Cleaning Rapidograph Reusable Pens

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Introduction: Cleaning Rapidograph Reusable Pens

About: I am a graphic artist during the day and at night, I create soul food. Cosplay is a joy is my passion. Illustration has been placed on hold since the "2020 dumpster fire" of year. I'm working on it
Cleaning Rapidograph HELL made easy:
  • Windex
Instructions
  • 1/4 cup Windex solution
  • Place whole nibs with ink well separated into solution
  • Use Q-Tip to rub the Windex solution inside the plastic ink well. Ink comes off pretty quickly. Wash out with water
  • Unscrew main black plastic housing from around the main inside nib component
  • Swished a bit and within 10 seconds it breaks up quickly
  • Shake the main nib component until the nib bit starts to go back and forth
  • Rinse hot water and hit Windex again until satisfied


I have to use the super permanent ink (film) for the inking I do. So when it dries it is absolute hell to clean.

I cannot tell you how many years I spent using all sorts of garbage. I have used alcohol, 2nd degree burn worthy hot water, soap, oscillators, special Rapidograph cleaning solution, I could go on and on.

I found a random post one day a few months back mentioning using good old fashion Windex. I got off my lazy butt  and decided to give it a go. I am not kidding. 10 seconds and the thing was coming off, unwinding and shaking free ink debris.

They are perfect.

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    25 Comments

    0
    hyperenity
    hyperenity

    3 months ago

    I seriously love you to the moon and back! I thought I would have to toss $$$ in pens. 5yrs in a drawer with massive amounts of dried ink. It worked. Thank you!

    0
    Sherryl
    Sherryl

    7 months ago on Introduction

    What kind of totally permanent ink to you use? Where do you get it? I like to watercolor over ink drawings so want to ink to be super permanent. Thank You

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 7 months ago

    Rapidiograph made an ink that was used on film called (black India ink - universal 3080-F - waterproof - for paper & film). It was what I used to ink my comic pages back when. It was designed to use on film for plates and other applications for printing. They may or may not still make it.
    .
    I also moved forward with watercolors as my comic medium. I "inked" specifically with watercolor afterwards. DickBlick makes it easy to see the breakdown chemically/properties of a watercolor tube color and if it has a high staining element to it. Makes it impossible to lift. I have also heard of hitting it with a setting spray like what you would do with chalk pastels as you add layers. You might play with that.
    .
    OR there is also permanent gauche. Water based until it dries. It's like acrylic but not but handles like opque watercolor ie. guache for "inking".

    0
    pfred2
    pfred2

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Good to know. I have some of those pens but do not like to use them often because cleaning can be challenging. I guess I don't have to tell you that though. I just looked up what the active ingredient in Windex is and apparently it is rubbing alcohol, although there is also 2-Butoxyethanol in it too, which is an organic solvent for paints and ink. A chemical that may be found in higher concentrations in bug and tar removing products? Look for the CAS chemical number 111-76-2 on products and you may find other pen cleaning solutions. Windex is mostly water.

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    That is interesting. Isopropyl alcohol might work for most inks, it didn't help with the ink for "film". It might be a combination that is the magic key. I have seen ammonia (also found in Windex) as another suggested solvent to use for the nibs but I am not too comfortable dealing with it straight. Food for thought.

    0
    CatC
    CatC

    Reply 1 year ago

    I actually melted some components of an older model pen by using ammonia. Stronger wasn't necessarily better! LOL. So far it's much easier to use the Windex. It seems to have the right mix and costs about a buck fifty.

    0
    CatC
    CatC

    1 year ago

    THANK You! This worked great!

    I've had a set for years that used to belong to my ex. Her being her, I assumed they were probably clogged and caked, but was delighted to find they were clean, well maintained, and quite useable. The problem came when I ran out of the cleaning solution. I live in Mexico and can order the stuff, but it takes forever to get here. But hey, there's a hardware store about 4 blocks away and they carry Windex!

    I nabbed a bottle and it worked so well I tossed the Rapido-eze out of my Amazon cart! Thank you so much for this. I appreciate you taking the time to post it.

    0
    bouncepass71
    bouncepass71

    2 years ago

    This works. I happened to have store-brand knockoff Windex in the house and that worked fine, too. You don’t need the name-brand Windex.

