How-To: Fill Pelikan Pens & Pencils

Vintage Pelikan Advertisement for Fountain Pen Ink

If you are familiar with some of my past articles, you know that I have tried to provide helpful guides regarding certain aspects of fountain pen use and maintenance.  One of the fundamentals of pen use is filling and refilling which many of us take for granted.  Understandably, this nuance of regular pen operation can be a bit unclear to those new to the hobby.  Just how does one go about filling a Pelikan pen?  While my personal focus is fountain pens, I’m not without my share of rollerballs, ballpoints, and pencils.  On occasion you might purchase or be gifted a certain model as a set.  If you don’t use that twist ballpoint very often, you might find yourself stumped when the included cartridge runs dry.  To keep you writing worry free, not only will I discuss how to fill a fountain pen, I will also given instructions for rollerballs, ballpoints, and pencils.  My focus in this post will be mostly on modern production pens made over the last 35 years but much of this holds true for older models, particularly the piston filling fountain pens as they have retained the same mechanism for generations.  The pictorials included in Pelikan’s literature can feel a little like interpreting hieroglyphics and, besides, who reads the instructions anyway (besides me)?  If you have any uncertainty as to how to fill your new pen or pencil, read on to learn how to put that writing instrument of yours into action.

 

What You’ll Need:

  1. A Pelikan fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint, or pencil
  2. A bottle of  fountain pen appropriate ink (for fountain pens with an ‘M’ preceding the model number)
  3. A Pelikan C499 or other compatible converter, or two short, or one long standard international cartridge (for fountain pens with a ‘P’ preceding the model number)
  4. A Pelikan 338 or other compatible cartridge (rollerball)
  5. A Pelikan 337 or other compatible cartridge (ballpoint)
  6. Pencil lead of your choice in the appropriate size for your pencil

Procedure:

Fountain Pen

Pelikan fountain pen filling instructions

 

Souverän/Classic Piston Filling Fountain Pen

  1. Turn the piston knob at the back of the barrel to the left (counter clockwise) to extend the piston towards the nib and stop as soon as the piston reaches the end of its travel (do not force it past this point or damage may result).
  2. Dip the entire nib into the ink bottle until the very beginning portion of the section is covered in ink.
  3. Draw ink into the pen by turning the piston knob to the right (clockwise) at a slow, even pace.
  4. When the barrel is full and the piston knob stops, slowly turn the knob back to the left to release 3-5 drops of ink back into the bottle (optional – see discussion under ‘Special Considerations’ below).
  5. Hold the pen nib up and again turn the piston knob to the right, seating it against the barrel.
  6. Wipe the nib and section with a towel to remove excess ink and begin writing.

Ductus/Epoch

  1. Unscrew the blind cap at the back of the pen by turning the cap to the left (counter clockwise).
  2. Once unscrewed, pull the blind cap to remove the cartridge tray from the pen.
  3. Insert one long standard international cartridge into the tray by sliding the back end of the cartridge into the blind cap OR
  4. Insert two short standard international cartridges into the tray by placing them back to back (swap positions when one runs dry) OR
  5. Fill a Pelikan C499 or similar converter from an ink bottle and insert into the tray by sliding the back end of the converter into the blind cap (unlike most cartridge pens, the converter must be filled prior to insertion into the pen).
  6. Insert the tray back into the pen’s barrel and turn the blind cap to the right (clockwise) until secure.

Pelikan Ductus filling system

Pura/Classic P200 & P205

  1. Hold the section and turn the barrel to the left (counter clockwise) to remove it from the section.
  2. Insert one long standard international cartridge into the back of the section OR
  3. Insert one short standard international cartridge into the back of the section while placing another loosely into the barrel (swap positions when one runs dry) OR
  4. Insert a Pelikan C499 or similar converter into the back of the section.  Submerge the nib up to the section in a bottle of ink and fill the converter.
  5. Reattach the barrel to the section and turn to the right (clockwise) to secure.

Pelikan long standard international cartridge


 

Rollerball

Pelikan rollerball filling instructions

 

Souverän/Ductus/Epoch

  1. Unscrew the blind cap at the back of the barrel by turning it to the left (counter clockwise) and remove it from the back of the pen.
  2. Remove the old cartridge by pulling it out from the back of the barrel.
  3. Insert a new Pelikan 338 or other compatible cartridge into the back of the pen.
  4. Replace the blind cap by turning it to the right (clockwise).

