Ballpoint (and rollerball) pen refills have progressed a very long way. They are a far cry from the older sticky, blobby, and inconsistently performing refills of decades ago. In fact some modern ones write so well and smoothly without much pressure required, that they can easily displace the need for a firm fine nib fountain pen.
But all flirting with FPN heresy aside, all writing instruments have their place. I prefer fountain pens, but ballpoints are very useful in circumstances where fountain pens just don't cut it. Mainly, the ability to write with quick drying waterproof results, while being rugged, durable, maintenance-free and even inexpensive.
Well, unfortunately there is no single standard ballpoint refill design. There are a number of them (more than 5). Some makers stick with one or two refill designs, which means you cannot enjoy their ink in other pens (e.g. the Pilot G2 won't fit in any Parker refill compatible pens).
While many are good writers, with some being really quite superb, there is one thing I've run into that is a major pet peeve of mine: REFILLS THAT STOP WORKING, even though they have seen very little use.
From what I've surmised, the main problem with traditional ballpoint refills is that the ink supply will separate over time. The result is a gap inside the channel towards the tip, which blocks the ink flow. You may find that after waiting some time with the pen sitting tip down that flow will resume, but it will rarely remain consistent. The "gap" doesn't close up. It just allows a little ink to sneak past it to the tip, but will remain there. This can happen with many types of refills. AND... as I've discovered, this will happen with some even though they are "NEW" and "UNUSED"! I once bought a 10 pack of refills (got a very good price per refill) and after 5 years, the ENTIRE PACK was not usable (7 new refills were completely useless).
I tried a number of things to fix the refills:
- Heated up the refill with a hair dryer, in hopes of increasing fluidity and perhaps causing the "gap" to float up to the back end, away from the tip.
- Taping the refill to a string and then whipping it around very fast like a centrifuge, trying to shift the ink to the writing tip.
Both methods worked... at first. But then after some writing, the refill would stop working again. I do wonder if I should have tried using both methods, one after the other.
So my questions are as follows:
Q 1: Have you run into that dreaded skipping refill problem? If so, did you find a workable solution that lasts for a reasonable period?
Q2: What refills have you found that are not prone to ink supply separation? My favorite to date is the Pilot G2. Also, it seems that LAMY's M16 refill is very good about continuous writing even after lying in a drawer for many months.
Please share your experiences and try not to slam ballpoints over fountain pens. I'd like to keep this topic "ballpoint friendly" so we can all benefit from each other's pen wisdom. Thanks!
Edited by MYU, 07 July 2016 - 21:01.