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Welcome to the first Q&A of 2015. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I missed a few episodes toward the end of 2014, but I’m recharged and ready to answer all your fountain pen questions. This chilly winter week, I’ll fittingly tackle a question about freezing inks, as well as talk about air bubbles in converters and our shipping policies. OK, let’s do this!

1) Cody M.- Facebook – (4:16)
What’s your recommendation for a day planner refill that’s fountain pen friendly?

2) @StephaniePyne87- Twitter – (7:40)
As long as the bottle doesn’t burst, and the ink fully thaws, does freezing damage ink in anyway?

  • Not particularly
  • Can’t say that for every single ink because I haven’t tried it, but the ones I know are unaffected

3) Kari S- Facebook – (9:39)
As I fill my Lamy converter it seems to have a lot of air bubbles in it. After a while the ink settles and I am a bit shy of a filling (it doesn’t fill up like it used to). I make sure the nib etc. is submerged into the ink bottle before twisting the top of the converter to fill it. Is there anything else I can do or should I look into purchasing a new converter?

  • Some inks just do this, honestly! Just try filling several times
  • can also turn pen upside down and compress converter to let air bubbles out
    • use a paper towel around the nib when doing this! it splatters

4) Kyu K.- Email – (12:27)
I love my Pilots (Metropolitan, Kakuno and Prera) and want to jump to a gold-nib. But there are a lot in a similar price range: Vanishing Point, E95S, Stargazer, Falcon, Custom74. Which would you recommend as a first gold-nib pen, and why?

  • all fantastic pens
  • maybe avoid the Falcon unless you know what you’re getting into
  • Vanishing Point is definitely the most popular and is super-practical, that’d be my pick
  • though I LOVE the Custom 74!

5) SUNisMAD. john- YouTube – (16:40)
I’m looking for a blood red ink? Any recommendations? I like to write horror stories and i want them to look creepy on paper.

6) Jacob W.- Facebook – (17:53)
Will you ever be able to offer free shipping? It’s so had to justify a smaller purchase of a bottle of ink or 2 when I know there will be another 5 dollars added to the end.

  • there is no such thing as free shipping, you always pay for it somehow
  • about half of online retailers do free shipping, so it makes sense to ask!
  • We’ve tried it, esp. last summer with almost a two month run with it and ran the numbers to see if it made a difference in 1) people buying more or 2) attracting new customers
  • conclusion: we lost a LOT of money doing it, so if we did it ongoing, we’d need to make it up somehow
  • 3 things in business: price, quality, service, you get to pick two of them, the third always suffers
  • we try to make shipping as economical as possible, and shipping (in the US anyway) is flat once it hits Priority so you’re incentivized to save up and buy more at once to save on shipping
    • this helps us a lot as we have a very ’high touch’ process with handwritten notes, quality checking, packing, etc

7) Jimmy Lambert- YouTube – (27:19)
Hey Brian, I was looking at the Lamy Studio in Wild Rubin. Its a limited edition but i was confused on how limited it is, do you know how long they are being produced for? or how many copies they are producing?

  • No exact number that I know, but they’re usually around for about a year
  • sometimes Lamy does more than one run, it’s hard to say
  • first time I know they’ve done a steel and 14k option on one SE pen, could affect availability of one of the nib types

8) Liam B- Facebook – (31:40)
Are aerometric converters, such as the Con 20 in the Pilot E95S, more difficult to clean than piston converters?

  • yes and no
  • basically, take it off and shake it, and you’re good
  • is harder to flush the pen, yes, but just use a bulb syringe

9) Robert R.- Facebook – (36:24)
Would you consider doing a Lay Buy (what we call it in Australia) (aka. layaway) system for more expensive products where you put a deposit down and pay for the products full amount over a few weeks (months) before receiving the product?

  • Really not interested in doing this
  • I’m not looking to be in the ‘debt collection’ business, it goes against my values of only buying things you can afford

10) Craig W.- Facebook – (39:16)
Can you recommend a specific pen or nib that is extremely flexible loads lots of ink and med to broad?

11) Owen B.- Email – (43:26)

I am new to fountain pens and enjoying the medium nib Pilot Metropolitan I bought from you guys but now I’m also interested in trying flex and italic nibs. For someone on a budget would you recommend buying 2 cheaper pens (1 italic, 1 flex) or would I be better served buying a pen that cost a little more and has replaceable nibs then buying italic and flex nibs for it? Is there even a moderately priced pen that offers that?

QOTW: What New Years resolution have you actually kept so far, 9 days in?

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