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Inspecting the Unexpected

Posted by Dirck on 21 July, 2015

Time for a pen repair yarn!  This story actually begins before the vacation; it extends into that period because if a wait for parts.  I got an email from a fellow who had a couple of his grandfather’s pens that wanted some attention before they’d do their thing.  One, a Parker Vacumatic, was helpfully labelled as such, and based on the symptoms described it sounded like a pretty standard diaphragm replacement.  The other only declared itself as a Sheaffer, and the filler just wasn’t right on it.

This sets me back a little.  I’m still not able to deal with the later versions of Sheaffer’s vacuum fillers, and so I asked if he could send some pictures along.  What I got put my mind somewhat at rest…

2015-06-08 09.43.29

…because that band is doesn’t appear on any of the daunting pens.  Looking at it, I was pretty confident that it was a Touchdown Admiral, and they’re darlings to fix.  However, a subsequent picture made me, as a favourite author puts it, stretch my eyes a little:

2015-06-08 10.03.56

This was no boating accident!

“I think I may have to charge for a replacement part,” I wrote back.  I was, alas, correct.  Let me show you the picture I took of the old part and its replacement:


We call this the filler tube, and it attaches by a screw to the blind cap (a look at the instructions will give a sense of it in operation).  At some point, as far as I can make out, the sac in the pen ruptured, and the pen was left alone long enough for the ink to cement the tube to the inside of the barrel.  How it managed this without also corroding the dickens out of the tube and the sac protector that lives inside the tube I cannot say, but the tube was pretty firmly stuck in the barrel when I got it.  Subsequently, someone tried to fill the pen, and after managing to unscrew the blind cap from the barrel, they yonked on it hard enough to tear away the end of the tube.

Savour that last phrase for a moment.  Conjure the scene in your imagination.  Now… how does this happen without any other damage to the pen?  How is it that the metal of the tube gives way before the more tenuous connection of screw threads to plastic strips away, or before the relatively weak adhesive of ink fails?  It’s baffling.  All the moreso because the tube, stuck in the barrel, let go with a very light tap.

Mystery aside, the pen presented no serious opposition.  The usual big struggle with this model, the removal of the elderly o-ring from its place in the barrel’s tail, was actually a little easier than average.  There was a little bit of smoothing wanted on the point, which is unusual in a Sheaffer of this age, but since it was an heirloom and had giving me a good story to tell, that was thrown in for free.  It and the Vacumatic are both home now, serving a new generation.  Hopefully, as an older pen, the Admiral is going to settle down and stop doing strange stunts.

Today’s young pen: Faber-Castell e-Motion
Today’s thrill-seeking ink: Diamine Sargasso Sea


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