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Surface Tension Problem


Cassotto
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I've had a Waterman Kultur for some time, but I've never been happy about its performance. It dries too easily, and writing isn't either smooth or continuous.

I've realised that the ink seems to get sort of clotted in the upper (as I write) part of the piston converter. Since I store the pen with the nib upwards, it seems that the ink falls down because of the law of gravity, but then the law of gravity is not enough to make it fall again when it put it with the nib downwards, so the pen writes until the ink that floods the feed runs out. I give a few taps to the pen, the ink falls and I can carry on writing... Until I store the pen again, nib upwards, and next time the ink is again at the top of the converter.

I've read somewhere that this is related to the ink's surface tension. I've tried to change the ink I'm using with this pen, which is usually Montblanc Oyster Grey, and use Waterman Serenity Blue instead, but the result's been the same.

I read that one option is to put one of the small balls that can be found inside cartridges inside the converter. Even though they say that converters can be disassembled by unscrewing the metallic ring, I haven't been able to unscrew mine. Either I lack the skill, or the strength. However, I saw that the ball of the cartridges I have at home (Faber-Castell, the only brand I can find near my home) have a very small ball. I thought that perhaps, with a little push, I'd be able to put it inside the converter through its hole. But it didn't even need the push. The ball's so small that it went easily in.

So my question is: if I've got this ball whose diameter is smaller than that of the converter rim, would it be dangerous to fill the converter and see whether the surface tension problem is solved? Can the ball come out of the converter and block the feed of the pen, or something like that? Or is it safe to have a go?

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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A stainless steel ball WILL work to break the surface tension which is holding the ink in the back of the converter.

Note that I said 'STAINLESS STEEL' ball. The plastic balls which are in some cartridges and converters do not have enough mass to fall through the ink and break the surface tension. The plastic balls simply get stuck in the ink in the back of the converter.

 

As for opening the converter, some converters have defied all my attempts to open them. These are Parker and Sheaffer converters. I use 2 pieces of bicycle inner tube to hold the converter. The rubber inner tube gives my fingers more grip on the converter. But be careful how much force you use, as some converters may be glued, so that you cannot unscrew the converter. Too much force and you will break the converter.

 

If the ball fits through the mouth of the converter easily, that is OK. Do NOT try to 'shove' a ball through the mouth of the converter. That will open up the mouth of the converter so it won't seal well on the nipple, or break the mouth.

 

As for stopping ink flow. YES a large ball could drop to the front and close off the mouth of the converter. On some converters, the ball won't seal the mouth of the converter, so there is no problem. However, I have had several converters where the ball did seal the mouth. That makes it tricky to refill the converter also, as the ball could seal the mouth preventing you from screwing the piston forward. You have to tilt the converter so that the ball is not sealing the mouth of the converter. Tricky to do for the first few times, then you get the hang of it, and it is not a problem.

 

As for your small ball, I would try it and see what happens. It won't go into the feed. It will be stopped by the nipple and the tail of the feed, which is inside the nipple.

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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Montblanc, on their converters, uses a small piece of coiled wire, which works to allow ink to flow while disrupting surface tension.

"Oh deer."

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Also adding just a touch of surfactant works.

I agree, one drop of dishwashing liquid in your ink bottle should do the trick, I always do it when inks are too thick and it never harmed any of my pens

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Before you try to force something into your converter or modify your ink, have you given the inside walls of the converter a thorough flushing with either detergent solution or ammonia solution? Sometimes the problem isn't the plastic surface, but oils that deposited onto the plastic during manufacturing. They will stay there, repelling ink, until a solvent removes them. The feed and nib need the same flushing, by the way.

ron

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Thanks a lot for your help. I'll go first for what rwilsonedn suggests, and wash carefully the converter. I did not know that there can be residues of oil or any other chemical product inside when you buy them new. How much water/ammonia should I use?

 

As for diluting the ink, that might be a solution. However, I've had no problem with these inks and other pens.

 

What ac12 says seems very interesting to me. I've never seen a cartridge with a stainless steel ball, only with plastic ones (only always bigger than those in the cartridges I have at present). I've just loaded the pen, to see what happened, and, yes, it does nothing at all. Now I cannot get that ink back in the bottle, in case the ball falls there too!

 

Anyway, if cleaning thoroughly the pen and converter doesn't work, what is this problem owing to? Can it be considered a fault in the design of the pen or the converter? None of my other converters has a ball or the coiled wire benbot517 talks about, but I've never had such a problem before. I had even thought of buying another converter and seeing what happens. I haven't done so because I cannot find them easily near my home.

