(Mis)Adventures in Pen Resurrection: Sheaffer Touchdown TM Valiant

I’m not sure why I haven’t written about this pen yet, as it was my first “proper” pen restoration. I found it in an antique shop a few months ago, and after some research, identified it as a Sheaffer Touchdown Thin Model (TM) Valiant. (The “TD Valiant,” henceforth.)

This Sheaffer TD Valiant dates to the early 1950s, and like most pens of its era, it’s not very big. When uncapped, it’s about a third of an inch shorter than an uncapped Pilot Metropolitan, and its section and barrel are proportionally smaller in diameter. It fits my small hands very well.

The TD Valiant has that classic pen look. You know what I’m talking about because millions of pens have been made that look a lot like this one.

This pen is made of plastic, with a gold plated clip and cap band. The cap screws on to the barrel. It can be posted, but I don’t particularly enjoy it as the metal innards of the cap scrape against the barrel plastic in an unpleasant way.

The trim on this pen is very clean and the barrel is in great shape, but check out this glorious nib.

This pen has my favorite nib ever, full stop. It’s a 14k Sheaffer “Triumph” Lifetime nib, and there’s an intangible quality to it that I can’t describe. It’s smooth, but not too smooth. It’s fine, but not too fine. It’s wet, but not too wet. Goldilocks finds this nib juuuuust right.

Sheaffer produced Triumph nibs in an innumerable number of different grinds and I have no idea what grind this one has. Whatever it is, it produces a hint of line variation that adds a distinctive look to my handwriting when compared to my writing with rounder nibs like a Pilot Metro medium.

The TD Valiant has a Touchdown filling system, which I’ve written about before. To summarize, a Touchdown filler uses a sleeved sac and a bit of clever engineering to create a vacuum to draw ink into the sac on the downstroke of a plunger.

As with most vintage pens found in the wild, it took some work to get this pen writing again. After a thorough flush and soak in a 10:1 water/ammonia mix, the first thing I found was that the sac had fossilized inside its protector sleeve.

I literally had to drill the old sac out by hand, twisting the drill bits with my fingers. There wasn’t much left of the sac when I finished.

With the old sac removed, I disassembled the rest of the pen.

I replaced the sac with a new one.

Touchdown fillers have an o-ring at the knob end of the barrel. These o-rings can harden with age. If the sac needs replacing, so does the o-ring.

New o-ring in place, I reassembled the pen and lubricated the plunger with a dab of silicone.

Restoring a Touchdown filler isn’t as easy as replacing the sac in a lever-filler pen, but pressing down the plunger and hearing that vacuum seal release with a whoosh makes the extra effort worthwhile.

Sheaffer Touchdown TM Valiant

This is my first proper pen restoration since it needed more than just a good cleaning. Its sac had long since ossified and it had to be chipped out of its enclosing sac protector. After a new sac and o-ring, this pen works perfectly.

The nib on this pen is my absolute favorite. I love how it writes and how it makes my handwriting look. It’s going to take a lot to keep this one out of my pen rotation.

(Waterman Inspired Blue, Tomoe River paper)

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