Pura

  1. Hold the section and unscrew the barrel by turning it to the left (counter clockwise).
  2. Remove the old cartridge by pulling it out from the section.
  3. Insert a new Pelikan 338 or other compatible cartridge into the back of the pen.
  4. Reattach the barrel to the section and turn to the right (clockwise) to secure.

Pelikan 338 rollerball refill


 

Ballpoint Pen with Twist Mechanism

Pelikan ballpoint with twist mechanism filling instructions

 

Souverän/Ductus

  1. Twist the back of the pen to the left (counter clockwise) to retract the tip and then keep twisting to unscrew the cap from the pen.
  2. Unscrew the twist mechanism by turning it to the left (counter clockwise) and remove.
  3. Remove the now exposed cartridge and replace with a Pelikan 337 or other compatible cartridge.
  4. Replace the twist mechanism by turning it to the right (clockwise).
  5. Reinsert the cap onto the back of the barrel and turn to the right (clockwise) until the tip is extended.

Epoch/Pura

  1. Twist the back of the pen to the left (counter clockwise) to retract the tip and then keep twisting to unscrew the cap from the pen.
  2. Pull the twist mechanism away from the barrel in order to remove.
  3. Remove the now exposed cartridge and replace with a Pelikan 337 or other compatible cartridge.
  4. Replace the twist mechanism onto the back of the barrel.
  5. Reinsert the cap onto the back of the barrel and turn to the right (clockwise) until the tip is extended.

Pelikan 337 ballpoint refill


 

Mechanical Pencil with Twist Mechanism

Pelikan mechanical pencil with twist mechanism filling instructions

 

Souverän/Ductus/Epoch/Pura

  1. Pull the cap from the back of the pencil and remove from the barrel.
  2. Turn the twist mechanism to the left (counter clockwise) and remove.
  3. Pull the lead chamber cap out from the barrel of the pencil to expose the lead chamber.
  4. Refill with the appropriately sized lead of your choice.
  5. Replace the cap to the lead chamber.
  6. Screw the twist mechanism back in place by turning it to the right (clockwise).
  7. Replace the cap onto the back of the barrel and push to seat it into place.

 

Ballpoint Pen with Push-button Mechanism

Pelikan ballpoint pen with push-button mechanism filling instructions

 

Souverän/Classic

  1. Unscrew the barrel from the cap by turning the barrel to the left (counter clockwise).
  2. Remove the existing cartridge and replace with a Pelikan 337 or other compatible cartridge.
  3. Reinsert the barrel onto the pen by turning it to the right (clockwise).

 

Mechanical Pencil with Push-button Mechanism

Pelikan mechanical pencil with push-button mechanism filling instructions

 

Souverän/Classic

  1. Pull the push-button cap at the back of the pencil off.
  2. Pull the eraser out of the pen thereby exposing the lead chamber.
  3. Refill with the appropriately sized lead of your choice.
  4. Replace the eraser.
  5. Place the push-button cap onto the back of the eraser.

 

Discussion:

While the above instructions focus on Pelikan’s more contemporary offerings, the piston filling fountain pen instructions can be applied to all of Pelikan’s piston fillers.  Pelikan’s piston filling system is one of the best out there and has survived intact for many generations.  When following any of the above instructions, you should never have to force anything.  If it doesn’t feel right, you are probably doing something wrong.  Take your time and you will find these are quick and easy operations to accomplish once you understand the basics.  Also, please use only fountain pen appropriate ink in your pen.  It does not have to be Pelikan branded ink but it does have to be fountain pen friendly.  Most drawing inks, india ink, and iron gall ink should, in general, not be used with fountain pens.  There are certain exceptions to this generalization but that is a topic for another day.  Suffice it to say, beginners should not be filling their pens with these types of inks.

 

Special Considerations:

  • The converter or cartridge will not fit securely in any of Pelikan’s cartridge pens.  This creates a lot of angst for people new to Pelikan’s cartridge offerings but rest assured it is part of the design and not a flaw.  It is somewhat disconcerting, especially if you are used to the firm fit that other manufacturers employ.  You can read more about this unusual design choice here.

