Genuine Cross RB refill in slimline pen...doesn't fit?

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LK&T

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So, my first pen was a slimline kit from Woodcraft. Finished the pen and quickly found out the provided "Cross style" rollerball refill isn't exactly what you call a fine writing instrument. This evening I rolled down to my local Office Depot and picked up a Cross refill off the shelf (medium, black ink). Came home and found out the refill will not fit through the transmission mechanism. It looks like there is a shoulder in the bore of the mechanism that probably steadies the..... barrel? reservoir? pen? shiny part that holds ink?....... of the refill. So much new nomenclature! Anyway, the thing won't fit. My first questions- has anyone else had this issue? Is it unique to the Woodcraft pen kits, or are all "Cross style" kits unable to take a genuine Cross refill? My first inclination would be to think this is done on purpose to keep Cross from throwing lawyers at folks for making pens that use their refills and violating patents, copyrights, blah blah blah legalspeak blah blah blah.

I poked around the forum a little and found some great info on better quality refills that seem to fit fine. Looks like I'll have to explore some of those options. I don't like the idea of giving pens as gifts or selling pens with the crummy stock refills. Another question- are any of these better quality refills available in retail stores, or are they only available online from sites that support the pen making nerds of the world? Asking for a friend....

Lastly, and just because I can be very stubborn and like to buy in person instead of order online, has anyone modified a slimline kit to take a genuine Cross refill? I have a drill press, access to any drill size I want/need, precision measuring tools and a willingness to absolutely trash the pen I just made. If you've done it, I'd like to hear your story.

Thanks everyone!
 
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duncsuss

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I've never had that problem when I've replaced the junk ballpoint refill that came with a Slimline kit with a genuine Cross refill. It sounds strange that yours would not fit, I'd take it up with Woodcraft.

(By the way - ballpoint, not rollerball, they are different animals.)
 

darrin1200

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Don’t take this the wrong way, but did you buy the correct refill.
You mention a Genuine Cross rollerball. The slimline takes ballpoint refills. There is a huge difference.
Cross’s Rolling Ball will not fit into a slimline.
 

its_virgil

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I have replaced the refill for most every ballpoint that uses ths cross style ballpoint with refills from just about everywhere and never had one not work.
Do a good turn daily!
Don
 

turnit2020

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Slim line pens do not ever come with or are designed to take rollerball refills. If you put the original ballpoint refill into the pen it will work fine.
turncrazy43
 

LK&T

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Everyone, thanks for the replies and correcting me on the ballpoint and rollerball nomenclature. I'm still working on wrapping my head around all the new-to-me nomenclature involved here. I'm not a full blown pen nerd yet, but I'm running that direction as fast as I can.

So I did buy the correct refill for the pen- a ballpoint. Cross item # 8514, to be exact. It looks identical to the refill that came with the kit. However, it is not. Using a Starrett dial caliper, the refill that came with the kit measures a TINY bit over 7/64 of an inch. The Cross refill measures a tiny bit under 1/8 of an inch. A small but significant difference, considering it still won't fit in the darn pen even after measuring (I find that measuring sometimes makes things fit- don't ask me how I don't understand it either). I'm left to conclude that the kit is made to fit the refill it comes with and the Cross refill isn't gonna until I do something about it. According to you folks this has not been an issue, but it wouldn't be the first time I've ordered a woodturning kit and things did not go together quite right...... I'm looking at you, peppermill.

Here's hoping I have a one-off that slipped through the rigorous quality control folks at a factory somewhere in Asia. Like I said, this kit came from Woodcraft. There can't be that many manufacturers making pen kits. I'd think this issue will continue to pop up if it's an intentional design "feature", no matter where you order the kit. I have 10 slimlines coming from a different vendor today (Craft Supplies), so I'll see. I chose their Artisan series, which is maybe an upgrade to the Woodcraft kit. I'm not sure.

Another thing I just thought of- maybe Cross has changed their refill. If any of you folks have older Cross ballpoint refills (see, I can learn) and can accurately measure them, it may shed some light on the matter. It may also be totally useless.

If I decide to try and drill out the mechanism to make the Cross refill fit, I'll report back. I suspect that'll be the direction I take, since I could potentially waste time and money ordering other refills that may or may not fit the pen.

Thanks everyone!
 

magpens

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" If I decide to try and drill out the mechanism to make the Cross refill fit, I'll report back. I suspect that'll be the direction I take, ......... "

DON'T DO THAT !!

Let's back up to the beginning .... What is the name of the Woodcraft kit that you made up ? . "Slimline" would not be the kit name, I don't think.
Usually "slimline" is used as a generic term and the kit has another more specific name, unless, perhaps, it was one of these:

" Item 158358 - Model SSS - WoodRiver - 7mm Slimline Starter Pen Kits Sets "

A Cross refill should have a diameter of close to 0.120" over the full length of the chrome-plated portion (excluding the short tip).
 
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LK&T

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" If I decide to try and drill out the mechanism to make the Cross refill fit, I'll report back. I suspect that'll be the direction I take, ......... "

DON'T DO THAT !!

