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Fountain pens-- I get it now!


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#21 Andrew Cohen

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Posted 20 September 2015 - 08:22 PM

Been using FPs a long time now. As someone with carpal tunnel, it is great because the nibs can be adjusted for flow and smoothness to your writing needs. Goulet Pens is a great place to start for shopping. They sell samples so you can get ideas as to whether you like the ink or not. The droplets are not that uncommon. Sometime you have nibcreep where ink comes out of the slit, and the droplets can be from pressure changing when you cap the pen. Also, air pressure/humidity/temp can all play with the viscosity of the ink to to cause spots on ink. No big deal really.

 

A couple websites to check out-Pentrace, which is easily navigable with everything in one spot rather than lots of sub-forae, and Fountain Pen Network, which is subdivided all to hell and gone again. PT and FPN both have Sales Boards where you can score good deals from nice people. A great source for FP links can be found at Jim Mamoulides' invaluable Penhero website. This page-http://www.penhero.c...enBookmarks.htm-lists tons of sites for info, buying, restoring, etc. Plus he has lots of great articles. Welcome the world of real pens. ;)



#22 Yanick Tremblay

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 04:22 PM

I have never though of buying a good pen since I always had the tendency & loose them. Someone gave me a fountain pen & I have been loving it for a whole year at work now. It seems it was just that I did not like the ball pens enough to keep them. Never lost this one!

So I am looking for a suggestion to buy myself a good fountain pen. It should be of clean lines (I am a designer) compact when closed & comfortable to write. But mostly it should NEVER leak. The one I was given is having some issues in that manner. Any suggestions? Have a Ti obsession, but worried of losing something that would be too expensive. Tks



#23 Hugo Luis Costa

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 02:47 AM

I have never though of buying a good pen since I always had the tendency & loose them. Someone gave me a fountain pen & I have been loving it for a whole year at work now. It seems it was just that I did not like the ball pens enough to keep them. Never lost this one!

So I am looking for a suggestion to buy myself a good fountain pen. It should be of clean lines (I am a designer) compact when closed & comfortable to write. But mostly it should NEVER leak. The one I was given is having some issues in that manner. Any suggestions? Have a Ti obsession, but worried of losing something that would be too expensive. Tks

kaweco sport is a good pen to start. It's design hasn't chance since 1940s... On a more expensive side Lamy 2000 is also a good choice and has been around since 1966.

In terms of design I think that means a lot... Why chance something that is just perfect and people still look forward!



#24 Andrew Cohen

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 10:47 PM

What is the pen you have now, and where is it leaking from? Maybe we can troubleshoot it for you.

 

So, how much are you willing to spend on a good FP? As a designer Hugo Luis is right about the Lamy 2000. Made of Makrolon with a brushed steel or aluminum section (the gripping area). It is on permanent display in the MOMA, and was designed in the 60s. An Aurora 88 might do you, or look at Parker 51s. These can be had for anywhere from $55 on up. A classic vintage design, very streamlined. Most of them write a fine line. The vintage Wahl Eversharp Skyline was designed by Henry Dreyfus. These are beautiful pens. They were recently resurrected by a fan/authority on the company, and the modern versions are great, and would be good for someone who is new to fountain pens. They write really well, and are not as fussy as some older pens can be. And they do look good! As i am not sure of your aesthetic, it is hard to make suggestions. There are Ti pens out there, but they tend to be a bit more pricy. Lamy makes AL-Stars, aluminum pens that look good. I can not get used to the triangular section on the Al-Stars and Safaris, but some folks swear by them. Kaweco makes some nice metal jacketed pens under the AL Sport line. The pens are short and need to be posted to be long enough to use. They might have converters for them now, but they used to be cartridge only unless you went vintage celluloid. No clips on the pens unless you buy an accommodation clip. Kaweco makes pencils as well.



#25 Rafael

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Posted 14 November 2015 - 01:49 PM

I have never though of buying a good pen since I always had the tendency & loose them. Someone gave me a fountain pen & I have been loving it for a whole year at work now. It seems it was just that I did not like the ball pens enough to keep them. Never lost this one!
So I am looking for a suggestion to buy myself a good fountain pen. It should be of clean lines (I am a designer) compact when closed & comfortable to write. But mostly it should NEVER leak. The one I was given is having some issues in that manner. Any suggestions? Have a Ti obsession, but worried of losing something that would be too expensive. Tks


I second the Kawecos (the carbon fiber sport is gorgeous) and the Lamy 2000.

