Problems with pen skipping

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qquake

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This is a Classic Elite fountain pen from PSI. I've had problems with it skipping since I finished it. I've tried cleaning it a couple of times by soaking the tip in warm water a couple of times, but it didn't help. Is there anything else I can try? Could it be a defective nib? Can the nib be replaced? I made it for a friend, and it's her favorite pen. I'd really like to get it fixed for her.
 

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Bope

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That looks like a #5 Jowo nib. Most likely the nib needs some tuning. Tuning can be a very tedious process with mixed results until you become proficient. I have used Goulet branded and Edison nibs in several other kit pens. The Edisons come with feeds. Find them at Goulet pens.
 

BULLWINKLE

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This is a Classic Elite fountain pen from PSI. I've had problems with it skipping since I finished it. I've tried cleaning it a couple of times by soaking the tip in warm water a couple of times, but it didn't help. Is there anything else I can try? Could it be a defective nib? Can the nib be replaced? I made it for a friend, and it's her favorite pen. I'd really like to get it fixed for her.
Call PSI and tell them the problem you are having. They have great customer service. They will send you a replacement nib free. You are lucky it's a fountain pen as changing the nib is simple.
 

Fred Bruche

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Sounds like an ink-feeding system issue, the entire nib assembly should be flushed with water, not just the tip. If you can unscrew the nib and the feed, just soak that part, if not the entire nib assembly. The ink for fountain pens is water-based, so plain water will do, no need for any other "solvent" (maybe add a small drop of dishwasher detergent to the water).
 

rixstix

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Call PSI and tell them the problem you are having. They have great customer service. They will send you a replacement nib free. You are lucky it's a fountain pen as changing the nib is simple.
"Call" is the operative word. Email or website support expectation is poor to non existent.
 

Oliver X

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I'd have a look around the internet for Richard Binder's workshop notes. I don't have a link handy, but it shouldn't be hard to find. Covers most nib problems and solutions. Unfortunately, a great many fountain pens don't work properly out of the box. Kit pens are often derided for this, but it's far from isolated to kit pens or even inexpensive pens. Most can be made to work well enough with a little tuning.

My typical routine with any pen involves cleaning thoroughly with soap and water, checking tine alignment and nib tip shape, inking the pen with a known high quality, well behaved ink, checking flow and writing quality on paper and adjusting as needed. Most adjustments are simple and virtually never require any tool other than a piece of lapping film and my fingers.
 

qquake

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Sounds like an ink-feeding system issue, the entire nib assembly should be flushed with water, not just the tip. If you can unscrew the nib and the feed, just soak that part, if not the entire nib assembly. The ink for fountain pens is water-based, so plain water will do, no need for any other "solvent" (maybe add a small drop of dishwasher detergent to the water).
That's what I've done, several times. Should I pull the nib and feed apart and soak everything loose?
 

qquake

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I'd have a look around the internet for Richard Binder's workshop notes. I don't have a link handy, but it shouldn't be hard to find. Covers most nib problems and solutions. Unfortunately, a great many fountain pens don't work properly out of the box. Kit pens are often derided for this, but it's far from isolated to kit pens or even inexpensive pens. Most can be made to work well enough with a little tuning.

My typical routine with any pen involves cleaning thoroughly with soap and water, checking tine alignment and nib tip shape, inking the pen with a known high quality, well behaved ink, checking flow and writing quality on paper and adjusting as needed. Most adjustments are simple and virtually never require any tool other than a piece of lapping film and my fingers.
What is lapping film?
 

qquake

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Call PSI and tell them the problem you are having. They have great customer service. They will send you a replacement nib free. You are lucky it's a fountain pen as changing the nib is simple.
Unfortunately, I bought it at Rockler last February, and don't have the receipt.
 

jrista

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What is lapping film?
Super high grit (like, 12,000 to 60,000 grit) abrasive film, usually for use with metals, glass or stone. Its not like normal sandpaper, though, its on a polyester, IIRC, substrate, rather than paper or fabric. The closest thing is probably Zona Paper, but that is still on a paper-like substrate.
 

