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Learned To Appreciate C/c Pens Again


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#1 wtlh

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:11

I have been using my beloved pelikan M625 continuously as a work horse for a year now, took extra care of it, flushed it regularly, and greased the piston once when it became too stiff for comfort. However, a few days ago to my horror, while filling I discovered a drop of ink trapped in between the two sealing surfaces of the piston. I tried to open up the piston with an old credit card, but the card was too soft and the housing could not be unscrewed, I thought of buying a tool from a member on the forum but figured I will just send the pen to Pelikan repairs and ask them to do the cleaning as it is only a year old.

Since the pen is away, I picked up my old work horse a seven years old Montblanc 145 Chopin. And after few days of use, I fall in love with it again. It is not because it wrote any better than the M625, I still miss the superb binderized italiFine nib on it, but it is because the 145 is just so much carefree. The converter fills just as well as it did as before the very first time since I took it out of storage after a year of non-use. It even fills the same or better than the Pelikan, in that one cycle gave an almost 100% fill, every time. Because it is a converter pen, I never psychologically worry about the piston seal being stiff, or if ink will start leak pass the seal, I have another new spare converter in the drawer ready to replace the old one if it fails. And so far the old converter still goes like it was new after 7 years without too much care. I felt I have discovered the freedom of using a pen again. Never worry about if an ink will stain the barrel or if it is time to grease the piston etc, which I never felt the same with a piston pen---the pen body (the "converter") is far too expensive to be regarded as something one can replace easily.

So I think after the M625 comes back, I will give it a good flush, and clean, store it in a soft cotton cloth, and only use it on special occasions. The 145 just gives me the freedom of mind that I have been missing all this time.

It also makes me thinking twice of buying another non-C/C pen... I finally got funds ready for the pelikan M101N pen I dreamed over, but now I am hesitating, because it is an expensive piston too...

#2 rollerboy

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:33

I like piston fillers but appreciate the ease and inexpensiveness of converter replacement. But ... I'm wondering if you didn't overreact. I'm not sure *a* drop of ink or inky water behind the first seal is indicative of a problem. One of the reasons I avoid demonstrators is because OCD prone me is better off not seeing what's going on in there. (Not that I'd class the M625 as a demonstrator. I've never seen one in person but I understand they are only marginally translucent. I imagine you found this "problem" through close inspection with a backlight, correct?)

#3 PinarelloOnly

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:34

...took extra care of it, flushed it regularly, and greased the piston once when it became too stiff for comfort.


My guess is, if you’re flushing it "regularly" it’s because of swapping inks
& greasing a piston has a lot to do with the inks you use. No matter how much
use your pen has had, why would you need to grease a piston of pen that is a
year old?

Using lubricating inks can solve a lot of your problems but I understand
some people just can't stick to one ink with daily use of a piston filler.

#4 Treecat

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:38

I have a couple of Pelikans, I have a Waterman lever filler, Parker vacumatics. I like those filling systems, but there's a lot to be said about the simplicity of cartridge/converters. They're easy to take on trips, just pack a few cartridges, they're easy to clean. I don't understand the bad rap C/C's take in comparison to other systems. In the end, it's all about getting ink to the paper.

#5 goodguy

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:40

Cant join this party, sorry simply cant.

For me CC is boring, too functional and leave me cold.
It does what it does well but its simply a modern excuse for pen makers not to invest a bit more into more compexi filler like piston or vacum filler.

As I said in the past nothing wrong with CC fillers and it does have its benefits but I find I simply dont pick up any CC filled pen and everntually I sell it.

Only piston and Vac Fill for me :cloud9:
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#6 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:41

?????
I think you over react about a whole drop of ink between the plastic gaskets.

Different worlds....I have some 40 piston pens, some 15 lever pens...and luckily only some 5 C/C pens.


I'm good to go for the rest of my life with C/C pens.

What could one do with more than five? :unsure:

Well I do have one now in my rotation, Pendleton put a point on my Lamy black titanium oxide Persona 18 K OB nail.

The others bought in my 'noobie' phase are in boxes. I do have to admit, the most of the problem is nail nibs, or I don't want to scratch up a silver plated one, I bought for my wife...who 'lent' it back to me.
She's hard core ball point....well out side of that she's perfect. She even bought me that Persona 'behind my back.'

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 10 March 2011 - 12:43.

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For that get a 'flexi' or a "flex" nib.

"

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens only; not the users of other companies pens. The size you grind a nib to, is your standard only. Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#7 impossiblebird

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:49

I like the ease, inexpensiveness of upkeep and safety aspect of c/c pens, though I also enjoy a Pelikan M250 and some seriously inexpensive piston fillers. I don't much appreciate the fact that so many people find it necessary to mark down c/c pens in their reviews.

