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The Pen Doctor XV

(This page published October 1, 2007)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

Rattling Lever in Sheaffer Pen

Q:I recently put a new sac in a Sheaffer triumph-nib 1000 lever filler. The pen fills and functions well, but the lever is loose when in the closed position; it pivots about 1/8” and rattles when the pen is shaken. The pressure bar appears to be in good shape and tight to the barrel, though I have not taken it out of the pen yet. There is a bulge in the barrel where the lever ring is. My first question is what can be done about the lever, and second, can I eliminate the bulge?

℞x:Sheaffer prssure bar The simplest thing to check is whether the pressure bar is really tight. This entails removing the pressure bar because Sheaffer pressure bars are compound bars but are made in one piece. (See the photo at right.)

This type of pressure bar is difficult to remove without damage. The best way is to use a pointed dental pick with a 90° bend 1/16" (1.5 mm) from the end. Fish around until you can engage the hole in the tail of the pressure bar and then pull. If the pressure bar has no hole in the tail, insert the dental pick all the way into the recess where the tail is, alongside the tail, and rotate it 90° so that the point is under the tail, and then pull. This may take several attempts.
The pressure bar’s tail might be loose in the barrel recess due to a metal-fatigue fracture at the point where it is bent back on itself. As long as the entire part is present, it should work. If the tail is broken off at that point, you will need to replace the pressure bar.

The center “tongue,” which runs from the front to the back, is the pressure bar, and the side “rails” are the spring. The tongue is the critical part, but it isn’t the barrel that it needs to be tight against; rather it’s the lever itself. You may need to try a couple of different bends, but the best results usually happen when the bar is straight and aligned properly.

Good and worn leversBut there is, as you may have surmised, more to it. The lever itself can be a problem if its short end, where it bears against the pressure bar, is worn. A badly worn lever will have a pronounced rounding-off where it rubs the pressure bar. (See image at left.) If it is worn, it may not bear fully on the bar, and this can cause a rattle.

I’ve saved the worst for last. That barrel bulge you noticed can be, and probably is, the root of your problem. When the barrel is bulged in this way, the lever is not seated as far into the barrel as it should be, and it doesn’t bear on the pressure bar. It’s possible to remove the bulge, but it’s risky. You need to remove the pressure bar and the lever and then apply carefully controlled heat to the barrel. The idea is to soften it just enough that you can gradually reshape it back into its original perfectly cylindrical shape; but it is not easy. Soften it too much, and you end up with a worse problem; soften it not enough, and nothing happens. Even with just the right amount of heat, you can still mess it up; among other pitfalls is the possibility that the groove into which the lever clip ring fits will simply collapse and leave a groove around the outside surface of the pen. If you do manage to get the bulge out, you should make a new clip ring using spring wire 0.005" smaller in diameter than the original to reduce the probability of a bulge in the future.

Converter Interchangeability?

Q:I recently wanted to purchase a Rotring Newton, but alas, there are no Rotring converters available here (Philippines); while Rotring converters seem available online, I cannot afford the costs due to the dollar exchange rate (more than 50 local currency to a dollar). Are converters interchangeable between brands? Parker is one of the (if not the only) brand that has converters that are readily available.

℞x:There are some swaps that work; for example, many Italian pens can use an off-the-shelf Schmidt converter, but in general, converters are not universally interchangeable. Unfortunately, Parker converters don’t fit Rotring pens. Do you have a correspondent in Europe or the USA who could buy a converter for you and send it in a personal mail?

Pelikan Nib Skips — Easy to Fix?

Q:Somewhere I heard that Pelikan is out-sourcing their nibs and now they are having a problem with skipping. I recently bought a new Pelikan M400 with a broad nib. It skips when starting unless I use a lot of pressure. I am relatively capable of fixing things. Could you please tell me how to fix this problem.

℞x:Baby bottomUnfortunately, the behavior you’re experiencing can occur with any nib and is not the problem that I’ve traced to Pelikan’s recent nibs. The nibs affected by that problem, about which I wrote in an earlier column, are the M800 and M1000. Your pen’s nib could need its tines respaced farther apart, or realigned, or twisted to align the slit walls; or it could need its tip reshaped, as some Pelikan nibs have what I call the “butt cheeks” problem. (See the image to the right.) This problem occurs when the edges of the slit are too rounded; you get great smoothness, but the rounded edges don’t allow the ink to come down to the paper unless you press hard enough to force paper up into the slit. I wish I could give you a silver bullet here, but fixing your nib will require analyzing it to see which of these problems is causing its failure. (Be aware that any given nib can have more than one problem!)

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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