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What Liquefied This Sac?


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209 replies to this topic

#1 Fiddlermatt

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 00:30

I recently acquired a Sheaffer Snorkle from a member on the forums here. I filled it up with Platinum Aurora Blue, and it wrote wonderfully. Later, I flushed it thoroughly and inked it with Noodler's Black for school-work. However, after two or three sentences it would stop writing. I gave it the water test, and it would not suck up or expel water except a few drops at a time. Today I opened it up and saw black ink on EVERYthing. The spring, sac protector, and piston rod were coated in it. I also saw something sticking out of the holes of the sac protector--it turned out to be a liquefied sac. What could have caused this? Here's a picture.
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#2 Shaporama

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:05

I know that pen! It was in perfect condition when Matt received it. Ron Zorn had done a thorough restoration including a new sac. I had inked it only a few times, with Sheaffer Skrip (blue) and it wrote flawlessly. Its hard to avoid concluding that Noodlers ink is at fault, particularly when others here on FPN have reported similar incidents with Noodlers in the past. :hmm1:

#3 Fiddlermatt

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:09

I know that pen! It was in perfect condition when Matt received it. Ron Zorn had done a thorough restoration including a new sac. I had inked it only a few times, with Sheaffer Skrip (blue) and it wrote flawlessly. Its hard to avoid concluding that Noodlers ink is at fault, particularly when others here on FPN have reported similar incidents with Noodlers in the past. :hmm1:


Sorry for wrecking you pen! :roflmho:
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#4 Ron Z

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:20

This is I'm afraid becoming more common. You may perhaps have provided your own answer:

Later, I flushed it thoroughly and inked it with Noodler's Black for school-work.


Several pen restorers have seen an increase in premature sac failures with the use of the "boutique" inks in the last few years. This is why I have had to limit the warranty on sacs to 90 days. I buy what I believe to be the best sacs available, but I can control neither the ingredients that go into the latex uses in sacs, nor the inks that are used in the pens. Some don't play well together. The evidence is anecdotal, but I believe valid.

Case in point. At the 2012 Philadelphia pen show I restored two identical pens for someone. The sacs were the same size, came from the same batch, and the pens restored at the same time. Noodlers was been used in pen #1, other inks in pen #2. The sac had failed in pen #1 and turned to goo. Draw your own conclusions....

To be fair, I've also seen premature sac failures in pens that were used with red ink, or colors that contain red like brown and purple. Brand didn't seem to matter, but the inks were pretty well saturated.

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#5 Fiddlermatt

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:27

That's pretty much what I had assumed. Can you guess what's happening to what's left of this bottle of Noodler's? :bonk:
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#6 Flounder

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:38

Sounds like great stuff for removing ossified old sacs! Keep it handy!

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#7 Shaporama

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:43

I know that pen! It was in perfect condition when Matt received it. Ron Zorn had done a thorough restoration including a new sac. I had inked it only a few times, with Sheaffer Skrip (blue) and it wrote flawlessly. Its hard to avoid concluding that Noodlers ink is at fault, particularly when others here on FPN have reported similar incidents with Noodlers in the past. :hmm1:


Sorry for wrecking you pen! :roflmho:


Nah, consider it a lesson learned! Sorry it was at your expense, but I guess I will be avoiding those super saturated inks. If you send it back to Ron he can work his magic, it will set you back some $ and you wont have use of the pen until the summer, but it will live again!

#8 century

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:44

Thats incredible...would have never thought that could happen, until I saw it.

Sorry for your loss.
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#9 myn

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:45

Hmm. I've been using Noodler's black for many months now in my Esterbrook SJ with absolutely no problems what so ever. Sorry to see you've run into a problem with it.
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#10 hbquikcomjamesl

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 02:48

Maybe my preference for sticking with Sheaffer and Pelikan isn't so dumb after all. They're cheap, relatively inert (except that the blue doesn't play well with fluorescent yellow highlighter, which is why I go to the extraordinary trouble to get non-fluorescent ones), and time-tested.
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#11 Fiddlermatt

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 03:07

Thanks for the replies. I've sent Noodler's an email with a link to this thread, we'll see what kind of comment they make on it. I can tell you this though: I am searching for a new black ink, bulletproof-ness be splashed...
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#12 mark e

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 03:12

Thanks for the replies. I've sent Noodler's an email with a link to this thread, we'll see what kind of comment they make on it. I can tell you this though: I am searching for a new black ink, bulletproof-ness be splashed...


herbin perle noire...as harmless, black and waterproof as any ink ever needs to be

edited sp

Edited by mark e, 21 March 2013 - 03:12.


#13 FarmBoy

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 03:19

There are two sac producers that I'm aware of, one had a formulation problem that left sacs in a goo state even when not exposed to ink.

I'd be interested to know which sac source the sac came from though I suspect it is the same as I use.

The instances of this occurring are on the rise.
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#14 tripcode

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:05

I know that pen! It was in perfect condition when Matt received it. Ron Zorn had done a thorough restoration including a new sac. I had inked it only a few times, with Sheaffer Skrip (blue) and it wrote flawlessly. Its hard to avoid concluding that Noodlers ink is at fault, particularly when others here on FPN have reported similar incidents with Noodlers in the past. :hmm1:


Sorry for wrecking you pen! :roflmho:


Nah, consider it a lesson learned! Sorry it was at your expense, but I guess I will be avoiding those super saturated inks. If you send it back to Ron he can work his magic, it will set you back some $ and you wont have use of the pen until the summer, but it will live again!


