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First Draft Of Wetness Problem Solving Chart - Feedback Welcome



TheDutchGuy

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TheDutchGuy

I've seen a lot of questions on FPN about wetness issues with pens. Seems to be a common and recurring topic. Many people quickly resort to nib tuning, which in my opinion should be a last resort, not a first resort. I think fellow FPN member Ghost Plane said it best:

 

One hopes the nib manglers scrubbing away at their nibs with implements of destruction will take note of the complex angles and precise grinds on quality nibs.


Amen to that! Sometimes tuning is needed (and if it is needed I do it), but many times it isn't. So over the past week I spent a bit of time making a problem solving chart that hopefully offers some simple solutions to wetness problems. Here is the first draft. I didn't bother with lay-out much, at least not yet. First things first, will tidy it up later.

 

Disclaimer: note that I am not an expert, I'm a hobbyist. You might know more than I do. Perhaps your knowledge can make this chart better.

Wetness adjustment problem solving chart

A. PEN IS TOO DRY, go to A
B. PEN IS TOO WET, go to B
C. PEN SOMETIMES 'BURPS' INK, go to C

A. PEN IS TOO DRY

1 What kind of pen is it?

  • ..for cartridge pens and eyedroppers, go to 2a.
  • ..for pens with a converter, go to 2b.
  • ..for piston fillers, vac fillers, go to 2c.

2a Dip the nib and feed of your pen into an ink bottle that contains the same ink you use in your cartridge or eyedropper. Gently wipe away excess ink from section and nib. Do not remove all ink from the feed, there should be some ink left between the fins of the feed. Write with your pen for appr. 20 minutes, at least until there is no visible ink left anymore between the fins (how long this takes depends on pen, ink, nib and paper - it could take a while).

  • ..if the pen initially writes nice and wet, but gradually becomes too dry again as the feed buffer is depleted, then your nib is fine but the flow from the ink reservoir to the feed is impaired. Go to 3.
  • ..if the pen writes too dry even though the feed is filled with ink, the nib needs to be tuned. Go to 6.

2b Did you fill the converter by removing it from the pen and filling it directly from the bottle?

  • ..yes, the converter was filled separately and then put in the pen. Go to 2a.
  • ..no, the converter was filled by dipping the pen into an ink bottle. Go to 3.

2c If the process of filling the pen with ink is problem-free (i.e. works as intended) but the pen writes dry, then check if your pen has a stopper (like the Pilot Custom 823). If so, make sure to keep the filial unscrewed.

  • ..this solved the problem. END
  • ..there are issues filling the pen with ink. Bad news: dismantling a piston filler or a vac filler is not advisable. It might ruin your warranty or lead to unexpected problems. Turn in the pen for professional repair or return it under warranty. END
  • ..there are no issues filling the pen with ink, there is no stopper or this did not solve the problem. Go to 4.

3 We will determine if there is an ink flow problem or an air flow problem. Remove the ink and clean the pen. Unscrew the barrel. Gently submerge nib, feed and section in water and allow air to escape. Then blow through the section. Air and water should be expelled through the feed and nib. Some pressure might be needed, but if it takes a lot of effort or if it is blocked, then there is an air flow problem.

  • ..blowing through the section is very hard or impossible. Bad news: probably this cannot be fixed at home. Turn in the pen for professional repair or return it under warranty. END
  • ..air and water are expelled through the feed and nib. There is an ink flow problem. Go to 4.

4 Is it a new pen or a well-used pen?

  • ..if new, go to 5a.
  • ..if well-used, go to 5b.

5a Often, a new pen will begin life dry but will become wetter over time, even if you flushed and cleaned it. This gradual process of getting wetter may take several cartridges or refills. In the mean time, using a wet ink might help. Examples of quite wet inks are Japanese inks (such as Sailor Jentle, Pilot Iroshizuku) and Blackstone inks. Medium-wet inks are made by (for example) Montblanc and Waterman. A good choice for dry ink is Pelikan 4001. Flush and clean your pen, then try a wet ink. (If afterwards the pen gradually becomes wetter over time, then go back to a medium-wet or a dry ink.)

  • ..using a wet ink solved the problem. END
  • ..using a wet ink did not solve the problem or you don't want to use a different ink. Go to 5b.

