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Revisiting the capillary filler of the Parker 61


david-p

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I wonder why I have not seen a modern example of the capillary filler. Or is there a current pen that uses this method? It works fine on my 61 and, presuming that the patent has now expired, I see no reason why it might not be incorporated into a modern design. Somebody smarter than I am might be able to develop the concept. Even without the beautiful hooded nib of the 61, such a revival would surely be of interest.

 

I note that, as opposed to decorative innovations, technological developments in fountain pens are few and far between these days.

 

David

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19 hours ago, david-p said:

I wonder why I have not seen a modern example of the capillary filler. Or is there a current pen that uses this method? It works fine on my 61 and, presuming that the patent has now expired, I see no reason why it might not be incorporated into a modern design. Somebody smarter than I am might be able to develop the concept. Even without the beautiful hooded nib of the 61, such a revival would surely be of interest.

 

I note that, as opposed to decorative innovations, technological developments in fountain pens are few and far between these days.

 

David

The major reason is that the high quality capillary system/filler would be too expensive and justifiable for only upmarket pens. 

Besides, there is actually a lack of specialists with strong expertise in high quality pen making. It may sound odd but it is true... 

The majority of modern pen makers prefer to actually make cheap rubbish inside their pens to maximise profit margin... 

"New Parker 51" by Newell is just an illustration... 

 

I like capillary P61s very much and now I am using them even more often than my 51s...

 

Frankly, if some pen manufacturer has managed to re-make original capillary P61 and used Lucite instead of that weak plastic I would pay  a high premium on such a pen without any hesitation :) 

 

 

All the best is only beginning now...

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10 minutes ago, TheRedBeard said:

The major reason is that the high quality capillary system/filler would be too expensive and justifiable for only upmarket pens. 


Wherein lies the expense?

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I would expect that a capillary filler mechanism would be fairly inexpensive to make. 
Modern materials could make the system reliable and robust. 
However, the capillary system requires maintenance that is more “hands on” than simply soaking and running water through a converter. I would expect that would be more work than most users would be willing to do.

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12 hours ago, TheRedBeard said:

Frankly, if some pen manufacturer has managed to re-make original capillary P61 and used Lucite instead of that weak plastic I would pay  a high premium on such a pen without any hesitation

 

That makes two of us.  I think that Parker got burned by the original, as poorly-maintained 61s got clogged faster than previous pens.  With a Vac or Aerometric filler, the act of filling would clear out smaller clogs with the force of the ink rushing by.  Since the capillary fill is much more gentle, people who weren't used to cleaning their pens were angry as their expensive 61s clogged.

 

That, and probably a healthy dose of "I'm not spending 25 cents on a bulb syringe just to cut the end off!"

"Nothing is new under the sun!  Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us." Ecclesiastes
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7 hours ago, Checklist said:

 

That makes two of us.  I think that Parker got burned by the original, as poorly-maintained 61s got clogged faster than previous pens.  With a Vac or Aerometric filler, the act of filling would clear out smaller clogs with the force of the ink rushing by.  Since the capillary fill is much more gentle, people who weren't used to cleaning their pens were angry as their expensive 61s clogged.

 

That, and probably a healthy dose of "I'm not spending 25 cents on a bulb syringe just to cut the end off!"

But we are better informed about inks today. Do you think that it is necessary to thoroughly flush out a capillary filler  every time the pen needs refilling with, say, Serenity Blue?

 

Note that I am not suggesting that the rest of the Parker 61 design be copied, only the incorporation of capillary filling in a modern design.

 

David

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On 10/2/2021 at 11:58 AM, david-p said:


Wherein lies the expense?

Normally, mostly R&D and pre-production costs.

All the best is only beginning now...

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22 hours ago, Glenn-SC said:

I would expect that a capillary filler mechanism would be fairly inexpensive to make. 
Modern materials could make the system reliable and robust. 

Modern materials are obvious advantage, but sizeable chunk of R&D and pre-production/implementation costs would be inevitably required. 

Besides, quality of built and assembling is crucial for implementing capillary filler technology. 

If it would be easy and cheap we would see the market flooded by cheap Chinese copies of 61s (like we see with 51s), but that never happened... 

 

22 hours ago, Glenn-SC said:

 


However, the capillary system requires maintenance that is more “hands on” than simply soaking and running water through a converter. I would expect that would be more work than most users would be willing to do.

 

I agree on this point.

All the best is only beginning now...

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1 hour ago, TheRedBeard said:

If it would be easy and cheap we would see the market flooded by cheap Chinese copies of 61s (like we see with 51s), but that never happened... 

I would think that the reason the design wasn’t knocked-off was that the filler system was abandoned by Parker because it was unpopular for various reasons. 
How many vacuum fillers are there?

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59 minutes ago, Glenn-SC said:

I would think that the reason the design wasn’t knocked-off was that the filler system was abandoned by Parker because it was unpopular for various reasons. 
How many vacuum fillers are there?

Quite possible...

 

All the best is only beginning now...

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Maybe I’m unnecessarily cautious, but I have three capillary fillers and I’ve put almost nothing but Quink washable blue in them. Sometimes I’ll venture out and put Quink permanent blue or blue-black in them or might also also use vintage Quink green. 
 

Mine get Quink in the logic that hopefully it’s the right viscosity and wetness to fill properly. Washable blue gets the nod for seemingly having the lightest dye load of any ink I’ve used. 
 

When I get a “new” one it’s at least a week before I use it. I invert it in water and wait for ink to stop coming out the back. I’ve braved an ultrasonic a few times, but always make sure the liquid is well below the arrow. 
 

My worst I ended up using a vacuum brake bleeder on it and it finally cleared and worked. That was probably harsher than one should normally go, but it was a last ditch attempt that still wouldn’t fill after 3 weeks of soaking and it hadn’t given off any ink for a week or so. 
 

