Goulet Q&A Episode 39: Avoiding Inky Hands, College Majors, and Pen Repairs


Goulet Q&A this week is back to just me, no Rachel this time. I’m sorry! But notice how much shorter it is…hmm…ah, that’s misleading because I answered fewer questions than last week. I still managed to go on plenty of rambling tangents on my own! The theme this week is an Open Forum so I took all kinds of random questions. Enjoy!
1) Mary B.- Facebook (5:39):
Having just gotten the Goulet Pen flush, syringe and blower, how best to clean and refill a piston filled pen? I know how to use the cleaning stuff with the twist converters, but I have several piston types where I cant see the contents of the barrel or inkwell.

  • piston pen is like a converter pen where the converter isn’t removed
  • you have to twist and twist and twist
  • you can remove the piston on some pens and flush with a bulb syringe from the back
  • watch Goulet Pen Flush Tutorial video 
2) JoyceAnna D.- Facebook (9:51):
Is there a secret to avoiding inky hands at the end of the work day?

  • I’m the wrong person to ask! Inky hands are a point of pride around the Goulet shop
  • avoid filling and cleaning during the day
    • get a pen with a large ink capacity, use cartridges
  • minimize shaking the pen as much as possible
  • minimize extreme temperature changes
3) Brian H.- Facebook (12:31):
I have had a Nemosine fountain pen for quite a while and want to order another one. Do you have any plans to carry this brand in the near future?

  • we had looked into them, made contact with the manufacture and gotten samples
  • products seem pretty good, reviews have been good
  • what stopped us was values alignment
  • we like to understand the ‘why’ behind company’s existence, and never got clear answers
  • we run a personal business, and we only see success from brands that believe what we believe
4) Leslie I.- Facebook (16:40):
Will you be carrying the Midori Traveler’s Notebook Army Edition?
  • no, it’s not in the US
  • British Army symbol from WWII on it, came out early 2013

5) Kate D.- Facebook (17:46):
How does one fill an aerometric/sac filling pen? I recently got an inexpensive Jinhao that is an aero filler and I can’t figure it out. Help me, Goulet Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!

  • squeeze the bladder
  • put the nib completely in the ink
  • let go of the bladder, let it sit for a few seconds
  • do it again (this time you can keep the nib in the ink)
  • pull it out, wipe the nib, go
6) Jennifer Z.- Facebook (22:12):
If a screw-on cap on a plastic pen becomes difficult (impossible) to twist, is there a lubricant you suggest?

7) Cara E.- Facebook (24:23):
When will you have more Konrad flex pens in stock? Tahitian tortoise color in particular. This will help me decide whether to wait or get my second favorite color. Thanks!

  • just talked to Nathan Tardif last night
  • more pens are coming, he’s ’turning the corner’
  • been backed up with ink and Neponset (which will be coming soon)
8) Pavel K.- Facebook (26:39):
Which pen would you recommend as a starting one in “nice”(~100$) category. I already got Lamy Safari.

9) David H.- Facebook (29:37):
Totally random question: what was your major in college?

  • Brian- started in business management, ended up with residential property management
  • Rachel- started in music/comp. sci., then human development, ended up in business management/human resources
10) Luis M.- Facebook (37:51):
How does the fine nib from different brands compare to each other? Do you mind doing a demonstration? I have a couple of fountain pens around and I am a big fan of fine nibs, but there is no consistency on the thickness of the line with each different brand. Thanks!

  • Nib Nook
  • they aren’t entirely consistent, like women’s dress sizes, vary by manufacturer
  • in general, european nibs are ground broader in the extra-fine and fine sizes than Japanese pens
    • Japanese and European medium and broads are usually fairly comparable
  • nib is a factor, but so is the feed, so flow can vary from one pen model to another within the same brand
  • other factors like ink and paper matter, too
11) CJ C.- Facebook (42:05):
Some of us live in dry areas where even 20% relative humidity is considered to be “muggy” (even to me, and I used to live near DC). This causes a problem with fountain pens: unless the cap creates an excellent seal, inks soon dry in nibs/feeds requiring either a drop of water to rehydrate the ink or a cleaning. My Metropolitans, for example, require an exercise session every 2-3 days to raise the odds that ink will flow when I need it. This isn’t a problem with my Platinum pens (including the Preppy), even with the more problematic inks, because of their famous inner cap. 

