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Refilling cartrdiges vs using a converter


apastuszak

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I feel like it would be far easier for me to just refill an ink cartridge with an ink syringe than use a converter and dip it in the ink bottle. Cartridges usually hold more ink that a converter does. I know I could do the same thing with a converter, but I would prefer the little bit of extra capacity that cartridge has.

 

I've seen reports that a cartridge will eventually "wear out" and not hold a tight seal to the feed. But I would assume converters would have a similar issue.

 

Assuming that cartridge wear out is not an old wives tale, how long can I expect a cartridge to last before it wears out? And is there someplace I can buy used ink cartridges?

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And since I started this topic... Is there a way to re-seal a catridge, or somehow make it safe to carry around as a spare in my laptop bag?  I was thinking I could carry around an ink syringe and a sample vial filled with ink. but I think the syringe would raise a LOT of red flags if someone saw it.

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I haven't found resealing to be an option.  The cartridges for me wear out after about 4-5 uses if I am careful.

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I don't reseal cartridges and have been refilling them for many years now, though I am considering moving back to converters (because I have somewhat whittled down my ink use to 1-2 and because I have far fewer pens inked, only 2 Pilots right now and will ink up one Pelikan soon).

 

The ones I have refilled over years many times (and sometimes switched between pens) have been Pilot and Sailor cartridges, which have never worn out. The one in my Prera has been there for so long and re-inked so many times, I couldn't even give you a number.

 

The ones where I noticed some wear (they seemed looser) where Parker and standard international, but I have used them too little to really say they wore out. I would simply caution if you're going to use st. int. or Parker/Aurora/Lamy.

 

Platinum carts I haven't refilled often enough to say too much, but I have not noticed any wear and assume they are re-usable for many refillings.

 

Converters shouldn't wear out as fast as cartridges, as they should be made of sturdier plastic and because they're not removed for every refilling, techincally converters don't ever need to be removed.

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The nipple on a cartridge will eventually stretch with repeated use.  They are after all designed to be disposable.

 

The real advantage to using a converter is that you in effect flush the pen every time that you fill it.  I've had customers who have used cartridges only send their pen to be cleaned.  When I send it back, I tell them to switch to a converter and bottled ink.   When I check back some time later they invariably tell me that they haven't had a problem  with their pen getting clogged again after they made the change.

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I vaguely recall seeing someone selling some plugs that were designed to close the end of a refilled cartridge.  As I recall, my reaction was that the asking price seemed a bit steep.

 

I would think that someone who is equipped to do 3D printing could come up with a plug design fairly easily.  In fact, it occurs to me that it would be a relatively simple matter to 3D print a replacement cap for one of those vials that are used for ink samples so that there is a plug inside the cap, and then the cap screws onto a vial with the refilled cartridge inside - that way, if the plug leaked, any spillage would be trapped in the vial.

 

Another thought is that hot-melt glue might be an option to reseal a cartridge.  Most of the cartridges I've seen have been made of polyethelene, so hot melt glue won't actually adhere to the plastic.  So perhaps it would be possible to use hot-melt glue to attach something to the cartridge such that the glue at least partially fills the orifice at the end of the cartridge, but the thing that is attached becomes a handle that can be used to pull that plug out when the time comes to use the cartridge. 

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I remember trying that method with my first pen.
Worked perfectly for a while...but the thing that ruined it was that the cartridges would eventually wear out at the tip where it seats on the feed-housing tube and I'd wind up with a pen that wouldn't write because the converter or cartridge came loose.
Got tired of it all after a bit and upgraded to piston-fillers.

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I only have a few cartridge pens namely several Parker 45s, a Levenger True Writer, and a cheap Wearever from the 1960s.  I find the converter to be superior to refilled cartridges primarily for the reason Ron Z mentioned.  The pens get flushed when they are refilled.  Filling a converter directly from the bottle is messy, especially if the ink level in the bottle is low.  If filled directly, however,  a converter's seal will last longer because the material at the seal is much thicker than that of a cartridge.  I originally thought I would like cartridges but now have a bunch that will probably never see one of my pens.

 

Cliff

“The only thing most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”  John Adams

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22 hours ago, apastuszak said:

I've seen reports that a cartridge will eventually "wear out" and not hold a tight seal to the feed. But I would assume converters would have a similar issue.


Cartridges tend to be a thinner and slightly more flexible plastic as they don’t need to be particularly resilient, whereas converter mouths are made to be robust enough to handle repeated use. 

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@apastuszakAre you removing the converter and refilling from the bottle that way?  That sort of defeats the purpose, IMO.  The whole point of a converter is that you're refilling through the feed, to help prime it (the same way that you would fill through the feed for any sort of vintage pen such as a lever-fill system, or for a modern or vintage piston filler).  

Yeah, you then have to wipe off the nib and feed and maybe a bit of the section, but that's not really a hardship.  Just use a tissue and toss it in the trash (sometimes it helps to wet it a little -- admittedly I just use my own saliva for cleaning the nib and section).

