In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about nib warranties, the pen that got away, and coolest inks in a demonstrator pen. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) @Gsingh2k19- Twitter (19:21)

Has the TWSBI eco cracking situation been resolved?

  • yes, basically…let me explain
  • it wasn’t a widespread issue to begin with, especially with the Eco, but I know it came up on our Goulet Nation Facebook Group recently
  • It was honestly more of an issue with the 530 and 540, and maybe earrrrrly days 580 (6 years ago?) but it was quickly resolved
  • the cracking was due to a process they use in manufacturing to provide scratch-resistance and they were still refining it, but that was a while back
  • this wasn’t even an issue with the Eco, because it’s a different resin that’s used on the body
  • I think around the time the Eco came out, there were so many people wanting to get assurance that their pen wouldn’t crack that it was getting talked about WAY more than it was actually happening
  • we’ve sold many, many Ecos at this point, and never seen a pervasive issue with them cracking, so it’s really not a concern today though like anything, it could happen
  • there are certain reputations that products will gain (especially in their early days) that sometimes stick and get perpetuated long after they’re largely resolved, I’ve seen this happen time and again with ink and pens
  • to TWSBI’s credit, they do a great job warrantying their pens, and they stand behind them especially if there’s a manufacturing defect that causes a crack
  • you can have confidence buying an Eco that you’re going to get a long-lasting pen

2) Kristine D.- Facebook (23:06)

When it comes to warranties on fountain pens, consumers are warned not to swap nibs or you risk voiding the warranty. But when it comes to thoroughly cleaning the pen, sometimes a consumer has to remove the nib. Does thorough cleaning risk voiding the warranty?

  • yes and no, it depends on the manufacturer and the situation
  • warranties are there to ensure that a product is not defective, and will perform well with normal use
  • I think some companies will be more understanding than others what “normal use” would be, in regards to deep cleaning a pen
  • I have a unique perspective as a retailer to see both sides of it, from customers (clearly) and manufacturers
  • taken to either extreme, it’s not healthy
  • as a pen user you can’t expect a pen company to cover all warranty situations, because you may be using it in a way that isn’t “normal use” (as much as you don’t want to hear that), so some grace and understanding needs to be taken on your part about what you can expect a manufacturer to cover
  • manufacturers need to understand the market, and what customers are using their pens for, and design them and warranty them accordingly, not accusing any customer that has an issue as mistreating the pen
  • removing nibs, generally speaking, is a very gray area, and I think most manufacturers err on the side of that being a warranty void if there’s a problem
  • it’ll depend on the company and exactly what the warranty issue is
  • (extreme example) if you remove the nib, drop it down your garbage disposal and accidentally turn it on, that’s on you
  • (less extreme example) if you remove the nib and the housing cracks when you replace it because you put it in the wrong way, that’s on you
  • (justifiable example) if you remove the nib every time you clean it and one day one of the tines snaps while you’re writing with it, well that’d more likely be covered under warranty because there wasn’t anything about removing the nib while cleaning that would have affected that particular issue
  • the thing to probably take away is that anytime you’re taking apart or modifying a pen any more than what the pen is advertised to do, assume that it’s likely beyond “normal use” at that point, and mentally prepare yourself for a warranty void, though some manufacturers will be reasonable and work with you
  • Some manufacturers will question the ink choice if you’re feeling the need to take apart the pen, and some go as far as to say you should only use their ink in their pens…much like automakers say you should only use their genuine parts on their cars
  • many manufacturers are smaller or aren’t deeply knowledgeable of every ink out there in the pen world, especially today where some boutique brands are popping up producing dozens of new colors at a time, every manufacturer can’t test the 1500-2000 inks that are likely out there right now
  • you can use your pens however you want, and you should, but just understand you may have to pay if there are any issues in these gray areas, so save your more questionable ink choices for cheaper pens or ones you feel very confident cleaning out

3) Cody M.- Facebook (34:10)

Is there a no longer manufactured pen, that you do not own but wish you did? What makes it special?

