Educate me on fountain pens

Discussion in 'The Nib' started by perogee, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. There are days that I hate you all around here :lol:. I guess I could not be content with soaps, brushes and all that other paraphernalia so I have started to get some fountain pens. I am now carrying a Lamy Safari daily and I have a Waterman Phileas inbound, both with converters.

    Now to where I am looking for information. What should I know in terms of things like maintenance and what accessories should I have? I know I have ran into references to blotter pads and the like and was wondering about the general purpose of such things (such as, are they only for use when refilling, or do they serve more purposes?) Are there other necessary, or at least really helpful things to have?

    Thanks for any information
  2. I'm sorry. It may be too late for you.

    You went for the High End pens.

    I got hooked on Chinese Fountain Pens.

    *sigh* Four Months ago I was perfectly happy using ballpoint pens, and now I have more Noodler's Ink than I know what to do with.

    And Jinhao pens... I don't even know how many are on the way...

    Save yourself. Walk away from FPAD now.
  3. I carry a Elysee Parthenon fountain, roller ball, and ballpoint as my daily writing instruments.
    the fountain has an italic nib. Good writing tools are a joy to use.
  4. Accessories you need? None, though a pen case will keep them safe in your backpack or briefcase.

    As far as maintenance goes, there's not much to do. When you change inks, or if the pen starts skipping, then give it a good rinse with cool water--just keep flushing it til it runs clear. If you let ink dry in it, or if you've bought a neglected pen, soak it in a 10% ammonia solution which is very good at dissolving old ink. I've bought more than one pen which was clearly put away full of ink in the 1930's that ammonia has nicely cleaned out.

    Let it dry before you put new ink in it, or a tried and true technique to get it dry enough to re-ink sooner is to wrap the nib in tissue paper and flick it like a thermometer (if you're old enough to remember what that is, lol).

    If the pen starts to act scratchy, then it's likely the nib tines are misaligned. A jeweler's loupe is useful here--look closely to see if one tine is higher than the other. If so, gently bend it (fingers only!) to get them both the same height.

    If it's still scratchy, then there are various techniques to smooth it out. Check out forums for more advice than you'll ever need, as well as severe Fountain pen acquisition disorder. One easy one is to draw some lazy circles on a brown paper bag, rolling the nib gently around as you do it. The paper is somewhat abrasive and can smooth out a scratchy nib. Or rub the nib on the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a pre-1975 penny, which are real copper and also a mild abrasive. Pen repair folks sell useful microabrasive sheets, but do some reading before you try any of this stuff (including the paper bag and penny tricks) because you can mess up a pen. Excellent advice can also be found at Richard Binder's site he's an excellent pen repair guy and salesperson.

    You have a Safari and a Phileas? Very solid, modern pens that will be trouble free for years. Sometimes converters wallow out at the end that fits in the pen and leak, but they're cheap to replace. Don't mix inks (some combinations can react in bad ways), and never use india ink or anything that is not specifically labeled for fountain pens.

    Really, don't drop it and flush it out every once in a while and you'll be fine.
  5. Hi Perogee,

    Blotting-paper is used to prevent bleeding and feathering (where the ink seeps through the page and spreads out and looks all messy). Blotting the ink soaks it up and makes it dry faster and prevents any unnecessary mess. You can buy blotting-paper from arts and crafts shops or from news-agents/stationers. They come in HUGE whopping A-1 sheets the size of a small billiard table.

    Big old blotter-pads (called "desk-blotters") are placed on desks to prevent dripping ink from damaging the desk-surface. I have one on my desk, out of sheer necessity.
  6. Excellent post by TickTock that covers most of the basics. I'd like to add that different inks behave differently and that if you are having some problems with a pen then the first thing to check is the ink. For example, using a dry ink in a drier pen can cause skipping. I don't think you'll have too many problems with the Lamy or Phileas though, as they are known workhorses. The only real accessory I have is a leather pen case. As stated by TickTock, it keeps my pens looking nice and new when stored in my pocket.

