I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I used a fountain pen until it went dry. Typically after month or so I flush out a pen and with so many pens inked I rarely wrote one dry. In fact, I can’t remember when that was. That’s been changing recently and for some unknown reason it feels good to empty a pen of ink. In fact, four went empty this past week.
My new policy is that I don’t flush a pen just because a month is up. If it’s not a special ink (like iron gall or highly saturated) I won’t flush it unless the pen is hard to start or has other problems. The ink stays as long as it keeps flowing to my satisfaction. I do use all inked pens at least once a week, if only for a sentence or two.
I always carry my Kaweco AL-Sport although the fact that the cartridge lasted over 3 months means I don’t use it all that often. Seems like I do, but that thin nib conserves ink. I like carrying the pen, so it got a quick cleaning then immediately loaded with a Visconti Brown cartridge.
While the Kaweco stayed inked I have lowered my inked pen count. Of the pens inked last week, shown below, three went dry while I used them and a fourth needed to be flushed as it didn’t seem to like the ink.
The Sheaffer Balance II Aspen, first on the left, was the first to go. I only filled the converter about half way and once I started writing it was hard to stop.
The second Sheaffer Balance, this one the vintage one in Carmine Red (4th from right), went dry later the same day and know of my pens had Montblanc Bordeaux. I resisted the urge to ink one up.
The Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood (3rd from right) went dry Saturday, four days short of three months. No problems at all in those three months. The medium nib wrote perfectly every time.
The TWSBI Micarta was the only pen I had to flush vast quantities of ink. The Cult Pens Deep Dark Green didn’t get along with the ultra fine nib. After sitting overnight the pen needed a great deal of coaxing to write. The dried ink was visible at the tip of the nib but it needed more than a little dab of water to get going. I’ll use Waterman next to see if it’s the pen or the ink. If Waterman has the issue then it’s the pen.
The Platinum 3776 Ribbed will probably be next to go, although that ultra fine nib may make what little ink remains last a long time.
Do you usually write your pens dry or do you flush them out after awhile even if they still have ink?
I just received back the pens pens I sent out to Mike Masuyama. This was the first time I’ve sent pens out for work so I figured I’d recap the experience.
I’d recommend having nib work done at a pen show if at all possible before sending any through the mail. Nothing beats experiencing the work first hand and it will help you describe what you want done from long distance. I had several nibs done at shows before sending these out. I learned what types of questions were asked and what my answers should be to get the nib I wanted. It also helped me learn that the flow I liked was drier that any of the nibmeisters considered normal or how they would adjust it left to their own devices. Although this time out I’d be going for a wetter flow than I have in the past.
Since I’m unlikely to get to any pen show this year I decided to send out some pen. here’s the steps I took and these should work for most nibmeisters out there.
Pick the Pens to Send
Not every pen needs nib work. In my case I had three pens that needed adjustment for flow or nib issues. I knew I’d like the pens more after they were adjusted and I didn’t trust myself to do it. I actually also decided to get one of these problem pens ground to an ultra-fine. Another was a nib to which I wanted to add some character. The fifth was a pen I bought knowing I’d probably need to get the nib ground down but it was still worth the price.
Pick a Nibmeister
The website “And All Other Tasks” has a good article about differences in nibmeisters. If you can’t get to a show you can research nibmeisters in forums or on their website. If you’ve never used the specific nibmeister before start of by sending one pen just to be sure their work suits your writing style, even for a top tier nibmeister. When researching your choice, pay attention to the turn-around times. For some they can run into months.
I picked Mike Masuyama for this set of pens. I really liked his thin Franklin-Christoph nibs that I received. He also did a broad stub for me (at the Washington DC show) which I liked. The stub nib is a bit finicky in that it’s less forgiving of rotation or a lazy grip. That said, it’s an extremely nice writer. One of the pens is a broad nib I wanted stubbed. I considered not sending this to Mike and picking someone else to get some variety, but decided he’d get this pen too but it would be a wetter writer than the first one.
Contact The NibMeister
This is just good business practice even if they have a website that answered all your questions. Ask any questions you might have and verify your info such as pricing, turn around time, and shipping address is correct.
