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Thread: Help with drippy, early Balance?

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Help with drippy, early Balance?

    I have an early Lifetime Balance that is far more prone to dripping than virtually all my other pens.

    With Quink Black, the slightest jostle deposits a large drop of ink on the page. With Pelikan Black it isn't as bad but still drips with slight bumps.

    The only other pens I've encountered that are this drippy are Parker 21s (not supers).

    Pretty sure my 1925 Parker Duofold, Lucky Curve, and Wahl Ringtop aren't this prone to dripping.

    Is this behavior typical of the early Balance pens? Or might it be leaking air somehow? It doesn't seem to write excessively wet.

    The pen is untrustworthy for work use but I like the pen. If this behavior is "normal" can anything be done to improve matters? An ink less prone to drips? Retrofitting a later (or different) feed? Modifying the feed?

    The pen has what I presume is an early feed that is thin with a flat bottom.

    My later Balances use a different style with a sort of rounded bottom.



    Thanks in advance.

    Last edited by azkid; May 21st, 2019 at 08:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Drips generally occur when air is getting into the ink chamber through unwanted avenues. Ink cannot come out unless air takes it's place.

    Does your pen have a silicone sac? Those are gas permeable and can exacerbate drips.

    I'd try setting the nib & feed a bit deeper in the grip section. Yours looks about where I like to put them, but a slightly deeper set will give a tighter fit and reduce unwanted air flow.

    Stacy Hills
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    I was also going to suggest that maybe the nib and feed could be set a little deeper into the section.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Good advice so far.
    If the section is easy to take apart, I'd also inspect the ink sac. A twisted ink sac may cover a small hole that hasn't yet manifested in an all out leak, but enough to let air into the sac.
    - Will
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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Thanks. The sac is latex. I am going to replace it just to be on the safe side. I'll see if seating the feed deeper helps.

    I notice the sac side of the feed has a chip missing at the ink channel opening. Could that be allowing too much flow somehow?

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Thanks. The sac is latex. I am going to replace it just to be on the safe side. I'll see if seating the feed deeper helps.

    I notice the sac side of the feed has a chip missing at the ink channel opening. Could that be allowing too much flow somehow?
    I tend to doubt it but one can't be certain. I like the idea of completely replacing the sac, as this all tends to sound like an air leak situation. As to the nib and feed, the older the pen the more propensity for the feed/nib and section to have 'molded' to each other. When I knock out a nib/feed, I always put a mark on the back of the section (that inserts into the barrel) in line with the slit of the nib. In this way I can replase the nib/feed back in the precisely same orientation. It is possible that when yours were taken out (IF they were), they might have been put back in a slightly different rotation and there might be a micro-gap that is allowing air. I'm just guessing without a clear examination. Setting the nib/feed a little deeper/tighter may help, but if you end up pulling them, just slowly rotate as you are inserting and see if you find an area that 'mates' well, like a well-worn... I don't know, something well-worn into a shape!

    Good luck, you'll get this figured out. If not, both Will and Stacy (controlsfreak) are wizards with these pens.
    "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 azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Thanks for the tips. I can see that the section formed to the nib and feed; its hole not perfectly round. The sac seemed to be airtight when I tested but it also looks a little ratty so who knows.

    This poor pen is in dire need of TLC. Besides the drippiness, it suffers from pretty deep scratches and teeth marks, a cracked cap, brassing everywhere, a worn out pressure bar and lever, and a chip missing from the barrel where the lever pin goes. Hopefully I can get it figured out today.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    Thanks for the tips. I can see that the section formed to the nib and feed; its hole not perfectly round. The sac seemed to be airtight when I tested but it also looks a little ratty so who knows.

    This poor pen is in dire need of TLC. Besides the drippiness, it suffers from pretty deep scratches and teeth marks, a cracked cap, brassing everywhere, a worn out pressure bar and lever, and a chip missing from the barrel where the lever pin goes. Hopefully I can get it figured out today.
    I always think it's quite important to mark the section with a bit of tape or something when removing the nib & feed so that they can go back in the same position whenever possible.
    I bet if you remove the barrel, knock out the nib & feed and replace them into as close to their original position as is possible, then resac, you may find you get better performance.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    You guys think you're so smart marking the section. I forget half the time and have to go the "try to find how it originally fit" route. (And Terry Gross just had a guest on Fresh Air talking about dementia.)

