View Full Version : Sheaffer Vac-Fill: Sometimes You

July 17th, 2013, 02:10 PM
Edit: Fat fingered the typing and borked the title and text

Proper Subject
Sheaffer Vac-Fill: Sometimes You get Lucky

Reference my previous 3rd tier Sheaffer Balance post

Well, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to see what I could see.
Baby steps and all that.
So I put it back in to soak for a day.

The next day I looked for the indentions where the removal tool inserts to unscrew the blind cap to start planning to make my own tool but I could not see any. So I grasped the rod with a gripper square and tried to unscrew the blind cap with my fingers.
And off it came.

Well, now what? I decided to try the section.
Using what I had learned from destroying an earlier Estie, I put it under soft heat (60w light bulb @ 6 inches for 15 minutes and rotate 180 degrees for 15 minutes with the section and nib in the shade) and the section screwed right out without a fight. I did try it witout heat using the gripping square and section pliers but did not force the issue before I tried the heat.
Wow, so far so good.

I looked inside and the cap nut was loose in the barrel. Could it really be just that?!?!
I put everything in some JB pen flush and called it a night before I got excited and did something stupid.

Today after work I took everything out of the bath.
I pushed the plunger shaft down to only 2 threads showing out the top and then pulled the piston head gasket out with some tweezers. It had some permanent set but looked to be in solid shape. I figured it would be easy enough to test, just put everything back together and test it.
I spent the next 2 hours trying various ways to get the cap nut on with the plunger shaft still in the barrel of the pen. It was theoretically possible but mostly hopeless. I took the plunger and pushed the shaft as far down as possible and then pulled it out of the barrel. I inspected the packing unit and it also showed some wear but nothing catastrophic that I could see.
I installed the gasket and cap nut and carefully lined up the shaft with the hole in the packing unit and gently pushed it back through, and then out the top.
The sucking sound it made was quite a happy sound.

I re-installed the blind cap and threaded the section back in (dry, no shellac.)
I filled one cup with water and gave it a shot. When I emptied it back out in an empty cup I had drawn 1.1 ml of water, or about 2/3 of the barrel full with one stroke. I tried it 5 more times and got between 1.0 and 1.2 ml every time.

I did notice that air was being forced out past the nib and feed on the down stroke.
I also noticed that after it was filled, you can give up pulling the shaft back out again. You have to go in slow stages (like I had read somewhere) to finally get the shaft fully extended to empty and/or flush the pen.

I am prepared to shellac the section back in and call it workable, but I have 2 questions first.

1) After the section is shellaced in, should I still expect to see air bubbles expelled from the OD of the nib and feed on the down stroke if I have the bottom of the section submerged?

2) Is 1.1 ml (2/3 full) of water on one stroke a sign of a satisfacorily working vac-fill system?

Of course the real question, and much harder, is which ink do I want to put in it?!?!?

Ernst Bitterman
July 17th, 2013, 04:06 PM
Oh, pray don't shellac the section. If you don't have the oft-mentioned rosin-based sealant, some bees-wax on the threads and kept warm while screwing the section home will serve to seal it sufficiently.

1) Yes on the bubbles. Ideally they'll all come out the breather hole, but any minor fissure in a pressure-storm.
2) That's a little on the low side, but only a little. I get about 1.3ml on short slender barrels like the Junior, 1.5ml on the standard-length slender barrels (e.g. Craftsman) and and 1.9ml on the standard wides (e.g. Admiral or Statesman)-- I don't have data for an OS yet. Those are all on wet feeds, which slightly bump the numbers up, and I generally round up on the syringe readings. It may go up a bit when the section is sealed, too, as there's a chance for a little leakage at the joint.

edit-- re-reading, it looks like the original tail packing remains in place. Give the piston rod a good slathering of silicone grease to try and keep it on the job.