Let's back up to the beginning .... What is the name of the Woodcraft kit that you made up ? . "Slimline" would not be the kit name, I don't think.
Usually "slimline" is used as a generic term and the kit has another more specific name, unless, perhaps, it was one of these:

" Item 158358 - Model SSS - WoodRiver - 7mm Slimline Starter Pen Kits Sets "

A Cross refill should have a diameter of close to 0.120" over the full length of the chrome-plated portion (excluding the short tip).
Mal, here's the link to the kit. They call it a Slim Style. https://www.woodcraft.com/products/slim-style-solid-clip-ballpoint-pen-kit-cobalt-gold#

My Cross refill measures barely under 1/8", which is right on the money for 0.120". The refill that came with the pen is barely over 7/64", which works out to be right at 0.110". The Cross refill definitely does not fit.

.....one minute later.....

It went in. Please see my next post, and thanks for giving me pause enough to try it again.
 

LK&T

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Well, I decided to try again and it went through. I used a judicious amount of brute force and ignorance and forced it through the transmission. And I mean forced- it took a good hard push to get it to go through. There's still a bit of a hang at the tip end of the refill, which does measure slightly larger than the rest of the barrel/reservoir/shiny part that holds ink. I was surprised it went in considering it was a solid stop before, and in the machining world 0.010" (measured difference between the two refills) is not a slip fit - that much of a difference means parts simply don't fit. I believe there was a bit of "stuff" left over from manufacture that had to be pushed out of the way. Likely it's a matter of tooling/setup getting a bit worn on the assembly line, and quality control will eventually catch it. Then again it could just be my unique, special wonky pen.

Lessons learned:
1) Brute force and ignorance works every time it doesn't. YMMV!
2) Making a mountain out of a molehill gets you good answers from the interwebs. I tried the last time and pushed really hard because all you folks said it should fit.
3) I like pens.

Thanks everyone!
 

monophoto

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Chad

Ball-point and roller ball are totally different technologies. Ball point pens use a thick, oil-based ink while roller-ball pens use a thin water-based ink. Because the ink in roller-ball pens is thin and water based, refills can dry out quickly. For that reason, roller ball pens have caps and must be capped when not in use. Ball-point pens do not have caps and can be left open. Dimensions are also quite different.

Second, I would seriously doubt that Cross would change the dimensions of its standard refill. Cross has been around for a very long time and is a major international manufacturer of pens headquartered in Providence, RI (but with volume manufacturing now done in China). But because they sell a range of pens, some of which are pretty pricey, and because the owners of those pens keep and use them for many years, there's no way that they are going to screw up their reputation and the relationship they have with their loyal customers by switching to refills that are incompatible with existing pens.

So-called 'slimline' pen kits are made by a variety of low-end manufacturers in Taiwan and China. While they may like to advertise that their kits are 'Cross-compatible', the fact is that they supply Cross-like refills that are also manufactured in non-Cross factories in Asia. And because their business is focused on kits and not on maintaining ongoing relationships with the owners of the pens made from those kits, they are less concerned with compatibility.

With that background, you are not the first person who has encountered this situation - if you search the history on this forum, you will find that others have encountered compatibility problems involving slimline kits and both the original refill and aftermarket replacements. I haven't tried to look for previous postings, but my recollection is that the consensus in the past was that the problem was not with the transmission, but rather with the nib cone - the hole in some cones was too small and would not allow the tip of the refill to pass through, and the presumed root cause of this problem was poor quality control over the plating of the nib cone.

So-called 'Cross' refills conform to an international standard where they are designated as 'C1 refills'. Here is a dimensioned drawing from one refill manufacturer's web site that show that the of the end of the nib is 1.95mm, and with a tolerance of +0.01 and -0.03mm. With the diameter this small, its easy to understand how a little extra plating on the nib cone could make the hole too small for the nib end of the refill to pass through.
1606939199049.png



My suggestion is that you examine your situation more closely to see if the problem is in the transmission itself, or in the nib cone. If its the nib cone, the solution that has previously been suggested is to ream it out using a drill bit.
 

magpens

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Well, I'm glad you got YOUR Cross refill to go into the kit transmission.

The Woodcraft instructions for that particular don't seem to use the name "Cross" but I can't imagine it being any other refill.

The tightness of the fit in the transmission is not an important issue, IMHO, because there is never any relative motion between the two after assembly.

So ...... you have a working pen ! . Congratulations !! . Onward and upward !!

BTW .... just a suggestion: don't spend too long on slimlines. . They are actually harder to make than many other styles of kit pens.

The kits using Parker style refills are usually more satisfying to make and give to your friends/family.
One popular kit style which is quite attractive and easy to make is the Sierra ("made" by Berea Hardwoods, and sold by many vendors).
There are quite a few variants of this design. . You will come across the names Gatsby, Ellipse, and Thank-you pen kits, to name just a few.
All are based on a brass tube which is referred to as a 27/64"diameter tube (although it is a few thou under that size). . The tube is 2.20" long for the twist version of the pen and 2.42" long for the click version. . These kits have one brass tube only, which is part of their appeal for beginners.

