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Thread: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I get

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    Senior Member Ray-VIgo's Avatar
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    Default Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I get

    Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I get them?

    I have a couple of 1930s-era pens with the old-type, coated rods that need to be replaced. I'd like to just replace them with new stainless rods instead of searching around for donor pens.

    I would consider making rods for my own use as well, but it's probably easier just to buy a few than it is to go to the trouble of making my own.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I


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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    It may be a small point, Fred, but I'm pretty certain that those rods Dale is selling are scavenged from old pens, while Ray was asking if anyone was making new ones. I recently had a vac-fill restored by Stacy Hills that had a degraded plastic-coated rod, and he has made new ones from stainless. I believe these are just for his own restorations, though.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    ...Stacy Hills... made new ones from stainless. I believe these are just for his own restorations, though.
    It certainly wouldn't hurt to ask!

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    ...Stacy Hills... made new ones from stainless. I believe these are just for his own restorations, though.
    It certainly wouldn't hurt to ask!
    I think Ray found a source with Gerry Berg (per similar thread on FPN).
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Stainless steel rod in the correct size should be easy to get, anyone know what the thread size was, should be easy to make our own once the correct size die is obtained.

    I assume it will be an Imperial thread but what's the correct size thread pitch ECT.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul-H View Post
    Stainless steel rod in the correct size should be easy to get, anyone know what the thread size was, should be easy to make our own once the correct size die is obtained.

    I assume it will be an Imperial thread but what's the correct size thread pitch ECT.

    Thanks
    That has all been answered in the FPN thread. Please keep in mind that "make our own" applies to people who have the tools and knowledge to craft a part such as this, as well as the time and energy. There are certainly occasions where one wishes to simply purchase a ready-made replacement part.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Senior Member Ray-VIgo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Correct - it dawned on me this morning to try Gerry Berg, who has become an expert in fixing these pens. He is going to try matching or making a couple of new rods for these Balance pens I have. I don't have the correct die for these rods, and I'm not at the point that I want to invest in tools to make them. Basically, I am going off of a variety of sources online to try to fix these two pens I have - using the best quality materials and methods I can get. I'm not going to be repairing these pens professionally, just fixing ones I come across so I can add them to my collection. Anything I end up not using, I sell, but the goal is to end up with pens I want to use.

    I originally was not going to fix these pens, but they proved to be nice enough that I want to try it. The first pen is an early black pen with a spiral ink window, flat hard rubber feed with no tail, and hard rubber section. I actually bought the pen for its cap to fix another pen, but the vac fill pen proved to be too interesting to use for just parts. I later located a very nice golden stripe pen, which turned out to be from not long after the black pen. I figured that I was doing this as a hobby and not expecting to make any money, so I'd throw in for the materials to fix them and see where it led me. It's not nearly as simple as a lever filler to fix, but why not give it a try?

    I ordered the seals and gaskets, which I knew I'd need. But once I opened the pens up, I found that the rod in the golden stripe was badly rusted. The rod in the black looked good at first, but turned out to be eroded underneath where the old headgasket was. So, back to the well looking for parts - two stainless rods to replace the rusted stuff from the pens.

    It appeared to me that neither pen had been opened before - both had remnants of thread sealant in them. The golden stripe in particular needed several heatings to finally let the section unscrew. But eventually it did. Hard rubber, for all its discoloration faults, is pretty robust material. I was more worried about the barrel cracking, but it went fine in the end.
    Last edited by Ray-VIgo; May 16th, 2019 at 02:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    I specialize in Sheaffer vacuum-fil restoration. Used to scrounge for replacement rods out of parts pens or elsewhere but those are getting more difficult to find. Since I restore so many of these pens I now make my own rods. But, I don't sell them.

    The restoration isn't necessarily difficult. But, it takes greater patience and attention to detail than most others. There is an uncomfortable amount of truly bad advice and practice to be found on the subject.

    If you want to know how to properly restore a Sheaffer vac then scour FPN for everything on the subject by Ron Zorn. Gerry Berg may have more direct experience than anyone else but El Zorno has written the most about it.

