Desiderata Flex Pen User Manual

Pour (très vieux) PDF en Français, cliquez ici.

Purpose. I designed this pen to be a writing instrument:

  • Capable of giving outstanding flex performance
  • Adaptable to a wide range of writing styles. (This pen was designed to accommodate the majority of flex pen users, who do primarily writing (94%), not drawing (6%). Artists have used this pen to great success, but it required experimentation and practice to find the best combination of ink choice and drawing speed to suit their personal styles.)
  • Cheaper than vintage pens or other modern flex pen incarnations of comparable performance
  • That works. Every time. 

What you can expect/Things you need to know

  • These pens were meant to work with no user modification. They can’t support modification. Please don’t modify them. Speaking as the person who designed these pens, here is my worst-case scenario: A user opens the box, ignores the instructions, fills the pen, pushes it too fast, too hard, too soon, and gets unsatisfactory results, then they scream “LIES! I’d better–put it through the paces that I would a xxxxxxx’s pen”, and then he/she spends hours doing all kinds of fancy adjustments and modifications, cutting this, shaving that and putting the pen into every other conceivable configuration EXCEPT the one in which the pen arrived, and get nowhere. Then I get an exasperated email (or a bad review)  where they’re ready to give up on the pen, and I [have to] ask: “Did you read the manual first?” 
  • While this pen uses fountain pen ink only, and will theoretically accept any fountain pen ink, every fountain pen ink will not give identical performance. Assuming good pen hygiene, it is a fact that some inks will allow more flex without railroading than others. For a few notes on customer usage, please see the FAQ.
  • An unclean nib, especially between the tines and on the underside is the number one cause of poor flow and railroading. A different ink and a clean nib go a long way.
  • The internal parts of these pens are necessarily machined to very close tolerances. Be careful with your adjustments. 1/32” matters.
  • When at rest, the tines need to touch at the tip for proper flow.
  • Silicone Grease is often used to seal joints and I refer to it throughout the course of this document. You want to get silicone grease for sealing, not silicone "grease" designed for lubrication. It should look thick like petroleum jelly, not viscous like honey. That stuff won't form a good seal. It'll flow out slowly, and cause results that will drive you mad.

Tuning. This pen is not a typical, modern fountain pen. It is a writing instrument capable of holding flexible, steel dip nibs as well as stainless, firm nibs. Again, ink choice matters. Having good paper matters. Think of this pen like a musical instrument–you have to work with the instrument for best results. Every piece of music won’t sound good on every piano with every pianist.
Once you get it, or when its time to be serviced, you need to learn how to tune it for optimum performance; To fulfill its purpose, it needs to be cleaned/tuned on a regular schedule dictated by its use and level of daily care. Flush it at the end of the night with water and air dry, and you should be good for a while. 

Handling. Being a pen capable of flexing, and flexing easily, ink demands on the nib can be high, and to accommodate them, this pen was designed with a hand-cut feed capable of delivering enough ink to keep the pen from running dry or “railroading”. Thus, this is a “wet fountain pen”, as opposed to a dry one. Though all fountain pens are “controlled leaks”–utensils whereby capillary action draws ink from a reservoir to a writing substrate in a constant manner–some pens allow more ink to be drawn from the reservoir than others, and though not usually a problem, a wet pen is, de facto, more apt to leak ink than a dry one. This pen is not fragile, but it’s also not like a ballpoint pen that one can abuse with impunity. This pen needs a lot of ink, so if you shake or jostle it, ink may come out the nib's vent hole.
I carry one around with me in my pocket every day. I keep the nib (point) up when it’s in my pocket, and I keep it capped. When it’s on my desk and being unused, I cap it so if it falls off, I won’t damage the nib or make a mess. 
Use good sense with a pen like this. I love a good flex pen, but when I’m working in my workshop, I don’t need flex. Board room? Yes. Busy restaurant kitchen? Probably not. Job interview? Maybe. Taking boring lecture notes? Probably. 

General Quick Start Guide

(More detail on any of the points covered in this section can be found below in the Table of Contents. Steps are the same for non-flex nibs.)

