Picture of Fountain Pen Problems
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. 

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Step 1: Making it flow if dried out

Picture of 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.
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stever819 days ago

I have a Parker IM pen and if I don't use it for a day or overnight sometimes its hard to get it to write again and I have to wet the tip to get the ink to flow. It makes it not worth using if it takes 5 minutes to be able to use it. I use the factory Parker ink

Phil B (author)  stever818 days ago
Have you ever pressed down on the nib hard enough to spread the tines on the nib, even a little? What you describe happens when the tines spread a little. If that is the case, burnishing to bring them back together will be necessary. Or, the distance between the feeder and the nib may have increased for some reason. Heating the nib in very hot water and pressing the feeder against the nib may be necessary. I assume the ink ways inside the pen are clean and have no dried ink in them that needs to be dissolved.
stever8 Phil B18 days ago
No, its pretty new but I did find another post with the exact same concern and the guy said that the large breather hole in the cap allows for the ink to dry. Once he sealed up the hole it solved his issue. I have a hard time believing that this hole was not figured into the design but maybe ot covers for a design issue
SitaS1 month ago

Hi Phil , I have a Lamy fountain pen and I stopped using it for a few months. When I tried to use it again the ink was all dried up and evaporated so I soaked the nib part of the pen in water for a little while then I filled it with water and then flushed it until water flowed through the nib. I was able to put in a new ink cartridge in and the pen started working! but after not using the pen for 5 minutes it dried up again? I can't figure out what the problem is?

Phil B (author)  SitaS1 month ago
I would try soaking the nib and front section in water for a couple of days. If more ink is still in the pen, the water will turn color in a few hours and look like dilute ink. Depending on how old the ink cartridges are, water could have evaporated through the plastic walls of the cartridge and left ink that is thick or has formed granules that clog the pen. (I have some Schaeffer ink cartridges I got at a garage sale. They have never been opened, but appear only half full. I have made them work by puncturing them by installing them in a pen. Then I removed the cartridge and added water with a thin tube mounted on an eye dropper.) a new cartridge from an office supply store might be worth a try.
MoeA11 month ago

Hello Phil,

I recently found an old fountain pen that my grandfather gave me and I honestly have no idea how to make the ink flow. I have ink cartridges that have been lying around for about a year and so I used them on the pen. I'm not exactly sure if the ink is compatible with the pen (it says BRACCO but I googled it and it seems like there is no such brand). The ends of the nib is really close together and no matter what I do, ink never flows. I just tried washing the entire pen with lukewarm water and got rid of all the old ink before adding the cartridge on. I also have an old bottle of ink too and I'm not sure if I should be using that instead of the cartridges. Help! No matter what I do, the pen won't work.

Phil B (author)  MoeA11 month ago
It sounds like the pen had ink in it when it was put away years ago. You may need to soak it in water over several days and change the water when it turns to the color of the ink. I expect all of the ink is not yet out of the pen. Check to see if you can blow air through the front section, even a little air.

hello phil,

i have a parker fountain pen . If i write with it after some time the ink is not flowing and then i had to shake it 2 or 3 times then the ink flows again . can you please guess what is the problem and give a solution for it thankyou ,gowtham .

Phil B (author)  gowtham.seenivasagan.91 month ago
It sounds like the problem might be with your ink. Although you cannot see them, small gelatinous or granular clumps may have formed in the ink, and these are clogging the channel in which the ink is supposed to flow. This can happen if ink is stored for a long time after exposure to air. (People who are really serious about their ink expel the air at the top of the bottle and replace it with nitrogen gas.) I mentioned I made the mistake of mixing inks from two manufacturers and they reacted with one another to form gelatinous globules that clogged my pen. Flush your pen out with water and try some new ink or cartridges. (Water evaporates through the walls of the plastic cartridges over time, leaving much thicker ink inside, even though they have never been opened.)
JanetR32 months ago

Hello Phil,

I have just been given a Waterman fountain pen. The nib reads Waterman's Ideal. The nib retracts by rotating the bottom. On the bottom it reads 42 1/2 V. Around the band it reads Waterman' Fountain Pen 18KR. I cannot figure out how ink would be inserted, as I do not see a metal bar along side the pen. I am not sure if it is missing a clip (that would hook on to a shirt pocket), since it does have a small loop attached to the top of the cover. My mother in law gave it to me. She is 92 and she got it from a relative older than herself. Any information you can give me would be appreciated. I do not want to force the pen open, if it is not suppose to open. I would like to use it, and do not want to break it. Thank you, Janet

JanetR3 JanetR32 months ago

Thank you Phil for the information. Would you mind telling me whether you think it is worth fixing? Will I find someone to install the o rings on one of the websites you listed?

