A Year Later: Refilling Rollerballs with Fountain Pen Ink

A year ago, I decided to try three rollerball alternatives that I could refill with fountain pen ink. Although some of my fanatical fountain pen friends were horrified by my decision, having rollerballs around for titles and underlines simply fit my notetaking style much better than having multiple fountain pens filled at the same time. I can leave rollerballs sitting around uncapped for a few hours without worrying too much about drying out, while fountain pens need to be recapped. After burning through a few stock inks and cartridges, I am finally starting to run fountain pen inks in the Mont Blanc ceramic rollerball refill and the Pilot Hi-Tecpoints.

Mont Blanc Ceramic Rollerball Refills

This was one of the first test pens that I could refill with fountain pen ink due to the smaller capacity of the refill. It was a bit hard to see how well the refill would hold up to being topped up with fountain pen ink as a faulty Big Idea Design Titanium Pen grip damaged the ball of the first refill. After Big Idea Design sent over a replacement grip, I ended up using this refill in almost constant rotation.

Refilling with fountain pen ink was a little more difficult than the YouTube video suggested. The plug on the refill would not budge using tweezers, so more drastic measures had to be taken. I ended up using a pair of pliers to pull it out. While the plastic plug has taken a bit of a beating, the plug seems to seal fine still.

The Mont Blanc unit took very well to being refilled with fountain pen ink. It’s still quite smooth, though I don’t expect the ball to last nearly as long as a fountain pen nib. I did find that the medium left a line more like a fine or a .5mm pen, especially when I used Noodler’s Park Red in it.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint Cartridge System

These two pens took quite some time to empty compared to the Mont Blanc due to the large capacity of the Pilot cartridges. Once they were empty, I could not figure out a good way to take out and clean the wicks. I opted to live life on the edge a little and just refill the pens with fountain pen ink without any cleaning. The inks I picked did not seem to have any negative reactions to the inks Pilot initially provided; however, the inability to clean the pens did mean there was a bit of a transition period in colour.

I found the pens to be initially smooth, but I noticed the V7’s ball has already been damaged slightly from use. The V5 on the other hand is still as smooth as the day I purchased it. Both pens worked well with fountain pen ink. The pens may write the slightest bit wetter versus the ink Pilot designed for the pen, but I suspect the results may vary depending on the fountain pen ink used. One thing I did not like was the fact the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint pens tended to dry out sooner than the ceramic rollerball refills. After about two or three days capped and unused, the V5 would either completely stop writing or produce a very faint line while the V7 would usually provide a very thin, inconsistent line. Both would return to normal with a little bit of scribbling.

So now what?

Based on the success with the Mont Blanc ceramic rollerball refill, I picked up a few Schmidt branded safety ceramic and cap-less refills to see if I can have similar successes. The plugs on the Schmidt refills look like they will be more challenging to remove due to their smaller size. Worse come to worse, I can opt to follow Nathan Tardiff’s advice and rip out the rollerball for reuse in the Noodler’s rollerball pen.

I am a little more on the fence about the Hi-Tecpoint. The pens always seem a lot fussier than the rollerball, so I am hesitant to buy more. I now keep a scrap of paper near by to get the pens flowing again after being left unused for a few days. Price isn’t much of a factor as the Schmidt refills and brand new Hi-Tecpoint Cartridge Systems are about the same price on eBay. Recommending one or the other to someone will end up boiling down to whether they own a pen body that takes ceramic rollerball refills or not. Since I already made the initial investment on a pen body, it doesn’t make much sense for me to keep buying more Hi-Tecpoints as I wear out the ink balls. On the other hand, the Hi-Tecpoints make fine beater pens that I won’t cry over if they get lost on campus.

Getting into Fountain Pens: Your First Pen and Ink

Getting into fountain pens can be a bit of a hurdle. Most people are probably a bit leery about spending a good bit of money on one pen when they can get a box of 24 Bic Crystal ballpoints for half the price. There are a ton of suggestions on getting into the hobby, but here’s my recommendations.

