Ask The Desk: Varsity Fountain Pens & Montblanc Refills

Pete asks:

I believed I had found the pen of my dreams when I came across the very affordable Varsity Pilot fountain pen. Once that pen ran out of ink, I gleefully purchased another. It skipped so much that I had to toss it. Got another, same. Another, same. Another, same. What’s going on here? People love these pens– as I did once upon a time!– and I’ve heard there may be a defect here and there with these mass produced cheap pens– understandable. But three in a row? I’m wondering if it’s me. Any advice?

Skipping in a pen can be caused by a couple different things. The ink might be a bit dry or clogged in the feed or the tines might be misaligned. In a budget pen like the Varsity, both of these can be possibilities.

You can flush the pen by running water over the nib to make sure there aren’t any particles clogging the feed. Since these pens often sit in warehouses for an undisclosed length of time, there is a possibility that the ink may have settled, frozen or dried out.

If the tines are misaligned, pulling the forward and back gently with your fingers may be all it needs to straighten them out. If you have a loupe or magnifying glass of some sort to verify if the tines are a little out of line, that will help.

With a budget pen like a Varsity, I’m not sure I would pursue additional methods to correct issues. Since they have closed ink systems, you cannot dump the ink, clean thoroughly and refill them (as I might suggest with a Platinum Preppy which is a pen in a similar price point). Nor would I take the time to do more detailed nib tuning, unless it was just for the practice. But hopefully, the tips I’ve listed above might help you save one or two Varsity pens.

You can dump the ink if you want. Peninkcillin has a tutorial for disassembling the Varsity and refilling it which would allow you to clean it completely.

Monteverde Montblanc refill

Jonas asks:

In search for compatible mont blanc refills, anything y can help me with?

The best option for MontBlanc compatible refills is Monteverde. They offer ballpoint and rollerball options depending on your need and at half the price of MontBlanc refills. You can find them in smaller quantities through most online pen shops or Amazon.

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