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Center Feed Missing In Sheaffer Vac-Fill


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8 replies to this topic

#1 McBaneG

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 02:48

I posted a long two-part repair query over in the Sheaffer forum, at http://www.fountainp...lance-vac-fill/.  It hasn't attracted much attention and I thought it might be appropriate to put a pointer here.

 

Summary: I have an estate-sale Balance Vac-Fill, non-Triumph, with all expected characteristics *except* that the protruding part of the feed that is supposed to push the plunger sideways at the end of its travel is missing.  At present I suspect it broke long ago, though I didn't find a broken piece when I disassembled it.  Your commentary would be welcome.

 

Thank you!

 

-George.



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#2 maral1720

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 13:42

I don't think of myself as a expert in the fountain pen area, so take what I say with a grain of salt.  I have restored about 5 vac-fil balances and none of them have a protrusion from the feed which extends past the endo of the nib section.  So they won't hit the plunget washer.  But the pens do fill.  There seems to be a widening of the inner barrel where the washers release pressure.  I see the same architecture in the Triumph vac-fils.  I'm guessing that's what allows the vacuum to be broken.  I've only worked on balances from the mid-1930's so maybe there are several designs.  Or maybe I'm just lucky???



#3 Ron Z

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 14:01

Sheaffer used an insert in the feed on most of their pens, even on lever fillers.  The insert is there to improve the flow of ink, and often touches the side of the section to draw off excess ink, much like Parker's Lucky Curve - which often gets cut off.  That same insert is often used to push the plunger rod to one side so that ink flow around the head gasket, instead of being held back by surface tension.  BUT, I often see the insert snapped off or cut at the end of the feed, and the pen writes just fine.  This is especially true in earlier Balance pens.  I don't replace the feeds when it is missing, and I've never had anyone complain about flow issues, with the exception of missing tails on the war time Triumph pens.  But that is a different nib and feed arrangement than you have here.

 

Sometimes the insert gets broken by the end of the plunger rod, and you find it in the barrel, or not.  If the pen works, don't worry about it.


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#4 McBaneG

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 17:31

Thanks to both of you.  I'm glad to hear I'm not the first to find that insert missing :-)

 

My present stage: I have a replacement packing o-ring, retainer washer, and head gasket in hand.

I have tried drilling out the packing from within the barrel.  I mounted a 1/4 drill bit vertically in a vise,

rested the barrel over it, and adjusted the drill height so there was 1/4 inch between the end of the barrel and the top surface of the vise jaws.  I then drilled slowly by turning the barrel by hand until the barrel bottomed out against the (wooden) jaws.  I got some hard-plastic chips, and a few tufts of felt, but not nearly the volume of packing material I expected.  At this point I expect I have a nice drill-point-shaped indentation in the old compressed packing material, but not an appropriate cylindrical smooth-walled pocket for the packing o-ring, and probably not a good surface for solvent-welding the retainer washer to.  I have not been able to get any more packing material out with a little right-angle wire probe, a narrow screwdriver, or by poking from the rear with a stiff wire or with the plunger rod.  Advice welcome!

 

Thanks,

G.



#5 McBaneG

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 17:06

Update: it all works now!

 

I got just a little bit more packing material out using a flat 1/4 inch screwdriver.  It felt pretty smooth and tight

in there, and as well as I could tell the resulting pocket was cylindrical with smooth firm walls, so I went on.

 

A tidbit I haven't seen elsewhere on the forum: the "packing gasket" people seem to be using is a Viton o-ring, ASTM size 102 (0.050 ID, 0.103 cross section, nominal 0.256 OD, all in inches.) 

 

I hijacked a thin round-barreled cheap ballpoint as an insertion tool for the polystyrene retaining washer.

The ink tube fit nicely through the washer with little slop, the point served to center the tube in the already-seated o-ring, and the nose cone, drilled out to 1/8 and mounted backwards in the barrel, pushed the washer neatly into place.  This is not as nice as the better versions from PenTooling/RZ or D. Nishimura but worked for this one-off task.

 

This morning (after the epoxy hardened on the retaining washer) I put everything back together without difficulty.  The plunger pops back out if partially depressed as hoped, and the assembled pen fills nicely with ink.

 

Thanks for the help.  I now have a nice late-'30s Lifetime Balance Autograph (and I even know the niece of the man whose signature is on the cap ring) for a total of $3: $1 estate sale price, $7 for head gasket/o-ring/retaining washer kit with a $5-off coupon from eBay.  Other investments include a few milligrams each of silicone grease and plastic-welder epoxy (both on hand already)  and a modified but still-usable OfficeDepot red ballpoint :-)  Oh, and quite a few hours of pleasure figuring out what to do...

 

-George.



#6 McBaneG

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 23:20

When I complained that I could not find the "center feed" protrusion on my late 30s Vac-Fill Balance, Ron wrote

 

Sometimes the insert gets broken by the end of the plunger rod, and you find it in the barrel, or not.  If the pen works, don't worry about it.

 

Well, the pen fills nicely, and writes for a while, but I do find that eventually the nib is starved. Ink seems to be trapped behind the plunger washer, presumably by surface tension across the narrow ring-shaped flow opening.  If I unscrew the blind cap, pull the rod out just a little, push it back in (possibly ejecting a drop of ink from the nib), and retighten, the pen works again for a while.  It's an EF nib, so it doesn't lay down very much ink and this takes a while for each cycle.  I can live with this, but if there's a simple solution other than replacing the feed, I'm interested.

 

Best regards,

George.



#7 Ashram

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 17:31

I bought some Sheaffer parts and these were with them.  I believe they are the hard rubber tails that go into Sheaffer feeds but I'm not 100% sure.  If you want to give them a try PM me your address and I'll send you a few when I get back from traveling for Thanksgiving. 

 

feed_1.JPG


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#8 McBaneG

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 03:32

Ashram,

 

The parts you sent arrived today (inside a card with very nice artwork on it).  Thank you!  I hope to try them out this weekend. I suspect an old broken one is stuck in the hole and I'll have to figure out how

to get it out.

 

Best regards,

George.



#9 Ron Z

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Posted 12 December 2019 - 21:36

 

I suspect an old broken one is stuck in the hole and I'll have to figure out how

to get it out.

 

That is indeed the challenge.  The insert in the section is often a snug fit.  Drilling it out often is an exercise in futility as you often go off center, or use a larger drill, which makes the center hole too big.  Sometimes I can get it out, but often look for another feed.


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