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 recently found your site mentioned in one of the forums on FPN. Wow!! I haven’t actually counted, but I suspect you have the biggest selection of bottled inks on the Web. At least every one that I have ever used or would want to order!! A tiny bit of back story and then a question: Recently, as I was agonizing over the medium Pelle vs. large Pelle vs. large Midori traveler’s notebooks, I looked on FPN for info about the paper in their respective refills. All of them got pretty feeble endorsements, to say the least, but one person commented that the Classic Clairefontaine side-staple cahier was a perfect fit for the medium Pelle, which is 4.25″x6.75″. So I now have a medium Pelle on order and was poised to order a couple of the Clairefontaine cahiers from you, until I watched your podcast video…. On the website, you indicate that this notebook is 4.25in x 6.75in, yet in the video you said the width was “four and three-quarters inches.” That sent me looking elsewhere to confirm (or not). A European website also says 4.75, so I’m puzzled at best. Do both of these sizes exist? (And you just don’t sell the 4.75″ wide one?…) Or is one of the webpages (plus maybe your podcast) in error?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure we have the largest selection of inks in the world. We’re hovering around 670 at the moment.Clairefontaine’s a little weird with their sizes, because they sometimes approximate with their standard measurements…their metric measurements are always right, though. The Clairefontaine C3606 is indeed 11cm x 17cm, which is right around 4.3″ x 6.7″. I misspoke in my video by saying it is “4 and 3/4″, and I made an annotation to correct that in the video. That particular video is almost 3 years old, and you’re the first to point that out to me! Thank you : ) There is no 4.75” version of this notebook, the C3606 is the only notebook in this size. Sorry for all the confusion!

I have a platinum 3776 Shoji…I like the new blue color they just came out with but wish they made the clip Rhodium plated…But it’s still very nice. Their pens have some of the best QC I have ever used in my life in a pen. Will the pigmented blue that comes with the pen clog it if I use it as my EDC (every day carry) pen all the time? Maybe we can do a test and see how long it takes to mess up a cheaper pen? I just don’t want to ruin an expensive pen but like the idea the thing seals itself. I am experiencing ink cognitive dissonance Brian! lol The Forbidden pigmented fruit is calling me!

Platinum makes some really nice pens, there’s no doubt about that! I do like the new Chartres Blue…it would look nice with Rhodium plating but I think they’re reserving that for the limited edition models (Shoji, Motosu, and the 3 others they plan to release). Platinum loves their gold trim! If Pigmented Blue was going to cause a problem in the pen, I don’t think Platinum would include it with the pen! The cap seal they have designed is supposed to be the best, and that will keep the ink from drying out. If you’d still rather test it on a cheaper pen first, then you could always try a Platinum Preppy or Plaisir first, it’ll fit those Pigmented Blue cartridges as well. It is a pretty neat ink!

I just recently purchased a Lamy Safari (Red) with a Medium nib and Converter. The Safari has alot of Nib Creep with various inks that I have used in it. Also, The converter has ink above the o-ring. I was just wondering if there are any quick fixes for these problems.

Nib creep is something that can be a pen or an ink issue, or a combination of the two. It’s mainly a cosmetic issue, and it happens with quite a few pens and inks. There isn’t really a ‘fix’ for it, other than to use a different pen or ink. Noodler’s inks in particular tend to creep more than other brands, but they’re not the only one by any means. Part of the reason for it is because inks that are more saturated with color can sometimes have a harder time flowing…so ink makers compensate for that with lubricants to keep the ink flowing well. A side effect of this though is nib creep. And ink makers don’t usually advertise which of their inks are lubricated or anything like that, so it’s all trial and error to see which inks will creep or not.

The ink behind the converter isn’t anything too unusual as well, it happens. Some converters can be disassembled to remove ink behind the piston seal, but the Lamy converters are really hard to take apart. It can be done, but it’s not easy to do without cosmetically damaging the converter. One trick that I’ve heard folks use is to immerse the entire converter in water, and screw and unscrew the piston over and over. This draws ink from the back of the converter (the red end) to flush out the ink behind the seal. If that’s too big of a hassle, then you can just leave the ink behind that seal, it’s not really going to hurt anything. 

Do you sell just pen bodies? For example, i have a pilot VP and i am interested in getting a new body, but i do not need the nib section, would you be able to sell me just the body?

**UPDATE** We no longer offer ‘body only’ Pilot Vanishing Points.

The only pen where we sell just the body is the Vanishing Point and the Fermo. Go to any of the product pages, and you’ll notice there’s a ‘body only’ option above the ‘add to cart’ button:

I’d like to ask a question for a pen project that I have in mind. Would a CON-70 Converter fit into a Vanishing Point nib unit and if yes, does it work drawing ink? I know that that combo wouldn’t fit into a regular vanishing point barrel.

Unfortunately, the Con-70 won’t fit into the Vanishing Point because it’s too long. The only pens that will take that converter are the Pilot Custom 74’s and the Pilot Metal Falcons. If I understand correctly, you’re asking about using drawing inks in these pens? That would not be a good idea at all. Drawing inks are typically shellac-based, and fountain pens require water-based fountain pen inks (we have about 700 of them on our site). If you use shellac-based inks in a fountain pen, they will seize up the pen and ruin them, which would be an expensive mistake in a Vanishing Point!

I am wanting to convert my Ahab to an eyedropper. Is the silicon grease necessary for the conversion, or is the O ring enough?

The o-ring alone should do the trick, but the silicone grease is an extra layer of protection against a leak. I’d just be careful how you carry it about, maybe keep it in a plastic ziplock bag or something like that of it’s going to be transported on a regular basis.

I’ve been waiting to get an orange Lamy Nexx, but I don’t see them on your site anymore. Have you decided not to carry them or what?

Strangely enough, they’re discontinued, which is why we removed them from our site. It’s a pretty new model of pen and we never got any orange Nexx’s in, so why they’re discontinued I have no idea!

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!