Converting a vintage fountain pen to use a rollerball refill?

Discussion in 'The Nib' started by Blue-EyedSon, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. There are some occasions where I find it impractical to use a fountain pen, like when I'm underlining in a book with really poor quality paper, but I don't necessarily want to use a pencil either. In those instances, I really like the Pilot G2 .38 gel pens, but the body of those pens leave something to be desired after I've grown accustomed to writing with nicer fountain pens.

    So, I've started looking around for other pens that would accommodate the Pilot refills. In my search, I stumbled across this site: The prices seem really high and I've had fun repairing fountain pens. So, I thought, why not try to do it myself?

    Has anyone ever tried converting a fountain pen to accommodate a rollerball refill? If so, what's involved? I'd assume that one might just purchase some sort of kit with the hardware and try to fit it to the pen. Anyways, anyone ever tried it? Tips, hints, tricks for doing so?
  2. Rudy Vey

    Rudy Vey Vendor Contributor

    A lot of the pens I make come as either a fountain pen or a rollerball. With just exchanging the nib end, one can make a Fountain pen into a Roller ball and vice versa. I always had a few FP nibs handy when going to shows and could quickly convert a Rollerball into a Fountain pen.
  3. strop

    strop Moderator Emeritus

    Brian, I've never tried it, but you might find one of the kits that would fit and allow conversion. It would be nice to know what kit they chose so you don't have to buy so many to experiment on. I've turned a few pens from kits, but not nearly as many as Rudy, so I wouldn't know which ones might fit.
  4. Just buy a used RB of your choice
    RBs have horrible resale value compared to FPs
    I recently sold a bunch of modern Parkers at around 30-50% of their original price because they're not that popular

    To convert vintage FPs, you gotta remove much of the filler (potentially non reversible) and get a section
  5. Carl's work is top notch. I see him at many pen shows and am amazed at what he can do with vintage pens converting them into roller balls. Maybe if you have a vintage pen you like he could do the conversion for much less, given the fact he doesn't also have to supply the pen.

    Good Luck!
  6. Dave258

    Dave258 Moderator Emeritus

  7. You could always use a Preppy with one of the roller ball converters, that way you can choose your ink. I really like the one that came in the kit with the Bay State Blue, and I think I like it better as a roller ball than a fountain pen. It does not seem to feather much even on cheap paper. The roller ball converters and pens are available at Goulet pens. I believe the Kaweco is available as a roller ball that takes the cartridges or can be used as an eyedropper. I know they are not vintage, but options and will likely rite better than a Pilot G2.
  8. A belated thanks to all for the input. I certainly wouldn't sacrifice a really nice vintage pen for the project, but sometimes spare parts accumulate and I thought I might try. Anyways, thanks again, for the input.
  9. luvmysuper

    luvmysuper Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Ok, since you have the info you sought, how about switching it up and finding out what is necessary to convert a ball point into a fountain pen?
  10. I like the cut of your jib

    can't remember where I first heard that line, but I have always liked it.
  11. Here are a few I did

  12. Why would anyone want to make a ball point out of a fountain pen. To me, that would be an exorcise in futility. I do use a ball point on occasion. But that is a last resort. Why would anyone want to make one. I may be old fashioned, but to me, there is no reason to consider a bic. If you're going to save an old fountain pen, at least make it a roller ball.

    Appleman's pens do look nice. But at least making them in a roller ball format would be even better.

    PS: I have a friend that makes his own pens that use Parker type refills. There is a roller ball replacement for that pen that works great.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  13. Very interesting! How did you go about retrofitting them? And are they ballpoints or rollerball refills?
  14. These are all rollerball. I think a couple I used the Pilot G2 and the rest are the Parker style rollerball refills. I ended up making new sections for most of them so that they would take the refill.

  15. Well it all started out with a box of broken Parker 51 desk pen body's. So the first thing I had to do was repair the the end that was broken so I installed the orange on the end and shaped it and then I made up a new section to match the end. The cap came from a Here 616 that had broken so I used it for this pen. The other ones were for a customer who can no longer use a fountain pen because of nerve damage in his hand but still wanted a nice pen. He had these bodys left over from his pen repair days and it was what the customer wanted so I provided it for him. I still felt that I was giving an old pen a new life even if it was in a different form.

    This parker started life as a desk pen with a broken tail as well but I kept it as a fountain pen. It was also my first repair of a Parker 51

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2012
  16. Nice recycling job.
  17. Thank you

    I love taking old objects and making them all new again.

  18. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    I shudder each and everytime I seen vintage pens chopped up this way. Deplorable.
  19. They can all be converted back.

    No chopping here.

    I think these pens were from the antique dealer who only looks at the gold content of pens and the rest is garbage.

    So in one way I have given them a new life.

  20. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    I have taken old pen parts and made the FP breathe again. IMO turning a FP into something else is just plain wrong. If you want a rollerball, or BP buy or make one, not from a FP.

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