I’m curious — what other pens or brands, under say $200, offer anything near the sort of protection from drying that Platinum does? Thanks to everyone at GPC; the work all y’all put in to serve your customers is very much appreciated.
  • you’ll want pens with inserts in the cap to help prevent drying
  • Platinum definitely has this down
  • other good pens include:
  • put small piece of wet sponge in cap to act as humidor
  • store pens in airtight container (ziplock bag)
12) Terea P.- Facebook (45:54):
How do you determine which products to carry? conversely when do you know to discontinue products?

  • blend of customer demand and personal experience
  • we often know what to investigate because people keep asking us about a particular product/brand
  • we look into it, seeing how to get them and what the distribution chain is like
    • check other places the product is available, see if there’s an opportunity for us to ‘fill the void’
  • get the product in our hands, without a solid product we won’t do it
  • look for values alignment of our companies, good communication/support for the brand
  • if all this checks out, we’ll usually start to dabble, not often we dive in head first
  • as products sell and awareness comes about, we ramp up inventory/marketing
  • discontinuing is tougher, it’s often never clean/easy to decide
  • external forces
    • US distribution ceases/changes hands
    • line/product gets discontinued
    • price increases
    • stock issues (perpetual backorders)
    • we get dropped (rare)
  • internal forces
    • poor sales
    • quality issues (we have high standards)
    • host of potential challenges with distribution
    • we don’t discontinue much for these reasons
13) Ravena J.- Facebook (54:42):
How do you get an expensive pen serviced that was given as a gift? I was given an Aurora 88, but the piston needs to be replaced. I don’t have any paperwork other than the booklet I was given with it, but I’m definitely willing to pay for the repair. Help?!

  • find out where it was originally purchased and contact that retailer for help
  • contact the distributor or manufacturer directly form warranty (they may still want to know where it was originally purchased to make sure it’s authentic)
  • for Aurora, contact Kenro Industries: https://secure.kenroindustries.com
14) Alexander F.- Facebook (56:12):
Here’s a #GouletQA question (I really Love that you offer these Q&A sessions!): I got J. Herbin Rouge Hematite but it doesn’t really show the gold sheen when I write with it, only when I put a drop directly on the paper and then smear it. Same issue with a Lamy Vista and a TWSBI, any suggestions on how to get that sheen to come out?
  • 3 different versions of the ink
  • everything we have had for the last two weeks and moving forward are the ‘new’ version
  • the sheen varies depending on the absorbency of the paper a lot
  • the wetter the pen, the more sheen might come

15) Craig A.- Facebook (57:32):

Have you considered stocking J. Herbin’s metallic ink pads for making two-tone wax seals?

  • we used to years ago, didn’t have a great response as a result
  • we could carry it again, but people seldom ask about it
Thanks to everyone who has been asking questions lately, I’m getting so many really good ones! I’m just not able to answer them all each week, and I’m sorry for that. Please keep asking, I will do my best to answer as many as I can 🙂 Next week’s episode will be on July 18th, 2014 and will be Episode 40, with Goulet Values as the topic since we just made our Goulet Company values public earlier this week. Rachel will be joining me for this one, and we’ll also look to have some other members of our team pop in for relevant questions, so please as things specific to any of them if you’d like!Be sure to check out old episodes of Q&A if you’ve missed them, and comment below if you have questions for next week. Have a great week, see you then.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-26T16:44:14+00:00 July 11th, 2014|Goulet Q&A|6 Comments
  • Marlo Gonzales

    I'd actually disagree on the recommendation of the Prera in dry environments. The office building where I work has a habit of being similarly dry (and I have the hygrometer to prove it).

    While the Prera does have an insert, it does not do a particularly good job of sealing. My Preras will dry out with a week of non-usage, and the ink would actually turn quite thick (which, in moderation, actually can generate a nice effect..)

