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Two Vintage British Pens

onoto swan

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#1 pieemme

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 16:07

The top one is an Onoto 6233. Certainly a beauty, very nice and balanced to hold and to write with. I got it from an auction along with a bunch of other interesting pens and it proved a nightmare to repair, certainly due to some extent to my lack of experience, but also to the trickiness of the plunger filling system. It took me no less than four orders from Custom Pen Parts to get it to fill properly. Now, the nib is certainly very nice and soft, though not a flex one. The ink flow seems to be as much of a nightmare as the filling system. Most of the time the ink flow is stingy, with Diamine China Blue. However, at times, it reminds me of a dip pen when just taken out of an ink well, as I remember from when I learnt to write, back in the fifties. It just keeps dripping. I know that before starting to write with a plunger filler you have to unscrew half a turn the blind knob, in order to open the flow valve. However this doesn't seem to have any immediate effect. If the nib is dry, no opening of the valve will bring the ink down unless you shake the pen several times and nicely sprinkle whatever you've got around you. Conversely, once the ink starts overflowing, no locking of the valve will stop it for a while. So that's my experience with an Onoto.

The pen below in the picture is a Swan 3260, which I bought on Ebay. It's not particularly beautiful, in fact, rather plain looking. It is a lever filler, which I cleaned, resaked and got to write with no problems. The nib is semi-flex and writing with it is a lovely experience. The pen is absolutely no-nonsense: it does what it is meant for and does it flawlessly. I bought another one on Ebay, shortly after, a 6260. The nib writes too fine for my writing, but I love to use it for drawing.

As a bottom line: I wish I could write with my beautiful Onoto, but always fall back on my Swan.

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#2 pieemme

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 16:09

I realised too late that the picture is published upside down.

#3 Beechwood

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 16:17

Hope this helps.

 

To be honest, I struggle with Onotos, I have done K3s but would leave other Onotos to the experts, I would use Eric Wilson personally, I appreciate that it may be a hassle posting a pen to Jockland  but you will ahve a pen that works just as it should.

 

 


How many people does it take to comment on a question on FPN? One to give advice and make suggestions. Another one to repeat everything that the first poster has said. Fourteen to share their own experiences of their pens and comment on how the original advice was flawed.
Seven who just want to increase their post count. One to say that they have no regrets about doing anything and people should follow their example. Another to say that if there is anything wrong with the pen it is just down to using Diamine Shimmer ink. Six to argue over whether its a worth doing anything with it and the OP should just throw it away and buy their Parker 51. Another six to condemn all of the above as being  stupid and anyway they would rather be on FP Geeks. One to say that the pen is cheaper where they live. Five people to post pics of their own pens. One to say that if the OP had Faith then the pen would work - and gets banned very quickly.

Finally, one to close down the thread because it has lost its way.
 


#4 amk

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 16:23

You should not choose a book by its cover and the same goes for pens - the ones that look nicest are not always the best writers. Like you I have an 'ugly duckling' Swan that is a delight to use.


Too many pens, too little time!

http://fountainpenlove.blogspot.fr/


#5 pieemme

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 17:02

Hope this helps.
 
To be honest, I struggle with Onotos, I have done K3s but would leave other Onotos to the experts, I would use Eric Wilson personally, I appreciate that it may be a hassle posting a pen to Jockland  but you will ahve a pen that works just as it should.


Thanks, I should have edited my message before posting it:-)

#6 pieemme

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 17:05

You should not choose a book by its cover and the same goes for pens - the ones that look nicest are not always the best writers. Like you I have an 'ugly duckling' Swan that is a delight to use.


You're absolutely right!

#7 gary

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 14:04

The good thing about a pen is that, unlike a book, you can change the contents.

 

When you have your Onoto professionally restored you have a beautiful cover, working contents, and a joy to use.

 

Enjoy them both,

 

gary



#8 KellyMcJ

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 15:25

That Swan is anything but ugly! I'm glad to hear it's a joy to write with as well. :)



#9 praxim

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 00:50

Recently I have been using a few Onotos which behaved so well that I am happy to rank them as everyday pens although I would not carry one alone. The latest is an Onoto 6000 (still inked) and now I recollect the problems! It dries badly, although I seem to have the reputed blobbing entirely under control in all the ones I use.

