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Ink Starvation On Fountain Pens?

ink starvation wing sung pilot parker

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28 replies to this topic

#1 Vindiction

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 08:47

I've been into the hobby for 3 or so years and have amassed a moderate collection of pens. Yet, a single issue continues to bother me and I can't tell if this is just symptomatic of fountain pens in general or if I've simple been buying duds. Without fail, it seems that my pens' ink flow will weaken the more I write in a sitting, to the point that some of them even completely dry up and I have to push more ink into the feed to get it writing again. This would not be an issue if it was just one of my pens, but it seems all of my pens have this issue to some extent with the exception of a Pilot Custom 74 with an EF nib which, I assume, is simply because the air exchange works well on a pen with such a fine nib, as well as a similar Pilot Metropolitan (maybe Pilots are just exceptionally good pens).

 

I have tried inks famed specifically for their wet-flowing properties (Private Reserve Tanzanite comes to mind) as well as adjusting adjusting feeds and nibs but the issue persists. It seems the moment I sit down for a long writing session the feed will eventually dry up and require some fiddling to get running again. This is not even an issue exclusive to my modern, plastic-feed based pens, as I had the same issues (leading to skipping rather than total drying out) in a Parker 51 with an ebonite feed and an Indian pen with an ebonite feed. Alongside this, I have had issues in both very fine pens that demand light ink flows and extremely wet, wide nibs.

 

Similarly, I have had issues in both eyedropper and converter-filled pens, even after thoroughly washing them and even placing a ball inside to break up surface tension. It seems, regardless of what I do with my pens, air is simply either not exchanged fast enough for a constant flow or not exchanged at all. This is especially frustrating because it fills my writing sessions with dread as I simply have to anticipate and watch as the flow weakens, and it defeats the purpose of using high-capacity pens since I have to waste time fiddling with them anyways. Is there some issue with my writing style (I tend to write relatively fast, but nothing insane) or is this an issue inherent to fountain pens? Do people not write multiple pages in one sitting, as I see this issue very infrequently discussed as well?


Edited by Vindiction, 11 September 2020 - 08:49.


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#2 Karmachanic

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 10:27

You may find your answer here:

http://www.fountainp...rter-cartridge/


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#3 carola

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 12:10

Looks like a helpful thread...

 

Just to answer some of the OPs questions:

No, that´s not normal and fountain pens really shouldn´t have problems like that.

I have 40+ pens now, modern and vintage ones, with diverse filling systems (also cartridge/converter and I have to say, I like the piston fillers best), I do write several pages in one session and I have only 2 pens with a similar problem.

One is an Eversharp Skyline (a lever filler from the 1940s) that needed 5 sessions at the pen doctor´s until we got it sorted out. It turned out that somehow the feed wasn´t compatible with the pen although it was a fitting Skyline feed. The section, the feed and the nib forged an unholy alliance causing the pen to be basically unwriteable. Now that it got a new feed and a matching nib it writes beautifully.

The other is a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage (cartridge/converter filler from 2004) that shows exactly the problem you described. I haven´t gotten to the bottom of the problem yet, whether it is rather the problem in the thread mentioned by Karmachanic or if the feed is damaged.

 

I also have cartridge/converter fillers I didn´t encounter this problem with:

Diplomat Aero

Edison Collier

Pilot MYU 701 M-500BS

Jinhao X750

 

Also my Parker 51 behaves very well.

 

Would be interesting what pens you have there... Care to post a list?



#4 hari317

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 12:45

How surprising that you faced the same issues on a 51 as well as an Indian Ed with ebonite feed. ( The latter being more famous for overflow of ink rather than under flow)

How do you write long sessions? Do you write at a desk? Do you use a writing slope? Or a hand held clip board? Is the nib always nicely pointing down when you write with the gravity bringing the ink in the reservoir in contact with the feeding system?

Edited by hari317, 11 September 2020 - 13:05.

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#5 bayindirh

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 12:57

I also had to deal with a very similar problem and, it's not normal. From my experience it boils down to two possibilities:

  • Dirty feed (inner ink channel).
  • Problem between ink/feed interface.

If your pens have subjected to hot weather or sit for some time, some ink may be set in your feed. Sometimes power-washing the pen with a syringe helps. Sometimes ammonia/soap solution helps.