I’ve never dared try one with a modern saturated ink, and I suspect many current customers would expect a new pen to handle any ink they throw at it…

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The user manual could give advice on what kind of inks to use.

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9 hours ago, david-p said:

The user manual could give advice on what kind of inks to use.

But people don’t like being told which kind of ink they can or can not use in theirs pens. “I should be able to use Any fountain pen ink in Any fountain pen.” And then they slam a pen that has ink restrictions. Then they will use what ink they want anyway and slam the pen again if it clogs or the ink dries and demand refunds from the manufacturer. 
The market for such a filling system (people willing to use the right ink and maintain the system properly) would seem to be pretty small to me.  And those people could use a 61 if they were interested in the system.  

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14 minutes ago, Glenn-SC said:

But people don’t like being told which kind of ink they can or can not use in theirs pens. “I should be able to use Any fountain pen ink in Any fountain pen.” And then slam a pen that has restriction. Then they will use what they want anyway and slam the pen again if it clogs or dries and demand refunds. 
The market for such a filling system (people willing to use the right ink and maintain the system properly) would seem to be pretty small to me.  And those people could use a 61 if they were interested in the system.  

+1 ;) 

 

The most people, who still use capillary P61s nowadays, do this consciously and knowingly understanding what they should expect :) 

 

Having said that, I am going to find and buy another beautiful capillary 61 :) 

 

All the best is only beginning now...

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One other issue I see with a modern capillary filler is far too many people now think pens have to be taken apart to the smallest pieces every week to keep them “clean.” TWSBI seems to have made that even worse by sticking a wrench in every box, and then you also have pens that are nothing but a fancy body wrapping a #6 nib unit that can be changed. 
 

Honestly, when I use a 61 for a few weeks, I drop it in ink at the end of the day(usually a sample vial so I can get some idea of how much it’s taking up) for a minute or two. I suspect that’s how Parker intended for them to be used. 
 

As elegant as the filler is too, it’s also relatively slow. I’ve timed a few of mine checking periodically and the amount of ink they pick up in the advertised 30 seconds is minuscule. It takes 3-5 minutes for mine(they’re all a little different-maybe it depends on the capillary condition) to stop sucking up ink. 
 

Also, I agree that a warning to only use certain inks won’t do any good. Many makers tell you to only use their inks. How many people, once they progress beyond cartridges and discover the wide works if bottled ink-actually listen? 

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I love my capillary 61’s and have used many Diamine inks with no problem. Even when I’ve done something stupid and left one inked and not cleaned it as I should have, I’ve always been able to restore it to service. I’ve yet to have one that hasn’t worked….

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My Parker 61 had been my father's pen.  I am sure it had not been used for at least forty years before I inherited it.  I learned how to fill it per Parker and used Parker Quink black ink in my early attempts.  It would write but never seemed to last long enough.  I cleaned it with distilled water in an ultrasonic cleaner and flushed it with a squeeze bulb several times.  That improved it, but the capacity still seemed low.  I have also used Monteverde USA Fountain Pen Flush followed by multiple flushings with distilled water.  It now holds plenty ink, but I have a new problem.  When I begin writing with it any day, it starts out beautifully.  If I write continuously for a page or so, it forms a drop of ink on the bottom of the feed.  I have to wipe this off quickly before it falls.  This happens several times and then the pen seems to "get over it".  I have been using Waterman Harmonious Green in this pen for a year, but I believe this problem occurred before the switch from Quink.  The nib appears to be in good order and writes smoothly with a light touch.

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5 minutes ago, Freedonian said:

My Parker 61 had been my father's pen.  I am sure it had not been used for at least forty years before I inherited it.  I learned how to fill it per Parker and used Parker Quink black ink in my early attempts.  It would write but never seemed to last long enough.  I cleaned it with distilled water in an ultrasonic cleaner and flushed it with a squeeze bulb several times.  That improved it, but the capacity still seemed low.  I have also used Monteverde USA Fountain Pen Flush followed by multiple flushings with distilled water.  It now holds plenty ink, but I have a new problem.  When I begin writing with it any day, it starts out beautifully.  If I write continuously for a page or so, it forms a drop of ink on the bottom of the feed.  I have to wipe this off quickly before it falls.  This happens several times and then the pen seems to "get over it".  I have been using Waterman Harmonious Green in this pen for a year, but I believe this problem occurred before the switch from Quink.  The nib appears to be in good order and writes smoothly with a light touch.

 

Make sure spring-loaded seal inside the barrel is in good shape. You should hear/feel it "creaking" as it comes into contact with the top of the filler.

 

My first 61 was a Flighter I bought missing the jewel and the entire spring assembly. It would blob within a couple of minutes of writing with it.

 

Later, after I studied it a bit and was told this, I realized how critical that seal is to proper function, and was told explicitely by someone who would know that a bad or missing seal would cause cause uncontrolled ink flow.

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16 minutes ago, bunnspecial said:

 

Make sure spring-loaded seal inside the barrel is in good shape. You should hear/feel it "creaking" as it comes into contact with the top of the filler.

 

My first 61 was a Flighter I bought missing the jewel and the entire spring assembly. It would blob within a couple of minutes of writing with it.

 

Later, after I studied it a bit and was told this, I realized how critical that seal is to proper function, and was told explicitely by someone who would know that a bad or missing seal would cause cause uncontrolled ink flow.

I believe that may be the problem.  I can hear the sound of the spring being compressed, but I need to examine its condition.  The diagram shows that the sealing-valve assembly is held in place by the "tassie screw" at the end of the barrel.  I am sure it has not been removed since the pen was assembled around 1960.  My guess is I need to warm it  and use a soft-jawed pliers to loosen it.

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