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Thread: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retractable)

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    Default Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retractable)

    I've recently fallen down the rabbit hole of Sheaffer pens. The Triumph style nibs (Early lifetime ones and later style) just draw me in.

    I'm also a nerd. As such, I like knowing how things work. A great way to understand how things work is to look up the patents filed by the inventors.

    While looking for the patents for Touchdown and Snorkel filling systems
    (Touchdown:https://patents.google.com/patent/US2610612)
    (Snorkel as near as I could find:https://patents.google.com/patent/US2799247A)
    Bonus:
    (Triumph Vac Fill:https://patents.google.com/patent/US2474996A)

    I found some other fascinating things that AFAIK were never put into production but would have likely changed things Vis-a-vis Parker if they had:

    Secondary Ink Chamber and Shutoff Valve:
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US2914028A/

    Retractable Nib / Capless fountain pen
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US3073286A/
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US2949887A/

    Extreme ways of dealing with over pressure
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US2101304

    And last but certainly NOT least CAPILLARY Filling Snorkel!
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US2784699A

    Snorkel with a Capillary reservoir but quick filling
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US2949888A/

    To the best of my (admittedly limited) knowledge, none of these things were put into production

    It's fun to imagine how a capillary filling snorkel would have done against a Parker 61...

    I hope this was entertaining and you learned something!

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    It strikes me that the snorkel and capillary filling systems were aimed at each other.

    Parker and Sheaffer were the biggest pen companies in the world, and they competed through the '30's, '40's, and '50's. Parker had the hooded nib in the P-51, and Scheaffer introduced the Triumph nib to compete. According to Richard Binder, Sheaffer paid to have a license to build hooded pens.

    Both companies competed to have the cleanest filling system. By the late '40's both knew they would have to compete with the ballpoint, and the chief selling point of the ballpoint was that it did not need liquid ink. It was not messy.

    Sheaffer introduced the Snorkel, and Parker introduced the capillary P-61. Sheaffer's advertising slogan was "takes the dunk out of filling", which we can see in the packages for mid-50's Skrip. Parker had a pen "like no pen in this, or any other, world".

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    The snorkel came out in 1952. The 61 in 1956.

    The capillary fill snorkel patent was filed in 1952. But they never followed through with it. Maybe because of how slow it is to fill? The quick fill capillary snorkel patent is from 1955. But again they didnít follow through. I suspect due to cost / complication maybe?

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Imagine if Parker had succeeded in acquiring the patent for the Omas 361 and equipped the Parker 61 with that.

    Parker and Omas: https://penstylo.blogspot.com/p/history-of-omas.html
    Omas 361 patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US2565667

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Thatís neat. But wasnít flex pretty much over by then? I was under the impression that flex had gone by the wayside in the 20s with the need for carbon copies hence the manifold nib and the Duofold getting its name from that?

    But a flex 61 would be neat! I have a 51 stub (about .9mm) with some flex. Itís the weirdest 51 nib Iíve ever heard of.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Quote Originally Posted by INeedAFinancialAdvisor View Post
    Thatís neat. But wasnít flex pretty much over by then? I was under the impression that flex had gone by the wayside in the 20s with the need for carbon copies hence the manifold nib and the Duofold getting its name from that?

    But a flex 61 would be neat! I have a 51 stub (about .9mm) with some flex. Itís the weirdest 51 nib Iíve ever heard of.
    Sounds like a really interesting nib!

    I don't think flex went away entirely ó e.g. steno nibs for Pitman shorthand and Esterbrook nib units with some flex (9128, etc.) were around in the 60s. There were soft (French) Waterman nibs in the 70s.

    Here's the 1965 Omas catalogue, featuring the 361. The rigida side of a 361 nib is as firm as any hooded nib while the flessibile side has more bounce and expressiveness. Arguably the best of both worlds. Parker must have thought that was worth something. Of course, had Parker acquired the 361 patents maybe we wouldn't have got the 180.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Thanks for the link

    It is an interesting nib. not 100% sure how I feel about it. I like it, but it's not my favourite.

    here are some pics from a while back
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Quote Originally Posted by INeedAFinancialAdvisor View Post
    Thanks for the link

    It is an interesting nib. not 100% sure how I feel about it. I like it, but it's not my favourite.

    here are some pics from a while back
    Very interesting nib. Thanks.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta



    it IS weird.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Quote Originally Posted by INeedAFinancialAdvisor View Post
    The snorkel came out in 1952. The 61 in 1956.

    The capillary fill snorkel patent was filed in 1952. But they never followed through with it. Maybe because of how slow it is to fill? The quick fill capillary snorkel patent is from 1955. But again they didnít follow through. I suspect due to cost / complication maybe?
    Parker and Sheaffer were throwing filling systems and nib styles at each other. Parker scored an industry triumph with the P-51, although everything quickly turned to focus on the war. There is, somewhere on YouTube, a long advertisement from Sheaffer explaining that all products will be available to dealers once we have won the war. In it, Sheaffer engineers explain the Triumph nib, clearly an answer to the 51's hood/collector/feed/nib.

