Goulet Q&A Episode 186: Pilot Converters, LAMY 14k Nibs, Brian’s Pen Ink and Paper Budget!

In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Pilot Converters, Lamy 14k gold nibs, and how he breaks down his pen/ink/paper budget!

This week:

  • Lego Brickfest!
  • Rachel’s parents were in town
  • I was sick the last two days, ugh
  • we launched the Monteverde Monza, big hit
  • done some live video stuff on Insta and FB, got Drew on there, it was fun!
  • Bonfire really took off! sold out, getting one more shipment in that I suspect will also sell out fairly quickly…this one is hot (pun!)
  • Robert Oster African Gold is coming in
  • TWSBI Mini AL Gold in next week!
  • Lamy Aion will be in about two weeks, I’m told
  • Deals!
    • Flash sales and giveaways on Instagram, Facebook, and our newsletter so make sure you subscribe to those
    • Free silk Visconti pen case with a Medici
    • Next week through Thanksgiving free Iroshizuku with any Custom 74 or Stargazer
    • We’re working out a cool thing for Fountain Pen Day, stay tuned in a couple of weeks for that
    • More to come, we’re going to be doing all kinds of cool stuff through the end of the year!


1) Nerissa D.- Facebook (4:42)
What is the most thorough way to flush a Pilot pen that has a squeeze converter?

  • Pilot’s moving away from squeeze converters now, though there are a lot of you that still have them out there
  • everything’s going to be moving to either the Con-40 or Con-70
  • I personally find the best way to clean them is to remove the converter, and flush it either with a solid “shake” or ink syringe
  • flush the pen with a cut-off bulb syringe, there’s nothing more effective

2) Vicki N- Facebook (9:30)
can you fully disassemble a pilot con40 converter for cleaning? i haven’t been able to find anything online and can’t figure it out on my own.

  • Unfortunately they’re not made to be disassembled
  • If you take it apart, you’ll likely damage it, it’s not worth the risk in my opinion
  • the best way to clean it is like I just described with the Pilot squeeze converters, either use an ink syringe or shake the heck out of it full of water

3) suannp8- Instagram (14:00)
Now that Lamy has gold replacement nibs… for my first gold nib pen, would you recommend getting that nib for my Safari or buying an entry level gold nib pen. Which pen would you recommend?

  • Great question! you’ll pay close to the same price for both
  • it’s purely going to be a matter of personal preference
  • If you go with an entry-level gold nib pen like the Pilot VP, Lamy 2000, Pilot E95s, or something similar, the pens themselves may have a little nicer fit and finish than a Safari with a 14k nib
  • One of the really nice things about the Lamy 14k nib is that you can swap it, so you can put that nib on any of your non-2000 pens!
  • the 14k nib with the Lamy is a little more of an incremental step into gold nibs, and I really love the way those nibs write
  • I still think you’ll need to evaluate it on a per-pen basis, as many of the entry-level gold nib pens are pretty different from each other

4) hobbysgirl5741- Instagram (19:10)
Any more previews of the Monteverde Monza?

  • sure!
  • I’ve gotten to play with it a little more, and it’s a pretty cool little pen
  • you’ll notice how similar it is to the Jinhao 992, that’s undeniable
  • I pointed that out to the folks at Monteverde, and they recognize the similarities too
  • I don’t exactly know the arrangement of the pens, but I do know the QC, nib, and feed are different from Monteverde. and you get full warranty support on them
  • The pens themselves are surprisingly solid
  • Pen caps well, posts well
  • very light overall
  • clear feed is really cool!
  • fine and medium nib, and write quite well, especially given the price, write slightly wet but not gushing, pretty comparable to most European nibs (not as fine as Japanese)
  • #5 size nib, so you can even swap it if you desire
  • does come with a converter…it’s not THE BEST, but it’s okay
  • replaces with the Monteverde clear converter, slightly shorter than the Standard International
  • take SI short cartridges
  • 4 different demonstrator colors, $16, with free $15 bottle of ink now through the end of the year
  • pretty dang good pen for the price in my opinion, it’s definitely worth a look especially given the ink deal
  • we’re running low on them right now, but we’ll get restocked soon


5) Ryan D.- YouTube (26:11)
My question is, why aren’t all fountain pen inks permanent? I love the colors De atramentis and Diamine inks has to offer, but their not permanent! What’s the deal? Does it have to do with pen cleaning maintenance or ink production cost? Thanks for doing QandA.

  • it’s funny, because I often have other people ask me the exact opposite, why there is so much fuss around permanent inks!
  • the reason there are both is because people have different needs
  • the dyes and components used to make permanent inks are more limiting in terms of colors and properties, so that’s a huge reason why non-permanent inks exist
  • it’s also that the chemistry wasn’t really around (or at least not used) to make ink permanent except in blues or blacks for a long time, so other color inks were only available as non-permanent
  • still look at many of the more vibrant colors, like pinks, reds, oranges, purples, greens, etc, they’re all mostly non-permanent
  • I think a lot of it has to do with that components are available with permanent qualities in which colors, cost (probably), as well as maintenance and performance


6) Kevin G- Facebook (33:41)
If you were to divide your stationery budget (I know you probably don’t have a budget, but work with me) into three for pen, paper and ink, what percentage of the whole budget would each one get?