#8 greencobra

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 12:56

I think you over react about a whole drop of ink between the plastic gaskets.

I'm in this camp, too.
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#9 Phormula

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 13:08

Everybody has its own cup of tea, and somebody even does not drink tea at all.

I am a cartridge user. For my kind of writing and frequent travelling, cartridges are way to practical considering my way of writing, the kind of pens I use and my frequent traveller status. I can carry a 6-cartridges box in my hand luggage while travelling on a plane, while for an ink bottle I need to take special precautions to avoid it being confiscated. Maybe I am taking a lot of the pleasure out, but I love to write with a FP and if I can do it in a practical way that is compatible with the rest of my life.
As per many thing in life, there is no "one size fits all" solution, hence what is good for me might be boring or stupid for somebody else.
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#10 Calbei

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 13:13

C/C's charm is in its flexibility and I completely understand why the typical consumer brands go down this route. I love my 2000 and M200, but there's something reassuring about carrying a Carene with cartridges.

I do, however, wish modern convertor implementations could be more elegant with less wasted space.

#11 Scriver

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 13:32

Each type of filler has its benefits and disadvantages. I suspect if we were having this conversation a century ago, there would be complaints that self-fillers lack the simplicity and elegance of EDs. To me, I prefer the design of self-fillers because I find a pleasing wholeness to the pen, with the filling mechanism an integral part of the pen's construction. It's a bit like the comparison of a horse to a bicycle. Both can move you about, but only the horse is an integrated whole, more than the sum of its parts. A bicycle, at the end of the day, is still just an assemblage of separately operating pieces. At the same time, a bicycle is more trustworthy (ever been kicked by a bicycle?) and undeniably easier to maintain and repair. I wouldn't denigrate horses or bicycles, but rather seek to appreciate each on its own terms.

Which is a long-winded way of saying I like the look of my Waterman 55 RRHR more than my Sailor 1911, but it's the latter I use to experiment with new or exotic inks. I wouldn't give up either and appreciate both (and my Parker 51, Waterman Carene, Aurora AS 022 ...).

#12 professionaldilettante

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 13:36


...took extra care of it, flushed it regularly, and greased the piston once when it became too stiff for comfort.


My guess is, if you’re flushing it "regularly" it’s because of swapping inks
& greasing a piston has a lot to do with the inks you use. No matter how much
use your pen has had, why would you need to grease a piston of pen that is a
year old?

Using lubricating inks can solve a lot of your problems but I understand
some people just can't stick to one ink with daily use of a piston filler.

I had stuck to only one ink in my Pelikan M600, and that really needed greasing after 2 months of use. I'm guessing the factory grease isnt as robust and is meant to be replenished.
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#13 tonybelding

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 14:44

I'm a gonna have to split the difference here. . .

Every filler is a compromise, and they all have pluses and minuses. Nobody's invented one that is all things to all people, and I don't think it will ever be possible.

I've recently gotten my hands on several Sheaffer Imperial cartridge pens and a few Targas, and I've been rediscovering the benefits of converters and refilling used carts. (Some of the early Imperials won't even accept a converter.) They're boneheadedly simple pens that never need filler restoration. They're easy to flush, easy to troubleshoot. With the carts I can check how much ink my pen's got in it. (Most of my Sheaffer converters are opaque, but I do have a couple that are smoky-transparent.) I find I actually like these pens pretty well.

However. . . The touchdown fillers are cooler and faster and more convenient to operate. You don't have to take the pen apart, and there's nothing to lose (unless you mislay the cap, of course).

I don't care much for the little "short international" carts that hold so little ink. I don't care for a lot of the cheap-and-shoddy converters out there. Some of them don't make a tight seal with the pen. Some of them don't have good piston seals, or else the piston becomes too tight and the whole thing jams up. Yeah, it's neat that you can easily replace them when they go bad, but. . . They're semi-disposable parts, at best. Some C/C pens (especially with the higher quality converters) have worked very well for me, but C/C pens as a group have been the most trouble-prone.

I like my TWSBI. Not only does the piston action work very nicely (better than my M200), but I can see exactly what its doing, and if anything gets out-of-sorts I can strip it down and fix the problem.

In a recent video blog Brian Goulet had some unfavorable things to say about aerometric fillers. He said the pens are really inconvenient to fill (how so??) and don't hold much ink (compared to what, carts??). There's a reason they stopped making these things!

Yeah. . . The reason is because C/C came along and wiped out most other filling mechanisms, good and bad alike. That's the most unfortunate thing about C/C. It's not that C/C is an awful system, but it just shouldn't be the only option out there.

