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The Riddle Of The Sphinx

sphinx linz button piston repair

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13 replies to this topic

#1 MercianScribe

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 17:32

Hello again. I have this beautiful Sphinx, with a nice flexible Linz nib, from goodness knows when (I'm thinking 50s, just on a hunch). It's lovely to write with, but so far I've just been using it as a dip nib, as I have no idea how to get the filler mechanism working. I've fixed a few lever fillers, but I admit, I've always shied away from other systems.

 

And to be honest, I don't even know what this is! Is it a button filler with a normal pressure bar, or is it a piston filler? I've worked at the section with dry heat for six months now, and most of my other similarly stubborn ones have yielded, but no sign of this one moving. The button turns very slightly but I don't want to jam it of course. I don't know, if it's a piston, if I should just bite the bullet and see if I can unscrew it, but obviously I'm inclined not to try, as I don't want to break it. There's a dry rattle inside, but I can't tell if it's an old sac or a pressure bar or what. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

 

By the way, not related to the repair job and filling system, but I'd never seen a feed like this before. It's slit laterally down the middle, and although this picture shows a bit of roughness I think that's just dried ink, and I'm fairly sure it's a factory job.

Attached Images

  • Sphinx Total.JPG
  • Sphinx Nib.JPG
  • Sphinx Button.JPG
  • Sphinx Feed.JPG

Edited by MercianScribe, 18 December 2017 - 17:33.

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#2 siamackz

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 00:30

Very interesting pen! It looks like a piston filler. I would try:
1. First, are you sure the barrel is 2 parts are not just one part like many old Kawecos are? If you can see the line between the section and barrel then I would take a brass shim and try to gently dig it in the the gap and take out some shellac. I have posted about my restoration journey of a MB 146 G recently. I used a brass shim to help me open the section.
2. Another option is to put the nib under high pressure water to force water into the barell and piston and then let it sit for a day or two while you constantly try to move the piston. I would move the piston in small sharp moves - being careful not to push it beyond the point it is getting stuck. Just keep turning back and forth in small sharp moves almost as if you are nudging it to move one mm at a time
3. The piston area at the bottom near the threads, does it show any indication that the piston can open from there?

#3 MercianScribe

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 02:58

Thanks very much... just the kind of pointers I need!

 

Yes, it is an interesting pen - and I hope it will be even more interesting when I get it working! And yes, I thought piston rather than button.

 

1. No, not at all. I think it has a divide, but in that great condition (and the threads on the blind cap are pristine) I can't see any reason why anyone would possibly want to glue the section into the barrel, so I can't really see why there has been absolutely no give. I'll check it again with a magnifier. I must get some shim, must I, then, but I assume if I'm really careful I can use a fine craft knife (that's what I've done so far...)?

 

2. Thanks, I'll try that too.

 

3. I don't know what such an indication would be... indicated by!


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#4 siamackz

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 15:44

Thanks very much... just the kind of pointers I need!
 
Yes, it is an interesting pen - and I hope it will be even more interesting when I get it working! And yes, I thought piston rather than button.
 
1. No, not at all. I think it has a divide, but in that great condition (and the threads on the blind cap are pristine) I can't see any reason why anyone would possibly want to glue the section into the barrel, so I can't really see why there has been absolutely no give. I'll check it again with a magnifier. I must get some shim, must I, then, but I assume if I'm really careful I can use a fine craft knife (that's what I've done so far...)?
 
2. Thanks, I'll try that too.
 
3. I don't know what such an indication would be... indicated by!



For point 1, look through a loupe first to make sure the section and barrel are indeed separable.

For point 3, does it have an notches at the part where it joins the barrel? Like as if it needs a special key to turn it (like Montblanc 146s or so). Or maybe it has remnants of glue/shellac on it which might mean it can be opened with heat and soaking. Also, does the piston filler know have a hole and a pin in it (like MB 334s do - I recently put up a post in the repair forum on how I removed the piston from my MB 334).

Keep us updated :) maybe share more pics if you can.

But try to get some water into the barrel - this might be the safest first step. Submerge ore than half the pen, nib first into water. This should force water into the nib, unless the piston is absolutely air tight.

#5 MercianScribe

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 07:09

Thanks again... I'll actually get a bit of time tonight, so I'll update.


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#6 Hardy08

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 13:51

Hi there !
I think the section is screwed on the barrel and threaded with shellac. You will have to use dry heat to unscrew it I think.
I also think it is a piston filler : take a look closer to the back button of the pen : is there a pin in it ? If it does, use a needle to set it out ... and see what happens !!

Nice pen !

#7 MercianScribe

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 18:01

Bit more investigation

 

Under magnification it appears the section and barrel can be separated.

 

There are no marks that would indicate specialist dismantling tools nor pin marks on or around the button.

 

I estimate the button turns about half of one rotation.

All the way to the left (anticlockwise) and there is a rattle when the barrel is shaken, and (after some soaking) tiny amounts of ink are expelled from the nib area. All the way to the right and there is no sound.

