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Ebonite Section Smells Like A Dirty Towel...

odor ebonite smell

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16 replies to this topic

#1 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 16:50

Hi pen friends,

I have searched online to get an answer for this but I haven't had any luck finding it...

The ebonite on my Ryan Krusac's L-14 fountain pen (I want to make a note that there is no problem with the pen that Ryan makes, just wanted to specify the pen I am having the problem with) started smelling like a dirty towel.

I have soaked the section in soap water for a day, dried it well and the smell was gone for a couple of days, but the smell is now back. I am using tissue papers only to wipe the section. I wash my hands before using the pen, so I don't think the smell is comming from my hands either...

Do you have any suggestions? This pen is so awesome that I want to use all the time, but I don't want to offend others by the smell...

Thank you!
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

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#2 alaskazimm

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 17:18

The only ebonite pens I have are from Edison, and they had a distinct odor when I first got them - more of a hot rubber smell than dirty dishrag. Which makes sense as ebonite is a hard rubber. Anyway, in my experience the smell faded on its own after a few weeks without any other action on my part to make it dissapate.



#3 woleizihan

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 17:58

I think it's not the ebonite smell but instead really the "smell of a wet towel" stored in an airtight cabinet. I've seen this on many of the hand made ebonite pens. I think the reason is also quite simple. There's no breather holes on the cap and ebonite is a porous material. When the ebonite is not well polished, moisture (from your hands, after filling the ink) will get trapped in the section. And because there's no breather hole on the cap, you are putting a wet towel into an airtight cabinet and you will expect that smell for sure. Once you understand the problem, solution is quite simple. Either polish the section so that fewer moisture could get trapped (put dry towels into the cabinet) or give the cabinet some air flow. Or you can wait for the sections to dry out before cap the pen, which sounds unrealistic.



#4 TheRealMikeDr

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 18:03

Are you sure it's the pen? When is the last time you looked under your desk?



#5 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 19:48

The only ebonite pens I have are from Edison, and they had a distinct odor when I first got them - more of a hot rubber smell than dirty dishrag. Which makes sense as ebonite is a hard rubber. Anyway, in my experience the smell faded on its own after a few weeks without any other action on my part to make it dissapate.


I have other pens with an ebonite section and they have some hard rubber smell that I am ok with. It's just this pen...interesting right?
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#6 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 19:51

I think it's not the ebonite smell but instead really the "smell of a wet towel" stored in an airtight cabinet. I've seen this on many of the hand made ebonite pens. I think the reason is also quite simple. There's no breather holes on the cap and ebonite is a porous material. When the ebonite is not well polished, moisture (from your hands, after filling the ink) will get trapped in the section. And because there's no breather hole on the cap, you are putting a wet towel into an airtight cabinet and you will expect that smell for sure. Once you understand the problem, solution is quite simple. Either polish the section so that fewer moisture could get trapped (put dry towels into the cabinet) or give the cabinet some air flow. Or you can wait for the sections to dry out before cap the pen, which sounds unrealistic.


That makes sense. I hesitate to make a hole on the cap, so I will go toward smoothing out the section. I wonder if it makes sense to treat the section with something like Walnut oil as first step to cap the pores before sanding the section...
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#7 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 19:55

Are you sure it's the pen? When is the last time you looked under your desk?


Hahaha
Other pens don't smell like this...maybe my hands have terrible germs? lol
It's weird that the nib and the feed don't smell...only the section...
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#8 Regulateur

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 22:26

Hi tgoto,

I have the exact same issue with a Ranga model 3 pen in mottled green ebonite. Nothing wrong with the pen, writes great, excellent construction.

But it stinks.

In addition to the distinct rubber odor, there is strong musty smell when I open the cap. I disassembled and cleaned the pen with ammonia a few times as I thought there could have been mildew inside. It didn't work. I have had the pen for 2 years now and it still stinks as bad as day one.
Cheers,
Pierre

#9 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 22:36

Hi tgoto,
I have the exact same issue with a Ranga model 3 pen in mottled green ebonite. Nothing wrong with the pen, writes great, excellent construction.
But it stinks.
In addition to the distinct rubber odor, there is strong musty smell when I open the cap. I disassembled and cleaned the pen with ammonia a few times as I thought there could have been mildew inside. It didn't work. I have had the pen for 2 years now and it still stinks as bad as day one.


Ouch... my pen writes amazingly too and I love the pen.
If ammnoia doesn't work I am not sure what works... I don't want to boil it as the ebonite is going to change its shape...
I will try coating it with walnut oil...
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#10 Kelly G

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 22:40

Have you talked with Ryan to see if he has any suggestions?
May we live, not by our fears but by our hopes; not by our words but by our deeds; not by our disappointments but by our dreams.

#11 tgoto

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 23:06

Have you talked with Ryan to see if he has any suggestions?


No I haven't.
I wanted to see if I can pin point the cause of this problem first before contacting Ryan...
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#12 Joseph B

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 02:07

I had a plastic box in which I kept old pen parts that did this. I suggest that it may be biological i.e. fungus/mold like mildew. That would explain it returning after a while if all not disinfected. Maybe Betadine or Iodine wash. I don't think it would harm fountain pen but testing first would be prudent. Also, could be the ink reintroducing after cleaning, does this occur with multiple inks? 



#13 tgoto

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:31

I had a plastic box in which I kept old pen parts that did this. I suggest that it may be biological i.e. fungus/mold like mildew. That would explain it returning after a while if all not disinfected. Maybe Betadine or Iodine wash. I don't think it would harm fountain pen but testing first would be prudent. Also, could be the ink reintroducing after cleaning, does this occur with multiple inks? 


I have used Iroshizuku Yama Budo, Callifolio Omi Osun, Waterman Inspired Blue so far and still smelled...I am not sure if this is caused by specific ink.
It may be caused by biological factors as you suggested.
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#14 tgoto

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 05:34

Status report...
I have contacted Ryan and he suggested to rub the section and inside the cap with ammonia or alcohol.

I rubbed the parts with alcohol and will see if the problem goes away.
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#15 tgoto

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Posted 30 October 2017 - 19:27

Hi everyone,

This problem has been resolved.
Ryan suggested to have the section (with the nib and feed) soaked in 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes.

I did that and the odor has been gone.

I wanted to show this as I couldn't find a solution online for this problem.

I cannot say this works for all applications, so please use your own judgement if you choose to use this method.

Thank you :)
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)

#16 Regulateur

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 00:20

Thanks tgoto for sharing Ryan's suggestion. I will try that with my Ranga.
Cheers,
Pierre

#17 tgoto

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 01:00

Thanks tgoto for sharing Ryan's suggestion. I will try that with my Ranga.


No problem! :)
Dream, take one step at a time and achieve. :)





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: odor, ebonite, smell



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