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Pens That Change From Bone Dry To Very Wet

wetness capillary force surface tension

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#1 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 11:33

In this discussion, I noted that a lot of my newly bought pens started out bone dry but became wet (or even very very wet) later on. Initial flushing and cleaning to clear out oils and residues didn't help. Using very wet inks didn't help, or only a little bit.

I think this phenomenon may be relevant because quite a few people complain of certain pens being (too) dry. Kaweco is a brand that is often mentioned in this context and sure enough my two Kawecos were initially very dry. So was my Visconti van Gogh, that one was unusable. Over time, these pens very gradually became wet and the Visconti became very wet. I'm now sort of moving towards dryer inks with these pens!

The conclusion is that (for example) Kaweco pens are not dry pens, but that many of them start their life as a dry pen. Why? Many people start tinkering with nibs to make new pens wetter. Is this needed?

I think (emphasis on: think) the answer lies in materials science. The nib is new and has not been exposed to ink yet. The feed is new. The converter is new. Flushing and cleaning may help a bit, but it didn't help me much with these pens. There's a lot of surface area in a feed. My hypothesis is, that over time, with use, the surface tension characteristics of the converter, the feed and the nib change. This then gradually leads to a wetter pen. This hypothesis is supported somewhat by my observation in multiple pens that a small drop of glycerine speeds up this process; immediately the pen becomes wetter, and after one or two fills with glycerine-enriched ink the pen it stays wetter (search FPN for glycerine; much has been said about it; it's completely different stuff than photoflow).

My personal view is, that wetness can only be objectively determined in a well-used pen. Saying that a new pen is dry is like saying that a freshly picked green banana is hard. The banana takes time to ripen. A pen takes a lot of use to show its true character. It might be different with top-quality pens like an M1000 or a 149 or something similar. I didn't notice it with my new Sailor pens, for example. But with entry-level or intermediate-level pens, I've noticed this too many times for it to be a coincidence.

In reverse, a new pen that is very very wet might become too wet later on. Something to watch out for.

My approach now is: if I like a new pen in every aspect except dryness, I thoroughly flush it, clean it and then add a little bit of glycerine to the first two fills. Then I do a fill without glycerine. This seems to do the trick.

Anyway, just my 2 cts.

(Obviously we might criticize the manufacturer for such temporary dryness, but there's probably not much point in doing so.)

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#2 Nail-Bender

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 14:23

I know the humidity makes my hybrid pens crazy.

 

I was writing with one at work with the outside door open and it was running very dry & R/R ocassionally until the thunderstorm hit.

It would drip about one drop every 5 seconds after that if held vertically.

 

BTW...You can push/pull the nib+feed in-or-out on a hybrid so it's no big deal.

Nights like those I should just use a regular FP so I don't have to keep playing with the pen, although it does effect FP's a little also.



#3 minddance

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 14:46

There is a huge difference in using fountain pens in winter and summer. Humidity plays a huge role too, air con, radiator, floor heating etc.

#4 Driften

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 17:06

I have seen the effect myself in a couple of new pens that over time became much wetter and a couple of cleanings with just water or ink changes did not make any difference. In each case it went from dry to how I had expected it to write. I have seen pens that acted like they got drier but re-inking the pen fixed it. I think some of the moisture had evaporated out of the ink. I had cleaned moisture out of the cap a number of times and it musts have thrown the balance out of the ink.



#5 pajaro

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 17:07

It seems that patience is in order, but that it is in short supply.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
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#6 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 18:57

It seems that patience is in order, but that it is in short supply.


That's true, but on the other hand... if you buy a new DVD player, you don't expect it to have no sound for the first month. Also, apparently the manufacturers can make good nibs with good feeds, but they're shortchanging themselves (and their clients) because they can't find (or are too lazy to find) a solution for this problem. If my 160-euro Sailors don't have it, then my 200-euro Visconti shouldn't have it.

#7 pajaro

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 19:13

That's true, but on the other hand... if you buy a new DVD player, you don't expect it to have no sound for the first month. Also, apparently the manufacturers can make good nibs with good feeds, but they're shortchanging themselves (and their clients) because they can't find (or are too lazy to find) a solution for this problem. If my 160-euro Sailors don't have it, then my 200-euro Visconti shouldn't have it.

 

The DVD is electronic, and the data travels at what?  30% of the speed of light?  Something like that. 

 

The ink has to penetrate the feed and soak it.  Admittedly, some pens do this right away, if the ink doesn't flow through right away, the solution is to give it time.  While this is a poor solution, it is the way it is sometimes.  Some manufacturers use feed material that seems to take longer to become saturated.  I have had some of these pens.  It took me a while to realize what was going on. 

