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Airplane, Leak: Is Pelikan Special?



ryofurue

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Hello all,

 

I recently read at a Japanese pen-shop website that the Pelikan ink tank is specifically designed to cope with ambient pressure change to prevent leaks. I was shocked because . . .

 

I've been using a Pelikan fountain pen for nearly ten years and I've never ever experienced leak. I take it everywhere I go including my countless air travels. I never take any special care about it before flying; I sometimes even fill up the tank right before leaving. I usually put the pen into the vertical pen-holder of my backpack and place it horizontally under the seat in front of me. That means that the pen is kept horizontally during flight.

 

I've been long wondering about this, because my two previous pens leaked, leaked, leaked, and leaked. Countless times.

 

I've owned only three fountain pens. The first was a very old, cheap Mont Blanc with a builtin ink tank and the second was a Parker Sonnet, which I was using with a converter. The latter leaked especially frequently. Say, I kept it in my breast pocket and maybe I ran and shook the pen; removed the cap and found some leak into the cap. It also leaked into the barrel, presumably because there was some little space between the converter and the barrel. (But, I bought a standard international converter which was supposed to be the right one.) I think I took it for air travels and it leaked as if it were a matter of course.

 

Is Pelikan special? Or have I been just lucky? and was what I read about it just a myth? Are there other makes whose pens are leak-free?

 

I want to find this out, because I'm thinking of buying a non-Pelikan pen, but I don't want to go back to the leak-fest. . . .

 

Cheers,

Ryo

 

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I fly frequently with my fountain pens and, I must admit, that I don't always ensure that inks are topped up. I've never had any problem with any of my modern pens that are mostly cartridge/convertor or piston fillers. A few older pens have leaked on occasion, but it was nothing major - just a few drops in the cap. I suppose you'd be safe with non-Pelikan pens in general, but it'd still be helpful to share the pens that you're considering. Perhaps, someone with flying experience with the same pen would chime in?

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I recently read at a Japanese pen-shop website that the Pelikan ink tank is specifically designed to cope with ambient pressure change to prevent leaks.

It could compensate small pressure changes, like those you could have in the daily use, but not the extreme ones, like in case of a flight.

 

It is physically impossible.

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Montblanc owner and lover

Well if you search an other pen that don't leak just look at the Waterman Edson,they designed it for what you want,a pen that never leaks even in airtravel. They're expensive but very nice

A people can be great withouth a great pen but a people who love great pens is surely a great people too...

Pens owned actually: MB 146 EF;Pelikan M200 SE Clear Demonstrator 2012 B;Parker 17 EF;Parker 51 EF;Waterman Expert II M,Waterman Hemisphere M;Waterman Carene F and Stub;Pilot Justus 95 F.

 

Nearly owned: MB 149 B(Circa 2002);Conway Stewart Belliver LE bracket Brown IB.

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Most modern pens with elaborate ink collectors seem to do just fine in pressurized cabins. The modern Parker Duofold seems to be particularly immune to problems at altitude.

The only exceptions I've personally experienced are a Lamy Safari, which can empty an entire new cartridge into the cap in the course of a 50-minute flight, and my MB 146, which tends to crack at the end-seal during pressure changes, necessitating a trip back to its maker at my expense. Unamusing.

ron

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Ernst Bitterman

I haven't done a lot of flying with pens, but my experience is generally good; undistinguished Waterman of the 1980s, a TWSBI 530 and a TWSBI 540 (the latter two together) have all resisted pressure dribbles, as did a brace of Sheaffer No Nonsenses my wife was carrying. The secret isn't in the reservoir, but in the feed; if it's got enough convolutions to cling to whatever ink a pressure variation chases out, then it won't drip... much, probably. Unless that Pelikan advert was speaking VERY broadly to include feed in the notion of "tank", or there was some sort of German to Japanese translation issue, it's an ad-writer's fancy.

 

...actually, there is one case where the reservoir makes a big difference; capillary fillers, of which none are currently in production, take very little notice of air pressure changes.

 

Parker Sonnet, which I was using with a converter. The latter leaked especially frequently.... (But, I bought a standard international converter which was supposed to be the right one.)

Someone mis-advised you. A Parker of any sort will want a Parker-specific converter; the international fitting is a different size from the Parker, and leaking is pretty much guaranteed.

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Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

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I've flown with a Pelikan and had not problems. Logged a number of hours with a Lamy 2000 and it acted very well; full, half full, used during flight, left horizontal ect. Many years back Parker advertised one pen as leak proof for flying, can't remember if it was the 51 or Duofold.