    I would back the recommendation of the Custom 74 though. The insert in my Custom 74 does a very good seal job, and I can leave it unused for weeks and have it be completely usable. I do keep Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo in it, which may be part of the reason for this performance.

    I would also back the recommendation of the TWSBI 580. These pens are *loaded* with very high quality O-Rings. I have several of these pens as i consider them high quality overall, and I've used this pen with many inks by many manufacturers without issue.

    You can actually test the seal of the main cap O-Ring in an empty TWSBI by moving the piston in while the cap is on and sealed, and you should be able to see some resistance and springback.

    I would also add the recommendation of the vintage Parker 51. I spoke to Richard Binder once on this, and he told me that the feed system of this pen is particularly suited to dry environments. I can personally confirm having near-ballpoint levels of uncappedness (leaving it uncapped for 30 minutes plus) in dry environments and still being able to write with it. Your mileage may vary, especially as vintage pens vary, but I've had excellent experiences with this pen filled with regular Parker Quink.

  • Tom Johnson

    I live in Central Virginia but to the west of Goulet Pens at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The humidity is lower here, and during the winter the relative humidity can drop to 10% or lower. Where I worked was very dry, particularly in the winter. My Pilot Vanishing Point could sit for a week in low humidity and start right up. It seals very well. My Waterman Carene was the same. Never noticed a problem with my Monteverde Charisma or Kaweco Sport pens. I have TWSBI's now, and they seal up with their O-rings air tight! My Lamy 2000 and Metal Falcon seem to last quite well during low humidity periods. But, these get used a lot. I wipe a teeny amount of silicone grease on my TWSBI O-rings every once in a while. Of course, the ink makes a big difference.

  • James Storie

    Hi, I am still new to fountain pens and have a TWSBI 580 EF, and a Pilot Metropolitan F. I know that using good quality paper is really the way to go and I like using the Leuchtturm1979, but I also have some Tops Yellow Legal pads I bought from the office store. I was wondering if using my TWSBI or Pilot on the legal pads will cause any problems with the nibs on the pens? I remember in an older video you had something was said about fibers getting stuck in nibs. Sometimes I just want to jot something down on the yellow legal pad.

    Love your website, store, and staff. Rachel and yourself have a great thing going with this business!

  • Gordon

    Hi Goulets, love these Q&As, and love what you've been doing in terms of clarifying mission, vision, values etc. For anyone who knows your business, there were no real surprises in what you've been saying over the past week – I think you've captured really well the things you stand for, and that I admire you for, both professionally and personally.

    I just wanted to tease out a question, though (for Q&A 40), in terms of the partnerships you form with other businesses. I think I understand what you were saying in Q&A 39 about working with companies where there's a clear alignment of values and priorities – and I get how that works when, as as smallish business that values personal relationships, you're dealing with smaller businesses like Edison or Noodler's.

    How does that work, though, when your 'business partner' is a much larger operation, especially overseas-based companies whose reach is multinational? In other words, what does "values alignment" look like when you're dealing with Pilot or Platinum (based in Japan), or Lamy or Kaweco (Germany)? Or at that point is it more about working with their local (US-based) distributors? And how, oh how do you establish a "personal relationship" with a massive Chinese manufacturer like Jinhao?

  • Danny

    Hi there Brian. I love your site and your store and everything you do. Thank you. I have a question about your team. I was just looking at my latest invoice from you guys and I was admiring Jeremy's handwriting. It got me wondering if everyone there has good penmanship and if it's an unconscious or unspoken prerequisite for employment. I myself have terrible handwriting, it's kind of an all-caps scrawl. But I love the way fountain pens feel and write, even though I sometimes feel like I'm using them incorrectly because I can't write in cursive. I was just wondering if I'm all alone or if anyone on your team also doesn't write in cursive. Thanks -Danny

  • Morames

    Here's one for next week. I love that some people have package bundles representing their daily carries. Why aren't more staff members represented though? A good number of the staff have color sample mixes yet only a couple people have daily carry pairs. They all add a personal touch to the items and inks. I think people, like me, who are newer to fountain pens like to know what other people enjoy using. I've been trying to figure out what pen and ink to get next, when I came across Brian's daily carry. It's hopefully the next purchase on my wishlist.