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Fountain pens float effortlessly over the paper when everything is working as it should. That is one of the reasons why people who prefer fountain pens really like them. But they can be difficult when something is not as it should be. They can be scratchy. Ink flows poorly or not at all. And, they may put out too much ink, even in the form of a sudden blob of ink that runs over a document and onto clothing. These problems are not inherent to all fountain pens, but occur in pens needing a little tender care to keep them in sound working condition. Fortunately, all of this is much easier than a person would think.

The pen shown is from a Classic American kit sold by Woodcraft.  The pen is reminiscent of a Parker Duofold from the late 1920's and early 1930's.  The color pattern is very similar to one used on Duofold pens. 


Step 1: Making it flow if dried out

A couple of Instructables advise soaking the nib and feeder (the section) in cool water for a day or so to remove old dried ink from the ink flow path or capillary system. Actually, a good flushing of the capillary system like this is advised every month. Another good practice is to add a little moisture to ink held in the nib and feeder that may be partially evaporated after a few days of non-use. Get a drop of water on your fingertip and touch it to the slit between the nib's tines.  If the pen has been sitting unused for more than a few days, add two or three drops of water,  Let it soak in. If you do not write with the pen immediately, the water can mix with the ink under the nib more thoroughly. Do this once a week and as necessary.

In more severe cases, as when ink has been left in a pen during several weeks of non-use, cup your hand under a faucet and fill it with water. Quickly dip the whole section into the water in your hand and remove it. Cap the pen and carry it in your pocket for an hour or so before using. If the writing is light in color, touch a facial tissue to the nib and feeder a few times to remove excess water or watery ink.

Fountain pens like to be used regularly.  If you are not going to use a pen for a while, empty the ink from it and flush the pen with water until no discoloration from ink appears.