5b Ink flow can be enhanced by adding a surfactant. The two main surfactants are pure glycerine and photoflow. Glycerine can be bought at any pharmacy or drugstore, costs next to nothing, is completely safe for your pen and is easy to add. Basically glycerine is liquid soap. Photoflow is a product you have to buy online, it's more expensive and very difficult to add. I strongly recommend glycerine. Search fountainpennetwork.com for user experiences with glycerine. Get some pure glycerine - make sure there are no additives in it (no scents, no chemicals). Depending on your pen, there are two methods.

I. If you use cartridges, put a new one in your pen to break its seal, then gently take it out again. Dip a toothpick in glycerine, then gently take it out. There should be a very (!) small drop of glycerine hanging at the tip of the toothpick. Carefully transfer this little drop into the cartridge. Put your fingertip on the cartridge opening and gently shake it for a minute. Clean the tip of the cartridge with some tissue, then re-insert into the pen.
II. If you use an eye dropper, a piston filler or a vac filler, the glycerine needs to be added to the ink. Transfer appr. 20 mL of ink to a separate bottle (that way you don't have to contaminate the whole bottle with glycerine). Add a maximum of 0.5 mL of glycerine. If you don't have an ink syringe with a scale, use the toothpick method described above and repeat this 3 times. Cap the bottle and gently rotate it to mix the glycerine into the ink (no vigorous shaking). Fill the pen and write with it.
If you use converters, use either method I. as described above (by removing the converter), or method II. (by dipping the pen into an ink bottle).
If you cleaned and flushed your pen beforehand, then you should notice an immediate effect from the glycerine. If you didn't clean and flush it, you'll notice it once the feed buffer has been used up. Do not add too much! Too much will increase the drying time of the ink and/or lead to feathering and bleed-through issues. If the pen gradually gets wetter over time, go back to pure ink without the glycerine.

  • ..using glycerine solved the problem. END
  • ..using glycerine did not solve the problem. In this case tuning the nib is not advisable, because in step 2 we determined that the problem is in ink flow from reservoir to feed. This is not solved by spreading the tines. Turn in the pen for professional repair or return it under warranty. END

6 Nib tuning requires training, tools, skill and patience. To make a nib wetter, the tines need to be spread. This is relatively easy to do, but it can (and often does) lead to misaligned tines, a different feel on paper and assorted other problems. Therefore I strongly advise to seek help from an experienced nibmeister. If you insist on doing it yourself, then study the various online tutorials and consult fountainpennetwork.com. Practice on cheap pens that you won't miss if you ruin them. END

B. PEN IS TOO WET

7 Is the feed saturated with ink? To determine this, hold the pen against the light or above white paper and check if you can see between the fins of the feed. If the feed is saturated with ink, pens will easily splatter ink when you make a sudden movement or if you bump the pen into something else.

  • ..the feed is not saturated with ink or your pen doesn't have visible fins. Go to 8.
  • ..the feed is saturated with ink. Bad news: this means there is excess ink flow from the reservoir to the feed. This problem cannot be solved by tuning the nib. Using a dry ink might alleviate the problem somewhat, but probably not enough. Turn in the pen for repair or return it under warranty. END

8 If the feed is not saturated, then there is no problem with excess ink flow from reservoir to feed. This is good news. In this case, the first step is using a dry ink like Pelikan 4001.

  • ..using a dry ink solved the problem. END
  • ..using a dry ink did not solve the problem or you don't want to use another kind of ink. Go to 9.

9 There is a reversible trick that does not require nib tuning. It's unconventional, but it works. It is easy to do and completely safe. Look here for how to do it: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/336961-safe-and-reversible-way-to-make-some-pens-dryer

  • ..this solved the problem. END
  • ..this did not solve the problem or you don't want to try that. Go to 10.

10 If there is no excess ink flow to the feed, and if steps 8 and 9 did not solve the issue, then the nib needs to be tuned. Tuning the nib to make a pen drier is more difficult than making it wetter and requires training, tools, skill and patience. It can (and often does) lead to misaligned tines, a different feel on paper and assorted other problems. Therefore I strongly advise to seek help from an experienced nibmeister. If you insist on doing it yourself, then study the various online tutorials and consult fountainpennetwork.com. Practice on cheap pens that you won't miss if you ruin them. END

C. PEN SOMETIMES 'BURPS' INK

A 'burping' pen indicates the build-up of a pressure difference which is suddenly released, triggering a sudden flow of ink from the reservoir that cannot be absorbed by the feed. As a result, the pen briefly and suddenly leaks ink.

