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:

What is the difference between Noodler’s Blue Ghost and Noodler’s Whiteness of the Whale? The swabs on your site look very similar.

These are two interesting colors, and they look similar in a swab because, well, they’re both hard to see :) In order to see either of them, we had to use a UV-blacklight. They’re both UV-reactive, so they look similar. But Whiteness of the Whale is a milky-white ink…not really made to be used on it’s own, but to be mixed with other inks to lighten them up. So you can take a red and make it pink….or a dark purple and make it lavender, that kind of thing. Blue Ghost is actually invisible, you can’t see it on the paper at all, except under Blacklight. If this is the effect you’re trying to achieve, then Blue Ghost would be a better choice than WoW, because it’s cheaper if for not other reason :)

I’m new to fountain pens, and I’ve decided I’m going to be ordering a Pilot Metropolitan pen relatively soon as my “starter pen”. I know you guys offer the Pilot CON-50 converter as an optional add-on when I order the pen. Do you think I will need it, or will the squeeze converter that comes with the pen be sufficient for a beginner? I only plan on using one ink when I get it, but I may switch it up with a second ink down the road if I find that I really enjoy fountain pens as a new interest.

Welcome to the fountain pen world! I think you’d be happy with the converter that comes with the Metropolitan. The Con-50’s one better quality is that it’s clear and you can see how much ink is in there, but other than that it’s worse in a lot of ways….it costs money, lower ink capacity, harder to clean, harder to fill. It would probably hold up better in the long run because it’s all plastic instead of metal/rubber like the one that comes with the pen, but I would say just try the one that comes with it and only go to the Con-50 if you find you don’t like the other one. You’ll get more enjoyment putting that money towards a second ink!

I saw that you had the Noodler’s Konrad Brush Pen in stock. I picked up the tortoise/medium because that’s all that was in stock. Besides color, is the all black/fine model the exact same pen except the way the brush is cut? Would I be able to turn mine into a fine tip?

The brush on the medium is just cut a little thicker, that’s all. It’s actually the same brush tip in both pens, just cut differently. You can cut down your medium to make a fine either from the tip you have, or with a replacement tip that we have available separately. I think Nathan covers it in his video here. I plan to do my own video soon, but I’ve just been so swamped I haven’t been able to.

Is there any difference in writing between the Noodler’s nibĀ creeper rollerball & the rollerball that comes with the preppy?

The tip is exactly the same, so essentially they write the same. But the pens themselves are different. The Nib Creaper is a piston-fill and the Preppy is eyedropper, and they’re obviously cosmetically different, but it terms of how they write they’re very similar.

I have a question about my TWSBI Vac-700. I’m having some feed issues with it that I didn’t have with my 540. Both are EF, but the 540 has the older Bock nib, and the VAC has the newer Jowo nib unit. I’m getting very dry feed and skipping both when I start to write, and about 30 seconds in where it seems like the pen is out of ink. This happens for me more often because of my use of EF nibs, but with converter pens, I can simply push down the plunger a bit and get back to work. However, that’s a bit hard to do with the VAC700, and I usually end up unscrewing the fill mechanism and then lifting it a bit and pushing it back down. That seems to saturate the feed enough to get back to writing. Is that standard operating procedure for the VAC700 as you’ve experienced it, or is that a defect of my pen?

One thing that a lot of folks don’t realize (and I forgot to mention in my video review of the Vac-700) is that when you’re writing for an extended period of time (more than a quick note), you need to unscrew the cap on the back of the pen. This allows for the pen to get proper air/ink interchange and for it to flow properly. It sounds like this is your issue, give that a shot and let me know if that helps.

I am a high school student who is very interested in buying an everyday fountain pen that will last me possibly through my college years and even into the workplace, if it is durable enough. After thorough research, which includes browsing through your awesome website and watching your first impression of the Lamy 2000 Black, I think the Lamy 2000 Black version fits the bill (the stainless steel one is too cumbersome for an EDC pen). In your review of the stainless steel Lamy 2000, you said that you have used the Black version a lot and I just wanted to know more about how durable it is with careful usage, which is how I intend to use this pen. Many users on the Internet said that a patina finish will develop over time that will make the matte finish look more glossy. Is this true for your pen? If it developed a patina, how long does it start to develop and how do I make it look matte again, if that is possible? (I very much prefer the matte look compared to a glossy look) And, I am very fond of the Lamy Safari medium steel nibs. So, which of the Lamy 2000 nibs – fine or medium – would deliver the closest line width and wetness compared to a Safari medium steel nib?

I do love my Lamy 2000! I don’t personally use mine a lot every day, so mine is still all matte, no shiny parts yet. I don’t know if/when that usually happens, but it’s probably quite a while before it does. I haven’t heard of that being a major issue with this pen and I’ve been selling them for two years, so it’s probably something that develops with regular use after several years. In all honesty though, anything that you have with a matte finish will shine up after that long, because of the oils in your hand and the friction of your fingers holding the pen. That’s part of why most pens are glossy. I’m not sure how easy it is to buff the finish back to a matte. It’s probably not all that hard, just some fine grit sandpaper (maybe 400-600 or so) and it would get rid of the shiny parts. Be careful doing this though, it would undoubtedly void your warrantee. Do it at your own risk.

Overall though, it is a very durable pen. You don’t want to abuse that fact, so it’s best to carry it in some kind of pocket/case/sleeve of some kind. I carry mine in my laptop case in an Aston slip. The fine L2K nib would probably be the closest to the medium steel Lamy nib. The medium is the one I have, and it’s the smoothest of all of the L2K nibs. I really enjoy it, but it is just a bit broader than the steel medium nib.

I had a question about the Konrad/Ahabs. Do you know if the Konrad brush feed can actually fit inside the Ahab? I have a much higher preference to the Ahab’s CC-ish design (I like the air insulation, prevents burps… also the colours are much more varied!) over the Konrad.

I actually did try to fit the Konrad brush feed into the Ahab, and it’s a no-go. They only fit the Konrad, mainly because the feed is threaded and needs to fit into a thread that is cut inside the Konrad. The Ahab doesn’t have these threads. The existing Konrad feed doesn’t even fit the ‘old’ prototype Konrad brush pens that were out about a year ago.

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!