  • Inspect the nib and feed for the pen when you get it. Note the distance the nib tip juts out from the section. Look at how close the tines are at the tip. See how they touch ever so slightly? You'll want to be able to reproduce this alignment.
  • Twist the nib and feed out and clean them both thoroughly with the necessary agents. A clean nib lets the process fly. A less-than clean nib will choke ink flow, and frustrate you and me both. (I shall know.)
  • Reinsert the nib and feed and fill the pen. 
  • Take it slow at first, then let the flex fun begin!

Table of Contents

IMPORTANT: Cleaning a Nib/Tuning

A clean nib is essential in getting your pen to write properly. Simply put, if there's any reason for ink to fail to get to the tip of the nib and off the paper, your pen either won't work or more frustratingly, it will work poorly. Oil (packing and finger) is the most common problem. See this video for help.

This procedure is for people who have never cleaned a dip nib before, but if you're experienced at this, feel free to use your preferred method. I prefer this one because it entails the least risk. 

You'll need: toothpaste with some abrasive, something to scrub the nib with (a cotton-tipped applicator (Q tip) is great, a clean old toothbrush, or a melamine based abrasive scrubbing sponge would all work fine), your bottle of ink, water, a napkin or paper towel, clean cloth, tweezers or forceps (optional). Estimated time: 2-10 minutes.

  1.  Cleaning. Make sure the nib can be fitted into the pen properly with correct tine alignment (detailed in the below section). If you've got a bad nib, there's no sense in cleaning it.
    1. Hold the new nib by the tweezers or forceps and dip it (fully) into the bottle of ink. Remove it and have a look. Notice how the ink falls right off? That's because of the packing protectant. Take note. Rinse it off.

    2. Holding the nib with your fingers, take whatever you're using to scrub the nib, apply a bead of toothpaste to it and scrub the nib clean on the underside and its top to get the oil off. You should feel the tactile feedback of your buffing change after you clear the layer of wax.

    3. Rinse it off well with your water and toothbrush, then dampen a napkin with saliva and wipe the nib clean and dry. Repeat step 2. If you've done a complete cleaning, the ink should stick to the nib. Sticking is not beading. If ink beads up on the nib, rinse it off and repeat steps 2 and 3, checking with step 1 until the ink forms a thin, uniform layer over the surface of the nib. 

    4. Wet the cotton-tipped applicator (Q tip) with saliva and, holding the nib between your thumb, middle and ring fingers, bend one tine back (in the direction it would flex) so that you can see the inside edge of the tine. Rub the entire length of the tine several times with the Q tip. Switch hands, repeat the process with your other hand and the other tine. After you're done, the tines may want to lay on top of one another. Pop the tines back in place by gently flicking the tip with the Q tip. Using the clean cloth, wipe any cotton fibers out of the nib tines.

    5. Scrub the nib off with water and the toothbrush (get between the tines too). Moisten with saliva once its in the pen if desired.
  2. Tuning. This is where many problems of user error occur. Please read the entire section. Place the nib on the feed so that the ink channel is situated directly underneath the slit, and insert the nib/feed into the section making sure that END OF THE INK CHANNEL (the rectangular groove that comes to an end at the round part of the feed) is at or just beyond (approximately 1/32”) the tip-most end of the vent hole of the nib. You’ll need a strong light for this.

    1. Zebra G, Nemosine, Knox Pilot or Goulet nibs. You have to push the nib/feed to the point of snugness. This will require something between a firm push to a very slight amount of brute force. A thick cloth or thick piece of rubber can help to protect your fingers. The tip of the nib usually protrudes from the section about 20-24.5mm or less, but if the pen was shipped to you already assembled/tested, measure it first and use that distance for the future. If you have the nib/feed in and it bleeds from the neck (the joint between the nib/feed and the section):

      1. Make sure the nib and feed are aligned properly.

      2. Push the nib/feed in a little more– to the point of snugness, usually a little less than 1mm at a time–and try again.

      3. Rub a little silicone grease around the nib/feed and reinsert. That will make it harder for ink to escape, but this is a last resort. Usually, pushing the assembly further in does the trick.

