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.
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.
<p>Hi. I have a pen which I have rinsed through many times but when i fill it and start to write, after a few minutes the flow of ink stops. Very frustrating. Any suggestions?</p>
Some estimate 95% of all fountain pen problems are due to poor or improper clearance between the feed and the nib. What you describe certainly is typical of that problem. Go back to my Instructable and take a look at that procedure. If you get it wrong the first time, do it again. No permanent damage is done,
Worked a treat. Many thanks
<p>Thank you for the report on your results. Feeds sometimes shrink or otherwise move because plastic hardens, and so on. Do not be afraid to repeat the procedure again, if ever needed.</p>
Hey phil so my pen isnt scratchy but wites hard i tried all steps it wont solve the prblem
<p>I am not sure what &quot;writes hard&quot; means. I assume that means there is little or no ink flow in normal writing situations. The cause could be a number of things from ink that has turned gelatinous or granular to an obstruction in the ink passageway to tines that are too close together or too far apart to improper clearance between the feed and the nib.</p>
Phil should I send its pictures<br>
<p>I have a Rotring that I bought in Europe back in 1999. I just recently found it again. I am able to get ink when I run paper over the slit when it is turned upside down. Then I am able to write with he nib upside down, then the pen will write correctly UNTIL I stop writing. Then nothing. What should I do?</p>
Was it flushed with water to remove all ink before you put it away? I expect it was not. Remove the cartridge and soak the nib in water at room temperature for a couple of days. Change the water when it becomes clouded with ink billows or discolored. You can get a lot of the waters out with a tissue. Put in a fresh ink cartridge. Wait for the ink to move through the capillary passageway and see how it goes. If you have a bottle of the same ink, try dipping the nib in the bottle to help get it flowing more quickly. This may not solve your problem, but probably will.
We flushed it for a few days after it was found. It gets ink at the top of the split, but doesn't draw ink to tip. So, I put the nib in some pilot ink and it wrote beautifully until the ink cartridge ink started to come out. (They were slightly different colors). Then it stopped writing. Do you think it is the ink type?
<p>if the ink passageway is clear of blockages like it should be, you should be able to remove the cartridge from the back end of the front section (nib, feed, and section or front part of the barrel) and put a few drops of water where the front of the cartridge would fit. Blow on it and you should be able to force water out near the tip of the nib. If not, there is a blockage. If you can either pull the feed and nib out of the front section, or unscrew them, you should be able to separate the nib from the feed to see the ink passageway. That also allows it to clean up better when soaking. I still think you have something blocking the ink passageway. Dried ink would be the likelihood.</p>
<p>My Pilot Vanishing point only writes from the back side (if you hold the shirt clip on the bottom. If you hold it normal it will not work. Any ideas as to what is causing this? Who can I send it to for repair? </p>
Thank you for including the photos. I can see from the one on the right what your exact problem is, and you can fix it yourself. Look at my Instructable and pay attention to the section on burnishing the nib after someone has put too much pressure on it and spread or splayed the tines. You need a round metal rod, like a Phillip's screwdriver. In 15 minutes or less your pen will be fine again.
<p>You're the best! Thank you so much!</p>
<p>Cassie,</p><p>Thank you for the update. I hope it means your pen is working properly again. </p>
<p>It is a tad scratchy but much better. </p>
<p>scratchy is relatively easy. See the early part of the Instructable. Use a magnifying lens and look at the end of the nib straight on. One time is probably lower or higher than the other. Try to make them even with each other. Fingernails will usually do the trick,</p>
<p>I've got a custom made high-end fountain pen that uses a Schmidt ink pump. I have zero clue how to use this. I filled the pump with ink and installed it, gave it a turn to get ink flowing, but the ink just seems to sit in the upper tip and won't flow down to the tip. Anywhere I can go to learn how to use this?</p>
Your ink pump is what is often called a converter. Empty it back into the bottle. Attach the pump to the pen. Submerse the nib end of the pen in the bottle of ink. Turn the screw mechanism on the pump to draw ink up through the nib of the pen and into the pump. <br><br>I hope your converter is better than most. Those I have used of this style hold very little ink and often seep ink that leaks out on my fingers. I did an Instructable on refilling cartridges and another on elongating a cartridge to hold more ink. I added a thin brass tube to an eye dropper to make a refilling device. If you have a friend who works in medicine, the friend may be able to get a syringe for you. If you can avoid scratching yourself, a syringe is great for refilling an ink cartridge.
