Mailbox Monday #31

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:

When do you think you’ll have something to report on the 3 new Iroshizuku Colors?

The new Iroshizuku inks are scheduled for release in Japan only in November (I think they’re out right now), but they won’t be arriving in the US until early January. I don’t have a specific date yet, but we have all three colors on order and we’ll be getting plenty of it. 

I have been searching around for some ink bottles, but not the common type. When browsing your site I saw mostly glass bottles but for my particular scenario I need plastic. In just under 2 months I am heading overseas for a 9 month deployment in the sandbox and would like to bring along some of the various types of inks I use. (this is a brick building area, no middle of desert/tents and so on. Would not be the ideal accessory the latter scenario!) Most of my supplies have come from your company for the past few years, and most of the inks are noodlers line. Considering the fact that supplies such as these would be shipped by family once I arrive at the main base, and they will be at the mercy of USPS stateside, then cargo handling crews en route, anything glass just spells a disaster (at least that is my reasoning). I haven’t researched the specifics of inks, but from another standpoint I know of the purposes of storing various chemicals in glass versus plastic but am hoping for a <1 year timeframe the concerns with inks may not be an issue. You all are the experts compared to my knowledge so if you could please provide some comment on what may be possible for this. I think at a maximum maybe 2-3 different inks, dip and fountain pen refill along with the recent highlighter ink I just put an order through for. 

Thank you for your service! I think something like this would do you really well. For transporting pen ink, it’s one bottle I see mentioned over and over again by fountain pen users. I’m not affiliated with REI or Nalgene at all, I’ve just heard these bottles work well. They’re only 1 ounce so you may have to split up a Noodler’s bottle into a few of them, but they’re pretty inexpensive and will give you the peace of mind during transit. I’d still probably put these bottles inside individual plastic bags just in case, but you really should be fine with these 😉 

Any tips on how to fill the Vac 700 from one of your sample bottles?

I have a video on different filling tips from a sample vial, and one if not several of the techniques should work for your Vac-700. Taking off the nib section and willing with a syringe would be the easiest, but tilting the vial might be able to suffice, too. 

I have been watching your great Youtube videos and just saw the one about the “surprise” pens that come with the various 4.5 oz Noodlers inks. My question is which 4.5 oz colors come with the fountain pen that also has the roller ball white colored tip insert? Do you know of any other roller ball pens that are dropper filled or that could be easily converted (ie with the oring trick) to dropper filled? I find it mind boggling there are not more choices in this niche…..or am I just not looking in the right places?

There are 5 Noodler’s 4.5 ounce inks that come with the eyedropper rollerball: Baystate Blue, Kung Te-ChengWhaleman’s Sepia, Heart of Darkness, and Lexington Gray. There are VERY few other rollerball pens that use fountain pen ink, and that is, I’m not sure. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that rollerball makers have no incentive to make a reusable product (if you throw it away, you have to buy another!), and fountain pen makers make very little money from their ink, so there’s little incentive for them to develop these types of pens. There are a few, Noodler’s has one, J. Herbin has one, Visconti makes one, so does Kaweco, I think Delta might make one (not sure about that) but that’s all I know. I think the Kaweco one can be converted to eyedropper (I don’t carry that, so I’m not sure), the Noodler’s one is a piston fill, so there’s no conversion necessary, I’m not sure about the Visconti, and the J. Herbin one has a hole in the back of it, so you’d need to plug that hole to use it as an eyedropper.

With the Christmas card season fast approaching, I am looking for a vivid red ink that approximates a pointsetta or a red Sharpie marker. Any suggestions? I would like something that does not look like dried blood or muddy water after it sits for a couple hours.

There are several great options, some of my favorites are Diamine Red Dragon, Sheaffer Red, Noodler’s Nikita, and Noodler’s Red. You can check them all out in the Swab Shop

Does your company plan to sell packs of paper samples that have many brands/types of paper? Similar to how you sell ‘packs’ of ink samples? Seems like a lot of work to actually implement, but was curious.

We used to do that a while ago, but the logistics were overwhelming. Not only was it very time consuming to put them together, but shipping a few sheets of paper in a way that they wouldn’t get bent was very challenging, and we weren’t able to do it in a way that made economic sense. We keep trying to revisit the idea, but aren’t able to do it in a way that is manageable for us.

I have many fountain pens that use standard international cartridge converters. I never use the plunger mechanisms though as I always refill them with a syringe. The mechanisms though consume half of the available ink space. Do you know of any robustly made cartridge converters that would have the reinforced neck etc. without the plunger mechanics, and therefore twice the capacity?