 

The sounds coming from the barrel when shaken do not seem to be from an ossified sac. It seems to be a more unified sound, and heavier, like a plastic mechanism, and the sound only comes when shaken lengthwise, not from side to side. Hope that helps!

 

I am now continuing to soak it, and to slowly work the button, and then before going to bed and resoaking in fresh water, I'll go back to dry heat and working the section.

 

Hope these pictures are clearer: I did a little tinkering with the settings. The one of the nib and section is a little deceptive maybe, in that it seems there is some substance around the tip of the section: in fact, it's just plain plastic - there is no sign of any residue on the pen anywhere.

 

 

Attached Images

  • Sphinx Button 2.JPG
  • Sphinx Section.JPG

Hi, I'm Mat

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#8 MercianScribe

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 19:52

Sorted! The answer the the Riddle of the Sphinx is, of course, Man! And without the help of my fellow Man, I'd still be trying to unscrew the section. Turns out, the button turned after a bit of soaking, and some sharp but gentle twists as advised by Siamackz. It aslo turns out, that the bit in the above photo where you'd expect it to be is a somewhat dark (inkstained?) ink window, and after maybe a hundred twists to clean it out, I can now see the piston moving... I only have dark inks and can't show you in the pics.

 

 

Attached Images

  • Sphinx Solution.JPG

Hi, I'm Mat

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#9 siamackz

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 00:20

Fantastic! If you want the clean the insides of ink then I reccomend Rapidoeze. Well done! Enjoy!

#10 siamackz

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 00:25

Bit more investigation
 
Under magnification it appears the section and barrel can be separated.
 
There are no marks that would indicate specialist dismantling tools nor pin marks on or around the button.
 
I estimate the button turns about half of one rotation.
All the way to the left (anticlockwise) and there is a rattle when the barrel is shaken, and (after some soaking) tiny amounts of ink are expelled from the nib area. All the way to the right and there is no sound.
 
The sounds coming from the barrel when shaken do not seem to be from an ossified sac. It seems to be a more unified sound, and heavier, like a plastic mechanism, and the sound only comes when shaken lengthwise, not from side to side. Hope that helps!
 
I am now continuing to soak it, and to slowly work the button, and then before going to bed and resoaking in fresh water, I'll go back to dry heat and working the section.
 
Hope these pictures are clearer: I did a little tinkering with the settings. The one of the nib and section is a little deceptive maybe, in that it seems there is some substance around the tip of the section: in fact, it's just plain plastic - there is no sign of any residue on the pen anywhere.
 
 


From the pics it seems
1. The section can be separated, but I would not try since you have got thenpiston nworking already
2. The piston can be dismantled from the back, like a Parker vac (use a Brass C ring and wrench maybe). Will the piston head come out from the back or the section side though, you will only know if you open. But I would not try since you have got the piston working already

#11 MercianScribe

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Posted 28 December 2017 - 17:01

From the pics it seems
1. The section can be separated, but I would not try since you have got thenpiston nworking already
2. The piston can be dismantled from the back, like a Parker vac (use a Brass C ring and wrench maybe). Will the piston head come out from the back or the section side though, you will only know if you open. But I would not try since you have got the piston working already

 

Uh-oh... came back to it yesterday for some calligraphy practice, and it's leaking out of piston knob end.  :(  Looks like I'm going to need some more advice, but I guess I should start by going back to trying to detach the section? I'm far more nervous about trying to dismantle the piston knob.


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#12 siamackz

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 01:30

So youre assuming that you need to change the piston seal, right. Then the question is, where do you need to access the seal from - the front/section or back/piston end. Its different for each pen. My vintage MB 146G and 334 1/2 require me to extend the piston out of the section area. I learned yesterday that the MB 142 piston is better serviced by pulling out from the back end than the section. And, my vintage Kaweco Dia dont unscrew their sections, and instead require me to open them up from the back to change the piston seal.

Unscrewing sections is scary, they can break on older Pens. So, if this is avoidable then we should avoid it.

But looking at your pen, here is what I would do (and Im no professional so maybe you wait for the pros to weigh I ):
1. The piston area does not have a portion for you to grip and unscrew the piston (like vintage Kawecos do). This indicates to me that the pen is not designed to be accessed from the back for changing seals.
2. The section area look like it might be detachable. So, I would use gentle heat and rubber grippers to try and open it from there

#13 MercianScribe

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 17:21

Thank you sir, I shall go back to the section and the hair drier. Useful to know the two main patterns, and something about the likely mechanics of the thing.

 

FWIW, I know appearances can be deceptive and I will take it easy, but it seems pretty robust.

 

I've really grown to like this pen, and hope I can get it going.


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#14 siamackz

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 02:10

Thank you sir, I shall go back to the section and the hair drier. Useful to know the two main patterns, and something about the likely mechanics of the thing.
 
FWIW, I know appearances can be deceptive and I will take it easy, but it seems pretty robust.
 
I've really grown to like this pen, and hope I can get it going.


All the best! I am sure it will work out!





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: sphinx, linz, button, piston, repair



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