In this episode, I talk about next level flex pens, inky smells, and how to keep the ink from smearing!

This week:

  • LOVED the QOTW responses from last week! Meat lovers pizza, chicken noodle soup, lamb kabobs, huevos rancheros, french fries, poutine, shrimp and grits! I got so hungry reading the comments…
  • Had lots of mic issues last week, I just got excited and rubbed the mic on my own shirt, sorry! I’ll try better today, dang
  • Monteverde ink deal with all MV/Conklin
  • Monteverde Monza
  • Monteverde Noir inks
  • Lamy Blue Safari gift set
  • Lamy 14k gold nibs
  • Edison Premiere – Bonfire
  • Going to restock some TWSBI Classic Turquoise and Whites
  • Some other new things in the works, look out for the next couple of weeks, some things I can’t mention yet!
  • TWSBI Gold Mini just announced, we’ll have that when it’s available, I think more towards the end of the month

1) liquidsword52- Instagram (7:18)

What is the next level after an Ahab pen? Is it Pilot Falcon? Or Pilot Custom Heritage FA Nib?
  • Noodler’s has several pens right around the same price/quality
  • Ahab doesn’t have an upgraded version to is like the Konrad (acrylic/ebonite), Neposet’s pretty different
  • The Falcon is generally considered an upgrade, but it’s pretty different than an Ahab
  • I don’t have a magnificent answer for you, because once you go out of the Noodler’s pens, you’re into stuff that’s in the Falcon price range or higher
  • Karas Kustoms titanium nib is an option, but it doesn’t flex quite as wide or as durably
  • the thing to keep in mind is flex is still a relatively recent resurgence, so there aren’t infinite options for these right now
2) nadyaaazerin- Instagram (15:54)I’m having a typical problem among fountain pen users – ink smear on my hands. I don’t mind this as much as I do my smudged notes on my Rhodia. I love using medium sized nibs on my Rhodia. My oh my they glide like butter , almost frictionless. Unfortunately they smudge whenever any moist from my fingers made contact with the written words. Is there any way for me to fix this? Should I just cease using my Rhodia?
  • ah yes, one of the legit drawbacks of fountain pens at times
  • slicker papers like these will have a tendency to smear more
  • often smoother papers are all like this
  • the ink makes a big difference, though it’s not always super easy to tell which will perform best which is where reviews and sampling come in
  • generally speaking, the less saturated and less lubricated the ink, the less it’ll smear
  • sheen and shimmer inks will smear bad, man permanent inks will before they dry fully
  • deeply saturated inks have a longer dry time
  • use finer nibs, that can help, it puts less ink down
  • ink blotter can help, but is tough to manage on the go (rocker blotter vs sheet)
  • Try to make it work, because the feel of that Rhodia is just awesome! But if you have to, consider¬†Leuchtturm or Apica as an alternative
3) limonadebleu- Instagram (23:39)When cleaning pens where the nib and feed are friction fit, is it best practice to pull out the nib/feed or leave it in? I’m pretty new to fountain pens and I’ve found it easier to clean by fully disassembling the pen, but I’ve read sone posts where it said that this can damage the fit of the nib/feed to the pen if done too much. Thank you for the help!
  • for normal, everyday cleaning it’s generally best to leave it in there, in terms of the longevity of the pen parts
  • anything made of plastic will wear out faster if you’re taking it apart a lot, just a fact
  • if you’re switching colors with something close, or reinking, you can just do a quick job
  • some pens you may decide to go longer or not
  • it’s sort of like “how often should I clean my grill? Well, I know so people who never do! I personally have caught my grill on fire because I waited too long to clean it out, go figure
  • you want to clean it as thoroughly as you feel you need to
  • the VAST majority of the time, people are not cleaning them often or well enough, so it’s rare I see damage caused by someone caring TOO MUCH for their pens, so I wouldn’t sweat it too much
4) usafencer- Instagram (32:02)
Can you eye dropper convert a pilot parallel?
  • yes and no, mostly yes
  • take off the back, blow on it, see if you hear any air, and if not you’re good!
  • sometimes there’s a tiny hole where the indent is in the back of the pen, it’s random and sporadic
  • you can plug this up with a little 2-part epoxy if you’re so inclined
  • throw a little silicone grease on the threads, fill with eyedropper or syringe, and you’re good to go!
5) iburbey- Instagram (40:31)
Can you travel with multiple converters with different inks in them for switching colors? Do people even do that or do you need to wash the pen between color changes? Can you store a half-used cartridge?
  • eh….generally not. This is why cartridges exist, really
  • converters are all open-ended, so sealing them up is….challenging
  • technically, yeah, you can do it. I’ve heard of people resealing cartridge or converters with hot glue, that’s just so much trouble imho
  • yes, you do need to clean your pen in-between colors
  • I personally travel with one bottle of ink or a Visconti Traveling Inkwell, and I bring multiple pens pre-filled if I want different colors
  • I’ll use my bottle for the bulk of my writing, and the other pens for little random bits