    2. If you’re having trouble getting the tines to close, after each adjustment, flick the tines slightly with your fingernail to ensure they’re truly at rest. Sometimes the tines can overlap slightly, or get caught up on something, and appear unable to close. If the tines don't touch, the pen won't write properly. You may have a bad nib. Replace.

  3. Once you have the nib and feed inserted, fill the assembly.

Sac Installation

This is primarily for pens with silicone sacs and a sac nipple on the section. For what those parts are, read on.

(Estimated time before you can write with it: A few minutes.)

Helpful tools: ruler, scissors, a table to work on with strong light, a couple clean soft cloths (microfiber if you have it, but not essential), clean hands, a cotton tipped applicator (Q-tip), water, silicone grease (optional). 

For a visual parts list, and other pictures that might help you get going, please visit:

http://www.pinterest.com/desideratap/troubleshooting/

  1. Cut ink sac to the correct length from the closed, round end. You need it to be as long as possible without bumping into the back of the barrel when the section is fully screwed in.

  2. Grease the end of the section a little (if desired) and slide the sac over the smooth end of the section. (Grease the threads if using an eyedropper-filler such as the Sleek.)

  3. Holding the section (threaded part up) with both thumbs and middle fingers, slowly work the ink sac down onto the base of the section with your index fingernails.

  4. If you can, ensure the sac is straight on the section, and not coming off at an angle. 

Filling instructions for pens with sacs (First Gen. Daedalus and Icarus)

You need bottled ink! If you need additional help, please watch the YouTube video on “Filling and Tuning a Desiderata Flex Pen”.

  1. Holding the section by the part covered with the clear ink sac with one hand, submerge the nib and the front end of the section.

  2. Quickly, and with some force, squeeze the ink sac with the other hand, and release it, expelling air, and allowing the sac to fill with when you release it. Bubbles from the escaping air in the ink sac should bubble through the ink. Once you see that, you know you’re going to fill the pen.

  3. Aerometric filling pens such as the Icarus, skip to step 5. To fill entirely, upend the assembly, and smartly shake it downward or tap the side to move the ink to the very end of the ink sac.

  4. Using a towel to collect small bubbles of ink still contained in the feed, squeeze the sac, and while holding it squeezed, re-submerge the assembly to draw up more ink. This may take practice.

  5. Repeat the above steps as necessary, until the pen is as full as you want it to be.

  6. Set the assembly down on a towel.

  7. PUT THE CAP BACK ON THE BOTTLE.

  8. Dry the leftover ink from the section/nib.

  9. Screw the section into the barrel.

  10. Gently rub little saliva onto the exposed back of the nib with a towel. This will help get the flow started.

  11. Test out the pen by doing some slow doodles and light flexing to get the flow going. Don’t flex too hard too fast! Though this pen was designed to "work properly out of the box”, that doesn’t mean “foolproof with perfect Quality Control”. It still needs a clean nib. In my experience, when a user has trouble getting the pen to write, it’s usually an air bubble or related to one of the parts of the pen I didn’t design, the nib. Cleaning between the tines usually clears up the issue.

    • CHECK: Make sure it doesn’t bleed from the neck. After placing it point down against the paper, you can usually see the ink start to pool up behind the vent hole, and the ink start to fill the space in the tines all the way to the tip of the nib. If you can see ink there, but it won’t write yet, try wetting the bottom side of the tip (on the side with the feed on it) with a little saliva. Sometimes that helps to get the capillary flow started. It may flow a little wet at the beginning, and that’s normal. Use a cloth to absorb any ink that may leak out. Check the back of the nib for any huge pools of ink forming. As necessary, go through the steps of tuning if the pen doesn’t write properly yet. The key is for the pen to write properly without leaking, regardless of the nib/feed/sections appearance. In all of my tests, these pens can work smoothly once tuned properly with a clean nib and the right ink.

Filling instructions for pens with eyedropper filling reservoirs

You need bottled ink! If you need additional help, please watch the YouTube Quick Start video.

  1. Grease the threads  connecting the section to the ink reservoir with silicone grease. (NOT petroleum jelly. That can melt plastic.)

  2. Using your favorite method, pour some ink through the section back into the ink bottle so that the whole feed is saturated with ink. This will speed the time it takes for ink to get from the reservoir to the nib.

