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Sheaffer Vac-Fill Packing Unit Knock-Out: An Alternative Restoration Method?


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Hello, I've recently repaired a few Sheaffer vac-fillers using the method I often see in these parts of drilling through the barrel to the packing unit and picking out the rubber and felt.


I then came across this method by Grandmia, in which he says that he soaked and heated the barrel, before using a dowel to knock out the packing unit for repair. I'm keenly interested in this method, what with the difficulty of alternatively picking out the packing unit through the barrel.


Has anyone else tried this? Approximately how long does the barrel need to be soaked? (I've been soaking for three days and the packing unit is not budging at all).


Video by Grandmia:


Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Yes, I saw that video. Very helpful.


...but, soaking didn't work for me.

However, gentle heat (hair dryer) did. Also, I used a metal dowel, which was an exact fit. One unit took a while to shift, but the last one I did popped straight out with a bit of heat and a sharp tap with a hammer (this was a pen which had a lip inside the barrel, on which the packing unit sits - like the one in Grandmia's video).


As a note of caution, I should add that I also ruined one barrel by overheating - even with a hair dryer.

So, if you go that way, proceed with caution!


Good luck

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In general the packing unit is not going to come out--it was glued in place at the time of manufacture.


Removal of the old packing material is quite easy, just pull it out with a small crochet hook or drill it out when you drill out the bottom seal.

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Yes, the removal part is easy. The insertion of the gasket and closing it with a washer is a bit more iffy, and so I was seeing if I might possibly try this approach. Will experiment with one of the Vac-Fils that I have soaking and see if this method might work for that one.

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Grandmia was lucky.


Richard Binder and I spent about a year working through the various methods for repairing these pens before we started to take them in for repair. We found that trying to remove the packing unit was a good prescription for damaging a pen. You are likely to end up with a broken thread nipple or packing unit, or a melted or warped barrel end, or some other damage that is either difficult or impossible to repair. Having done over a thousand of the pens (I know how many 0-rings I've ordered and used) with only a handful of warranty repairs in the last 10 years, I see no reason to change my mind. Most if not all of the well qualified repair people use the same method.


Most of the packing units are well secured - glued or solvent welded into the barrel, and will not come out, and you can't use this method on later pens with the filler that is inserted into the barrel. The exception is the early wide band Triumph pens in which the packing units on occasion practically fall out. But that is still more the exception than the rule. This is the pen that Grandmia used in his video, and why I say he was lucky. In most cases packing units are very well secured in the barrel. I have Francis Goosens packing unit removal tools (I don't know if he even makes them any more) and rarely if ever use them because the packing units don't move.


Sheaffer recommended that repair shops drill out the old packing unit and replace it with a new one. But that is not a luxury that we have today. The safest and most reliable way to repair them is to remove the nib, going in from the front end, drilling out the old packing material, and then inserting the Viton 0-ring and retaining washer. Dale Beebe (pentooling.com) is in the process of making a tool which is a copy of the tool I made 10 years ago, which makes it much easier to insert the 0-ring and retaining washer. It should be available in the next couple of months.

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This is a pen I just do not like servicing, unnecessary complication in copying of the wonderful Onoto piston fill pen patented in 1905.

As stated sometimes back end falls out, I would say 95% of the time it doesn't, when it does, servicing is so much easier, to be satisfied of the barrel end seal integrity.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge (Charles Darwin)


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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks, Ron. I have installed one of your gaskets and the necessary O-ring and washer through the front opening and the pen's working quite nicely.


That MEK stuff is vile, though. Had to sacrifice some warmth in the house by leaving a window open to let the pen air out by it for two days.



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