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View Full Version : Original Eversharp Skyline: a good "starter" pen



welch
January 2nd, 2014, 07:52 PM
People often ask "What pen should I get now that I've written enough with my Lamy Safari to understand why a fountain pen is wonderful". Before spending $100 or $200 on a good modern pen, consider one of the "vintage" pens, the original Eversharp Skyline.

- The Skyline had some of the best nibs of all time. Most of the Skylines I have gotten -- mostly in raw state from EBay -- have had a soft nib. Not a flex nib for writing elegant swirly "spencerian" works of art, but a comforting soft nib with just the right amount of "give". Yes, a better nib than you can buy on the Montblance 146, which is a pretty fair nib (although pricy). I think Eversharp had some sort of magic spell they used on their nibs.

- Eversharp did not experiment with exotic and complex filling systems. (They left that to Parker and Sheaffer). Instead, the Skyline has a simple lever-and-sac. The benefit is that it is easy to replace a Skyline sac. You can assume that a Skyline will need a new sac unless someone has replaced it...but that's not rocket science or as difficult as repairing a Snorkel. Just wiggle the "section" and nib out of the barrel, clean out any scraps of dead sac, then brush some shellac on the section "nipple" and pull the sac over the nipple. Let the shellac dry, and then roll the new sac/section/nib in talc. Shellac is about $5 from pen repair sites: Pendemonium, Brian and Lisa Anderson, Richard Binder, Ron Zorn, and many others I don't have time to remember and name. Talc is a few dollars for more talc than you will use in a life-time...unless you go into pen repair, or unless you use it for billiards (the most typical use). I find it handy to use "section pliars" to hold the barrel and section as I separate them, and I use a "section spreader" to stretch the sac wide enough to fit iver the sac nipple. More experienced repair people don't bother with a sac spreader, but they do this for a living.

- The Skyline's "plastic" has become brittle. (You'll be brittle, too, after 70 years!). No big deal: be careful, but Skylines often sell between $15 and $40, so you can afford a few "oops" pens.

- I usually hand-polish a Skyline with sunshine cloth.

- Result: a pen from the mid-40s that will delight your hand when you write, and will not cause you to take out a bank-loan to buy it.

The Skyline was, briefly, the best-selling pen in the US. There are many just waiting to be refursbished. Go to it!

Incidentally, Syd "The Wahlnut" Saperstein has bought the right to Eversharp and its product line. If you like the original Skyline, you might start saving to buy one of the new Skylines: a cartridge / converter pen built close to the specs of the old Skyline. I believe new Skyline caps will even fit an old Skyline pen. The new Wahl (corporate name for Eversharp) is committed to developing nibs that give as much pleasure as the old Skyline nibs. That's a tough standard to meet, but it shows that the new Wahl is serious.

(No, I don't work for the new Wahl, and haven't saved enough to buy one of their pens. Someday, though...)

ac12
January 2nd, 2014, 08:50 PM
My first skylines were parts pens from an estate sale.
The sac replacement was my first sac replacement and it went very smooth. Reading and preparing to do the sac replacement took longer than doing the actual sac replacement.
A kind friend donated a couple of feeds to replace the missing feeds.
And once put together, I was very surprised at how well the Skylines wrote. So SMOOTH :)

Besides being brittle, the plastic shrinks.
One of the caps has a loose band, because the plastic cap shrank.

SteveE
January 3rd, 2014, 01:25 PM
Now, if I could only find a Skyline Executive for $15-40. . .

I had to shell out a lot more than that, several years ago, to latch onto an Executive. What a pen! Mine isn't perfect, but I think the "cool factor" beats my 149 by a long shot.

Norm Matthews
January 3rd, 2014, 05:43 PM
Just a reminder that some Skylines had breather tubes that can make resacing a little more than straight forward.

welch
January 3rd, 2014, 07:51 PM
Just a reminder that some Skylines had breather tubes that can make resacing a little more than straight forward.

Ah, Norm, you've caught my laziness!

My "lazy person's guide to repairing a lever-filler" says that if I find a breather tube, I use it. I carefully stretch the sac asround the tube. If no tube, I don't bother scratching around to make one. Memory says I once asked Ron Zorn if a breather tube was necessary, and he asked if I had seen a sac-pen without one. Sure: Esterbrooks do not have a breather-tube.

For anyone who has not seen one, a breather tube is about the thickness of the red tube that comes with WD-40. It fits into the section, and allows a user to pull more ink into a sac as the inside of the empty sac wants to be the same air-pressure as outside. Instead of one squeeze of ink, the pen gets several. At least that's my amateur's explanation.

ac12
January 3rd, 2014, 10:39 PM
I got my breather tube from David Nishimura @ vintagepens.com
5 feet is way more than I can every see using, so I don't worry about it if I make a mistake, I throw it away and make a new one.

One of mine still had the breather tube, so I made the new breather tubes the same (length and shape).

SteveE
January 6th, 2014, 01:57 PM
Also, bear in mind that if a pen is designed to have a breather tube, if you leave the tube out the pen may not fill completely. I've found this to be the case with Skylines. In a pinch, I have used a modified "straw" from a can of WD-40. . .

reprieve
January 6th, 2014, 04:03 PM
I have a green striped Skyline, which was one of my first vintage pens, purchased several years ago from a member on FPN. It has a lovely flexible nib and a convenient little ink window and I find the tapered barrel to be very ergonomic.

I agree with you--I think the Skyline is a great introduction to vintage pens, and it's one that doesn't often get mentioned.

moore.jl
January 9th, 2014, 09:15 AM
I just purchased my first skyline from a local seller. I love it. It writes so smoothly and looks really cool to boot. I wonder if one upside of the whole brittle plastic thing is that the nib--the real reason I was interested in the pen--survives to be in another pen. I bet there are a lot of nice skyline nibs floating around out there from broken pens.

folksathome
July 2nd, 2014, 11:46 AM
Mine had the "lucky curve" looking breather tube. I removed and replaced it...i saved the old tube. It was pretty easy.

welch
July 4th, 2014, 12:02 AM
I have found that the Skyline sections are more durable than the caps and barrels. Also found that many pens of the late '30s and '40s had roughly the same diameter sections. I think it is perfectly OK to put an orphaned Skyline nib/section on anything that will take it. Yes, the result is a franken-pen, but any pen with an Eversharp Skyline nib is a fine pen.