 

Drying out is usually a function of air getting in; a message I read on this forum. I plan to try the recommended method of sealing air breathing holes in the cap with wax. The slip caps are not necessarily tight on the barrel so a further experiment will be not to close the shutoff valve entirely, leaving it barely cracked so (with the pen on its side as I usually leave them) evaporating ink can be replaced from the reservoir. By the way, when the nib is dry on this or any other older pen, and it happens to other brands also, then I dip the tip or wipe a wet little finger down the tines. Shaking seems a bit drastic.

 

One of the Onotos I used a month or two ago does not shut off properly anyway. I never opened the valve before writing with it, yet it performed perfectly. If one is not flying, then why close it, separating feed from reservoir? It is not something one does with most other pens.

 

If there is excess ink in the feed, it must be wiped thoroughly. Closing off the valve will not save that situation in a timely fashion. Reducing the amount it is opened (experiment first with not opening it at all, to prove opening is needed) should prevent the problem once the feed is not over-full. One can also be sensitive to the amount of ink flowing on to the paper, whether it is increasing or reducing, to make final tuning adjustments then to use that setting henceforth.

 

The flexiest nibs I have are the Nos 5 & 7 although 2 & 3 nibs can vary. I expect you have a 3/ST on the 6233? It is supposed to produce some variation for STenography. 


I consider getting from point A to point B an undue constraint on what might otherwise be an enjoyable drive.

#10 pieemme

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 04:17

Thank you,very much Rhodium. A lot to experiment with. Will get back soon.

#11 rwilsonedn

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 16:32

Are the problems inherent in the Onoto piston pens, or is it just a matter of proper restoration? If I understand the legend correctly, when the Japanese copied an Onoto they gave up on getting the self-filling mechanism to work at all, and just designed their version as an eye-dropper filler with a shut-off valve. Which kind of makes me wonder if these pens even worked well when they were new ...

ron



#12 praxim

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 22:49

Hi Ron, I can nominate several plunge-fill Onotos which behave impeccably. They are everyday pens, when they come in to rotation. Others are not.

 

Some of those differences relate to restoration. Adjusting the rod length to shut off the pen correctly at the final twist of the cap seems to be something over which some restorers do not fuss much, so the pen loses one of its key abilities. Unless doing the restoration yourself, there is no way to know what will be the state of a "fully serviced" pen you receive, without references for the restorer.

 

Early Onotos have a fairly basic feed, lacking as much buffer capacity as one might desire to counter different flows from use, from changes in heat or atmospheric conditions. There is also the question of learning the correct amount of valve opening. It can differ a little between pens, and inks.

 

Repeating though, most of mine work perfectly well. The 6000 I discussed a few posts ago seems now to be behaving correctly simply through having plugged the cap breather holes, a problem not unique to Onotos.

 

They are not modern pens but then neither are some others whose little deficiencies are lost in the light of their halos. Recently I sold through FPN classifieds a 4601 to a pen user who wanted something he could shut off for flying. I have since heard back from him that the pen operates as specified and that he is very impressed with the No.2 nib in use. Not all vintage pens are guaranteed winners. I try for my part to give a fair appraisal of what it is like to use an Onoto, The pleasure can be considerable.


I consider getting from point A to point B an undue constraint on what might otherwise be an enjoyable drive.

#13 pieemme

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 07:26

I strongly agree with praxim's views and will soon have further experience to corroborate this, as I am currently restoring a 3050.   But before I further tinker with my 6233, I have come to the following considerations, based on its behaviour:

 

1) the ink dries out up in the feed when the pen is left unused for a couple of hours with the valve completely shut off.  I think the valve should be left partly open, unless in case of air travel. 

2) if insufficient tightness of the packing were the case, then the pen would not be filling as much as it does.

3) air entering through the packing would more likely cause leakage, than dryness in the feed.

 

Well, this is my humble opinion unless someone disproves it.



#14 praxim

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 07:42

In accord with what I said in post 9, yesterday I used tiny dabs of silicone grease to close the four little holes in the slip cap of the 6000. Twenty-four hours later, it writes at touch whereas before it would hard-start after a few hours or half a day. I wrote only a few words, and am now leaving it two days until Sunday for the next test.
I consider getting from point A to point B an undue constraint on what might otherwise be an enjoyable drive.

