How-To: Lubricate a Pelikan Piston

Richard Binder's Pure Silicone Grease Offering

Richard Binder’s Pure Silicone Grease Offering

I find that lubricating a Pelikan piston results in confusion for a lot of neophytes to the brand and is frequently a topic of discussion on the forums. Today I will try to dispel any questions by discussing the theory behind this procedure as well as the technique.  Once you know, it is really quite a simple procedure that anyone can do in just a few minutes time.  While this operation is tried and true and incredibly simple, I must stress that any issues that arise during this operation fall squarely on the operator’s shoulders and I’ll assume no liability for any mishaps.

 

What You’ll Need:

  1. 100% Silicone Grease
  2. Cotton Swab or Toothpick

Procedure:

  1. Empty the pen of ink and dry out the reservoir as best as possible before application.
  2. Unscrew the nib from the section.  Be careful if there is dried ink or the nib does not unscrew easily.  See my FAQ for tips on removing a nib.
  3. Apply a very small amount of silicone (roughly equal in size to 1/2 of a grain of rice) to the cotton swab.
  4. With the piston retracted, run the swab along the inside of the barrel as close to the piston seal as possible. 
  5. Work the piston up and down a few times.
  6. If the mechanism is now working smoothly, replace the nib and resume regular use.

Discussion:

Over time, a Pelikan’s piston can become stiff and tight, even to the point that one might fear damaging the mechanism.  Depending on the ink used (heavily saturated inks have been implicated) or the frequency of flushing (especially with either dish soap or ammonia), some pens will need re-lubing more frequently than others.  In my experience, a rule of thumb with standard pen care is that many Pelikan’s will need a re-lubing on an average of once every 3 years give or take (your mileage may vary of course).  It should be noted that the above procedure is directed towards synthetic seals and not the older cork seals.  It cannot be stressed enough that 100% silicone grease should be used.  This is not the area to cut corners.  My preferred grease is that which is packaged with the TWSBI pens but good grease is available from many online specialty pen retailers as well as good dive shops.  It’s a $5 investment that will likely last you your lifetime.  If there is any concern about the purity of the silicone, don’t use it.  Silicone comes in many formulations, some of which can harm a pen’s components.  I also stress using a small amount of grease as too much grease can gum up the works and cause flow issues.  Finally, there is absolutely no need to remove a piston from the pen to re-lube it.  Doing so can damage a pen and is strongly discouraged unless carried out by a trained professional.  Feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly if you have any further questions, comments, or suggestions.

17 responses

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  4. Hi,
    In your “how to lubricate a piston” article you say to do this with the piston retracted. Please explain retracted. Thanks
    Steve

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  5. First time on this site. Thank you so much for all the info. Just bought a 800 from an estate sale and don’t think it has ever been used–could not “soak any ink out” Beautiful pen, I like it better than the 1000 I have. Can’t wait to give the 1000 a complete cleaning as you suggest. Also picked up a Montblock 146 which seemed to be the one being used but in perfect order. First tim to find quality pens at estate sales and think the economy kept people from paying the price ask. I did get them both on last day mark down for $300 including a Parker 21 & Sheaffer Vac both in perfect order. Any way keep up the good work Joshua.

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    • Welcome to The Perch Larry. I’m glad that you have enjoyed the site and found some of the content useful. Sounds like you got a great deal on some very nice pens at that estate sale. You certainly got your money’s worth. Enjoy them!

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  7. Joshua,

    Long time reader first time poster 😀 I collect mainly 120’s and 140’s and the last couple of pens I have bought have needed extensive cleaning as ink was left in them.I have noticed the seals seem to not work as intend as air bubbles come out the back of the piston when flushing. In your honest opinion will this method of greasing help rejuvenate the seal (I am sure it won’t hurt doing it) or should they be replaced?

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    • Great pens to collect. Lubricating the piston can help but it has been my experience that an incompetent seal is an incompetent seal and there is little remedy for it outside of a replacement. Sure it may hold for a while but I think its only a matter of time and I would hate for it to start leaking ink while it was in my shirt pocket. If air/water/ink is getting behind the seal and coming out around the piston knob, get the seal replaced. That’s always been my experience/philosophy on the matter.

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      • Josh,

        That was my thinking also however I wanted to get a feel from someone else. Do you normally use a heavy, medium, or light? Again thanks for the info and the reply.

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        • Are you referring to the silicone grease when you say heavy, medium, or light? I actually use TWSBI grease for mine. Most retailers of fountain pen accessories, like the Goulet’s for instance, sell a suitable grease. I like something that isn’t too gummy personally and the TWSBI grease fits the bill well.

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  8. Hi…I am new to the site and just bought my first Pelikan via ebay. It is the M205 Classic Red which seems to date to around 2009? It was listed as new. Given it is around 9 yrs old, do you think I should probably lubricate the piston first before using? (I do not have the pen yet, it is shipping.)

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    • Hello Trina. Congrats on your first Pelikan! That is one of my favorites from the M205 line. I would say to play it by ear. When the pen arrives, if the piston moves freely, which it very well may, then I wouldn’t worry about it. If it is stiff, then you should provide some lubrication to help ensure trouble free use. Not something you can really anticipate until you have it in hand though.

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