Most people wouldn’t even consider a pen with a broken clip. Even when it’s otherwise fine, that’s such a serious fault that the pen ceases to be an object of desire. If it has a washer clip and you can find a replacement, the job’s pretty straightforward and the pen goes from junk to jewel in a matter of minutes. If it’s one of the several types of inserted clip that penetrates the body of the cap, it’s quite another matter. Some Swan clips are heat-inserted straight into the plastic. They can be removed and replaced without special tools – other than a heat source – but it takes time and care and success is not guaranteed. Worse still are those that are held or covered by the inner cap, because you have to get the inner cap out of there, and that can be very tricky. Help is at hand, however, in the shape of the Inner Cap Puller:
Most pen repair tools can be picked up in any hardware store but there are one or two that are specialist, and this is one of them. As there is a low volume of sales and it’s a high-precision tool, it doesn’t exactly come cheap, but a few repairs that otherwise couldn’t have been done will pay for it. There are a couple of versions out there. Mine came from Tryphon Enterprises, who sell a wide range of pen repair tools and consumables and are very helpful and obliging people to deal with.
Even with the puller, removing an inner cap isn’t a trivial business. It was doubtless mechanically pressed into the cap, it’s been in there a long time and it will be encrusted with decades of ink. All that adds up to a great reluctance to come out. Removal needs extended and perhaps repeated soaking, heat and a lot of care and patience. A pen cap is a very fragile thing and the force that a puller can bring to bear is considerable. Breaking a good cap will really spoil your day.
Inner caps themselves are generally not interesting, being just short cylinders of plastic. They’re useful, though, in that they provide the means by which screw caps close securely, they may hold or protect the clip and they reinforce the cap. Sometimes, especially in Watermans, they’re made from sections of scrapped pen barrels, and you may be surprised to fined a marbled-pattern inner cap hidden away inside your pen.
Inserted-clip repairs can be among the most difficult restoration tasks, but successfully done, it brings a pen back from a fate as a spares donor to one that someone will be proud to own, and that’s very satisfying.