Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dry Parker 61 Revived with Levenger Cobalt Blue

I bought a Parker 61 capillary filler fountain pen and pencil set that looked like new. (I wrote a brief post about this back in June 2014.) Even the silicone coating on the filler system is perfect with no flakes or scratches. However,  I couldn't keep it writing; the flow was so dry. 

No doubt it needed to be cleaned well, but I'm not willing to risk taking it apart after reading how easy it is to break them. So, I've flushed it out with a bulb syringe several times and refilled with different inks to try to improve the flow. This has only been partially successful and has improved marginally by using increasingly wetter inks. Until recently the best ink combination for this Death Valley dry writing 61 was Waterman Serenity Blue. But even that was not a great solution - no pun intended.  Obviously there must be some residue blocking the flow that I haven't been able to clear out and I was about ready to give up on it. 

However, recently I was reading about intense blue inks and ran across a review of Levenger Cobalt Blue in which it was noted that one of the problems with this ink is that it bleeds and feathers so badly because it is such a wet ink. Since I have a bottle of Levenger Cobalt Blue, I knew this to be true and was the reason why I stopped using it even though I love the color. Then it dawned on me that Cobalt Blue might be wet enough to flow through my Parker 61. So, I cleaned it thoroughly with the bulb syringe and after expelling all of the water,  I dunked the Parker 61 filler into the Cobalt Blue ink. 

Afterwards, I tried writing with it and there was no ink flow at all. Out of frustration I put the empty syringe on the end of the filler to see if any ink was in the pen, because I then wondered if the capillary system wasn't picking up any ink. I squeezed it and ink came out of the nib. So, I dipped the filler back into the ink bottle and then reassembled it to try it out. Amazingly,  it wrote the best it ever has so far. It still is a dry writer and feels a bit like writing with a soft pencil,  but not as dry as it had been in the past. The next morning I took the cap off to try it again thinking it will surely have stopped flowing or skip as it has in the past. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find it still wrote just as well. The next day it is still writing easily with no skips, drag or false starts. 

While this doesn't completely solve the partial clogging, it at least has the pen working at an agreeable and very usable flow. It is funny that an ink and a pen - both of which I had given up on - have turned out to be the perfect combination!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ink Flow and Pen Cleaning

Some new pens are stubborn to get started, especially using an ink cartridge for the first time. New pens may have residue from manufacturing that make them difficult to start. So, washing the nib with mild soap and water can help them flow better. Dipping pens and filling them with bottled ink primes the feed. If you only have cartridge ink, try tapping the pen nib GENTLY on a paper towel or rag to start the flow. You might also need to gently squeeze the ink cartridge JUST A LITTLE to start the flow. If you squeeze too hard you'll have a mess. Once you do this the first time and have ink running through the pen from cartridge to tip, you shouldn't have to do it again, especially if you use the pen on a regular basis. If the pen and cartridge run dry and are left sitting for a while, you may have problems again. If you still have problems, try a different brand of ink. My favorite ink for pens with a stubborn flow is Waterman's Serenity Blue. Serenity Blue flows well. It doesn't dry in your nib as quickly as other inks, and it has a beautiful bright blue color.

If your pen has had ink for awhile and clogged, a syringe is really helpful to clean out your pen quickly. Flushing the pen several times with lukewarm water nearly always brings your pen back to write-like-new condition. When I flush a pen, I stand at a sink with a glass full of clean water, drawing the water out with the syringe. Hold the syringe firmly into the pen nib assembly and force the water through, pointing the nib down toward the drain so the inky water is less likely to splatter on you or counter top. Even if you hold them together tightly be prepared to get sprayed.

The nib should be flushed several times until you see clear water coming through the nib. After the nib is clean, use the syringe (empty) to blow air through the nib assembly to help it dry faster. The nib will need to dry - usually overnight - if you want the ink to be full strength. If the nib still has water in it when you re-assemble it, and fill it with ink, the ink will be diluted. Surprisingly, even the tiniest bit of moisture will dilute the ink noticeably.

If your pen still has ink flow problems after cleaning, then you'll need to take apart the nib assembly, remove the feed, and clean the nib and feed with soap and water. When you do this, examine the channel in the feed for ink residue. Use a toothbrush or toothpick to clean out the channel, being careful not to damage the feed. The feed must be clean and the channel open in order for your pen to write well. Some of the better pen and ink dealers sell small copper sheets that can be used to clear the feed channel, even when the pen is fully assembled.