Opinion

New nib restores old pen

I’ve had a fondness for fountain pens since I learned to write cursive. They not only look handsome. They are nifty for jotting quick notes, and weigh almost nothing to pack around. Best of all, unlike computers, they function beyond range of cable or WiFi.

Visiting a Staples store in Lloydminster fourteen years ago I couldn’t resist buying another beauty. The price was only $50, inexpensive at the time when many well known brands cost from $200 to $800.

Aside from its beauty – a marbled deep green decorated by three gold bands and the Waterman logo – it flared above the nib so that my grip never slid down and my fingers weren’t forever “climbing” like a toddler on a slippery seat.

It became my go-to writing instrument for daily journaling and article drafting.

Six months ago the nib began skipping. Each morning when I began writing no ink flowed unless I first pounded my wrist on the desk, primed the nib through a drop of water or dipped it into a bottle of ink.

After eight or ten lines of writing, the ink would stop. I could dip it again into the ink bottle, a nuisance as well as a risk of upsetting the entire bottle.

I sought a longer lasting solution.

A Waterman website search identified my model as a Phileus (fountain pens have models just as automobiles do). I phoned my longtime supplier in Vancouver only to be told Waterman no longer makes Phileus pens and my prospects of finding a replacement nib – fine point or otherwise – are zero.

However, Vancouver did suggest I might try restoring proper ink flow by soaking the nib section in cold water mixed with a teaspoon of ammonia.

If that didn’t work (it didn’t) I could soak it overnight in fairly hot water (but not so hot as to damage the seal causing the nib to leak ink all over my fingers.) No writer wants too little or too much ink.

A friend hearing of my plight suggested using Goof Off to loosen any sediment stuck in the nib. Home Depot’s website touts Goof Off as “a powerful cleaner good for removing old dried latex paint, caulking, most glues, marker and pen ink, white correction fluid, crayons, asphalt, tar, lipstick, chewing gum, oil, grease”. Everything but credit card debt.

Canadian Tire sells Goof Off as an aerosol $8.99, or a tiny tin for $5.99. Use it with care; it’s powerful.

I’ve not tried Goof Off. I persisted in my hunt for a new nib. My hope was to switch a new nib section to my worn pen.

These pens are composed of four sections – a nib section assembled at the factory, a barrel which houses the ink supply (either a plastic cartridge pre-filled with ink, or a mechanical converter one can fill from a bottle) and a cap to protect the nib during storage.

Checking online, I discovered Goldspot, a New Jersey supplier of all fine writing instruments from a variety of brand name fountain pens to expensive ballpoints.

I ordered a replacement Phileus online June 16. It would be iridescent green, not the marbled green of my original.

Like a kid waiting for Santa, I kept an eye on my mailbox. June 24 a padded brown envelope propped open the mailbox lid.

In the envelope was a replica of my original pen minus the gold bands and logo. Its nib is fine and screws right into my old pen barrel.

The total cost was $43.90 U.S. Of that $6.90 was postage. It‘s insured value was $24. Manufactured by Waterman in France, it carries a three-year warranty.

My favourite writing instrument is restored to full function.

Claudette Sandecki keeps up a steady flow of ink from her Thornhill, B.C. residence.

 

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