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Ratnamson No. 32 With Kaweco Sport Nib/feed


tomgartin
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Okay, a friend sent me this gorgeous Ratnamson no. 32 with olive mottled ebonite.

 

Look at these swirls!

 

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2886/12603145174_f9eeb10ff9_z.jpg

 

But it came with a cheap Chinese aerometric converter glued in. Ink flow was terrible. Wetness was about 2/10 and would run out after a page or two, requiring me to prime it by pumping the sac.

 

With the help of some alcohol I dissolved the shellac holding the converter together and removed the sleeve, sac, and aerometric tube. The bottom piece was glued solidly to the section and I couldn't get it out. In examining the hole in the leftover converter nipple, I found that it was just big enough to fit the aero tube. No wonder ink wasn't getting down. It could breathe, but it couldn't pull any new ink down.

 

I filled it as an ED and let it rest.

 

When I came back to it I discovered that it was just as dry. The feed starved out after a page, but with no sac to pump, there was nothing I could do to help it along. Time to modify the delivery.

 

I figured the hole in the converter nipple was much too small and that my ink (Diamine Ancient Copper) might be having trouble breaking surface tension. If the capillary system (look at the back end of a Pelikan feed to see the capillary channels) was too far from this tiny hole, or if the feed had no capillary system at all (which was my suspicion) then there was nothing to pull the ink through.

 

Remember, I couldn't get the converter nipple out. It was glued on solid to the section. So I got my drill and laid it on the table. Using a jar opener with some pliers, I held onto the section and worked it gently onto a 1/8" drill bit until I punched through the plastic converter. It continued into the soft ebonite feed and hollowed out about 1/4" of the feed.

 

I pulled the nib and feed and discovered that the feed had a sufficient channel carved on top, but no channel for air (look at a Pilot 78g feed and you'll see two different paths--one for ink, one for air) and no collector area inside to hold ink in the grip section. Thus, what you have is a large supply of ink and a long narrow road to the nib with no road for incoming air. No wonder the feed couldn't put out much ink--it was hardly holding any except for what was right under the nib.

 

Today, I pulled the nib/feed from my Kaweco Sport and discovered that it is just a bit too large to fit in the Ratnamson's section. I'll have to enlarge the hole a bit, but it looks like it should work beautifully. The Ratnamson no. 32 is a beautiful pen: olive mottled ebonite, conical ends (like an Edison Pearlette), good size (about the same size as a Lamy 2000 in length and girth), with a gold colored cap band, and "RATNAMSON" printed clearly on its teardrop clip. It takes 2-3 full turns to close the cap, which is much more work than most pens, but it's a handsome and charming pen. With a good feed, ED capacity (about 2 mL), and a smooth medium nib (doesn't Bock make Kaweco's nibs?) this would be a killer pen!

 

I want to give this pen my best shot since it's my favorite in terms of looks, and because it cost me nothing I am willing to spend a $10 nib unit to get it functioning properly. I've just placed an order for a spare Kaweco nib unit from JetPens, and I will update with the project when I have the new nib unit.

 

Stay tuned. Coming next:

  1. Enlarging the hole in the section
  2. Installing the Kaweco nib/feed
  3. Plugging the cap hole with something better than scotch tape (see photo above--the hole is under the clip so it's gonna be a bear to do nicely)

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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The new Kaweco nib unit arrived today!

 

I used a 3/16" drill bit to open up the remaining part of the converter on the back end of the section. Then I used the 13/64" bit to ream it out. I used the 7/32" bit briefly because it fit inside the section, but when running it opened the hole too wide so I only used it on the front end of the section about 1 cm deep. I continued to use the 13/64" bit to ream it out on the back end until the feed and nib would go all the way in with moderate force.

 

I am dashing off to a church event right now, so testing for flow and performance will have to wait until later. Initially the flow was thin and dry (though better and smoother than the original nib) so I have concerns about possible contaminants inside the pen. It may just need a good flush. It may want a different ink. I'll find out later.

 

For now, here are the results side by side with my Kaweco Classic Sport for scale.

 

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7453/12683411965_d23a098bb7_b.jpg

 

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2843/12683556283_2247c731ae_b.jpg

 

 

 

Still to come...

  • Flow, flush, and wetness
  • Plugging the vent holes in the cap (the scotch tape in the pictures is the temporary fix)

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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Great rescue project. Are you installing a Kaweco nib and feed or a whole nib unit? If a unit how are you planning to secure it in the section. I like your approach to this project.

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I removed the feed from the unit (sleeve). I could have reamed out more material and used shellac to fix the whole unit in place, which would have let me use the Kaweco cartridges, but I wasn't comfortable trying to remove that much material since I don't have a drill press or a lathe (just a 1/2" Milwaukee)

 

After I got back tonight I noticed it was dried up on the nib and took a few strokes to get it started.