  3. Pour some ink into the reservoir. (I use a pipet or a syringe. Actual eyedroppers are a bit slow for me, but if you have the time, that's fine.)

  4. Screw the section onto the reservoir. Upend it over the ink bottle or a paper towel in case of momentary ink spillage. (Despite being a closed, sealed system, sometimes an air bubble gets in there and forces ink out of the pen right when you fill it.)

  5. Assemble the pen (if applicable)

  6. Test out the pen by doing some slow doodles and light flexing to get the flow going. Don’t flex too hard too fast! Though this pen was designed to "work properly out of the box”, that doesn’t mean “foolproof with perfect quality control”. In my experience, when a user has trouble getting the pen to write, it’s usually an air bubble or related to one of the parts of the pen I didn’t design, the nib. Cleaning the nib thoroughly usually clears up the issue.

    • CHECK: Make sure it doesn’t bleed from the neck. After placing it point down against the paper, you can usually see the ink start to pool up behind the vent hole, and the ink start to fill the space in the tines all the way to the tip of the nib. If you can see ink there, but it won’t write yet, try wetting the bottom side of the tip (on the side with the feed on it) with a little saliva. Sometimes that helps to get the capillary flow started. It may flow a lot at the beginning, and that’s normal. Use a cloth to absorb any ink that may leak out. Check the back of the nib for any huge pools of ink forming. As necessary, go through the steps of tuning if the pen doesn’t write properly yet. The key is for the pen to write properly without leaking, regardless of the nib/feed/sections appearance. In all of my tests, these pens can work smoothly once tuned properly with a clean nib and the right ink.

Filling instructions for twist fillers

  1. Remove the pen cap and, if necessary, the barrel to expose both the nib and filling knob.
  2. Submerge the nib up to the section in your favorite bottle of ink.
  3. Twist the knob counterclockwise to "wring" out the sac. Do not allow the knob to withdraw more than about 2 mm with your twisting. If you unscrew too far, you may disengage the sac from the knob.
  4. As the sac is wrung out, you evacuate the internal sac. Twist the knob back the other direction until it goes back to its original orientation, and ink will flow into the sac. You're done!
    • In a single go, the pen will only fill about 70% of the way at best. For a complete fill, proceed as above, but only withdraw a small amount of ink (maybe 30%), upend the pen, and–this takes practice–tap it gently to force the ink to slide to the back of the pen. Then, with the pen upended, repeat the process, turning the knob and wringing out the sac until ink just barely starts to come out of the nib/feed (experience will teach you how to burst air bubbles without creating a mess, and how to distinguish between an air bubble and actual ink), submerge the nib in ink, and then twist the knob back to its home position.
  5. To clean, you can fill and unfill with water, but for a faster cleaning, I just pull the section off, or pull out the nib and feed, and squirt water into the reservoir until it runs clear. A long stem cotton swab can get all the way up in there to wipe down the inside walls of the sac should the need arise. 

Filling instructions for vacumatic fillers

  1. Unscrew the blind cap off the back end of the barrel.
  2. Immerse the nib end of the pen in ink up to and covering the front of the section so no air can sneak into the pen's bore.
  3. Quickly depress (full stroke) and release the button, "kicking" air out the front end of the pen. You should see bubbles shooting out when you do this. 
  4. Repeat until no further bubbles appear. 
  5. PUT THE CAP ON THE INK BOTTLE FIRST
  6. Wipe off the end of the pen and carry on.

My own little procedure for beginning use with a freshly prepped pen:

  1. Once it’s ready to be used, I wipe the tip of the nib with a clean cloth to make sure I didn’t accidentally sully the nib without realizing it.

  2. Lick the tip. Saliva starts capillary action exceedingly well, and your nib NEEDS capillary action.

  3. Ensure the paper I’m about to use is clean, and doesn’t have hand oils all over it. These are great pens, but they’re not miracle workers; oils inhibit capillary action.

  4. Hold the pen up to a strong light and ensure there’s no gap between the tines. A gap there can cause this pen to turn into a nightmare. If there is, reseat the nib a hair or two further away from the end of the feed.

