Why do some people need to 'get repairs' on their pen?

Very beginner question, but I've noticed some people who talk about their collections and talk about some of their pens that need repair work done.

Now, I'm aware of general maintenance (which, as far as I've learned, basically consists of washing out the old ink, disassembling the pen as much as possible, soaking it in water and letting it dry out every few months).

But, beyond that, what can happen to a pen that causes it to need repair? In my (admittedly very naive) understanding, you might push too hard and break the nib, but then you'd just have to get a new nib, right?

I'm asking because I thought most pens were supposed to last a lifetime with proper cleaning.

EDIT: Thank you everyone for explaining this to me :)

Anyone finding this later, it seems to depend on the mechanics of the pen and whether or not its vintage and also whether or not you have an accident with them. I'm also all the more terrified to add more fancy pens to my collection now, which may be a good thing


Because life happens. Oops! you dropped your pen and the clip broke off and now you have to send it out for repairs.


Rubber ink sacks deteriorate, and have to be replaced, and complicated filling systems like a snorkel need work from time to time. Cork seals in old piston fillers deteriorate. Seals for the section can deteriorate in old pens causing leaks. Then there are drops and falls. These things happen.


>but then you'd just have to get a new nib, right? If it's a commonly available nib unit, like a #5 or #6, sure, but if it's proprietary like Pilot, Sailor, vintage, etc then you're not just going to be able to easily get a new nib to pop in there. Sometimes pistons or seals wear out and need replacing. Vintage pens may need some parts (sacs, seals, etc) replaced due to wearing out over time.


Often as not it's 'disassembling the pen as much as possible' which is the culprit.


Hm.. I've seen a few online resources that basically say to thoroughly disassemble everything that can be disassembled (including nib and feed) for the best cleaning. Would you say it varies from pen to pen whether you should or not, or are there some 'tricks' to remember for reassembly that people forget?


Yes that's right. For best cleaning you would take it all apart and clean each piece individually. But you asked about what makes pens last a century, and it isn't that. That's servicing a need to dismantle things, and a compulsion to know they're completely clean. That's a hobby in itself. it's not being kind to a pen to make it last long-term, and it isn't necessary if youre considerate to the pen in use, and patient in cleaning. Pens arent Lego, they're not designed to be continually broken-down and reassembled. It causes stress to components, creates weak spots & microfractures which ultimately leads to cracks, leaks and landfill. Nibs and feeds are friction-fit. Friction-fit means friction-fu..uh you get the idea. You often have to wrestle with nib units to get the components free. Some people have incredible mechanical sympathy and experience servicing things. The rest of us break stuff. Complete dismantling is often essential if you are restoring a vintage pen, such as after it's laid idle and inked for decades. It also keeps a pen in working order that would otherwise be clogged and useless, so you can use particulate inks and not worry. But if you treat a pen nicely, you don't need to mess about with it. In fact, all the manufacturers, even the one that provides a spanner, would plead that you don't routinely dismantle your pen.


Thank you so much for this. I know it may seem like common sense (and it kinda is in retrospect) but it really is, well... sensible. Disassembly every couple of weeks feels counterintuitive to my goal of having my pens outlive me, so I won't be doing it :)


You're welcome, glad its a useful perspective. For what it's worth, I have some pens I use for rough duties and most I look after carefully. Having a variety and a bit of compartmentalisation allows for wider enjoyment without suffering the downsides of each approach. :)


Life happens. Plastic breaks. Filling mechanisms break, get stuck, need replacement parts. Nibs can be repaired and tuned - this does not make sense for a 5€ Lamy Safari nib, but for a nice gold nib that got to know gravity and the kitchen sink? Repair. Vintage Pens are a thing, and they … might need a lot of replacement parts. Example: I have a Montblanc 144, bought second hand, the cap has a crack in a place that is very typical to get damaged. I currently ignore the problem, as it does not interfere with usability, but one day i will get that crack fixed.


Because Murphy’s Law is a law in this patch of outside. Sacs and mechanisms may need replacement or maintenance. Not all nibs are readily replaceable too, not everything can be swapped out with a 6/5 nib.


Maybe because it was made 80 or 100 years ago and the rubber parts have disintegrated or ossified and need replacing.


The #1 cause of a fountain pen broken in half is carrying it in the front or back pants pocket. Didn't think you could damage a pen that way did you? Life happens.


Suddenly, investing in a case makes sense! Thanks! :)


My vintage pens occasionally need a new sac or lever adjustments. Modern sacs last a pretty long time, so that's mostly for new additions to my collection. I sometimes get a pen that doesn't flow right. I might be willing to do some minor adjustments to a nib, but generally I'd rather a professional handle it. Occasionally, "pen repair" means I want a custom nib grind. This year I'm hoping to get two of them done at my local pen show. I've heard five nibsmiths will be there, so it shouldn't be a problem to get done!


As a beginner in this hobby, you may not know that this hobby was started by people who collect vintage pens (pens made in the era when they are household items). It just so happen that this group is under-represented in this subreddit who are mainly beginners to intermediate hobbyist focusing on modern/contemporary pens. So if you want to use pens from that era, 90% of the time you have to restore them first. This process of restoration ranges from cleaning up, replacing parts, to a complete rebuild. So the concept of "repair" is almost synonymous to it.


Thanks, this makes a lot of sense, especially since you could potentially buy an antique that needs repair in the first place. I was definitely thinking new/modern pens people bought.


I just sent off my first modern pen for repairs: it's an Esterbrook Estie and the nib kept on falling out. Like the silver part. I'm new to pens and I have no idea why it keeps on doing that but it's splashing ink all over as well, and I reached out to Esterbrook and they just asked me to send the whole thing back.


Kinda like a mobile device (phone), leaving out the battery life and G level, the device will last decades. Repairs will only be needed if you do harm to it.


Phones go obsolete in less than a decade and stop receiving security updates when the manufacturer stops supporting it. Not a very good comparison to a fountain pen, most pens can still be repaired to working condition with few issues, and they don’t go out of date.


You are correct The mobile device can still be used as a computer I was just trying to hive a comparison