Getting started with fountain pens.

Discussion in 'The Nib' started by Unkas, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Hello!

    I asked a couple of questions in the thread about how you rate your own penmanship a while ago and while I got some answers and recommendations they are still far from complete to get me to buy what I need.

    I want to know what are all the essentials that you need. I can imagine that both the pen and ink are quite important but there must also be some other stuff?
    I've been looking at Noodler's and Lamy pens and the reviews seem to be a bit mixed. I've seen some reports of the Lamy pens leaking with Noodler's ink and well, that wouldn't be much fun!

    So what I want is just a list of all the essentials like a good pen and a good ink or two (Bulletproof seems to be the way to go) and whatever other things you need for maintenance and such.


  2. The reviews for Lamy pens are generally very positive. I assume you're talking about the Safari/Al-Star because that's the one most people go for to start with. The main issue a small group of people have with these Lamys is that the have an angled grip section which some people don't like. They shouldn't leak unless you got a bad one, which would be rare.

    Noodler's bulletproof inks will "nib creep" on just about any pen. That's my experience so far, anyway. I don't mind putting up with it because I like the inks, but there are many other brands of inks that don't do this, including some waterproof and water-resistant inks. If you don't want to blow a buncha money on ink bottles, buy samples. A 3ml sample will give you at least 2-3 converter fills. Then you can decide what ink you like best.

    Noodler's PENS are basically low-end Indian made pens that are spec'd according to Noodler's. I have some cheap Indian pens and some of them are pretty decent, but they can be finicky and are not made to the same quality control standards as Lamy, Parker, Pilot, Sheaffer, Waterman, etc. If you want a cheap Indian pen that actually works really well, try a Camlin 47. If you can get one for under $10, I think they're worth a shot.

    All you need to start with is a pen, a converter if your pen doesn't come with one, ink, and some decent paper to write on. For cleaning pens, you'll want some paper towels, dish soap, and maybe a bottle of ammonia.
  3. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Take advantage of this close-out on Pelikan pens, and get a bottle of Noodler's black. Done. (Actually, I'd get Noodler's black eel, as the "eel" inks are made to lubricate piston pens like that. Bonus.)
  4. I only have a few FPs so just realize my advice comes from limited experience. I have the Lamy Al-star and use Noodler's Inks with a converter. There is definitely nib creep with every ink that I've tried from Noodler's. But my Lamy writes perfectly every time with no hassle. Even if it's been sitting for a while (in any position), it writes perfectly every time. And I've never encountered any leaking. I can't recommend it enough as a starter FP.

    The reviews I've read about the Noodler's pens have been less than favorable. I didn't purchase one because I didn't want to have to tinker with it.
  5. I have had both a Lamy Safari and currently have a Noodler's Ahab. The Ahab is a decent pen, but definitely can be finicky and can requires some tinkering to get it to write properly. I would suggest going with Lamy for a first pen.

    Noodler's inks are good though, and affordable. I really like their Bad Black Moccasin.
  6. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Actual leaking? Well, any pen & ink can leak if used improperly, but Noodler's & Lamy are not a leak-prone combo.

    On the other hand, "nib creep" is something often associated with Noodler's inks, and can annoy the OCD among us. But it's not a big issue apart from the cosmetic distraction of seeing ink on the nib surface.
  7. What is this nib creep you all speak of? That might be what some of the reviews mentioned as "leaking".
    While the Pelikan pens are quite discounted as one of you mentioned I can't see myself buying a 90$ pen I am not sure I will like so I think I will go with a Lamy AL-Star as a first pen as it seems to be a good middle of the road pen. Then I guess I will need that cartridge converter and a couple of sample vials of ink.
    Anything else that is required?
  8. The nib creep does bother me, I'm afraid. But I bought so many samples of Noodler's that it'll be a while before I switch to anything else.
  9. Nib creep is ink on the nib (metal tip of the pen). Some inks will always be present on the nib. It doesn't get in the way and won't get on your hand so it's really just a cosmetic thing. But it still bothers me. The first time I loaded my Lamy I kept wiping the nib to try to get rid of it.
  10. Well, I hope that won't bother me!

    Do I need anything else than these three items: Lamy AL-Star, Lamy cartridge converter, Noodler's most popular ink sample pack?
  11. The other thing about Noodler's Bulletproof inks...not only do they nib creep but every couple days you'll get significant buildup of dried ink on your nib that you'll need to wipe off with a damp paper towel. Not a huge deal, but FYI. Again, try some other brands of "conventional" ink so you have a reference point...I recommend Lamy Blue as a safe, generic option that looks and performs well (not waterproof though). If you want to go wild, but some extra nibs in different sizes for your can swap them in and out at your fancy. Right now mine has a the big 1.9 Italic, but the Medium nib is just right for "normal" everyday writing.
  12. You can see what people mean by the nib creep associated with Noodler's in this review here:

    Basically, there will always be a little ink on the topside of the nib no matter what you do...some guys dilute their inks or put them in extra dry writing pens to mitigate the phenomenon. Others will not use Noodler's at all for this reason.
  13. Well, that creep doesn't bother me so much, at least not on the picture! I think I will just get the AL-Star with the medium nib and if I want some variation later on I can just order a fine or italic or something. If you take a quick look at my little list there, is there anything that should be added except maybe another ink?
  14. Nope, not really. Just get some good paper if you don't have any already. Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks work really well with fountain pens because the ink is less likely to bleed through. Some of the Japanese notebooks are also quite good, IME.
  15. I had bad nib creep on one of my pens. I inserted one, then another sheet of 20 lb copy paper between the tines. It fixed it up real nice.
  16. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Fair enough not wanting to spring for a Pelikan as a first pen, even at a killer price. Ninety bucks is still a lot of money.

    You've got the "nib creep" thing answered from other posts, I see.

    So ... Lamy Al-star, converter, ink (samples or bottle) ... that's about it. I'd get a bit of 'good' paper (a Rhodia notebook, for example) so you can see how the pen & ink perform under optimal circumstances ... cheap paper can affect different inks differently. (But that's not a necessity ... just something to make the experience that much better.) Maybe a bottle of Perfect Pen Flush to help clean up in between inks?
  17. Is the Perfect Pen Flush necessary? Someone in the thread here recommended I got a bottle of ammonia and I can only assume it was to take the role of the Pen Flush but at a cheaper price point. Do they perform the same?
  18. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    There's ammonia in the PPF, but a bit of other stuff too. Whether that makes a huge difference ... I don't know. My guess would be the basic ammonia will do a good enough job that the difference would be negligible.
  19. I got the pen flush recently for kicks, but I'm not sure how necessary it is. In any case, I have no real objective way to test it against a dilute mix of cold tap water, ammonia, and dish soap...which is what folks would use if the pen flush stuff did not exist. Reading the boards on FPN, it seems that folks that spend a lot of time restoring old gunked up pens swear by the stuff. If you are using new pens or pens that have already been restored/professionally cleaned in all likelihood you'll be fine without it. JMO.
  20. Check out the Platinum Plaisir at, it's the gateway drug that got a lot of us here started.....

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