  5. After filling, I give it a moment to get flow started. If there aren’t any air bubbles in the way, you can actually see the ink begin to flow inside the Zebra G vent hole. Once it does, it will work. Seeing that level will also enable you to gauge how fast the ink flow is keeping up with your use, and, by getting used to the visible ink levels indicated there, you can avoid railroading. Eyedropper fillers such as the Sleek are much more susceptible to poor initial flow due to air bubbles getting trapped in the reservoir than the pens that are filled with sacs. That’s due to the nature of adding ink then upending the pen as opposed to simply drawing ink up through the pen through the nib. I’m working on a solution. With a firm nib, initial flow is pretty good, but with a flex nib, you may have to just put the pen aside for a while for the air bubbles to come out. Also, consider experimenting with different ink choices.

  6. Get a paper towel handy, and shake it downward to get a little splatter. If the thing runs dry when you first filled it, try shaking it. Most likely you’ll get nothing (which tells you there’s an air bubble in there) or you’ll get a few drops, and then you’re back in business. It may take a few tries of shaking, tapping or setting it aside to get the air out, but eventually your pen will settle in, air bubbles will be gone, and it will perform nicely for you.  

 

Maintenance

Getting maximum life from a nib. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Drain the pen of ink, rinse it out, pull the nib and feed out, and let all the parts air dry. 
    • Best method. Maximum lifespan. Least convenient.
  2. Simply leave the pen filled with ink, capped and set it nib up for storage.
    • Worst method. Shortest lifespan. Most convenient.
  3. Upend the pen, tap it so that any ink lodged in the pen can drain away from the nib, wipe the nib dry, and let it air dry.
    • Slightly better than 2.
  4. What do I do? I unscrew the section, rinse it out, use a paper towel to wick all remaining water out of the nib/feed, and store the pen capped, open barrel upright, and leave the section near it, to air dry.
    • The nib lifespan is almost as good as 1, but it's still pretty inconvenient. This saves you the trouble of losing your nib/feed alignment, and getting finger oils all over the nib, however.

Staining. Though it can stain a different color with a strong ink, the silicone sac included with your pen will not melt or become damaged through holding any ink. I have used Noodler’s Inks including Baystate Blue, Private Reserve inks, and several fountain pen friendly iron gall inks in these sacs, and the sac was fine.

If you disassemble the pen and rinse it, once the water is 100% clear, you can be sure the remaining color in the sac is purely discoloration of the sac and not ink residue. If you just like the sac to be clear, rinse it out with bleach water and a cotton swab, and you should be fine.

Cleaning. The best way to clean a pen thoroughly is to take it apart and wash the parts in soapy water. Be sure to rinse all traces of soap off the nib before reinsertion. If you just want a periodic rinse to make sure everything is flowing smoothly, just pour a glass of water, and discharge/fill the pen into it a few times.

I forgot and left the nib in there with ink in the pen, and now everything is stuck and immovable.

  1. Unscrew the section
  2. Pull off any sacs or breather tubes from the back of the feed
  3. Get a long, hard object that can fit into the bore (about 3/16" in diameter should do it)
  4. Push the whole apparatus out.
  5. Carefully pry the rusted nib off, throw it away and then soak the feed in some warm soapy water with a little ammonia in it for…a while.
  6. Scrub the feed with a scotch brite sponge
  7. Don't do that again!

Nib replacement. If you purchased this pen for use with a disposable dip nib, such as the Zebra G, remember that these nibs are disposable, and were never designed for permanent use.  For the longest possible nib life, you must remove and clean the nib after every use. That said, if you just dried the nib tip at the end of the day, you’re still in better shape than you would be if you never cleaned it. One customer simply taps it, nib up, a few times to drain the ink out of the nib, and thoroughly wipes the tip of it dry with a cloth. At the time of this writing, he’s had his for about 3 months, and his nib still works great. Another option is to simply flush it with water at the end of the day, dry off the nib tip and let the pen dry out. I switch inks a lot, and that’s what I do.

The dip nibs with which my pens are compatible were chosen for their price, durability, availability, and/or their performance. They will wear out eventually. If you keep the nib in your pen continuously, without cleaning, the wear and degradation manifests, gradually, as a loss of the finer aspects of the nib’s highest performance; scratchiness, poor flex, bad hairlines, etc.

