Friday, June 5, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 81, Open Forum

Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

Thanks for joining me for Goulet Q&A Episode 81! This week I'm discussing my favorite rollerball, how you can find out what nib size your pen has, and the best MacGyver pen. Pull up a seat and listen to some pen talk!

New/Upcoming Products - (1:17)
Pens/Writing - (3:36)

1. Malgorzata R. -Facebook- (3:42)
I'm getting ready to purchase my first Kaweco Sport fountain pen. I just watched your "Kaweco Nib Size Comparison" video and have pretty good idea what size I want. But I wanted to ask if there is any difference between silver and gold plated nibs, other than color? Do they give you different writing experience? I heard that gold plated nibs have better ink flow. What's your experience???
  • nope, just the color
  • ’silver’ is just polished stainless steel, gold is stainless steel plated with gold
  • I haven’t seen a correlation between flow and nib color, if anything it should be the reverse as the gold has the plating on it!
  • writing experience should be the same, if there’s a difference it’s likely coincidence 

2. Brendle L. -Facebook - (6:29)
looking for a double broad nib what fountain pens have this nib?
  • Goodness, not many at all
  • often special orders like from Pelikan, Omas, etc but even they are getting away from them
  • over the last 6 years I’ve seen the rather unpopular BB go from barely available to pretty much not available at all
  • much more popular now are stubs, since that’s almost what a BB is anyway
  • I don’t have a single BB pen on my site, nor do I know who even makes them and offers them regularly 
‏3. @SheafferKing -Twitter - (9:16)
How do you tell what size a nib is if it doesn't have any markings?
  • two ways to answer this question, tip size or actual size of the nib?
  • I’m assuming the actual size of the whole nib, #6, #5, etc
  • pulling the nib out, measure the distance between the curved bottom of the nib, that’s your measurement (roughly)
  • that’s part of the equation, but there are nib makers that aren’t standardized and you really can’t mix/match them (Platinum, Pilot, etc) 

4. Bijan A. - Facebook - (13:29)
I recently purchased my first Vanishing Point from The Goulet Pen Company and tried using it with a con-20 like I had read one would be able. However, when I tried it, I found none of my con-20s ended up fitting. The converter just wouldn't snap in no matter how hard I tried (what an inky mess). Upon closer inspection and a little research, I found out that what I had was the Con-LAS, a con-20 type converter apparently made specifically for use in Japan (I think, I still don't know many details) All of my con-LAS converters (which I THOUGHT were con-20s) came from Metropolitans or Pilot Parellels. I was wondering if you could expound on the this whole con-20 vs. con-LAS situation and if you had any information on which pens come with which converters or even information on why the two look so similar but are apparently sized differently? Thanks so much! Loving the Vanishing Point, by the way.
  • Tested it, and it fits okay
  • You might have to press it a little hard, but it will fit!
  • still recommend Con-50 or Con-20 for long-term use, but Con-LAS will work in a pinch
Ink - (17:08)

5. @keristars - Twitter - (17:13)
@GouletPens after a day or so in my pen, PR Shell Pink goes from, um, raw shellfish pink to cooked shellfish red (not b/c H2O) Any idea why?
  • how’s the overall bottle look? 
  • could be chemical sedimentation, reaction of the dyes or over saturation of the ink
  • could be evaporation
  • same paper? 
  • could be defective ink…long shot but possibility 
6. @DerekJones14 – Twitter - (21:24)
@GouletPens what inks most resemble VT colors? #GouletQA
7. Toni H. -Facebook - (23:45)
A lot of attention goes to Noodler's Baystate Blue. But there are two other colors in the Baystate line, Concord Grape and Cape Cod CranberryCan you tell us about these inks, in particular how & why they differ from the blue?
  • Properties are similar, they’re just as stainy and vibrant
  • there are several options for vibrant purples and pinks that are less hassle, so these are less standoutish than BSB
  • BSB is more unique among blues, and has become the fall guy for Noodler’s attacks 