 

Now, one good reason to use Diamine Ancient Copper is that it reacts with air in a peculiar way by crystallizing. I am hypothesizing that it was dry tonight because the cap is not air tight. So after getting it started, I put silicone grease on the cap threads and close it. If it starts right away tomorrow (the grease had an effect) then I can assume the threads are not fit properly and allow air to get in. If it is dry again, then the threads are fine (the grease had no effect) and I will have to reexamine the cap. Leaving it for the next 16-20 hours, if there is enough air the DAC will start to form gunk on the nib and I'll know to pay attention to air exposure (as opposed to ink supply from the barrel to the nib).

 

The possible air sources in the cap are: (1) where the clip attaches, (2) the vent holes which are currently covered in scotch tape, (3) too much overall air volume because there is no inner cap to seal around the nib, and (4) venting from the threads (if they were machined with too high of a tolerance). I still have not ruled out the possibility that I need to use something like an epoxy to seal the inside of the cap, but for now I am testing the threads.

 

Of course, this is all just to take advantage of the fact that I'll be gone all day tomorrow instead of playing with it. What I really need to do next is flush the pen and use my daily blue-black mix and see if the nib itself is tuned to normal Kaweco spec. DAC tends to be a dry ink for me, which makes it good for testing, but I'll have to use my normal daily writing ink to get a better sense of what's going on. My problem is I want to test all my hypotheses at once :P

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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After doing a few pages of writing, doodling, and practicing my signature, the feed is keeping up just fine. It's drier than I'd like it to be--about 4/10--but there is no feed starvation anymore with the new feed.

 

Through a loupe, I noticed the new Kaweco M nib is a bit narrower than my other nib, which is only about one year old. There was also a change to the design of the feed (pictures below) so I wonder what Kaweco and Bock have changed?

 

At any rate, the sealant on the threads kept the nib from drying out over the last 18 hours, so I have reason to think the machining process for the cap threads had too high of a tolerance. Nothing I can do about it except to make sure I close it all the way and keep an eye on it. Since the grease sealed the air, and with a closer inspection of the cap through a loupe, I have determined the rest of the cap is adequately constructed. My two critiques of Ratnamson's manufacture of the cap are: (1) too high of a tolerance on the cap threads and too many turns to secure the cap, and (2) there is no inner cap to help seal the nib.

 

I don't have too much ink left in the barrel so I'll either use it up or dump it in the next day or two so I can flush everything and fill it with my blue-black mix (half Diamine Midnight, half Diamine Eclipse). I will remove the feed to clean with soapy water to ensure the removal of residue and oils that may be inhibiting flow. I'd love to tune the wetness up to a 7/10 so I can use it as a session pen.

 

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2825/12707757324_51d3b3d23c_b.jpg^^^ Ratnamson with the new Kaweco nib/feed on the left, one year old Kaweco Sport on the right

 

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3725/12707758934_233503c328_c.jpg

^^^ Ratnamson with new Kaweco nib/feed on the left, one year old Kaweco Sport on the right

 

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2834/12707758744_5fdc14c908_b.jpg

^^^ Notice how much narrower the M nib is on the newer nib (top) than the one year older M nib (bottom). The one on the bottom is a sweet nib, stubbish, and about 7/10 wetness. The newer one is narrower and about 4/10 wetness, but I think a flush and light tuning can bring up the flow.

 

Sorry for the bad lighting. The sun had already gone down by the time I got to this.

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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What advice do you have for someone like myself who purchased a ratnamson with an aerometric filling system. Here's the problem it dries up very easily after just a few lines, while having sufficient ink. I'm talking about a dummies solution as I have neither the tools, not to mention the skills to do what your up to. thanks!

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What advice do you have for someone like myself who purchased a ratnamson with an aerometric filling system. Here's the problem it dries up very easily after just a few lines, while having sufficient ink. I'm talking about a dummies solution as I have neither the tools, not to mention the skills to do what your up to. thanks!

 

Sounds like you are having the same experience I did. Without getting too technical, there are three main problems: (1) the cap may not be airtight and has no inner cap, (2) the feed does not move enough ink close enough to the nib, and (3) the poorly designed aerometric converter will not supply ink to your feed. You'll have to get rid of the shoddy converter that's in there right now if you want to have any hope of getting ink to your feed. Once you've done that you can remove the feed and improve its ink channel, but if you're not brave enough to dive into that kind of work, there's not a whole lot to be done except find a different pen. My thought is, if it doesn't work you don't have much to lose by attempting a repair.

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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What advice do you have for someone like myself who purchased a ratnamson with an aerometric filling system. Here's the problem it dries up very easily after just a few lines, while having sufficient ink. I'm talking about a dummies solution as I have neither the tools, not to mention the skills to do what your up to. thanks!

 

 

When the feed dries up, check if the ink is stuck on the other side of the converter and not reaching the feed. In this case, hold the pen nib side down and give a firm tap on the converter. The ink will reach the side of the feed.

