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Refilling cartrdiges vs using a converter


apastuszak

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I think converters are over priced right now. I wish they were less expensive.

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

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The oldest cartridge that I'm still using till now is a Sailor, I've used them in a mini fountain pen before I started working so that was like 17 years ago. And I don't see any signs of it becoming looser.

 

Having said that, I've had experiences of my international cartridges cracking and becoming loose. Waterman cartridge is especially the worst, I've had multiple breakages from them all within a month or so.

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On 9/21/2022 at 11:07 AM, amberleadavis said:

I think converters are over priced right now. I wish they were less expensive.

 

Depends on which brand, and from where or whom you buy them, I guess. I just picked up another four 'standard' Sailor converters (with black stem and chrome collar, and suits most models except the Professional Gear Slim Mini and ultra thin ones like the Chalana) for about A$3 each from Amazon Japan.

 

Jinhao converters to suit both quasi-standards that dominate the Chinese-made fountain pen landscape are much cheaper than that.

 

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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The prices for converters seem to vary greatly by brand.  I've paid $4.95 to $6 US for the converters for my Safaris and al-Stars; but mostly between $10 & $13 for Parker twist converters and roughly the same amount for the few Pelikan pens that aren't piston fillers.  I was able to get a couple of converters for older Sheaffers (a school pen and a Lady Skripsert) for about $4-$5, -- but finding converters for the school pen was hard to find and I haven't (so far) been able to get one for the other Sheaffer school pen.

Of course I haven't priced packs of cartridges recently, but I suspect that even the expensive-ish converters are saving me money in the long run.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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4 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

Jinhao converters to suit both quasi-standards that dominate the Chinese-made fountain pen landscape are much cheaper than that.

 

 

That is true, but for whatever reason, the ones I got (and I got 10 or 15 to have spares) all tend to fail sooner or later, leaning to the sooner side. Usually they start with problems sucking in ink, either because the plastic piece at the end of the piston fails, falls or is no longer tight, or more commonly because the rear part that holds the piston fails. Often it is as simple as re-screwing them to tighten the seal again, but even so there is a point where it no longer works. This after one or two years of use.

 

In contrast, the Waterman, Montblanc and Parker converters I have have lasted me so far since the 70's or 80's. Even a Parker one with a sac.

 

OTOH, if we are to boast:

 

The oldest cartridges I have been refilling date from the 80's-80's. But then, as I do prefer piston fillers and converters, I seldomly do refill them, and I had a good stock of empty cartridges from those times. The syringe I use is also from the 80s, a nice one whose piston has a ring seal much like the one in converters. Other syringes where the piston head supply was softer plastic grafted in a "hook?" tended to lose that piece, but that other one survived. And I recently happened on some crystal syringes (of the kind used before the 70s) which I expect to last even longer.

 

Now, the capacity thingy.

 

It is true that a double size cartridge holds a lot of ink (~1.1-1.4ml, close to a piston filler), but it demands a body capable of hosting the cartridge, which not all pens have. The typical cartridge will hold ~0.7ml, and that is what almost everyone uses.

 

It is worth knowing. And I have always preferred long (double size) Waterman cartridges over standard ones, but one needs to check if they fit in one's pen to make sure.

 

 

 

If you are to be ephemeral, leave a good scent.

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40 minutes ago, txomsy said:

In contrast, the Waterman, Montblanc and Parker converters I have have lasted me so far since the 70's or 80's. Even a Parker one with a sac.

 

Every Aurora converter I've used (only!) to fill Aurora fountain pens has failed, by splitting from the rim of the mouth up the lip.

 

Some of my older converters have developed hairline cracks length-wise. I can't remember which specific brands they were, because I've thrown them out long ago, but they certainly weren't Japanese (i.e. of the 'Big Three' brands); and they were unlikely to be Chinese, given I didn't get into Chinese fountain pen brands in any significant way until 2019 or so. If I recall correctly, one of the ones converters that split came in a cheap Parker (IM model?) pen and had a sliding mechanism instead of a rotary-driven one; that is probably a relevant detail, since it's easier to push the piston forward really hard and really fast with a sliding mechanism.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Which just points that not any solution is totally hassle free. This is something that sometimes I ponder: I tend to feel tempted to advice newcomers to just try and see what better works for them. But then, in some cases it may take years to find out an structural (or other kind of) failure, by which point, an alternative that might have been originally available may no longer exist.

 

I've always regretted not having bought some pens or components when they were still made and cheap, waiting instead to see if some other one might do instead.

 

I suppose that so is life.

If you are to be ephemeral, leave a good scent.