    Both companies competed for the cleanest possible filling system. The appeal of the ballpoint, by the early 1950's, was that you could change the refill without the mess of a liquid-ink fountain pen. Sheaffer threw the Snorkel at the market as better than the aerometric. Parker needed something better than the Snorkel, and released the capillary 61 after much work on design and testing. The capillary is a great system; I think the Snorkel is a bit fiddly-diddly, with too many parts for the user.

    (Parker's cartridge/converter in the P-45 looks like the last design innovation in the fountain pen industry. It is simpler to the user than Sheaffer's snorkel system, and more reliable, for the ordinary user, than the P-61 capillary.)

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Aha! Here is the Sheaffer film from 1943, uploaded by AAAndrew himself. He is the master historian of steel pens. (See https://thesteelpen.com/author/anfaith/).

    A Sheaffer salesman, discouraged, returns to HQ in Fort Madison to ask for answers to questions his dealers are throwing at him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8BiarUbUJE

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    i love this video.

    corporate propaganda at its best!

    it's like watching a 1940s version of an Apple Keynote event
    Last edited by INeedAFinancialAdvisor; May 27th, 2020 at 12:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Yes, it is. It also shows something of the fountain pen industry during the "Golden Age" of fountain pens, and their matching pencils. I love the scenes in the factory, men and women making the Triumph nib. Clearly aimed at Parker, as is the boosting of Skrip: "some inks" are said to be quick drying, but Skrip is balanced. Eversharp and Waterman, the other two of the Big Four US pen makers, were not doing much engineering and design work, except for Eversharp's external design. Sheaffer and Parker cared about how a pen behaved, and not only whether it looked like a streamlined locomotive.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    (Incidentally, Parker engineering had been working up the capillary filler for a long time. The snorkel was a simple upgrade to the touchdown system, or downgrade, considering how rube-goldbergish the snorkel is for a user. The capillary was an entirely new thought. Maybe the last innovation in fountain pens, considering that Parker's original converters were metal guards around a rubber sac...same principal that fountain pens had used since Lewis Waterman -- assuming the legend is true -- invented the sac-filler.)

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    I have one capillary filler pen, a 61 i got a couple weeks ago, and it has the dreaded "won't fill" problem that seems to have no real solution, at least based on my search results. The only thing left to try is leaving it soaking over night to see if that works. But right now the pen has been flushed and dried again and is out of rotation for a bit.

    WRT the converter, agreed, a sac converter is very much like an aerometric 51, but removable and lacking the aerometric breather tube so there were some trade offs. Not a whole lot of innovating going on there...

    Personally, I don't get all the hate for the Snorkel.
    Is it over engineered and solving the ultimate first world problem? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY.
    That said, I have bought and worked on 5 now, and only three required resacking / new seals, of which i have done two, the third is a lost cause. And the 5 pens have been turned into 4 working pens.
    I consolidated all the bad parts into one pen. (Bad section(if only they had used lucite...), bad barrel (if only they had used lucite...), bad sack guard (rust from failed sack), and bad snorkel (plugged and now won't feed ink out)) Overall, that's not a terrible success rate. 2 of them are still on the sacs they had when i got them, all they required was a good cleaning and some silicone grease! And watching them fill from a sample vial with .7ml of ink in it or so and just emptying the tube is really fun
    Will it ever be as reliable as a "51" Aero?
    NO or course not, too many possible points of failure, but neither will an Esterbrook J, and yet we all (mostly) still think they're cool!

    I know a guy (admittedly, a Sheaffer guy) who daily carries either a snorkel or a touchdown, and with the nibs i've gotten on my 5? I can see why

    I'm not entirely sure there is much LEFT to innovate in the fountain pen world. At this point it's probably more evolution and iteration than revolution.
    But that doesn't mean i don't want companies to try! Wing Sung's upgraded Vacumatic using a piston for the 601s is a perfect example of taking something good, and making it even better!

    I guess i'm just a sucker for a cool filling system
    Last edited by INeedAFinancialAdvisor; June 1st, 2020 at 12:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    INeed: For the capillary P-61, I had good luck just letting my two 61's rest capillary-tube-down in water over night. Try a couple of days. If you see the water turning ink-colored, you are getting somewhere. Do the same by soaking nib-down. After there is inky water, or darkly inked water, try the impatient version of the vacuum bulb or salad-spinner. I just blow ink from the tube out the nib and feed.

    After that, ink it up.

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    Default Re: Sheaffer Patents and what might have been (Capillary Filling and Capless Retracta

    Quote Originally Posted by welch View Post
    INeed: For the capillary P-61, I had good luck just letting my two 61's rest capillary-tube-down in water over night. Try a couple of days. If you see the water turning ink-colored, you are getting somewhere. Do the same by soaking nib-down. After there is inky water, or darkly inked water, try the impatient version of the vacuum bulb or salad-spinner. I just blow ink from the tube out the nib and feed.

    After that, ink it up.
    being impatient, when it first arrived i flushed and flushed and flushed for a day or two with the bulb syringe on the back, until finally, it was completely clear. But now, it wont TAKE UP ink. My google-fu has found a few people who have had this problem, and the only solutions seem to be a) let it sit in the ink over night or b) sorry bout your luck. Ive managed to get it to take up a LITTLE ink, by putting it nib down in the ink, but this of course is not ideal and quickly runs out of ink as it is likely only filling the collector and not the capillary cell

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