#15 rwilsonedn

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 19:18

praxim:

Thank you for your detailed response. I've always avoided these pens, despite an Onoto The Pen lever-filler being one of my favorite vintage pens, because of my uncertainty about the filling system. Now I'm going to have to find a properly restored one, I guess. It sounds like an experience not to be missed.

ron



#16 pieemme

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 04:14

In accord with what I said in post 9, yesterday I used tiny dabs of silicone grease to close the four little holes in the slip cap of the 6000. Twenty-four hours later, it writes at touch whereas before it would hard-start after a few hours or half a day. I wrote only a few words, and am now leaving it two days until Sunday for the next test.


I am also getting positive results from the other, possibly complementary approach: not entirely locking the valve. I am suspecting that the orignal factory design did not intend a complete shut off of the valve but just a tiny gap, keeping the ink in the feed and that in the reservoir still partly connected, even in shut off position.

These pens fascinate me by "baroqueness" of their engineering, similar to a friend of mine, who was fond of vintage British cars, where their lack of reliability provided a good excuse for travelling to England in search for spare parts. I find the whole idea of using rubber pins for locking absolutely ridiculous. Reverse theads would have done the job and made the pen more serviceable. I wonder how the Pilot Custom Heritage 823 approaches the plunger filling mechanism. I've read some negative reviews on this pen that concerned precisely the inconsistent flow due to the plunger filling system.

#17 praxim

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 06:09

My 48 hour experiment was successful. Today (Sunday) I took up the 6000 not used since Friday, gave the cap a quarter-twist and wrote a line with instantaneous start.

 

Repeating from earlier, the change I had made was to plug the four little holes in the cap.

 

I am not certain whether the pen shuts off completely when the valve is closed -- I have not gathered reliable evidence one way or the other.


Edited by praxim, 11 June 2017 - 06:10.

I consider getting from point A to point B an undue constraint on what might otherwise be an enjoyable drive.

#18 Beechwood

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 07:21

Are the problems inherent in the Onoto piston pens, or is it just a matter of proper restoration? If I understand the legend correctly, when the Japanese copied an Onoto they gave up on getting the self-filling mechanism to work at all, and just designed their version as an eye-dropper filler with a shut-off valve. Which kind of makes me wonder if these pens even worked well when they were new ...

ron

 

 

Even Laurence Oldfield calls Onotos a difficult to repair pen and on that basis I am happy to hand the pens over to an expert for help.

 

Too many  pens have been ruined by well meaning amateurs.


How many people does it take to comment on a question on FPN? One to give advice and make suggestions. Another one to repeat everything that the first poster has said. Fourteen to share their own experiences of their pens and comment on how the original advice was flawed.
Seven who just want to increase their post count. One to say that they have no regrets about doing anything and people should follow their example. Another to say that if there is anything wrong with the pen it is just down to using Diamine Shimmer ink. Six to argue over whether its a worth doing anything with it and the OP should just throw it away and buy their Parker 51. Another six to condemn all of the above as being  stupid and anyway they would rather be on FP Geeks. One to say that the pen is cheaper where they live. Five people to post pics of their own pens. One to say that if the OP had Faith then the pen would work - and gets banned very quickly.

Finally, one to close down the thread because it has lost its way.
 


#19 pieemme

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:28

Error is the price to pay for learning. Anyway errors in my case have meant multiple orders to Custom Pen Parts, who I'm sure will have nothing to complain about :-)

#20 pieemme

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 08:51

My 48 hour experiment was successful. Today (Sunday) I took up the 6000 not used since Friday, gave the cap a quarter-twist and wrote a line with instantaneous start.
 
Repeating from earlier, the change I had made was to plug the four little holes in the cap.
 
I am not certain whether the pen shuts off completely when the valve is closed -- I have not gathered reliable evidence one way or the other.


I'vefollowed your advice, i.e. I sealed the four breathing holes in the cap with silicon grease and also left the valve partly open. Well, lo and behold, it restarts writing just as any other fountain pen.





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