#14 ADKaid

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 15:01

?????
I think you over react about a whole drop of ink between the plastic gaskets.


I can relate to the OP. A drop of ink in the piston would aggravate me. I don't see why this is overreacting. He is acting in accordance to the way he feels about the piston filler at this time.

That being said, I have a hard time believing he can keep that sweet pen under wraps for very long. ;)

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#15 wtlh

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 16:50

I cannot help myself, it just gives me the funny feeling in stomach and the loss of concentration in the stuff I am writing because there is a constant ringing in my head that a drop of ink is there: the thought processes goes as follows: ah, there is ink in that seal, when is it going to go through to the other side? What caused this? Did I get a lemon, the pen is only one year old?? If it dries up in there will it make the seal stick to barrel and damage the seal? If the seal is damaged, will I be able to get a replacement easily? Will the dried up residual scratch the inner barrel? Which then raises the question of how often do I need to repair it? And what if it becomes impractical to send it off to be repaired in the future? and AAAAHHHHHHHHhhhhh,,,,, Also having a drop of ink in between the seal material is not only superficial, but you do feel it when filling, the piston movement is no longer smooth, the movement becomes inconsistent, sometimes tight, sometimes okay, which acts as a reminder that IT is there staring at your face... I can see myself in the future constantly looking through the barrel under light to see if ink gets into the seal again (and I actually hate doing that).

May be I care too much about the pen, and have to calm down a little. :blush: But I think I still cannot let lose myself mentally in using a piston pen the same way as using a C/C pen at the moment.

I do certainly agree that not all pens are suitable for being a C/C, unless they make a larger converter to go with a large pen. It is no point in my opinion of having a 149 sized pen that uses the same converter as a 145, say. The formal is just a grand waste of space. I am also kind of glad the M625 is a piston filler. The quality of the converter also matters a lot. Some cheap converters are not very pleasant to use (I have used a few), but a quality converter that uses the body of the pen efficiently does mark a difference. From my experience the 145 converter does not seem to hold that much less ink than the M625, and I guess 145 being really a M400 sized pen, the capacity is even more comparable to the M400.

Edited by wtlh, 10 March 2011 - 17:53.


#16 mercy

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:26

Cartridge only for me.

#17 ethernautrix

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:18

I prefer c/c, cos I don't like to fuss with my pens. Yes, I like being able to choose the ink and all that, but the less fuss and bother the better. I'm not one of the contingent that enjoys the ritual of changing ink colors or cleaning the pen. For me, it's a chore. Not a horribly inconvenient chore; still, I prefer less fuss and bother. I'm on the go, me. Go, go, go! Or I'm lazy. Whatever.
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#18 elderberry

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:42

In Austria, where I was brought up, fountain pens were - and I believe, are still - mandatory for handwriting lessons in primary school and remained pretty common school writing instruments later on. Those pens, of course, only worked with cartridges which were available in black, blue and red (green was exotic already - rural area). So when my father gifted me a Sheaffer Award which came with a converter I was presented with the idea that I could use ink from bottles! In all sorts of colours! Even mix them! It was awesome.

I didn't come across a piston filler until last year when I started to take a deeper interest in fountain pens (not mentioning eye droppers, which I am still eyeing rather suspiciously) and I still fail to see what's so great about piston fillers and so bad about c/c, which is probably because I don't have the historical approach. I mean, yes, a piston filler is convenient because you don't have to screw off the barrel to fill it and it will hold more ink, but on the other hand, when there's something wrong with it my pen will be "broken" and several of my piston fillers don't have an ink window so I will only be able to guess how much ink is left in the pen. Why is a c/c pen like "second class" for some just because of the converter?

So wtlh, I can understand your point of view and the ink drop would make me uncomfortable as well. Sending it in for warranty might be an option.
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#19 Calbei

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 09:51

I mean, yes, a piston filler is convenient because you don't have to screw off the barrel to fill it and it will hold more ink, but on the other hand, when there's something wrong with it my pen will be "broken" and several of my piston fillers don't have an ink window so I will only be able to guess how much ink is left in the pen.

I totally agree with everything you have said, but piston fillers can be virtually indestructible... like Lamy 2000 put through torturous drops (there's a thread on these forums about it) and Pelikan M200 used as 'school bag' pen (again, posts on here about it).

I think you're probably more likely to damage some other part of the pen (e.g. cap, barrel, nib) than the actual piston mechanism.

#20 mackthepen

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 11:40

I like the ease, inexpensiveness of upkeep and safety aspect of c/c pens, though I also enjoy a Pelikan M250 and some seriously inexpensive piston fillers. I don't much appreciate the fact that so many people find it necessary to mark down c/c pens in their reviews.


