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Very Well Indeed

Posted by Dirck on 10 November, 2014

This does not describe me.  There is, frankly, something wrong with my thinking parts.  How else to explain the purchase of yet another Esterbrook desk well?

Esterbrook W407

It’s colossal! It’s stupendous! It’s… redundant.

Actually, there is something in the looks that appeals to me rather more than the simplicity of the late-model 444 I’ve had on the desk at The Regular Job for yonks now, something between an aircraft part and an Art Deco motorcycle fuel-tank.  It’s pretty darn cool.

But “cool” isn’t the same as “useful.”  So why, with the perfectly functional 444, did I pull this thing out of the river of Life as it was bobbing past?  The only viable reason I have is an effort to stifle a foolish phobia I have of this sort of well.  The one I’ve been using keeps the ink, sensibly, in the lowest part of the unit.  This one, and many others, keep the ink above the dispensing hole.  This makes me rather nervous, and I felt I should overcome this weakness.

Esterbrook W404op

It’s explained in this diagram. Supposedly.

Through practicing with water, I now accept that it works.  I even follow the physics of it; once the access of air to the reservoir is occluded by the pool in the bottom, the dropping of the fluid induces a partial vacuum inside, and the flow stops.  Not entirely unlike the flow of ink out of a fountain pen not happening unless writing is happening, in fact.  I’m not sure I quite believe in it yet, but I comprehend it.  Phobia damped, then, if not quite quelled.

Something I’m having a little more trouble with, now that I’ve been able to play with it for a little while, is working out how this ever got marketed for home use… which it did.  I absolutely get it as an industrial resource, since having Smithers out there filling the bank’s wells more than once a week takes him away from other mildly abusive duties, but for the normal person’s normal uses, it’s ridiculous.  The 444 was faintly ridiculous, with its 30 ml capacity.  When I’m in the absolute throes of writing, as has happened now and again over the course of the past year, I’ve managed to get through about one milliliter an hour.  That extremely productive hour produces something between 1,500 and 2,000 words, so a 444 offers the possibility of a smallish novel worth of writing.

This 407 holds seventy-five milliliters, only three pen-fillings less than a huge Diamine bottle carries.  If you’re transcribing The Shining, you’re set.  How many grocery lists and “Your Mom Called” notes does that run to?  Heck, even though I’m not a normal person putting the thing to a normal use, I question the wisdom of installing it on my desk.  I reloaded the old well about once every six months, and that was mainly down to evaporation.  This thing, with its ocean of ink, is very well.  Profoundly well.  More well than, perhaps, I can deal with.

…and then there’s the other problem with this thing.  The running of ink from reservoir to dispensary pool is governed by the depth of the pool, yes?  For the system to work properly, it needs to be resting on a firm, level surface.  Like the top of a desk.

Unlike the floor of an automobile, even one being driven conservatively over smooth streets.  Turns.  Accelerations.  Drive-way slopes.  The net result is of the 35 ml or so of ink I put into it yesterday, having drained both the 444 and the remainder of the huge Diamine bottle of Classic Red, now rests below the reservoir.  This is not an ink well that enjoys travel, and to be honest I feel the phobia starting to reassert itself.  I’m not sure I’m feeling altogether well….

Today’s pen: Parker 75
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green

 

4 Responses to “Very Well Indeed”

  1. AndrewMB said

    But it looks like fun…..
    I’ve been drawn to desk wells, but have never indulged in the purchase of one because the purchase of one dictates the purchase of another thing – a desk pen.

    If you ever decide to rent your hockey puck & pen out for a few months keep me in mind.

    AndrewMB

    • You know, you’d probably find two in any antique store you look into that’s not wholly devoted to tin signs, and likely at a price that makes a brief dabble nothing painful. That’s how the 444 came into my life.

  2. flounder said

    This is very interesting, I’ve never used an ink well. Is the inking-hole always exposed? Assuming no-automotive spillage, is evaporative loss an issue, or does the sheer ink capacity overwhelm such problems?

    • There’s not much in the way of a seal at the socket, it apparently being enough that pen mostly fills the available space when not in use; when the pen is working, that hole is open to the air and any passing bugs. I’m pretty sure that there is loss to evaporation, but since there’s no feed channels to foul the process is less noticeable. I was going something between four and six months without any maintenance on the 444, which I suspect would have less evaporation loss thanks to the reduced air/ink interface the bundle of capillary rods inside it produced, but there’s a slightly better fit of pen to hole in the 407 and there is, as you point out, a LOT of ink in reserve. I’ll have a better sense of the evaporation rate in the spring; we’ve got fiendishly dry winters here, so it’s a good season to observe such things.

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