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(This page published April 2, 2021)
I have a Waterman Charleston, which leaks between the section and the metal converter/cartridge holder. To me, it's a very odd leak. (It even took me a while to figure out why my hands were getting dirty!)
A leak of the sort you describe can come from either of two causes:
First, damage to the plastic cartridge nipple in the section. This, the less likely of the two causes, requires replacement of the section; it means contacting Waterman Service and hoping they still have parts. If they do, they'll sell you a complete new section assembly, including the nib, and it won't be cheap. If they don’t, you’ll probably need to haunt eBay looking for a pen that you can cannibalize.
Second, wearing out of (or damage to) the converter's mouth where it fits over the nipple. This is a problem common to all cartridge/converter pens; it happens as the converter is removed and installed repeatedly. Look for splits, roughened edges, and so on. It's easy to fix, with a new converter.
The last time I went to clean my Pelikan 400NN, the nib and feed were loose. Instead of the nib unit unscrewing, the nib and feed just twisted around, and when I pulled a little on them they came right out. The screw part stayed in the pen. I got the nib and feed back in, but how can I fix this?
Unfortunately, Pelikan succumbed to the lure of “high-tech plastics” for a brief period during the 1950s, and the 400NN was the victim of the company’s mistake. The fix is relatively simple, but it might cost you an M150 or M200 nib.
The threaded nib collar in the 400NN is made of transparent polystyrene, and it is very brittle. It’s also under considerable tensile (pulling-apart) stress because the nib and feed were forced into it so that the assembly would be tight. Over time, these plastic collars suffer failure. They develop stress cracks, eventually cracking through and giving way entirely. When this happens, the nib and feed are no longer held securely. Shown to the right (upper) is a 400NN nib unit whose collar shows stress cracks but has not yet failed.
The solution to the problem is to replace the collar with a modern one. Here’s how to do it:
Remove the nib and feed, and then extract the collar by inserting the tip of a knife blade and using the knife as a screwdriver.
Knock a new M150 or M200 nib unit apart using a knockout block and a pin punch (or a special knockout punch if you have one). Put the nib and feed in your parts box; there will come a time when you can use them.
The vintage hard rubber feed is very slightly larger in diameter than the newer one, and things just barely won’t fit. To solve this problem, use a rat-tail needle file to remove a very small amount of material from the inside of the new collar. Be careful — it’s easy to go too far, and if you do that you’ll be knocking another new nib unit apart…
Assemble the vintage nib and feed into the new collar, using the lower photo to the right as a guide for how far to insert the parts into the collar.
Reinstall the nib unit, and enjoy your pen!
I discovered some years after writing this article that this tip was essentially a duplicate of an earlier one. You will find that earlier version, in an updated form, in The Pen Doctor XII.
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