Many people prefer fountain pens because they float effortlessly on the paper. These pens are perfect for writing fancy cursive documents and calligraphy. Unfortunately, even the most expensive fountain pen can be fussy and temperamental.
So, what do you do when your fountain pen won’t work? First, a bit of background.
A fountain pen is a writing system, just like electrical systems, mechanical systems, and other kinds of systems, it relies on several components working together. Just like in other systems, when one element is not working as it should, there are hiccups in the overall performance.
Most of the common fountain pen problems are easy to fix. Here are some tips that will help you troubleshoot common issues with your fountain pens.
1. Scratchy Fountain Pen
A scratchy nib will scratch and dig into your papers as you write. It makes your writing unpleasant and may also damage the paper. Scratchiness can either be caused by imperfections in the tip or misaligned tines. Here is how to address a scratchy nib.
Check tine alignment
Use a magnifying glass of about 3x to 5x to see if the tines of the nib are well aligned. Check whether one tine is higher or lower than the other one.
If the tines are out of alignment, follow these steps to correct the issue:
- Using your fingernails, gently press down on the high side and upward of the low side.
- Use a magnifying glass or loupe to check your progress
- Repeat the same until the two tines of the nib are correctly aligned
Check for damaged tips
If the tines are well aligned, but the pen is still scratchy, use a magnifying glass to examine the tip of the nib. The surface of the tip should be perfectly smooth. If there are some visible spurs, nicks, and other surface irregularities, you should get another pen.
Polish the nib
Scratchiness may also be because the inside edges of the tips are sharper than they should be, or the surface of the tip is rough. If this is the case, polishing the nib using a fine-grit buff stick will help. But you should not go to polishing before aligning the tines.
You can also use a paper bag to polish the scratchy nib. Write letter 8s on a paper bag or any other rough paper surface using your normal writing angle and pressure. Test the pen in a normal paper after writing on the paper bag every minute.
2. Excessive Ink Flow
If your fountain pen is creating wide, wet lines that are taking too long to dry, there must be an air leak. An air leak can occur when the converter or the opening of the ink cartridge is unable to form an airtight seal with the nib section. Installing a different ink cartridge or converter might help resolve the issue.
Squeezing the tines together can also help reduce ink flow. To do this, grip the sides of tines using your fingertips and squeeze for 5 to 10 seconds.
3. Poor Ink Flow
Inconsistent ink flow can make your writing appear washed out. Poor ink flow can also cause hard starts. To fix poor ink flow in fountain pens, you should first check nib feed alignment. The nib slip should line up with the ink channel that is on top of the feed. If they don’t line up, adjust the nib manually. If the alignment is okay, but you are still experiencing poor ink flow, try using wetter ink.
After you’ve adjusted all that you can adjust, your pen should work. If your fountain pen won’t work even after all of that work — it may be time for a new one!