I've got to agree - I have a few Lamy Studios, which in my opinion are supremely well made and comfortable, with great variation in nibs available (albeit occasional duff ones). I mostly use a converter for these, which have all the advantages of a piston converter (maybe less volume, but still plenty of ink there), and as other posters have said, when I'm off on my travels soon I can leave the converter at home and pack some cartridges instead for convenience and safety. I have good piston fillers, and poor C/C fillers, and vice versa, but in no way do I look down on my C/C fillers.

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#21 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:25

Nitty Gritty....I don't know how the nibs were on 'vintage' C/C ' very late '50's-60's-70's pens.

I prefer semi-flex or slightly flexible( compared to a wet noodle)'flexi' nibs.

I have learned to like my '80s 400 regular flex nib a lot after I got enough semi-flex. It is a very good nib.

The few C/C pens I had/have...the nails are mostly sold, or waiting for a nib grind.
The regular flex nibs are 'adequate'. Those are '90's nibs.

I see no reason to buy a sub standard modern nib on a C/C pen, and then have to send it off to be made even German '80's good much less '50's better, or stubbed or made Cursive Italic and so on.

I've not got the statistics but it appears from reading here, every second or third C/C pen is sent off for nib work.

Perhaps because the nibs don't work well as one would wish in first place.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 11 March 2011 - 12:27.

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For that get a 'flexi' or a "flex" nib.

"

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens only; not the users of other companies pens. The size you grind a nib to, is your standard only. Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#22 tonybelding

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:56

I prefer c/c, cos I don't like to fuss with my pens. Yes, I like being able to choose the ink and all that, but the less fuss and bother the better.


Could you clarify? To what fuss and bother are you referring?

The main things I don't like about C/C pens are the fuss of putting a cartridge into a dry pen and then struggling, struggling, struggling to get the ink started flowing. Or else, the fuss of digging up a syringe to refill a cart. . . or worse, cleaning a cart for reuse.

Nothing's easier than a Snorkel and a bottle of ink. The only disadvantage would be if you are travelling and can't take along an ink bottle -- but we have these cute pocket-sized plastic vials (i.e. sample vials) nowadays, that ought to work nicely.


I'm not one of the contingent that enjoys the ritual of changing ink colors or cleaning the pen.


Any fountain pen involves less hassle if you stick with one ink, but I don't see how that pertains much to the filling system.

#23 wtlh

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 14:23

Nitty Gritty....I don't know how the nibs were on 'vintage' C/C ' very late '50's-60's-70's pens.

I prefer semi-flex or slightly flexible( compared to a wet noodle)'flexi' nibs.

I have learned to like my '80s 400 regular flex nib a lot after I got enough semi-flex. It is a very good nib.

The few C/C pens I had/have...the nails are mostly sold, or waiting for a nib grind.
The regular flex nibs are 'adequate'. Those are '90's nibs.

I see no reason to buy a sub standard modern nib on a C/C pen, and then have to send it off to be made even German '80's good much less '50's better, or stubbed or made Cursive Italic and so on.

I've not got the statistics but it appears from reading here, every second or third C/C pen is sent off for nib work.

Perhaps because the nibs don't work well as one would wish in first place.



But that has nothing to do with the filling system being C/C, it is just to do with the fact that most poor quality (not necessarily cheap) pens are also C/C... There is no reason why a C/C pen has to have a nail. Some Japanese pens are a good example.

There are more nails in Modern pens for a practical reason, this is because:

1) the carbon copy paper that was used so often in business before the wide usage of photocopiers and computers;

2) invention and subsequent domination of ball-points, means people are used to pressing the nib down hard. And a flex nib to somebody may be a "very poor quality nib" to somebody else who are not used to fountain pens, and damaged it the first time he tried to write something. Instead of making nibs that are more expensive to produce, and more prone to breakage and expensive warranty repairs, it is an obvious business decision to produce nails. Modern flex nibs are speciality nibs that do not have enough market base to justify it becoming the norm.

Modern flexible nibs do exist, but because of the small market base, they inevitably become expensive.

Edited by wtlh, 13 March 2011 - 14:28.


#24 wtlh

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 14:56


I prefer c/c, cos I don't like to fuss with my pens. Yes, I like being able to choose the ink and all that, but the less fuss and bother the better.


Could you clarify? To what fuss and bother are you referring?

The main things I don't like about C/C pens are the fuss of putting a cartridge into a dry pen and then struggling, struggling, struggling to get the ink started flowing. Or else, the fuss of digging up a syringe to refill a cart. . . or worse, cleaning a cart for reuse.

