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Sheaffer 304 & 305...any history or information?


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#1 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 12:50

First off, I'd like to say hello, as I'm new here. I had a fountain pen in high school ten years or so ago, but have since lost and forgot about it. My friend (Rabbit on here) recently got into fountain pens and showed me this website, and it brought back the desire to have one.

This weekend I visited my grandmother who is getting quite old and recently has begun to give things away. In this visit's odds and ends I got a couple of old Sheaffer fountain pens, models 304 and 305. I don't have pictures at the moment and couldn't find any, so I'll do my best to describe them.

They're both very similar except for the end of the caps - one is round, the other pointed. The caps are both chrome metal, with Sheaffer written on the clip. The bodies are transluscent plastic, one each of red and blue, and the grips are black plastic. One still has its cartridge and the other is empty.

They're not the prettiest pens in the world, but they are interesting and could give me a start. So, would anyone happen to have any information? I'll post some pics either today or tomorrow.

I'd love to pick up a Parker Jotter fountain pen to match my favourite ballpoint and pencil set of those, and their Sonnets are gorgeous. But that's another post.

Thanks,
Brian

#2 Dillo

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 13:54

Hi,

I think that these are called Sheaffer Cartridge Pens.

Dillon

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#3 Univer

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 14:22

Welcome!

Dillon is right: you've got yourself a pair of Sheaffer Cartridge Pens (you'll also hear them described as "school pens," but I don't believe Sheaffer used this nomenclature for these models).

They were made, I believe, from the late 50s through the 90s, in lots of colors - both transparent and opaque. (There were all stainless-steel versions as well,a mong other variants.) Your round-end pen is the older of the two. That design was followed by the conical-end design (your pointed pen), and finally by a design that was flat at both ends.

I think the earliest Cartridge Pens may have carried over the nib designations (numbering) from the Sheaffer "Fineline" pens: 341, 343, etc. They then switched over to the 304/305 numbering system. A 304 nib is a fine; a 305 nib is a medium. (There was also a 302 extra-fine, not seen all that often.) At some point in the 60s, the nibs simply went to "M" and "F" designations for medium and fine.

You may well need to do a little work to get these nibs working again: probably a good overnight soak, at least, is in order: just soak the nibs in plain water or a dilute ammonia/water solution. That's just one suggestion; you may want to search the forum for other suggestions.

If they're in sound condition, these nibs are often excellent writers. As far as giving you a "start": all I can say is that I started out with a red transparent conical-end Cartridge Pen (bought new), and that has indeed proven to be the start of a lifelong interest.

Good luck, and enjoy your "new" pens!

Best,

Jon

#4 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 15:16

Thanks for the tips! Haha, no pun intended.

I should have realized those numbers were for the nib only...oops. I figured they were somewhat old from the appearance. Other than being dusty and dry, they seem to be in good condition, so I'll try soaking them. I need to find some cartridges for them, too...would current ones fit ok? I don't know anything about standards for pens, so would they need to be Sheaffer ones, or would any generic one for fountain pens work?

Again, thanks for the help...hopefully I can get these writing again!

#5 Univer

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 16:24

Hi Brian,

Sounds like a reasonable plan of action. After you soak 'em, see if you can contrive some way to run water through the nib section. Many people use rubber ear syringes; the tips often fit pretty well over the section tube. Failing that, even the stream from the faucet may help. The idea here is that the soaking loosens things up and dissolves old ink, which then has to be flushed away. After that, try wadding up some paper toweling around the nib and then shake it downwards as if you were snapping a whip (if the metaphor works for you: you're basically replicating the motion used to "shake down" an old-fashioned thermometer). You may be surprised to see more old ink emerge.

You'll need to use proprietary Sheaffer cartridges, and current-production refills will work just fine. (There really aren't "generic" fountain pen cartridges, although so-called "international" cartridges do work in many pens.) Some stationery stores still carry them; our esteemed moderator Jim runs penhero.com, and he can hook you up with the full range of colors. To refill, just drop the cartridge into the barrel with the flat end uppermost. Then screw the section back in; it will pierce the cartridge auto-magically. (Older cartridges were flat on both ends, but the current version is a little different.)

Once you've got the pens in regular use, you should probably plan on rinsing them out after each cartridge. Nothing as elaborate as the procedure above: run them under the faucet, shake them out, and you're ready for a new cartridge.

Oh, and one more thing (since you're going to be playing around with the sections): never try to replace the cap when the section isn't screwed into the barrel. The cap has a knack of grabbing onto the little chrome trim ring at the mouth of the barrel and pulling it off...whereupon the trim ring gets stuck in the cap. If it sounds like I'm speaking from personal experience...well, draw your own conclusions. :blush:

Good luck!

