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Advice On Tuckaway Restore


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My mom recently learned that I'm really into fountain pens (it's a new obsession of mine), and remarked that if I really like them, she has my grandfather's old fountain pen and I could have it. Obviously, I'm thrilled and say yes. Posting some images on /r/fountainpens on Reddit, I've learned that this pen is a Sheaffer Tuckaway, possibly with a Touchdown filling system.


So here's my real question, and it was suggested on reddit that I post here because you guys could help me out more. This pen has been lying in a drawer for about 32 years, since my grandfather died. My mom is certain she saw him using this pen up until the day he actually died, in fact. She says the back of the pen unscrews and she has unscrewed it and it comes out like a piston and moves easily (I nearly had a heart attack when she said this, but tried not to show it). So is this something I could do maintenance/restoration on and use today? Or is this something which needs specialized tools and I should pay a professional to do for me?


It's a family heirloom (at least it is to me), and so I'd really appreciate all of your advice. Thanks!


Oh, in case it helps, here is the imgur page that shows the pen.

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  • rtrinkner


  • LWJ2


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  • lionheartlee


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I just purchased a similar pen. I have yet to receive it yet, but most members on here say it's best to replace the seals and ink sac. if you look for my post in the Sheaffer catagory than I sure you'll stumble on some Info. And congrats on the pen!

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The Tuckaways came in two types of piston-like filling mechanisms. To find out which type it is, unscrew the tail cap and pull it back to expose the piece that connects the tail to the barrel.


1. If the tail cap is connected by a rigid wire-like rod, it's a Vac-Fil mechanism. These are especially tricky to repair, but a professional can do it. Don't try to learn how to repair this type of mechanism with a family heirloom as the odds are good that you'll break it. You'll also need several specialized tools to do the job right. (These are from the mid-1940s)


2. If the tail cap is connected by a chromed tube, it's a Touchdown mechanism. This is much easier to fix, and you could learn to fix it yourself without too much risk of breaking it. To get it filling properly, you'd need a new sac, a new o-ring, shellac, a small Philips screwdriver, a dental pick, pure talc powder, and silicone grease. (Note: there could be other problems besides the filling mechanism that need attention, so this list is just to get the pen filling.) You'll also want some pen polish. The good news on Sheaffer pens is that they used good quality gold plating, so you can probably remove any gunk on the pocket clip, nib, and cap band with a little elbow grease and polish. If your model has a conical wrap-around nib or a two-toned traditional nib, be gentle with any polish on the nib so as not to remove the silver-colored mask on the nib. Also, be careful to remove all polish residue, especially in the hard to reach places, like under the clip. Use the least amount of polish necessary to do the job so as to minimize the chances of the polish getting in to nooks where you can't clean easily. (These are from 1948-51, if I remember right.)


Sending it to a repair professional will run you less than $50, assuming the pen is in good shape. The pro will get it filling and also beautify the pen and make sure the nib writes smoothly for you. All told, this is the cheapest and most reliable method for you if you don't already have the tools and parts, but it also won't help you learn how to repair the pen yourself.


If you're hoping to learn how to repair pens in general, repairing a Touchdown is only one step or so more complicated than fixing a lever-filler. Since you're talking about a family heirloom, and if you want to repair it yourself, I'd recommend buying a few Touchdowns on eBay and trying to fix them before tackling your grandfather's pen.


Before you do any type of repair, first check to see if the pen is already in working condition. This is the case some times, even for vintage pens. Both pens fill by pulling back the plunger, inserting the nib and some of the barrel into the ink in the bottle, and then pushing the plunger down quickly. The Vac-Fils will make a little suction popping noise if they're working right. Touchdowns won't make any sound. If you then do the procedure again, a working pen should expel ink.


(Edit: You don't want ink to go rogue inside the pen, getting to places and parts that aren't designed to hold the ink. If you try to fill the pen in its current state, make sure that ink doesn't leak inside the pen. This isn't likely for a Vac-Fil, but could happen with a Touchdown if the seal between the internal sac and its nipple has been compromised. The pen probably wouldn't fill at all in this case, but it's possible that you could suck up ink into the barrel and not into the sac. If left uncleaned, this could corrode the internals. You can unscrew the barrel from the nib-holding "section" and get a look inside. If the pen doesn't unscrew easily to open, you'll need to heat it slightly with a hair dryer... if this is the case, you'd be well served by experience to know how best to heat the pen without melting it.)





Edited by rtrinkner
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Looks like a Touchdown; if the top unscrews easily, try pulling gently on it, if the tube comes out smoothly, I suggest soaking it in warm water -- about a half-inch more than the top of the section. Cycle it a couple of times, then screw the top down again and let it sit overnight.


Cycle it a couple more times, then dump the water and repeat.


If it won't hold the water, then you've got a ruptured sac and possibly seal problems, you can get a kit as noted in another post. Be gentle, don't force anything.


Welcome aboard, enjoy your new pen.

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