Time for a Bath | Cleaning my pens

I put off cleaning out my pens for about two months straight. I finally had to break down and clean them out before heading to the Chicago pen show!

  • Matthew Chen

    I have a tip for cleaning out the con-70. Take a pipette and fit it over the metal tube so it presses against the rubber stopper. This lets you shoot water through the tube into the hidden chamber behind the seal. I find that just shaking the converter doesn’t get water into the hidden chamber very well.

  • Rafael R. Pappalardo

    Hello, a much needed video. I have for the most part the same routine. Some variations are:
    1. I open the tap only a little. I find that opening fully there is a lot of air coming out.
    2. To clean the converter I use a syringe similar to what you do with the CON-70. I find sometimes there is ink in the plastic seal that it’s easier to remove with the added preassure provided by the syringe.
    3. I don’t like when I put the converter after cleaning it and get stained again. I prefer to use the bulb syringe to get water into the section under the tap.

  • slkinsey

    I have had good luck cleaning out the Homo Sapiens by filling it with water using the Traveling Ink Pot (three plunger depressions fills it completely). This makes it easy to expel inky water into the sink and re-fill with fresh water. It usually doesn’t take too many fills before I’m expelling clear water. At that point, I like to wrap a triple fold of paper towel around the nib tip and flick out the pen pretty aggressively. This usually reveals that there is a tiny bit more ink lurking around the base of the section, and I can usually take care of that with a few more cycles of flushing. Then I’ll fill the pen completely from the Traveling Ink Pot and leave it nib down in some paper towels to wick out anything remaining. If it’s a stubborn ink or I’m really trying to remove every last possible trace of ink from the pen, I will sometimes do that wicking procedure once with homemade pen flush (water with 10% ammonia and a minuscule touch of Triton X-100), rinse that out and re-wick with water. It really is too bad the nib unit isn’t easier to remove. One of the things that’s nice about cleaning out Pelikans is that you can simply unscrew the nib unit and flush out the inside of the barrel.

  • Daniel

    Neat video! Though I will totally admit to cringing while watching you flick, but that’s mainly because I know I would end up hitting the sink.

    Cleaning out a piston filler today, so I’ll try your method of letting water drain out of it into a paper towel.

  • Pilgrim

    Thanks Matt–very helpful! Because ink gets caught in the section and is so hard to remove, do you ever remove the nib on the pen and flush the whole thing out? I end up doing that with my pens on occasion; however, I don’t have high-end pens, most of my pens are in the $50-$160 range. But I find that when I do remove the nib there is almost always a lot of ink on the nib, feed, and section housing. This is especially helpful with piston fillers because then I can just use a syringe on the piston reservoir. Anyway, thanks!

    • I do, but I generally try to avoid taking them apart too often, because I’ve had plastic sleeves on nib units crack by doing that, costing me lots of time and money while I can’t use my pen.

  • Ted

    that flicking is crazy!

  • Ofer Kochavie

    I normally force flush the cartridge/converter and dip the section with the nib in water for about one hour, drain and refill with clean wated for another hour. then just let it drain. As I use the same ink on the same pen (I do not have many for the time being) I do not mind cleaning all the ink clear out. So far my pens run fresh and vivid after the bath.

  • Ralph Caccese

    Difficulty in cleaning is what keeps me away from piston systems although I do own several. The Twisbi vac 700r is a great pen because it easily comes apart for cleaning, the best what to truly clean a piston. That pen is a vacuum system,but other Twisbi’s with pistons are no different. Most pistons, however, are not so accommodating. Cartridge/converters have a distinct advantage here, but are seen as cheapening the pen. They also don’t hold as much ink. You see many high end pens with converters these days. They are just easier to use, but admittidly not as cool as, say, a vacuum system. This cartridge high end pens should be cheaper now than their piston counterparts, but the saved money seems to be going to the bottom line rather than to the customer. If only they would develope a modern day 14k gold flex nib.

  • Eddie Martinez

    Some ink syringe needles (like Boston world limited on amazon) fit perfectly (giving it a good seal) over metal tube of the con-70. I clean mine out by filling the syringe with water first and constantly injecting and withdrawing water until it comes out clean.

  • Yep. Just like a piston filler. For particularly stubborn inks, you can unscrew the nib unit and clean it with a syringe, but I don’t like doing that because it can cause the nib to become unaligned, or can damage the plastic sleeve that holds the nib and feed together.

    • slkinsey

      Do you have a Visconti (or Visconti-compatible) nib tool to remove the nib unit? Or do you just grip the nib/feed and carefully twist? Also, out of curiosity, what does the captured converter look like (is it a normal Visconti converter or some special configuration) and does it come out when you remove the nib unit?

      • I just grab the nib and feed between my thumb and forefinger and twist. No special tools needed, usually. If it’s particularly stuck using a crafting heat gun may soften any glue or shellac they used to fix the nib unit in place.

        As for what it looks like, I have no idea. It doesn’t come out when you remove the nib.

  • slkinsey

    I recently purchased a Visconti nib tool from pentooling.com (go to http://www.pentooling.com/files.html and scroll down) and thought of you. Makes removing Visconti oversize nibs safe and easy, and greatly facilitates cleaning. Also makes it possible to switch nibs safely, should you care to do so.

    • The only thing is that you have to be careful unscrewing those nib units. Visconti uses soft plastic, and too many repeated removals and replacements could cause the plastic collar that holds the nib and feed to fail.

      • slkinsey

        Where does the information that Visconti uses “soft plastic” come from? I’m not saying it isn’t true, and certainly I’ve heard other people say it, but my Visconti nib units don’t seem all that different from the Bock or JoWo nib units that we normally think of as more or less infinitely swappable. Doesn’t Bock make the nib units for Visconti? I suppose Visconti could specify a softer-than-usual plastic for their nib unit collars, but why would they?

        • I heard it from Stephen Brown, but I don’t know that there’s quantifiable data on that. I will say that the swapability of the Jowo/Bock nibs is somewhat overstated. It’s one thing to swap a nib out…it’s another to remove it every time you want to clean the pen. I have had those plastic collars on my bock nibs split and make the nib unusable before, so I know it happens.

          • slkinsey

            Interesting. I have JoWo and Bock nib units I’ve owned for 5-10 years and have removed from the section most every time I cleaned the pen (even after flushing the nib through the section until the water runs clear, I almost always find some ink lurking back there). Given my rotation, this must add up to at least a dozen or so removals of each nib unit over the years. Over this time, not one of them has broken. I’m pretty gentle with them, though. I never torque them down into the section, but tend to go for something I might describe as “securely finger-tight.” It’s unnecessary to go particularly tight for c/c pens, and for internal reservoir pens I use a thin schmear of silicone grease to both seal and lubricate the threads. So far it’s been okay. But maybe I’m just lucky!