    You mention blotter paper. That is used to soak up excess ink off of a page. Generally it's put onto a rocker and then you rock it back and forth once to soak up the ink. It would only really be useful for a VERY wet pen, perhaps if you're doing some calligraphy. I haven't ever used one and with your current pens you shouldn't need one either. When refilling, you just need some paper towel handy to wipe off the nib and section.
  7. maxman

    maxman Moderator Emeritus

    I hate to tell you this, but the pens are horribly addicting.
    Pens need ink. Ok, so buy a bunch of ink. Private Reserve? Noodlers? Montrgrappa? Why not? mulitple colours? Of course you need them!
    Oh, but wait, pens need paper.
    Will any paper do (technically yes) but actually NO!
    Arches or Clairfontaine? Pick up a Rhodia pad or two?

    Oh and you'll need a leather case to keep your investment from getting banged up.

    Then if you have a few you'll need a box to keep them in and a stand for the one on your desk.

    But do check out the chinese pens. Most people here have one or two (including me)

    At the end of the day, after it's all said and done, a nice FP with nice ink on nice paper is the way to go. Enjoy! :laugh:
  8. then you think... hmm lamy safari just doesn't cut it for me anymore... then you start looking at the pilot prera/knights before going towards the vanishing point route:thumbup: That's me now.... though my jinhao zhugeliang is currently my fav writer.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  9. I also have 6 Hero 616's :lol:
  10. These "Everything Else" threads are more dangerous than the shaving forums. I got my first fountain pen last month, a Aurora Style. My second, a cheaper Japanese Pilot Namiki 78G is on it's way from Hong Kong. Still toying with the idea of asking SWMBO for a Phileas or an engraved Ipsilon for Father's Day unless the watch threads win out.
  11. maxman

    maxman Moderator Emeritus

    Nice eh? I'm using a Hero 616 at work.
  12. Beware pen collecting can be a very expensive current daily user is a 1935 Parker Vacumatic made in the good old USA and still writing perfectly......:thumbup:
  13. For $1.50 a pen, you really can't go wrong. Isn't the Parker 51 a Hero 616 clone? :001_tongu
  14. Fountain pens are HORRIBLY addictive.

    I've been addicted to them since the age of 7.

    I'm STILL trying to find the right support group. I joined the local pen club, and that did squat. Now I'm collecting worse than ever!

    Don't discount blotting-paper entirely. If you start getting into writing with vintage pens, you MAY need it. So it's useful to know where you can buy it. Those old flex-pens from the 1900s-1920s can need blotting paper when you use them, so keep a sheet or two nearby.
  15. Everyone is spot on about fountain pens. I acquired about 12 vintage fountain pens in order to get a couple which write well with no restoration required. I also joined the forum at

    Vintage pens are fun. Most write well once cleaned and serviced. There are sellers who restore them to good function and sell them. I have several which would be good daily use pens once I replace the ink sacs. Even no-name pens from the 1930s and 1940s can be good writers.

    My daily use pen right now is an older Waterman Phileas. I have a couple of inks. I refill cartridges using a hypodermic syringe. That works better for me than converters.

    The comments about paper are also true. You will not be happy writing on cheap copier paper. That stuff works reasonably well in laser printers, but is fuzzy for fountain pens.

    Welcome to another arena where quality is available to those who care about it.
  16. pal


    Marc, I laughed my a** off reading this post because it is so true..:lol:
  17. I do leather work as a hobby and have already been thinking about a design for a nice, proper folder for letter writing, including waxes and seals :lol:

    Slippery slope indeed, lol
  18. If you are the sort to use a 40's Gillette, then you are likely to want a 20's Parker. Just sayin...
  19. ADs happen...


    [​IMG][/URL] Uploaded with[/IMG]

    Sorry for the fuzzy shot. I was too lazy to get out the tripod.
  20. That bottle of ink as well as the pen stand look old as heck! Still in great working order though.

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