I will add the Pilot Vanishing Point. I love that pen. It is retractable. Of all my pens this one is the one I use more often. I love the design and how it writes.

#26 Heretofore

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Posted 04 January 2016 - 12:34 PM

Still have never tried a fountain pen, but you have made me curious.

 

I think that will be my next EDC item



#27 Jameson Bacleon

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 04:15 AM

i have been a fountain pen user for more than a decade. Being a lefty, it's not the best option for me (but heck, we need that challenge every now and then eh?)

 

Always been a fan of extra-fine nibs and a few italics. Lamy Safari is a good starter pen and their nibs are interchangeable (extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1mm, 1.5mm, etc.).

 

Also, try Pilot Metropolitan and Pilot Prera. Good pens and won't break your budget. Kaweco's are good for EDC due to their sizes.

 

Then there are the Sailors, Pelikans, Watermans, Esterbrooks, Platinums... and we haven't even talked about ink and their capillary action...

 

Yeah, slippery slope. haha



#28 Stupendous Walrus

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Posted 31 January 2016 - 01:48 PM

If anyone just wants to try a fountain pen just to see what it's like to use a pen of this style, Bic is making some disposable ones. Obviously not of any great quality, but you at least get the idea of writing with a different style of pen, while only spending a couple bucks.


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#29 Mikey Bautista

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Posted 31 January 2016 - 08:36 PM

I wish I could get into fountain pens. As a lefty it's just terrible. :(



#30 Andrew Cohen

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Posted 01 February 2016 - 01:10 PM

I wish I could get into fountain pens. As a lefty it's just terrible. :(

You just take a month and train yourself to write from below the line. I did. I used to drag my hand through everything. Now I write from directly underneath the line and it works out fine. Also, it helped with hand cramping and I quit choking the pen to death and got rid of the bump on the finger from squeezing too hard. Seriously, Just around a month of conscious effort with 20 minutes a day of nonstop practice.

 

If anyone just wants to try a fountain pen just to see what it's like to use a pen of this style, Bic is making some disposable ones. Obviously not of any great quality, but you at least get the idea of writing with a different style of pen, while only spending a couple bucks.

If you want to try cheap (these are disposables as well) , the Pilot Preppy and Sailor Varsity are amazing values. Top be honest, I find the Preppy to write as well or better than some of my quite expensive pens. Some of the Varsity's as well. Also, there is a hack for the Pilots where you can refill them with your favorite ink, although the ink used in both of the Japanese pens is really excellent. There have been requests for Pilot to sell the black ink in bottles, and they haven't said if it is the same as what they already sell in bottle. Can't say anything about the BICs as I have yet to see/test-drive one.



#31 Lee

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Posted 16 April 2016 - 10:29 AM

I have started using a Lamy Safari in the matt charcoal for the last few months at home. I won't use it for work as I need clients to sign documents, I don't want any damaged nibs. But my god is it a lovely thing to write with. 

 

I wouldn't hesitate in suggesting a Lamy pen to anyone.

 

Enjoy



#32 Stentorian

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 10:08 PM

What a great topic!

 

I have a Cross Townsend in chrome and gold.  I like it (a lot), but don't love it.  Maybe we can fix that.

 

The problems I have are:

 

1.  The Mont Blanc Black bottle ink I'm using goes down "too wet", making for wide strokes with "spiderweb edges" (not sure how else to describe it).  This is not so bad that somebody reading my writing would probably notice it.  But I notice it and I dislike it.  I want sharper and cleaner lines, if that's possible.

 

2.  The ink also soaks through my daytimer pages, making it difficult to make good use of the other side of the page, aka "tomorrow".  It also soaks through most notepad paper that I have. 

 

Well, I think it's the ink, but maybe I'm wrong?

 

3.  I also have Mont Blanc blue ink, but it looks washed out, so I don't use it.  I'd love to switch to a blue ink that has an "electric" look, maybe like this but with a more consistent color and no soak-thru.  I might even go for a deep purple ink like this.

 

4.  I'm left-handed, so any "push" strokes tend to either put down too much or too little ink. 

 

Could it be that maybe I just haven't used the pen enough to wear in the nib?  It's a 10+ year old pen, and I periodically come back to it, but after a few weeks, I find a sharper-writing gel pen and start using that.  Then the Cross ends up in a drawer until the next time.  Recently, I ordered and installed a new "converter" ink reservoir, so I guess my pen and I are "on again."

