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Why Isn't My Nib Writing On The Up-Stroke?

pilot metropolitan upstroke troubleshooting

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19 replies to this topic

#1 Garrisonn

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Posted 06 August 2015 - 20:17

I just got my new Pilot Metropolitan with a medium nib in the mail. I opened it up, cleaned it thoroughly, and inked it up with Noodlers Habanero. I immediately noticed when writing with it that on the down stroke it writes perfectly fine but on the up-stroke, no ink at all comes out. Please help! Any suggestions on how to fix this would be greatly appreciated! (I also cleaned it again just to make sure there were no fibers hanging around in the nib, but that didn't seem to help.)



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#2 ac12

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 02:57

1st - What angle are you holding the pen, relative to the paper?  The further above 50 degrees that you go, the more difficult it is to write with a fountain pen.  As you approach 90 degrees, you will have difficulty writing with most fountain pens, especially the upstroke.

 

2nd - Make sure that you have the nib level on the page on the upstroke and that you are not rotating the pen.  If the nib is not level on the paper, the ink won't flow.  This is harder than it sounds.  Try this, hold the pen in your hand, then without moving your hand, move your head behind the pen, so that you can look down the length of the pen.  Is the nib level?  If not, rotate the pen in your hand to make the nib level.  Because of how most people hold the pen, with their right hand, your eye does not have a very clear view of how level the nib is, hence this test.

 

3rd - Don't roll your hand.  Some people who are used to ball pens, will roll their hand over as they write.  This is OK for a ball pen, but will not work for a fountain pen.  The reason for this is the same as #2 above, you roll off the part of the nib where the inks flows out of.


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#3 Garrisonn

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 03:23

To answer your question, I imagine that I'm probably holding my pen at an angle of about 50 degrees. I don't think that is the problem though because I have been writing with the Pilot Metropolitan with a fine nib at the same angle and there is no problem. I also have a TWSBI 580 with a medium nib that writes fine at that angle as well. I will try the method that you suggested about looking down the length of the pen.

 

It's just so odd to me because it writes very smoothly on the down-stroke and lays out a nice amount of ink, but then I move the pen upwards and nothing comes out...very frustrating as this is a brand new pen.



#4 ac12

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 03:45

#3 - Are you rolling your hand as you write?  If you are not level to begin with, a roll might take you off the slit, and you get no ink flow.

 

Try this experiment. 

  • Hold the back of the pen, away from the nib, with 2 fingers.
  • Position the pen on the paper at your normal writing angle. 
  • Level the nib on the paper.
  • Pull the pen towards you.  => The pen should write.
  • Push the pen away from you. =>  The pen should write.

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#5 Garrisonn

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:02

Ok, here's what I got for results:

When I pulled the pen towards me it wrote. When I pushed it away it didn't write, and felt pretty scratchy.



#6 GordonOZ

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:06

did you remember to keep the nib in contact with the paper? :D


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#7 Garrisonn

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:07

lol :) yes I did.



#8 GordonOZ

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:46

lol :) yes I did.

It is always good to remember to do that..... it took me a while to realise that.... :)


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#9 MKB

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:51

Just a guess, but if there is a baby's bottom condition towards the tip but not on the main contact, then a down stroke will start in an ideal position for ink flow and if you are rotating to the tip by finger writing, then the capillary action will still be maintained.  On the up stroke, the contact will start in the lessor ideal position, loose capillary action and the dry contact will naturally feel scratchier without the ink for lubrication.  Not sure this is happening, but something to consider.



#10 NinthSphere

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:52

How badly do you really need an upstroke? Maybe you can learn to express yourself using only downstrokes.



#11 Garrisonn

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 17:02

Just a guess, but if there is a baby's bottom condition towards the tip but not on the main contact, then a down stroke will start in an ideal position for ink flow and if you are rotating to the tip by finger writing, then the capillary action will still be maintained.  On the up stroke, the contact will start in the lessor ideal position, loose capillary action and the dry contact will naturally feel scratchier without the ink for lubrication.  Not sure this is happening, but something to consider.

Hmmm, that does make sense....can you think of any way to fix this?



#12 MKB

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 17:10

Check tutorials for removing baby's bottom and pay special attention to polishing the full range of the nib from a low position to an almost vertical position. It's easy to overdo it and create other problems, so do it with a light touch and just enough to solve the problem.