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The Kaweco Sport Flex Mod Failure Report

I was browsing the internet when I stumbled upon this lovely post on Fountain Pen Network by andymcc who modified a Fountain Pen Revolution flex nib to fit in a Kaweco Sport. Renderboy was able to do it to five other Kaweco Sports, so I figured I had a pretty good chance. Unfortunately for me, my attempt was a failure.

Tools Used

  • 1 Old Fountain Pen Revolution Flex Nib (all silver type)
  • Knife sharpening stones
  • 2000 Grit Sandpaper

The Modding

Andymcc said he needed to take off the a bit of the back end of the FPR nib to fit in the Kaweco Sport. I figured the best way to go about this was to put the Kaweco nib on top of the FPR nib then use a permanent marker to colour in all the areas I need to grind off. Once all the permanent marker is gone, I know I should stop grinding. The coarse grinding stone was a great choice as it made fast work of the nib. Once I had it down to size, I rounded off the edges a bit with the smoother Arkansas stone and then removed the burrs with a curled piece of sandpaper. All good so far.

I decided to go for broke based on andymcc’s experience and just put the nib on the Kaweco Sport right away. It was definitely a tight fit, but the bigger problem was the nib and the feed refused to sit tight enough together to write. Cue an hour of trying to adjust the nib so it would sit closer to the feed without success.

Figuring Out What Went Wrong

I tried a ton of things to try to coax the nib to sit nicely on the feed, I figure either the shape of the nib or the curve of the nib is off. I decided I’d go a little high tech to see if the FPR and the Kaweco nibs were similar in shape. I uses some photo editing software to get a really accurate comparison.

FPR-Kaweco-Nib-Overlay
Red overlay – Kaweco Sport Nib

As you can see from the overlay, the shape of the nibs are quite similar, so the overall nib shape isn’t the issue here. So that leaves me with the curve of the nibs. The Kaweco curve is definitely more aggressive, sitting close to the feed. The FPR nib flares out away from the feed.

What I’ll be Doing Next

So now the big question is how best to change the curve to the shape I need. Based on a clip from the show How It’s Made on fountain pens, the punched out nib is curved into the desired shape with a hydraulic press and a mold. Unfortunately, I have neither, so my solution will have to be a little more creative. I’ve attempted to use a nylon ball link pliers to force the nib to curve, but the FPR nib is small enough to slip right through. Using regular pliers to squeeze the size didn’t give me enough control on the curve either. So I think the next thing to try will be to find a metal rod with the same dimensions as the feed and attempt to hammer the nib to the right curve, maybe with a little heat to soften the metal. If you have other ideas to shape the nib, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Making a Silver Platinum Converter

I have a gold coloured Platinum converter I’m not a particular huge fan of. Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the converter, it just doesn’t match my Platinum Cool demonstrator very well. Brian Goulet at The Goulet Pen Company came up with a handy little hack that sands down the gold finish on the converter to reveal the silver layer beneath.

While that’s all fine and dandy, I’ve been dragging my feet on trying it for myself because I couldn’t think of a really easy way to do the bottom ring of the converter. I’ve been procrastinating on trying this since Platinum now makes a silver coloured converter. Today I finally reasoned with myself and decided having two converters for two pens I never use at the same time is utterly pointless, so it was time to try the hack for myself.

I decided my goal for this project was to try to create a mirror finish on my converter with the tools I have at hand. I used wet/dry 2000 grit sandpaper and a few sheets of mylar lapping paper for my attempt.

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The Fountain Pen Tool Kit

For me, a huge part of the appeal of fountain pens is the do it yourself experience. I don’t consider myself even close to a journeyman fountain pen tech, as my skills are probably closer to a bumbling hobbyist; but over time I’ve discovered some tools that that I think anyone serious about fountain pens should consider owning. These are the same items I recommend to my friends who I’ve suckered convinced into using fountain pens. You probably don’t need to own everything in this list, as everything on this list is optional in some way. I’ve tried my best to provide some guidance on where you can buy these items locally, as not all of us can be lucky enough to live in the same area as a fountain pen store or in a country with reasonable shipping costs.

