Pelikan Repairs  for Models 1929 till 1960 back

Pelikan--A Basic Guide to Repairs on models 100, 100N and 400 (plus related models)

By Martin Lehmann – with additional information added by Tom Westerich

All rights reserved by the author 

Because of their manufacture, early Pelikan pens usually confront the collector with a limited number of problems:

… piston cannot be moved any longer
… the piston is leaky
… ink feed is damaged
… nib is damaged
… ink view have shatter cracks or is cloudy
… hairline cracks in cap lip

The first task before each repair attempt on all models is a thorough cleaning in plain water. An ultrasonic bath may be used with caution.  Exercise special care with hard rubber caps, sections and mechanisms found on early pens. Clean hard rubber parts with ultrasonic cleaner only if you must and then only briefly and under constant visual inspection, since they may discolour very strongly.

 The Nib Unit

This is valid for all models, from 100 to 400, only in some rare cases, nib units might be friction fit instead of being screwed in:

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Pelikan Nib units from 100 to 400NN

Once cleaned, the pen should be completely disassembled and cleaned again. Often the nib/feed unit can be unscrewed immediately after the first ultrasonic bath.  It is helpful to have the original Pelikan nib-pliers [Figure 5] to unscrew the unit, placing them closely at the section.  Without the pliers, the assembly can be screwed out by hand using a soft tissue for better grab.  If you use your fingers to screw out the nib/ feed, pay special attention to the feed vanes, which might be damaged easily.  Do not grip the nib/feed at the sides, but rather at the front and back.

The Pelikan 100 and 100N models, as well as IBIS piston filling mechanism

pelipistonmechssmall.jpg (10680 Byte)

Pelikan 100  100N  and 140 friction fit pistons - the old versions with cork seal and the newer version with rubber seal.   -  Remaking cork seals works best with roughly  precut cork seals - starting from there, the final adaption is much easier.

Often it is necessary to disassemble the piston filling mechanism. For the beginner the most surprising fact is that the thread of the mechanism is reverse threaded - thus opposite the normal direction of rotation of normally screwed together parts. Frequently, the mechanism cannot be simply screwed out. Usually this means using the ultrasonic bath again (still, caution with hard rubber sections!). Subsequently, protect the cone with a piece of leather or rubber, grip the mechanism with rounded pliers (preferably section pliers available at pen shows) or with the original Pelikan repair pliers, and screw out the mechanism, remembering the reverse threading.

 Since ink frequently leaked into the filler, the individual parts of the mechanism (turning knob with spindle, piston rod, piston and nose cone) should be cleaned after disassembly.

If the piston rod is to be replaced, you must pay attention to the upward gradient of the spindle, since this was modified approx. 1938.

 Cork seals and rubber seals of Pelikan 100 and Ibis:

If the piston is leaky, there are two methods of repair, depending on the model:
If the piston is leaky, there are two methods of repair, depending on the model:
Regarding pens with rubber or neoprene seals it is easiest to exchange the leaking piston rod for one that is still working. [Editor's note: occasionally warm oil rubbed into a seal will revive it] You could also take a Pelikan 100N rubber seal and make it fit the 100 barrel by sanding it with finest grade paper (best on the lathe) down to the diameter needed for the model 100.

If you find a cork seal, it can easily be renewed. Remove the remains of the old cork. Then pull out the front disk, which is friction fit into the nose cone.  Its best to knock out the disk from the back, pushing a thin metal pin into the piston rod.  

The new cork can be cut from an old wine or whiskey cork. Since this source requires a certain effort in whiskey consumption  J , it may be easier to buy a small stock of raw cork seals available at pen shows. Hardware stores also carry cork sheeting from which seals can be cut. Winemakerīs supply or Laboratory supply shops sell precut unused (= no risk of excessive drug abuse...) corks.

Pelikan 100N

The pistons of the later models 100N made of black rubber shrank frequently, so that they no longer seal. When dealing with pens of the post-war period (green ink window and no step in the grip section), the pistons may be replaced by spare parts from 120, 140 or 400 models. This replacement is simple, effective and historically quite correct, since in the final phase of the production of the model 100N all pens were equipped with the same seals. Early versions of the 100N do still feature cork seals, which basically are fit the same way as the model 100, just that the cork is held by a screw on cap, which again is screwed on with a reverse thread.


Barrels of Pelikan 100 and 100N

In most cases of damaged pen bodies, it is my opinion that exchange with original spare parts is the only answer. This applies particularly to feed and cap lip cracks in hard rubber, since these can never really be repaired.  An internal ring made on a lathe might be put in; but that is only the secondary best solution and involves much work.
If the barrel is badly damaged, the sleeve has to be removed and the body exchanged.   With the older Pelikan 100 models it is quite simple: usually I put the barrel into water with liquid dish soap for about 24-48 hours. [Editor's note:  Be cautious, since ingredients in dish soap made in the
United States can cause color shifts when celluloid is exposed to them for more than a short time.   Try an ammonia solution first. Then, after a thorough rinse, soak briefly in dish soap.]   Afterwards grasp the sleeve with your whole hand and press it toward the grip section of the barrel. 

Models that were manufactured through injection moulding are substantially more difficult. To my knowledge there is no ingenious solution. Once I was able to separate a very beautiful colour sleeve from the barrel by free- milling from inside the barrel. That will work with a lathe too. However, there is a real risk of destroying the sleeve completely.

Early Pelikan 100 barrels tend to have crystallized threads for the piston mechanism, which falls apart when unscrewing the piston. Hard to repair. Skilful repairmen might use a later 100 barrel with rotten ink window to fit its threading onto the early barrel. This will keep the early version with its amber ink window.

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Various barrels Pelikan 100 showing all sorts of damage.


Pelikan 400 and 140 barrels  feature friction fit piston mechanisms.

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Knockout tool and knocked out piston of a Pelikan 140

These have got to be pushed out from the front. Grabbing the piston mechanism with a set of pliers and pulling it will result in a cracked piston. You need to unscrew the entire nib unit, insert a metal pin of the exact diameter and knock out the piston. Moderately heat the barrel, up to a max of 80 degrees Celsius.

(funnily, the situation with friction fit Montblanc pens from the 60ies is exactly the opposite: knocking the pistons out would crack the interiors, they in fact need to be pulled out from the back. )


And what to do with damaged nibs? Keep your fingers away - either "Mottishaw " the nib or exchange it.
With a certain experience you can fix some problems by using only your hands, bending a little bit, but often it leads to strains within the material and the possibility of destruction. However, many skilful pen repairman are able to readjust a bent nib and grind them, but regarding lost iridium tips, John Mottishaw still is the one and only.

From all this, one fact becomes particularly clear: Spare parts are needed. Damaged parts can be "repaired" satisfactorily only in the rarest cases, mostly you have to replace them.
In these brief articles on manufacturing and repair I know that I can't mention here everything, which might be interesting. And I don't know everything about repairing. There are a lot of people out there who know much more than I do. Let's take these articles as a starting point to gather knowledge on repairing and history of Pelikan fountain pens at centralized point.  

[Editor's note: As always, cleaning and repair guidelines are for your information only.   Neither the authors nor me as publisher here on the website can be responsible for any damage you do to your pens in the course of attempting repairs.  When in doubt consult a kompetent pen repair professional.]