In my case Mike had the info on his website but I had a couple questions about the Balance II Aspen to be sure it was something he could look at. He also confirmed that I shouldn’t send the pens to arrive before he returned home.
Mike had a form on his website to print and fill out with the pen information and to describe the work. I filled it out and was specific about what I wanted. I wanted these pens to be wetter than I typically want so requested a flow of eight on a scale on one to ten. I also mentioned that I’m a righty with a light touch. For the Aspen I went into the detail and included that the pen would write OK for over a page before having the problem.
I’m a bit obsessive about packaging. The pens went into some pen cases I had available for protection. I included the converters but nothing else. Then these went into a plastic gallon bag to protect against water, along with a index card with my contact info. I also included a copy of the instructions for Mike in the plastic bag.Then all that went into the shipping box with lots of packing material. That was topped off with another card with my contact information and the instructions for Mike so they would be seen as soon as the box was opened.
Shipping – To Insure or Not
I sent my pens via USPS with signature confirmation so they wouldn’t be left on a porch. I debated insurance and decided to insure 4 of the 5 pens. It was relatively cheap and I figured at the very least they’d get better handling/tracking. I didn’t insure the fifth pen because I didn’t have a receipt for the purchase which would have been needed for a claim.
Arrival – Nib Work – Return
Mike let me know the pens arrived. I inquired about the turn around time. Since he had been traveling I hadn’t asked before shipping them. His estimate was close enough that I never had to follow up. But I’d encourage you to feel free to follow up if the estimates aren’t met.
He sent me the bill and I paid through PayPal and he shipped them back the next day which was just before the LA Pen Show and they arrived on Saturday. naturally, it was late in the day so I waited anxiously so I could sign for them and not have to wait until Tuesday when the post office reopened.
Despite having an assortment of inked pens I couldn’t resist. I inked them all up to see the results.
Sheaffer Balance II Aspen – I had sent this out to fix a flow problem that made the pen unusable. I liked the nib even though it was a medium, so there were no changes beyond the adjustment. The pen was filled with Montblanc Bordeaux ink and was used to write the draft of this article, which is about twice as much as it wrote before being sent off to Mike. So I call this one a success and have been using it enough that it should be my next pen review.
Lamy 2000 with a fine nib – This pen was new to me and suffered from a scratchy nib upon arrival. From what I read this isn’t all that uncommon. Rather then send it back I sent it out for adjustment. The result? OMG! The nib is now incredibly smooth and the pen has a nice flow letting me use a light touch. I need some more time with the pen but this could become one of my favorites and a regular in my rotation.
Pelikan M620 Shanghai with a broad nib – This was sent in to be stubbed. This is the second Pelikan broad nib that Mike has stubbed for me. I requested a wetter flow for this one. It’s got some nice variation. With a wide nib I’ll need to get used to the wetter flow, but it is what I asked for. Because it is a broad, wet nib it’s not one I’ll use for every day writing but it’s a nice addition to my fountain pen arsenal. As my tastes are changing I suspect this will be a nib I’ll use a lot in the future.
Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise – This was sent in to be ground down from a medium to a fine nib. This was a DC Pen Show purchase and a medium was all that I could find. The price was good enough so that even the cost of a nib grind would still make it a fair deal. Some mediums are OK for me but this was much too wet for me. So I had it ground down to a fine nib. There’s some nice flex left in the smooth nib and it’s still a wet writer, but now that it’s a fine it’s a pen I can use.
TWSBI Micarta with a medium nib – This pen was ground down to an ultra-fine. I absolutely hated the way this pen wrote, even though I like the industrial look of the Micarta. The result is a nice smooth ultra-fine. Although smooth is relative to the paper since the thin nib can stab the page or catch on fibers. Of all the nib work, this was the most expensive at $40. I’m glad I decided to invest in the pen rather than writing it off.
I shipped the pens out January 9th and got them back on February 15th, so they were away just over 5 weeks. It was well worth the wait and the price, in my opinion. I’m extremely happy with the results. The Sheaffer Balance Aspen writes problem free, worthy of its looks. The Lamy 2000 is absolutely incredible compared to how I first got it. Both are thanks to some “simple” adjustments made by an expert which was a bargain at $20 per pen.