Paper - (26:24)
8. Amanvir G. -YouTube - (26:28)
Hi Brian! I have been the sneaky person who just lurks, and doesn't really post or comment. But I do have a question. Can you PLEEEEASE do a video, on how to write on dot grid paper. I am confused. Graph paper, Séyès paper, Blank paper, I get. Dot grid totally alludes me. THANK YOU!!!
  • maybe you can teach me Séyès, haha! thats the one that usually throws people
  • dot is really simple, you use it like graph, basically
  • the dots are 5mm apart, just like graph
  • take graph paper and put a dot where each line intersects with another, remove the lines, and there’s dot grid
  • you can indent, write landscape, heck even draw on it as the dots are much more subtle than lines or graph 

Personal - (29:07)

9. @CalligraphyPete - Twitter - (29:11)
Brian, you recently had to MacGyver into your own office.  Which pen breaks down into the most MacGyver-ready parts?(new baby)
  • technically I said I “Mission Impossibled” into my office, same concept though
  • I locked myself out, didn’t have the key to my new(it) office, and had to come up and over the wall through my drop ceiling
  • Probably a TWSBI or Noodler’s Ahab, due to the fact they disassemble so far!
10. Steve K. -Facebook - (34:27)
Brian, which rollerball do you personally prefer, the Lamy or the Metro, and why?  To make it more challenging, don't include price in the decision.
  • this is tough!
  • I’ve been using both, and I like both for different reasons
  • I’d have to go Metro, partly because I like the grip a little better
  • there are a lot more refill options for the Metro (G2 refills)

Business - (38:22)
11. Fernanda B. - Facebook - (38:27)
It seems to me that there is only a few countries with fountain pen making tradition, like Germany, Japan, Italy, USA, Taiwan and just other few from Europe or Asia. But I would love to know if that has changed and if there is good FPs brands (new ones or maybe older ones) in other countries, like, I don't know, Portugal, Mexico, Australia or maybe Ireland. Do you know any cool brands from countries that are not normally known for their fountain pen making? If so, do you plan on carry any of them?
  • India definitely makes some pens, especially ebonites (though nibs aren’t great), Noodler’s pen bodies are from India
  • China makes a ton of pens!
  • I don’t know of any pens from the countries you mentioned, or really anywhere else besides what we discussed already

Troubleshooting - (41:01)
12. Daniel B. -Facebook - (41:07)
When I ink up my Pelikan M400 (white tortoise version) with Noodler's Hunter, the section gets stained a little in green and the nib gets a very difficult to remove green coat (which causes a green tint). Is there any way to eliminate this? I like to use only permanent inks but is that the problem?
  • this ink in particular is very ‘clingy’
  • this pen in particular shows stains worse with the white color
  • just not the best combo
  • permanent inks can in general cling a little more (not always the case)
  • some other green options here, Noodler’s General of the Armies, Green Marine, might work

QOTW: How long did you lurk on here before posting something, or are you still lurking (and by answering you will end that streak)? - (44:13)

Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A's that you missed.

Write On,

Brian Goulet


  1. I have to wait until I get home to watch the video itself for the detailed answer, but regarding the shell pink:

    I was thinking of evaporation in terms of a waterlogged nib/converter from not drying them well enough after cleaning, but when the same thing happened after I was in a rush and didn't have time to clean my pen before needing to refill, that seemed unlikely. I've been using 2 sample phials that I bought at different times last year, having forgotten that I already had one, so they may or may not be from different bottles.

    BUT evaporation in general seems likely - my Monteverde Artista Crystal has a broken cap where the outer part separated from the twisty band. It still seals pretty well, but it's not as good as it used to be, and it's always been a lot more likely to get condensation on the inside than my other demonstrators. The color change is pretty much exactly like if it were just more saturated, so this explanation is the one I want to go with....it's a lot more benign than others anyway! :D

    It's a little bit of a bummer, because I don't like the more saturated color as much as the fresh-out-of-the-bottle color.