Jon

Edited by Univer, 02 October 2006 - 16:25.


#6 Maja

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 19:57

Thanks for the info, Jon!
Oh, Brian...just so you know: the nib & section units on these pens screw in and out so you can swap them out easily (unless dried ink has accumulated around the unit making it harder to remove; I'd recommend a good soak as Jon recommended before using the pens, esp. if they haven't been used in a long time)
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#7 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 17:16

Thanks again, everyone! I finally got around to taking some photos of them, so here they are. From playing around I found that the nib and feed slide into the section and are held by friction, and the section threads into the body. The ink doesn't seem too dried up after making a mess on my fingers, but they definitely need a good bath. I don't have any ammonia in the house...would dishsoap or pine sol work just as well, or should I just stick with water?

One of the pictures shows the nib on the blue one, where one section is apparently slightly bent. I may try to carefully straighten it back out so the two match.

I'll post some more pictures once they're clean and working!

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#8 wdyasq

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 17:48

NO! on Pinesol.... you probably could get away with a little detergent in the water if you rinse well.

If you have access to an ultrasonic cleaner they are useful. But they are seldom a neecssity unless things have gone from SNAFU to TARFU.

They are good pens - enjoy,

Ron
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#9 Univer

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Posted 07 October 2006 - 22:01

Hi,

Definitely another "thumbs down" on the Pine-Sol. A bottle of store-brand ammonia costs (at my supermarket) under a dollar, and it has household cleaning applications beyond fountain-pen-cleaning. A pretty good investment, I'd say.

Failing that, I'd stick to plain old water. I'd rather go through several extra flushing cycles than risk damage by using some other additive.

By the way, your blue pen is a marriage of an old style streamlined body and a newer conical-ended cap. The correct cap for the blue body would be identical to the cap on the red pen; the correct body for the conical cap would have a similar conical end.

In practice, this sort of mixing and matching seems to happen all the time with these pens. No big deal, really, and no effect on writing performance, of course.

Good luck with these pens. There's almost always one of them in my rotation, and when I return to it - usually from a much more expensive pen - I'm always surprised, all over again, by their writing qualities.

Cheers,

Jon

#10 Maja

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:34

Good luck with these pens. There's almost always one of them in my rotation, and when I return to it - usually from a much more expensive pen - I'm always surprised, all over again, by their writing qualities.

Cheers,

Jon

I agree....and they make good candidates for eyedropper fillers! :)
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#11 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 21:01

I soaked the nibs and sections in ammonia overnight, which got them nice and clean. The rest of the pen I washed with some mild soap and water. I found some Sheaffer cartridges in a college bookstore, and bought a set of blue/black.

The red one with the 304/fine tip writes the best of the pair...I think the 305/medium nib needs some straightening. While the 304 is a little scratchy, it's not annoying and it doesn't skip. It's just nice to get them up and running again - my Grandmother will be glad to see someone getting some use out of them!

Thanks to everyone for their help!

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#12 Dillo

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 13:22

Hi,

I normally recommend using only water to clean your pens.

If you ever need a hint of smoothening or adjustment, just tell me--I will do it for free. After all, it is a Sheaffer cartridge pen. smile.gif

Dillon

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#13 GiJin

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 13:25

I have, what I believe, to be two Sheaffer's 304. I am posting pics in hope's of proper identification. The only markings I can find is on the nib and it's marked "304".

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#14 jar

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 15:54

I have, what I believe, to be two Sheaffer's 304. I am posting pics in hope's of proper identification. The only markings I can find is on the nib and it's marked "304".


What you have is the first generation Sheaffer Cartridge pen. The number was simply the nib width designation.

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#15 GiJin

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 15:57


I have, what I believe, to be two Sheaffer's 304. I am posting pics in hope's of proper identification. The only markings I can find is on the nib and it's marked "304".


What you have is the first generation Sheaffer Cartridge pen. The number was simply the nib width designation.


Any other information? As in a name or model number? I appreciate your help!

#16 ticoun

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 16:15



I have, what I believe, to be two Sheaffer's 304. I am posting pics in hope's of proper identification. The only markings I can find is on the nib and it's marked "304".


What you have is the first generation Sheaffer Cartridge pen. The number was simply the nib width designation.


Any other information? As in a name or model number? I appreciate your help!


these pens were often referred as "school pens" or "cartridge pens".

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#17 GiJin

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 17:59

I bought some cheap Foray fountain pen refills for my two Sheaffer 304's. I plop them in and did a few "thermometer" type shakes and viola! They worked! It was amazing, I half expected them to some how catch fire or something but they didn't. Having two function fountain pens has made me realize a few things. I love LOVE writing with the! I have complete sh!t for penmanship! It also made me realize that I still have SO SO SO much to learn!