Thanks again,


Phil B (author)  JanetR32 months ago

It is a bit nicer than the average pen, especially with all of the fillagree. It also has considerable sentimental value because it has been passed through your family. If it were mine and I were financially able, I would have it repaired. There was a time in my life when our kids were young and money was less available that I might have put it into a drawer until some birthday money came my way. That part is a personal decision.
Someone gave me a genuine 1928 Parker Duofold that needed work. I sent it away to The Southern Scribe in Georgia. He had it quite a few months before he was able to get to it, but he does good work. The pump button had been replaced with a button assembly from another model many, many years ago. The Southern Scribe put in the correct one, replaced the rubber sack, adjuted the nib, and polished the pen and nib for about $60. It is a nice pen with a story and I am glad I had the repairs done, even though the project was a little spendy.
The Southern Scribe has a web page and specific instructions to follow before sending the pen to him.
JanetR3 Phil B2 months ago

Thanks again Phil. I will look into The Southern Scribe.

Phil B (author)  JanetR32 months ago

Congratulations on getting a nice vintage pen. I had to do some digging and learned a few things. There is good news and there is bad news.

Here are instructions on how to fill your pen.

Your pen uses two cork seals that probably leak by now and would need to be replaced with "O" rings. You can read more about that here.

Here is some general information about the pen.
SuzanneO04152 months ago
P.S. I think I do have a converter, but have no idea how to use It. And I have no bottled ink. Think I will need to get some. Know I did take nib and feeder out before and "they" said that was not good to do so am hesitant to try that route. ( had called a place in US that helped me once before) I tried the company that sent my pen to Italy saying it wouldn't work and they were less than helpful. Just happened to stumble onto your site.
Phil B (author)  SuzanneO04152 months ago

If you are careful, wiggling the feeder and nib out of the front section should not be a problem, especially since you have done it before and know what to expect. You stand a good chance of finding the problem. While out, it might not hurt to clean any oils away with some soapy water, rinse, and dry. It might be good to see if the slot in the nib is clear by holding it up to light and maybe passing some thin paper through it.

Phil B (author)  Phil B2 months ago

I am happy for you the pen is working. Perhaps it simply needed more time for the ink to make its way through a Fine point nib. I like to fill cartridges from a bottle and reuse them numerous times. I fitted a piece of the tubing in the end of an eye dropper. A used syringe works very well, if you have a nurse or doctor friend.
I could blow easily thru the nib section. Ordered some Visconti ink, but pen seems to be working right now. Will use every day and see if it will continue. I am old enough to remember when there were inkwells in our desks and how excited I was to finally get to use a dip pen. My, that was a long time ago. ?
SuzanneO04153 months ago

I have a Visconti pen which was just returned to Italy to replace med tip with a fine point. Tried a cartridge which came with pen several years sgo, but could not get it to write. Got some new Visconti ink cartridges, but still will only make a down stoke and nothing else it does not flow. Am considering going back to a cheap Parker. Do you have any ideas?

Phil B (author)  SuzanneO04153 months ago

I would unscrew the front section with the nib and remove the cartridge. Put the threaded portion that screws into the barrel to your lips and see if you can blow through it, even if only a little. Do you have a converter for it that allows you to draw ink up into the converter from a bottle of ink? If you do and you have a bottle of ink, can you draw ink through the nib into the converter? When pens are new there are oils in the ink feeder passageways, and the flow of in removes those in time. If none of these things work, I would try putting a full cartridge in the pen and also dipping the nib in a bottle of ink to write with it as a dipping pen until ink began to flow. Did you get any kind of warranty on the work you had done at the factory? If so, you could send it back to a factory repair station. If you are not concerned about a warranty, you could try to wiggle the nib and the feeder out of the front section very carefully and look for debris that might block ink flow. Or, you could look for a pen repairman. I once used The Southern Scribe to tune up my 1920s Parker Duofold. He does good work, but you will wait months and months before he can get to yr pen. I am guessing oils are blocking ink flow. Using the pen as a dipping pen for a while may wash out enough that it will begin to work again.
Thanks for the "so-quick" response. I will try it today and let you know what happens.
mitalig5 months ago

Thank you, Phil. However Amazon does not have inkwells on the catalogue in my country. I will try and look for it in 2nd hand stores etc.

mitalig5 months ago

Hey Phil, I had an inkwell when i was kid. It was quite old, my dad got it from someone when he was a kid. I had an ink bottle with a small cup at the top where if i inverted the thing, small amount of ink would collect. This made filling my ink pen quite easy. That inkwell has been misplaced and I cannot find any inkwells anywhere. Are they still made? If so, could you tell me where to buy them from?