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On 9/15/2022 at 6:46 PM, Gloucesterman said:

On the occasion when I use a cartridge in a new pen, I simply wrap the nib in a napkin or towels (make sure there are several layers of material covering the nib) and shake it down with a bit if effort - similar to how one would rest a mercury thermometer in days long past for some. I still have and, when needed, use my mercury thermometer.

 

More often than not two or three good shakes will prime the nib/feed and one is ready to write.

YMMV of course!

I have more than enough inked pens.  I put it in a glass nib side down overnight and grab another pen.  If I needed to use the same pen again, then I would just dip fill it. But I have way more inked pens than I need.

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On 9/16/2022 at 3:34 AM, txomsy said:

For me, squeezing a cartridge is asking for trouble.

 

What I do, when I use cartridges is I give the pen a shake, a radial movement with the forearm holding the pen with the nib away from the center of movement and wrapped in a rag or kleen-ex until I get a drop of ink out in the rag or napkin does it. I just am careful not to do it where I can hit the pen against anything.

 

Another way is to hold the pen nib down, and give it a vigorous vertical shake over/inside a trash bin until I see one or two drops staining the trash in the bin, Again being careful not to hit the pen against anything.

 

If you're going to use the same color, just refill the converter before it goes empty. That way the feed stays wet.

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19 hours ago, txomsy said:

I've always regretted not having bought some pens or components when they were still made and cheap, waiting instead to see if some other one might do instead.

 

I suppose that so is life.

 

Obviously you saw value and/or wisdom in taking a wait-and-see stance back then. I imagine we've all been ‘there’.

 

 

At the end of the day (or decade), being a hobbyist — and finding enjoyment out of doing — are not intrinsically or inseparably tied up with also being, or feeling that oneself has been, a ‘smart’ consumer who made all the right calls and the Best™ purchasing decisions, in retrospect and on balance. From my personal perspective and value set, a true hobbyist can appreciate a good pen, or some assembly that qualifies as a complete and/or functioning writing instrument, for what it is, whether one paid 100%, 50%, 0% (i.e. one was just given the pen, or has simply stolen it), or 200% of the market price to acquire it. Feeling good about oneself outside of the role of, i.e. being ‘more than’ only, a hobbyist driven to get supportive equipment and consumables that help one realise writing and/or artistic outcomes is really a different matter, and ‘should’ be compartmentalised.

 

So, like you, as an enabler I'm actually more inclined to encourage others to jump on impulsive or whimsical acquisitions, and gain that (expected to be positive) experience from ownership and/or usage, even if it compromises or undermines some other values such as being frugal, astute, optimising, and supportive of ‘local’ businesses and industry. One could try to make up for having disappointed one's aspirations in those regards by being frugal, astute, etc. in other areas outside of the hobby.

 

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Fully agree.

 

There's the added uncertainty: I wouldn't have bought any vintage pen if I knew the 149 Calligraphy was to be made. But for all I knew, that might have never happened. So I got modern 'flex', then vintage pens seeking a flexy one... and even if I had known (which somehow I expect) I couldn't know when, it might have been too late for me to enjoy it...

 

I think one can summarize saying that one lives only once and live is too short to wait eternally.

 

We should accept that although suboptimal, it may be better to get something sure now than to wait for an unpredictable win.

If you are to be ephemeral, leave a good scent.

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Besides, if we don't have inky fingers, people will assume we are out of ink.  :P

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

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see 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 have one pen, that I have yet to locate a converter that fits which means I have to use cartridges. And even then I am limited to short internationals. It is the Pelikan Jazz Elegance - no converter I have tried fits. I have a box of some Diamine colors and a few Pelikan carts in Royal Blue and Brilliant Green. But mostly it just doesn't get used much. Even if I got rid of the pen, it was cheap. About $15, only comes in M and doesn't have the Iconic Pelikan beak clip. I have more Parker 45's than I have converters for Parker 45's - cartridges for those, but I still try to use a converter from another if possible.

 

As to converters durability - I have one in a Lamy Al Star that I bought in the late 90's. For years it was one of two pens, so has seen a bit of use. No need to replace it yet. Doesn't get used as frequently as it used to, but that's ok.

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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2 hours ago, Runnin_Ute said:

I have one pen, that I have yet to locate a converter that fits…

 

I don't know about locating, but I can certainly help you with identifying what will fit: a rotary-driven Pelikan(-branded) converter, and since Pelikan doesn't manufacture that item itself, other-branded converters that come out of the same mould or factory production line.

 

2 hours ago, Runnin_Ute said:

It is the Pelikan Jazz Elegance - no converter I have tried fits.