'Burping' should not be confused with splattering. Splattering can occur after a pen has been filled from a bottle. This saturates the feed with ink. Manufacturers usually advise to clean the feed and nib after filling from a bottle to prevent splattering. Splattering doesn't have to indicate a problem, unless it also occurs after you cleaned the feed (in which case the pen is leaking either ink or air somewhere, i.e. due to a cracked section, which is bad news).

'Burping' means there is an air flow problem within the pen. This problem cannot be solved by tuning the nib. Turn in the pen for repair or return it under warranty. END

 

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TheDutchGuy

Note that I chose not to explain the details behind every step. This is on purpose. Hence there are no explanations about surface tension, or why spreading the tines increases the wetness. It's not a tutorial. That would make it too long.

Edited by TheDutchGuy
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  • 5 weeks later...

Thank you for this excellent initiative!



The flow problems I've encountered are almost always of the type 5b, i.e. converter pens that write fine for a page, then start to get drier and drier.



Your suggestion to add a surfactant (in my case, I use a smidgen of dishwashing detergent) is indeed very effective for getting the ink to flow consistently.



However, I've found that surfactant also changes the visual properties of the ink on paper. Most significantly, inks lose a lot of their beautiful shading. (I guess the surfactant might be "homogenising" the ink? so the colour becomes evenly spread out along the written line, rather than pooling in a way that gives rise to shading? Hypothesis only :-)



So rather than go with the surfactant solution right away, I personally prefer eliminating a few other possible problems first:




  • For example, in one case I had, it was simply that the converter wasn't pushed all the way in, causing an air bubble to get trapped in the narrow neck of the converter and preventing ink from recharging the feed.




  • A similar air-bubble situation can arise if the feed has not been pushed all the way into its housing, for example after cleaning and reassembling – I learnt this from Pablo's (Fpnibs) YouTube video.




  • Or sometimes the ink keeps getting stuck at the top of the converter, starving the feed. Introducing an agitator coil/bearing into the converter can help – in most cases.




I would say it's worth doing a simple "Converter Check" and "Connection Check" as part of the troubleshooting process before going for the glycerin/Photoflo/dish detergent.


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However, I've found that surfactant also changes the visual properties of the ink on paper. Most significantly, inks lose a lot of their beautiful shading.

Thank you for your feedback! Appreciate it. That inks shade less with glycerine is something that I have not noticed myself. For example, I use Sailor Souten with some glycerine as a daily ink in my Pilot Custom 823 F and it shades *a lot*. My wife and son use Robert Oster Fire & Ice in their entry-level Lamy pens, which are very dry pens, and the ink has lots and lots of shading. In my personal opinion, shading is caused by the pen, not the ink. The pen's characteristics determine that (for example) less ink is put on paper at the beginning of a downstroke than at the end of it, causing a lighter shade in the top half of the character and some pooling of ink in the bottom half. I have examples of ink that do not shade at all in one pen, but shade like crazy in other pens, so it's not the ink.

 

Your point about air bubbles is well taken. Especially with new, cheap converters this can be an issue because the ink sticks to the sides instead of flowing down. Putting the new converter in a mild detergent solution (water with a tiny drop of soap) overnight often helps. Adding glycerine solves it at once.

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In my personal opinion, shading is caused by the pen, not the ink.

 

I dont know about that. You are right that inks will shade in one pen (more) and not in another because of the latter pen (rather nib) is it broad and wet enough to put enough ink on paper then you wont be able to see the inks characteristics fully. But, an ink that does not shade will not shade even with a thicker and wetter nib. Thats the difference I believe.

My Vintage Montblanc Website--> link

My Instagram account --> link

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I truly appreciate how diligently you have recorded every option and its reltionship to the other. If I werent so lazy I would turn your note into a visual flow chart in order to make it easier to process. But, thanks for taking this initiative and making this contribution!

My Vintage Montblanc Website--> link

My Instagram account --> link

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You are right that inks will shade in one pen (more) and not in another because of the latter pen (rather nib) is it broad and wet enough to put enough ink on paper then you wont be able to see the inks characteristics fully. But, an ink that does not shade will not shade even with a thicker and wetter nib. Thats the difference I believe.