Phil,<br><br>Thank you so much. Unfortunately it's a custom made pen (maybe I should say &quot;fortunately&quot;, I dunno) and as such it didn't come with an instruction set.<br><br>I really appreciate you taking the time to elucidate this for me.<br><br>Have a great day :-)<br><br>Bart
Bart, <br><br>If you have no cartridges for your pen, they are universal or Mont Blanc cartridges. Waterman cartridges fit, too, but may be too long. I cut and sealed a Waterman cartridge to get more ink capacity for one of my pens. Your cartridges are widely available. Enjoy your pen.
Dear Phil, I wish I had known all this 20 years ago! Thanks. When I round up my various fountain pens I plan to implement (pun) these ideas for my writing instruments. I think most of my pens' problems have come from gelatinous, aged ink, so I plan to buy some new cartridges and soak all my nib sections in cool water o ernight. I don't think I have ever tried soaking them longer than 30 minutes or so. I will let you know how it goes. <br><br>A chief problem I've encountered has been cheap paper ... everywhere! Unless I pay premium prices it's hard to find decent stuff that isn't too fibrous or doesn't bleed through. Can you suggest some better types of paper or brands of notebooks? <br><br>I really miss writing with fountain pens!
I wish I had known these things earlier, too. I have seen plenty of encouragements to use good quality paper with a fountain pen. I have never seen a stationer where I had the option of buying better grades of paper for fountain pen use. You might try a specialty site for writing supplies and pens, like Levenger. I have simply written many classroom notes on whatever the teacher pushed through the duplicating machine.
Urgent<br>Lid won't shut on brand new Parker pen
<p>I do not understand the problem from what you wrote. Can you post a photo?</p>
Hi Phil I need your help urgently!!<br>I have a brand new parker pen. I unscrewed it to put in the ink cartridge and now it won't screw back on! I did leave the lid on when unscrewing it but i thought that wouldn't be a problem! The body of the pen now seems too big. Please help!
I trust you have the proper cartridge made by Parker. Is there anything inside the pen barrel, like a loose converter to be used as an option in place of the cartridge? Good Parker pens come with a converter. Usually they are somewhere in the pen case, but it may be that someone slipped it into the pen barrel loose. If there is nothing in the pen barrel, you might try pushing the cartridge onto the front section of the pen rather than piercing the cartridge by inserting the cartridge in the barrel and then screwing the front section into place. Then slip the cartridge into the barrel and screw the front section into the barrel.
Thank you for your reply! Yes, I do have the proper cartridge by Parker. There doesn't appear to be any converter. May you please explain to me which part the barrel of the pen is?
<p>You can &quot;google&quot; fountain pen nomenclature, or here is a photo from a Parker cartridge Pen I have.</p>
<p>Hello, I have an old fountain pen that I hadn't used for long time. When I try to use it again, there is an annoying problem with it. After few minutes of writing, the ink suddenly stops flowing (or become dry?). I have to tap the nip on paper few times before the pen starts writing again. I have cleaned the pen several times but the problem didn't go away. What should I do now? Thank you.</p>
<p>I am guessing the plastic or hard rubber from which the feeder is made changed over the years and the clearance between the nib and the feeder needs to be reset. Follow the procedure in steps 7 and 8. See if that helps. </p>
<p>Thank your for your answer. I tried instructions in step 7 and 8. Unfortunately, I couldn't solve the problem. I re-cleaned the feeder and nip and found a broken part in the feeder. I guess it can not be fixed. </p>
<p>Do not throw it away. It may be that you will find a feeder that will fit and work. I know it seems like a slim chance, but look around on eBay. You might also search the Internet for pen repair places. They may be able to repair the pen or sell you a suitable feeder at a reasonable price. I once used The Southern Scribe. He has quite a backlog and I waited a long time before my pen was repaired. Still, he was good about responding to e-mail inquiries. </p>
<p>Here you can get a couple of feeders. The dimensions are listed, but small until you enlarge the photos.</p><p> <a href="http://penkits.biz/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=17&sort=20a&page=1">http://penkits.biz/index.php?main_page=index&amp;cPath...</a></p>
<p>Luckily, I did not throw it away. Thank you so much.</p>
<p>Hello Phil,</p><p>Thank you for this article. I have a fountain pen (pretty new) and I tried messing with it and wanted to switch its nib with another fountain pen's nib. The other one didn't come off, but when I went back to put this nib back on, it started to not flow properly. It skips a lot more than usual and the writing is finer than before. I tried tightening the nib and feed, but they will not tighten any more. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!</p>
<p>Try following steps 8 and 9 to restore the proper nib to feeder fit. </p>
