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F-701 False Advertising & Hacking to fit a Parker cartridge

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by dgaddis, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. dgaddis

    dgaddis Loaded Pockets

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    Ugh. So I recently went down the ‘nice pens’ rabbit hole, and have been lurking around here some.

    Anyways. I discovered something I hadn’t seen anyone else commenting on yet about the Zebra F-701 pen. It’s well known as being a nice metal pen at an affordable cost, but the refill isn’t great, but there’s some hacks to make it better.

    The space pen refill hack – I can’t speak to that as I haven’t tried it.

    Swapping in the metal clicker mechanism from the F-402 – DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. All the posts and you tube videos make you think this will give you an all metal mechanism that’s more durable. Unfortunately, that’s a load of crap. Apparently no one bothered to look at the actual pieces inside the mechanism. All it gives you is a metal collar that the mechanism sits inside, the actual guts (with the gears/teeth that do the work) is still plastic. The shiny metal collar threads into a plastic tube.

    Also, there’s a new version of the F-701 that is supposedly all metal. The packaging even says “all metal inside and out”. If you’re like me, you think that means the pen is truly all metal, with no plastic. Sadly, you would be wrong. It’s literally full of plastic. I mean, aren’t there laws against false advertising??? There’s a plastic piece inside the tip, there’s a plastic tube in the body, and the clicker mechanism is plastic. And FYI, the tip and the clicker thread into the plastic tube inside the body, not the body itself. You can actually disassemble the pen, get the tube out of the body, throw the body in the trash, and then re-assemble the pen and it’ll function fine. In other words, the mechanism, and all the connections between the various parts of the pen are plastic. Only the exterior is metal, all the insides are plastic. It works fine, but if you buy it expecting it to actually be an all-metal pen as advertised you’ll be disappointed.

    Lastly, I did find a useful hack to get a Parker G2 cartridge to work 100% of the time. It involves some work with a file and/or a Dremel tool.

    EDIT TO ADD: This hack only appears to work in the older style F-701 with the plastic ring around the clicker button.

    1. Unscrew the tip, remove the stock cartridge, remove the plastic piece inside the tip.
    2. File down the tip to make it shorter, remove all the material behind the threads, see the pic below. Be careful not to get into the threads themselves and bugger them up. FYI, the metal is really soft and it doesn’t take a heavy hand with the file. I wouldn’t use a power tool for this job.
    3. Use a Dremel with a cone-shaped abrasive bit and open up the inside of the tip, on the back where you just filed it down. This takes about 2 seconds. That back edge will now be thin and sharp, don’t cut yourself.
    4. Take your Parker G2 cartridge and remove the plastic plug on the back. Be careful not to distort the shape of the cartridge body any, it’s a tight fit in the Zebra pen so you don’t want to ovalize it.
    5. Reassemble pen with the Parker G2 cartridge and the modified tip. You can re-use the stock spring. DONE!
    You have to modify the tip of the Zebra pen because when you push the button all the way in and the cartridge is pushed all the way forward, the leading edge of the body of the cartridge will hit the back side of the tip. This will either prevent the cartridge moving enough to work properly, or, because of the shape of the cartridge body (it’s tapered at the point that hits the tip) it can jam/stick. So by shortening the tip, and opening it up a bit, you get enough clearance so there’s no contact and it never sticks. Shortening the tip alone isn’t enough, it will still hit, just barely, and occasionally stick. You don’t want to shorten the cartridge because then the tip won’t stick out far enough when trying write. I’ve only done this with a Parker G2 gel cartridge, no guarantees other brands will work as well.

    OKAY, on to some pics.

    This is the “all metal inside and out” F-701 mostly disassembled. You don’t see the plastic piece inside the body here, or the little piece in the tip. But still, you can see quite a bit of plastic.

    [​IMG]


    A not terribly in focus close up of the plastic click mechanism. These parts are the same in the “all metal” F-701, the older F-701 with the black plastic ring on top, and the F-402.

    [​IMG]


    The plastic tube from inside the body. The clicker mechanism threads onto the fat end, the tip threads onto the skinny end.

    [​IMG]


    Stock tip vs filed down shorter tip

    [​IMG]


    Filed tip after opening it up a bit with the Dremel.

    [​IMG]


    Parker G2 cartridge in the Zebra F-701. As you can see, you don’t want to make the cartridge any shorter. It’s the perfect length by simply removing the plastic plug on the end. Again, non-Parker brand cartridges may nor may not work exactly the same.

