Tag Archives: Conklin Endura

Fix Scratchy Nibs

WARNING: The following repair advice can easily mess up your favorite nib if you aren’t careful and experienced.

You think you’ve found the perfect pen at a show, estate sale or antique store. The color is good. The filling system still works. And then you try to write with it. Although the nib looks good, it is a very scratchy writer.

Learn how to fix a scratchy nib with only a little water and some ultra-fine grit sandpaper.

Learn how to fix a scratchy nib with only a little water and some ultra-fine grit sandpaper.

You can fix that scratchy nib with some patience and nerves of steel.

It doesn’t take much effort to ruin or at least alter the width of your nib with the accidental flick of the wrist. DO NOT try this on your favorite pen that has just picked up¬†a hint of a scratch. Get some junkers¬†with which¬†you can build up some experience.

Get to know your nib before you attempt anything. Is it gold? Is it tipped with irridium? Is it a steel nib? Look very closely at the nib. Use a loupe or magnifying glass. Are the tines even? Is the tip bent?

If the tines are slightly misaligned, you can push them back into place with just your thumb nail. Be careful, as misaligned tines often snap very easily. Often, I prefer to raise the lower tine to be even with the upper tine. To do this, push directly up on the single lower tine with your thumb nail to a position just above the other tine. Hold it for a second and then relax it. Check it, and repeat the process as needed. Sometimes, I push the upper tine down. Learning which to redirect really just comes with experience.

If the tip is bent, forget about it. We’ll save that for a different article.

If the tines are even but just scratchy…

Check to see if the tip is gold, gold with a metal (usually irridium) tip or steel. If it is plain gold, which is rare, the sanding process will weardown the nib super quickly. If it is tipped, check to see if the tipping material is still complete. If it isn’t, you’ll need to get it retipped. If the tipping metal is still there, then you will be safer to try to sand the nib into submission. The steel nibs are also pretty safe to try to smooth, although by their nature, they generally won’t smooth as well as the gold nibs. It is rare to find a truely smooth steel nib on a vintage pen, unless it is from the Esterbrook 9000s line.

If you are into freakishly extra-fine nibs, send your pen to a nib expert (and I am not that type of nib expert). If you aren’t so picky as long as you can have a smooth writer…continue reading.

To try to sand the nib into a sweet spot, you will need a small glass of water, a clean sheet of your normal writing paper and some very fine-grit sandpaper. I recommend 2500 grit or finer. You also will want a tissue or paper towel.

Set up on a hard-topped desk or table. A cushioned writing surface will have you putting holes in the sandpaper with the nib and putting odd edges on the nib.

To get started, I like to make sure the pen is full. Then spread a little water on the sandpaper.¬†Next write a figure 8 with the scratchy pen on the watered sandpaper. The water helps to lubricate the sandpaper so that you don’t take off too much from the nib. Your figure 8 should be about the size of your normal letters when writing…maybe a little bigger. Don’t worry about the ink on the sandpaper. And don’t think that the ink will naturally lube the paper enough without water. It won’t.

I like to have the pen full of ink, so I can immediately test the nib on a clean sheet of paper. After your first figure 8, shake the pen in the glass of water and dry off the tip. This just clears the tip of any sand, as you don’t want to keep sanding the nib when you don’t want to sand it. Test the nib on the clean sheet of paper and see how it feels. Patiently repeat one or two 8’s at a time on the sandpaper and repeat the process.

If you find that you need more than a couple figure 8’s, start writing 8’s from different angles, as you don’t want to flatten out the nib in your normal writing position.

If everything is almost perfect but you are still having scratches at the top or bottom of your loops, try to work out those parts of the letter on the sandpaper.

REMEMBER, every time that nib touches the sandpaper, it is going to get wider. Often, it only takes an 8 or two. It is not uncommon for your fine nib to become a medium or a medium a bold nib while trying this repair. If you want to be assured perfection with little change to your nib’s writing characteristics, it is best to find an expert.

Pen Collector Profile: Nan Sampson, Author

For the longest time, dead people were the sole focus of our “Famous People & Pens” series. Then I got it through my thick skull that many of our living customers are actual working writers, and…HEY!…why not profile them and their work?!

There is a reason I was never hired as a rocket scientist by NASA.

Starting today, I will profile the first of many writers and famous, or soon-to-be-famous, people who love fountain pens and other luxury writing instruments. I will absolutely continue to find the stories behind historical figures and their favorite pens, but my live interviews are hopefully going to rock your world.

Nan Sampson, author of Restless Natives, ponder's her next story idea while holding her Waterman Phileas fountain pen.

Nan Sampson, author of Restless Natives, ponder’s her next story idea while holding her Waterman Phileas fountain pen.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Nan Sampson. Nan has just published her very first novel: “Restless Natives.” It is a murder mystery that is now available for a Kindle download on Amazon. Her book released last week. Although this is her first published novel, she has been writing for her entire life and is a marketing executive in the Chicagoland area.