Oliver X

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This is the stuff I use: https://www.ottofrei.com/3M-Lapping-Film-Sheets-Assortment-Pack_3

It's a fine abrasive on polyester sheet. I originally purchased it for polishing flat surfaces on hardened steel tools. The pink stuff works well for removing burrs between the tines and for mild metal removal on nib tips. There's a common condition called "baby's bottom" where a nib that's been over polished resembles such. The ink flows to the narrowest portion of the slit so when the slit is wider at the point where it contacts paper, the ink is held slightly above the page and is unable to flow onto it. People often tend to press on the pen to get it to flow which can work because pressing the nib into the paper can slightly open the tines and with the nib also pressed into the paper, the ink can reach and start to flow. Gently removing material until the slit has more of a hard edge where it meets the paper means the ink will flow on contact. Too sharp of an edge will make the pen feel scratchy.
 

qquake

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Thanks for all the input, guys. I don't know yet what to do. I would just as soon replace the nib, but I can't see buying a $20 nib for a $17 pen. I think I'll try cleaning and adjusting it, using the video Todd provided.
 

jrista

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When I first joined these forums, someone shared a really good resource on how to properly tune a fountain pen nib. I am looking around for the link...don't remember where I bookmarked it, but it was a really good page. I had no idea that such a thing was necessary. There are actually a number of adjustments that can be made to optimize how a fountain pen writes. There is also a bit of an art to actually tuning the tip, so that it is smooth, and round, and doesn't end up flat or anything like that anywhere (which will affect how it writes). I haven't tried it much, but its something I've been thinking about doing for all of the fountain pens I make so they have an optimal writing feel right out of the box.

I guess you might have to question the value of doing that on a $17 fountain pen...I think I've turned a couple of...Craft Supply "Artisan Signature" fountain pens, with the snap cap, which I think is the same as the Classic Elite you've turned. I'm not sure if I'd invest a lot of effort into them myself, I guess...
 

qquake

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I guess you might have to question the value of doing that on a $17 fountain pen...I think I've turned a couple of...Craft Supply "Artisan Signature" fountain pens, with the snap cap, which I think is the same as the Classic Elite you've turned. I'm not sure if I'd invest a lot of effort into them myself, I guess...
Like I said, I made this for a friend, and it's her favorite pen. What she likes is the DiamondCast Unicorn Poop blank. I could make another pen, but I really don't want to do that.
 

Dannv

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When I asked PSI about replacement nibs, they recommended https://meisternibs.com. The nibs will cost you $20 each and you will have to pull the nib and feed out of the housing to swap them. The PSI kits do not use a JWOW thread. The standard PSI nibs are not great. The Jowo is a good upgrade. However, I have also dealt with Pen Realm, https://www.penrealm.com, who also sells the nibs for $20. Pen Realm will do tuning on nibs as well as special grinds. You could contact them and ask what it would cost to tune your nib or ask what it would cost to get him to swap the nib for you. Anything you do is going to cost more than the cheep PSI kits. (A clue the nib is iffy is the "Iridium Point German" marking which means it was made in China. Just for fun, your problem could be the feed instead of the nib or the nib might not be seated on the feed correctly. Look and see if the end of the feed is touching the nib, it should be, but not too much of it. Again, you may want to send it to someone who knows what they're doing to tinker with it.
 

duncsuss

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I've had problems with it skipping since I finished it.

There is always the possibility this is because the ink that comes in the cartridges with kits is nasty cheap stuff that has gone bad. You don't say what ink is in the pen - if it's a quality brand from a bottle, chances are it isn't what's causing the problem. Try Waterman's, Pelikan 4001, Parker Quink, Diamine, Pilot, ... there are lots of good inks out there - one of these using a cartridge converter will give a much better indication if the nib & feed require tuning.

Another possibilty is some gunk (technical term) in the feed channels. Get an ear/nose bulb syringe like THIS and use it to force lukewarm water through the nib unit. A drop of ammonia in the water can help but isn't usually necessary. There are products called "pen flush" which are basically water with a tiny amount of detergent and ammonia, they do a good job dissolving any dried-up ink inside the nib unit without having to get the nib and feed out.