 

Suggestions welcome!



#33 Stentorian

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 08:21 PM

Any thoughts on my post above?  Sorry for the bump but it's been a couple of weeks now.



#34 Andrew Cohen

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Posted 13 October 2016 - 12:08 AM

Hmm. Thought I responded. Guess not. Okay-Let's start with the idea of breaking in a nib. Doesn't really happen. Sometimes the feed (the bit with the grooves the nib sits on) will have oil or fiber bits in it and that can slow flow or cause starts and stops. If there is enough of a wad of fiber in the tines you can get flooding, but it is fairly obvious it is there. 

 

Some terms; spider web edges are usually referred to as "feathering" but FP users. When the ink is visible on the other side is "show through". When the ink goes through is "bleeding" or "bleed through".

 

Feathering has a lot to do with the paper quality. Sounds like the paper may just be thin. Try the pen on good copy paper, a small Rhodia notepad, and some Staples bagasse paper (sugar cane fiber). This will give you a good idea of pen vs. paper issues. 

 

For great notepads and planners that a totally fountain pen friendly I like Gallery Leather. The notebooks, last I checked, are made in the USA (Maine). I love the ones the same size as a checkbook, which also come as a planner. See here-

http://www.galleryleather.com/

 

So-are you an over-writer (hand above the line and hooking) or do you drag the hand through the ink, or an underwriter. I used to drag through the line but taught myself to be an underwriter. Makes things a lot easier with a FP. The "too much...too little" ink may result from uneven pressure of your hand while writing. Try to ensure easy pressure. Which leads to asking what size nib are you using? Should be a letter on the nib face- Fine, Medium, Broad. Sometimes EF for Extra Fine. How big do you write? Montblanc inks tend to be pretty "dry" writing, so there are a few factors to consider; the daytimer paper may just not be conducive to FP ink. Your pen may be a "wet" writer" (for which there is not a lot to be done), or you could have sprung tines. (Did you push hard and wind up with a gap between the tines?) If you can get a good close photo to post that would help. That said, there are nib workers you can contact who can "tune" the nib, or even alter the size. If the nib is the issue, you can frequently find Townsends with good nibs for not much money, and then you could swap in the nib, or just trade the entire section (area for gripping, nib, and feed) as they are all the same. The trim ring might be a different color, or make sure you get one with the right colored trim.

 

Re inks- if you go to Goulet Pens- http://www.gouletpens.com/-they have some cool tools for checking out inks, plus you can buy samples to test out. Really the only way to fly. And they are great with customer service. Call them show them the link to the blue, and they can probably recommend some inks. To my eye, right off the bat, I would say look at Private Reserve, DC Supershow and Electric Blue. Look at Diamine Sapphire and Sargasso, Noodlers Blue, Aurora Blue. There are, however, a looot of inks out there now.

 

A couple sites- Pentrace - newpentrace.com/mboard.html - a fairly quiet board these days, but nice because all the info is on one page, not divvied up in a bazillion forums like FPN (Fountain Pen Network - http://www.fountainp...work.com/forum/ . FPN can be a bit overwhelming (it is an offshoot of Pentrace that became a monster) at first, and you might get better answers to your questions quicker on PT as everyone who stops in sees the question. I am on both with the same handle.

 

Anyway, this ought to be enough to start you on.  Hope it is comprehensible. 


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#35 Stentorian

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 10:39 PM

Comprehensible?  No, it was fabulous!  You gave me quite a lot to think about and consider, so thanks!

 

First thoughts and responses:

 

Based on your definitions, I'd say I'm getting mostly show-through but some bleed-through.  On a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 looking like a fresh sheet of paper (even if there's writing on the other side) and 10 being complete bleed-through (looking like I wrote on that side when I actually wrote on the other side), I'd say that with my FP I'm getting mostly 5 to 6 and 7 if I write over something more than once.  By comparison:  With a space pen, I get 1 to 2 (virtually no show-through).  With an average Gel pen (like maybe a G2 or a Papermate InkJoy), I get a 3-4, or a 5 if I write with a lot of pressure and/or write over lines more than twice.  With Gel and ballpoints, I like writing with a medium point, usually around .7mm, I think.

