Hero 616 Jumbo

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Whenever I’ve been scouting around for cheap but good Chinese pens recently, it has been Jinhao that has come most readily to mind. Recently, though, someone suggested the Hero 616 Jumbo. I picked one up for a very reasonable price and here it is: yet another Parker 51 clone – or so it seems. Actually it’s more of a pen than it appears, at 13.9 cm capped. I don’t have a Parker 51 at the moment to compare it with but I suspect that both cap and barrel are longer.  It has the usual “Parker Arrow” and the cap has a faint lined pattern. The green barrel and section are made of what seems to be a reasonably durable plastic. Two rings protrude sufficiently to grip the cap giving firm closure but I wonder how long this will last.
It has a squeeze type converter which draws a decent supply of ink. This pen has one problem that recurs: on pulling off the cap there is often ink on the section. This is the old problem of a tight, unventilated cap drawing ink from the reservoir when opened. It’s a problem that was solved by the early nineteen hundreds but it seems that Hero need to reinvent the wheel.
I don’t suppose it would matter with such an inexpensive pen. I could just chalk it up to experience and consign the pen to the bucket. Problem is, it’s an absolutely splendid writer – a real delight to use! I certainly don’t want to throw it away but nor do I want to have ink on my fingers everytime I use it.

I think the answer will be to drill a small hole in the cap to release the vacuum.


15 thoughts on “Hero 616 Jumbo

  1. sounds a great pen Deb, thanks for sharing. I’ve just measured several 51s, and they look to be about the same as your Hero – this copying of the 51 size may well be deliberate.
    I’ve not had to put holes in caps before, but occurs to me that even the smallest drill bit might possibly produce a hole a tad bigger than you need – although being a bike enthusiast you may have a better selection than most of us.
    You could experiment by using something like a panel pin – with the head clipped off – inserted into a drill chuck (silver foil wrapped to give better grip) and seeing what sort of hole you get.
    Might be an idea to push a profiled dowel into the cap, so that the pressure, as you drill, doesn’t indent the surface of the cap. I agree that the writing looks good.
    Best of luck:)

  2. I own and use several Hero 616 Jumbo and have never experienced the problem described. Also, are you certain that the ink found in the cap results from a vacuum caused by the cap’s removal? Why not test your hypothesis in some way; perhaps by allowing the cap to be loosely fitted? If ink continues to wet the section, the pressure-gravity balance may be at fault.

    Al in Philadelphia

  3. It is my understanding that there exists a balanced condition that prevents ink-flow until nib touches paper. Pressure within the ink’s chamber is somewhat less than that of the atmosphere and thus creating an upward pull acting against gravity, and so a balanced condition exists. This balance may be destroyed by a feed that causes the admittance of too great a volume of air at atmospheric pressure into the ink-chamber. When such occurs, the low pressure in the ink chamber is destroyed and no longer provides a balancing upward pull against gravity’s downward.

    That said, when nib touches paper, the ink-flow created by the capillary action further decreases air pressure within the ink-chamber and thus enabling atmospheric air, now able to overcome the resistance offered by the feed’s air channel, to enter that chamber. The balance is so maintained and is only overcomed by the pull of capillary action.

    I would suspect that your 616 has a feed that admits too much air at atmospheric pressure into the chamber.


  4. sounds a very logical explanation Al:) Re your suspicions that this 616 may have a feed which allows too much air at atmospheric pressure into the ink chamber – might this be corrected by refitting the nib and/or re-seating the feed itself – it’s not easy to see what’s going on with these hooded nibs?
    The suggestion of possibly leaving the cap off, or capping very lightly, should show if the leakage occurs irrespective of the cap being in place or not.

    I suppose you can’t expect too high a level of trim on some of these inexpensive pens, but would have thought that vent. holes would be standard issue – obviously not.

  5. Hello Deb,
    The 616 inner cap is normally ventilated and should not cause the problem you describe. I normally totally dismantle those pens, akin of the Parker “51” restauration, in order to have a perfect perfomance from them. Best is to have a few of them and match the parts together to avoid any leaking like you describe.
    If you look for a good chinese pen, buy a Hero 100. It is a true aero-metric filler with a gold nib. I have reviewed one on my blog (in french…), in the flighter finish.