I dropped my feed down the drain!/My dog ate my feed!/My cat destroyed my feed!

You are out of luck. I can't sell you a spare feed. I might cut you a break on a new pen, though.

Handling and general care of wooden pens.

  • For wooden pens with glossy acrylic finishes, just wipe the wood clean if it gets dirty. No waxes or polishes are necessary. Try to avoid getting ink on the wood! It’s sealed and most ink spills aren’t a problem, but be careful; all it takes is one drop of ink in the right place and the wood is that color forever. If your pen has a "natural" or matte finish, from time to time wipe clean with a slightly damp cloth, apply your favorite wood wax or oil; Johnson's Paste Wax, Renaissance Wax, Jojoba Oil, orange oil, mineral oil–any of these (or equivalent) can do the job. Once the wax is dry or absorbed, buff back to the original sheen with a soft cloth. 

  • Only tighten the cap to the point of gentle snugness. Some pens don't have positive stops and ratcheting the cap down with all your might can damage the wood or break the plastic.

  • Since wood was once alive, in the final product, there is sometimes evidence of its past life; worm holes, some chips, color inconsistencies, spalting, etc. are all part of the experience of having a solid (as opposed to veneered) wooden pen. This is normal.

  • If you have a pen with an unfinished surface (oiled or left bare), you can either let it develop its own patina with time, or oil it with mineral oil, jojoba oil or your favorite drying wood oil (like tung oil if you have it or an equivalent).

 

Troubleshooting

For pictures that can help you get going with your new pen, please visit:

http://www.pinterest.com/desideratap/troubleshooting/

Railroading/Intermittent flow. If your pen railroads, and it’s not because of alignment, there are a few possible reasons:

  1. Are the tines in perfect contact with the paper?  Is the nib worn, slightly sprung or dirty? Clean it or replace it. Adjust writing angle. If the tines don’t meet at the tip when the nib is at rest, replace the nib.

  2. Is the nib clean between the tines, too? The tell-tale sign of a nib that isn't 100% ready is seeing the ink puddling in the vent hole, but still won't flow properly. That’s a dirty nib problem, guaranteed.

  3. The paper is oily, and causes the line to run out at the same general region. Get some clean paper.

  4. The pen is running low on ink. Refill it. Flex pens can use a lot of ink.

  5. If this happens when you first start using the nib, make sure:

    1. The nib, feed and section are all spotlessly clean

    2. The ink channel (or air channel in the feed) isn’t blocked, pointing in the wrong direction, or otherwise in the wrong orientation. Air bubbles can be a menace here. See “OPTIONAL my own procedure for beginning use”, step 5 and 6.

  6. Are you flexing like flex is going out of style? If so, I understand your excitement, but unlike Apple, I haven’t yet succeeded in building a product with actual working magical parts yet, so there are limits. Experiment with different inks and adjust your writing style to accommodate it. This is not a fountain pen, this is a writing instrument. And like musical instruments, you have to work with the instrument for best results–every piece of music won’t sound good on every piano with every pianist.

Pooling of ink behind the nib during normal writing. If your pen starts to create a big pool of ink behind the tines that looks like its in danger of blobbing out, don’t panic, just take a clean napkin and wick away the ink behind the nib. One or more of the following could apply:

  1. The pen is either mostly empty and there are air bubbles in the section interrupting the flow
  2. The air behind the ink is expanding from heat. Try filling it completely full first. This pen is designed with modern materials using old technology, and this feed has a “vintage” design where the occasionally pooling ink is held to the CLEAN nib through surface tension alone. You need this generous ink flow for flexing “to the max” (approximately 3 mm) without railroading. This is normal. Scary, but normal.
  3. You've got a super "wet" ink. Be strong, and give it a little while. Let me know what you find. 

When I shake the pen, ink shoots out. Don’t shake a fountain pen! A fountain pen is a controlled leak, and shaking–what amounts to an ink-filled container with a hole in it–is gambling at best and lunacy at worst. Play it safe, and try not to drop it or jostle it.