  2. I have a similar problem with my Noodler's Black ink. I don't know if it's just me, but my Noodler's Black ink is not black AT ALL. It looks more like a dilutated black; it's brown-ish, and it shades for God's sakes! I did a swab of the ink with a Q-tip, and yep, the color is like that. It's not because of the pen and the paper or anything. It's the ink. And it's like tat right out of the bottle. Is it normal for Noodler's Black to look like that?

  3. 2) Visconti still makes a very nice double broad in their dreamtouch nib.

  4. Noodlers luxury blue (another 1 ounce like the hunter green) does the same for me. Good ink but it's wicked clingy and nib creepy. Speaking of creepy, I'm always lurking here and I always will be. ... ... dang.

  5. Lurking since last fall sometime, unless you count a couple Monday Matchup submissions, and maybe answered one question of the week a couple weeks ago.

    Now that I'm here, I'll ask a question. Why does ink flow intermittently stop in my two inkdroppered Platinum Preppies? One has Stormy Grey in it, so I'm assuming the gold bits clog it up, but it will write (drily) in a very light grey for a long time. I bang my hand (and not the pen itself) on the table to send out a drop of ink to unclog it, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Is this all the ink's fault? Is there a pen that Stormy Grey works very well in?

    The other Preppy has Apache Sunset in it. Not sure why it stops writing in a similar way as the other one, and then for a while the ink flows wonderfully. It once had Stormy Grey in it, and I cleaned it out the best I could but I can still see a couple gold flecks in the feed. I have a whole bottle of this ink--I hope it won't ruin every pen it comes in contact with!

    Any other ideas or suggestions?

  6. I have a Platinum #3776 Century Bourgogne with a BB nib, recently bought.

  7. Hey Brian and everybody, lurker checking in. A little over a year ago I thought I had no use for fountain pens, although I'd always found them interesting. Then for some reason I started watching your videos, decided I should get myself a Metropolitan for my birthday, and then fell down the rabbit hole HARD, hitting all the bumps and bouncing off the sides a few times.
    I've purchased several different pens from you guys, for myself and others, and I've lost track of how many ink samples. A bottle of Ku-Jaku is looming on the horizon (hmmm, maybe for this year's birthday...) but the most fun part has been checking your blog every day and watching your company grow and change. I really appreciate the wholesome values you put into everything - oh and the Lego stuff is AWESOME.
    Funny coincidence: my sister had her baby right about when yours did, on the 26th. I've been a dad for a while, but it's pretty cool to be an uncle, too.
    That's all; I'm really looking forward to seeing where your team goes from here. Back to the shadows! Write on!

  8. It's unfortunate that nib choices are getting smaller. Quite a few companies do have BB nibs but they are mostly on the expensive side of the pen world. Nakaya still makes a double-broad, as do Visconti, Omas, Aurora, Parker on their gold-nib pens.

  9. I wouldn't say that I'm lurking, I just didn't had much to offer in my comments so far, only the picky comment about your camera focus last week. I found your channel around last Christmas and have watched pretty much every Q&A so far, I've learned a lot, just didn't have the opportunity to place an order with you guys because I'm in Europe so I can get stuff via other channels... but when I get back home (Brazil) I'll be probably be an assiduous costumer, I admire your company lot!!
    However, here it goes a tip... with #6 nibs we have quite a lot of pens and variety to swap, but I discover that the Kaweco nibs fits in several other #5 pens, I've fixed one Waterman vintage with their nib and others Chinese pens and now they write very well!
    Cheers and thanks again for the nice videos.

  10. Eva Yaa AsantewaaJune 6, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Clearly, I'm not a lurker! :-D

  11. Regarding the third question, I have a Sheaffer Prelude (gold, striped, custom edition, given as a gift from a company) that does not have any marking on the nib. Not even an F, M or B. It just reads Sheaffer and that's it.

    But on the underside of the grip, there is an M.
    And I am sure that it is a Medium nib because it writes like a medium nib, no need to look for markings.

    The photos are far from great, but they still show it clearly.

