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How to Replace an Ink-Vue Sac (Type 2)

(This page revised June 17, 2022)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

Fountain pen

Waterman’s Ink-Vue is something of an off-the-wall filling system. Actually a Rube Goldberg take-off on an ordinary bulb filler, it adds significant complexity with a lever mounted in the barrel and with the clamping system Waterman used to allow assembly of the filler without any adhesives or sealants. Replacing a Type 2 Ink-Vue sac is a little more difficult than replacing a Type 1 ink-Vue sac. There are some definite pitfalls, and the task requires some special tools that you will have to make. Installing a sac wrong can cause the filler to leak or otherwise malfunction, it can make further repair more difficult (if not impossible) for the next person, and it can also damage the pen. This article explains how to do it right.

Waterman made two distinct types of Ink-Vue pens. This article deals only with Type 2, the later of the two. You can identify this version by looking for a clear ink-view window immediately adjacent to the barrel’s cap threads. If there is no window, but there is instead a joint in the barrel about of the distance from the section to the back end, your pen is Type 1 (or Type 0), and it is treated in a separate article.
Fountain pen
^ Clear ink-view window

Tools Required

Parts Required

Supplies Required (see footnotes for more information)

The Type 2 Ink-Vue originally used a special sac that is no longer available. I will show you how to modify a No 20 sac to create a serviceable facsimile of that special sac.


Removing the dead sac can be a chore, especially if it’s stuck to the barrel wall. You should have an assortment of sac-removal tools. Most pen repairers will have many more than the few tools shown here; some are commercial dental picks, while others can be handmade for pen repair.

Sac removal tools

Moving on to the custom tools, you’ll need a piece of " (6.4 mm) wooden dowel, or rigid brass or plastic tubing, about 6" (15 cm) in length. The material and exact length are not important; this tool is simply a mandrel that you will use for modifying your No 20 sac.

The next special tool is a hollow punch. This is a 6" (152 mm) length of " (4.8 mm) brass tubing with a wall thickness of about 0.014" (0.35 mm). The length is not critical, so long as it is at least an inch or so (25 mm) longer than the pen’s barrel and section together. Cut or grind the ends so that they are true and flat, and smooth at least one end so that it will not damage the parts of the pen.

Finally, you need a custom sac pusher. Start with a 4" (101 mm) length of " (8.7 mm) brass tubing with a wall thickness of about 0.014" (0.35 mm). The length is not critical. Cut or grind the ends so that they are true and flat, and smooth at least one end so that it will not damage the sac. Then cut a slot into that end. The slot, which will allow the end of the tool to slip past the lever assembly when you are installing the sac, should be 0.130" (3.3 mm) wide and 1" (38 mm) long:

Sac pusher
The easiest way to cut the slot is to use a 150-grit diamond cutoff wheel in a Dremel tool, and the brass tubing can suddenly become hot enough to burn you severely.

Be sure to deburr all the edges of the slot and the adjacent end of the tube using flat and round needle files (or sandpaper and, for the inside edges, an X-acto knife).

Disassembly, Filler Removal, and Cleaning

The back end of the barrel is covered by a threaded end cap. This cap should be only tightly screwed down, not fastened in place with any adhesive, but if the pen’s sac failed it might be stuck by dried ink. The end cap on the pen in these photos is easy to see because it was initially clear.

Barrel end cap

To remove the end cap, use the jewel remover. To start the end cap out, press the jewel remover firmly against the end of the barrel and give it a sharp, sudden counterclockwise twist. Repeat the twisting operation until the end cap loosens. If the end cap is particularly stubborn, apply a little heat around the circumference of the barrel end. If the end cap is stuck by dried ink, it might be necessary to soak the end of the barrel in cool water to loosen the ink. You can actually immerse the entire back half of the barrel to do this; prop the first lever arm open, and water will enter through the lever hole.

Despite what you might have read in various repair books (including Da Book), do not use an alcohol lamp or other open flame. Celluloid is highly flammable!
Starting removal of barrel end cap

Once the end cap has started, you might be able to grasp it with your fingers, but it’s usually easier to take it a few more turns with the jewel remover first. When the end cap is far enough out that you can grasp it easily, screw it out the rest of the way.