 

Most of my pens write clearly and sharply on the daytimer paper, with medium point Gel pens mostly being the best compromise between deep lines and low show-through.  The Mont Blanc FP ink does show-through, sometimes dark enough to make it impossible to write with pleasure on the opposite side of the sheet.  The Mont Blanc ink (or maybe it's the pen) can even make it undesirable to write with a ballpoint or even a pencil on the other side of daytimer paper...so I sometimes leave the second side blank which makes me use twice as much paper. 

 

I am not pressing very hard with my FP and the daytimer paper is not an overly thin stock, at least as far as I can tell.  Changing to a different planner would be like...well...like changing EVERYTHING about my planner, and it would mean that I'd have to throw away $50 in current blank day-planner stock (for the next year) PLUS about another $200 worth of blank-sheet stock that supports heavy note-taking and works with my wire-bound inserts, plus accessories and a $100 leather cover that is well-worn and comfortable for everyday use.  I'd do it if I had to, but throwing away nearly $400 for a pen that cost barely 25% of that seems counter productive.  And I really don't have the feeling that the daytimer paper is the main cause of my show-through/bleed-through.

 

Also, with further consideration, I think that the feathering that I'm getting is not a major part of the problem either.  It's the show-through that bugs me the most.  Actually, if the feathering was the only issue, I suppose I might not even notice it.  But you know how it goes...when something frustrates you, you start to notice every little annoyance.   :(  

 

My pen's nib has a letter "M" engraved above the Cross logo.

 

I'll check out your links.  Thanks!



#36 Andrew Cohen

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Posted 15 October 2016 - 12:29 AM

Paper is weird. I still don't get it, but I have found what seems to be heavy stock that bleeds right through and paper that seems feather light (like the bagasse paper from Staples that shows nothing!), but I think it has to do with composition and "sizing". If a gel pens shows through, it could easily be paper. That said, try a new FP. The Cross Medium nib is a "wide" medium, and the Townsend I have is a fairly wet writer. Japanese pens typically write finer than western pens, so a Japanese M will be a western F, or a hair wider. Look for one from Sailor, Platinum, Pilot/Namiki. Or grab a cheap disposable Pilot Varsity or Platinum Preppy and give one a try. Some stationery and art supply stores carry these and you can test drive them in your planner. It would give you a good idea about paper vs. nib. FWIW, the nibs on these "disposable" pens are pretty much as good as any I have used, and I have some expensive pens. And, if you like them, there is a hack where you can refill the pen with whatever ink you wish. Then it is only a short step to fountain pen collecting -mwah-hahahahahaha!. Whoops. Sorry. A little of the dork side leaked out there. BTW, if you like the idea of using you Cross, but find the flow is too heavy, and you don't mind changing the nib and have a few bucks, you can get someone to grind down the nib to a finer size which will make it work where a wider wetter nib might not. Good luck. Lemme know how you get on...



#37 Stentorian

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Posted 15 October 2016 - 12:30 PM

Okay, I'll check out some of the names you mentioned.  It's worth a shot, and there's an art house in town that might carry some of this stuff.



#38 Stentorian

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Posted 16 October 2016 - 08:29 AM

Okay, so I went shopping.  Local art boutique actually had banks of pens!

 

So I bought several.  I don't know the model numbers here, but these were all under $40 at a store that never ever marks anything below list price:

 

  • Lamy (the inexpensive clear one, Medium nib).  I also bought a screw-type converter.
  • Faber-Castel (I bought two, one Medium, one Fine).  I also bought two screw-type converters.
  • Pilot disposable (I bought 4, in black, blue, red, and purple)
  • I also bought two bottles of Lamy ink (Midnight Blue and Purple)

Time to load 'em up:

  • I loaded the Lamy pen with the cartridge that it came with (blue).
  • I loaded the medium FC with the Lamy purple ink
  • I loaded the fine FC with my black Mont Blanc ink, to have something to compare to my Cross
  • Each FC had come with one cartridge of blue.  I set those aside for now.

Loading the Faber-Castel pens was a pain.  I can't see into the bottle very well so I couldn't see if I was dipping the pen far enough or not far enough.  But even when I knew I was dipping it far enough, it took far too many tries to get either FC to draw ink into the converter, and even when they did, they didn't draw much.  It was as if there was a vacum failure or something.  Each pen right now only has a tiny bit of ink in it.  My Cross never gave me any trouble, and in fact I can very nearly fill it on the first pull of ink.

