How to Repair a Waterman Fountain Pen

Repair your Waterman and get writing again.
Repair your Waterman and get writing again. (Image: fountain pen image by Pali A from

The legend is that L.E. Waterman invented the first practical fountain pen feed design in 1884 following a disastrous contract signing involving a leaky pen. Waterman went on to become the leading American fountain pen maker through the 1920s. His company's fountain pens are fine writing instruments used by statesmen and celebrities the world over, but even a Waterman needs repair eventually.

Things You'll Need

  • Waterman fountain pen
  • Cup
  • Water
  • Dish detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber strips
  • Pliers
  • Eyedropper
  • Craft knife
  • Paper clip
  • Sandpaper
  • Rubber cement
  • Tweezers
  • Ink sac
  • Nib
  • Knockout block
  • Tack hammer
  • Dowel
  • Steel wool
  • Rubbing compound
  • Bleach
  • Soft cloth
  • Polishing paste

Fill a cup with cool water and a drop of dish detergent. Soak your Waterman fountain pen overnight in the solution, covering the nib and feed assembly (known as the "section") and the join with the barrel.

Unscrew the barrel from the section. If the barrel does not easily come off, wrap the pen with strips of rubber to get a better grip. Use padded pliers if necessary, but be careful not to crack the pen. You may need to take the pen to a professional if the torque threatens to break the barrel.

Flush the nib and feed assembly with an eyedropper bulb and clean water. Wipe the parts clean with a paper towel.

Remove the ink sac if it is damaged or hardened. Use a fine tip craft knife or a straightened paper clip to scrape away any remnants of the old rubber sac left in the barrel or on the section flange. Sand the flange with extra fine sandpaper and wipe off any particles. Apply a light coat of rubber cement or shellac to the flange and slip a new ink sac on, using tweezers as a spreader.

Remove a worn nib by placing the nib assembly in a knockout block and tapping with a dowel and a tack hammer to free the feed from the nib. Install the new nib in the same alignment on the feed assembly. Adjust the tines of the nib for the best ink flow. Use a fine point craft knife or razor to spread the tines and gentle finger pressure to close the tines.

Polish heavily worn or scratched plastic with very fine steel wool and rubbing compound. Oxidized black plastic can be treated with a dip in a cup of one part bleach and two parts cool water. Wipe the pen clean with a soft cloth. Finish with a polish, using a polishing paste. Avoid rubbing metal trim through to the base layer.

Reassemble your Waterman and fill it with fountain pen ink in your favorite color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bleach can cause pitting and damage to metal and rubber parts.

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  • "Fountain Pens Past & Present;" Paul Erano; 1999
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