Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Refill a Fountain Pen

Some Waterman fountain pens come with a refillable cartridge.

By submerging the end of the cartridge into a bottle of water-soluble ink and twisting the little knob, a piston will draw the ink up into the cartridge. This way you can use whatever color of ink you want, such as a brown or gray.

Gray and brown are no longer generally available as standard disposable cartridge colors in Waterman pens. But it must be water-soluble ink formulated for fountain pens, not India ink.

You can refill any fountain pen, even if it doesn’t have one of those special refillable cartridges. A hypodermic needle works perfectly for injecting ink into spent cartridges. Here I’m refilling a Schaeffer calligraphy pen.

I got my hypodermic needle in a kit for refilling printer cartridges.
Step by step from Instructables, using different tools.


Michael Damboldt said...

I have so many of those. Gosh, sometimes it seems monumental to refill, but they're worth it!

Matt Dicke said...

great post about fountain pens.
elwood smith has some great posts about a great waterproof ink

might be of interest? I have tried it and loved it. well worth the money.
he also has a good post on pelican fountain pens which is also informative.


Thanks for the continued inspiration James!

Leland Purvis said...

If you don't happen to have a hypodermic needle lying around your house, it's often pretty easy to just straighten a paperclip and use a normal eyedropper. The ink will travel down the paperclip wire into the cartridge a drop at a time.

jobi said...

I agree, I'm using the hypodermic needle for years now. It's a cheap method to use ink bottles, only you need a good pair of plastic gloves not to stain your fingers, and to clean it carefully after use (plus storing it on a safe place when you have kids around). The mentioned ink is also my favourite: I'm using it with my Namiki Falcon and will test it with a new customized Namiki as soon as I get rid of the plaster cast that imprisons my right hand.

JD said...

Another tip - when filling a refillable cartridge from a half-full ink bottle, a pair of needle-nose pliers comes in handy to hold the cartridge.

This allows you grip the cartridge firmly and low enough so that the end of the cartridge touches the ink, while not getting any ink from the lip of the bottle on your hands.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is a game changer for me! I never knew I'd need a hypodermic needle to shoot up my pen!

My Pen Name said...

ever hear of noodler's ink - it works in my waterman - though cleaning required! its the only permanent ink that doesn't stop up the flow- and its supposed to be near forgery proof on checks, etc - its water solouble, but once it sets up its permanent, -- great stuff
here's the link (and NO i don't work for them :) )

Jussi Tarvainen said...

Hey here's a solution, a fillable ink pen with changeable nibs:)

M. Lumpkin said...

I love the screw action Waterman cartridge "converters." I even found that they fit an old American made schaeffer fountain pen I found at a yard sale with some aging drafting materials.

I use the needle method with my Pentel Pocket Brush, the single most useful pen I have for fast, lyrical sketches. I like Pelican's "Fount India" drawing ink for a dark black that stays in the black to grey tonal range after a wash with a waterbrush.

Technique and materials posts like this are what got me hooked on Gurney Journey and I've stayed for the lessons in art history, color, composition etc. This blog along with Urban Sketchers and a few others got me drawing again after about a 5 year hiatus. Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Hypodermic syringes with needles are readily available at a pharmacy as supplies for diabetics who need to inject insulin. While they are meant to be disposable, I have been repurposing them for years for things that are unrelated to medical reasons. Have greatly enjoyed your blog since I discovered it, especially the Harold Speed book club, as I would otherwise not manage to read these books.

Unknown said...

You can also do eyedropper conversions with some fountain pens, like the platinum preppy series. You can fill the whole barrel up to the inner threads.A bit of silicon grease and an o-ring is usually enough to prevent leaks, but I carry my modded pens double bagged in plastic just in case.