It isn't always obvious how to get ink into an older fountain pen. The number of different filling mechanisms is enormous, and even once you figure out the essentials of how a given mechanism works, there are often essential tricks and techniques that may not be immediately apparent.
Fortunately, most old fountain pens use one of a relatively limited number of filling systems. For detailed filling instructions, click on the links at left. Before you do, however, be sure to read the important information below, which is applicable to fountain pens of all sorts.
DO NOT attempt to force a sticky filler mechanism! Lifting a lever against a hardened ink sac is one of the easiest ways to damage a pen; damage can also be done by forcibly twisting the end knob of a gummed-up piston-filler or safety.
DO NOT operate a filler with the cap on. If the sac cannot vent freely, the stress on the filler mechanism is greatly multiplied.
When filling any pen that uses a rubber ink sac, leave the nib (or Snorkel tube, if applicable) in ink for a full ten seconds after releasing pressure on the sac. Nine out of ten complaints of a sac pen not holding enough ink are due to the user's impatience, for if the nib is withdrawn too soon, the sac will fill with air instead of ink.
In most vintage fountain pens, the nib must be fully immersed when filling – the end of the section should also be covered (the bottom end, not the top: you don't want ink getting into the barrel!). The Snorkel is an obvious exception, but several more conventional pens were furnished with improved feeds which permitted proper filling as long as the nib's vent hole was covered. Waterman and Pelikan adopted such feeds in the '30s, while Sheaffer's "TipDip" appeared only in the '50s. If your pen makes audible sucking sounds when filling, it is not so equipped – dunk its nib all the way to the section.
Click here to see original 1932 Waterman Tip Fill instructions