Your view seems to be a widely accepted view, so I am in the minority. I guess I've always been a bit of a rebel ;-). I've tried and used dozens of inks from many different brands and I've never found one that does not shade at all. Wet inks tend to shade less, for the reasons you describe. But without exception, whenever I put a wet ink in a dry pen, it showed at least some kind of shading. Changing paper can also enhance or diminish the shading, but it all starts with variations in how much ink is deposited on the page when writing a character. No variation, no shading. (I believe it's different with sheen; to get sheen, an ink needs to be quite saturated and this depends on the characteristics of the ink.)

 

I truly appreciate how diligently you have recorded every option and its reltionship to the other. If I werent so lazy I would turn your note into a visual flow chart in order to make it easier to process. But, thanks for taking this initiative and making this contribution!

Thanks!
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Thank you! I read this with eager anticipation, as I have a pen that floods out CI line variation with the inks I like.

 

But then I come to

 

8 If the feed is not saturated, then there is no problem with excess ink flow from reservoir to feed. This is good news. In this case, the first step is using a dry ink like Pelikan 4001.

  • ..using a dry ink solved the problem. END

and am left hanging. Using a dry ink (and very few are that dry for this pen, Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black being one of the few) was the starting point. Using a dry ink does not solve the problem of being unable to enjoy saturated, interesting inks. It just establishes that the pen is too wet due to excess ink flow from the feed to the paper.

 

Please give hints as to a solution -- how to reduce excessive flow so that ordinary inks may be used.

 

Thank you.

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It just establishes that the pen is too wet due to excess ink flow from the feed to the paper.

The feed is an ink buffer between the reservoir and the nib. No more, no less. If the feed is saturated (with visible ink between the fins), then too much ink flows from reservoir to the feed, and the feed passes it on to the nib. But the feed is not the problem, the problem is that too much ink flows into the feed. (In this situation, the nib may be just fine and may not need alteration, which is good news).

 

Please give hints as to a solution -- how to reduce excessive flow so that ordinary inks may be used. Thank you.

Many people resort to nib tuning to achieve this, but the whole point of the above problem solving chart is to avoid that for as long as possible. As far as I know, then there are two remaining options open to you: use a dry ink or do the trick described in step 9. You've indicated that you don't want to limit yourself to a dry ink, so what remains is step 9. This step may not work with all pens! But if it works, it works well and you can use any ink you like. If step 9 also doesn't work, then my advice is to turn the pen in for professional repair. Good luck! Edited by TheDutchGuy
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  • 1 month later...

Thank you for this. This helped confirm that a two pens that were too wet and I ended up returning them or giving up on fixing them really were beyond help. They would write too wet and then leak ink if jostled among other issues..

 

Now how ever I need to test too dry pens. Hopefully the solution will be simple.

<b>Inked up:</b> Ranga 3C, Lamy 2000, Pilot Custom 74, Pelikan m205 , Platinum Preppy, Pilot Decimo<br><b>Inks currently using:</b> Troublemaker Blue Guitar, Nemosine Alpha Centauri, Noodler’s Navy, Aircorps blue black<br> Signature ink and pen: Noodler’s Navy + Lamy 2000

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amberleadavis

This is wonderful. I am thinking of creating a diagram.

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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  • 3 weeks later...

Great chart..................a lot of solid thought went into your work!!! :thumbup:

 

I can see I've had great luck with my pens, with so few problems.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

 https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,..Bock nib factory.

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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TheDutchGuy

I'd like to include two new steps 5c and 5d, which obviously follows 5b and might help with certain pens (especially Kaweco pens).

 

5c WimG explained to me that wetness can be influenced by how tight the underside of the nib is pressed against the top of the feed. When too tight, ink flow and air flow might be impeded. After WimG pointed this out to me, I have noticed this especially in Kaweco pens with smallish steel nibs pressed into a removable collar, such as the Sport and the Dia2. I managed to make a Kaweco much wetter by gently and carefully (!) sliding a piece of 12k grit between nib and feed, taking utmost care not to touch the tip of the nib! First, I did this with the grid side down, gently moving the grit around for a few seconds. Then, I reversed it and did it with the grid side up. Do not try this with expensive pens with soft, malleable nibs! Also be sure to only use 12k grit - using a more coarse grit should be avoided. This procedure will give just a bit more room for ink- and airflow. A little goes a long way, so be careful.

 

5d Fellow FPN-member James discovered that the plastic ball in the cartridge sits directly on top of the feed tube of Kaweco pens. It might be worthwhile to see if a Kaweco gets wetter by using a converter (which does not have such a ball inside) instead of a cartridge.

 

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