    Stacy Hills
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by controlsfreak View Post
    There is an uncomfortable amount of truly bad advice and practice to be found on the subject. If you want to know how to properly restore a Sheaffer vac then scour FPN for everything on the subject by Ron Zorn. Gerry Berg may have more direct experience than anyone else but El Zorno has written the most about it.
    Hear, hear, hear. Bullet point and pin that set of thoughts!
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by controlsfreak View Post
    I specialize in Sheaffer vacuum-fil restoration. Used to scrounge for replacement rods out of parts pens or elsewhere but those are getting more difficult to find. Since I restore so many of these pens I now make my own rods. But, I don't sell them.

    The restoration isn't necessarily difficult. But, it takes greater patience and attention to detail than most others. There is an uncomfortable amount of truly bad advice and practice to be found on the subject.

    If you want to know how to properly restore a Sheaffer vac then scour FPN for everything on the subject by Ron Zorn. Gerry Berg may have more direct experience than anyone else but El Zorno has written the most about it.
    I can see that the values on the vacuum pens has crept up over the years as the restoration methods have gotten better, so probably fewer cheap donor pens around for parts. Is there a particular substance you suggest as to bonding the white cover washer over the black sealing o-ring in the barrel? I've seen people talk about Acetone (not so great, I guess), MEK (better), liquid model cement (if it has MEK in it), and two-part clear epoxy (acceptable but maybe not the best).

    Reason I ask is that I looked for MEK here last weekend, but it seems to have been replaced in stores by a generic "brush cleaner". These substances reportedly have MEK in them, but I have no clue what else they have in them. It's not pure MEK certainly.
    Last edited by Ray-VIgo; May 17th, 2019 at 11:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    .... Is there a particular substance you suggest as to bonding the white cover washer over the black sealing o-ring in the barrel? I've seen people talk about Acetone (not so great, I guess), MEK (better), liquid model cement (if it has MEK in it), and two-part clear epoxy (acceptable but maybe not the best).

    Reason I ask is that I looked for MEK here last weekend, but it seems to have been replaced in stores by a generic "brush cleaner". These substances reportedly have MEK in them, but I have no clue what else they have in them. It's not pure MEK certainly.
    The white ring is styrene. That's what modelers use and you simply need solvent strong enough to melt it until it will bond with the surrounding celluloid.

    Getting whatever you decide to use down to the end of the barrel drives the selection of solvent/adhesive.

    I see El Zorno is using celluloid liquified in MEK. That seems perfect for someone who does as much celluloid repair as he does.

    For years I used acetone. It works just fine as long as you buy the good stuff from the hardware store that is concentrated and not watered down.

    Recently I've switched to modeler's plastic weld. If you do a bit of searching you can find the MSDS sheets that say it's a combination of MEK and some other solvent.

    I use micro-pipettes to good effect. Next time I buy something from Dale I may buy his RZ tool. For now I'll stick with my home built tools I've been using for years. I've not had any pens come back with popped styrene washers.

    Bon chance.

    [edit: grammar]
    Last edited by controlsfreak; May 17th, 2019 at 12:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by controlsfreak View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    .... Is there a particular substance you suggest as to bonding the white cover washer over the black sealing o-ring in the barrel? I've seen people talk about Acetone (not so great, I guess), MEK (better), liquid model cement (if it has MEK in it), and two-part clear epoxy (acceptable but maybe not the best).

    Reason I ask is that I looked for MEK here last weekend, but it seems to have been replaced in stores by a generic "brush cleaner". These substances reportedly have MEK in them, but I have no clue what else they have in them. It's not pure MEK certainly.
    The white ring is styrene. That's what modelers use and you simply need solvent strong enough to melt it until it will bond with the surrounding celluloid.

    Getting whatever you decide to use down to the end of the barrel drives the selection of solvent/adhesive.

    I see El Zorno is using celluloid liquified in MEK. That seems perfect for someone who does as much celluloid repair as he does.

    For years I used acetone. It works just fine as long as you buy the good stuff from the hardware store that is concentrated and not watered down.

    Recently I've switched to modeler's plastic weld. If you do a bit of searching you can find the MSDS sheets that say it's a combination of MEK and some other solvent.

    I use micro-pipettes to good effect. Next time I buy something from Dale I may buy his RZ tool. For now I'll stick with my home built tools I've been using for years. I've not had any pens come back with popped styrene washers.

    Bon chance.

