Fixing Fil


Even newer pens can quickly need some tender loving care. Recently some simple repair work came up on a pen that shouldn’t have needed it. It was purchased used but promised to be in working condition which, as you can guess, was not an accurate description. Still, I’m happy I did get to do this work since it’s an interesting pen with a bit of a story.

Several years ago Richard Binder, well known for his specialty nib work, and Filcao, a little known Italian pen manufacturer, collaborated on a design. Called “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” it is styled in the mold of a vintage writing instrument.  CTGOTO (I love acronyms) has solid, square shouldered good looks and a moderately large size which makes it comfortable to use. The luxury of a sterling silver cap band is a contrast to the humble steel Schmidt nib. But it is not a simple nib since Mr. Binder has in this case tweaked it to be a cursive italic. Orange flecked blue acrylic used for the barrel and cap is the finishing touch to this attractive ensemble.

Worth noting here is something not seen too often on modern pens: a button filler. With the original Duofold Parker put this filling method on the map as a way around patents like Sheaffer’s for the lever filler. It is novel, quaint, and best of all works easily in the following manner: A button under the blind cap at the end of the barrel is pushed down to start the process. This button rests on one end of a spring steel pressure bar and the other side is anchored in the niche between the sac nipple and the inside wall of the barrel. This unit will flex with the downward pressure compressing the sac that it sits next to. When the button is release the sac inflates which draws the ink into it.

When this pen came to me I was surprised to find that the rubber sac had hardened and broke. Usually you wouldn’t think that could happen on a pen this new, but it did. My guess is that the sac may have been old stock and had aged even before it was used. Either way, it was an inky mess inside when disassembled. To fix it all that was needed was a scrubbing and a new sac. A silicone sac was used since I like the fact they don’t degrade like rubber ones over time. Below are a few pictures of the process.


Filcao dissasembled for repair. (Click for larger image with parts labeled)

This is the pen taken apart for the repair. Not really very many parts for this filling system.


Button filler.

The pressure bar sits next to the sac like shown here. The button at the end forces it to flex.

Filcao pressure bar being inserted.

Filcao pressure bar being inserted.

After section with sac screws into the barrel you insert the pressure bar from the other end until I seats near the section.

Filcao button end.

You can see the end of the bar peeking out. Next the button and retaining washer is screwed onto the end.

Button fill assembled.

Button fill assembled.

Here is the barrel all done.

Filcao writing sample