  12. My Prelude that was bought in 1996 shows no nib size on the nib. If it had the same mark yours has, it has worn off. Looks like your mark was printed on, not stamped into the resin. I'm sure it is a medium, writes just like US and European medium nibs. A workhorse of a pen.

  13. Brian, I looked back into the blog archives, all the way back to January 2010. I discovered the treasure of information from you and Rachel just about two years ago and went through every video and review I could find, including the Monday Mailboxes. I think I first posted comments on the #14 or #15 Q&A, November 2013. But, the archive links for those two Q&A's do not list the comments for these. So, I lurked from May, 2013 into November 2013 before commenting. Basically, it took time to review all of your videos and learn what I do about fountain pens, then it took time to purchase new pens, inks, papers, & notebooks and acquire sufficient knowledge to provide comments. I wish I knew how many hours I've spent on your blog!

  14. Lurk? Heck no, I just jumped in and started blabbing. And Brian, if you did this,
    I locked myself out, didn’t have the key to my new(it) office, and had to come up and over the wall through my drop ceiling
    I think you were pulling a Star Trek and coming in through the Jeffrey Tubes!

  15. Hey, I was lurking for about 6mos until I finally sent in a message via Facebook in June 2014. I figure i'll post it on the here now. It's been a year since and i still watch the Q&As.

    Hey Brian,
    I work in health care. Are there any tips for disinfecting a pen. I have been using a 70% isopropyl alcohol prep. Can doing this ruin a pen like the Ahab or the VP. I just ordered an orange VP from ya'll can't wait. I also hope to use it at work.
    I love your business model. I figure i'll share some of my experiences with fountain pens since i've found you guys online.
    I am an RN in NYC. I can go through a Pilot G2 in about 1 month. I've always used retractable pens for work. I've recently started using fountain pens at work. As i was charting/writing with an Ahab pen, a patient asked me about it. it turns out the person was a poet in the Urdu language. He hadn't used a fountain pen in many years. I let him use my Ahab, and he was a skilled calligrapher.His writing was beautiful. He insisted that I write down the info for where to purchase the exact same pen and ink. Of course i wrote down The Goulet Website and pen info.
    Another FP experience was with a co-worker who had an old Parker fountain pen that she received when she graduated nursing school over 20yrs ago. She would see me using my FPs. So finally she brought her pen in and I flushed her pen using all the skills i've picked up from you guys. I inked up her pen and it's writing smoothly.
    I've also recommended your website to a couple of Medical students.
    Sorry for the long message. I do hope it gets to you.
    Write On.

  16. Well, I guess I'm no longer lurking. I'm a thirteen year old pen addict. I get my fix whenever I can, but my budget doesn't allow me to get the high quality stuff.
    Anyways, do you have any plans of carrying franklin cristoph pens in the future. I would love to see them come to goulet. They seem right up the alley of people that buy edison pens as well.


  17. Hey Keri! That is a bummer. :( That Shell Pink is a great color, so maybe it would be worth using it in a different pen to get that fresh out of the bottle color.

  18. Hey Shelley! That's super strange. How old is the bottle? Did you get it from us? This ink should definitely be black.

  19. Thanks for letting us know, Mitchell! :)

  20. Hi Turtle! It's so interesting how certain inks behave differently than others. Thanks for coming out of your shell to post! :)

  21. Hi Nicole! Sometimes eye dropper pens can give a spotty performance, especially if the ink level is low. Try keeping it most filled up and see if it helps at all. Stormy Gray can occasionally cause clogging, depending on the nib size and pen you are using. It works best in flex or broad to italic nibbed pens. I've had it in a Konrad for weeks with no issues, but I know that TWSBIs are especially difficult with that ink. It shouldn't ruin any of your pens, but you may have to give them a more thorough cleaning. Taking a toothbrush to the fins can be especially helpful. I hope this helps!! Let us know if you have any other issues. :)