    0
    new2thissite
    new2thissite

    3 years ago

    Thanks for this! When my son was in college almost 20 years ago, he had a
    set of Rapidograph pens for his his drawing class. They came home and
    have lived in my attic since then. When I came across them, I decided to
    see if I could clean them. This worked very well with Windex. When I
    ran out, I tried similar glass cleaner, which was less successful. Then I
    tried vinegar, and I tried ammonia, not sure which one was responsible
    for the cleaning action. Neither worked as well. I went out and bought a
    large refill bottle of Windex and immersed only the tips, and was
    amazed at how black the solution became. I rinsed and am now on the
    second soaking, and am still getting more dried ink out.

    This will take a few more soakings and rinses to get all the ink out, but
    then I'll have a like-new set! The only improvement I could suggest is
    more details about how to dismantle the pens, as I had to look elsewhere
    for that, but otherwise, SUPER!

    A question to anyone more experienced with this...After soaking and rinsing the tips multiple times, I've been tapping the base (not the writing tip) of the nib, and ONE of the nibs has a slight "rattle" to it, like maybe there's a roller ball or other part inside that is now free inside. None of the rest of the nibs do that, so does that indicate that there is still more dried ink inside that has not freed up some part of the nib, or does it mean that the one that has a rattle is broken somehow?

    Thanks

    1
    Ubermac
    Ubermac

    Reply 2 years ago

    The "rattle" is the needle inside the nib moving. It's supposed to do that. Disassembly is easy if you have a nib key. It looks like a little gear cog. You place it over the writing end of the nib and unscrew the parts. I do not recommend doing this unless you are experienced with Rapidographs. The needle inside is VERY VERY fragile. Like hair thin fragile. If you want to really break up any old ink, try putting the nibs in an ultrasonic cleaner with the Windex a few times. Once you can hear all the needles sliding back and forth and the windex remains clear (blue) then the pens are clean.

    1
    HowardT20
    HowardT20

    4 years ago

    I have been cleaning my Staedtler-Mars 700 drawing pen set while converting it for use in my HP DraftMaster rollfeed pen plotter. Household ammonia dissolves the old ink in seconds. It's just a stronger version of Windex.

    The "pen" conversion is also a snap. I bought a second set of identical pens to 'sacrifice' in this process, and it turns out that you can trim the pen barrels with a hobbby "razor saw" quite easily to the length of the ink reservoir inside, and this makes them fit the HP pen carousel. The "ring" around the pen required for it to be grabbed and held by the plotting mechanism can be added using a 7/16-in "fiber washer available at hardware stores. I used a tapered grinding stone in a 1/4" electric drill to VERY CAREFULLY enlarge the hole in the washer (Probably less than 1/32") to make a tight, friction fit around the knurled (the part with the little tiny grooves) section of the pen tip. It's easy to slide the washer onto the pen barrel using an HP plotting pen as a guide to position it, and so far, mine are tight and square enough to function perfectly. Some epoxy or super glue might be required if the washer is enlarged enough, by accident to, slip during operation. some care and patience in enlarging the hole just a tiny bit at one time allowed me to get a perfect friction fit.

    Pen conversion.jpg
    0
    LisaG208
    LisaG208

    5 years ago

    OH MY!! THANK YOU!! I can’t believe how easy this was. I have tried SO many ways to clean these stupid pens. I was skeptical about the Windex, but it worked beautifully!!! I accomplished in a matter of minutes what has taken me hours to do before.

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 5 years ago

    Believe me, I feel your pain. So glad it helped you. Cheers!!

    0
    myakka-23
    myakka-23

    5 years ago

    Thank you Kieshar, I'm going to try this.

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 5 years ago

    Hoped it worked for you ^^

    1
    AnnieC57
    AnnieC57

    5 years ago

    Thank you for the post! It works perfectly, it took a bit longer to clear everything in the nib.

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 5 years ago

    Fantastic!

    0
    summerlane
    summerlane

    6 years ago

    Tried for hours with no success to clean up my old pens that had sat for over 8 years and had dried up ink caked all inside the nib. Found your post and within an hour or so they're all working like brand new. Thanks so much for sharing!

    0
    kieshar
    kieshar

    Reply 5 years ago

    Hell yeah. ^___^ It was so satifiying to mine clear up after so much fustration.

    0
    therollingrook
    therollingrook

    5 years ago

    I was totally skeptical, but I have to admit...THIS WORKS! Tonight I've revived about 7 rapidograph pens that I had let dry (with ink in them) in a drawer for a few years. It really is amazing!

    I did use the syringe that came with the cleaning kit, but the cleaning kit's cleaning fluid is a complete JOKE in comparison to glass cleaner. (I used the cheap, generic stuff.)

    Thank you so much for sharing!