||[Apr. 19th, 2006|02:38 pm]
In comparing filling systems – or just about anything else – in pens, there's no objective best and worst. Much depends on personal preference. Like everyone else, I think my choices are considered and rational. Like everyone else, I'm probably wrong, but on a one to whatever scale, my choice would be:|
1.Plunger fillers of the Onoto, Sheaffer or Wahl type.
3.Sac systems except the Sheaffer Touchdown.
4.Screw piston fillers.
8.The cartridge filler.
Have I missed any? Probably, but here's the rationale anyway. The plunger filler is technically elegant, most of the space is devoted to holding ink and it's a relatively robust solution. Eyedroppers are just so beautifully simple; they just work. Admittedly, as the level of the ink in the barrel drops, increasing air pressure can quite suddenly make the pen flow too freely but that's not a major drawback. Sac fillers hold variable amounts, of course, and are not especially robust – sacs perish and pressure bars and other parts tend to fail – but they're generally easily and cheaply repaired. I make an exception of the Touchdown filler because it appears unnecessarily complicated and fragile to no particular benefit; my apologies to Touchdown aficionados. Screw piston fillers are pretty good but many of them utilise surprisingly little of the barrel for ink. The Aerometric-type filler is sort of okay, but removing the barrel to access the filling system is getting a smidgen technically inept. Syringe and bulb fillers are a step further down that path; a stage more brain-damaged, and they both have a tendency to suddenly flood because of their inherent failings. I reserve my especial contempt for the cartridge filler. It's a cop-out, a dreadful descent from the ingenuity of earlier days. The pens exist to sell the cartridges.
Going back to the apex of my list, plunger fillers have one distinct problem; through either constant use or neglect, the seals will inevitably fail. If it's a Sheaffer, the repair is a little challenging. You're into power tools and solvents. Onotos, on the other hand, are quite easily repaired without special tools. The Onoto has another advantage: a cut-off valve which not only switches off the ink but allows you to regulate the ink-flow. That said, once competently repaired, either is good for a decade or two. Purely on the basis of the technology I favour the Onoto, but both are great pens. Much as I love my flexy-nibbed Onotos, my little Sheaffer Triumph 1250 rarely gets a rest.