If you can get the nib and feed out of the section, use lukewarm water with dish detergent and a soft toothbrush to clean the channels in the feed. Then rinse off with clean water, reassemble and try again.

Tuning nibs isn't difficult, it just takes a little learning and practice. Richard Binder is one of the best, and his tutorial is a great guide. I have not yet had a nib which I couldn't improve using his methods.

One last point to consider: you've written multiple times that you don't think it makes sense to put a $20 nib on a kit pen that cost less than that. A fountain pen has two functions: one is to look & feel good in the hand, the other is to write beautifully. It's our job as pen makers to bring both of those to the highest level we can, and if the nib that came in the kit is junk, replace it with one that isn't. Doesn't have to be solid 14K or 18K gold, but it does have to write smoothly or we have no business selling it as a pen, it's just a pretty stick.
 

ed4copies

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Quote Duncsuss:
One last point to consider: you've written multiple times that you don't think it makes sense to put a $20 nib on a kit pen that cost less than that. A fountain pen has two functions: one is to look & feel good in the hand, the other is to write beautifully. It's our job as pen makers to bring both of those to the highest level we can, and if the nib that came in the kit is junk, replace it with one that isn't. Doesn't have to be solid 14K or 18K gold, but it does have to write smoothly or we have no business selling it as a pen, it's just a pretty stick.


If you had no driver's license, do you suppose you could sell cars effectively?

If you learn to tune a nib, the kit nib is not "junk"--it can write reasonably well. But, it takes time and the desire to learn about your craft.
Selling ballpoints and rollerballs requires minimal knowledge--and the pens are usually more affordable.

Higher priced fountain pens require a more informed seller--or you could buy a pre-tuned nib--I believe Mr. Binder charges about $100 for his service--knowledge has a price.
 

Dannv

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Higher priced fountain pens require a more informed seller--or you could buy a pre-tuned nib--I believe Mr. Binder charges about $100 for his service--knowledge has a price.
Pen Realm includes a basic tuning with the Jowo nibs they sell for $20.
 

Curly

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I don't think the offering by Turners Warehouse will fit. It mentions a 10x1mm thread and the only pens I recall of that thread pitch are the #6 nibs in the El Grande/Churchill/Cambridge series pens.

Beaufort Ink in England sell kit compatible housings that fit some kits and mention the Classic Elite as an example. You could contact them and ask which one would fit and decide from there if you want to spend the money on one. With shipping (mail) it would end up being somewhat more than the $20 you mentioned.

Disclaimer. My wife Marla makes pen blanks for them.
 

qquake

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I don't think the offering by Turners Warehouse will fit. It mentions a 10x1mm thread and the only pens I recall of that thread pitch are the #6 nibs in the El Grande/Churchill/Cambridge series pens.
I wouldn't use the whole section, I would pull the nib and feed out and put them in the existing pen.
 

Dannv

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If you want to just swap the nib, MiesterNib has a video on how to do that. Big thing is to not press on teh tines, just the nib above the breather hole. You may need to use the original feed, you'll need to try one or the other with the new nib to see which fits better. If your pen uses a #5 nib, get a #5 replacement. Be patient and take your time. The nib is likely a very tight fit in the original housing and can take a bit of time to get out. Finally, buy a good nib. Jowo or Boch have good reputations (both are German made, not Chinese.) I use Jowo.
 

Dannv

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If the instructions don't say, call the vendor. I think what you have is a Penn State kit, so give them a call. They can tell you.
 

qquake

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It says "#5 NIB" on their website. Would a #5 JoWo fit?

 

Dannv

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It says "#5 NIB" on their website. Would a #5 JoWo fit?

Yes, but not as a screw in replacement. You will have to pull the nib and feed out and then put the new nib and one feed or the other back on. Look closely at how the new nib touches the feed so you cxan put it back in the same way.
 
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