 

Edit:  I figured out that with the FCs, you pretty much have to shove the pen into the ink up past the part where the nib assembly is attached to the part where you put your fingers.  That's because there's a breathing hole there, and it's located much higher up than on other pens.  This makes for a messier cleanup after loading a Faber-Castell pen, but at least now it draws ink in acceptable quantities from the bottle.

 

Playing with the Pens: 

 

All writing was done in my daytimer because that's where I write 90% of the time.

  • The medium nib Lamy and medium nib FC both write nicely, but the Cross might actually have less show-through. 
  • The fine nib FC was wonderful!  Almost no bleed-through in my daytimer paper.
  • The medium nib disposable pilots were also a pleasure to write with, with very little show-through and no discernible feathering.
  • My Cross is actually a great pen.  I realized this after using the others.  Will I use the Cross more often?  Yes.  Will I use the Cross more and the others less often?  No!  I like them all, but now I've developed a fresh appreciation for the Cross and I look forward to changing inks with it, and maybe even one day trying out a Cross fine or chiseled nib.

The inks:

  • The Lamy bottled purple ink is dark.  Is it "mostly dark"?  I'm not sure, but for now this shade is dark enough for my writing and yet still looks purple.  I may try other purples down the road, but for now this will work very nicely!
  • I have not yet tried the midnight blue Lamy ink.  But it's very dark, which I think I might like a lot.
  • The included blue cartridge in in the Lamy is nice.  It will take a few days to tell if I like it a lot, but even if I did, I'm not likely to start buying cartridges.  Don't know if it's the same shade as the midnight blue bottled ink.
  • Now that I've tried a few pens and inks, I actually have a good reference point, and I've decided that my Mont Blanc black ink is a very good ink.  I also have Mont Blanc Blue in a bottle, but haven't used it in a few years.  I've decided to one day compare it with my newly purchased Lamy midnight blue.
  • The disposable Pilots' inks are very nice!  Not as dark as the bottles, but they write well and "bold enough" for sub-$4 fountain pens.  I must say I'm impressed!

Next Phase:

 

I'm going to enjoy these for a while, but I'll probably chat with Goulet in a week or three.  I'd like to find a nice chisel nib to see what my handwriting looks like with that.  I'd also like to play with a flex-nib and I want to sample tons of inks too.

 

Summary:

 

This cost me almost $200 yesterday but I got 7 pens to try out.  Even though I've got ink all over me and it looks like I garrotted a herd of unicorns with a pot of rainbows, I'm having a lot of fun.  And because of this, I was able to gain better understanding and even learn what some of my initial preferences really are. 

 

I think "try several pens and inks" is the smartest advice I could have received, so thank you Andrew!



#39 Stentorian

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Posted 16 October 2016 - 01:14 PM

So I may have written some of the above a little too soon.  The bleed-through is still noticeable.  Very noticeable in some cases, especially where strokes touch or cross.  A cursive lowercase "s", a capital "Q", or a "t" or "f" of any type.  Sometimes a sharp change in direction will cause a small dot to soak through, for example in a capital "M" or "Z".

 

And now that I've done some writing on the reverse sides of paper on which I've already done some writing on the front, I notice that the bleed-through makes my writing look somewhat speckled or "dirty".  And in some cases, the "dirt" actually will soak onto the sheet underneath the sheet that I'm writing on.  So not only did I leave little cigarette ashes on tomorrow, I may have some on the next day, too.

 

The daytimer paper does seem to be two grades.  The daily pages are thinner and seem to be worse for allowing bleed-through.  The blank sheets appear to be a little better, but some ink still soaks through to the page underneath.

 

This is with normal writing; I'm not pressing hard and I'm not going over strokes multiple times.

 

The fine nib seems to be the least offensive of all of my pens.  But that's not saying it's great.  I may try an EF or XF nib to see if those are any better, but being restricted only to fine nibs is extremely limiting.  Not feeling so good about it.

 

One of my gel pens (a Parker) also soaks through, and nearly as badly as the FPs.  I'm sure it's the paper used by the daytimer people, but there's not a lot I can do without changing planners.

 

Can anybody relate to my feeling about the speckled/dirty look of this soak-through?  My writing is personal to me, even though I'm the only one who usually reads it.  Seeing this is a little bit like seeing blackheads on my nose every morning, or hearing my own name constantly mispronounced by a family member who has never learned how to say it properly.

 

I want to fix this if possible.  If the daytimer paper prevents it, I'll consider changing paper.  But any new planner solution needs to be affordable.






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