A new blog

Published on 02/24/14

Well, my fountain pen hobby has turned into an obsession and kind of a side business. I’ve recently been restoring pens and selling them to pay for my habit.

I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the pens I’ve restored or am restoring as sort of an archive of the pens that I’ve had. You can find it over at I’ll probably be posting there more than here so if you’re interested, head on over.

Modified Pilot 78g

Published on 10/03/13

I decided last night to modify my Pilot 78g by removing the clip and giving it this cool matte finish (removing the painted on cap bands in the process). Now I’ve got a great writing pen that no longer looks as cheap as it is.

New attached image

New attached image

(Not a) Review of the Pilot 78G

Published on 05/03/13

This is my last post on fountain pens for awhile (unless I win one of the drawings I’ve entered). I now have four pens, and this last little one is kind of special.

Pilot 78G

The pen body isn’t anything spectacular. It feels good, but it is a little light for my taste (the weight of the Pilot Metropolitan is about perfect).

It has a Pilot fine nib which is just spectacular. It is exactly what I was looking for. It’s decently wet for such a small nib, yet it is fine enough for me to do some nice small work and writing. It’s not nearly as buttery smooth as the medium nib on the Metropolitan, but it is plenty smooth, even on cheap paper.

I read somewhere that Pilot is discontinuing these pens. They are definitely hard to find on US sites. They are readily available on ebay though shipping from Asia. I got mine for $9.99 (with shipping from Hong Kong). It took a week to get here.

So I think I’ve found my main EDC pen. It works great. It’s looks nice without being pretentious. I’m a very happy boy.

My next purchase will be to get the supplies I need to restore my Esterbrook Dollar Pen. Then I’ll be done for awhile.

My first vintage fountain pens

Published on 05/03/13

For lunch yesterday, my wife and I went to a couple antique shops. With my new-found interest in fountain pens, I was looking real hard. I found a couple pens that I really wanted for a pretty good price.

Parker Vacumatic and Esterbrook Dollar Pen

Parker Vacumatic

The Parker Vacumatic (front pen in picture) is, I think, a great-looking pen. The filling mechanism is a push button that sucks ink up into the barrel of the pen. The filler was completely seized up, and I ruined it trying to unscrew it (without the proper tool). So now I am going to convert it into an eye-dropper pen (filling the barel using a syringe).

I’ve been writing with it today and it writes pretty great. It is a much finer point than my Pilot Metropolitan. Of course, since it wasn’t meant to be an eyedropper pen, I won’t be carrying it in my pocket. It will stay at my desk.

My particular model, as best I can tell, was made between 1939 and 1942.

Esterbrook Dollar Pen

My second pen is an H size Esterbrook Dollar pen from between 1938 and 1942. I’ve got the section out and cleaned up, ready for a new sac. The nib is a 2442 that is in kind of rough shape, but still usable it think. The lever for filling it works great. So with a $2 sac, a little sac adhesive, and some talcom powder, this pen should be ready to go.

The Esterbrook pens have swappable nibs, and I was going to buy a new nib too. But I think I’m going to try keeping the existing nib first and see how well it does or if I can get it back into shape.

Nib adjustment on my Pilot Metropolitan

Published on 04/26/13

This post is a cautionary tale.

I’ve loved how my Pilot Metropolitan writes. It is buttery smooth and very consistent. However, it has a medium nib and the ink flow seemed to be a little too wet. I tried adjusting the tines of the nib a little, but it didn’t help. In fact I had a feeling I made it worse.

I read a post somewhere about bending the feed of a pen after heating it up in almost boiling water. By bending the feed closer to the nib, you can slow the ink flow down. So I tried doing that this morning, and I broke the feed in half.

I fixed it by “gluing” it back together with some J-B Kwik. I wouldn’t recommend this, but in my case it worked (thank you, Lord). Not only does the pen still write, but the ink flow is now slowed down considerably, and it is writing more like I thought it should. The line doesn’t seem as consistent as it was before. And we’ll see how it starts up after sitting for awhile, but for now I think I am ok.

So the moral of this story is only do adjustments on junk pens unless you know what you are doing. I’m a starving freelance designer with a family and a mortgage. I can’t afford to spend $13 on a pen and not keep it in service for a good long while.

(Sorry I didn’t shoot a pic of the broken feed and the fix :).

Great paper for fountain pens—HP 32# Premium Choice Laser

Published on 04/25/13

I’d been looking for a new notebook ever since I started using my Pilot Metropolitan. I’ve used a Moleskine notebook for years, but the paper tends to bleed through with a fountain pen.

I also really wanted to use a dot-grid paper instead of lined or graph. The lines of a graph paper are nice for keeping things looking neat on the page, but they visually overpower what I’m putting on the paper with my pen.

I found the Rhodia Webnotebook with a dot grid, but I cannot see myself paying $25 for a notebook.

So I did a little more research and found that HP laser paper works pretty well for fountain pens. So I picked up a pack from Office Depot for $16 and made my own dot grid notebook (pictured). I printed it front and back on 8 sheets and saddle-stitch stapled it with an old file folder as a cover. Now I’ve got a homemade notebook for my fountain pen.

Homemade Notebook with a dot grid

The paper is smooth. It takes the ink very well. There is little or no bleeding with the Pilot cartridge ink I’ve been using (we’ll see how it does with the Pelikan 4001 that’s coming). It is very heavy paper. All-in-all I think it is pretty great.

If you are interested in the dot grid I used, you can download the PDF I printed from in the following link. Dot grid pattern for notebook Fold it in half and you’ve got the start of a nice 5.5×8.5 notebook. It’s two pages, so if your printer can print duplex then you just need to print mutliple copies of it. If you printer can’t do duplex printing, then you’ll have to flip it over and run it through another time.

It is a very faint dot on my printer. The line at the top is just to put headings. I’m not sure I like it though. I may take it off on the next one.

My latest obsession—fountain pens

Published on 04/25/13

I don’t know how it happened, but my obsession lately has been fountain pens. I’ve always been a bit of a pen nerd—always buying a new pen but never being completely satisfied by any of them.

One year I went to the office supply store with $50 and a plan to buy the best pen I could afford. I remember being disappointed that the pen I ended up liking used a standard Parker refill.

A few weeks ago, I decided to spend some of my birthday money on a new pen. I ended up getting the Zebra F-701 and I’ve been fairly happy with it. The Zebra ball point writes very fine (which I like) if a little too light. But the pen feels pretty good in your hand. It isn’t a stainless steel pen though, it is a plastic pen with a stainless steel wrapping. That makes it fairly light. But it looks good.

The other pen I had my eye on was the Rotring Rapid Pro but I ended up needing a new pair of ear buds so I got those instead. (If you read my last post you’ll probably want to know that I did get another pair of tweaked audio ear buds.)

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