31 December 2010

ED (I)

Once dip pens became obsolete with the invention of reliable feeders to control the ink flow the problem to store the ink in the pen became evident. A primary option to become the ink deposit is, naturally, the pen body. And that is the essence of an eyedropper (ED) pen: a hollow body connected somehow with the feed and therefore with the nib. To fill the deposit, simply detach the barrel from the section and put some ink inside the former with the help of an eyedropper or, nowadays, a syringe.

Three Swan pen. The first one is a lever filler Mabie Todd made in the US; the second, a British eyedropper; the third, a Japanese eyedropper with safety valve.

Such was the filling mechanism –by the way, is that a self-filling system?— in most pens by the end of the nineteen century. Further technical evolution changed the filling procedures into either piston systems or sac-based devices. However, eyedropper pens have survived all these years, especially in Japan.

A Japanese jumbo pen with Nakaya nib. An eyedropper with safety valve. Some more modern jumbo eyedroppers can be seen on the chronicle entitled Ink Tankers.

On top of that, lately there seems to be a revival of eyedroppers. A common complaint among pen users is the small capacity of cartridge and converters –the system of choice in modern pens—, and of many self-filling systems. As a result, many of us turned our eyes to eyedroppers, new and old. And to possible conversions of cartridge/converter pens into the old unsophisticated system.

Little is needed for such transformation: A barrel without holes, a good fitting thread between barrel and section (more on this, later), and the absence of metallic parts in direct contact with the ink other than the inevitable nib. This last point, that some consider of little relevance, is demanded by those afraid of the possible corrosion the ink might generate on those metals.

Elastic gaskets (synthetic rubber and silicone o-rings) and water-insoluble grease (petroleum jelly, for instance) come in handy to seal the threads closing the barrel against the section, thus avoiding embarrassing problems.

A plastic Kaweco Sport. It has no metal parts inside the barrel. There is a demonstrator version particularly well-suited to become an eyedropper.

There are a number of pens on the market apt for this conversion. The lack of metal parts is often associated to inexpensive writing tools, and, therefore, not much is lost in case the conversion went terribly wrong.

A Platinum Preppy. With the help of an o-ring, this pen was transformed successfully into an eyedropper.

A Pilot Calligraphy (Plumix in other markets). Another pen suitable for transformation into an eyedropper.

Pilot’s Petit-1, Plumix/Calligraphy, Vortex, and even Parallel Pens; Platinum’s Riviere and Preppy: Kaweco’s plastic Sport model; Daiso’s mini model; are all suitable candidates for this experiment.

The benefits? An enormous ink reservoir. And a fun time.

(Waterman CF – Sailor Red Brown)

Bruno Taut
(In exile, December 30th, 2010)
[labels: soluciones técnicas, Japón]


Anonymous said...

can you please tell me what size 0-rings you use to convert each pen: Kaweco Sport, Pilot Petit and Pilot Plumix? Do you use 2 o-rings or just one? can you take a photograph to show where the o-rings go? and do you need a smaller o-ring for the inside threads?

help much appreciated!

Bruno Taut said...

I have only made these transformations on two pens: on a Platinum Preppy and on a Kaweco Sport demonstrator.

For the first one of those, I used an o-ring with an outer diameter of about 10.0 mm and a section of 0.8 mm in diameter. Only one of these.

For the Kaweco Sport, there is a more complete review on the following chronicle: http://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2011/06/kaweco-sport-eyedropper.html

As you can see I did not use any gasket or grease to seal it. The thread is tight enough.

Actually, I think that is the case in most pens--no need of any gasket, just screw barrel and section firmly. If you inspect eyedropper pens from 1910s and 1920s, they did not use any gasket, although I admit their threads used to be really thin.

If afraid of leaks, though, I would now use some petroleum jelly.

Hope this helps. thanks for your comment.


Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome and appreciated.