Blurting out ink when flexing. Are you sure it’s not burping because it’s almost empty? Top it off. If that doesn't help, in my tests, this problem is usually solved by adjusting the placement of the nib/feed in the section, if that doesn’t help, email me with your problem, and I’ll see if we can’t work it out. Put “Felonious Monk” in the subject line. 

Stuck nib? First, try soaking the section in warm water for a while to loosen things, and then, using a strip of thick rubber (inner tube, thick rubber band, anything you can think of) to get a better grip on the nib and feed and, holding the section with your other hand, twist to get the nib/feed out. Or, pull off the sac/ink reservoir, and get something to get behind the feed/section to push it out–A paintbrush handle, bamboo skewer, drill blank–whatever you have that can make disassembly a “pushing” game, rather than a “pulling” one. Anything you can do to push or twist the nib/feed out is better than straight squeezing and pulling. That’s a losing battle.

I have a sample vial, and I want to fill this pen with it, but there isn’t enough ink there. Can you unscrew the section and pour the ink into the pen directly?

Scratchiness. You were sent a pen with a clean, new nib. If you’re using high quality, smooth paper, and the pen is set up correctly, and you’re still getting scratchiness, I need to talk with you and see how you’re using it. Most often, this is one of two types of user error:

  • If your pen holding position and writing style is the problem, I can ‘point’ (!) you in the right direction to improve your experience.

  • If you’re used to iridium tipped, gold nibs that have been tuned by a nibmeister, and you’ve never used a dip nib before, I can give you a pep talk about trying new things. Email me.

Now, if you've contacted me and we've determined it's not user error, I may have to send you a new nib.  

Blurting out ink often/continuously/bleeding/drooling. If you’re having trouble with your pen blurting out ink a lot/often, make sure the pen is full, the nib tines are touching at the tip when the pen is at rest and check again. (If the tines are spread when the nib is at rest, you might get drooling.)

 If it doesn’t blurt ink from the outset (in the first 2 minutes or so), once it’s full, it shouldn’t blurt while in use. If it does, send me an email with subject: “Felonious Monk”.

If it does bleed ink early on, try pushing the nib/feed further into the section. Pull out the ruler. For a Zebra G, if the nib tip is much more than an inch out from the section, push harder. The joint will be snug (and hard to remove by accident) but if the nib/feed won’t go any further into the section with reasonable force, and the pen is filled, and the nib is good, and it still won’t stop bleeding ink, and all other issues have been addressed, you may have a defective feed or section. Send me an email with subject: “Felonious Monk”.

I changed the nib and all hell broke loose!

If you've been doing fine, and suddenly when you changed the nib this time, the pen doesn't want to cooperate, and you haven't changed anything else, the problem probably lies with your nib.

Most likely you've done everything exactly as you have before, same filling regimen, same nib cleaning/preparation, same inks, but if only now the issue appears, you can pretty well isolate it to the change. 

Possible issues:

  • Nib tines not aligned well. (Either grab the nib and bend them back into place, or get a different nib.)
  • Maybe it got coated twice at the factory, and there's more anti-rust coating than before or more than you're used to on that particular nib. (Clean it again, test it by dipping it in ink to ensure adhesion, and if necessary, clean between the tines with a cotton swab. Section 1.1-1.5 in the Important: Cleaning a Nib/Tuning section.)

If that doesn't work out, let me know via email with "Felonius Monk" in the subject heading.

Final thoughts:

All that matters is that the pen works, not how the parts look when they’re seated together. If you have it set up so that the flow is how you like it, and it runs smoothly, but to your eyes, the tines look wonky, or the feed looks awkward, or the nib/feed aren’t as far and snug into the section as you think they should be, that doesn’t matter. The key is to test it out and tune the apparatus so that it works smoothly for you. Then, have fun. If you have problems that aren't covered here, email me, or have a look at the Desiderata Pen Company Pinterest “Troubleshooting” page, or check out the YouTube page. Any major issues with QC will be discussed.

If you store your unused pens upright, thus keeping ink from being in constant contact with the nib, and dry off the tip and the contact between the tines, or flush and dry it nightly, you can literally go as long as you want between cleaning or changing the nib or the setup.