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ethernautrix

On a couple of recent trans-Atlantic trips, my modern pens fared well (no leaks), even though a couple of the cartridges (Hello, Nakaya!) were half-full.

 

Or maybe on the modern pens leaked, but it was not a Nakaya, Montblanc, or Pelikan. (Memory already hazy about which pen leaked -- I know one of them was a vintage, but what was the other one...? Older pen but not strictly vintage.... Obviously I travel with "too many" pens. Oi.)

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How long has it been since the airline offered you chewing gum on boarding to keep your ears from hurting during ascent and descent?

 

My Website

 

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How long has it been since the airline offered you chewing gum on boarding to keep your ears from hurting during ascent and descent?

 

Precisely. If there's a leak, it likely has something to do with the pen, rather than changes in pressure when taking off or landing.

 

I've come to the conclusion that the notion of leaking of pens in planes is primarily in the category of urban legends (and yes, I've kept track on a systematic basis over a couple of hundred thousand miles of flying in the last two years). Some pens do lose more ink than others, but that's more from evaporation rather than leaking (i.e. depositing a big gob of ink inside the cap).

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Hmmm. So, I'm going on a plane trip in a couple weeks and I was planning to make sure I had no ink in the pens when I was in the air. I figured I'd just bring cartridge pens with me and I could pitch the cartridges before getting on the plane. Do I really not need to worry? Has anyone actually had much leakage? The pens I'm considering bringing along: a Sheaffer 444, a 330, plus a Lamy Vista.

My Pen Wraps and Sleeves for Sale Here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DaisyFair

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Precisely. If there's a leak, it likely has something to do with the pen, rather than changes in pressure when taking off or landing.

 

I've come to the conclusion that the notion of leaking of pens in planes is primarily in the category of urban legends (and yes, I've kept track on a systematic basis over a couple of hundred thousand miles of flying in the last two years). Some pens do lose more ink than others, but that's more from evaporation rather than leaking (i.e. depositing a big gob of ink inside the cap).

Interesting.....as I come to the opposite conclusion than you in a similar number of miles.

 

For my understanding there is quite a significant difference in the leakimg feom pen to pen, and this is ot due too much, or is not due o ly, to the characteristic of the feed.

Probably on my understanding of this problem, the cap has a bigger influence.

If the cap is sealed, I noticed no leaking.

If the cap is not sealed, I noticed easier possibility of leaking.

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For my understanding there is quite a significant difference in the leakimg feom pen to pen, and this is ot due too much, or is not due o ly, to the characteristic of the feed.

Probably on my understanding of this problem, the cap has a bigger influence.

If the cap is sealed, I noticed no leaking.

If the cap is not sealed, I noticed easier possibility of leaking.

 

Possible - hadn't thought of the cap as the culprit. I'm pretty sure most nib-feed combinations are quite airworthy, so to speak. Eyedropper pens could be an exception, but I don't have much experience with them. The only eyedropper pens I have come with shut-off valves, so no leaks.

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The secret isn't in the reservoir, but in the feed; if it's got enough convolutions to cling to whatever ink a pressure variation chases out, then it won't drip... much, probably. Unless that Pelikan advert was speaking VERY broadly to include feed in the notion of "tank",

[ . . .]

Someone mis-advised you. A Parker of any sort will want a Parker-specific converter; the international fitting is a different size from the Parker, and leaking is pretty much guaranteed.

Thank you! First, about the "tank", that was my very imprecise broad translation from Japanese into English. The advert said that the Pelikan's ink feeding system is designed to cope with pressure change.

 

About the Parker, you must be right! When I bought it, I didn't know anything about fountain pens (the first one was originally my father's possession) and just bought the converter recommended by the shop attendant. I remember that I was told that that was an international-standard converter as Parker required. Sigh.

 

Anyway, your folks' responses are very encouraging. I can try another brand without too much fear of leaks!

 

Cheers,

Ryo

Edited by ryofurue
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Well, I've traveled with everything from some very nice Pelikans to a Waterman Phileas to some fun but cheap Online student pens, and other than a little dried ink in the caps when I cleaned them later, I've never had a problem. And the bit of ink in the caps tends to happen from just having my pens (in a case) jostling around in my purse- no airplane involved.

 

I would think you might have a problem if they in a checked bag in the cargo area, but I would hope no one would ever do that. Not because of leakage, but because putting something you value, whether you paid $8 or $800, is a fundementally bad idea. If you can't easily replace it, take it with you.

1988 Mercedes-Benz 260E

 

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Precisely. If there's a leak, it likely has something to do with the pen, rather than changes in pressure when taking off or landing.

