Skipping and irregular inking

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s be honest, the fountain pen, although proven technology, is still relatively crude in its operation.  The ink is held in a reservoir and, under gravity, it runs through a tube into a network of fine capillary chambers and, still using capillary action, to the writing tip of the nib where its is distributed across the nib’s contact surface with the paper.  Reliable action is dependent on a lot of quite fine variables which, in the most part, come together and produce that sublime writing experience that we all love.  Occasionally, particularly with a new pen, the experience is not as giving as we would like. This can manifest itself as anything from no ink at all to the occasional, initial skip on a down- or cross-stroke.  They are all equally frustrating at a level only normally found with recalcitrant computers!

On a new pen the first problem can be as simple as an impatient user.  On first fill, the capillaries do take time to fully flood and ensure a reliable ink flow to the nib. However, when using a new nib, once fully inked, another issue causing inconsistent flow can be that during manufacture, the smallest piece of production debris may have found its way into the capillaries and can result in irregular flow.  This can be addressed using a pressurised ink flow such as, pumping ink back and forth using a converter and a bottle of ink, or by filling the feeder-tube end of the nib with a little tepid water and gently blowing the water through the nib.

Caran d'Ache Leman nib - one of the finest made

Caran d'Ache Leman nib, in our opinion, one of the finest made, fully tested before leaving the factory

Clearly there are other factors that can influence ink flow such as ink type and paper surface.  These can be eliminated by substitution, trying alternative products to determine the effect.  The user may also find that their writing style may be part of the cause.  Particularly when using unfamiliar italic or oblique nibs, the angle of contact between nib and paper can be critical, as can the downward pressure.  If irregular inking occurs, try adjusting the relative position of nib to paper and gently increase the downward pressure.

If all else fails, contact the pen’s supplier and discuss your issues.  But, so that you don’t have the hassle of losing your pen a for a few days while it’s returned to the factory, do try the other suggestions first.

At we are happy to discuss issues with your pens and, where we can, offer remedies.

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