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Bulb-Filler Experiment


tonybelding
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Because of all the questions around some inks possibly causing rubber sacs to fail prematurely, I have decided to conduct a series of methodical tests using my bulb-filler pens. Because these pens use rubber bulbs, but the bulbs are quite easy and inexpensive for me to replace as needed, they're ideal for testing inks that might possibly be "dangerous" to latex rubber.

 

The methodology I've decided on is. . . Ink one pen each month, and use it continually with the chosen ink for three months. At the end of that time, check the bulb carefully for evidence of decay. Because I have three bulb-fillers, using all of them will give me one test result per month. (Obviously I expect to be doing this for A While.) I also decided to only flush them with distilled water, to rule out any possible contaminants in the tap water here.

 

If anybody else would like to join in and report your results too, that would be OK. I'd only suggest following a similar regimen, if you can, so that our results can be compared on a somewhat even basis.

 

The first pen in the series is my Edison Morgan, which I inked a month ago with Montblanc Midnight Blue. Because of its huge ink capacity, I've used less than half the fill, and it's still going strong.

 

Today I tanked up the second pen, my Edison Glenmont, with that most iconic ink: Noodler's Black.

 

Next will be the Gate City New Postal Jr., and I have a month to decide what ink to put in that. I also need to get another new bulb for it. I've already installed a fresh bulb, but it seems to be too small, and it doesn't displace enough air to fully fill the pen. So, I'll try a bigger one and see how that goes.

 

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Thank you for doing this experiment. As you report back, we will have a thread in the Ink Comparisons which also includes the tests.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



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Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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  • 4 weeks later...

Time for a monthly update. . . Today I inked the Gate City New Postal Jr with Diamine Asa Blue. I really needed some color after so much gray and black! Asa Blue is a great color.

 

Two months in, the Edison Morgan is still doing OK with Montblanc Midnight Blue. The only quirk is that a few times when the pen has been sitting idle for a while (days not hours), I've had to squeeze out a drop of ink to wet the feed and get it writing again. The bulb appears to be in good shape.

 

One month in, the Edison Glenmont is doing fine with Noodler's Black.

 

Incidentally, I was informed at the beginning that a #18 sac is the correct size for the bulb on all of these pens. I found #18 to be too small, and a #20 works much better.

 

My biggest worry about the experiment, at this point, is that I may end up with no discernable sac degradation over a three-month period from any ink I test. In point of fact, all the past failures I've experience here have been from pens in storage rather than ones in active use. So, we'll see what happens, and I may end up having to go back to the drawing board.

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Very interesting! Thank you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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  • 4 weeks later...

Time for another update. . .

 

The Edison Morgan has been inked with Montblanc Midnight Blue continually for the last three months. During this time I've had minimal problems with the pen, and the rubber bulb is showing no evidence of any degradation. I didn't really expect any, since I haven't heard about anybody having problems with Montblanc ink.

 

The Edison Glenmont is two months in with Noodler's Black, and the New Postal Jr is one month in with Diamina Asa Blue, and both of them are doing fine so far.

 

I flushed the Morgan with distilled water, swapped in a Pendemonium stub nib, and refilled it with my favorite of all blue inks: Noodler's Texas Blue Bonnet! This has been a "high maintenance" ink in some respects, so it'll be interesting to see if it causes any problems over a three month span.

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I wonder if you can fill a few of these bulbs with ink, seal them with wax or blue tack, and let them sit for a few months to simulate the "damage during storage" scenario? Might be easier than using these inks daily which you may or may not enjoy

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Thanks Tony.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks for reporting on this! It is interesting.

 

Since you only have three pens to do this with, I can give you a tip for expanding your experiment. Use ink sample vials with the inks that you want to test. Snip a 1/4" or so piece of a latex sac or diaphragm and drop it in. Let it sit and check them out. I've been doing this here and there in my own in our shop for curiosity.

 

Once a sac is turning gooey, you can tell pretty easily be turning the vial on it's side and allowing the ink to settle away from the sac. But the best way to evaluate is a pair of alligator forceps so that you can fish them out to inspect. Be sure that the forceps are very clean so you don't introduce some strange contaminant.

 

Also, this is not a huge deal, but the #18 sacs are what I feel are best for our bulb fillers. You want a sac to stretch a little bit when it attaches to the post, as this gives a better grip and bond with the shellac. The #20 sac will work OK, but I find #18 or an #18.5 to have the perfect amount of stretch for the diameter of our posts.

