed from behind.  The inside of the barrel was somewhat ink stained.  I cleaned it with warm water and a tiny bottle brush.  I found that the clarity is quite good aside from mild ambering of the plastic.

The barrel is marked with a scale of “drops” of ink on the side, with instruction to REFILL at the zero level.  A test with water showed that the barrel can be completely filled with about fifteen quick squeezes of the bulb.  This pen holds a LOT of ink!

The donor pen’s cap and blind cap are red and black marbled with gold-toned clip and cap band. The clip was badly bent. I was able to straighten it, but could not repair the rather obvious crease across the clip.  The cap and blind cap from my pen are black and pearl marbled with silver-toned clip and cap band.  Renaissance Pre-Lim cleaner and Museum Wax brought both sets of caps and blind caps to a bright shine.

Neither blind cap would tighten onto the threads on the barrel – old plastic shrinks and distorts – so I built up the threads just enough to work with both blind caps. The pen can now be dressed out in either color scheme.

I realize that the Stratford is a third tier pen of little monetary value, but the design is pretty and I had fun restoring it. Oh, I should point out that it writes very nicely – it is a pen, after all…

Click on any picture to enlarge

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One thought on “Restoring a Stratford Bulb Filler

  1. Pingback: Frankenpen V – Getting Wild and Crazy! | Cigar Box Pen Storage

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