6) _jollygreenegiant- Instagram (46:11)

Why do some inks have a really distinct “inky” smell? I have a Noodler’s Turquoise that has a really distinct smell to it that none of my other inks have and I’m curious as to why that is and why some inks smell different than others. Thanks!
  • it’s usually the biocides used that cause the smell, sometimes other dyes or components that remain somewhat mysterious
  • yes, Noodler’s is known to have some of the most distinct smells
  • partly due to their dye saturation, partly because Nathan uses wizardry to create his inks, so there’s probably some eye of newt or some chicken teeth in there, who knows
  • how it smells really only affects you while you fill, it’s pretty rare you smell anything while you write, and certainly not once the ink is dry on the page
  • don’t sweat it too much at all


7) checoalexg- Instagram (49:27)

When should you consider to pay yourself when starting a business?
  • very simple answer, no sooner than you can afford it and no later than you can afford it
  • what I mean by that is you have to balance out the needs of the business to retain cash for operating funds and your own personal financial situation
  • one of the toughest things I think you see in most startup businesses is people that jump into it prematurely and haven’t prepared for their own personal financial situation or for the business to have a ramp up period
  • I’m a big fan of you should only get paid when the business is profitable and can afford to pay based on profits and cashflow
  • if you go out and get an SBA loan or venture capital and you’re burning through your cash before you have a profitable business in operation, you’re burning the candle at both ends
  • this is pretty common in the Silicone Valley kind of startup world, you fundraise and calculate your “burn rate”, basically how long until you die, and you work at 100% capacity to try to become profitable or sell the company before you hit that death date
  • that’s pretty stressful, and not the way most businesses that last operate
  • Rachel and I did the opposite, we waited until we had a profitable business, lived off our savings and only paid ourselves when GPC had the proper funds to do so
  • it’s not uncommon for it to take 3-5 years to get to this place, honestly
  • I made pens for 2.5 years before getting into fountain pens, and never drew a dime of salary from that, because it wasn’t profitable! I didn’t deserve it because I wasn’t adding enough value in the marketplace to warrant a salary
  • Once we got into fountain pen retailing, it was still about a year before we paid ourselves a dime
  • We even took out a small loan from my parents to stock up on some inventory and paid them back before we drew a salary
  • Rachel worked a second job (which was actually more of a full time job) so we could live personally while we put everything back into this business
  • This is the different mentality that comes from owning a business vs working for someone else
  • When you work for someone else, it’s often tempting to think about the business as this big entity that wants to take as much as it can and keep it, so you have to “get what’s yours” and extract as much as you can out of it
  • when you’re just getting a business off the ground, your own business, anything you “take” you’re ultimately taking from yourself, so you have to think way differently
  • Check out the book Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits by Greg Crabtree, it explains this pretty well for small business owners
QOTW: If you could start any business venture and be guaranteed success for at least the first year, what would you start? (1:07:08)

Write On,
Brian Goulet