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Old 04-03-2017, 08:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Question Expected life expectancy for a converter?

I sell kit pens regularly, some of those are fountain pens, but I do not use a FP myself. As a result, I do not know how long to expect a converter to last, but I do understand it is a semi-disposable item. Will some of you please chime in on how often you recommend replacing the converter. For that matter, I do not know what would be a sign that the converter needs to be replaced, besides the obvious...it starts leaking! I would like to be able to tell my FP customers a recommended interval for replacing their converter BEFORE they have an ink HAZMAT situation

Thanks to any who would take the time to educate me on this point.
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Old 04-03-2017, 10:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I've used converters for several years in a couple of pens without leaks I don't remove them from the feed so they don't wear out at that interface. Also, I periodically, 3-6 months, dab a tiny film of silicone grease on the seal. The only times I've had a leak is when I dropped the pen and the converter slipped off the feed.


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Old 04-03-2017, 10:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Steve, don't have a difinative answer for you. It will really depend on the usage and care of the pen. There are three areas that can wear. The hole where the nib plugs in/attaches, the seal on the piston and the screw mechanism.

If the convertor is removed from the nib section often it will slowly enlarge the hole and eventually leak. Once installed there really is no need to remove as the convertor fills through the nib.

If ink is left to dry out in the convertor it could cause the seal to bind and possibly tear. No idea how many normal refills you can get. Same with the screw mechanism.

A quick search on the fountain pen network gave a standard response of years if treated with care. A few claimed 20+ years.
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Old 04-04-2017, 01:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Well, thanks for the feedback both Mike and Vic. I anticipated there would not likely be a set answer, but rather it being contingent on the treatment buy the pen owner/user. Very helpful to me, and will prove helpful to my customers. Armed with this knowledge, my pen buyers are more likely to be satisfied FP owners. This is really appreciated!
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Old 04-04-2017, 08:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveG View Post
Well, thanks for the feedback both Mike and Vic. I anticipated there would not likely be a set answer, but rather it being contingent on the treatment buy the pen owner/user. Very helpful to me, and will prove helpful to my customers. Armed with this knowledge, my pen buyers are more likely to be satisfied FP owners. This is really appreciated!
Other factors can come into play, for example the type of ink used. Some are notorious for leaving a stain on the inside of converters, which can slowly build into a film thick enough to cause sticking or leakage around the piston. Others are slightly corrosive, possibly causing tiny cracks to form in the materials of the converter walls or piston head.

There are also differences between brands -- I wouldn't expect a no-name, all-plastic converter to last as long as a Schmidt unit (or other name brand).

Coincidentally, this weekend I was asked if I could fix a fountain pen I made because the converter was sticking and wouldn't draw ink any more. From memory, it's lasted about 5 years, I don't remember what brand converter it is (but I'll make a note of it when I get the pen in a few days.)
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Great topic! I was ignorant of the fact that the converter should not be removed for filling (which is what I have been doing with mine).
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Old 04-04-2017, 10:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I've used fountain pens for many years and have seen two kinds of converter failures.

One kind is where the seal between the converter and the section fails. The traditional design is for the converter to merely slip over a nipple at the bottom of the section, and failure can occur if the plastic opening in the converter experiences wear at this point. The recommendation to not remove the converter from the pen is partly intended to minimize this problem (the other reason is that forcing ink through the section when filling the pen helps keep ink flowing). However, I suspect that this problem is something that eventually will happen to every slip on converter - its just a matter of how long before the plastic gives out. That said, I suspect that a good quality converter should last many years. I have a Cross Pen with a slip on converter that is about 30 years old that this point, and still working well.

The obvious symptom of this failure is that the converter won't stay attached to the section and/or leaks around that junction.

Incidentally, Mont Blanc uses a proprietary converter that actually screws onto the end of the section to avoid this problem. Mont Blanc pens are very expensive. Even so, I don't think the incremental cost of making the converter screw on justifies the higher price.

I have also seen the barrel of a converter crack so that ink would leak through the side. My sense is that this kind of failure is rare. Most inexpensive converters are made of some kind of semi-flexible plastic (polyethelene?), but the converter that I saw fail in this fashion was made of a harder plastic.
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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These are all great inputs, guys. The voice of experience is a nice voice to hear! Thanks again!
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Schmidt also makes the K6 converter that is threaded to screw into the section if you want a more secure converter connection and seal.

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Old 04-11-2017, 11:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Danny mentioned the K6 threaded converter, which seems to be a significant upgrade. Thanks Danny.

Does anyone design and build their kitless work to utilize this converter? It would be an added step in the build, but one that would seem to be appreciated by the pen buyer/collector.
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