<p>Hi I just got a fountain pen and this is the first time ever (I don't have any other experience with them). However I saw my friend using them and they seemed great so I brought them as well. I brought mine from amazon and it had a lot of reviews and they were all good so I decided to buy it. They just arrived today and I just tried using it but no ink comes out. I don't understand this? I opened the inside and saw that you can roll this thing (not sure how to explain it) but it doesn't seem to work even when I do that. How can I make the ink come out? Is there a certain thing you must do at the start to make it work or does it just work straight out of the packet? Please help me...</p>
A few minutes are necessary for the ink to find its way through the narrow capillaries that are the ink passageways. Add to that oils, etc. from the manufacturing process may still be present until some use flushes them out. You are probably using ink cartridges. I have reloaded my cartridges for many years. (I use an eye dropper to which I have fitted a thin brass tube small enough to pass through the opening in the cartridge.) that means I have some ink in a bottle. With an ink bottle you can dip the end of the pen to speed the time waiting for the pen to write. You will find this same waiting for the pen to write when you flush the pen every few weeks to remove any ink that may have begun to dry out and restrict the passageways. I do not think anything is wrong with your pen. If you do not use your pen for a few days, ink will not flow well. Put a drop or two of water on the slot in the nib and let it soak in,
Hi, i just bought a hero 901 pen and no ink is coming through the nib! If i squeeze the cartridge it comes out of a small hole at the base of the nib, but doesn't go into the non allowing me to write.<br><br>Thanks
Your problem may not be a big thing. When pens are manufactured oils and debris sometimes make it difficult for ink to flow in the narrow passageways. The usual recommendation is to use the pen until ink flows as it should. If oils are the problem, a soak in some soapy water overnight followed by a rinse may be helpful. You could also remove the cartridge and try to blow water through the nib. I doubt it is a fatal flaw, even though disappointing.
<p>Hi i am writing with my carla calligraphy pen and when I insert a new nib of big size the ink doesn't flow easily and it gets stuck in the middle .</p><p>I don't know what to do.</p><p>Please give me a solution how to make ink flow easily in a new nib.</p>
I tried to find your pen on-line so I know better what you have, but could not. I am guessing ink is fed by a cartridge or a bladder of some type rather than by dipping the pen into ink. When you say you added a new nib, is it a nib that has not been used and is new, or is it merely a different nib? If it is really new, it may have oils and impurities in it yet from the manufacturing process, if that is the case, more use will flush it out and it will work. I suppose you could try to move a weak soapy solution through it and then flush it thoroughly with clear water.
Hey i just got a new parker the problem is whenever m writing m getting an annoying sound sometimes it doesn't come but most of the time it's there i guess it's coming from the nib what should i do .. m using parker quink ink blue <br><br>Thanks<br>
Is it a scratchy noise? Is everything tight, or does the nib wiggle? You could look at the nib with a strong magnifying glass from head on and see if they are even and aligned. Another possibility it that the pen needs to wear in from regular use. But, I have to say I have not had a pen make a noise like you describe.
Hi Phil,<br><br>I have the following issue with my pen:<br><br>- inconsistent ink flow to the nip<br><br>- it writes very well for a little while then the ink seems to stop to flow. I have to twist the top of the converter and force the link down to the nip, then it writes beautifully again for a while until I need to twist the top of the converter again. <br><br>Thanks for you help.
<div>Welcome to Instructables. I joined because I was reading a bicycling forum, and someone there had linked a simple cadence meter adapted from an inexpensive electronic cyclometer widely available. Since I have had fun sharing a bunch of things I learned through hard experience. Often others share improvements to what I did, and I have come to have friends I have never met.<br><br>One source I used says 95% of all pen problems come from improper fit or clearance between the nib and the feeder. That was the problem with the black Diplomat pen my wife gave me. Try slipping a piece of paper between the nib (metal part with the writing tip) and the feeder (black plastic or hard rubber part under the nib). There should be considerable drag on the paper. It is steps 7 through 8 in which I showed checking the fit and using very hot water to soften the feeder and hold it firmly against the nib until it has cooled. In time plastics, especially, can and do change just a little. On a pen that change can be adjusted back to a proper fit by heating and moving the plastic. Naturally, you also want to be sure you do not have dried in in the passageways. A good soak in water at room temperature is a good start, too.</div>
Thank you so much Phil. I did it!! It took me a while though with a few attempts. Read though your instructions thoroughly again does help. Patience is the essence......which I need more of ?<br><br>Thanks again,<br>Kathy

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