Do not mix inks from different manufacturers.  They sometimes react with each other and form chunky, gelatinous material that clogs the ink passageways.   Use fresh ink that has been tightly capped or fresh cartridges.  Purists fill the air space in an ink bottle with an inert gas like nitrogen before putting the cap onto the bottle.  They do this to keep the ink from oxidizing.
<p>Hi Phil, this is by far the best site I have seen on fountain pens. I have a question though. I have taken over my late fathers Mont Blanc Starwalker fountain pen. The pen has been unused now for 5 years, with its ink cartridge left inside. I started by laying it in water for a few minutes, and then inserted a new ink cartridge. No ink would flow. I then tried leaving it soaking in water for 3 days, until the water was basically clear, inserted the cartridge, but still no ink would flow. The pen does write if I place a few drops of ink into the nib manually, but I cant seem to get the ink to flow from the cartridge. My problem is sending it to Mont Blanc to service costs a fortune. What should I try next to clear out the feed? </p>
How long did you wait for ink to flow after you left the front section in clean water for three days? It can take a while for the ink to get through the capillary to the tip the first time. And, the capillary will be filled with water until it moves through the pen. What happens when you press a tissue to the slot between the times? Does it become wet, and is the wetness water or is it ink? Can you blow from the back end of the feed and get droplets of water or ink to exit the nib near the tip? That is a sign there is an open passageway. If not, there is still an obstruction. More soaking may be necessary, since the last thing to happen before the pen quit working is that it was stored with a partially full cartridge. Thank you for looking.
After the three days in water, I dried the front section, then used Towling paper, the paper seemed to funnel a lot of the water out the nib. I then put the cartridge in, and started to write. The writing was basically water, with very faint hint of ink colour. After about a page of writing it dried up, and nothing more flowed out. I have left the ink cartridge in for about 4 days now, in a slightly nib down position. I tried writing again today, but no ink is flowing. <br><br>The last time I tried blowing, it did not feel like any air was moving through. <br><br>Can I safely leave the feed and nib in water for a week?<br><br>
<p>hi Phil.....I have a fountain pen and some cartridge....but the cartridge won't fit into the pen..please advice me.......???</p>
If your pen is not a Parker or Schaeffer, it probably uses a Mont Blanc (also known as a universal) cartridge. A Waterman takes a longer cartridge, but it has the same fitting a Mont Blanc uses. If the cartridges you have do not fit your pen, you probably need to buy cartridges that do fit. Many pens do use the Mont Blanc cartridges.
<p>thanks</p>
<p>I bought a mont blanc starwalker fountain pen. Though the flow of ink looks just fine, the pen refuses to write at all. Please can you help?</p>
How Are you certain the ink flow is good? If you touch a tissue to the ball at the end of the nib, does ink flow into the tissue? <br>Check the early steps of my Instructable. Are the halves of the nib properly aligned so they bring the ink to the paper, or is there an inverted &quot;V&quot; between them that keeps the ink away from the paper?
<p>I just feel dumb in saying that the ink flow is good. I just checked and the ink does not flow into the tissue when I touch the tissue to the ball of the nib. The nib seems alright to my eyes. Attaching some images - not sure if they have come clear enough. </p>
<p>Thank you for the photos. Have you tried soaking the front section in clear water at room temperature? Chances are someone did not flush the pen with water before putting it away and ink has dried out in it. Let it soak for a couple of days. When the water becomes cloudy with ink billows, pour it out and use fresh water. Test by blowing through the section from the cartridge end. Droplets of water should be clear and not colored with ink. At the worst, the nib and feed might have to be removed for more detailed cleaning, but that is not likely.</p>
<p>Thanks a lot Phil. I tried as you advised and the pen is writing fine now. Thanks again for the help!</p>
<p>Thank you for the report. I am glad your pen is working properly. I hope you enjoy it.</p>
<p>Hi! My Jinhao x-450 stops writing after running for a while until I open the pen, push the piston down, and start writing again. What could be the issue? How can I make it run smoothly? Thanks in advance</p>
I am guessing the fit between the nib and the feed is not right. About step 7 or 8 I showed how to use very hot water to soften the feed and get a better fit. Some like to use an alcohol flame to soften the feed. I have not tried that. Very hot water seems like it has less potential for disaster. One source I quoted said that is the source of the problems with fountain pens 95% of the time.
<p>I bought a Parker Duofold from 199x second hand. Your blog was very useful in resolving some of the problems it had. Thank younvery much. Now it writes perfectly though a bit wet. But after 15- 20 minutes of writing it stops and I have to move the plunger of the converter to get it to write again. How could that happen? And what can be done to cure it?</p>
The Diplomat Classic shown in some of the photos writes a little wet. I burnished the tines a bit and tested it along the way. Now it puts less ink on the paper. Have you checked the feed to nib fit? I mentioned heating the feed and pressing it against the nib until it cools. I like using very hot water rather tina an alcohol flame, although I have never tried an alcohol flame. But, nothing has ever burned spontaneously from heating with very hot water.
Thank you Phil. I tried and I tried, but the wetness is not my problem, the stopping after 15- 20 minutes is the problem. It seems that the pen writes the collector empty and it won't refill but forced by hand. After that it writes again 15-20 minutes etc.
