Refilling the "Disposable" Pilot Varsity!

The Pilot Varsity fountain pen is an ideal beginner's writing tool. It comes preloaded with ink, eliminating the need for filling or cleaning, which can be intimidating for new users. But did you know,  although Pilot designed it to be a disposable pen, you don’t have to toss it? You can actually refill the massive pen body, but it requires a bit of finesse. That's why I’ve compiled some tips for refilling a Pilot Varsity that I think will help you refill your own! 

Bulb syringe, pipette, eyedropper, syringe, cotton swabs, pliers, ink, rubber

Before you get started, here’s everything you’ll need to refill your Pilot Varsity:

Refilling a Pilot Varsity

Pilot Varsity Fountain Pens

First, you’ll want to remove the nib. Luckily, it slides right off the feed, so you should be able to pull it off easily.

Next comes the trickiest part: removing the feed. It fits snugly inside the grip, making it difficult to remove due to the snap mechanism. This is where the pliers come in handy. Wrap a rubber or protective material around the top and bottom of the feed, then grip the feed with the pliers. Be careful not to grip the sides, as damaging them may prevent the nib from fitting back on. 

Pliers, Pilot Varsity fountain pen

Clamp the pliers with your dominant hand. With your other hand, hold the pen body using your pinky, ring, and middle fingers, while using your index finger and thumb to push the pen body away from the pliers in a controlled manner. Be cautious not to exert excessive force, as it may result in damaging the feed or splattering ink.

pliers, swabs, pipette, ink

After removing the feed, clean it as thoroughly as possible. Since it has a wick feed, flushing it with a bulb syringe may not be as effective as with a regular fountain pen, but you can still do it, although it may require more rinses. Personally, I find soaking the feed in dish soap or pen flush to be the most effective. Don’t be discouraged if you can't remove all the color from the feed; just do your best!

After rinsing out the pen barrel, select your preferred ink. While you can use any fountain pen ink you like, I recommend choosing something fairly conventional. Pigmented, shimmer, or high-maintenance inks are more likely to clog up the wick feed sooner, shortening the pen's usable life.

Pilot Varsity fountain pen

Using your preferred "ink transfer tool", fill the pen with approximately 1.5ml of ink right up to the line where the pen cap meets the barrel. That way, you can avoid any spillage or malfunctions when snapping it back into place. You’ll notice the ink chamber is essentially as large as the ink window which extends just a little bit beyone the word "Varsity" on the barrel. 1.5ml is a LOT of ink!

Correct way to reinsert Pilot Varsity nib

Once filled, reinsert the feed. I like to align it so that the nib corresponds with the Pilot Varsity wording, but feel free to do it your own way. Then, place the rubber on the feed and grip the top and bottom of the feed with the pliers, just as you did when removing it. However, this time, you'll be pushing it in instead of pulling it out. Push it in until it snaps into place and the feed is slightly inset into the grip. If it sits flush, it hasn't fully snapped into place.

Slide the nib back onto the feed, and let the pen sit for a while until the ink has the chance to work its way through the wick feed. If necessary, store your Varsity nib down for a bit to get the ink flowing.

Writing sample

As soon as you see ink writing out of the nib, you should be all set!

You can find your preferred Pilot Varsity pen, over 700 fountain pen inks, pen filling tools, and other accessories on our site. Write on!


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