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    You guys think you're so smart marking the section. I forget half the time and have to go the "try to find how it originally fit" route. (And Terry Gross just had a guest on Fresh Air talking about dementia.)
    Here's the thing: because I'm not clever enough to "try to find how it originally fit" I just stick a bit of tape on the section to remind me.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    What's a section?
    "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: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    You guys think you're so smart marking the section. I forget half the time and have to go the "try to find how it originally fit" route. (And Terry Gross just had a guest on Fresh Air talking about dementia.)
    Likewise. It's a very good practice and I approve of it whole-heatedly but I hardly ever do it.
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    I've done it ever since I forgot to do it when I really needed to remember. Lesson learned.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Thanks so much, pen friends!

    The sac is replaced and the feed and nib are in what is almost certainly the correct position and set a bit deeper. It is loaded with Quink again and I will test it at work.

    My other 20's and 30's pens drip if I am very careless. It only becomes a problem if the pen needs to be very gently babied to avoid drips.

    On a related note:

    Use of 120 grit sandpaper removed the teeth marks and working up to 600 grit eliminated most scratches. It looks much more presentable after using Zona paper 30 through 1 micron. Eventually I will buff it. With a new pressure bar filling should work better now.

    Jon: oh, you.

    Last edited by azkid; May 22nd, 2019 at 10:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    The pen shouldn't be dripping, assuming this is just normal use. They throw blots if they're dropped or abused, but normal use should not produce blotting.

    Once you have the pen apart, if the sac is of unknown age and quality, then replace. You'll do more work opening the pen up compared to cutting and shellacking on a new sac. Sac replacement (once the pen is opened up) is straightforward. It's not a bad job at all for a beginner.

    Nib/feed knock-out and replacement is certainly doable, though care is needed. With a hard rubber section, the nib and feed are often set with heat. Hard rubber can be shaped (and pop itself back) using heat. When you knock out or re-set a nib and feed in a hard rubber section, apply a reasonable amount of heat to soften it up just a bit. You want the nib and feed to conform tightly to the inside of the section. It's perfectly normal for the opening in the section to be a little out-of-round: it's the section conforming to the nib and feed. When you're ready to reassemble, apply a little more heat and re-set the nib and feed in the same position it came out.

    The loose lever is usually a worn or weakened pressure bar. The old pressure bar is removed with slender forceps. A new pressure bar (called "j-bars" by some suppliers today) replaces the old bar and will push tightly against the lever, keeping it from rattling around. The new bar will very likely need to be shaped a bit to match the fit of the old bar (unless you have a new-old stock direct replacement factory bar). This is tougher than just replacing a sac, but it's certainly doable with a new bar and a set of decent forceps.

    Cracks in celluloid are welded using Methyl Ethyl Ketone or Acetone. This is a more advanced job and I don't suggested making this your first try at it.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Great tips, thanks!

    I used the pen most of today and didn't experience any drips or blotting at all. Yay!

    Also the pen now has a new pressure bar that should work much better.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    I've never replaced a pressure bar. Maybe I should have a go in order to see how hard it is? Only problem is I don't currently have any pens that have one....
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    If in doubt, get a cheaper pen that needs a bar and try the repair before you go to work on a better pen. On one cheap pen I fixed awhile back, the bar was nothing but a piece of sheet metal bent into a "J" shape. The better pens usually have somewhat more elaborate (and better fitting) designs. The 1920s-30s Sheaffers with ring-base bars can be difficult to remove compared to simpler bars. Fitting the new bar is more art than science, especially with old celluloid barrels that have changed shape a bit over the years. But if you are good at little craft-type projects where you develop a feel for what works, you should be able to do it.

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray-VIgo View Post
    If in doubt, get a cheaper pen that needs a bar and try the repair before you go to work on a better pen. On one cheap pen I fixed awhile back, the bar was nothing but a piece of sheet metal bent into a "J" shape. The better pens usually have somewhat more elaborate (and better fitting) designs. The 1920s-30s Sheaffers with ring-base bars can be difficult to remove compared to simpler bars. Fitting the new bar is more art than science, especially with old celluloid barrels that have changed shape a bit over the years. But if you are good at little craft-type projects where you develop a feel for what works, you should be able to do it.
    Somehow I managed to cut and get a piece of can inside the internal metal groove part of a Sheaffer clip in order to tighten the clip. A pressure bar sounds like it might be a similar "difficulty rating." Maybe I could do it?
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Help with drippy, early Balance?

    So far it has been relatively easy for me to get pressure bars out. I use a very long set of needle nose pliers to pull the pressure bar steaight out. The hardest has been when I've had to reshape the J part to adjust the size correctly.

    PS: the Balance has been behaving beautifully with Quink. No drips, not writing too wet.

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