Everyone who’s ever had a hobby has tried to learn as much as they can about the things that sustain their interest.  I love writing with fountain pens, so I’ve managed to learn enough about them to maintain them, thanks to sites like the Fountain Pen Network, Pentrace, FPGeeks, among others.

I enjoy cleaning my pens, too.  It’s a kind of meditation in itself, whether manually, with a nasal aspirator or syringe, or with an ultrasonic cleaner – that’s all good.  I recommend this article, written by a friend.

And then there are times when some pens don’t behave the way they should.  At such times I am filled with a combination of annoyance and curiosity, and a hunger to make things work.  I want to tinker, but of course one must be an informed tinkerer.  I don’t want to void a warranty, so I need to do research.  It’s not an inconvenience because I’m an enthusiast after all, and it’s an opportunity to learn something new.  When I finally get my misbehaving pens to write right, there’s this incredible geeky rush!

We don’t have fountain pen repair persons in the Philippines, so I must be able to do some basic repairs confidently enough to maintain my own pens.  Twice this week I’ve been plagued by dry writers, and was able to resolve one issue on my own (and got customer service for the other).

So far I’ve learned how to pull out and reset friction-fit nibs and feeds (only when necessary).  I’ve flossed tines with a piece of acetate to make the ink flow a bit wetter.  I’ve smoothed scratchy nibs with micromesh.  I can resac vintage lever-fillers (Esterbrooks, Watermans).  I’ve learned how to disassemble and reassemble a piston-filler (TWSBI 530/540), also to lubricate those that I can’t disassemble totally (Pelikans, Lamy 2000).  I’ve managed to fix a Sheaffer Imperial (touchdown), so my other ambition is to repair a Sheaffer snorkel.  Of course these links I’ve provided aren’t enough, one must read as many sources as possible.  I’ve been lucky to have more experienced friends demonstrate how certain repairs were done.

Do you enjoy tinkering (with fountain pens, cameras, cars, anything)?

2 thoughts on “TINKER, TINKER

  1. I remember having to write with fountain pens when I was in high school. We had to do all that – cleaning, filling with ink, writing with it without it burping on you, and all that. I hated the process of the clean up but I loved the writing part most of all.

    This post is really more dangerous for me because I seriously do not need another hobby 🙂 But if I can find someone who can do all the cleaning and the maintenance – it’ll be perfect!

    • I do the cleaning and the maintenance for my sister’s and mom’s fountain pens, too, hahaha! I used to get ink on my bedsheets because I would journal in bed. But in daily use I rarely get ink accidents anymore unless I gesticulate wildly while the pen is uncapped. We have a pen group here in Manila, so I’m surrounded by like-minded folks who don’t mind the inky fingers 🙂

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