 

My EDC Safari was having problems similar to yours lately. I completely disassembled and washed the pen with soap. Now it's much better than before. It's my best writing Safari so far.



#6 encremental

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 13:13

1) Put a piece of blotting paper under your hand as you write. You would be surprised how the tiniest amount of skin oil can disrupt flow, even with very wet pens especially when you are using a smooth and perhaps enthusiastically over-polished nib. I have been collecting pens for over twenty years and only fully realised this quite recently. Several lovely but stubborn Pelikans, Viscontis and Conway Stewarts are now back in rotation and giving glorious service.

 

2) After filling, flick the cartridge converter with your fingers and make sure that ink can freely travel up and down. If it can't, you will have problems. Filling cartridges with a syringe can solve particularly stubborn cases.

 

 

 

John


Edited by encremental, 11 September 2020 - 13:14.


#7 bayindirh

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 13:19

2) After filling, flick the cartridge converter with your fingers and make sure that ink can freely travel up and down. If it can't, you will have problems. Filling cartridges with a syringe can solve particularly stubborn cases.

Unless the cartridge itself has a lip crack.

 

I love Faber Castell's converters with spring agitators because of this reason.



#8 ENewton

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 14:07

I have been using fountain pens consistently for about 25 years now, and the only pen I have ever had that required priming in the course of writing was a Jinhao X750 clone.  Even that pen required priming only when I used iron gall ink in it.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if fast writing were a factor.  I have a friend who seems to have the problem you describe with many pens, when he uses them for drawing.  If this weren't a time of quarantine, I might borrow one of those  pens to discover whether I have the same problems with them, or I could lend him one of my pens and ask him to tell me whether their feeds keep up with his hand.  But this isn't the time.

 

I also wonder whether ink is a factor.  You mention Private Reserve Tanzanite but not other inks you have tried.  Some years ago, I tried Diamine Grape, which flowed initially but dried up in the nib in the course of writing, in pen after pen.  What less saturated inks have you tried?



#9 encremental

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 18:41

Bayindirh,  I don't think I was particularly clear, but I meant refilling empty  cartridges, not converters. But yes, always worth checking that the converter is fitting correctly.

 

John



#10 bayindirh

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 18:57

Bayindirh,  I don't think I was particularly clear, but I meant refilling empty  cartridges, not converters. But yes, always worth checking that the converter is fitting correctly.

 

John

No, it was clear. Possibly that was I who formed the reply incorrectly.

 

I wanted to say two things at once and all mixed up together:

  • Lamy cartridges' lips tend to crack after some time, breaking the seal and causing premature ink evaporation hence, hard starts and other problems arise.
  • Standard international cartridges' sealing ball acts as an agitator and they're beneficial. FC adds small springs to their converters to get the same effect and I like them for their consideration.

Hope it clears the matters furthers,

 

Regards,

 

H



#11 sansenri

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 20:13

what you describe is rather odd, I too am surprised you have experienced this with an eyedropper ebonite pen and feed, I usually choose these because of their generous flow.

Do you own a Pelikan among your collection? I've never experienced the issue you describe on any of my Pelikans, while not few of my converter pens have shown the behaviour you describe in particular occasions, and when it did happen it was either a fault of the converter which would not release the ink (surface tension), or of the ink itself having become too dry.

Buying a better quality converter has sometimes solved the issue.


Edited by sansenri, 11 September 2020 - 20:14.


#12 OCArt

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 20:40

+1, this solved a problem for me.

1) Put a piece of blotting paper under your hand as you write. You would be surprised how the tiniest amount of skin oil can disrupt flow, even with very wet pens especially when you are using a smooth and perhaps enthusiastically over-polished nib. I have been collecting pens for over twenty years and only fully realised this quite recently. Several lovely but stubborn Pelikans, Viscontis and Conway Stewarts are now back in rotation and giving glorious service.

John


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Lewis Carroll

 


#13 Vindiction

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 09:08

Looks like a helpful thread...

 

Just to answer some of the OPs questions:

No, that´s not normal and fountain pens really shouldn´t have problems like that.

