How to Remove the Clip from a Pilot Vanishing Point

(This page revised December 15, 2013)

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Fountain pen
Fountain pen

Introduction

This subject comes up periodically because, as much as most people like the click-click action of the retractable Vanishing Point, not everyone is happy with the location of the pen’s clip; for some of us, the clip ends up right under a finger and renders writing with the pen a more or less uncomfortable experience. It turns out that removing the clip from a post-2000 Vanishing Point is not at all difficult.

In case you’re concerned about dryout, you need not worry. Removing the clip does not expose the pen to dryout. The retracted nib hides behind a little spring-loaded door that is sealed with a rubber gasket, and this mechanism is contained within an inner structure that isn’t violated by the operation described in this article.

Tools Required

Supplies Required

Before working on the pen body, remove the nib unit and set it aside. Screw the barrel halves back together; it is easier to work on the pen with it assembled.

Disassembly

To remove the clip, you must first remove the nozzle (nose cone). It’s secured by glue, and with a little work you can break the bond and work the nozzle free. I find that the best way to do this is to hold the pen body with a gripper square in your weaker hand and work on the nozzle with section pliers as shown below. Place the tip of the weaker hand’s thumb against the side of the plier jaws, and push the pliers with the thumb as you wiggle them to encourage the nozzle to slide off the barrel.

Removing the nozzle
CAUTION
CAUTION
Do not exert excessive force on the pen as you are wiggling. It is possible to break the front end completely off the barrel. Repeated wiggling with less force is sufficient.

If the nozzle refuses to budge after more effort than you think should be required, you can use heat to weaken the adhesive securing the nozzle. Using your heat gun, warm the nozzle carefully, spinning the pen around so that all sides of it are heated evenly, and then go back to wiggling. You might have to apply heat more than once; some nozzles can be very stubborn. It’s all right to get it more than hot enough to burn you, as there is no plastic to worry about — but don’t keep heating and heating; if you get things too hot, you might damage the rubber seal that keeps the nib from drying out when it’s retracted.

Heat gun
WARNING
WARNING
Despite what you may have read in various repair books (including Da Book), do not use an alcohol lamp or other open flame.

The key with this process is patience; it can take a lot of pushing and wiggling and heat.

The next figure shows the nozzle unit separated from the pen. The pen shown in the upper view is a first-generation model, with a compression-type coil spring inserted between the trap door and a hook. With this arrangement, the spring can be dislodged fairly easily. Newer pens, as shown in the lower view, have a more compact design, with a torsion spring that is less delicate and much more difficult to dislodge. Do not remove the spring or otherwise attempt to disassemble the trapdoor mechanism!

Pen parts
Pen parts

On the standard Vanishing Point, a small retaining clip secures the pen’s clip to the nozzle by slipping under the clip’s two folded-over ears, which protrude inward through slots in the nozzle:

The retaining clip

Using a sac-removal hook like the one in the photo below (or some similar hook-shaped tool), catch the inner end of the retaining clip and pull the clip out.

Sac removal tools

Slide the retaining clip about halfway out with the hook as shown below, and then grasp it with the chain-nose pliers to pull it the rest of the way. Remove the pen's clip and discard it along with the retaining clip.

Pulling the clip

Here are the parts of the standerd Vanishing Point’s nozzle:

Pen parts

If in removing the nozzle you scratched any of the paint off the barrel’s inner housing in the recessed area at the top, where the clip was, you can touch up the scratches with flat black modeler’s paint, available at most hobby shops.

The décimo is built differently. It has no retaining clip. Instead, the pen’s clip has ears that are bent outward instead of inward, and there is a much larger single cutout in the nozzle. To remove the clip from the nozzle, you need only angle the clip outward from the nozzle, rotate it about a quarter of a turn, and slide it out.

Pen parts

Reassembly

Apply a reasonable amount of G-S Hypo Cement around the outside of the barrel’s inner housing, being careful not to get any in the recessed area at the top. Slide the nozzle onto the front of the barrel, aligning it by matching up the space between the two slots in the nozzle with the notch in the barrel. The alignment won’t be perfect, but it will be close enough that the next step should be easy.

Aligning the nozzle

Install the nib and extend it, and align the nozzle as precisely as you can get it by looking at the pen head on, so that the bottom surface of the feed and the bottom edge of the nozzle’s opening are parallel, as shown here:

Aligning the nozzle

Remove the nib unit again. Do not reassemble the barrel this time.

With the nozzle properly aligned and pushed finger-tight onto the barrel, stand the front half of the barrel up, nose downward, on a cushioned desktop surface such as a clear desk pad. (The pad on my desk is by Artistic, and it came from Staples.) Using the mallet, give the back end of the barrel a moderately firm whack. Check to see that the nozzle is now firmly seated against the shoulder on the body; if it’s not, whack the pen again. When the nozzle is firmly seated, you can use a paper towel and your fingernails to remove any cement that oozed out of the joint. Here is the final result, ready to go back to work.

Fountain pen

And here is a décimo after conversion.

Fountain pen

Final Thoughts

The nozzle's holes look remarkably like the windows of an aircraft pilot's cockpit (maybe on a Star Wars fighter of some sort), and the clipless pen looks sleek and jetlike in a futuristic kind of way. It's wicked cool, actually.

Notes:
  1. G-S Hypo Cement is a clear cement used by jewelers for, among other things, affixing watch crystals. It comes in a tube with an extremely fine applicator nozzle, it is waterproof when dry, and it has a good working time. It is available from vendors on the Internet and in the beading departments of some craft stores.


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