 

Sometimes, the pen needs to be cleaned. Flush the pen with warm water with a few drops of dish washing liquid in it. Repeat with cold water.

 

Hope this helps.

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Great Job. I noticed that my recently purchased Kaweco with a BB writes very thin, about 5/10 flow too. Not bad though.

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Two notes.

 

First, as noted previously, the grease kept the air out of the cap and the pen wrote immediately last night. After wiping the grease of and letting it sit overnight, it was dry this morning and took some coaxing to start up. This tells me the cap is definitely not machined properly to protect the nib--even overnight. It doesn't feel like it's loose, but air seems to be getting through the threads unless I seal them with grease.

I wonder how I can solve this without applying grease to the cap threads everyday?

 

Second, the wetness seems to have increased a bit. I think I have sent enough ink through the feed now that whatever was inhibiting flow earlier has loosened up. This also happened with my TWSBI Mini during its first fill. I'd say it's about 5/10 now (up from 4/10).

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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I wonder if you could insert an inner cap? You could put it in a piece of soft foam like Wahl did. Ask in the repair forum too.

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Two comments to help with the drying.

 

1. Try a safe ink, like Parker Quink or Waterman Florida Blue, or whatever they call it now.

 

2. You could put a small amount of beeswax in the breather holes in the cap. Just rub a candle over them.

 

I have a several Indian pens that I have used as eyedrop fillers. They tend to be quite wet, which I like. You should also partially fill the barrel with beeswax to reduce the volume, so they don't burp and get a mess of ink on everything. Just have a burning beeswax candle drip into the barrel. When you have about half of the barrel full, put the barrel in a cup of water that you brought to a boil in a microwave. After a few minutes, the wax will melt and provide a filled barrel without spaces. Use a light color ink, because the ink will be heavy. I like Quink Washable Blue.

 

Dave

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  • 4 weeks later...

Time for an update.
 
I scored some 51% beeswax candles from the sacristy at school when they got too short for use in the chapel, so I filled both of the breather holes.
I haven't tried a foam insert inside the cap yet. 
 
While I was perusing a review of a Sailor Sapporo, I was struck with an idea to help solve the flow issue I've been having.
 
The inspiration:
http://www.suramar.org/fpn/sailor_emperor-10.jpg

 

 

Mind you, my homage to this design is not nearly so elegant. I used what I had on hand: pliers, a metal file, and a double-edge razor blade from my shaving kit.

Using the file, I blunted the edge. Then I used tape to cover the ~4mm of steel I wanted to use, and carefully snapped the other steel off by bending it with flat nose lineman's pliers. Then it was just a matter of shaping the steel carefully with the tip of the pliers, and inserting with the nib/feed into the section.

 

The results:

 

13363218913_55df4af59b_c.jpg

 

13363221353_4d3e0d22aa_c.jpg

 

13363222053_4ec11982d5_c.jpg

 

13363076365_78f6763dc4_c.jpg

 

13363074115_2e12dd8247_c.jpg

 

 

More to come later:

- I'll test a different ink when I've emptied this fill

- Possible inner cap foam insert

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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Yes! After several pages of testing, I think it behaves like a semi-hooded nib. The entire underside of the overfeed is in contact with the nib, so that entire area collects ink. This has greatly improved the ability to withstand being uncapped for a longer period of time. It wrote immediately after uncapping tonight when I got home from a birthday party. Wetness is still hovering around 5/10. It's still a dry writer, but it is no longer skipping or starving. I think the tines are too close together, so I'll take it apart and try tuning that another day.

 

If I had a Dremel tool, I could have done a better job of finishing the edges of the overfeed, and I could probably have polished off the "856" that you see printed on the steel. Oh well, can't complain about a mod that cost me nothing.

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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Today's update:

 

Carved out the slit between the tines using a thin piece of steel, and spread the tines a bit.

Did a complete flush, using soap and water.

Using Mother's mag/alum polish, I was able to shine the overfeed and remove the thermal printing.

Refilled with my usual blue/black ink, which behaves better than DAC.

The result: wetness is up to a comfortable 6/10, with no dryout issues and consistent flow.

 

Oh, and while I was at it, I fabbed another overfeed and put it on my Gama eyedropper.

 

I still need to spread the tines a little further to get the wetness to my preferred 8/10, and readjust the placement of the overfeed, but this project is basically concluded. I'm happy to answer any questions. Thanks for following along.

 

Pics...

 

13392141823_c41fd0f3f3_c.jpg

 

13392005615_c285ea5d7b_c.jpg

 

13392142253_d8ba83c8c5_c.jpg

 

 

P.S. For those wondering how to keep three things lined up while pushing into the section, use scotch tape. ;)

- - -

 

Currently trying to sell a Pelikan M400 White Tortoise. PM if you're interested. :)

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Very cool. The overfeed adds an, "old is new again," flavor. I wonder why they did away with them in the first place. Were they superfluous with better feed design? I like your finished product.

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