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Embracing the Vacuum, and a question.

Posted by Dirck on 13 May, 2013

Mothers’ Day observances ate a great deal of the potential productivity of my weekend, when one equates “productivity” with “did stuff with pens”.  Excellent pancakes were made (my son, tender years aside, is quite the fellow for measuring dry ingredients).   Housework was advanced.  My wife’s constant companion, bronchial asthma, means that part of my interaction with a vacuum over the weekend was odd only in its timing, as she and a running vacuum cleaner may not be in the same house, even if it is a rather good Dyson job.  Because it is a quite good Dyson job, I don’t mind pushing our vacuum around the place, and the action was somewhat overdue in any event.

This delay and son’s current interest in Lego– the cost of those little blocks meant that there was a great deal of creeping about in the evenings all last week to make sure none got slurped up– means that vacuuming was very much in my imagination.  There may also have been an effect upon me from the transition from heaps of snow to fine summer (spring having been even shorter than it’s usual manifestation, which has rather embarrassed the trees on the subject of leaves; I’m sure they’ll catch up).  In any event, vacuums and positivity were strangly mingled in my breast, and so with the little pen time I have available to me, I more or less overcame my mental incapacity regarding the Sheaffer vacuum filler.

The incapacity itself had many roots.  The evil reputation of the system laid the groundwork, and the more reading I did on the subject the more concerned I became.  There were various solutions suggested, each with its charms and each with its potential problems– and with each potential problem, a new hesitation to attempt the effort.  The one I was previously inclining to was the Fountainbel cartridge system, which is technically elegant, but which can have some problems in proper seating in older pens and requires cutting away part of the reservoir on newer models; I think it’s superior to the original, but it’s a substantial amendment to the fabric of the pen, and some object.  For me, the real drawback to the Fountainbel system is the expense of the part (and, since it has been so long since last I looked into them, I wonder whether the man behind them isn’t distracted by bigger fish).

The other major approach, outlined by David Nishimura, involves a certain amount of chopping as well, but has some charms in the area of low-cost parts.  When working with Balances, at least, which dismantle in a conventional manner, the up-the-barrel nature of the work is fiddly but concealed… and so, in my flush of optimism, with the necessary parts on hand, I had a go.  As with some many things that are held up by mental qualms, it was easier than I’d expected.  The operation appears to have been a success, although time for the interior cementing  to set and a want of shellac for reassembling the piston rod means I have yet to properly test the thing.

Assuming the test goes well, the next stage will be to do the same with several other Balances in hand with creaky vacuum systems; replication is important, because the stage after that will be to finally add this sort of repair to my line-up.  Limited, alas, to the Balance line, since I still haven’t overcome my issues with unscrewing the front ends of the Triumph pens (and that’s not entirely a mental hang-up on my part; it’s just plain not easy).  I may, if the Fountainbel cartridge is still available, adopt it as my repair for the Triumph models, and follow the Nishimura method only for the Balances.  Then, so far as major makers and their fillers go… I’m set.  No more mysteries, no more lacunae.  For someone on the wrong side of the gender line, it’s a pretty good Mothers’ Day present.

Now, on an entirely separate matter– I’m toying with the idea of a capillary filler entering the writing rotation.  The main drawback for the viewers is that would be that it would rather have to be every second day’s pen, since those things hate lying in idleness.  For me, the drawback is eventually having to clean the damn thing, so I’d probably keep in it the line-up for a couple of fills at least… which is another drawback for the viewers.  Also, I really can’t decide which of the two should get to play.  The Parker 61 looks somewhat better and is more easily cleaned when the day comes, but it is also the more common sort of capillary pen in the world and offers constant nervousness in the areas of cracking and trim-ejecting.  The Waterman X-Pen on the other hand is a little pedestrian in looks and a pure devil to clean, but seems mostly indestructible and not so many people have one.  I thus add a poll, to run until Thursday when I need to add a new pen to my rotation, so I can get outside opinions on the matter:

I won’t necessarily follow majority opinion in this, since this blog is an autocracy, but I do appreciate feedback.

Today’s pen: Pilot Elite
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black


3 Responses to “Embracing the Vacuum, and a question.”

  1. May the Force be with you. I’ve never tried a capillary filler and probably won’t. I like all my neat, tidy vacuum fillers. Although I do very occasionally use an old eyedropper-filler, which is kind of a drag but I like it for the old-school-ness of it.

    • In keeping with today’s entry, I should probably just sell both of them and put temptation aside. I keep them as oddities and then feel bad about never using them precisely because they want to be THE ONLY PEN YOU’RE USING. I feel much the same as you about eyedroppers, although I’m perilously close to rigging up one of my old Sheaffer cheapies for that kind of service; a transparent barrel ED is sort of fun. And it wouldn’t run out of ink until the end of the year.

  2. […] discover the knack of the Nishimura method of Sheaffer vac repair (which I go into a little more in the previous mention of the effort).  The long delay was prompted in part by the difficulty of getting at shellac locally, and […]

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