Making a new cork gasket

This is a Matador Express 814  – a German pen made in the 1940’s. A short history of Matador can be found here.

I didn’t take any shots of the pen before I started cleaning it up. This is the result after the cleaning.

Apart from the band around the cap, the gasket at the top of the piston is missing.

This meant I had to make a new gasket. One option is to buy a couple of rubber O-rings such as the ones you can buy on this page. However, I took old and deteriorated cork off the piston – not rubber. So, after looking at the instructions on this page, I decided to have a go at making my own gasket.

The first step is to slice some cork taken from a bottle of wine. Step 2 is to cut it into an oversized circle and drill a hole in the centre. You then put it back on the piston and sand it down to the correct diameter.

Step 3 is fun. You have to “cook” the cork in candle wax for about 30 seconds.

This then goes on the top of the piston as shown below.

So, then I re-inserted the piston, filled the pen up with ink and, TA-DA! Ink spilled out everywhere.

It was a complete failure. The cork wasn’t large enough in diameter to seal against the inside of the barrel, air leaked in, and the pen dripped ink out of the nib until the barrel was empty.

So, I tried again, making sure the second time I sliced the cork with the grain instead of against it, and I cut it oversized and then sanded it down so that it was a tighter fit against the inside of the barrel.

The second time was a success! Only two tries!

It’s a little disappointing that the cap is missing the bands, otherwise this would be a perfect collector’s pen. However, on the other hand, it writes great with a slightly flexible nib – so it might just make a really nice everyday-pen that I don’t need to worry so much about, since it’s not as collectable…

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