 

While you might demand instant ink flow, what are you going to do if the ink doesn't flow immediately?  Return the pen?  That's probably your best option.  The other is patience with the ink saturation of the feed.  Instant gratification is expected these days.  I agree that the pen should write immediately you fill it with ink.  Pens that didn't do that I usually toss in the NFG pens drawer.


"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

They took the blue from the skies and the pretty girls' eyes and a touch of Old Glory too . . .


#8 OMASsimo

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 23:48

I think it's mostly a matter of the nib. During the making of a nib it's die-cut, punched, and pressed. This puts stress on the metal and hardens it. Once the nib is used, it is bent frequently and the crystal structure of the metal relaxes and the internal stress is released. This changes the flexibility of the nib and allows for better ink flow by capillary action. There've been many discussions here on "breaking in" a nib. I think what you observed is exactly this and a little material science gives a good explanation.



#9 jekostas

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 01:41

Do you write with a heavy hand?  It's possible you're just bending the tines out slightly over time.



#10 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 06:39

While you might demand instant ink flow, what are you going to do if the ink doesn't flow immediately? Return the pen? That's probably your best option. The other is patience with the ink saturation of the feed.

Either patience, or a tiny touch of glycerine.

I think it's mostly a matter of the nib. During the making of a nib it's die-cut, punched, and pressed. This puts stress on the metal and hardens it. Once the nib is used, it is bent frequently and the crystal structure of the metal relaxes and the internal stress is released. This changes the flexibility of the nib and allows for better ink flow by capillary action. There've been many discussions here on "breaking in" a nib. I think what you observed is exactly this and a little material science gives a good explanation.

Thanks for that. I agree, that's a factor in the equation along with the surface tension behaviour and capillary force behavior of the converter and the feed. However, with steel-nibbed pens like my Visconti van Gogh and Kaweco AL Sport, I don't expect the nib to "break in" much. Those nibs are as tough and hard as nails. For gold nibs, yes, definitely a point to consider.

Do you write with a heavy hand? It's possible you're just bending the tines out slightly over time.

My touch is feather-light :-).

Considering the input given on "breaking" in the feed and nib, I'm taking pen reviews with a grain of salt if a pen is declared to be "dry". And I'm definitely not altering the nib (by spreading the tines) of a new pen to make it wetter. To summarize:

1. If a new pen is dry, expect it to become wetter with use (not with age). If you can't wait, use a very wet ink like Blackstone Sydney Harbour Blue or, if you insist on your favourite inks, add a tiny little bit of glycerine (search FPN).

2. If you alter the nib of a new pen to make it wetter, you might get instant satisfaction but it might become too wet later on. Any alteration of the nib might change the feel.

3. If a new pen is wet, ask yourself if you'd mind if it becomes even wetter later on. Making it dryer is harder than making it wetter. Using a dry ink like Pelikan 4001 might help, but up to a point. After that, it's off to the nibmeister. My personal experience with that is that the nib comes back feeling good (assuming the nibmeister knows his craft), but somehow subtly different from how it was. Tinkering with tines is a risk.

#11 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 09:46

Should use a more lubricated ink to start with.

A long time ago, I had (still have) a dry semi-flex nib....which normally due to flex is a wetter nib. I was sort of ink noobie with only a hand full of inks.

In it was an inlaid nib, I couldn't fiddle with spreading the shoulders of the nib with my thumbnails. I bought what was then a wet ink, Waterman South Sea Blue...................before Noodlers super wet inks came in Waterman was considered a wet ink. The pen worked very well with Waterman's ink.

 

Later I gave away the Waterman Blue to the daughter of the woman who ran the corner bakery. I had replaced it with DA Royal Blue, a more lubricated ink, whose tad towards blue-purple's tone I liked more.

Try that DA Royal Blue, then you won't have to ruin ink with glycerine, for other pens.

I'd tried that too, with my Pelikan Royal Blue.....don't know if it did anything much...considering.

Adding glycerine had been 'in' about a decade ago.

But in the meanwhile, we are now in the Golden Age of Inks....IMO no longer have to doctor our inks.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#12 SpecTP

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 13:54

That's true, but on the other hand... if you buy a new DVD player, you don't expect it to have no sound for the first month. Also, apparently the manufacturers can make good nibs with good feeds, but they're shortchanging themselves (and their clients) because they can't find (or are too lazy to find) a solution for this problem. If my 160-euro Sailors don't have it, then my 200-euro Visconti shouldn't have it.

 

To use a similar analogy, a tube amp needs a break in period and is not perfect right out of the box. Some fountain pens have similar break in period.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: wetness, capillary force, surface tension



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