    [edit: grammar]
    Thank you - I ended up using model cement on the white washer. I paid the money for Pentooling Ron Zorn tool - it's nicely made and was helpful in getting the o-ring and washer into place. I got one pen with a stainless rod done - a golden stripe standard Balance with one of the flat/radius clips. I think this one worked out - no leaking and pen filled to about 80% capacity with one cycle. It has Pelikan Blue-Black ink in it right now. We use really cheap legal pads at work, and the Pelikan Blue-Black is one of the few inks that will not feather on the cheap paper.

    I have a couple of rods on-order with Gerry Berg as well, so hopefully when all is done, I'll have a few nice vac fill Balances around. I still have what looks like an early vac fill Balance with a spiral ink window to do, along with a thin model gold stripe and a green stripe military clip standard. I know the slender has a stainless rod, so hopefully that is OK. The replacement rods should help round out the ones that rusted.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Got the stainless steel rods back and installed them. Between those rods and a pen I had with a good rod still in it, I have 3 vac fillers back in action since last week. One of the pens is inked now and is serving as a workhorse in my office.

    I've inked it with Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black.

    Any concerns that the ink will corrode the new rod?

    I have to imagine Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black is pretty safe stuff. People seem to complain that it's acidic and has an iron gall component. I go back and forth between that ink and Waterman Blue-Black or Florida Blue. But nothing tames cheap paper and gives such a traditional look as the Pelikan Blue-Black though.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    In my experience anything by Pelikan, Waterman and Montblanc are absolutely safe.

    Besides, it's not likely the ink that caused corrosion to the rods. It's the water that was held in the packing units. The corroded portion of Sheaffer stainless rods is almost always near the ends. That's where the felt bushings are. When new these are full of grease but as they age the grease leaves and the felt retains water. Water that can corrode even stainless steel. That's same spot is at the end of the celluloid cover on the carbon steel rods. The water gets under the celluloid and causes the underlying carbon steel to rust away.

    The bigger problem with ink is staining the celluloid or melting the seals and gaskets.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Quote Originally Posted by controlsfreak View Post
    In my experience anything by Pelikan, Waterman and Montblanc are absolutely safe.

    Besides, it's not likely the ink that caused corrosion to the rods. It's the water that was held in the packing units. The corroded portion of Sheaffer stainless rods is almost always near the ends. That's where the felt bushings are. When new these are full of grease but as they age the grease leaves and the felt retains water. Water that can corrode even stainless steel. That's same spot is at the end of the celluloid cover on the carbon steel rods. The water gets under the celluloid and causes the underlying carbon steel to rust away.

    The bigger problem with ink is staining the celluloid or melting the seals and gaskets.
    That makes sense - the rods that I pulled out of the pens originally did have more corrosion around the gasket area than elsewhere. So far, I'm glad I took the time to learn how to fix these pens up because they're interesting and they can be really good writers.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    Here's a different one - the pen I was fixing tonight had the entire packing unit come out the end of the barrel.

    Is there a preferred substance for gluing the unit back in? It doesn't look like very much glue was used in the first place. This is the only one I've had come out. The others I all did by drilling from the inside. While the unit was out, I pulled the old seals, put in a new O-ring and a new cover washer.

    The fit of the unit to barrel is reasonably tight, but I think it will need something like shellac or perhaps epoxy to secure it back in the barrel. It just looks like they didn't use much to secure it from the factory on this pen. The other pens I fixed were all 100% tight. Suggestions on what to use to secure this thing back in the barrel?
    Last edited by Ray-VIgo; May 31st, 2019 at 07:41 AM.

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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    These were originally solvent welded into the barrel. They tend to pop with age. You're lucky it came out completely. Sometimes only part of the weld breaks, causing a leak that can be tricky to fix.

    I used to solvent weld them as that was the original method. But many of those popped again later. Now I use epoxy - Ron Zorn's recommended method. It's flexible and strong and should never let go. Just be sure to restore the packing unit first then epoxy all into the barrel.

    Stacy Hills
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    Default Re: Are Sheaffer Vac Fill Plunger Rods Being Reproduced, and if they are, where do I

    I have a two-part clear epoxy that might work for it and that should not really be visible once the repair is done. I'll have to see how deep it needs to be seated. I can see there being a problem if I seat too deeply (blind cap won't thread) or too far out (filler rod would not be long enough).

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