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Why Fountain Pens Skip & How To Fix

Q:
Why does my fountain pen skip?
A:
fountain pen nib anatomy and skippingSkipping is when a fountain pen writes with missing or partial stokes. This occurs when the feed cannot supply enough ink to the tip of the nib or if the tines on the nib are misaligned. The first problem is an easier fix while a misaligned nib is best left to an experienced pen tech to repair.

  1. First try cleaning the fountain pen by soaking it and then flushing it with water. Most often a good cleaning of the fountain pen will remedy the problem. A fountain pen can skip if there is debris in the feed channel or the ink has dried. Some new pens may have left over debris from manufacturing and it never hurts to flush the pen before its first use. For pens with dried fountain pen ink you may try using a pen flush to clean it well.

    If you have cleaned the pen and it continues to skip you may try a thinner ink such as the Sheaffer Skrip ink or Sailor Jentle ink that is self lubricating to see if that helps.

    Remember, fountain pen ink dries when it comes in contact with air. Make sure you cap your pen when it is not in use. When a pen is left uncapped ink can dry within the feed and create clogging, skipping and other writing issues.

  2. Another trick is to add just a touch of pen flush to the ink in your pen. This may alter the color slightly but it creates a thinner solution that flows easier through your pen. It can also help clean the pen as you use it.

  3. If you have cleaned the pen and tried different inks and you continue to have problems it may be the nib alignment. Before making adjustments to the nib beware that it may void the warranty and we do not recommend these adjustments for everyone especially for expensive pens.

  4. The first nib alignment to check is whether the tines are too close. You can either run a brass shim between the tines or even some paper. This will help spread the tines. Another option is to press the nib against your thumbnail or paper with light force to spread the tines. You must be very careful not to spring the nib using too much force.
  5. Next, check that the tines are not separated from the feed at the front. You can easily look at the nib from the side and see if there is any light gap. Gently bend the nib back into place. It may be easiest to run the back of the nib along the edge of a desk being careful not to put too much force on the front tip of the nib as you may bend it too far.

  6. Check that the tines are aligned correctly. A quick test is to draw angled or diagonal lines in four different directions to see if there is more drag one direction than another. Remember upward strokes are not typically as smooth as downward. You may feel more drag from left to right for example. If this is the case then one tine is lower than the other. You can try to align them by bending the tines into place.

  7. The last cause of dry fountain pens can be baby's bottom. This happens when there is too much tipping on the nib creating rounded tines that separate. The can be fixed by lightly sanding the nib using very fine mylar paper or micromesh.

Hope this helps answer your questions on how to fix a fountain pen that skips.


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