The Omas 360 and TWSBI Micarta went from pens I’d rarely use to pens that I’ll use frequently. The Pelikan is another nice broad stub.
I was shocked when I recently noticed my Sheaffer accumulation had grown to 19 pens, both modern and vintage. I bought my first Sheaffer fountain pen back in 2004. Two of them actually, a Sheaffer Legacy II and a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage, both purchased from the clearance section at Levenger.
I didn’t really like the pens. The touchdown converter on the Legacy II confused me at the time. I also didn’t like the nibs but in retrospect that was because they were wetter and wider than I was accustomed to. So the pens ended up getting neglected as did the brand. I used both pens recently and the experience was much better. They were the exact same pens so it was me that changed.
At my first pen show in March 2013 I saw some vintage Sheaffer Balances but I didn’t buy my first vintage Sheaffer until May. Since then my accumulation of Sheaffers has reached what I should start calling a collection. Although it still lacks focus beyond Sheaffer.
There’s a lot about Sheaffers I really shouldn’t like. I like a good old fashioned nib that can be seen in all it’s glory. I don’t like inlaid nibs or even conical nibs nearly as much. Except on Sheaffers. Maybe it’s because Sheaffer is synonymous with inlaid and conical (Triumph) nibs. It helps a lot that these nibs are great to write with. I’m also not a fan of two-tone nibs yet they seem to fit in on these classic pens.
So here’s the current collection (Click the photos for full size):
I liked the vintage Sheaffers so much I started adding some modern ones.
Three of my favorite pens are Sheaffers:
The Sheaffer Balance Aspen is a modern pen based on the classic design. The pen is beautiful. Despite being a thin nib guy I really love the medium nib on this. If I can fix the skipping problem it will make the favorite 5 modern pens. The green Sheaffer Balance Oversize is my #2 favorite vintage pen. The custom stub nib is just a little wide for my personal preference as a daily writer but great when I do use it. That ugly, discolored (it started as Pearl & Black) Junior is my favorite vintage pen. When posted the pen is comfortable in my hand and the custom fine stub is great.
My first vintage pen was an Esterbrook, soon followed by a Parker Vacumatic. But Sheaffer did sneak up on me and claimed the top spot as my favorite vintage pen brand. The modern Sheaffers are rather good too.
The TWSBI/Lamy theme of the grab bag starter pens leads me to the following poll question…
The poll has been deleted.
Let’s begin the new year with a Fountain Pen Quest first – a grab bag to thin out my fountain pen accumulation. This will be on a first come first served basis so hopefully my blog subscribers and followers will get first crack. This is open internationally, with apologies to those of you asleep or still hungover when this post goes up.
There will be 4 “bags” in the grab bag. One of the four pens pictures below will start off each of the four bags. I’ll add other pen related goodies to each bag. These pens are used but in good condition. Other items may be unused or slightly used but in good working condition. Stuff that’s perfectly usable but I know I’ll never use it for one reason or another.
The TWSBIs will include the TWSBI wrench but other that that there are no boxes, papers or other extras. The Lamys do not have a converter. So just the pens you see in the picture. Nibs? Sorry, it is a grab bag so no details, but as you can see, they do have nibs.
Here’s how this will work:
You cannot request a pen, it’s random.
International readers are in. You will be responsible for any custom fees or taxes. Shipping is from the US. All pens are used and the TWSBI 540s are the most expensive when new so I don’t expect the declared value to exceed $30 with all the goodies (but your local tax man may disagree). Shipping will be via a low cost USPS method which may not provide tracking or will stop tracking once the package leaves the US. (This varies depending upon country.) Not to be harsh, but I won’t be responsible for packages which never arrive.
You must use the form below to submit your entry. The first four entries take them and I’ll try to remove the form as soon as I can once they’re gone. The email address must be valid so I can contact you. You do not need to include a shipping address until I contact you if you win. I will not share your email address, or your mailing address if that is provided. Shipping will use USPS.
After posting the year-end post WordPress sent me the annual report. They even auto-generated the post below so I figured I’d share.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 92,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.