Phil B (author)  mitalig5 months ago
Amazon has some inkwells. The ink bottle with the lip that held some ink for dipping was sold by Schaeffer. Their ink bottles are no longer like that, but you may be able to find some at garage sales or 2nd hand stores. Thank you for looking.

wow I hope someone can help me prefably phil I have lost my dads 61 parker fountain pen and Im sick over it . I would like to know what I could possibly replace it with ? my dad was my heart and my life and he died two years ago from cancer and right before he passed he gave me this pen and his long black wool coat which I still wear . I don't have much money as I live on a fixed income so if someone could recommend a fountain pen comparable to the Parker that wont cost me an arm and a leg I would appreciate it ...thanks so much and God bless .

agentvacant11 months ago

I have a problem. I accidentally bought the wrong ink cartridge for my pen and this ink cartridge does not fit. I want to get the ink out of this cartridge so it won't be wasted but it has a plastic ball at the top and i don't know how to remove it. Any suggestions?

Phil B (author)  agentvacant11 months ago
Push the end that fits the pen open with a nail. Use a syringe or an eye dropper to such the ink out. You may have to attach a thin tube to the eye dropper to reach inside the cartridge. Believe it or not, I find this works better when the open end is slightly downward. I use this when I want to clean a cartridge so I can store it for use later.
agentvacant Phil B11 months ago

Thank you, I'll try that.

Phil, thanks I will try that

Phil, I have a montevrde fountain with a medium tip. I use it around once a week. Sometimes I have to refill it before it will start to write. Once working, I usually have to rewrite the first letter of a word if I pause for a minute between sentences because the ink wont flow. Any ideas?

Phil B (author)  stevebrothersteve11 months ago

Whenever I experience the problems you describe, they are because I have not been using the pen enough and ink has begun to dry and clog the passageways inside the pen. Flush the pen out with water about once a month. Find excuses to write a bit with it every couple of days, if only to practice your penmanship. For a quick fix, put a drop or two of water on the slot in the nib shortly before you will be using the pen, but that will not really be necessary very often if you use the pen more regularly.

Gilgamish11 months ago

So I had the pleasure of purchasing a SIGNUM ORION with the Python skin cap in fine point. I've noticed that when I write with this particular pen ink seems to collect on the top of the nib just below the breather hole. normally this would be of no consequence however when enough ink collects it runs down in a big mess (I use NOODLERS EEL INK). What ,if anything can I do to correct this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Phil B (author)  Gilgamish11 months ago
I am guessing the clearance between the nib and the feeder is not what it should be. See the step where I used water near the boiling point to soften the feeder and then press it against the nib until the feeder had cooled. You cannot hurt anything and it might solve your problem.

I am not familiar with your pen. Is there any other possible air leak source?
Gilgamish Phil B11 months ago
Thanks Phil,I'll give that a try.As far as air leaks I'll check that out as well. You should check out SIGNUM Pens,they're impressive.thanks again.
sp80601 year ago

After almost 10 years found my lost Waterman fountain pen. Unfortunately, can't get to disassemble the pen to change the dried ink cartridge. It seems to have got jammed and doesn't turn. Any tips?

Phil B (author)  sp80601 year ago
Try soaking it in water for a day or two. If the water turns the color of ink, replace it with fresh water. You may be able to speed the process by cutting off some of the cartridge to open it so water can get inside the pen more easily and dissolve the dried ink.
sp8060 Phil B12 months ago

Sorry Phil, didn't work. Guess I didn't make myself very clear. It's not the cartridge. I have difficulty in opening the pen to reach the cartridge. In fact, I can't turn to disassemble the pen. It's jammed. Appreciate your advice.

Phil B (author)  sp806012 months ago

Thank you for letting me know what happened. Is it possible ink leaked and got into the threads that connect the barrel to the front section? (I assume you unscrew the barrel from the front section.) If my assumptions are not faulty, dissolving dried ink with water is still the answer. If you can find an ultr-sonic cleaner large enough to submerge the pen up to where the front section meets the barrel, the high frequency vibrations in the water might really help. You could also try warming the same area with a hair dryer to see if you can break the threads loose, but you do not want to soften or melt plastic. That would ruin the pen.

Sooooo I finally found it interesting to start using my Parker fountain pen once again after some years... The problem is it has been left with a full ...... how's it called? "bottle"? of ink inside it all that time. Now it won't write a thing... Any help?

Phil B (author)  Dinos Andrew1 year ago

Others here have asked about the same problem. Soak the end of the pen in cool water and wait for the ink to dissolve. Be patient. It could be a few days. Change the water when it becomes discolored with dissolved ink.

You did not say if your pen uses cartridges or has a blatter. I expect it is a cartridge pen. When the ink has dissolved enough that you can remove the cartridge, the process will go better.

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