#13 mhosea

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 18:05

Often the problem with Pilot nibs is that they come with no gap at all at the tip. This is fine if your written language doesn't use up-strokes, and if you are likely to use some pressure on down-strokes, but I find it intolerable with mine.  Usually, though, the up-strokes are just very dry rather than skipping.  At any rate, what I would do is, with the pen not inked, examine the tip with a loupe to make sure that the tines are aligned (always the first step!) and if so, that a sliver of light can make it through between the tines at the tip.  If not, there is more than one way to go about this, usually (not all techniques are advisable with all nibs).  Some folks like to jam stuff between the tines to try to separate them, but I don't.  With a Metropolitan in particular I would press the nib and feed together tightly at the breather-hole level between my thumb and forefinger, and with my thumbnail push the tines up and away from the feed, just a little ways.  The tines will spread as if flexing the pen.  Your first attempt should be so anemic that the tines return exactly to their previous configuration.  Increase the force slightly and add a brief 1 second "hold" at extension.  Release and and re-examine the tines after they spring back.  Usually this is enough to introduce a small gap with steel nibs. Note that the gap should be very, very slim, and definitely slimmer than the gap between the tines closer to the breather hole (the gap must taper).  If you over-did it, you can usually close the gap back up again by criss-crossing the tines.  Realign the tines before trying to write with the pen.

 

With a Metropolitan this should not affect the gap between the nib and feed enough to be seen, but the next thing you'd want to check is that the feed is relatively tight to the nib at the tip of the feed.  If that gap is larger than a thin sheet of paper, you would need to fix that by another way.  We can cross that bridge if we come to it.


Edited by mhosea, 07 August 2015 - 18:14.

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#14 Garrisonn

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 20:21

When you say, "breather-hole", do you mean the little hole in the middle of the nib, or the hole at the base of the feed which sucks ink up when you fill the pen? Also, would you mind elaborating more on how to push the tines up and away from the feed?



#15 mhosea

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 21:07

When you say, "breather-hole", do you mean the little hole in the middle of the nib, or the hole at the base of the feed which sucks ink up when you fill the pen? Also, would you mind elaborating more on how to push the tines up and away from the feed?

 

I meant the hole in the middle of the nib, but the basic idea is to hold the nib and feed together up to the middle of the nib.  While you're holding the nib with one hand, press the nib tip against the surface of your other thumbnail (the one not involved in holding the nib). With vintage pens I like to put the blade of my thumbnail just behind the tipping because vintage tipping can break off, so I never like to apply any adjusting force directly to vintage tipping material, but this won't happen with your Metropolitan.  If you picture the uncapped pen lying on the table with nib up, so the top of the nib is visible to you, the force vector will be more or less straight up, or if you picture it lying flat on the table with the nib down, so that the top of the nib faces the table, the force is straight down.  Obviously you can't do it with the pen laying on the table, but I'm trying to take the ambiguity out of which direction to push.  You don't have to see any movement of the nib when you do this. You probably shouldn't unless you are watching with magnification.  It's a very subtle thing.  Don't press too hard.  Press too lightly, instead, and re-examine the nib with a loupe to see if a gap appears.  Go easy, be willing to repeat many times because nothing happens, slowly increasing the force, rather than trying to get quick results by pushing too hard.  You must always check to see whether a gap appeared.  Once there is even a tiny sliver of light that can pass between the tines all the way to the end, you're done with this.  You don't want a big gap, and if there are still problems, something else needs fixing.


Edited by mhosea, 07 August 2015 - 21:15.

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#16 Tootles

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 21:34

How badly do you really need an upstroke? Maybe you can learn to express yourself using only downstrokes.

 

:lticaptd:

Best answer, evah!



#17 Sasha Royale

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Posted 08 August 2015 - 01:16

I don't believe the problem rests in user technique.  I have a new TWSBI ECO, inked with Noodler's Eel Blue.  I wrote a page-width line of up-down strokes, holding the pen at  45º elevation, and again at 30º elevation.  At 85º elevation (nearly vertical), the nib was scratchy and the ink line was thinner, but the line was unbroken.  

 

Consider that you are using a $12 fountain pen.  The Metro is a good one, but lower price means lower QC.  Faults will arise.  Try adjusting technique to compensate.  Plan B:  Use another pen, even another Pilot Metropolitan.   (After two weeks, I am starting to like my ECO.)  


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#18 Garrisonn

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Posted 09 August 2015 - 00:30

Thanks Mike, that method seemed to work great. The upstroke is no longer dry. The tines are still aligned too!  



#19 mhosea

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Posted 09 August 2015 - 02:06

Glad to hear it. I know some people don't, but I've needed to do this to most of the Pilot nibs I've had.

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#20 Garrisonn

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Posted 09 August 2015 - 18:53

Huh, good to know. I love pilot pens so I'm glad I know this trick in case it happens with a future purchase. 







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