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Monday, July 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday #18

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I'll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I really like Kaweco Sports insofar as design and size are concerned; however, they usually have flow/starting issues. They are very picky about angles and even after manually widening the tines with a needle (I didn't know how else), there is still an issue with starting letters like 'a' or 'd'. The flow improved in general after the widening though. I also flushed/rinsed out the pen beforehand, even taking out the feed and nib. How can I widen tines with less risk? Do you know of any fix for these Kawecos specifically?

As far as widening tines, this isn't really something I'd jump to as the first thing to do, as it's pretty easy to cause permanent damage if you don't know what you're doing. The first thing to check is to make sure the nib is set all the way into the pen, it's friction fit and is possible to be pulled out. It needs to be set in all the way to write properly. If it is in there okay, then try flushing the pen with water and dish soap, to make sure it's clear of any manufacturing debris or paper fibers, etc. It sounds like you already did that step though. The next thing to check is the alignment of the nib tines. Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Co. put out a good article about how nibs should look.

The next thing to check is the type of ink you're using. Different inks write wetter or drier than others, and going from a flow you dislike to one you like could be as easy as switching inks!

If you do decide you want to increase the flow, one of the best ways to do it is actually very simple. You simply press hard on the nib while you're holding the pen (like you're writing). This flexes the tines apart and increased the flow. It's easy to overdo it and not nearly as easy to undo, so be careful.
How do I fill up a piston fill pen such as a Noodler's Flex from an ink sample if I can't stick in the nib all the way?
For the Noodler's flex in the sample vial, this can be a challenge. Really, you just need to make sure that the ink gets to the part that fills in the pen, which is right where the nib fits into the pen's grip section. The easiest way to do this is to tilt the vial while you fill. I demonstrate this in this video, starting at around 2 minutes in.
I am a bit challenged on cleaning my pen for ink color change. I have watched your videos - Thanks. But the problem is that as hard as I try on my Lamy Vista I cannot get the water out of the feed. Your technique of using a pointed napkins gets most of it out but there is always remaining water/moisture in the feed. While I can get the nib off, the feed doesn't appear to be removable. When I fill with ink the feeder section allows the ink to mix with the water and it appears watery when i write - not bad but not as crisp in color as it should. After a day or so the problem seems to resolve as i think the ink dissolves the water. Any ideas to remedy?
One trick that gets the water out of the feed is to touch the nib (especially the top of it, where the slit is) to a paper towel or napkin. This will wick most if not all of the water out of the feed. Any remaining water is really such a small amount it isn't of great concern. If it is affecting your color after you ink up your pen, then just do the same technique of touching a paper towel to the nib after the pen is inked, it will draw the diluted ink through the feed until it's pure ink coming through, and you should be in pretty good shape from there. This is something that happens with most every pen, it's just that you can see it clearly in the Vista because of the clear grip section.
I dropped my Lamy Vista (with a fine nib) on the floor by accident and I believe the tip of the nib may be damaged (it writes very "scratchy" at the moment and I have to press hard to get a substantial amount of ink to flow). Is there any way I can repair the tip without having to buy a replacement nib?
Beyond basic adjustment of the nib tines with your fingers, you cross into actual nib tuning and repair which gets outside even my area of expertise. If your nib is damaged beyond a simple misalignment of the nib tines, then your best bet will likely be replacing the nib. But, if you want to fiddle around and try to fix your nib it's probably worth the effort, worst case you ruin it and need to replace it anyway, am I right?
I was given a Cross Century II pen. It came with a couple of cartridges, but I would prefer to use a converter. The Cross web site says they make one for it. In reference to your recent Monday Mailbox post, you might want to update your table of pens and converters/cartridges. At present there is no converter listed for Cross pens. Do you or might you carry that converter? or might another one you do carry serve as well ? It appears as though you carry no Cross products. Was that a deliberate decision? Is there a reason? Btw I have no special loyalty to Cross. Just asking.
We don't carry Cross so I'm not intimately familiar with the brand, but from what I'm reading with some Google searching is that Cross makes their own proprietary converter (and cartridges), so you'll need to get their brand (which we don't have). I'll update our Cartridge/Converter Guide.

We haven't necessarily 'deliberately' decided not to carry Cross pens, it's really just been a matter of we haven't pursued them yet. Our site isn't really all that old, only about 2.5 years, and we've rapidly expanded during that time. We have a method of acquiring pens at the request of our customers, and that usually ends up being pens that are harder to find....Cross is a rather ubiquitous brand as far as fountain pens go, so we've had very few requests for us to carry them. I'm not opposed to the idea, the brand just hasn't been as appealing as others for our niche.
Are you coming up to the DC Pen Show? If so I have a couple of questions. 1. Can I use the gift certificate I received at the show or is it redeemable online only? 2. Are you bringing Edisons with you?
Rachel and I will be attending the show, but just as guests and not vendors. With a 2 year old and (still nursing) 6 month old, we just don't have the ability to operate a booth at the show. The only reason we're even able to make it to the show at all is because Rachel's parents live in the area and can help watch the kids!