When it comes to cartridge converters, you usually don’t have many options. Whatever converter fits is the one that there is for it, and that’s it. For example, the standard international cartridge that comes with many brands of pens is the same for all those brands (they might have their company’s logo on it, but that’s about the only difference). Proprietary converters from other brands might be a slightly different (like Pilot, Sailor, Sheaffer, Lamy, Platinum), but they’re only going to fit those brands of pens. If you want to get more ink capacity, there are really only two options. You can refill ink cartridges for the given pen, which may or may not have a higher ink capacity than the converter. There aren’t any converter-grade cartridges that are super-durable but with a higher ink capacity than a normal converter, though. Ink cartridges are flimsier and meant to be disposable, so you’ll be able to get a few fills out of them but they’ll wear out and crack/lose their seal after 3-5 refillings. Or you can possibly convert the pen to an eyedropper-fill pen, like I do here with this Platinum Preppy. But not all pens are able to do that. 

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!

2017-10-11T14:02:45+00:00 November 12th, 2012|Mailbox Monday, Uncategorized|18 Comments
  • snedwos

    One way I've taken to filling goulet samples into my 540 has been to remove teh piston mechanism and pour it in the back. A bit fiddly, I guess, but not more so than unscrewing the nib section and messing with syringes… Dunno if you could do that with the vac.

  • Just an idea on paper samples. Cut a single sheet into three pieces. You could then easily mail several samples out in a basic envelope. A third of a sheet would be enough to write on with a few different pens to se if it works for you.

  • Those Nalgene bottles are great and I'm sure they'll work fine for transporting and storing inks. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and can be easily found online or in outdoor/camping equipment stores.

  • Joshua

    There is also a Monteverde rollerball which Goulet Pens sells (or at least you list it on your site).

  • That definitely works! Most pens don't have pistons that remove that easily, but the TWSBI is pretty good about that so it's definitely an option.

  • Definitely, there's a lot of talk about these on FPN, they're what everyone recommends.

  • Oh yeah! How could I have forgotten about those? 😛

  • Kevin

    One possible solution for the paper sample is to cut a sheet into three parts. You could then mail out the samples in a regular envelope. A third of a sheet would be enough to write on with several different pens to see if you liked it.

  • For the plastic bottles I bet you could also just use a handful of sample vials. If you fill them full you can get about 5ml of ink into them. It would be an easy way to get a decent amount of ink over there and they don't take up very much space either.

  • That's true, if you already have them on hand that would be a good way to go for a short trip. The original question was for a 9-month deployment though, and you'd go through a lot of sample vials in that time. A 2 ounce Nalgene bottle would hold the equivalent of about 9 sample vials.

  • That's the problem though…is that the paper already comes in bound form, so to get a sheet of any kind, we have to manually tear out each sheet. Cutting beyond that would be even more time. The reason we're not able to economically accomplish paper samples is because we have a staff that we have to pay to do all of this manual paper tearing, cutting, and assembling, and by the time all of that is done, it's no cheaper than just buying a whole notebook.

  • Ahmed

    re:rolleballs. I've definitely received the rollerball tip with my Noodler's Heart of Darkness and Lexington Gray 4.5oz bottles. Is that not what the viewer was talking about? Curious as to why those two colors aren't also on your list.

  • If you have a Container Store nearby, they also sell them in the isle where they keep travel accesories.

  • Diane Maher

    There is also the scientific suppliers. These bottles are widely used in laboratories. They are available in round and square sizes.

  • Stefan Vorkoetter

    Lamy also makes a rollerball that _seems_ to use fountain pen ink. However, that ink comes in refills that look like a cross between a fountain pen cartridge and a rollerball refill. Like the latter, the Lamy refill contains the pen tip. The reason that I say that it seems to use fountain pen ink however is that their rollerball is erasable using the ink eradicator pens that are commonly used by German schoolchildren. These pens only work on the typical washable blue inks such as Pelikan Royal Blue, Lamy Blue, Quink Washable Blue, etc.

    I bought my wife one of these last time I was in Germany, and I plan to try refilling one of the cartridges when it runs out. The pen does tend to skip a bit, so I might try a wetter blue ink, like Liberty's Elysium.

  • oh my gosh, you're right! I don't know how I missed those, sorry about that. I corrected it. Yes, Heart of Darkness and Lexington Gray also do come with a Preppy with a rollerball tip in the 4.5 ounce bottles. Lex. used to come with a different pen, but recently changed, and I just completely forgot about HOD.

  • Right. They might be a little more expensive though, or you have to buy in bulk. In any case, that's the right idea.

  • Hmm, interesting, I've never heard of that. But then I don't really pay much attention to rollerballs 😛