  22. Nice! Thanks for sharing Vasco. :)

  23. Hi Andy! Thanks for making yourself known! It's awesome to hear how different people's experiences go. Ink samples can be addicting... I walk around with a ridiculous amount in my purse at all times. Congratulations on becoming an uncle! :)

  24. Hi Sean! Yeah, it's a bit of a bummer. At least there are still some companies making them! :)

  25. Hi Rai! That's so great that you were able to fix those pens by swapping the nibs out!! Great tip. :)

  26. I'm with Tom- this is most likely a medium. It's hard to be 100% sure without comparing it. You could always take a look at our Nib Nook and see if it has the same line width in writing as the other Sheaffer Medium nibs. Just a thought! :)

  27. Wow! I love that you've been commenting since #14 or #15. That's awesome! :)

  28. Hi Andrew! Great to hear from you! You are so lucky to have discovered fountain pens at such a young age. We'll have to have a look at Franklin-Cristoph. Thanks for the suggestion! :)

  29. Always good to hear from you, Starchix! :)

  30. Hi Javier, wow that's really cool to hear how your pens are able to connect you with so many interesting people! It sounds like you're mostly on the right track, I just personally don't like using alcohol to clean pens. Certain plastics are negatively affected by them, I find ammonia-based solutions to be much safer across a wide variety of pens. Check out my Fountain Pen 101 video on pen cleaning and maintenance for more tips: http://blog.gouletpens.com/2012/06/fp101-pen-cleaning-and-maintenance.html

  31. Thanks, Madigan! I will try filling the pen all the way up and using a toothbrush on the other one. I appreciate the suggestions!

  32. I've been lurking for several months now. I love the videos and have purchased several pens based on your recommendations. They've all been great. But hands down, my favorite part of a package from Goulet pens is the candy. Thanks!

  33. Hi Andrew, Just wanted to let you know that I bought my first fountain pen when I was thirteen or so, and I've been writing with them ever since (I am now 65). There was absolutely zero information out there when I bought mine -- I was just intrigued by my piano teacher's fountain pen and bought my first el cheapo pen, a Sheaffer cartridge pen, at the corner drug store for a few dollars. I wish you many years of smudgy fingers and lifetime fun -- write on, pen guy!

  34. I bought it at a local shop when I was on a trip and out of ink. I don't know exactly how old the bottle is, but I've had it in my possession for no more than a month. I'm using it in my Lamy 2000, and I've refilled it twice, the color actually becomes weaker and weaker as I write...the color from a couple of weeks ago was a lot darker than it is now.

  35. Can the feeds in Preppies be removed for this kind of cleaning? That's what I understood from your advice, but when I tried to push it out I broke the plastic tube that the smaller tube attached to the nib slides into. Seems the feed can't be pushed out. Filling up the other pen all the way didn't solve the problem with that one. I just counted--I have 13 fountain pens, and only one (a vintage pen) works well (skips less than once per line of writing). I clean and maintain them as I've learned to do from Brian's videos, but this is a discouraging statistic! So my second question is, is there a pen that's least likely to skip?

  36. If you think evaporation is the culprit, you might try (gently) adding a drop or two of water if the ink stays overnight? probably won't need more than that, but it might help.
    Other option, if the issue is with the pen seal - maybe use it as a dip pen? so the ink isn't sitting inside to become concentrated? I've dipped fountain pens to test inks, so I can try several without wasting, and it works pretty well - and writes for a surprising length of time per dip.

  37. off-topic question, but is there somewhere on this new website that i can see the inkdrop archive?

  38. (Also, I am still lurking and no-one can prove otherwise!)

  39. Hi, my name is Conor and I am a pen addict.
    Not my first post here, but normally just lurk.
    When I first started buying fountain pens, I went for a number of fine and extra-fine nibs. Then I realized that one of my favorite parts of fountain pens was large, bold, wet lines and especially line variation. Since then, I have largely been buying bold nibs and the occasional medium nib for those pens I intend to use as daily edc. It's nice to see that some pen companies are still carrying large nibs (BB+) but they also seem to be pens that are not affordable to the average consumer.


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