 

Keep it up!

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Also, this is not a huge deal, but the #18 sacs are what I feel are best for our bulb fillers. You want a sac to stretch a little bit when it attaches to the post, as this gives a better grip and bond with the shellac. The #20 sac will work OK, but I find #18 or an #18.5 to have the perfect amount of stretch for the diameter of our posts.

 

 

I can't explain the discrepancy. You told me #18 was the correct size for your pens, and Pendemonium told me #18 was the correct size for the New Postal Jr. I ordered a set of #18 sacs, and they were clearly smaller than the ones that came on these pens. The one I put on the New Postal Jr. was so small, it didn't have enough displacement to fully fill the pen. It would just get about half full and then poop out. The #18 is working on the Glenmont, but filling is kind of slow, and it's obviously slimmer than the bulb on the Morgan. I then got a set of larger sacs, and the #20 is working well on the New Postal Jr. now, and it also seems much more closer in size to the one that's on the Morgan.

 

I don't think I'll try testing ink in vials. There are too many ways that might skew the results. Also, not as much fun.

 

Today I flushed the remaining Noodler's Black out of the Edison Glenmont, and it appears to still be in good shape.

 

My humorous advice in the past about Nooder's has been: If you want more trouble-free ink, avoid anything with a geographical place in the name! Now we'll find out if that was right, since I'm running Texas Bluebonnet in the Morgan, and I just filled the Glenmont with Black Swan in Australian Roses.

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Thanks Tony!

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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I can't explain the discrepancy. You told me #18 was the correct size for your pens, and Pendemonium told me #18 was the correct size for the New Postal Jr. I ordered a set of #18 sacs, and they were clearly smaller than the ones that came on these pens. The one I put on the New Postal Jr. was so small, it didn't have enough displacement to fully fill the pen. It would just get about half full and then poop out. The #18 is working on the Glenmont, but filling is kind of slow, and it's obviously slimmer than the bulb on the Morgan. I then got a set of larger sacs, and the #20 is working well on the New Postal Jr. now, and it also seems much more closer in size to the one that's on the Morgan.

 

I don't think I'll try testing ink in vials. There are too many ways that might skew the results. Also, not as much fun.

 

Today I flushed the remaining Noodler's Black out of the Edison Glenmont, and it appears to still be in good shape.

 

My humorous advice in the past about Nooder's has been: If you want more trouble-free ink, avoid anything with a geographical place in the name! Now we'll find out if that was right, since I'm running Texas Bluebonnet in the Morgan, and I just filled the Glenmont with Black Swan in Australian Roses.

 

Sounds good! As long as the sacs are working for you, then no problem at all!

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My Menlo failed a while ago. I stay away from Japanese inks. I'm really hoping that Diamine is a safe brand - because I love that Menlo and want to use it again. I find Waterman a little washed out. Any highly saturated will be eye droppers for me. Edison makes great droppers.

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My Menlo failed a while ago. I stay away from Japanese inks. I'm really hoping that Diamine is a safe brand - because I love that Menlo and want to use it again. I find Waterman a little washed out. Any highly saturated will be eye droppers for me. Edison makes great droppers.

 

I've found Diamine to be fine except for the really saturated red colors. Perhaps avoid their red colors. And yes, the more saturated the color, the heavier the dye load, and the more potential to damage latex.

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  • 1 month later...

After three months (plus a few days extra), the New Postal Jr is still doing just fine with Diamine Asa Blue.

 

I don't think I'll try to refill it immediately with anything different. So far I've seen no sign of degradation in any of these rubber bulbs, and I'm beginning to think the experiment is flawed, or the underlying assumptions are wrong. I feel like I'm missing something.

 

I've had several sac failures in the past, but they did not occur as a result of a pen containing ink for months at a time. They invariably happened after using a pen for a little while, then I flushed it and put it away. Come back a few months later, then the rubber has turned to goo.

 

I'm not sure exactly what's happening there, but I get the feeling that I'm testing for the wrong thing. This experiment, as I have been performing it, isn't going to shed any light at all on the subject. I'll have to spend some time thinking about where to go from here.

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Hmm.... So that suggests that something is remaining in the sac that is the cause of the deterioration and it may be your cleaning solution and it may be inhibited by ink but we need more thinking.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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