 

I'll clean the converter first thing, and let you know what happens.

 

Thanks!

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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The small balls in most cartridges I believe are mainly there just to provide a seal when the cartridge is new. When it is pierced for use the ball is released and *may* have a small effect on dissipating ink. Any ball in a converter could potentially seal the feed if it sinks and blocks the mouth or the ink channel.! Potentially the plastic balls avoid this by not sinking. The best converters I have found have a small stainless steel bar or spring. I have had a lot of success retrofitting small fishing crimps into converters. These are small enough not to reduce significantly ink volume, yet have enough mass.

 

However flushing your pen and converter could probably do the trick. This is a common problem with Chinese pens' converters. Flushing the feed may also improve general flow. This is certainly a good habit to get into with new pens. Good luck!

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I hope that works for you! I had two Kulturs, and both were notoriously dry, reluctant writers.

 

Oh. That describes perfectly how I feel about this pen. If this is a normal feature of the Waterman Kultur I suppose I'll end up getting rid of it. There must be better demonstrators out there. I just picked this because so far I'm sticking to unexpensive pens (I don't think I deserve more, at least not right now), and I've got good results in spite of that. I think this is the only pen I'm unhappy with (not counting a Pilot 78G about which I'm still undecided).

 

 

The small balls in most cartridges I believe are mainly there just to provide a seal when the cartridge is new. When it is pierced for use the ball is released and *may* have a small effect on dissipating ink. Any ball in a converter could potentially seal the feed if it sinks and blocks the mouth or the ink channel.! Potentially the plastic balls avoid this by not sinking. The best converters I have found have a small stainless steel bar or spring. I have had a lot of success retrofitting small fishing crimps into converters. These are small enough not to reduce significantly ink volume, yet have enough mass.

 

However flushing your pen and converter could probably do the trick. This is a common problem with Chinese pens' converters. Flushing the feed may also improve general flow. This is certainly a good habit to get into with new pens. Good luck!

 

Your explanation about the reason behing the balls in cartridges sounds very plausible. None of my converters have anything inside (three Parker, one Pelikan), but this is the only rebellious one. Are any Waterman pens made in China? Both my pen and converter were made in France (at least, that's what's written on them). But I've just bought a Jinhao, in the post right now, so what you say is not good news.

 

As soon as the ink which is right now in the converter runs out I'll flush everything flushable. I also think that just after that I will put a cartridge in the pen, just to make sure how much of the problem is owing to the pen and how much to the converter. If the pen still seems so dry and unreliable with the cartridge, I suppose it'll be goodbye time.

 

(Waterman uses proprietary cartridges, doesn't it?)

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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Most Waterman pens that have the brass barrel insert can't use standard international carts. Lacking the brass insert, Kulturs may be able to take standard internationals. You can try with an empty one, I suppose. I think I may have used them once or twice.

 

Before giving up on the Kultur, try making it write a bit wetter. There are all sorts of YouTube videos as a guide, and the only reason I did not attempt this with my second Kultur is that it's one of my 'travel' pens, so I kinda want it on the dry side.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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Even simple pens are fairly extensively engineered, with stamped metal (nib etc), injection-moulded plastic (section, converter body) and milled plastic (feed), and inevitably there is grease, lubricants and assorted chemicals involved, plus your own skin oils if you've been touching and trying to improve things.

 

Before changing anything physical, like trying to insert a ball or spring or doing anything to the nib, I would recommend you give the pen and converter a thorough flush with water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid - SMALL, try a small drop in a large mug of water. Fill and empty three or four times then flush with clean water five or six times to remove any trace of dishwashing liquid. That should get rid of any oil, dirt, grease or whatever from the inside of the pen and converter.

 

Try the pen with a reputable brand of ink (Montblanc or Waterman are fine, especially the Waterman as I would expect the pen-maker's own ink to be suitable!) and see if there's an improvement. If not, at least you haven't done anything permanent, and an occasional flushing is a good idea anyway.

 

Owen

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The stainless steel ball that I mentioned does not come in a cartridge of ink, it has to be found and purchased separately. They are the balls that are used in ball bearings.

 

As for converters, this happens to many of my converters, of various brands. So I would not say that it is a "cheap" converter problem. But it might be related to the plastic, or how the converter is made. And I would guess that the viscosity of the ink also has an effect, the thicker/dryer inks more likely to have this problem. Examples:

- Lamy; this happens consistently to my Lamy Z24 converters (red knob), but not to the Z26 converter (black knob).

- Sheaffer; Sheaffer converter with Sheaffer black ink, note same company for converter and ink.

