Sheaffer Snorkel Filling

Sheaffer Snorkel—use and maintenance

The Sheaffer Snorkel is an iconic fountain pen that was introduced in the 50s. At the time, ballpoint pens were starting to come into their own and were eating away at fountain pen sales. So Sheaffer develeped the snorkel filling system to try to make the act of filling fountain pen as painless as possible. Their advertisements made a big deal out of the fact that you didn’t have to wipe away excess ink any longer.

From a pen restorer’s point of view, the snorkel is one of the most complex filling mechanisms there is. But, like most Sheaffers of the day, it is a beautiful pen that performs very well.

Filling the pen

Filling a Snorkel is not difficult, and can be fun for newbies to watch.

That’s it! No wiping, no mess.

Emptying & cleaning the pen

Emptying the pen of any ink that is left in the ink sac is pretty easy. Just follow the steps for filling the pen without putting it in any ink.

Cleaning all traces of ink from your pen, on the other hand, is kind of a pain. To clean the pen you must repeat the process of filling the pen (only with water) until it runs clear. But even when you have done this, since the ink and water bypasses the nib and feed when it is being filled, you are still going to have ink in the nib that won’t flush out. To address this I usually flush it as much as I can, and then shake the excess out into a sink (or spinning the pen in an old sock with a paper towel wrapped around the nib). You’ll have to repeat this process several times, and in all likelihood there will still be some ink left in the nib.

Here’s a scan of the original instruction sheet that Sheaffer included with the pens.

Sheaffer Snorkel Instructions