Nothing's easier than a Snorkel and a bottle of ink. The only disadvantage would be if you are travelling and can't take along an ink bottle -- but we have these cute pocket-sized plastic vials (i.e. sample vials) nowadays, that ought to work nicely.


I'm not one of the contingent that enjoys the ritual of changing ink colors or cleaning the pen.


Any fountain pen involves less hassle if you stick with one ink, but I don't see how that pertains much to the filling system.



I generally don't use cartridges a lot, as I like the filling process. But I can imaging a situation that a cartridge is infinitely better than filling from bottle: When you run out of ink in middle of meeting or in class taking notes, or doing exams. Part of it is a feeling of reassurance. Having a few carts in your pocket will make you psychologically feel you are never going to worry about ink supply during some important session where you expect the use the pen heavily. Considering no integrated self-filling system can hold a lot more ink than a long int. cart or two short carts stored back-to-back in the pen, having a few extra carts in pocket is definitely more reassuring.

I think the whole appeal of the c/c system is the feeling of reassurance: the simplicity and modularity of the system means you don't worry about repairs, and the carts means you never worry about running out of ink, and do not have to remember to fill the pen regularly.

#25 tonybelding

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:15

Considering no integrated self-filling system can hold a lot more ink than a long int. cart or two short carts stored back-to-back in the pen. . .


Now you've got me curious. I just happen to have a Waterman (long) cart right. . . here. . .

I measure its capacity at: 1.4cc

New Postal Junior bulb-filler: 2.6cc

That's a small pen, BTW. The Senior model will obviously hold more.


I think the whole appeal of the c/c system is the feeling of reassurance: the simplicity and modularity of the system means you don't worry about repairs, and the carts means you never worry about running out of ink, and do not have to remember to fill the pen regularly.


I understand what you mean. I've got a whole bag of converters here, so I can always find one that works. However, I do think you overstate some of those points just a bit.

Most self-fillers are more robust than converters (because they weren't made to be semi-disposable) and less likely to have problems in the first place. With carts you still have to take care with your pens, not let them dry out or clog, etc. You have the problem of getting the feed primed.

I think what irks me the most is the logistical side of things. I can't get any of my favorite inks (mostly Noodler's) in carts, and I can't interchange short carts, long carts, Parker carts, Sheaffer carts, etc. Private Reserve has some decent inks in short carts, but they won't fit my Sheaffers. . . Peyton Street has bulk Sheaffer carts with black Skrip at a great price, but that's not a happy substitute for Noodler's Black. . .

And so forth.

I've been playing around with some plastic caps (vinyl, I think) that could allow me to conveniently reseal filled Sheaffer carts. That would be one way of making my favorite inks pocketable. I'd have to order hundreds of those caps, though. . . Which means, I'd end up trying to sell/trade/give most of them, if anybody besides me actually wants such a thing. :rolleyes:

The other think I'm looking at is the sample vial. It's pocket-sized, but more jacket pocket than pants pocket. It's not as convenient to carry as cartridges. Plus, any pen other than a snorkel would require a tissue wipe after filling from it. So. . . Not quite as convenient as carts, but workable.

#26 stevlight

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:30

I'm like the guy who likes tinkering with his car even if it is running fine. I love taking pens apart and the ritual of cleaning all that are inked on the 1st and 15th of each month. For me that is part of the hobby.

I totally understand the convenience of cartridges though but can never get convertors to function properly.

Edited by stevlight, 13 March 2011 - 16:32.

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#27 meiers

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:34

I'm like the guy who likes tinkering with his car even if it is running fine. I love taking pens apart and the ritual of cleaning all that are inked on the 1st and 15th of each month. For me that is part of the hobby.



Pen cleaning as meditation. I get it.

#28 nicholasyeo

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:35

Yep, as a student, I love cartridges too, as much as I love ink and piston fills...
I like all kinds of pens and filling systems, all have their pros and cons! :thumbup:

#29 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:47

Interesting thread. I prefer my piston filled, button filled, vac filled, snorkel filled and vacumatic filled pens to any converter exceptions made of my man 100s, expert I and laureats. Personally when I don't use a pen, I rinse it many times as necessary with cold water till the water that I flush from the pen isn't crystal clear. Also a bigger ink availability is made for piston, vacumatic, button filler, touchdown, aerometric, snorkel and vac filled pens.
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#30 chrevbel

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 17:21

Interesting thread.

Indeed. Philosophically, I don't see the difference between converters and piston-fillers, to be honest. Aren't they essentially the same thing, with the converter simply being a piston that's accessible from inside the pen body?