 

This phenomenon is not limited to converters. I have 2 pens which also get the ink stuck in the back end of the pen.

#1 - Reform 1745, Diamine Sherwood Green

#2 - Parker Vacumatic, Waterman Green

The Reform makes sense as the inside diameter (ID) of the body is probably close to that of some converters.

But the Parker Vac does not make sense, as the ID of the body is much larger, and the Waterman ink is a wet ink. The theory was that this happens with smaller diameter converters, but not with piston filler, because of the larger ID of the body of most piston pens. So why the Vac???

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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Thanks a lot for your help. I'll go first for what rwilsonedn suggests, and wash carefully the converter. I did not know that there can be residues of oil or any other chemical product inside when you buy them new. How much water/ammonia should I use?

 

 

A recipe that I got off the net (from SBRE Brown) is a 10% solution of plain household ammonia (no added scents, suds etc.) with just a drop or two of liquid dish detergent.

 

So put 100 ml. of the plain ammonia in a one litre bottle, add a drop or two of the dish detergent and top up to 1000ml. with water. The water should be relatively free of minerals. My tap water is fairly hard so I get distilled or de-mineralized water at the local pharmacy. You now have a litre of pen flush and it's cheap so you can use it often and liberally.

 

I never seem to have ink flow issues with my pens, most of which are inexpensive and I'm sure the reason is that they are kept clean.

Ink has something in common with both money and manure. It's only useful if it's spread around.

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Thanks A LOT for your help and suggestions, and for sharing your general knowledge on pens and your expertise. Not being skilful, I feel reassured knowing I can turn to you for help. I've already prepared one litre of the flushing solution, and I feel as if I were prepared to do it on an industrial scale :lol:.

 

Should I disassemble the nib assembly (nib, feed, collector and section) before flushing it? I've looked it up, and it seems that by just grabbing the nib carefully but firmly, and pulling outwards, it will come out. Is the rest also removed by pulling? I've read that some nibs (could it be Pelikan?) are screwed, so I think I'd better ask before attempting anything, just in case.

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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Thanks A LOT for your help and suggestions, and for sharing your general knowledge on pens and your expertise. Not being skilful, I feel reassured knowing I can turn to you for help. I've already prepared one litre of the flushing solution, and I feel as if I were prepared to do it on an industrial scale :lol:.

 

Should I disassemble the nib assembly (nib, feed, collector and section) before flushing it? I've looked it up, and it seems that by just grabbing the nib carefully but firmly, and pulling outwards, it will come out. Is the rest also removed by pulling? I've read that some nibs (could it be Pelikan?) are screwed, so I think I'd better ask before attempting anything, just in case.

I strongly discourage pulling nibs and feeds unless there is absolutely no other option.

 

My Website

 

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I strongly discourage pulling nibs and feeds unless there is absolutely no other option.

I'm relieved to hear that!

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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Thanks A LOT for your help and suggestions, and for sharing your general knowledge on pens and your expertise. Not being skilful, I feel reassured knowing I can turn to you for help. I've already prepared one litre of the flushing solution, and I feel as if I were prepared to do it on an industrial scale :lol:.

 

Should I disassemble the nib assembly (nib, feed, collector and section) before flushing it? I've looked it up, and it seems that by just grabbing the nib carefully but firmly, and pulling outwards, it will come out. Is the rest also removed by pulling? I've read that some nibs (could it be Pelikan?) are screwed, so I think I'd better ask before attempting anything, just in case.

 

 

NO

 

It is best to NOT pull the feed/nib on any FP, unless you REALLY REALLY have to, like to replace a broken nib.

The reason is on some pens it can be difficult to remove the feed, without damaging or breaking it, and it can be difficult to put the feed back in again. Some pens are worse than others. And some (like Parker 45, Pelikan, and Esterbrook) are easy to do, as long as the ink has not dried and cemented the nib assembly to the section. Repeated pulling of the feed/nib could loosen the fit, which could lead to problems later.

 

To not pull/knock out the feed/nib is especially so when you get into vintage pens, where the section may have shrunk. Knock out the feed and you may not be able to get it back in again. Or you could crack the section attempting to knock out a TIGHT feed.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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Very well explained. Now that I understand the reasons why it shouldn't be done, I'm not likely to forget this.

It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how. (Bobby Darin)

 

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

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Very well explained. Now that I understand the reasons why it shouldn't be done, I'm not likely to forget this.

 

 

When you knock out a feed and can't get it back in, it becomes an . . . AW SH-T !!! moment. Been there, done that.

Or you knock out an Esterbrook feed, doing exactly what several people say to do, and you tear the collar . . . AW SH-T !!!

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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