I have 40+ pens now, modern and vintage ones, with diverse filling systems (also cartridge/converter and I have to say, I like the piston fillers best), I do write several pages in one session and I have only 2 pens with a similar problem.

One is an Eversharp Skyline (a lever filler from the 1940s) that needed 5 sessions at the pen doctor´s until we got it sorted out. It turned out that somehow the feed wasn´t compatible with the pen although it was a fitting Skyline feed. The section, the feed and the nib forged an unholy alliance causing the pen to be basically unwriteable. Now that it got a new feed and a matching nib it writes beautifully.

The other is a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage (cartridge/converter filler from 2004) that shows exactly the problem you described. I haven´t gotten to the bottom of the problem yet, whether it is rather the problem in the thread mentioned by Karmachanic or if the feed is damaged.

 

I also have cartridge/converter fillers I didn´t encounter this problem with:

Diplomat Aero

Edison Collier

Pilot MYU 701 M-500BS

Jinhao X750

 

Also my Parker 51 behaves very well.

 

Would be interesting what pens you have there... Care to post a list?

My collection isn't spectacular, but I have a Pilot Custom 74, Pilot Metropolitan, Wahl Tulip Clip, Parker 51 Vacumatic, Parker Super 21, Wing Sung 601, FPR Himalaya, and my newest pen, a Wing Sung 699. I realize I should clarify, the issue seems most prevalent in modern pens, especially ones with heavier ink flows. My Custom 74, being a Japanese Extra Fine, demands very little ink and thus has almost no ink starvation issues (though it does suffer with Waterman black which, strangely, works rather well in my vintage pens). Similarly, my Metropolitan suffers few of these issues, even the Parker 21 with it's plastic feed flows well as long as I'm not using a particularly dry ink. In contrast, my Wing Sung's constantly require the feed to be primed again after a few pages of writing, even after being thoroughly cleaned out and washed.

 

 

I think the Himalaya is the strangest case. Being a pen with an ebonite feed, one would think it'd flow well, and it does flow quite well for three or four pages. However, it'll slowly get weaker and weaker until I have to twist the converter and forcibly exchange air or it'll stop flowing completely. Perhaps it's just a general issue with modern pens that have a heavier flow--virtually all the pens I have issues with have very wet nibs.



#14 Vindiction

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 09:09

+1, this solved a problem for me.

 

1) Put a piece of blotting paper under your hand as you write. You would be surprised how the tiniest amount of skin oil can disrupt flow, even with very wet pens especially when you are using a smooth and perhaps enthusiastically over-polished nib. I have been collecting pens for over twenty years and only fully realised this quite recently. Several lovely but stubborn Pelikans, Viscontis and Conway Stewarts are now back in rotation and giving glorious service.

 

2) After filling, flick the cartridge converter with your fingers and make sure that ink can freely travel up and down. If it can't, you will have problems. Filling cartridges with a syringe can solve particularly stubborn cases.

 

 

 

John

I never considered the blotting paper, but I have noticed ink tends to look broken up on papers as I write, almost like when oil is on the page. This might very well explain that phenomenon.



#15 Vindiction

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 09:10

I have been using fountain pens consistently for about 25 years now, and the only pen I have ever had that required priming in the course of writing was a Jinhao X750 clone.  Even that pen required priming only when I used iron gall ink in it.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if fast writing were a factor.  I have a friend who seems to have the problem you describe with many pens, when he uses them for drawing.  If this weren't a time of quarantine, I might borrow one of those  pens to discover whether I have the same problems with them, or I could lend him one of my pens and ask him to tell me whether their feeds keep up with his hand.  But this isn't the time.

 

I also wonder whether ink is a factor.  You mention Private Reserve Tanzanite but not other inks you have tried.  Some years ago, I tried Diamine Grape, which flowed initially but dried up in the nib in the course of writing, in pen after pen.  What less saturated inks have you tried?

I generally use low-saturation inks (the Pilot line of inks comes to mind), but I have to resort to inks like Waterman Black for my pens with rubber parts and sacs due to the almost caustic nature of Pilot inks.



