Nov. 15th, 2010

somniloquy: (Default)
Fountain pens don't just run out of ink - they can have inadequate flow from whatever ink storage mechanism they are using through to the nib.

I am hand-writing my Nano as I've mentioned, and I use fountain pens. (I can only imagine the state my wrist would be in if I'd been using a biro to do 24,000-odd words so far.) In the past, I have rarely run out of ink in pens, generally getting bored with inks and changing them before that happened, but now it does happen.

More importantly than that, though, the flow of ink is sometimes inadequate. A little explanation of the mechanism of fountain pens here, which may be inadequate or incorrect in some detail: there is an ink reservoir (internal or convertor or cartridge) and from that the ink flows into the feed, and from there, to the nib. Both flows are by capillary action and gravity.

The feed is the part between the nib and whatever ink supply you have, and it's there to hold a reservoir of ink for use with the pen so that it doesn't suddenly stop being able to write if you turn it in the wrong direction, and also control the flow of ink through the nib so that it doesn't just gush through. Early fountain pens often suffer from poor feed design, so that they have trouble with both of these. Feeds are often removable, and have ridges and channels which fill with ink which then passes through tiny gaps to the nib. Feed design is a significant part of the difference between pens, and one of the hardest things to change - nibs can be altered and replaced but feeds are mostly too integral.

Obviously, the feed has to fill before you can write with a pen. Usually this takes place quite quickly, but what I seem to be finding is that you can write so quickly that a pen just can't suck up ink from the reservoir by capillary action at the same rate as you're pouring it out onto the page. I've been writing at times with Parker 51s, which have famously huge feeds that are really hard to flush out because of how much ink they hold, and after a few pages non-stop there is a definite difference in the amount of ink coming out of the nib. Not that it isn't working, but it is certainly drier to the page.

In contrast, I have to say that the Pilot Vanishing Point with a B nib continues to write with a consistent flow until it runs dry. The VP is more modern than the antique P51s that I have (over 50 years old) and the feed may have a better design, I suppose. Tragically, the VP also holds about half the amount of ink, so it does run dry, quite often.
somniloquy: (Default)
Is it just me or does cross-posting from DW to LJ not work properly if you select "minimum security level: friends"? It seems to set all my cross-posts to "private", which is not what I want at all. I don't want to reveal my old LJ ID to any sod who happens to be reading, but I'm quite happy with my friends still being able to read my entries and also know this username.

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