<p>I have been thinking about your problem. I am not sure what you mean by the collector. But, it sounds like air is not getting back into the pen's ink reservoir (or cartridge) to replace the ink that has been drawn out and a vapor lock occurs. I never write for 20 minutes at a time, so I have not experienced the problem. A fountain pen writes by means of a &quot;controlled leak.&quot; The most likely cause of air not getting back into the reservoir is poor feed to nib fit, which you already addressed. You could always do that again and apply a little pressure with your thumb while the feed is cooling, just in case. The hole in the nib at the top of the slot should not be blocked in any way. The slot in the nib should not have any paper fibers or other obstructions in it, either. And, the passageways need to be clear of any blockages. The ink should also be fresh without any gelatinous or granular deposits in the ink. You could also look for an air leak that ducts off air bound for the reservoir before it gets to the reservoir. </p>
Thank you. I gave up. I had it sent back to Parker for repair.
I have a Pierre Cardin ink pen which fell down from out 2 feet height and now it stopped writing can you help me out
When it fell, how and on what did it land? Did the nib or tines bend when it fell? Have you tried writing with the pen again after waiting a period of time for the ink to flow to the point in case the ink was jolted out of the capillaries? I seem to remember a pen did not write after it was dropped. Nothing was bent. The ink was simply knocked out of the delivery system and wrote again after waiting some minutes. Please let me know. Thank you.
<p>I have Parker Fountatin Pen ink and I use it for my Luxor Fountain Pen. The problem is that the ink is too 'watery' type not too dark. Does anyone know how to make ink darker??</p>
I am also having the same problem
<p>I bought a HERO 901 Fountain Pen Medium Nib that came with 6 cartridges on eBay. This is the very first fountain pen I've bought. After installing the cartridge, like what a video I found online said, I waited for around 30 seconds to 1 full minute until the ink reached the feed. Slightly applying pressure to the cartridge for the process to speed up for a bit (a tip received by the video). I waited yet still no ink came out, applying light pressure once again ink had been produced but rather, it came out of the feed, or as I've heard it been called 'breather.' I was wondering if I did something wrong, any advice on how I can get it to work?</p>
<p>I found <a href="http://penhabit.com/2015/01/14/pen-review-hero-901/">http://penhabit.com/2015/01/14/pen-review-hero-901/</a> in regard to a review on your pen. It says the HERO 901 nib quality and adjustment varies quite a lot, and provides lots of opportunity for someone who wants to learn to fine tune a nib to do just that. All I can say is that you will need to work through my Instructable and check each aspect of how a nib should be on a pen. Pay special attention to the fit of th nib to the feed, and make corrections as necessary.<br><br>An an expensive pen like a Mont Blanc gets lots of testing before it leaves the factory. A HERO is very inexpensive and does not. The author of the review said he has seen HERO pens with the tines too tightly pressed against one another for ink to flow. </p><p>He does have additional videos. Search for HERO 901 nib adjustment videos.</p>
My Parker victor pen won't open at all <br>What shall I do???
You probably mean Parker Vector pen. I assume you mean you cannot unscrew the front (section) from the barrel behind it. Someone probably over tightened it. Get some soft rubber pieces like are used to open stubborn jars. Grasp the two parts as firmly as possible and unscrew. You could use a pliers or two with the soft rubber, but the teeth may press through the rubber to leave scratch marks. The Vector I have can and does crack on the end of the plastic parts. Unless yours is a fancier Vector, those are not expensive and can be replaced, unless there is sentimental value.
The bottom right is what appears to be where the ink/cartridge should be, right?
<p>The item at the bottom right is a converter. It can be used in place of a cartridge if you have bottled ink available. In my experience, converters of this type hold less ink than a cartridge and tend to leak. I am not a fan. </p><p>The item at the lower left is the front section with the nib and the feed. The cartridge goes into the back end of this. Screwing the pen together with a cartridge inserted into the back end of the front section will puncture the cartridge end and ink should begin to flow in a few minutes. </p><p>Your pen most likely uses a universal or Mont Blanc cartridge. These are widely available. Howeve, fountain pens are not enjoying popularity right now, and you may need to go to a pen store or a luggage and gift store where good pens are also sold. They come with ink sealed inside them. You can usually get them in blue or black. On a special order you can get colors, like red or green. You will need to flush the pen if you want to change colors. </p>
Ok, thank-you! I really appreciate it.:)
I was just given a Diyuewen 68 Fountain Pen and I'm unsure I it needs ink or not. If so, where can I purchase ink/cartridge and how would I install it in to the pen?
<p>see my answer to your other question. </p>
The bottom right is what appears to be where the ink/cartridge should be, right?
<p>Hello. I just bought a new Smithsonian fountain pen ( <a href="http://www.smithsonianstore.com/smithsonian-celtic-design-pens-78250.html?&search=fountain%20pen" rel="nofollow">http://www.smithsonianstore.com/smithsonian-celtic-design-pens-78250.html?&amp;search=fountain%20pen</a> )</p><p>After loading the standard ink cartridge in it, the ink will not flow down. I've ensured the ink cartridge was pushed down hard enough so that it was punctured. I've let it sit facing downward overnight. Nothing. Still no ink flowing. </p><p>This was a nice pen given to me as a gift. How can I get it to flow? Is it the pen? Is it a bad ink cartridge? Help!</p>
Remove the cartridge. Put your mouth where the cartridge was. Can you blow through the pen at all? Put a few drops of water where your mouth was? Can you push water through the pen? If not, you may need to wiggle the feed and nib from the front section and check for a blockage in the ink capillary, but that is a last resort. Read my Instructable and check things on your pen as you go. Remember 95% of pen problems are due to a poor fit between the nib and the feed. That is possible on a new pen, although someone should have tested the pen for ink flow.
