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Fit Gel/Roller or Hybrid refills into Your Zebra F-701/Fisher Space Pens

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by RoSpectre, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. RoSpectre

    RoSpectre Empty Pockets

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    Hey all,

    I know a ton of people use Fisher pens and refills and the Zebra F-701 (I've used mine so much the chrome is worn off the clicker and it's down to the brass underneath). But I find even the fine Fisher refills aren't fine enough, and the Zebra refills just aren't great writers. So I set out to find alternate refills and came across a good solution: Japanese Multi-pen refills! With very minor modification you can get these into your space pen or F-701 (most come in tons of colors):
    -Uni Ball Signo Gel Ink (great lines, waterproof)
    -Uni Ball Jetstream Hybrid Ink (blows regular ballpoint inks away)
    -Pilot Hi-Tec C Gel ink (same as in G7/G2 refill I think)
    -Pentel Vicuna Hybrid ink
    -Pentel Sliccies Gel Ink
    You can also use just about any ballpoint refill you want from Pilot, Pentel, and Uniball, (as long as they make thin or multi pen version) and also the Zebra JK gel refills but I found they aren't great, plus they require sanding to fit in my Fisher pen which is a pain. I also tried getting a regular sized Jetstream refill into the Fisher but it had a collar, and removing that plus trimming the refill was a messy job, so the multi pen Jetstream refills are the way to go.
    Here's my gear and refill options:
    [​IMG]

    As a bonus you can likely fit the refills in a Parker or Caran D'Ache pen too, although you might have to glue the Fisher to Parker adapter onto the back which I haven't tried. I've found Fisher or Parker refills work in the Caran D'Ache perfectly if you sand or cut down the plastic part about a millimeter or two.

    So apparently Japan is big on multi pens, and the multi-pen refills are slimmer than their single pen counterparts. So where a regular Pilot G2 or G7 refill won't fit in the F-701, the Hi Tec C Coleto refills will, and they use the same ink. Plus the multi refills come in insanely fine tips, 0.7 0.5 0.38 and all the way down to 0.28 which is needle sharp and is even too fine for my tastes.

    Here's the How-To: You trim the multi refills so they are the same size as your stock Zebra. Because the refills are small you're never cutting into ink which is a bonus in my book. The Jetstream multi is actually SHORTER than the Zebra, so you have to extend it (I shoved a short piece of toothpick in the back and that works fine for fitting in the Fisher Shuttle). If you're using a Fisher Bullet, once you size the refills I think you're good to go! But if your pen uses a spring then you just need something to catch the spring otherwise it will slide all the way over the refill (they are slim all the way down).

    For Fisher Shuttle/retractables:
    I use the tip cover many refills ship with, seen below. I cut it up once side so it can slide over the refill, like in the picture. You can use tape just as easily though, and the bonus here is you can adjust your spring tension. If you want a stronger click, move the tape/plastic piece closer to the tip; want a softer click? Move the piece back. Your refill will now fit a retractable Fisher pen. (The picture shows the Zebra spring on there but you won't need that if your pen has an internal spring like the Fisher Shuttle).

    [​IMG]

    For Zebra: If you want to fit into Zebra F-701 etc you need to have something catch the spring but also widen the back end of the refill so that the clicker works properly. Here's my solution:
    [​IMG]
    Basically I took the metal tube off the Zebra refill (top) and put it onto the Uniball Signo refill (bottom). Then I taped it in place, but you can probably come up with a more elegant solution like taping the refill underneath the tube so it's thick enough for the tube to pressure fit onto it. Either way, once that's done, slide on your spring and you're good to go!

    In the F-701 I found the refills work perfectly, the tip is nice and snug and the click is smooth. You will get a bit of tip-wiggle in the Fisher pens, but you can either live with that, or put a piece of scotch tape around the metal tip to snug it up a bit. I found the width of 3m Scotch tape is perfect so that if you cut off a thin strip, and wrap it around the tip it adds the right thickness to snug things up but not catch.

    That's pretty much it; the hardest part is finding the multi pen refills, as you won't likely find them in big stores, but Ebay has them in bulk (like $10 for 8 shipped from Japan), or else JetPens has a massive variety of colors and sizes. That's where I got mine. Just make sure you get the multi-pen refills and not the regular type! They also have every size and color of Zebra JK gel refills if you like those. I think 0.5mm is my preferred tip; anything smaller gets scratchy but if you write in a small notebook they could be for you. Using a 0.28 you could probably initial a grain of rice!

    Here are the refills you want to look for:
    -Pilot Hi Tec C Coleto (Coleto is the multi pen style, and these are needle-tip refills)
    -Uni Style Fit Signo Gel refills UMR-109-xx (The Uni Style Fit is the name of the multi pen)
    -Uni Jetstream SXR-80-xx (the xx's are the tip size, and the sxr-80 is the multi pen version of the refill. If you haven't tried Jetstream ink I suggest you try it immediately!)
    I didn't buy the Sliccies or Vicuna refills but if you like them they are available too; again just make sure they are the multi pen versions.

    If you have any questions or comments, fire away!
     
  2. AK Adventurer

    AK Adventurer Ice, Ice, Tigre

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  3. JN

    JN Loaded Pockets

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    I too, have been matching pens to my favor-of-the-month refills.

    Some of the things I did:

    - Over time, I accumulate a stock of springs and empty refills of various length from used pens just for switching refills around.

    - To lengthen a refill, use transparent tape to tape an appropriate length of empty refill and then trim to exact length AFTER trying the refill in the pen. There's a little petroleum gel at the end of refill to prevent evaporation. If you have to cut into the ink when triming a refill, the refill will dry up sooner than expected without the seal.

    - My favorite refills are usually from clicky ballpens which already has a notch for the spring, so I just have pick an appropriate replacement spring. The right spring can turn a weak click into a satisfying CLICK. If there's no notch, say from a multipen refill or capped ballpoint pen, I used a plier to make my own notch and try to add a tiny washer or else the spring will eventually stretch over the new notch.

    - Zebra pens: A long while back, I learnt from the tiny 4" Zebra metallic clicker ballpens (those are around since forever) that the tip of Zebra refill is ever so slightly narrower than other brands and fit PRECISELY into their own pen. Impressive engineering they still do today that helps to keep competitor refills away. If you are a fan of Zebra pens but not particularly fond of their refills, as some members here are, be prepared to do some filing to widen the tip opening for 'unauthorized' refills.

    - Fisher refills work the other way. Their bullet refill comes with handy attachments specifically for adapting to competitor pens.
     
  4. RoSpectre

    RoSpectre Empty Pockets

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    Good advice! I see I'm not the only one that keeps empty refills for some unexplainable reason. Zebras have the metal tube and spring and they come in handy for various things.

    If your favourite refills are ball pens I highly recommend trying the jet stream or vicuña hybrid inks... They have all advantages of ballpoint ink but roll smooth like gel. Probably the greatest advancement since the pressurized refill, and they even write better on water resistant surfaces (like the field notes expedition pages) than the space pen ink, and smudge less.

    The great thing about these multi pen refills is they fit perfectly with the zebra opening, so you don't need to widen the tip or remove the plastic piece from the f701 tip. In fact I couldn't fit a fisher refill In my 701 even with the plastic piece removed. It could be my pen is so old it's a different size, but now I've got so many options The fisher refills Barely appeal to me.