Disassemble a Short Pilot Elite

When I first got a short Pilot fountain pen, I wanted to take it apart to clean and adjust it.  I took the body off, removed the cartridge and then had no idea how to take it apart.  I searched the internet but couldn’t find any really good articles on how to disassemble these pocket pens. I played with it for a while and figured it out.  There are two types of Pilot short pens.  This is the older “fingernail nib” type.  (I have written an article about the “hooded type” also.)  This is the pen I will use to show you all the parts and how to take it apart:

18K Pilot Elite

18K Pilot Elite

All the parts removed

All the parts removed

As you can see from the picture above, there are 8 major parts to a Pilot Elite pocket pen.

①  The body

②  The cap

③  The threaded adaptor to attach the section and body

④  The trim ring

⑤  The part that holds a cartridge on one side and holds the feed in the body

⑥  The feed unit

⑦  The section

⑧  The nib

18K H670 Script Nib

18K H670 Script Nib

This pen is equipped with a Pilot Script nib.  What is a Script nib?  There is an article on ebay about all the different nibs Pilot used to make but it is basically for writing in cursive.  It was made for someone who needed to write a lot..

Nib Alignment

Nib Alignment

I adjust and align the nib with a loupe.  Most of the time they do not need much adjustment.

Section

Section

The sections on these old Pilot pens are very strange.  When I first disassembled one I didn’t know what I was looking at.  It looks like a piece of sponge.  I think Pilot’s idea was to keep the nib wet and supplied with ink.  A sponge will absorb liquid so this seems like a good idea.  However, after a long period of time the sponge gets filled up with old dried out ink.  I tried to clean one out completely but it was very delicate and started to fall apart.  Since then, I do not really spend much time cleaning it.  As you will see in the writing sample it does not have much of an effect on the pen even with a light colored ink.

Feed Unit

Feed Unit

The feed unit is made of three parts.  There is a small rubber seal, the feed and a breather tube that runs through the feed.  I have never needed to remove or adjust the breather tube so I would not touch that.  The seal can be delicate on older pens.  I have seen a few that were cut, torn or misshapen.  That causes ink to leak back into the section.  Most of the time it does not cause a huge problem but you still want to avoid damaging it.  I tried using silicone grease on it when putting a pen back together but I dont know if that was necessary.  Unless it looks fragile I usually just reassemble the pen as is.

Feed Retainer / Cartridge Nipple

Feed Retainer / Cartridge Nipple

This is the tricky part!  It is the secret to taking the pen apart. This part threads into the body.  It holds the feed unit into place.  It needs to be screwed in fairly tightly.  The top of this part is where a cartridge will attach.

If this part is not screwed in tightly you can remove it with just a cartridge.  That will also mean that it can get loose and the ink could leak inside the pen.  If this part is screwed in too tight then you can crack the section.

To remove this you need a special tool.  It is basically a hollow tube with some material removed from the sides to create two fingers.  It is pretty hard to buy this tool.  I made one by myself.  I will post some pictures later but I want to make a new one first.  Mine is てきとう (teki tow) which can translate to “whatever works.”

*WARNING!  If your tool is not perfect you will more than likely damage this part.  It is made of plastic and can be rounded off and stripped.  Do not even attempt to make a tool unless you are ok destroying your pen!

Body - Section Adaptor

Body – Section Adaptor

This part holds the main parts of the pen together.  The threads on both sides are different so you should pay attention when taking it apart.  On this pen it is very obvious (to me) which side is which.  The body side has a lip that is not threaded for a few millimeters.  The section side is threaded all the way to the end.  Not all of them are like that but most are.  Be careful to not put this in backwards.  You will crack the section if you force this in the wrong way.

Body

Body

Cap

Cap

Clip

Clip

The body is very small and the cap is very long.  That is the design that makes this pen short.  The clip has a spring inside the cap.  You can pull on the clip from the bottom and it will will spring back into place.  The tension is usually good.  Some I have seen were a bit tight but most of them are perfect.