 

I've come to the conclusion that the notion of leaking of pens in planes is primarily in the category of urban legends (and yes, I've kept track on a systematic basis over a couple of hundred thousand miles of flying in the last two years). Some pens do lose more ink than others, but that's more from evaporation rather than leaking (i.e. depositing a big gob of ink inside the cap).

 

But, there is pressure change and people feel it. On airliners, it's about 0.8 atmospheres, that is, the pressure is about 80% of the sea-level pressure.

 

You can adjust your inner-ear pressure by swallowing siliva (hence the notion of chewing gum), but there are people who can't do that easily (like my wife) and such people do suffer from uncomfortable (and sometimes a bit hurtfull) ear drums for a long time after take off. And also you observe the effect of pressure change by how much your plastic water bottles you bought before the flight are squeezed at the crusing altitude.

 

Of course, this issue still can be an urban legend; the 20% pressure change can be negligible for pens. My guess (after reading people's responses) is that either the pressure change was larger on old airliners or old pens were more sensitive than modern ones. Just a guess.

 

Cheers,

Ryo

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[ . . .] I suppose you'd be safe with non-Pelikan pens in general, but it'd still be helpful to share the pens that you're considering. Perhaps, someone with flying experience with the same pen would chime in?

Thank you! You are right. I'm considering a Pilot pen and I'm particularly interested in the Vanishing Point. Since I'd be using it with a converter, I was afraid of leaks from my bad experience with my Parker. (I lost it many years ago, by the way.)

 

Does anybody have the experience of leaks with the Vanishing Point, flight-related or otherwise?

 

Cheers,

Ryo

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Also, I'm curious about leaks due to shaking. The previous two pens leaked into the caps when they were shaken. I thought it's understandable. Don't shake your pen! (But, the leak-proness of my Parker may have been due to the wrong converter, as pointed out above.)

 

But, my current Pelikan doesn't leak even by shaking. I mean, I sometimes accidentally drop it from the top of my desk onto the floor, with the cap on. I sometimes do it while standing. I'm a very careless person (but when the nib is exposed, I'm a very careful person :-). I pick it up from the floor and unscrew the cap, finding no leak. "Hmm, what's going on?"

 

Eventually, I started to take this no-leak situation for granted, but I'm curious about other pens.

 

Cheers,

Ryo

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entropydave

The problem of fountain pens leaking is definitely a real one. The pressure still changes in planes, even in modern ones. A rough expression of the change is that the cabins are pressurised as if you were at 6000 feet. So if you take off from Denver or La Paz, there is going to be little relevant pressure change. If you take off from Amsterdam, where the airport is actually below sea level (-6') the change will be significant. In most cases, in pens where there is air in the ink reservoir, the air will expand pushing ink out of the reservoir: The more air, the more expansion. In some pens, as has been noted, the collector or feed can absorb the ink that is forced out of the reservoir. Others are less successful.

 

My personal experiences are with leaks in Parker 45s and Parker 100s when the cartridges have been more than 30% empty. The leaks have been enough to be unpleasant to clean up, but not gushing out whole cartridges worth of ink. Since getting serious about filling the cartridges to capacity before flying, I have had no leaks.

 

Recently friends and relatives have had leaks with an Aurora Ipsilon and a Parker 75. I have witnessed the results of these and where there had been little ink in the pen, circa 75% gone, the amount of ink flushed has been significant. If the pen was put in a plastic bag as a precaution the cleaning is very awkward.

 

The Parker 61 in its capillary filling form is immune to pressure changes, because the air can expand without forcing ink out since the ink is not between it and a way out. I've written with Parker 61s in flight without problem.

 

Pens with ink cutoffs like some vacuum or syringe fillers are in my *limited* experience also safe regardless of how much ink is in the reservoir.

 

I have read somewhere that the feed on the Pelikan P1 and the Mxx pens of the 1960s were designed to address pressure changes due to altitude change. Having looked at the section assemblies, they are certainly more complicated than many others and may well have this benefit. I have never conducted an experiment to prove it. I also do not know whether this section assembly was carried over to the Pelikan Mxxx pens which, superficially, resemble the pre-1960 Pelikan pens.

 

In short, I suggest one would be foolish to suppose *generally* that flying with pens that are less than 65% full is safe with regard to leaks. Changes in pens, planes or physics have not been sufficient to eliminate the risk.

 

David.

Edited by entropydave
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Ernst Bitterman

How long has it been since the airline offered you chewing gum on boarding to keep your ears from hurting during ascent and descent?

 

That's just because they're a pile of cheap bas... but I'm getting off topic.

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

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