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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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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TWSBI VAC 700 Fountain Pen Review

The TWSBI Vac 700 ‘s introduction a few years ago was met with both excitement and frustration. I remember Fountain Pen Network being extremely excited by the prospect of a value priced vacuum filler, but the initial release had problems with the nib and feed resulting in many Vac 700s writing extremely dry. The clear demonstrator Vac 700 was delayed for several months while TWSBI worked out the kinks. I finally got around to purchasing the Vac 700 after the major price drop last year.

TWSBI Vac 700

The Vac 700 boasts a vacuum filler system and a monstrous ink capacity of 1.5 ml. The pen is available in clear, smoke, sapphire, and amber plastics with black accents. The nibs are German made nibs from JoWo and are available from Western EF up to 1.5mm stub. The nib size is a standard #6.

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Platinum #3776 Century Fountain Pen Review

One of the boring things about university life is the fact exams should be written in blue, blue-black, or black ink. For a fountain pen geek who enjoys the full rainbow of colours, the choice is either keep a school ready colour in constant rotation at all times or partially fill a pen each time a test or exam rolls around. There’s a third option, find a pen that can be left inked and unused for long periods of time!

Untitled

Platinum’s #3776 line of fountain pens are made from plastic with a classic style. The old #3776 pens were replaced with the slightly more expensive #3776 Century model, which feature the “Slip ‘n Seal” cap system. The system will be familiar to those who have used Platinum’s disposable Preppy pens. The inner cap is spring loaded, creating an air tight seal that dramatically slows evaporation. According to Platinum, such a seal with a snap type cap is not a difficult task; however, creating a screw on cap with the same seal system, on the other hand, was apparently a small feat of industrial engineering.

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Inked Up – March Edition

Please welcome Brandon Postal of the blog Go With Postal as our March guest! Although his blog is only a little over a month old, it’s been buzzing with tons of great posts with lots of coverage on vintage pens.

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Brandon was kind enough to let me take a peek at his current load out of pens and pencils.

From left to right:
Montblanc #22 – Private Reserve DC Supershow
Blue Sheaffer Snorkel Valiant – Noodler’s Lexington Gray Esterbrook LJ 9668 Renew Point – Diamine Oxblood Parker Shadow Wave Green Vacumatic – Diamine Sherwood Green Parker 51 Demi – Noodler’s Heart of Darkness
Parker 51 Demi Pencil – 0.9mm Lead

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A big thanks to Brandon for participating! Be sure to check out his blog at Go With Postal.

Pilot Cavalier Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Cavalier is probably one of the most underrated fountain pens in Pilot’s line. It is almost completely ignored in favour of the Pilot Metropolitan, the offerings from TWSBI, and the Lamy Safari. I originally purchased the Cavalier after my positive experiences with the Hi Tec C Cavalier. The pens are available in a variety of colours with gold trim with prices starting at $28 USD. The nibs are unique to the Cavalier and are available in Eastern fine and medium.

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Inked Up – February Edition

This month, I have very lucky to have Ed Jelley of EdJelley.com showing off his loadout. Here’s what Ed had to say about his current loadout:ilaikepens.com - Inked Up - February 2014 - Ed Jelley of edjelley.com

Left to Right:
Nakaya Neo Standard in Kuro-Tamenuri – Medium Soft Nib – Diamine Oxblood
Conklin Crescent Filler – 1.1mm Stub Nib – Stipula Verde Muschiato
Lamy 2000 – Binderized Medium Nib – Rohrer & Klingner Salix
Karas Kustoms Ink Prototype – Medium Nib – Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
Karas Kustoms Render K G2 – 0.4mm Black Pilot Hi-Tec-C Refill
TWSBI Mini Classic – Fine Nib – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun
Tactile Turn “Mover” Prototype in Raw Aluminum – 0.38mm Pilot G2 Refill
Field Notes Drink Local Edition IPA