 

How to disassemble this pen

Before you take the pen apart you may want to take a few pictures of the trim and nib alignment to ensure more accurate reassembly.  Also make sure the that nib looks like the one in the picture.  The shape and style should be identical.  Other Pilot nibs can not be removed from the front of the pen!

  1. Remove the cap
  2. Remove the body
  3. Remove the cartridge or convertor
  4. With a special tool, unscrew the part that holds the feed in place
  5. This is another tricky part.  My technique is the put the pen in an ultrasonic cleaner with “dish soapy” water.  After that I rinse the water off and dry the outside of the pen.  On almost every pen I have work on the nib could be carefully pulled out of the front of the pen.  Do not grab the nib will metal pliers.  This will damage it!  I usually use a small piece of rubber, like an old bicycle tube, and put it on top of the nib.  I focus on the space between the small D cutout and the word “Script”.  I wiggle and pull the nib out slowly from there.  When the nib is out move on.
  6. Next is the feed unit.  This one is also very difficult to remove without damage.  If you had cleaned the nib in soapy water then it may be loose.  I use something soft to try and push on the feed.  Usually my finger nail.  If I need something a little longer, I have plastic tweezers  or bamboo tweezers that I use.  Once the feed is unseated it should push out easily.  Be careful not to force it.  You will damage the seal!
  7. Thats it!  Clean and reassemble.

How to reassemble this pen

1.  The feed unit must be aligned properly.  The large channel should be up.  It should not take a lot of force to put the feed back into place.  I use the back side of my tool to align and push the feed back into place.  DO NOT push the feed all the way in yet!

Feed Alignment

Feed Alignment

2.  When the feed is aligned and pushed in very gently you can put the nib in from the front.  There should be a gap between the “D” cutout and the section.  On the underside on the section you should see a little but of the nib on the edges.  The picture below shows what I consider to be good alignment.

Nib - Section Alignment

Nib – Section Alignment

3.  Next you need to screw in the cartridge nipple.  This should be tight but not too tight.  I usually use an empty cartridge to test.  Once I think it is as tight as it should be, I try to unscrew it with a cartridge.  If  I can unscrew it then it was not tight enough.  DO NOT use shellac or thread lock because it will be almost impossible to remove safely in the future.  I would not use silicone grease either because it may loosen on its own resulting in a leak.

Trim Alignment

Trim Alignment

4.  Align the trim and thread it into the section firmly.  Again, be carefully to not thread it in too tight.  You can crack the section.

I have put a tiny bit of silicone grease on the body side threads.  This worked really well for me but some people may think that make the body too loose or too easy to remove.

Ink it up and write!  You should be done.

Finished! Testing...

Finished! Testing…

Conclusion

As you saw there are quite a few mistakes that can be made in the disassembly and reassembly of this pen.  I would recommend NOT taking it apart unless there is damage that can only be repaired by disassembly.  I have seen quite a few broken pens and since spare parts are hard to come by you have to wait to find other broken pens so you can repair yours.

Also, This technique is almost the same to disassemble a Myu. The Myu does not need it’s nib removed but the feed screw uses the same tool and the feed pushes out.  Again, I would not recommend it!

Update:  If your nib looks different to this type of pen then you may have a “hooded type”.  Check this article for some more info.

Bonus: Flushing for storage

When I have finished using a pen, I clean it out for storage.  I usually use an old cartridge with the bottom of the cartridge cut off.  I bought a bulb syringe from the automotive section of a local store.  It was more expensive than an ordinary bulb syringe but it works much better.  With no modification I have been able to clean Pilot, Platinum. Sailor and Parker cartridge pens using the same syringe and an old cut cartridge.

Cleaning Cartridge

Cleaning Cartridge

Automotive Bulb Syringe

Automotive Bulb Syringe

Pilot Flushing Tool

Pilot Flushing Tool

I hope this was interesting and useful.  If you have any questions please leave a comment!

King-Yo!

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