Removing the end cap exposes the sac. It’s dead, or you wouldn’t be replacing it. Frequently, it will be ossified and will fall out either as an almost complete sac or in the form of bits and pieces. In rare instances, it may remain stuck in the barrel; if this happens, you will have to pick it loose using your dental pick and sac removal tools. First, slide the pressure bar off the end of the secondary lever and set it aside until later; then attack the sac. If you had to soak the end cap loose, you can now dry the various parts with tissue and compressed air.

Once the sac is out, the secondary lever will flop inside the barrel. Through the resacking process, you will need to be careful that the lever is lying against the barrel wall so that you do not bend or break it as you insert tools and the sac into the barrel. One way to hold the secondary lever in place is to use a piece of blue painter’s tape. Apply the tape and then use your dental pick to push the lever against the tape.

The sac was held in place by a plastic nipple that looks like this:

Sac nipple

Before you can proceed further, you must remove this nipple from the barrel unless it has fallen out while you were removing the sac. If it’s rattling around in the barrel, use your dental pick to fish it around until it falls out through the back end of the barrel. Frequently, however, it won’t fall free because it is stuck with bits of the sac that didn’t come out. If this happens, you can use your special punch to knock it loose as if it were a feed in the section.

Be very careful when knocking the nipple (and later the nib and feed) out of the barrel. If you do not get the punch positioned correctly, you will break the pen’s breather tube.

Ink-Vue Type 2 pens do not have a separate section piece. To knock the nipple loose, stand the entire barrel on your knockout block as if if it were a section from which you’re going to knock out the nib and feed. Insert the special punch down the barrel, guiding it by feel so that it exactly spans the center hole through the nipple. As you drive the nipple downward in the barrel, your punch must not strike the breather tube, which will protrude through the nipple’s center hole. (This is the reason for using a tubular punch.) With the nipple knocked loose, you can use your dental pick to clean out stuck sac bits until the nipple is loose enough to be removed.

The nipple will tend to jam if it’s sitting crosswise in the barrel, so you might have to work it around a little with your dental pick, especially as it moves past the lever. A bore light will be useful here.

You must now knock the nib and feed out of the barrel to get at the inside of the pen from the front. Knocking the nib and feed out is like knocking the nipple loose, except that this time you need to guide the punch so that it encloses the breather tube. When the punch is seated against the back of the feed, you will be able to see it through the ink-view window and verify that the breather tube is not interfering with it.

When you are certain that the punch is positioned correctly, proceed to knock the nib and feed out.

There is an internal groove about halfway down the length of the barrel. The sac has a flange at its open end that will fit into this groove. Near the groove is a ledge where the inside diameter of the barrel changes. Being aware of the location of this ledge will be important when you are installing the new sac.

Barrel cross-section

The sac groove must be free of sac bits and any other debris. Use your dental pick and sac removal tools to check it and clean out those last little bits. Be careful not to score the surface of the celluloid at the base of the groove (where the arrow in the drawing above is pointing) as you are working; this is the surface against which your new sac must make an airtight seal.

Take this opportunity to clean the pen. Soak the nib, feed, and front end of the barrel assembly for ten minutes or so in pen flush or a 1:10 solution of clear household ammonia in cool water, and flush clean with plain water.

Check your parts. You should have all the items shown in the following photo:

Pen, disassembled

Preparing the Sac

Since you cannot buy the proper sac for this pen, you must make one. Start by cutting a No 20 sac to a length of 1" (38 mm). Do not cut it too long, or it will collide with the end cap when you put the pen together. Slip the sac over one end of the " mandrel:

Making the special sac, step 1

Place a very small dot of super glue on the surface of the sac, right at the open end. Then brace the closed end of the sac against your second finger and, using your thumb and index finger, roll the open end of the sac back over the glue dot and press it down gently to make sure the glue adheres. It is important to roll only a very little of the sac; you are making a flange that should not be wider than 1/16" (1.6 mm). Here is what this step should look like:

Making the special sac, step 2

And here is what the sac looks like after you have stuck the first dot of glue:

Making the special sac, after step 2

Repeat the gluing step at two other points, each about 1/3 of the way around the sac. Then turn the sac and mandrel end for end. Use a finger tip to lift the sac gently at a point halfway between two of your glue dots, and apply a small amount of glue in the space you have created. Press down. Repeat this process twice; when you have finished, you will have created a total of six glued-down spots around the periphery of the sac.