  • the easiest answer would be all my original wood pens I made! Purely sentimental, as mostly now all I have are my duds since I sold basically anything people would buy when we were getting off the ground
  • apart from that, the first one that comes to mind is the Omas 360
  • The Arco celluloid is iconic, so that’d be a great choice, though I would like the Magnum size and I don’t know if they did that in arco
  • I’d compromise on the magnum for the arco, there was also a nice teal demo
  • it’s special because it’s triangular, which is just cool, from a design and engineering standpoint
  • the celluloid material is special and hard to come by now
  • it’s also special because Omas is no more, so these pens will only be increasingly rare
  • I was hoping to get one of these when we were an Omas dealer, but we came in right at the end and only had two models of their pens, they basically had stopped making the 360 otherwise I’d have grabbed the first one we got in!
  • they’re $1000+ now, which is just out of budget for me for a pen like this, I mean really, I have plenty and have to cut myself off somewhere!

Ink

4) Aleksandra K.- Facebook (40:27)

I’ve got an ink which is too light for my taste (J.Herbin Diabolo Menthe) i love the colour. How can I make this ink more saturated. Is it ok to add different ink with similar colour from A different brand like Kaweco Paradise Blue?

  • lightening up an ink is easier, basically add water or a dilution liquid (like in De Atramentis’ case)
  • darkening is another beast, because you need to make the dyes more concentrated, in essentially a similar ratio to what’s already in there
  • the easiest/cheapest method is to let some of the water evaporate out of the ink, which is not an exact science and may not flow so well as it gets to the point where it changes the color in a meaningful way
  • mixing with a darker ink will get you there faster and more reliably, if you have it available
  • you’ll need to mix it with something similar, you can’t just mix it with something like black
  • if you’re mixing across brands especially, always test it with a small volume first, and wait several hours to be sure there’s not an adverse reaction

5) @HaydnHund- Twitter (44:34)

What kinds of ink do you think look best inside a demonstrator like the Vac700R? Shimmer and non-shimmer.

  • it’s actually kind of interesting, because you really can’t distinguish dark inks from each other so they all just sort of look black
  • lighter ink colors actually tend to look the most impressive in a pen, because you can see them sloshing around with a little more depth to them
  • obviously shimmer inks are going to look cool! any of them
  • Diamine Golden Sands, Pink Glitz, Jacques Herbin Emerald of Chivor, RO Shake and Shimmy Blue Moon, Envy, just to name a few
  • high sheening inks, nothing particularly special about them in a demonstrator, because their sheen really only shows when the ink is dry
  • normal inks, I like Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Diamine Marine, Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki Shikibu, just to name a couple, but largely the lighter in saturation the better it’ll look in a demo
  • some inks are a little more coating than others, and while I’d love to say which, it honestly seems to depend on the pen material, too
  • Noodler’s Baystate Blue is an example of an ink that REALLY coats the inside of a pen, it’ll turn the whole thing blue rather evenly and it’s very bright so it looks cool (but is kind of a pain to clean)

Business

6) Bradthebear1- Instagram (52:55)

How much money does it cost for a large scale pen maker like Pilot or LAMY to design a new pen?

  • great question, it really depends a lot on the company and the specific pen
  • I’m not privy to any information about the costs of developing basically any pen, let alone one for a large-scale pen maker
  • I can’t even begin to get into specific numbers so I’ll avoid that altogether
  • It’s my understanding that larger companies like these essentially have R&D departments they fund on developing pens years before they come to market, in LAMY’s case it could be 3-8 years for a given pen model
  • Pilot has such a wide range, it depends if they’re designing something like the Metropolitan or Explorer (mass produced) or a Namiki Maki-e
  • It’s surely far less to develop a new color to an existing model than to develop a whole new model, which is why you see more SE’s and LE’s come out than whole new models
  • designing a new pen from scratch, you have market research, artists, engineers, programmers, prototyping, possibly outside collaborators (like LAMY is known to do), custom tooling and equipment, packaging, branding, marketing, trademarking and copyright/lawyer stuff, advertising and promotion, barcoding, UPC registration, possibly additional production staff or factory space, distribution logistics, it’s just SO much to add a new pen for worldwide distribution
  • no doubt it’s an incredibly significant investment of time, money, and resources

QOTW: What’s your “pen that got away”, one you wish you’d bought when you had the chance but now isn’t available? (01:01:30)

Write On,
Brian Goulet