I started out by refiling cartridges with a syringe (especially if I was NOT using the original ink that had been in them -- but I found cleaning out cartridges to be an even bigger PITA than refilling them.  And I tried the trick of refilling with an eyedropper through the feed, but that was even worse (and there are now permanent stains of Noodler's Kung Te Cheng on the dresser I inherited from my grandparents as a result... :wacko:).

Yes, cartridges tend to hold more ink than converters, but I don't have a problem with that -- I often switch up what pen/ink combination I'm using to begin with.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

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I am refilling converters using a syringe.

 

I get that filling through the pen helps prime the feed. But it feels kind of waste to use paper towels when I don't have to. Maybe I just need to buy some rags and reuse those.

 

Refilling converters/cartridges just eliminates inky fingers and paper towels. It's a cleaner filling experience for me.

 

And since cartridges hold more ink that a converter, it would be nice if someone made refillable cartrdiges.  I know Noodlers makes them, but those are just Standard International cartridges.

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35 minutes ago, apastuszak said:

I am refilling converters using a syringe.

 

Why?

 

Converters are meant to be filled through the nib.  There is no need to remove a converter from the feed except for cleaning when changing to a different colour ink.

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Refilling converters is a viable option, one I have used in the past - especially for travel. It can be a good option when one doesn't have access to the proper size converter or doesn't want to take the time and effort to locate one. That being said, as others have pointed out, cartridges have a limited life span. I'm one of the weird ones who refills converters with a syringe - mostly because I don't want to risk tipping the bottle over during the refilling process. I put the converter back in the pen and advance it enough to get ink into the feed, which serves to prime the pen, so to speak. I keep a bit of cloth on hand to wipe the nib, which makes for a colorful "rag" and can be a conversation starter about using fountain pens. To each is own, as the saying goes.

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1 hour ago, miwishi63 said:

To each is own, as the saying goes.

True.  I, however, adhere to the axiom, 'work smart, not hard'.  Thats' a product of the Work Studies course I took some 40 plus years ago.

 

1 hour ago, miwishi63 said:

... I'm one of the weird ones who refills converters with a syringe - mostly because I don't want to risk tipping the bottle over during the refilling process ...

Don't you run the same risk filling the syringe from the bottle, and also risk accidentally squirting ink out of the syringe whilst filling the converter (or cartridge)?  Isn't there also a risk of ink being spilled during your 'priming process'?

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On 9/13/2022 at 6:42 PM, apastuszak said:

how long can I expect a cartridge to last before it wears out?

Not really sure, but I've been using Kaweco short cartridges in three of my everyday pens for almost exactly a year, and two of them are still going strong.

 

One of them, I've used pretty much non-stop for school until very recently. The opening (aperture, orifice :-p) on that one is still sturdy. A second one also works very well. But the third one, I accidentally dinked the inner lip (either with a syringe or by pressing onto the feed awkwardly) and it's no longer reliable. Fits, but not snug. Ink would seep out into the body with just a slight shake during normal use.

 

I've only tried Kaweco, Pelikan, and some no-names, and find the Kaweco to be the sturdiest. One of the no-names was really flimsy and fingers would touch if I squeezed the cartridge just a little bit. Ick. Of the non-standard variety, I've only tried Lamy cartridges and those seem very well made and well-fitting. I imagine they'd last several years.

 

2 hours ago, miwishi63 said:

who refills converters with a syringe

With you there. I don't like mess and I don't like waste.

 

edit: syringe also wastes because ink gets stuck in that nozzle part 😛

Edited by agaric
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2 hours ago, agaric said:

edit: syringe also wastes because ink gets stuck in that nozzle part 😛

Wasted ink doesn't end up in landfill.

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I think syringe-filling is a bit weird and I don't understand why it is so hugely popular on forums like reddit (actually I do - it's all the Vanishing Point fans dealing with those awful Pilot CON-40 converters by syringe-filling cartridges).

 

That said, the technique has its time and place.   I recently bought an "ink charger" set from Ferris Wheel Press, a set of 5ml samples.  The glass vials are very tall and narrow and will not accept a nib, even a fairly narrow one.  I propped up the vials in a shotglass to prevent tipping and then syringe-filled some Lamy converters.

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On 9/13/2022 at 12:44 PM, apastuszak said:

And since I started this topic... Is there a way to re-seal a catridge, or somehow make it safe to carry around as a spare in my laptop bag?  I was thinking I could carry around an ink syringe and a sample vial filled with ink. but I think the syringe would raise a LOT of red flags if someone saw it.

If you're careful and retain the disk that seals the opening, you can reseal a Pilot/Namiki cartridge.  I've done that for some ink mixtures I've made in the past, but I don't know how well a resealed cartridge would hold up in your laptop bag.

 

I was looking around for a Pilot/Namiki pen that was using a refilled cartridge but it seems that I'm using converters atm.

 

How many times can you refill a cartridge and how long will they last?

The cartridge in this Edson is at least 10 years old.  I have no idea how many times it's been refilled or the ink color changed. 

 

I found that what shortens the life of a cartridge is squeezing it to prime the feed.  See the crack in the example below.

 

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