That said, we won't have any products at the show, we'll just be walking around doing meet-and-greets. Because we won't be selling anything, your gift certificate will need to be used on our site, and we won't have any Edisons there. I'm sorry! But Brian Gray will have a booth set up, so you'll still be able to see (quite a few!) Edisons. 
I'm trying to decide on a pen that will give me more of a calligraphic look to my handwriting, though I can't do calligraphy. I've narrowed it down to Noodler Flex, Montverde Invincia 1.1, or Platinum Music Pen. I realize these are very different pens. I love the Music pen because I know it will be high quality, but will it just feel like a really broad nib rather than an italic? I'm afraid I might be disappointed with Noodler's quality. And I havent seen reviews on the Monteverde on Goulet. Elsewhere the reviews haven't been stellar as far as quality. Any help or suggestions?
I must say, you've struck right up my alley here ;) I LOVE stub/italic nibs, they make your handwriting look awesome and you don't have to do anything special to achieve it! I have used all three of the pens you asked about, and have them in my personal collection.

I'll start with the Noodler's Flex. I have several of every model of these pens, and they are quite impressive, especially for the price. They can be finicky, and they are certainly the hardest to use of the 3 pens mentioned because the way a flex nib works is very different than an italic nib. The flex nib takes a bit of practice to really get used to, and you also have to stick with really ink resistant paper as the flex pens put a lot of ink down on the page. I would say that if you wanted to try one of these pens, I would say you should plan on it as sort of an experimental pen, don't plan to use it as your daily writer unless you have the time and patience to get used to this pen.

Next the Monteverde Invincia, I've become a fan of this pen really quick. They call their 1.1mm a 'stub', which is basically the same thing as an italic but with the edges of the nib more rounded so the writing is smoother. True (crisp) italics are very sharp and can actually cut the paper, they're designed for giving very sharp and crisp lines but are honestly kind of a pain to use as you have to write slowly and carefully. But I digress, the stub on the Invincia writes surprisingly well and is quite smooth. The one thing about it that is a slight drawback is the overall weight of the pen (compared to the other two, it's much heavier but that may or may not be a bad thing for you), and the fact it has a metal grip section, which is a little harder to hold for long writing sessions, for most people. Overall though, it's a joy to use. You haven't seen any reviews on our site yet because we just got the pens in last week.

Lastly, the Platinum Music Pen. I enjoy this pen very much, it has to be one of the smoothest nibs I've ever used. The line variation on it definitely is more of a stub than a true italic, but it's very noticeably a stub. You wouldn't confuse it with a broad. The pen itself is surprisingly light, which is the only complaint I ever hear about it, from those that like heavier pens. This pen also writes just a tad drier than the other two pens, not enough to cause any flow problems or anything like that, but an ink color may appear a little lighter in this pen than the Noodler's or Monteverde.




The good news is that I received my R & K Ltd Ed B/B Ink today. The external packaging - box, bubble wrap, etc was unscathed. The bad news is that I opened the clear plastic box to access the white display box holding the ink bottle. The clear box was also pristine. Then I opened up the diagonally designed box and things quickly went south. The interior was shredded and stained by the label on the bottle moving around. The box comes with a seal, so I can see the difficulty in verifying the condition prior to shipping. Has anyone else had this problem, or am I just the lucky one? If it weren't a numbered limited edition with a "display box", I would just shrug it off. The generic boxes are plentiful. Of course, Murphy's Law kicked in this time (he ought to be disbarred!)

Anyway, the nature of the damage doesn't fit with the survey questions. All exterior packaging was excellent! But the product packaging from the manufacturer is internally fragile. Apparently, my problem isn't an isolated incident.  I offer this Gourmet Pens review as evidence. Comments/suggestions?
That is unfortunate! I'm really sorry about this, it appears to be a design flaw of the box. We've contacted Rohrer and Klingner about the issue and they're going to be shipping us some replacement boxes. It'll take a little bit to get here from Germany, but we'll have one available for you and anyone else how bought the ink and had the box damaged in transit. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. I'll be compiling this coming week's emails into next week's Mailbox Monday post!

5 comments:

  1. 2 thoughts here:

    1) To fill a Noodler's Flex I prefer to pull the feed out (along with the nib) and fill it with a syringe. I don't like the piston mechanism myself so this works for me. The only disadvantage is that afterwards I need to re-align the nib and feed. But there's also the feed saturation method that Brian showed in a video.

    2) If the Vista is anything like the AL-Star or Safari (and I believe it is), you can definitely pull out the feed. It's just that it is very hard to do so at first. I didn't think it was possible until I saw someone do it. You need a bit of rubber material (for example from a thick rubber band) that you wrap around the feed (after removing the nib) and pull hard on it using your fingers. You need some strength in your fingers and perhaps try to wiggle it a bit. It has a groove inside, for alignment, so there's only one way it can go in.

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  2. You can definitely do that with the Noodler's pens, it's not for the faint of heart though as some find the nib/feed alignment frustrating and don't want to do it unless they have to! Once you get a feel for it though, it's not so bad.

    Yes, you can pull out the feed on the Vista/Al-Star/Safari,  but it's not usually easy (like yo mentioned). The most important thing to realize is that you HAVE to put the feed back in the way it's supposed to go, otherwise it can get jammed in there really bad and often ruins the feed. Lamy USA has a video on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTfev-yLf18

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  3. Correct, you need to align the groove with the ridge. But once you do that it slides right in easily. The first time pulling it out is the hardest.

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  4.  There is another option, if you don't want to pull out the nib and feed. You simply unscrew the barrel, unscrew the piston mechanism and syringe fill the piston mechanism. It's not really necessary to take out the nib/feed, unless you find it necessary to adjust it.
    Bill

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