 

I've used two different such converters in my Pelikan Jazz Elegance, and they fit perfectly. If you don't have one on hand, then perhaps it's time to spend almost the price of the pen itself to buy a Pelikan converter, which of course will work with some other pens as well.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Stipula ICCRI Argento LE came with just one cartridge, and although I have searched for spares or a converter, no luck (actually, I have bought some, advertised as suitable for this pen, but obviously they didn't fit). I used to refill the one I have, but it proved to be a nuisance, especially when traveling. I finally gave up, and shellaced a rubber sac on the inside of the nipple section, and that went rather beautiful. Just unscrew the barrel, press the sac a few times (bulb-like) and you're good to go: the volume of ink is fantastic, does not leak, works like a charm. 

 

These days, I only refill my Waterman Glass cartridges, of which I have a few and I keep using them. So far so good, and I keep my eye on buying some old ones to re-use. 

 

There are not many pens using c/c in my possession, to be honest; I tend to avoid them as the vast majority of these prove to be a pain in the proverbial side sooner or later. 

         264643240_minoxandfountainpen.png.2be96a1cb960c6ba19879d9d0fb2a13a.png              Fountain pens and Minox                                 

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On 9/20/2022 at 5:06 PM, ParramattaPaul said:

I've not seen it in cartridges, but I have seen in a converter I have.

 

On 9/20/2022 at 5:14 PM, A Smug Dill said:

 

Definitely in Platinum ink cartridges.

 

On 9/20/2022 at 7:59 PM, dipper said:

The little plastic ball is the seal at the tip of the cartridge. When the cartridge is pushed into the pen the ball is popped out of its seating into the body of the cartridge. Gives a tidy neat opening since no spike is piercing the cartridge, plus the ink agitator effect as a free bonus.

 

Waterman long international standard cartridge with the little plastic ball in its original position:

IMG_20220921_003841-01.thumb.jpeg.800e7906fc7745caf3c2d00e9113564b.jpeg

 

And an empty Pentel FP10 cartridge (for brush pen) with the same idea - but using a bigger steel ball... (Thicker brush pen ink needs a monster agitator!?)

IMG_20220921_003726-01.thumb.jpeg.f91836f796a5414ddd846810cde091e8.jpeg

You're right.  Apparently it's much more prevalent than I thought.

 

pilot.jpg

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On 9/17/2022 at 4:43 AM, Arkanabar said:

Pilot carts might possibly be resealed instead of just refilled.  You would have to remove the little sealing disc and save it, refill, and then re-seat the disc in the throat of the cartridge.  I've never tried this, but I recall (perhaps incorrectly) somebody here claiming success in doing so.


I'm sometimes refilling and resealing Pilot cartridges, it's very easy to do.
 

Bonus (or not, that depends on how you see that), if you fill the cartridges a bit too much and like me have the habit of squeezing them to prime the feed (don't do that if you want to reuse the cartridge many times), the increased pressure created inside the cartridge when you put the small lid will be enough to show you (and your hands) the small hairline cracks that are starting to leak.

 

Speaking of hairline cracks, I have several CON-50 converters showing some, although none is leaking yet. I guess CON-70 could also be affected as they appear to use the same type of material - don't know about the CON-40 as mine is too new to show signs of wear.

 


Unrelated, but I have found Lamy cartridges very prone to split at the opening (material of the "mouth" seem softer, maybe that depend on the colours, I mostly tried to reuse red cartridges).

 

Oh, and on the topic of "converter reliability", I have used several brands, including cheap Chinese things, and had never had a problem or one stop working. Maybe because I'm very generous on the silicone grease? :D

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On 9/14/2022 at 7:09 PM, inkstainedruth said:

And I tried the trick of refilling with an eyedropper through the feed

You must surely mean you tried to fill a converter through the feed with an eyedropper cause I'm fairly certain it is close to impossible to refill a cartridge through the feed that way unless you posses some alien technology.

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On 9/14/2022 at 10:30 PM, apastuszak said:

But it feels kind of waste to use paper towels

Just don't throw them after the first use. I use mine for months and months and they become beautiful artworks.

20220930_171913.jpg

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On 9/14/2022 at 11:08 PM, ParramattaPaul said:

There is no need to remove a converter

Yes there is, if you have a low level inkwell and a pen with a big nib.

This is actually something I hate about my MB 149. I mostly buy 30 ml ink bottles cause it takes me years to finish one and I also don't want to end up with huge volumes of inks I might not like, and because the MB has such a big nib it is more often than not impossible to fill it normally, so I unscrew the nib and put the ink in with a siringe if I am to use other inks that I do not have an almost full bottle.

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