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All Rollerballs Skip When I Use Them


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I have a problem that I am struggling to find a solution for on Google. I'm hoping someone here might be able to help!


It seems I cannot use rollerball pens. Whenever I write with them the ink intermittently skips, and I find myself having to go over and over the same word in order to get the ink to flow at all. There are also times when not much ink comes out, so I have random lighter patches in my text. This has happened with every single rollerball I have ever tried, so it isn't any individual pen malfunctioning.


I don't understand why this is. I have no problems at all using any other kind of pen - including gel pens and rollerballs of the type such as the Uni-ball Eye. I have had consistent problems with Parker, Lamy, Waterman and, most recently, a J Herbin cartridge rollerball.


Everything I have read online states that rollerballs are less likely to skip and produce more ink than a ballpoint, so I don't understand this. I was wondering whether it is something to do with the way I hold a pen?


I have attached a photo of me holding a pen - am I holding it at the wrong angle for a rollerball?




Really hoping you can help - this has been driving me mad for years now!

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I have the same issue with Japanese RB's but it appears that your issue is different. I hold the pen at a more shallow angle and so I think the edge of the refill (where the ball is) is touching the paper and causes the skip. I think that so many people hold pens upright today that the design is for these people.


I am not sure what cause of yours is, but I thought I would throw in my experience.

the Danitrio Fellowship

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I notice it with Waterman refills and sometimes Schmidt refills. It depends on the paper and point size. When I get the fine points (which are typically extra fines from Schmidt since their fine points are labeled "medium"), the writing is so much nicer and more consistent. It's a real shame that I bought some rollerball pens that cost well over $100 and have to use G2 refills to compensate for their inconsistent refills. But when you get a very absorbent paper, even the less consistent rollerball refills get more consistent.


I haven't had that problem with Parker refills, but then again, I never cared for their rollerballs and hardly ever used them - perhaps enough to kill one refill, and over a period of months.


The Sheaffer refill seems to be dark and consistent, but it seems to sink into the paper too deeply because I can easily read what I wrote on the other side. So, again, I almost never use Sheaffer's rollerballs.


Then there's Pelikan who makes some very good rollerballs. I don't think I had ANY problems with theirs other than they ran out of ink too fast, were expensive to replace, and were inconvenient to get.


Cross's rollerball pens used to be my favorites, they were consistent and dark. But they were also gel refills (so maybe that's why I liked them).


Some cheap Chinese rollerball pens I got wrote with very fine lines but were consistent.


Rollerballs have been a tricky interest of mine, they come with so many problems. That's why I stuck with Waterman. While I'm not crazy about their refills, at least the Waterman pens can easily accept Pilot G2 or similar sized refills that I know write great, can be found easily, and come at far better prices.


But if you can, try to get the finer point refills like Xfines (or sometimes labeled 'fine' as with Schmidt). From my experience, they perform much better than mediums or true fine points. Why that is, I have no clue.

I no longer own any fountain pens... Now they own me.

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I agree with tonydent84. A Waterman rollerball with a Pilot G2 refill and you can't go wrong. I also like the Cross rollerballs.

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This is an issue I've dealt with for many years. I prefer the feel of rollerballs over ballpoints, but often the refills lay down an inconsistent line and run out of ink fast. In my experience Lamy and Pelikan are the chief offenders, even though they produce my favorite fountain pens. I really like the standard rollerball refills for Acme Studio pens and Cross's rollerball refills, which do have more of a gel pen feel. Whenever possible I replace rollerball refills with Pilot G-2 0.7mm black gel refills. Shame they fit neither Lamy or Pelikan pens.

"Instant gratification takes too long."-Carrie Fisher

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I think your pen angle may be part of the issue. Given it's so high, you are forcing the ink to travel the furthest and also in a position to have the ball experience experience equal friction from all sides of the socket (making it more likely to get stuck). But, you shouldn't have to change your grip to get a good experience.


I recently fell in love with the Uni Ball 307 refill (not the more common 207, which I find to be one of the greatest skipping offenders out there) -- it just won't skip! I don't hold a pen like you do, but I suspect you will like it. Unfortunately, it's a new product and the only way to get the refill at the moment is to take it out of one of their cheap Signo 307 pens. Cost-wise, it's not a big deal, but I feel guilty having to toss the pen body that I will never use. I suspect that we will see the refills appear on their own soon.

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  • 2 years later...

I love the Cross rollerball refills very dearly. I always write with a Cross Century II rollerball and with the Cross clicker rollerball. Some other rollerballs that I use that I also like are the Schneider One Business, Pilot V5 & V7, Ohto Ceramic, Uni-ball Vision, Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica, Pentel Energel liquid gel ink rollerballs, and the Faber-castell rollerball.

Edited by Donald2
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I agree that mavinster is obviously holding the pen at much too acute an angle (too vertically). The pen cap and barrel should rest between the index finger and thumb, and the index finger itself should be nearly horizontal, not sharply crooked as in the picture. If I wrote like that, my hand would fall off within five minutes... Somehow I doubt that even rollerballs are designed to write at such a strange angle.


However, it may also be a paper issue, or perhaps even an ink issue. Mavinstar, if he ever sees this, might try using a cartridge rollerball (he mentions that he has one, I believe). Just use a small vet syringe to remove the original cartridge ink, and add your own ink, from a bottle of ink to which you have added some extra surfactant, such as Ivory dish detergent, I would suggest 2 or 3 drops. This will make the ink flow more freely, which is generally a very good idea with all but the wettest pens, and an especially good idea with rollerballs.

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