If you've got a can of shellac handy, just buy a new sac. You can find directions many places throughout the web, and it doesn't take four months.

I mean, it's just a simple sac replacement, after all.

#15 79spitfire

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:08

I had one do this last year, but the pen had never seen the ink brand in question. I had filled it with a sample from Diamine, I don't remember the color, but it was a purple ink. (which of course has a red component) I calked it up to a bum sac and moved on. One of the other sacs from the batch was used in a 'redkneck' converter project for a pen which took odd sized (very thin) cartridges and, as far as I know, has held up fine. That pen is constantly inked with Sailor Sky High, and is a favorite of my daughter's. I may see if I can find it and try putting different inks into it until I find one that causes it to fail.

Which reminds me (a tad off subject...) Ron, how are the silicone sacs coming? All the ones I've used (in pens that take 18s) have so far worked flawlessly. (and they look cool too!) any 14s, 16s, 20s in the works???

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#16 JonSzanto

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:15

Funny this thread pops up: about a year and a month or so ago, I bought a later Sheaffer Triumph Touchdown from Teri Morris. She had installed a new sac, which failed about a month in. New experience to me, so I sent it back and she gladly re-sacked. I hadn't used the pen in a while and when I went to use it, I noticed stray ink. I opened up the plunger and saw ink all over the metal sheath. Took it apart and the entire end of the sac was soft bubble gum.

The culprit? Either another poor sac or... a red ink? Not cheap - it had Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo in it. I'm hoping for an anomalous sac, that's for sure. I think I've got enough sacs in hand to put this one in the queue (oh, what a year or more in pendom does to your tinkering), so it should be interesting. The pen has a great nib, so I want to keep it in service.

Thanks for the thread, thanks always to Ron and FB for good info.
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#17 pengoddess

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:45

I still think that there is an issue at times with different inks combining and causing a problem. It is almost impossible to rinse a pen 100% clean, there's always a little hint of some color of ink left lurking in the sac regardless of how many times you rinse it out.

Let's see - if I caught all the different posts, this pen has had the following inks inside it with the same sac of unknown origins: Sheaffer Skrip Blue, Aurora Blue and Noodler's Black. Also whatever ink Ron used to test the pen when he originally restored it.

How old was that Skrip Blue? Sheaffer had some problems recently with Slovenian production of Skrip that I believe is resolved now, but if it was a "current" production bottle of Skrip Blue, it might have had an issue. If it was "vintage" Sheaffer blue, perhaps something had gone off in that. What other pens had been filled from those bottles of Skrip Blue, Aurora Blue and Noodler's Black - did they have any leftover ink that could have been introduced unknowingly into the bottles?

I use all of these inks and a bunch of others, too. The only sacs I personally have seen melt down were from "that" bad sac batch a few years ago (let's not go there!) and that was limited to Snorkels.

I've been using Noodler's Black since BEFORE it was even introduced to the public in all sorts of pens with sacs and all sorts of other filling systems and I just haven't seen any issues with it.

We need to analyze further and not jump to conclusions about this :)

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#18 FarmBoy

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 05:25

Which reminds me (a tad off subject...) Ron, how are the silicone sacs coming? All the ones I've used (in pens that take 18s) have so far worked flawlessly. (and they look cool too!) any 14s, 16s, 20s in the works???

I believe you are thinking of David of Vintage Pens.
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#19 Goncharov

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:25

Is it possible we’re seeing some confirmation bias here?


Over the last ~2.5 years, I’ve had six latex sacs fail in six different snorkel pens.
I started a similar thread after the first failure, here. :)

Three of those pens had never seen a single drop of either Noodlers or PR. The first one had only been filled with three inks (Black Quink, Mont Blanc Royal Blue, and Waterman Florida Blue) – each generally seen as safe and low-maintenance. None of my other latex sac or vac diaphragm pens have yet experienced a snorkel-style meltdown .

I expect more sac failures from my snorkel pens . After the third occurrence, I chalked it up as a quirk of the breed. They’re still my favorites, though. I’ll continue to use them with whatever inks strike my fancy. If I have to re-sac a few every so often, so be it.

I suspect that whatever is behind this phenomenon is a bit more complex than just ink choice. Of course, I can only speak to my own (admittedly limited) experience, and the plural of anecdote is not data. I don’t have the time, training, or inclination to properly investigate the chemistry of latex ink sac failure, so I won’t try and dissuade anyone from taking whatever precautions they feel appropriate.

#20 Ron Z

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 11:55

To answer Sam, I use Pelikan blue to test pens and nothing else, and have for a number of years now. I use the same ink and paper so that ink and paper are removed as a variable when testing for flow and smoothness. It's also a safe ink, and I can buy it by the liter. How does it react with sacs? Just fine - it's in all of my pens, most of which are vintage. I've never had a sac turn to goo using it. But when I have a pen come back with a sac turned to goo and ask what ink they were using, the answer more often than not is one of the boutique inks.

Sacs are Pen Sac Company, exclusively. Note that the failure I mentioned in an earlier post was not a snorkel. Also note that all sacs are coated with pure talc prior to being installed in the sac guard to protect the latex and to minimize contact with the metal of the sac guard.

As for flushing - pens are spun in a centrifuge, flushed with water, then spun again to remove all of the water. There isn't much left behind.

David Nishimura is the one making the silicone sacs.

Edited by Ron Z, 21 March 2013 - 12:00.

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