  • I think it’s very wise to budget! My stationery budget is likely greater than most, but it’s also what I do…
  • Whatever your budget is, say it’s $100 because it’s a nice round number
  • I think if you’re JUST starting out, go with $40 for pens, $35 for ink, and $25 for paper
  • Over time, your paper budget will likely go way down, as you’ll learn what you like and you’ll find things like journals actually go pretty far
  • Down the road, you’ll likely be more of a $55 pens, $30 ink, $15 paper
  • I’m personally more in something like a 80pens/12ink/8paper these days, just because I use about the same ink and paper but my pen budget has grown quite a bit


7) @ExiledTexan86- Twitter (38:50)
I enjoy the business Q&As. Has Goulet Pens ever experienced a make or break moment for the company’s future? If so, how did you face it?

  • oh my gosh, have we! many, many times over, yes
  • first one was taking on the first corporate pen order when it was just a hobby…aka, starting at all
  • deciding to go “full time” with it about 2 years in – not easy, Rachel had to pull our financial wagon
  • deciding to go full into fountain pen retailing and stop making pens, that was both tough and easy (because it was obvious it needed to happen) – this was hardest for me personally, as I saw myself as a craftsman in my mind’s eye, and I knew this would divert me away from that path
  • Rachel quitting her job and both of us going full-time into it, that was the single biggest “do or die” moment with a mortgage and a new baby – we faced it with an appropriate dose of fear and apprehension, a lot of gumption, and the mentality of “we have to do this now while we’re too young and ignorant to truly understand how hard this will be!”
  • we’ve faced more scenarios since, like our first hire, moving the business out of our house, moving up every time since then, upgrading our website, it’s all been and continues to be a series of “make or break” moments
  • because you’re never truly “settled”, never really “there”, you are constantly making these types of decisions as a business lives on, which is why so few are able to stick around for the long haul, you have to be a special breed to take that on

QOTW:  What’s your pen/ink/paper breakdown look like? (50:51)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-17T19:26:23+00:00 October 13th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|20 Comments
  • Janice

    I can address the breakdown of purchases for a true “newbie,” since I really have only gotten into fountain pens in the last year.

    Pens: 36%
    Paper: 30%
    Ink: 10%
    Accessories: 9%
    Mistakes: 15%

    Pens are obvious – gotta have pens. I love, love, love my Lamy Joy italic stubs. I’m working on dealing with my pair of flexy pens from Noodler. On a good day, they are fun to use, but on other days they are frustrating and messy. I’m less excited by my Pilot parallel pens – I got the whole set, and was extremely excited by them when they arrived. I don’t use them much, however.

    The best purchase I made this year (after my Lamy Joy pens) was the notebook sampler set. A thousand thank-yous to whomever thought this up!!! It was great to be able to compare and contrast the different papers and notebook styles. I discovered that Rhodia is my favorite paper, hands down. I thought I would want lined paper – but actually I enjoy writing on the weirdly dotted graph paper. So I’ve bought a set of notebooks to take me into the new year. And them some more notebooks. And then a goalbook. And some traveler notebooks. And the 5 year some lines per day notebook. And… good heavens, I need to start writing, don’t I?

    I have yet to buy a bottle of ink. I started this journey buying cartridges – but now my major ink purchases are sample vials. Boy do I have sample vials…I have so many I had to get the test tube rack to hold the little scintillation vials.

    Which gets me to the accessories. When you just start out, you need the cleaning kit, and the storage supplies, and those syringes are nice to have, too. So that was another part of the fountain pen budget this year.

    Another part of the budget was the things I bought by mistake. Mainly because I was starting with some old, broken-down pens that I wanted to spruce up. I didn’t do a good job with it. I wasted money. I wasted time. I got frustrated. The one benefit? When I got my first Lamy Joy pen, I could really appreciate it.

    • Tom Johnson

      The Pilot Parallel pens are great pens, but they are for calligraphy and the like, not everyday writing. I do use one filled with yellow highlighter ink as a highlighter pen, but find I rarely use my set of Parallel pens much at all, it takes special technique.

      • Janice

        The Pilot Parallel pens are interesting – the larger nib sizes are a bit extreme for most of my calligraphy. On the other hand, I can see where they would make nifty highlighters.

        I do the enjoy the somewhat wacky “color change” technique that you can do with them…

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Glad you were able to find the products that work for you, despite a little trial and error 🙂

  • Lisa Vierra

    Pens by far exceed the others. I suppose I buy about 5 bottles of ink a year. A handful of journals or notebooks. I use what’s handy for paper, and a great deal of my writing is on students’ papers. The number of pens and dollar amount….no comment.

  • _s_s_miles

    QOTW: I have the same pen acquisition disorder (PAD) as Brian, as well as an admittedly unhealthy affection for not-so-cheap pens with gold nibs and such. I did go though a phase of buying WAY too much paper while looking for the holy paper grail (answer – there isn’t one: I now use a combo of Leuchtturm1917 A5 for everyday notetaking, Rhoda A4 for meetings, and Tomoe River loose leaf for letter writing). I also tore through Ink Drop samples back in the day, and now have a steady supply of about 25 inks that I use on a regular basis (with occasional dalliances in new offerings).