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 dgaddis, Jan 22, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    ran23, Tesla and twin63 like this.
  2. HeadOffice

    HeadOffice Loaded Pockets

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    I'd just bite the bullet and buy an Embassy pen from countycomm.com and rely on Fisher Space Pen refills (though I always use the FINE as opposed to the standard Medium). Yes - they are expensive but will last you a lifetime. I have the Black, Aluminum, Copper, Brass and Titanium ones (to rotate with my EDC collection) and can attest to their quality. No tools, no hacks, just works.
     
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  3. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    I like the OP's solution much better...to my mind the F-701 is a better pen ergonomically & practically (no unscrewing a top that won't post, etc.)...its Achilles heel has always been the substandard refill. All previous hacks have involved hacking the almost equally substandard Fisher refill (in terms of ink quality) into it (I have one for outdoor/backpacking use). This is the first hack I've seen that actually allows this pen body to shine with a good refill. Now, I'm wondering if it will work with a Schmidt Easy Flow.
     
  4. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    Well, I just tried the mod & it didn't work for me. The problem seems to be the upper part of the refill jamming once the "plug" is pulled out. I tried smoothing that part but still wouldn't function reliably. I think I'm done trying to combine the ergonomics of the F-701 with a good refill....G-301 is as close as I can get to what I want in a cheap Zebra...:(
     
  5. huntnow

    huntnow Loaded Pockets

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    I used the space pen refill in my 701 and it works great.
     
  6. dgaddis

    dgaddis Loaded Pockets

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    How/where is it jamming? Can you get the refill into the pen at all, or is it jamming when trying to push the clicker button? Did you modify the tip of the pen like I posted (you could try removing more material...)? Did you remove the plastic piece inside the tip?

    Mine is a *tight* fit with a genuine Parker cartridge. Like it fits perfectly, but so perfectly there's no wiggle room at all, but it does slide in/out easily.
     
  7. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    I tried Parker & Schneider cartridges...yes the refill goes into the pen, yes I modified the tip, yes I removed the plastic tip. the issue is that the "upper" end of the refill opposite the tip seems to be the issue. I think removing the plastic end causes the refill to slightly bell. I tried turning that end of the refill down slightly, but had no luck...there was still drag. I would say that the mod takes too much time & efffort. I think maybe it could be made to work with enough effort, but I'm not willing to put in that amount of time to mod a cheap pen.
     
  8. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    True, so does mine, but irrelevant to the topic at hand of modding to use PARKER refill.
     
  9. dgaddis

    dgaddis Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah, you have to be careful getting the plug out. Don't put the cartridge in a vice! I made that mistake with one, and ovalized it a bit.

    The nice thing about this hack tho, is once it's done, it's ready to go and shouldn't take any additional work other than pulling the plug out of a cartridge before installing one.
     
  10. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    Yep, I wasn't careful enough on the first try & ovalized that one, but the 2nd & 3rd were completely cylindrical & still did not work, so the process is too imprecise for me. They're binding up near the clicker and the pen would need to be disassembled & the upper part reduced in diameter, which is just more work than I want to put into a cheap pen. I have plenty of Jotters that work well to want to waste more time putting lipstick on that pig. I put this one to rest.
     
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  11. dgaddis

    dgaddis Loaded Pockets

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    UPDATE. @Tesla is correct, my hack only appears to work in the older style w/the plastic ring around the mechanism. I picked up another "all-metal" one over the weekend and the Parker cartridge won't go far enough into the pen.
     
  12. nipsip

    nipsip Empty Pockets

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    Seems like the only F-701 in the stores now is the not-really-all-metal-version so this hack will not work so says OP. My suggestion is rather simple. If you want a knurled all-metal pen that can easily accept all Parker G2 compatible refills, then buy a Rotring 600 ballpoint. Sure it is a little more $$ but you have a better looking and performing pen and one that you will keep for a long time. Yes, it is a $30 pen, but you can use ballpoint ink, gel ink or hybrid ink in various colors and tip sizes. I use the Monteverde Capless Gel broad point in mine. The Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 fits as does the Uni Jetstream SXR-600 series. Additionally, if you like a gel very fine point, reports are that this refill writes just like a Pilot G2 gel with a finer line than the 0.5mm claimed. Of course, You can buy a vintage USA made Parker Jotter on eBay for not much more than the cost of new modern ones if you keep your eye out. These have the brass threads and much better build quality.
     
  13. HeadOffice

    HeadOffice Loaded Pockets

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    Does the Rotring hold a Parker refill? If that's the case a fine Fisher refill with adapter should work.
     
  14. Tesla

    Tesla Loaded Pockets

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    I own a Rotring Rapid Pro and the quality is good, but...Rotrings are not an acceptable substitute for pocket carry due to the excessive length compared to a Jotter or F-701. I do use the Rotring at my desk, occasionally, but...No one has really topped the design of the Jotter in all these years...small, elegant & functional.
     
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