Another rabbit hole

Posted in Commentary, Time Sink on December 30th, 2019 by juan

One day at my daughters karate class I noticed one of the other dads writing on his notepad. He had small handwriting like I do and his pen was … different. It was a fountain pen but a cheap one. So I got to talking to him. He pointed me to the brand. Platinum Preppy. They are about $9 each. Dirt cheap. You can also get refill cartridges that make this an extra super good value…

But it’s the start of a rabbit hole.

The first test for these was flying. Fountain pens have a reputation for not flying very well. This is largely deserved unless you take some precautions. Not knowing much about this, I did a quick look on the YouTubes and found this video. That was super helpful, but several hours of GouletPens videos, I was hooked. It took a while for me to internalize the content and then decided to step it up a little bit by upgrading with one of these Plaisir. For $13 or so you get a nicer looking pen. I couldn’t find them with the Extra Fine nib, but the nib from the Preppy and the Plaisir are interchangeable.

But … it still looks cheap.

So further down the rabbit hole I went. Spending more time with the Goulet video channel, I ran into one that talked about good traveling fountain pens. They ranged in price from about $50 to crazy money pens. Two of them stuck out. This upgraded Platinum and this TWSBI. The Platinum is about $100 and the TWSBI is about $65 before shipment and all that. I opted for the TWSBI because it looked cooler and it was refillable rather than a cartridge one. I liked the extra capacity of the refillable and the fact that it would let me try out different inks. And, I liked the idea of giving Goulet some money for all those videos

Turns out that that was another rabbit hole. Inks come in "wetter" and "less wet" varieties. Who would have known? The wetter ones flow faster – which is probably a good thing if you like to write with nibs larger than EF. The dryer ones are thicker and will produce thinner lines – which also don’t bleed through the paper as much. Speaking of paper, that’ll be another post where I get into the notebook rabbit hole. The first ink that I tried was a Waterman Black ink. Not knowing better, and having heard that brand before, it seemed like a good idea. It was only after I did that, that I discovered that it’s well known for being a particularly wet ink. Some more googling, and I found that the Pelikan 4001 varietal should work better. And it did.

But I wasn’t done.

Filling a piston filler, like my TWSBI, apparently has some magic involved. I couldn’t get a full reservoir. I tried several methods. I took the pen apart and cleaned it. Took it apart again and lubricated and cleaned it (turns out that’s important). Tried several variations of the refill and I could only get 1/3 of the reservoir filled. But … TWSBI makes a special gizmo that makes it stupid easy. Another $20 or so later and I finally got a full fill of the reservoir.

The line I produce with this TWSBI is not as EF as the Platinum. I suspect part of it is the pen and part of it is the ink. However, it’s pretty good and … it does write very very nicely.

But I haven’t flown with it yet. That test comes in a couple of weeks. I’ll make sure to bring some extra tissues in case I get a blow out, but theoretically the vacuum fills should not have that problem.

More on that later.

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