    So now that I’m “settled” into a regular pattern, I’d say it’s 80% Pens, 10% Ink, 10% Paper.

  • Tom Johnson

    Q #5 – When I switched to Noodler’s bulletproof Black ink in 2009, I did so because I many of the documents I would prepare and/or sign had to be permanent, and even inks labeled “permanent” were washed off with water. I used a Vanishing Point, a Monetverde Charisma, and some Kaweco Sport pens. I refilled the cartridges in these pens with Noodler’s Black. In short – I noticed no difference in how the pens wrote and behaved when I switched from: Pilot Black, Pelican Black, and Monteverde Black cartridges at all. Performance was equal to all these inks except the Noodler’s Black could not be removed from the documents at all. All pens functioned perfectly. I did not perform any routine cleaning, before or after switching, only rinsing the nib every few months if it started skipping. In fact, I know my VP was not flushed out for a year or more. I knew little about pens other than to flush them out when they acted up.

    Noodler’s Black wrote just a well as the other inks, perfectly performed daily for months with no problems and I still use it and other Noodler’s inks happily. I do not believe that non-pigmented permanent inks have any increased maintenance or risk in fountain pens (no experience with latex sac pens). I use a lot of permanent inks, and ink permanence is very important to me. None of my pens filled with Platinum Carbon Black pigmented ink have given any problems, no special maintenance other than a nib/feed flush every few months. Never have had any Carbon Black dry up in a pen; that might be problematic, requiring soaking & flushing. But, the Noodler’s inks are flushed out readily with water when dried (except Kung te Chung).

    QOTW – I estimate my ratio to be 80/10/10, and probably moving to 80/15/5 as I have accumulated a lot of inks that satisfy most of my needs. For me the magic has always been the wonderful effortlessly way the fountain puts down ink, comfortable writing, glossy rich dark ink – such a magic writing tool. Inks are secondary. Paper became important when I learned from Brian about fountain pen friendly papers in 2013 and found that these paper products nicely compliment my fountain pen passion.

  • Kevin Love

    Fascinating QOTW. But you are missing a category: Postage. Postage is my largest writing expense.

    I have all the pens I need and a bottle of ink will last a long time. The engraved stationary I use is a bit pricy, but I buy a large amount at one time to keep the cost down. But postage…

    So my personal pen/ink/paper/postage breakdown probably looks like 0/1/30/69

  • Uniotter

    Okay, I haven’t looked at the blog since last week’s Q&A, and I notice the new format. A couple of things: I miss being able to easily navigate to the previous posts! In other words, I miss the little drop-down “tree” on the right hand side that showed all the posts by month. The second thing is, my comment on the last Q&A seems to have disappeared. I’m pretty sure it was up there, along with a whole bunch of other comments, but now there are far fewer comments. It’s a very weird sensation….like I dropped down a rabbit hole and now am looking at something completely different than the old blog I knew!

    QOTW: I have absolutely no idea what my breakdown would be, but it is heavily weighted towards pens. If I have to guess, it would be 85% pens, 5% ink, 5% paper, and 5% accessories (like cases and stamps and stuff). I know you didn’t ask about accessories, but when I think about it, all the silicone grease, magnifying glass, mylar paper, pen slips, etc. do add up. 🙂

    • Tom Johnson

      I too miss the links to all the older blogs, as well the links to the resources. And, where are the comments in the older blogs? I often go back and review them.

      • David L.

        I agree. I did enjoy reviewing older posts and seeing what was said about them.

      • Lydia At Goulet Pens

        We’re still working on getting the comments migrated over 🙂 They should be back soon. That’s good feedback. Thanks, Tom.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Thanks for that feedback. I will definitely share it 🙂

  • David L.

    Thanks for another brilliant Q&A! QOTW: I would have to say pen: 45% ink 35% and paper 20%.

    For flushing the Pilot squeeze converters, I use my syringes to spray some water into the converter and then shake it,a combination of the two methods Brian recommended. It has always worked for me. I thought of using a Q-tip to put up in there, but thought better of it. It is rubber after all.

  • Mark Wutka

    If I could be said to have a budget, then I have spent 100% on pens, then maybe 10% on ink and 5% on paper. That’s not entirely accurate, because I’m sure I am more than 15% over budget.

  • Lesley Schultz

    I lean heavy on the paper side, but I love paper/notebooks etc. So probably 40% Pens, 30% Ink and 30% Paper.

  • Suzanne Jachim

    follow up question for the Pilot/Namiki converter question. I have a couple of the original Vanishing Points ( the ones with the faceted barrels), and they came with the squeeze converter. Can you use the new converters with them, as they seem to be a bit smaller than the other Vanishing Points I have.

  • gzam

    I would have to say 50% pens 10% ink and 40% paper. Not that I write a bunch it just i love a fresh note book. I alway have paper on me back pocket or backpack. So that is how I roll.

    “Write on”

  • 80% pens, 19% ink 1% paper