Making the special sac, step 3

Here is the finished sac. Except for a slight difference in the profile of the flange at the mouth, it looks like an original Waterman sac:

Making the special sac, finished

Assembling the Pen

Before you can install the new sac, you must place the plastic nipple into the barrel from the back. (It will not fit through the front.) To do this, insert your dental pick through the barrel from the front so that its point extends all the way out the other end. Thread the nipple onto the pick flange first, as shown here:

Placing the nipple, step 1

Insert the pick point into your custom punch, and use the punch to push the nipple gently through the barrel, pushing the pick along with it. Remove the punch. The nipple should be visible in the ink-view window:

Placing the nipple, step 2

You can now remove the pick. Do not turn the barrel front-end upward, or the nipple will fall down into the barrel, possibly turning and jamming as it falls.

In some pens, the nipple will not go past the lever if it is aligned straight (as it is when it’s on the dental pick). If you encounter this situation, you will have to insert the nipple sideways and then manipulate it inside the barrel with the pick until it ends up as shown above.

Coat the outside of the sac with talcum powder, and slide the sac into the notched end of your sac pusher until it stops at the sacs flange. With the sac seated in the pusher, wipe the talcum powder off the flange. Now coat the inside of the sac’s mouth sparingly with Vacumatic lubricant. The lubricant will enable the plastic nipple to slip into the mouth of the sac more easily.

Rotate the pusher so that its slot will clear the lever assembly, and start the sac into the barrel.

Inserting the sac

Making sure that the secondary lever is out of the way, push the sac gently down into the barrel until it stops against the ledge where the diameter of the barrel changes. (See the cross-section drawing above.) Push it a little farther, so that it will ride over the ledge and move about another " (3.2 mm) downward. At this point, its flange will slip into the barrel groove. Insert the handle end of your dental pick into the barrel through the section end. Gently push the nipple upward in the barrel until it stops against the sac. Grasp the sac pusher and barrel firmly so that the pusher will not slide backward out of the barrel, and push the nipple firmly into the mouth of the sac.

If the dental pick moves more than about " (3.2 mm), you have pushed too hard, and the sac is no longer in the proper barrel groove. You will need to extract the sac pusher carefully (and with it the sac), and restart the sac installation process.
Seating the nipple

Test the seal by sucking on the section end of the barrel. Stick your tongue against the section and release the suction. Your tongue should stay stuck to the section. If it doesn’t stick, use the handle of the dental pick to push the nipple out of the sac from the back so that you can troubleshoot. The most likely causes of a leak are that you haven’t seated the nipple properly or that there is something stuck in the barrel groove. Remove the sac, clean the barel groove out, and reinstall the sac. Test again.

If it still doesn’t seal, you might have a pen whose sac groove is cut more deeply than usual into the barrel wall due to manufacturing tolerances. Waterman’s sacs had a flange that would accommodate this variance, but for you things are about to get ugly. Remove the sac and the nipple, and set the sac aside for use in another pen. Cut a new sac to length and place the M1×7 O-ring on the sac next to the open end:

Making the special sac, finished

Roll and glue the flange with the O-ring inside it to make a thicker flange. Be careful not to let the flange extend farther along the body of the sac. Reassemble the sac into the pen and test it again.

Making the special sac, finished
We did not use the O-ring at first because your new flange is less “squishable” than the original, and in some pens it won’t allow you to seat the nipple.

When you are satisfied that the pen is properly sealed, slide the pressure bar back onto the secondary lever, screw the end cap back onto the barrel, reseat the nib and feed, and breathe a sigh of relief.

Ink your pen, tune the nib if it needs tuning, and use it!

  1. The jewel remover is a No 5 pure white gum rubber bottle stopper. Neither a cork nor a black rubber stopper will work for removing jewels because they do not have the right compressibility or coefficient of friction.

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.

This article is also available as a chapter in The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 2, in either of two printed versions or as an ebook for your computer or mobile device.

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