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Archive for September 8th, 2010

Don’t Forget Behind the Ears

Posted by Dirck on 8 September, 2010

I have in past installments mentioned a thing or two about pen hygiene.  I have also previously mentioned that Dame Irony is a frequent visitor at my door.  The third player in this short drama is a recent thread on the Fountain Pen Network examining the desireability of cleaning a new pen, which if I’d kept my nose out of it would not have put on the tea and laid out the biscuits for herself’s latest visit.

Yesterday was the first outing for that Reform pen of mine.  I got it quite some time ago, and when it arrived I did a couple of things with it.  I dipped the point in ink and made a few marks, mainly to satisfy myself that the point worked as well as its looks promised.  I ran the piston up and down a little, and was gratified by the smooth action.  All well and good, as it was a pen that had never seen use before.

Time passes, and at last this past weekend, I wrote up a page for this pen.  Finally, I thought, I can actually use the thing!  In the event, getting out the door yesterday morning proved fraught (tiny-headed Space Bear Police and world-menacing blue cheeses were involved, but as it’s not pen-related I’ll not bore you with it), and I hardly even had time to fill the pen on the way out the door.

Arriving at The Regular Job, I found that the pen was prepared to write very nearly a full word… and then nothing.  Nothing except a terrible “skrit” sort of noise.  Plenty of ink in the chamber… what is the problem?  Thanks to the kind of near-sightedness that renders reading glasses an unlikely companion, I was able to inspect the point of the pen close to, and saw that there was some kind of clear fluid in the slit that wasn’t progressing onto the paper, but was doing a fine job of holding the ink in check.

I now quote Dame Irony’s favourite line from yesterday’s pen’s page:

Repairs: None, although the fine chap who sold it to me renewed the decade-old lubrication of the piston. {note from 2012: the previous version of my site went into specifics of each pen, rather than a profile of the model.  You won’t find this line there now.}

Yep.  Some of that lubricant had found its way into the feed, and while the act of drawing in a load of ink had cleared the actual channels of the feed, the slit remained loaded with it.  The very finest silicone grease (which, as in the case of the TWSBI, seems a material Irony quite favours) is surprisingly hard to coax out of the slit of a pen when one has absolutely no access to tools apart from a single facial tissue.  I eventually prevailed, but I suspect my work efficiency suffered somewhat.

That FPN thread, by the way, in which someone asks if it’s really worth the bother of cleaning a brand new pen ahead of use, I leapt into to say that while I endorse the idea, I’m generally so over-excited at the arrival of a new pen that I tend to neglect the duty.  More fool I, then.

Before I reveal today’s pen, a quick nod to International Literacy Day— a couple of comics!  First, a bleak examination of whether we’re living in a future more like Huxley’s or Orwell’s, which should whet your interest to read at least three of the books mentioned in it (a friend points out that the real answer depends on where you live– developing world is Orwell, developed world is Huxley).  Then, to convince you that life is still worth living, a quick trip to the happy town of Dingburg, where everyone gets a really nice pen, and everyone is pleased to read and write in a traditional manner.  The same is available in colour from a US newspaper, but I’m not sure how long the link will last.  Happy reading, everyone!

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Skrip blue-black

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