 

  • Pelikan’s rollerball refill is the Pelikan 338.  It comes in fine (0.8mm), medium (1mm), and broad (1.2mm) widths and is offered in black and blue.  The ballpoint refill is the Pelikan 337 also available in fine, medium, and broad with the same respective widths as the rollerball offerings.  Blue and black are also available across the 337 range with the addition of a red color in medium only.  They aren’t particularly cheap refills and people often like to seek alternatives based on personal preferences.  There are refills from other manufacturers that will work in Pelikan pens.  Sometimes it is plug and play and sometimes a retrofit is required.  I make no recommendation or endorsement about getting other manufacturers cartridges to fit Pelikan pens as I have no personal experience with this but there have been discussions about this elsewhere and a Google search will lead you to these should that be of interest to you.

 

  • Be careful when filling from a bottle to not hit the tip of the nib against the wall of the bottle.  This can serve to misalign your tines and alter the writing experience.  Also, don’t expect to get a fill without any air in the barrel.  The piston is not capable of expelling all of the air in the chamber so a small amount of residual air is to be expected when filled.

 

  • Pelikan and several other sources recommend releasing 3-5 drops of ink after filling a piston filling fountain pen from the bottle.  When an ink reservoir is full, body heat can cause a phenomenon of expansion whereby ink can escape as a blob from the nib resulting in a small mess.  Releasing a few drops of ink will provide insurance against this.  Some pens are more afflicted by this than others and I also find it is somewhat dependent on how you choose to carry your pens.  Your experience may vary from pen to pen.  I do not do this in my personal practice but if you find that you’re getting a blob of ink after a fresh fill, consider expelling a few drops to mitigate the issue.

12 responses

  1. Thank you for the tip. I mistakenly thought ink blobs were limited to Montblanc overfilling, but recently discovered that on very hot days my M800 Tortoiseshell blobs ink.

    Like

  2. I would caution about wiping nibs: various wipes with lotion, such as Kleenex (especially those explicitly for people with colds) or touted for sore, red noses. Some have embedded aloe, Vaseline, or cold cream, all of which will make your nib not flow ink correctly. Use paper towels, newspaper (!), or anything with no additives for comfort.

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    • I would agree wholeheartedly. I use only plain paper towels but anything will work provided it is not impregnated with any lotions or chemicals. Common sense should prevail here. Thanks Tom as it is certainly a point worth emphasizing.

      Like

  3. Just read this old article. Very helpful. I will now try to release a few blobs after fillng, in future. My Noodler’s Ahab has been dropping ink soon after filling and this now explains why. It is tempting to try to fill as much as possible but you the risk a blob.

    Like

  4. I just received a gorgeous Tortoise Pelikan 450 pencil. My first one. One of the early versions, circa 1952. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit this but I do not know how to fill it. It takes 1.18mm lead refills and, in these older models, apparently the refills are not inserted from above.

    Would you be kind enough to either walk me through the process with some brief step-by-step instructions or point me towards a good link?

    Thanks Joshua

    Like

    • Congrats on the 450. I don’t have one myself so can’t speak from personal experience. It has been my understanding that the 450 is refilled from the nozzle & not from the top end. The portion of the barrel In the top is for holding spare lead. I can’t be 100% certain of that though. Sadly, I don’t know of any good online resources. You might want to contact Rick Propas of the PENguin Pens for a more definitive answer.

      Like

  5. Thanks Joshua.

    Here’s Rick’s response; thank you Rick!

    “The pencils are relatively easy to fill.

    You can either load the magazine with leads and click them through. It will take quite a few clicks to get the lead fed properly into the
    mechanism and through it to the nozzle.

    Or, more directly you can depress the button and front load the lead through the nozzle.”

    Like

  6. Hi Joshua, and thanks for all of the valuable information on your website.

    One small point. My Souveran 600 mechanical pencil has a slightly different mechanism to the one you show in your instructions. Only a small black plastic section at the top unscrews to allow re-filling, not the whole section as suggested in your instructions. A long black plastic pin that acts as a plug is then withdrawn.

    Otherwise, your advice is spot-on.

    Like

    • You’re welcome. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m not a big pencil guy so I obviously don’t have access to every pencil out there. I’m sure that you’re info will prove helpful to someone with the same model. Thanks again.

      Like

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