Ask The Desk: Clogged Fountain Pens

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Tom asks:

Several of my fountain pens seem to be clogged.  Certainly the ink does not flow as freely as it did when they were new.

The tried and true cures – such as soaking in a bowl of warm water with two drops of ammonia – do not seem to work.

What is the approved 21st Century approach?

Many thanks,

I have not had a lot of clogging issues myself. I have purchased several old pens that needed cleaning and I just let them soak in warm water for several days, changing the water every day and then flushing the pen completely with good success.

Since it sound like you have more serious issues, I put a call out to some of the folks out on Twitter and here are there responses:

  1. Azizah from Gourmet Pens: Can you disassemble it? Soak it in 10% ammonia and 90% water (section and nib) and flush it out with water.. Should clear it.
  2. Inktronics says: Time for a total tear down and getting the toothbrush out.
  3. FPGeeks says: After Azizah’s advice, next step would be to use ultrasonic cleaner.
  4. Anderson Pens says: How long did they let it soak? Overnight at least if no ultrasonic or use a bulb to force water through the feed.

I would also wonder about the ink that you are using if you are continuing to have clogging issues. You may want to try a new, different ink once you get your pen cleaned out to see if the issue was a result of gritty ink.

I hope these tips help. Let us all know if you have any luck.

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  1. As the Tom who asked: THANK YOU!
    I think I’ll start with my almost 30 year old Lamy Safari.
    Unhappily, the Shaeffer Targas can’t be disassembled.

      1. Thank you both!
        My wife has an ultrasonic cleaner for her jewelry; I’ll have to borrow it.
        As for the Targas, they use either the plastic cartridges or a “converter” – a rubber sac enclosed in an aluminum shell, with spring on one side. I’m not sure I know where the converters are; I’ve had the pens for nearly 30 years.

        I may “cheat” and send my Parker to the factory and let them clean it!

  2. The $25 Amazon Ultrasonic cleaner is a great investment not only for Fountain Pens but other small things as well. Jewelry etc. Good luck

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