Picture tutorial: How to "tune" a Hero 616 fountain pen

Discussion in 'The Nib' started by orchestrion, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. Greetings! I've put this little tutorial together in an effort to help some of you better understand both the inner workings and the nuances of maintaining and using a Hero 616 fountain pen. With just a little bit of work, these pens can really shine. Let's get started!



    The Hero 616 is a Chinese clone of the iconic Parker 51 fountain pen. While not nearly as superb as a Parker, the Hero 616 is a very affordable alternative. I highly recommend them to beginners as they are fairly easy to use and maintain and will not break the bank in the event that one decides fountain pens are not for him/her (which, might I add, seems highly unlikely)!


    When you unscrew the barrel of the pen, you will find that the filling mechanism is fairly similar to the aerometric filling system of the Parker 51. It has a clear ink sac and a metal bar. Upon pressing down on the bar, the ink sac compresses. To fill the pen, insert the tip of the pen into a bottle of ink and press down on the bar a few times. This will force ink into the sac.


    Unfortunately, however, I have found the Hero 616 pressure bars to be more or less useless. The best way to deal with this is to simply remove the metal tube that covers the ink sac and fill it like a pseudo-bulb filler. This picture illustrates it a bit more clearly.


    Now that we've covered the basics, let's ink her up!


    Straight from the box, the Hero 616 writes perfectly well! The nib is smooth and lays down a fine/medium line. Let's take a look! I had to take my hand off of the pen to get a clear picture of it being inked.



    See what I mean? Not everything is as it appears, however...


    Upon closer inspection, there are a few minor flaws with the pen. Firstly, the nib, section and hood (that's the plastic tip of the pen) are not perfectly lined up. While this probably wouldn't bother a normal person, it sets me on edge.


    Again, this is purely aesthetic and does not affect the writing in the slightest. What I'm about to show you next might be a cause for concern: the pen has a tendency to leak ink when shaken in a downward direction. In this picture, you'll see that just a few shakes yielded an alarming number of ink drops. Not lookin' so good after all!


    Fear not, my friends, for we can fix both of these problems in just a few easy steps!


    The first step is to flush the ink out of the pen. I would have taken a picture of this, but my hands were covered in ink/water/silicone grease throughout the process and I didn't want to risk ruining my camera. I'll do my best to describe the process, so I apologize if it's a bit unclear. This is what you do...

    Squeeze the ink sac. A lot.

    That's all you have to do. I fill my sink up with cold water and get to squeezing. It might take a frustratingly long amount of time, but you will be rewarded with a clean pen that continues to write well.

    After the pen is flushed, I soak it in the hottest water that comes out of the tap. This is to soften the low-quality sealant that is applied to the section threads of the pen. After a few minutes of sitting in the hot water, the top section should unscrew from the rest of the body quite easily. Here is what you will have.


    Not in any particular order:

    The barrel
    The section (hooded part)
    The cap
    The ink sac
    The breather tube
    The feed (little black thing)
    The nib
    The plastic part that holds the feed and nib

    Once everything it nice and dry, you can begin to reassemble the pen. I did my best to break it down, since putting everything together can get a bit confusing (especially if you weren't thinking about how you took it apart).

    Since the breather tube attaches to the feed, I put those two together first.


    From there I slide the nib over the feed and adjust it so it lines up with the feed.


    After that, I screw the barrel back on. Now we're ready for the silicone grease. I get a little bit of it on my pinky finger. A little dab will do you.


    Then I get the section threads lined up with the grease and spin it around to ensure even coverage. NOTE: I do not usually hold my pen in a weird crab claw arrangement--I needed a couple of fingers to steady my camera.


    Now comes the fun of lining the section up with the nib/feed combo. This will probably take you quite a few tries. It is imperative that you keep hope alive during this process. You may feel like giving up, but I urge you...stay strong.


    If you're still alive at this point, you'll soon be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Once everything is lined up and screwed on, I always give the barrel and cap a quick buff with an old tee shirt to brighten everything up. Now you have a shiny pen that writes like it cost exponentially more than it really did.


    Now you are fully prepared to trick people who don't know or care what a Parker 51 is into thinking you have a real Parker 51! Joke's on them when they learn the truth.
  2. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    What a fantastic tutorial... A word of caution tho..... DO NOT try this with a real "51" The hood is put on with a good sealant and it takes a low flame or heat to break the bond... If you have never done this before I guarantee you will wind up with a broken hood !!!!...

    Another suggestion...all silicon grease is not the same....the Home Depot stuff and plumbers silicon grease are not the best to use. I got a bunch from Brian Gray at Edison pen and use it as well to seal the threads when using a pen as a eyedropper...although the white silicon grease from Dive shops works well as well.
  3. Truly awesome, I have a 10-pack of these coming so this is very helpful! :thumbup1:
  4. Two solid pieces of advice! The silicone grease I used was from Goulet Pens.
  5. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor


    And your spoiler makes a great custom title, too. :wink2:

    Of the ultra-cheap Chinese pens, which are the ones to consider/avoid? Hero makes a 329, 330, 616, and M616 that all appear similar.
  6. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    Oh Mr. Mod.... can we get this stickied !!!!!!
  7. Oh boy!

    The only Chinese pen I have a lot of experience with is the 616. I've heard pretty good things about the Jinhao line.
  8. bbarton713

    bbarton713 Contributor

    Thanks for that tutorial, Matt. I don't have a Hero, yet, but when I do I'll know where to look for advice!
  9. Hi Matt,

    I've not used or seen a Hero since the 70s where I grew up (Singapore)! Would you please recommend a good online source? My son and I are using a Platinum Carbon Desk and a Pilot Penmanship but I'd like to try an old favorite. Many thanks!
  10. I usually buy mine in ten packs from eBay sellers in China, but shipping usually takes quite a while. I can hook you up, though--PM sent.
  11. mdunn

    mdunn Moderator Emeritus

    I bought some of these, and have the same dropping ink problem... Ill be all ober this!
  12. Dave258

    Dave258 Moderator Emeritus

    Fantastic write up, thanks for doing it! Great pictures and explanations, makes me want to buy a 10 pack of Heros!

    Thanks for pointing out not to use hot water on a 51! As I was reading it, I was thinking "That's all I need is hot water..." Guess I am not going to take apart my problem-some 51 tonight.
  13. joshmpdx

    joshmpdx Moderator Emeritus

    Matt, I'm in awww, thank you!

    What in the world does the silicon grease do?
  14. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    It's used as a sealant on the threads to keep the ink from leaking by
  15. joshmpdx

    joshmpdx Moderator Emeritus


    does adding the silicon make it difficult to clean and re-ink?
  16. Not in my experience! If the grease gets inky, it's very easy to simply wipe away and re-apply.
  17. joshmpdx

    joshmpdx Moderator Emeritus

    Thanks Matt
  18. Thanks again, Matt! PM sent.
  19. I might have to put an order in on Hero's and give this a shot. Great tutorial!

    PS/Edit: The only inks (besides the B&B ink) are Tienanmen and Kung Te Chung. How's the Tienanmen working out for you?
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  20. Sullybob

    Sullybob Contributor

    Wonderful tutorial Matt!

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