Hacking a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Refill into a Retro 51

Podcast listeners have heard Myke and I discussing the Retro 51 Tornado ad nauseum for months now, and one of the recurring themes on my side of the ledger is the fact that I would prefer a finer tip than the provided 0.7 mm. There is nothing wrong with that refill - it is one of the best in that size range I have used - but as you know, my preferences lie in 0.5 mm tips and smaller.

Admittedly, I have been lazy in finding substitute refills for my Tornado. The provided refill is manufactured by Schmidt (one of the largest and best cartridge manufacturers in my opinion) so if nothing else I should be able to find a suitable replacement. I just haven’t made the time to research it properly.

Enter @Joe_Austen. Joe is a Twitter follower and was kind enough to share his pen hack involving a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto refill and a Retro 51 Tornado barrel. Here are his instructions:

So, you enjoy the body and mechanism of the Retro 51 Tornado, but can’t get along with its fat Western refill? Too many years of Japanese gel pens preventing you from loving the 51 like you should? Want a pretty, but durable, home for your Hi Tec C obsession? Tired of ridiculous questions?

Convert your Retro 51 Tornado to take Pilot Hi Tec C refills in several easy steps.

1. You need to start with a Pilot Hi Tec C Coleto refill:

Coleto refill

2. Cut the coloured plastic end cap down to size. The trick here is to start by making it too long, and taking off small amounts until it’s the correct size (don’t worry, this is a one off procedure per pen you want to convert). To gauge the correct size, you need to put the refill into your Retro 51 body without the spring ( and with the rollerball refill removed). When the tip is retracted you don’t want to see it:

Tip retracted

and when it is extended you want about this much showing:

Tip extended

When your end piece is about the correct length it should look something like this:

Resized end cap

(I reiterate, start too long and work down).

3. Place the spring from the Retro 51 over the tip of your shortened Coleto refill, so that the wider end of the tapered spring goes over the tip first:

Spring on refill

Stop when the smaller end of the spring is just covering the tip.

4. Make a shoulder for the spring to rest on at this position, using tape:

Tape shoulder

5. Slide the spring back onto your refill (again, wide end first).

Your completed refill should look like:

Completed refill

6. Stick the refill into your Retro 51 and test.

7. Do the same for all of your Retro 51s:

RetroTec 51s

To change the refill:

1. Take plastic end piece of your empty refill and stick it on your new refill.

2. Use tape to make a shoulder for the spring to rest on the new refill.

3. Put together and enjoy.

Thank you so much for putting this together Joe! While this may be more of an advanced hack it goes to show you that there are other options out there for the Retro 51 Tornado.

Posted on June 27, 2012 and filed under Hacks, Hi-Tec-C, Retro 51.