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Noodler’s Park Red Review

Noodler's Park Red Review

 

Noodler’s Park Red

Paper: Clairefontaine 90g
Pen: Lamy Safari EF
Flow: Excellent
Shading: Barely
Bleedthrough: None
Feathering: None
Dry Times: Average

Notes

An incredibly well behaved red ink my experience. It’s a nice communist red in a shade I have been looking for. It is just dark enough for casual note taking, but vibrant enough to draw attention. A definite winner!

Looking for cheap paper performance? Here it is!

The review unit was provided to me for free. The opinions expressed in the review are strictly my own. Thank you to Pen Chalet for providing the review unit, check them out at PenChalet.com.

Noodler’s Park Red Cheap Paper Review

Noodler's Park Red Cheap Paper Review

It’s exam season, so it’s only fitting I start with a review on my cheap filler paper from Hilroy as I’ve been going through stacks of them.

I was quite impressed with Noodler’s Park Red’s performance. The feathering was extremely minimal, even with thicker nibs like my broad (posing as a fine) nib on my Levenger L-Tech 3.0. Things got really messy with the Ahab flex nib, but actual pools of ink were being laid down, as I’m still trying to get the pen tuned properly after doing an ease my flex mod.

Park Red Bleedthrough - Cheap PaperThe bleedthrough is limited to the flex nib only. The colour is definitely dark enough for casual writing and eye-catching enough for marking or note titles.

The review unit was provided to me for free. The opinions expressed in the review are strictly my own. Thank you to Pen Chalet for providing the review unit, check them out at PenChalet.com.

 

The Hunt for a Rollerball Compatible with Fountain Pen Ink

So lately, I have been looking around for the perfect fountain pen ink compatible refillable rollerball pen. No, I have not been brainwashed or kidnapped and forced to write the previous sentence. I usually rely on three or four pens when I write notes for school, one handling the bulk of the writing and the others to emphasize certain parts. The other pens usually don’t get much use and are usually filled with some eye popping colours, so drying out is a serious concern as they may lay filled for over a month or more. As much as I love fountain pens, leaving them filled for as long as I do should be avoided.

Although I have an excellent Platinum #3776 Century that handles being left filled for extended periods of time, I was hoping for a solution that would allow me to leave the pen uncapped and sitting on my desk for ten minutes at a time. The best tool for the job here is an ink rollerball, so much to the horror of some of my fountain pen wielding friends, my search begins.

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Adventures in Nib Grinding – The Reversible Fine/Stub Nib

Obligatory warning: Grinding your nibs can result in a destroyed nib. I’m not responsible and definitely not an expert in this field. 

A friend has been challenging me to grind a reversible fine/stub nib for quite some time now. I finally took him up on the challenge. After some trial and error, I have come down with the following technique.
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Noodler’s #41 Brown Cheap Paper Review

Noodler's #41 Brown Cheap Paper Review

Noodler’s #41 Brown Cheap Paper Review

Let’s start this review with a Japanese EF nib in the form of the Pilot Penmanship. It is a bit light, but almost no feathering. I’m unsure if I would use this ink regularly in such a fine nib.

Let’s move up to an F to M nib found on Fountain Pen Revolution’s flex nibs. Some minor featuring if you look very close.

Now a Lamy Safari Medium. Actually very close to the FPR flex nib, but a touch drier. Still very minimal feathering. However, #41’s shading is a bit more obvious here.

Pardon the poor flex writing.

So would I recommend using Noodler’s #41 Brown with cheap paper? Yes! Even with a wet FM nib, there is barely any feathering. Ghosting is bad enough that you won’t use both sides of hte paper, but few inks can pull that off on paper this cheap. The bleedthrough is minimal until I broke out the flex.

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