    1. An interesting discussion and I might make this a little project to see what’s right and what’s wrong among the suggestions as to why the Hero 616 is misbehaving. I actually have a Hero 100 somewhere. Yes, it’s a good pen.

      I confess I have my doubts about Al’s suggestion that there is a difference in pressure between the ink reservoir and the atmosphere. Given that there are large channels in the feed I’m pretty certain that the pressures are equalised. We don’t need another explanation for how a pen works – that’s taken care of by capillary action which enables ink flow onto the paper and stops once the pen is taken away from the paper.

      Leaving the cap off will just allow the nib to dry out. Capping very lightly would probably have the same effect. It doesn’t seem to me that that is an experiment to show why the pen is producing large drops of ink on the section when it is uncapped.

      I get the impression that there might be a little bit of mansplaining going on here. I may be a girly but it’s worth saying that I have restored about 25 motor bikes, stripping them down to the last nut and bolt, in my younger days. I think I can understand the physics of fountain pens.

  6. apologies if we appeared patronising Deb, am sure you’ve forgotten more about pens than some of us will ever know………… but might you have a look at the engine mountings on my Rover if you’ve a moment, please:)

    Amazing what you can see when you look a little closer at pens…………. most of the ’50’s and ’60’s Parker aerometric Duofolds (the plastic jobs) have holes in the caps – my 51’s. 61’s and 21’s with metal caps do not – neither do other metal bodied models.
    Sheaffer appear to have forgotten about holes for a long time too, so cap holes appear to be very hit and miss – I don’t know the thinking behind all this.

    Remove the cap and hold a pen vertically with nib pointing down – even if loaded with full ink capacity, why doesn’t the ink run out??
    Is the answer………..
    a………… I don’t know
    b………… since ink in the feed prevents air entering the reservoir then ink remains in suspension along the lines of the tumbler of water with rigid cover placed on top. When tumbler and cover are inverted very quickly, nothing happens………. vacuum in tumbler prevents water from pouring out, and vacuum will continue to hold water in suspension until air enters tumbler. This might be possible answer, and is similar to Al’s explanation.
    c……………very small quantity of ink in feed is attracted to surface of feed and nib – most liquids with viscosity similar to water seem to have this property. This static ink in the business end of the pen holds back ink in the main chamber. Flying a kite really with this idea:)

    Since the Hero is inexpensive, why not bang out the feed and nib, re-seat, and see if any improvement.
    Mind you, could just be the big ends have gone:)

    1. Oh’ dear, how to respond to suppressed anger unsuccessfully masked by a tone of civility? Well, ‘very sorry that you felt I was “mansplaining”. I wasn’t; but rather simply and tentatively offering an explanation.

      ‘Pleased to hear that you’ve had a go at motorbikes. I ride a Royal Enfield 350 and have certifications in motor vehicle repair.

      1. I was completely unaware of the suppressed anger of which you speak but I’m sure you must be right. Thanks for explaining that.

        An Enfield 350? Fine old bike (or old in design if it’s one of the modern Indian ones), almost as powerful as a modern 125. Good to hear that you know how to clean the spark plug and lubricate the chain.

  7. I’d suggest that restoring 25 bikes was a little more than ‘had a go at motorbikes’ Al – c’mon where’s your sense of Philly’s motto of ‘City of Brotherly Love’.
    We hear by the way that in the States they do give away a lot of certificates:)

    We often don’t agree with each others thoughts or ideas, but the secret of success of getting on with others is to try to be tolerant and charitable toward their choice of words – we’re all different and none of us is beyond reproach, at times:)

    Girly or no, I’m a big fan of Deb’s candid and usually well informed explanations – Happy New Year to everyone by the way:):)

    1. An Enfield 350? Fine old bike (or old in design if it’s one of the modern Indian ones), almost as powerful as a modern 125. Good to hear that you know how to clean the spark plug and lubricate the chain.

      Well, there you go again with your suppressed anger bubbling to the surface in the form of passive-aggressive comments.

      1. The fact that you think I have suppressed anger, or indeed any anger, is something I find vastly amusing. Since only I can possibly know what my emotional state is at any given moment, I could try to assure you that I am not angry in the least, but it’s obvious that you will either (a) not believe me, or (b) tell me I’m wrong about my own state of mind. So I won’t try to convince you. After all, you are very predictable – next thing you’ll be telling me is that it’s “down to hormones.”

        Anyway, this has bugger-all to do with pens.

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