On Monday I shared a pic of a piston filler suffering a little seepage where it should not, and given the resulting flood of interest...
Er, yes. Anyway, I thought I'd give the interweb the benefit of my experience in the fixing of Indian-made "Serwex" brand piston fillers. The interweb doesn't want it? Too bad. It's a saga, I warn you.
So I fairly recently took delivery from India of a "new" model of pen from the Fountain Pen Revolution line of pens - the "Guru". In truth it's a slightly tweaked Serwex 162, but with a clear demonstrator model available I was an easy mark for it. FPR make Indian brands of fountain pen available outside the domestic market, and commission models of their own, and this is the latest (and cheapest) entry. They're big draw is a modern, affordable flex nib, which is really not half bad for the coinage. Add in the fact that they set up the nib for you and the darn thing flows beautifully even at full flex, and it's a steal quite honestly. So anyway, I order one clear flex Guru and about a week later it drops on the doormat. And it writes like an angel. Happy days.
About two or three weeks later, I take the thing apart to clean it thoroughly (a drawback to clear demonstrators is, of course, they can look cruddy pretty quickly if you don't stay on top of the pen hygiene), and find to my unhappiness that the piston seal has split in two. No seal, no suck. No suck, no ink. No ink, no write. Well, darn.
Well, double darn. The piston seal on that had split as well!
Okay, maybe this is not such a good buy...
But undeterred, I look speculatively at the piston and think "Self, might not an O-ring or two go on there and maybe, just maybe, work?" Well, I'm a fairly recent convert to the all-round usefulness of O-rings, but it seemed Self might be onto something. And so it proved. A couple of O-rings a piece later and I have a functioning pair of piston fillers again. Huzzah.
But I was worried. I'd found no anecdotal evidence on the face of the interweb that the Sewex piston seals were prone to this. Was it something I was doing wrong? Was I... a fountain pen killer?! So, just to be on the safe side, I emailed Kevin at FPR to check. His verdict? He's seen it a couple of times but I'm incredibly unlucky to have two in two.
Oh, that figures.
Anyway, he reassured me that I'm not a pen killer and kindly sent a replacement Guru, even though, as I said, I'd fixed it. Which is pretty decent service when it's got to come all the way from the sub-continent and even in the low-ticket world of Indian pens it's right down in the bargain basement section. But a week or so later, it dropped on the doormat. With another flex nib (which wasn't strictly necessary). So that was cool.
Except, er, you know that "incredibly unlucky" thing? Um... the barrel of the replacement had a crack along its length. Well, darn again. Okay, that's fine; really it's only the piston I need anyway and everything else is just icing. But, well, you can't just leave a pen to die like that, can you? I can rebuild it; I have the technology.
And then I became a fountain pen killer.
That darn thing would not shift. I resorted to dunking it in hot water for a while to make it more pliable and then attempted to twist it off.
And twisted off the entire end of the piston.
Well, darnation with a cherry on top. What a muppet. I was, and am, mortified.
Pausing only for an hour or so to berate myself for being a heavy-handed fool, I looked at what I had left. A piston shaft, but instead of a stop on the end, a gap about two O-rings wide, and then another stop, I had a shortened piston shaft with a stop on the end and nothing to keep any O-rings in place.
Am I going to let this thing die now? Like heck I am; I'm invested in its continued good health and working ability. We'd been through solvent welding together, dammit. All I needed was a new stop to put the O-rings between. So, not for the first time, I dug out the bag of parts salvaged from my old VHS tapes, and selected one of the plastic guide spindles. Turns out a Japanese saw does a good job of splitting these things in two, and with a liberal application of a two part epoxy, I have... a bodge.
The reassembled pens, and honestly, it's a lot better than I deserve. Of course you wouldn't do such a bodge on a Pelikan or the like, but with the normal appearance of these pens prizing function over aesthetics anyway, I think I got away with it okay in this case.