#16 carola

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 10:03


I think the Himalaya is the strangest case. Being a pen with an ebonite feed, one would think it'd flow well, and it does flow quite well for three or four pages. However, it'll slowly get weaker and weaker until I have to twist the converter and forcibly exchange air or it'll stop flowing completely. Perhaps it's just a general issue with modern pens that have a heavier flow--virtually all the pens I have issues with have very wet nibs.

Thinking about it, my rather modern Sheaffer Legacy Heritage is a pen with very heavy ink flow, too. Seems to be exactly in line with your problem.
 



#17 encremental

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 11:29

I really think it's oils from the skin. Completely bizarre that so many pens, and all with good flow should exhibit the same behaviour. I also think this the answer for a lot of problem pens which supposedly have baby's bottom. It is such a subtle thing that it took me literally years to put two and two together. 

 

A sheet of paper (doesn't have to be blotting paper) under your hand is about as cheap a solution as you can get, so it's got to be worth a try  :happyberet:

 

John



#18 corniche

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 12:03

Hello Vindication,

Do you live in a high altitude? If you're having the problem with an eyedropper as well, it might be something like "vapor lock." Air pressure decreases in higher altitudes which can affect the air/ink exchange in the feed.


It can also be skin oils as previously suggested. 👍


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#19 Arkanabar

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 14:45

I really think it's oils from the skin. Completely bizarre that so many pens, and all with good flow should exhibit the same behaviour. I also think this the answer for a lot of problem pens which supposedly have baby's bottom. It is such a subtle thing that it took me literally years to put two and two together. 

 

A sheet of paper (doesn't have to be blotting paper) under your hand is about as cheap a solution as you can get, so it's got to be worth a try  :happyberet:

 

John

+1.  This is an old calligrapher's trick; I think I remember seeing more than one calligraphy book suggest using a pocket made of wallpaper to put your work paper into.  A paint store might have some outdated wallpaper sample books you might use to make such a thing.

 

eta:  it's also why several old penmanship texts recommend having only the tip of your ring finger touching your work piece, letting it serve as a sort of post on which the weight of your hand rests.  This would also encourage arm writing.


Edited by Arkanabar, 12 September 2020 - 14:48.


#20 sansenri

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 20:26

My collection isn't spectacular, but I have a Pilot Custom 74, Pilot Metropolitan, Wahl Tulip Clip, Parker 51 Vacumatic, Parker Super 21, Wing Sung 601, FPR Himalaya, and my newest pen, a Wing Sung 699. I realize I should clarify, the issue seems most prevalent in modern pens, especially ones with heavier ink flows. My Custom 74, being a Japanese Extra Fine, demands very little ink and thus has almost no ink starvation issues (though it does suffer with Waterman black which, strangely, works rather well in my vintage pens). Similarly, my Metropolitan suffers few of these issues, even the Parker 21 with it's plastic feed flows well as long as I'm not using a particularly dry ink. In contrast, my Wing Sung's constantly require the feed to be primed again after a few pages of writing, even after being thoroughly cleaned out and washed.

 

 

I think the Himalaya is the strangest case. Being a pen with an ebonite feed, one would think it'd flow well, and it does flow quite well for three or four pages. However, it'll slowly get weaker and weaker until I have to twist the converter and forcibly exchange air or it'll stop flowing completely. Perhaps it's just a general issue with modern pens that have a heavier flow--virtually all the pens I have issues with have very wet nibs.

I counted 8 pens, ok, you may have been unlucky. Unless, as other suggest, it may be an issue of skin oil.

I'm surprised your 51 has any problem, if it does I'd seriously suggest you have it checked by a good shop, the 51 must write properly with regular flow.

I would not trust the Wing Sungs too much, you may have duds.

The Himalaya is a relatively good pen, but you mention it has a converter, so what is the nib group on it?

In a converter pen, the only things that can influence how it writes are the nib group (nib+feed+collar) and the converter. If you dismantled the pen and just used the nib group with the converter attached to it, it would write the same way... the pen body has no influence, the issue is in one of those two.

A quick test is use another converter and see what happens.

As your next experience, try a (good!) piston filler. You are likely to find all your flow issues disappear...

Similarly, try a good eye dropper, but with an ebonite feed and a friction fit good quality nib! (don't eyedropper your converter pens, if the nib group has a flow issue, you will not solve it by using it in eyedropper mode...)
 







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