Caring for Ink Pens

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Leonardo Custom Fountain Pens

Caring for Your Pen:

This article is intended to instruct how to repair a fountain pen and maintain proper pen care in order to avoid having to fix an ink pen. If you do find you need to repair a fountain pen or rollerball pen, we have included some pen troubleshooting tips.

If you have a wood pen, realize your new wood pen is made from a natural material. As with any fine instrument that's made from wood some care must be taken to maintain the beauty and structural integrity of your Handmade pen.

DO NOT leave your pen in the car. The temperature extremes experienced in a car can damage or destroy it. Treat it as you would any fine, delicate instrument. Although a fountain pen or rollerball can withstand a lifetime of use, it will not tolerate abuse.

DO NOT use cleaning fluids or any abrasive substance (car wax) on any part of your new writing pen. The fluids and/or abrasives will damage the fine finish.

DO care for your wood ink pen the way you would any fine wooden product. Protect it with a light coat of good furniture paste wax designed for wooden products. After proper drying, buff with a soft, clean cloth.

DO keep your ink pen from extremes of heat and cold. Both are enemies of wood. Some woods are very temperature sensitive and may split or develop cracks from extremes of heat and cold. Protect it and it will deliver years of service.

DO use your ink pen. It is designed to be written with not placed in a drawer.

Resin Pen Care:The Acrylics used in our pens are man made products. These materials are more tolerant to extreme heat & cold and therefore more stable in these conditions.

DO NOTdrop your pen, these materials are more brittle and can crack or chip if dropped.

DO use plastic polish to revive the luster. Also a quality rubbing compound can buff out light scratches.

Fountain Pen Care

Unlike ballpoint pens you must learn to properly use and maintain fountain pens. A good way to begin is to establish a general understanding how fountain pens work. In the simplest of term ink travels from a sealed container (cartridge or converter pump) through a hole then into the feed. The feed has a thin groove on top which carries the ink to the feed fins and then to the tip of the nib. When the nib touches paper the ink is drawn to the paper by capillary action and flows from the feed fins which are replenished from the feed groove which is replenished from the sealed ink container. As more ink is used a vacuum is created in the sealed ink container which is relieved by gulping an air bubble from the hole in the nib. The ink in the feed wings and under the nib is held in place by a combination of water surface tension and molecular attraction and the vacuum in the sealed ink container. The nib and feed go into and are held by the section.

Preparing and Using a New Fountain Pen

Whether you are using an ink cartridge or the converter pump the fountain pen must first be primed with ink. Ink must be in the feed groove, in the feed wings, and under the nib before the fountain pen will write properly and continuously

Cartridge: Insert the open end of the cartridge firmly onto the nipple inside the back of the section. Now you must prime the pen. There are two methods. The first is to squeeze the cartridge so ink comes out of the tip of the nib. Clean the nib and under the feed with a tissue; write a few words to test the pen. It should write. If not squeeze again but harder. The second method is to screw on the pen the section, nib and feed assembly and then, with a flip of your wrist, quickly snap the pen down hard (preferably over a trash can!) so ink comes out the front of the nib. Clean the ink from the nib and under the feed with a tissue. Test and repeat if the pen does not write.

Converter Pump: Insert the open end of the pump firmly onto the nipple in the back of the section. Turn the black ridged piston handle very gently counter clockwise until the piston is at the bottom (open end) of the pump. Dip the nib entirely into your ink bottle and then turn the piston handle clock wise to draw the ink up into the pump. Clean the nib and bottom of the feed with tissue paper. The pen is now automatically primed and writing can begin.

Using and Maintaining a Fountain Pen Over Time

Many years ago before ballpoint pens people would purchase and use the same fountain pen their entire life or at least for many years. The more that you write with your fountain pen the more it becomes "your" pen. The nib breaks in according to your way of holding the pen and your writing style. If you would write with a new or another person's fountain pen it would not feel right.

Your fountain pen will occasionally need minor maintenance. If you don't write with it for a few days the ink may dry at the nib tip. The symptom is that the pen will not write or skip. To remedy this run a small warm stream of water over the tip of the nib for a second or two; the pen will now write. If you do not write with your pen for a long period of time, for example two months or longer, you may have to use a stronger stream of water for a longer period. It is also possible that you may have to remove the ink container and flush the ink out of the nib entirely and re-prime the pen. When not in use the best way to store a fountain pen is in the horizontal position.

A Short Troubleshooting Guide:

Fountain pen will not write, skips or writes a few lines and stops.

If this is the first time the ink pen is used and you are using the cartridge then the pen has not been properly primed. Prime the pen again by squeezing the cartridge hard; you need to see a lot of ink come out of the tip. If the fountain pen has been in use for a while and has written well in the past first run a small stream of warm water over the tip of the nib-test the pen it should write. If this does not work try priming the pen again. If this does not work you may have to flush out the pen entirely.

Fountain pen "glop's" ink while writing or a large amount of ink flows onto the paper.

This means the ink holder has lost vacuum. When using a cartridge this can occur when the ink supply is very low. Change the cartridge when the ink gets very low; do not wait until the pen stops writing. If this happens with a converter pump then the pump is bad; obtain a replacement. Occasionally a small hair or paper fiber can get caught in the nib slit. Inspect the nib with a magnifying glass and remove the hair or fiber with a tweezers. Never use India ink or similar inks in a fountain pen! These inks have very high solids content and will clog a fountain pen; always use inks made for fountain pens.