How to Convert a Fifth Avenue or Skyline Eversharp CA to Use Modern Refills

(This page revised June 22, 2012)

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Ballpoint pen
Ballpoint pen

Introduction

Eversharp’s original CA appeared in two models, one styled to match the very successful Skyline and one styled like the Fifth Avenue, which was moribund but not yet dead when the CA made its entrance in December 1945. Either of these two “companion” pens can complete a very presentable three-piece set comprising a fountain pen, a ballpoint, and a “machine gun” click-click mechanical pencil. The only problem is that CA refills, assuming you can find them, don’t work. They really never did.

This article explains how to convert a Fifth Avenue CA to use a modern Parker ballpoint or gel refill. It’s possible to make a quick and easy conversion simply by unscrewing the refill/tip assembly from the nose cone and replacing it with the matching parts from a disposable ballpoint such as a BiC Stic, but the result is likely to be less than satisfactory to a serious collector. The conversion described here is a professional modification designed to produce an attractive and reliable — and refillable — ballpoint or gel pen.

The process for a Skyline CA will be essentially the same, the only difference being the size of the barrel spacer that holds the new refill in position within the modified pen body.

The process for a cap-actuated retractable CA is described in another article.

Tools Required

Parts Required

The illustration below shows the CA with its barrel opened in preparation for replacing the refill. (This is how Eversharp intended that the pen come apart.)

Ballpoint pen

The original CA refill has no ballpoint tip. It screws into the tip, which Eversharp designed as an integral part of the pen. (This design was one of the problem points with the CA, as the ink from a new refill might not bridge the gap between the refill and the interior of the tip. There was also a risk of mess from the exposed ink at the end of the refill.) Here are the pieces of this assembly, except that this particular refill welded itself into the tip and cannot be removed.

Ballpoint pen

Modifying the Pen

Unscrew the barrel and set it aside. Unscrew the refill/tip assembly from the nose cone. Remove and discard the celluloid sleeve.

Chuck the assembled tip and refill in the lathe, clamping on the refill tube so that the ballpoint tip is exposed, touching the exposed faces of the chuck jaws. Mark the point on the conical tip where you want to make your cut (as shown in the engineering drawing here), and position the cutoff tool accordingly before turning on the lathe. Turn on the lathe. Advancing the cutoff tool very slowly to avoid bending the refill, cut off the end of the tip as shown here:

Tip modification drawingCutting the tip off

Chuck the No. 37 drill into a Jacobs chuck in the lathe’s tailstock and drill through the tip to create the bore through which the Parker refill will extend. It is critical that this bore be straight. As before, cut slowly. Withdraw the drill frequently to shed chips. If necessary, deburr the exposed end of the tip with a file or sandpaper. Here is the drilling operation.

Drilling the internal bore

Remove the refill, and make a mark (on the refill tube) exactly 0.750" back from your new cut end. Reinsert the refill in the lathe chuck with your mark exposed. Line up the cutoff tool with the mark. Turn on the lathe and advance the cutoff tool very slowly to cut the tip and its short length of refill tube free from the remainder of the tube. Deburr the cut end of the refill tube with a file or sandpaper if necessary. Here are the cutting process and the finished tip unit:

Cutting the tip freeThe finished tip

Here is the Parker refill test-fitted into the tip unit:

Refill fitted into tip

Making the Barrel Spacer

Reinstall the tip unit into the nose cone. Insert the Parker refill into the nose cone, slipping it into the back end of the tip unit, until it stops. Measure the distance from the clutch ring to the back end of the refill, and call the distance X:

Measuring back end length

Insert the back end of the disposable ballpoint (without its cap) into the barrel until it stops. Make a mark on the disposable ballpoint exactly at the point where it emerges from the barrel. Use a sharp instrument such as an X-acto knife for precision.

Measuring for barrel plug, step 1

Remove the disposable ballpoint from the barrel. Measure distance X from your mark along the pen toward the back end and make a second mark. The two marks in the following image were made with an X-acto knife; I filled them with black paint to make them visible here.

Measuring for barrel plug, step 2

Using your razor saw, cut off the end of the disposable ballpoint’s barrel at your second mark. The end piece, open at one end and closed at the other by the pen’s original barrel plug, is the new barrel spacer for your CA.

Barrel spacer

Final Assembly and Adjustment

Insert the new spacer into the CA barrel, open end first. Screw the barrel and nose cone together until the nose cone stops when the refill comes up against the barrel spacer’s end plug. This will happen before the clutch ring touches the barrel, leaving a gap whose width is roughly twice the height of the disposable ballpoint’s end plug (green in the photo above). Don’t force it tight! Take note of the gap’s width.

Disassemble the pen again. Shake out your spacer and trim its open end, shortening the spacer by about half the gap you saw when you assembled the pen, and retest the fit. Repeat this procedure until there is just a slight resistance just as the nose cone mates completely with the barrel.

Congratulations! Your newly renovated Eversharp CA is now ready for use.


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