Ask The Desk: Retro 51 Refills


Daisy asked:

Just got myself a new Retro 51 Tornado (Nine Lives edition) but I am a bit overwhelmed by potential refills. I like a fine black line, and ideally ink that won’t run when highlighted. Can you help narrow down my options? This may be heresy, but I’m not sure if I prefer ballpoint or rollerball, so suggestions for either or both would be good 🙂

I followed up with Daisy to determine exactly what size nib she preferred and she confirmed that she likes the Uni Jetstream in 0.5 and the Uni Style Fit in 0.4 and 0.5.

If you want to stick with a rollerball, the Schmidt P8126 Capless Rollerball in fine would be a good option. Or you could follow  Mike Rohde’s technique and just cut down a Pilot Juice or Pilot G2 refill or Mike’s favorite, the Pentel Energel. You can either buy a regular pen with one of these refills in it, or purchase a refill from your favorite retailer. My best recommendation is to open up some of the pens laying around your workspace and see if they might fit. If I find a pen I like, I always try to open it up to see if it will fit into my favorite pens. I hope that helps!

Retro 1951 + Pentel EnerGel Refill Hacking

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18 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ve been thinking about getting one for my husband, he prefers a wide black ballpoint. He’s currently using a Zebra F-701. Any ideas which ballpoint refills fit in a Tornado?

    1. Retro 51s will take Parker-style refills. I would recommend getting him the Easy-Flow 9000 from Retro 51 or the Monteverde Parker-Style Black 1.4mm Ballpoint Pen Refill. Both are available in blue or black ink and can be found at either Refill Finder or JetPens.

  2. I have a related question… I have a Retro 51 Tornado and a custom pen with a Parker refill. I don’t like the Parker in the custom pen and since the Retro 51 looked similar, I tried to move it over… No such luck. The Retro 51 refill is just a hair too big to fit. Refill Finder has the lengths of various refills, but no info on diameter. Do you happen to know if the Monteverde or Schmidt refills are the same diameter as the Parker?

    1. Most Parker-style refills should be of a similar diameter. You might check with Goldspot Pens (AKA The Refill Finder) and ask them if the Monteverde and Schmidt refills in the Parker-style are the same diameter.I’m sure they would be happy to check on that for you. Good luck!

  3. i bought some refills for the elite retro 51. When they arrived, I was surprised to see that they are only about 3 inches long, and the diameter of of a pencil lead. What pen will they fit? Thanks.

    1. Those are D1 refills which will fit the Slim Sterling (and similar Slim style designs from Retro51). D1 refills also fit in a lot of other pens. It’s one of the most common refill types. The Lamy 2000 MultiPen uses them and the Zebra Sharbo X use the D1 too.

      In the meantime, I found some Retro51 branded refills for your Elite on Ebay. I am not entirely sure the length of these but I suspect you could find alternate refills for this pen elsewhere. Just save an empty refill so that you can measure the overall length.

      Hope this helps!

  4. I love the retro 51 rollerball refill. Do you know what pen bodies will work with it? While I love the Retro 51, sometimes I prefer a capped pen.

  5. I have yet to figure out how anyone is getting an Energel refill into a Retro 51 Tornado… the tip of the refill just clears the end of the pen tip. No room for a spring. The should of the refill is simply too wide. I can imagine lathing down the plastic, but that seems excessive. Am I missing something?

      1. Ahh… see I was trying to get a 1.0 to work in the Tornado. The hack is for the .5 – that certainly explains it! I’ll be throwing the 1.0 in a drill and lathing down the shoulder of a .7 or 1.0. We’ll see! Thanks again!

  6. I recently purchased a Retro 51 but am having significant issues with the refill skipping on the page, I did some research and got a Schmidt 1826 refill.. this also has the same issue. This has occurred on my Rhodia notebooks and another type as wel… any ideas on why this may be occurring or what refill I should try next?

    1. Retro51s accept all Parker style refills. Why not try a Monteverde Parker gel refill?

      Other colors and tip sizes are available but this is a good example. The Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 would be another option.

      Hope these help.

  7. Hi. Need a little help.
    I’ve got a Retro51, Tornado.
    it has two points inside, one is a regular ink (Schmidt-Mine 635 -M) and the other looks like a yellow highlighter(?).
    I can’t find any reference models for this style of Retro51 Tornado or refills for the yellow highlighter (or is it just a stylus?) It doesn’t work with touch sensitive screens, so I’m just a little confused.

  8. I just purchased a Retro 51 Autumn Leaves from Goldspot. I had some Schmidt P900 refills hanging around, plus an actual Parker ballpoint pen. I tried both in the Retro 51 and no go. The refills from both are too long for the Retro 51. Maybe they changed their design? The top of the Retro 51 is definitely a different design – short capless with a little top hat looking top rather than the twisty thing that Parker uses.

    1. Wow. That is curious. I know the company changed to new owners last year so maybe the pens changed designs. I’ll be in Dallas next week and will stop and talk to the folks at Retro51 while I’m there. I’ll hopefully have more answers for your after the show.

    2. I spoke with the owners of Retro 51 this weekend and there have been no changes to the internal tooling and no changes to the refills. You may want to just try again to see if the refills just didn’t seat properly. This is a common issue with the Parker-style refills. If the plastic fins on the top of the refill don’t align properly with the grooves inside the pen, it can be difficult to get the pen closed again. Give it another whirl. Everything should fit.

      1. You’re absolutely correct! I rolled the refill around in the barrel and voila! The pen now works beautifully. Thanks so much!

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