<p>Hello. I am new to using fountain pens for everyday writing. I have a habit of wanting to use different colors throughout the day. My question is can you remove ink cartridges once you start using them? I don't want the ink to leak out or dry up. I may end up buying another pen to use a different color. Thanks in advance.</p>
Fountain pens are a joy to use. In a way, they are like a paint spray system in that you need to flush and clean them before changing colors. The easiest way to do what you propose would be to carry multiple pens, each loaded with a different color. <br><br>I have been thinking about a way to seal a cartridge once it has been opened or refilled with an eye dropper. But, I have not yet decided how to make it work.
<p>Thank you, Much appreciated.</p>
<p>Hi. Every time I buy a new (albeit cheap) fountain pen, they never work when I uncap them. I currently have an inexpensive Schaeffer. I love the way it writes, when it works. If I stop writing, for even a minute, I have to shake the pen or scribble for awhile before ink comes out. I just want to uncap and write. Is this normal for any fountain pen, regardless of price? Am I doing something wrong? Thank you!</p>
You should be having a much better experience. How much ink have you put through the pen? Sometimes it takes oils that may remain from making the pen a while to flush out of the pen, or so I am told. I do not remember having that problem. Check the fit between the feed and the nib, which is about step 8 in my Instructable. Check the alignment on the tines. Is the ink old and granular? Does the pen need to be flushed with water and thoroughly cleaned? <br><br>A blue/black Parker pen shown in one of the photos has always skipped a little, especially when crossing &quot;T&quot;s. The times were made to be tight and flex when writing for a calligraphy effect. I do not use that much pressure when writing. Recently I finally got the tines to relax so I have a much better writing experience.
<p>Thank you, Phil! I am going to invest in a better quality fountain pen for Christmas, hopefully that helps as well. I will look at your instructables, but any suggestions for good quality pen?</p>
I am not familiar with pens available currently. Some pens fit my hand comfortably and some do not. It would be good if you could try the fit in a store. Then decide how much you can spend. Some nibs flex for more expressive writing. Some are more rigid. For my style the rigid works better. See if the pen shop will let you exchange the pen if it does not work out in actual use.
<p>Hi. Every time I buy a new (albeit cheap) fountain pen, they never work when I uncap them. I currently have an inexpensive Schaeffer. I love the way it writes, when it works. If I stop writing, for even a minute, I have to shake the pen or scribble for awhile before ink comes out. I just want to uncap and write. Is this normal for any fountain pen, regardless of price? Am I doing something wrong? Thank you!</p>
<p>Hi. Every time I buy a new (albeit cheap) fountain pen, they never work when I uncap them. I currently have an inexpensive Schaeffer. I love the way it writes, when it works. If I stop writing, for even a minute, I have to shake the pen or scribble for awhile before ink comes out. I just want to uncap and write. Is this normal for any fountain pen, regardless of price? Am I doing something wrong? Thank you!</p>
<p>I just recently bought a beginners calligraphy pen from Michaels and just opened it, assembled it and it's not working. I've tried almost everything and it still won't work. I took the cartridge out and squeezed a small ink drop from it and the ink is fine, it just won't come out when I screw the pen portion of it back on. Is there anything I can do or did I just get a faulty pen?</p>
The pen is probably in working order, even though you are having problems. It takes a few minutes for the ink to move through the passageways when new. There may even be some oils or shavings from the manufacturing process that inhibit ink flow. The ink moves through the pen by capillary action rather than by actually flowing. That takes a few minutes to start. It would be handy if you had a bottle of the same ink so you could dip the pen's point or nib in ink to fill the passageways faster. Also, look at the cartridges. Do they appear only partially full? Although the ink cartridges are plastic, water molecules pass through the walls, leaving thicker ink behind over time. You may need to get some water back into the cartridges with a syringe or an eye dropper, and then shake them. But, do not open a cartridge until you are ready to use it.
I think theres a piece kf small paper stuck in my nib and I cant get it out, but I also lost my pen for a while after buying it so that might be why its not working properly, any ideas?
<p>is the small piece of paper between the feed and the nib, or between the two tines? I expect you mean between the two tines. I have a set of feeler gauges used by mechanics, and the 0.003&quot; blade usually fits in the slot between the times. Although the end of the feeler gauge blade is rounded, it can be useful for clearing paper fibers that may have accumulated from writing on rough paper. Or, you may be able to wiggle the nib and feeder from the front section. That gives you a clear access to slide a piece of copy paper into the slot to clear it. If the pen was lost, it probably had ink in the passageways that dried out before it was found. Soaking in water for a day or two will eventually remove dried ink. </p>
Sometimes if i hold my zebra fountain pen at a slight angle when writing helps it flow. Though ever since I replaced the cartrige its been skipping
How old is the cartridge? Water molecules do pass through the walls of plastic cartridges, leaving ink that is thicker than that for which the pen was designed. You could try removing the cartridge and injecting a few drops of water into the cartridge. Or, just buy some new cartridges. You might clean the pen first with water to clear the passageways for the ink.

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