There are other styles also. . You just have to shop around. . Be sure to ask before you buy if you are unsure about anything. . Many IAP members will be happy to help you with your buying decisions.

Spend a few hours browsing some websites like ..... www.ExoticBlanks.com ..... , ..... www.BearToothWoods.com ..... , www.TurnersWarehouse.com .....

A lot of people like ..... www.PennStateInd.com ..... , also known as PSI, some of whose products are also sold by the other vendors already mentioned

As opposed to companies like Woodcraft and Rockler, the above mentioned companies are totally committed to serving us pen makers, and, because of that specialization, they give better overall service and greater variety with respect to the products we are interested in like kits and blanks.

I cannot stress enough that you should ask questions here on IAP about anything .
 
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LK&T

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Chad

Ball-point and roller ball are totally different technologies. Ball point pens use a thick, oil-based ink while roller-ball pens use a thin water-based ink. Because the ink in roller-ball pens is thin and water based, refills can dry out quickly. For that reason, roller ball pens have caps and must be capped when not in use. Ball-point pens do not have caps and can be left open. Dimensions are also quite different.

Second, I would seriously doubt that Cross would change the dimensions of its standard refill. Cross has been around for a very long time and is a major international manufacturer of pens headquartered in Providence, RI (but with volume manufacturing now done in China). But because they sell a range of pens, some of which are pretty pricey, and because the owners of those pens keep and use them for many years, there's no way that they are going to screw up their reputation and the relationship they have with their loyal customers by switching to refills that are incompatible with existing pens.

So-called 'slimline' pen kits are made by a variety of low-end manufacturers in Taiwan and China. While they may like to advertise that their kits are 'Cross-compatible', the fact is that they supply Cross-like refills that are also manufactured in non-Cross factories in Asia. And because their business is focused on kits and not on maintaining ongoing relationships with the owners of the pens made from those kits, they are less concerned with compatibility.

With that background, you are not the first person who has encountered this situation - if you search the history on this forum, you will find that others have encountered compatibility problems involving slimline kits and both the original refill and aftermarket replacements. I haven't tried to look for previous postings, but my recollection is that the consensus in the past was that the problem was not with the transmission, but rather with the nib cone - the hole in some cones was too small and would not allow the tip of the refill to pass through, and the presumed root cause of this problem was poor quality control over the plating of the nib cone.

So-called 'Cross' refills conform to an international standard where they are designated as 'C1 refills'. Here is a dimensioned drawing from one refill manufacturer's web site that show that the of the end of the nib is 1.95mm, and with a tolerance of +0.01 and -0.03mm. With the diameter this small, its easy to understand how a little extra plating on the nib cone could make the hole too small for the nib end of the refill to pass through.
View attachment 291932


My suggestion is that you examine your situation more closely to see if the problem is in the transmission itself, or in the nib cone. If its the nib cone, the solution that has previously been suggested is to ream it out using a drill bit.
Louie, thank you for the information. Thinking about why Cross wouldn't change their refills makes a lot of sense. I didn't really think that was the case, but threw it out there too see what came back. You and Mel confirmed that they're all the same.

The issue I had was definitely the transmission, not the nib. About 1 1/4" of the refill would go into the transmission before it encountered the blockage. Last night, when this first happened, I did start wondering about the nib and put the end of the refill through the nib from the "bottom", and there's no issue. Since I forced the refill through the transmission the pen extends and retracts as advertised. Knowing what I know now, I suspect a manufacturing faux pas, or maybe it's a case of one tolerance being maxed out and the other at the minimum. Really, it's hard to say other than it happened. These things are mass produced on the cheap and it's due to the wonders of modern manufacturing they aren't all problematic. And it just so happened that this is my first pen, so I'm like "What the.....".
 

Mortalis

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Could it be that the refill purchased from Office Depot had a small clear protective ball on the very tip? This might cause the refill to feel like it might not fit as it could generate some interference going through the tip if the hole diameter is close enough to the refill tip diameter.
 

LK&T

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Could it be that the refill purchased from Office Depot had a small clear protective ball on the very tip? This might cause the refill to feel like it might not fit as it could generate some interference going through the tip if the hole diameter is close enough to the refill tip diameter.
The issue was not with the tip, but the bigger diameter of the reservoir part of the refill hitting a blockage in the transmission. I can see some sort of sleeve or shoulder in the transmission mechanism that the refill has to pass through, and it was just too small for the Cross refill to fit until I muscled it. It still hangs a little bit where the reservoir is the widest, where the writing tip is mounted.
 

LK&T

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Addendum to this post. I made a bunch of slimline style pens for Christmas gifts. The kits were all Artisan slimlines from Craft Supplies. Like the Woodcraft kits, the Cross refill had to be pushed past some sort of blockage in the transmission. Not all were the same- some had to be pushed harder than others. Definitely not a big deal now that I know it's not an "issue", but they all seem to be the same.
 
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