As a pen collector, she has a penchant for Waterman and Pelikan pens. She also has a thing for green Sheaffer’s Scrip from the 1950s.

DRIPPY MUSINGS: Hi, Nan. Welcome to ThePenMarket.com’s Drippy Musings. How does it feel to have your first novel published and available on Amazon?

NAN SAMPSON:¬†It is amazing.¬† A lifetime dream come true.¬† Although the biggest realization has been that now that I’ve had my moment of celebration, the work goes on.¬† Book two in the series awaits, plus I’ve other projects lined up, like planes circling O’Hare!

DM: Tell us a little about “Restless Natives.”

NS: It’s a cozy mystery, set in a small fictional town in southwestern Wisconsin.¬† Oddly enough, the main character used to be a marketing executive in Chicago.¬† Hmm…¬† Seriously, though it’s a lot of fun, lots of quirky characters and a rather odd murder.¬† A poor fellow gets tarred with pancake syrup and covered with chicken feathers.¬† Oh, and gets a great bloody knife in the chest, too.¬† Details…

DM: Where did you first get the idea for this book?

NS: I’ve always wanted to create a series set in a town that I’d want to live in, like Long Piddleton (from the Richard Jury novels by Martha Grimes) or the village of Finch (from Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series).¬† A place readers can escape to, filled with familiar faces and quirky problems.¬† And having spent a great deal of time in southwestern Wisconsin and meeting great people there, it just sort of fell into place.

DM: Every writer approaches their job differently. What is your process? What is your motivation?

NS: My motivation. [chuckles]¬† ‘I’m ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille.’¬† I’ll tackle process first.¬† I’m a life-long “panster”¬†—¬†meaning I do things by the seat of my pants.¬† I’m not one for long outlines — I find in creating those, I feel like I’ve “done” the book and I lose my enthusiasm.¬† So I start with a beginning, figure out my ending (although it can change during the actual writing process — it’s more of a direction to head in), and usually have a couple of juicy scenes in the middle that I’m anxious to write to keep me going.¬† Rewrites can be a bear as things are pretty loosey-goosey and the story I start out writing is often very different from the one I end up with.¬† It’s hard for me to see the whole of the tapestry until I’m finished with it.¬† So I’m not sure I’d recommend my process to others.¬† But it works for me.

My motivation?¬† Gosh.¬† Being a writer, telling stories, making up worlds and characters and languages and stuff…that’s just who I am.¬† I don’t know how to be any other way.¬† I cannot imagine living without doing those things.¬† It will be great to get paid for it, but I’d be doing it anyway, even if no one ever buys my work.¬† I love it.¬† But I’m also not one of those writers that thinks earning money will “cheapen my art”.¬† Please – go out and buy my book!¬† In fact, buy several copies and gift them to your friends and relatives at the holidays!¬† I have a child to put through college. [Laughs]

DM: How did you get into writing? Were you always a storyteller, or did you cultivate this interest over time?

NS:¬†My mother said I told stories to my stuffed bear in my crib.¬† That is, perhaps, a slight exaggeration.¬† But I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t concocting stories in my head, trying on different personas and pretending to live other lives.¬† I believe clinical psychologists call that a “personality disorder”.¬† Or maybe delusional.¬† Either way, I guess I’m okay with that. [Laughs]

DM: Who were and are some of your biggest influences as a writer? Why?

NS:¬†Oh, that is a long list.¬† I’ll try to just cover the biggies.¬† First and foremost was Roger Zelazny.¬† He was brilliant, innovative and knew the rules well enough to break them in clever, ingenious ways.¬† Carl Sagan and Asimov are up there too — they were both genius at taking complex subjects and making them both accessible and interesting to the ordinary person.¬† I cut my teeth on Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie — the grand dames of the cozy mystery.¬† I love [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle,¬†too.¬† I always have Holmes with me on my Kindle — a go-to for times when you just need the comfort of the familiar or a great character.

From a more contemporary perspective, I’m totally in love with Gini Koch — she has this wry humor, but knows how to keep the action flying as well.¬† Lois McMasters Bujold is also fab and taught me all about character arcs and unlikely heroes.¬† And I’ll read almost anything by Glenn Cook — more dry wit.¬† Gosh, most everyone I’ve mentioned is either fantasy or science fiction. I do read a lot in those genres.¬† James Rollins, action/adventure, is the master at interweaving story lines and pacing.

How much time do we have?¬†[Chuckles]¬† I’ll stop there.¬† Suffice it to say I read widely.¬† But Roger… well, Roger was a god to me.¬† He taught me that my crazy ideas were okay.¬† He was simply amazing, and highly under-appreciated.

DM: Do you compose longhand or on the computer?

NS:¬†¬† I compose on the keyboard. ¬†I need to be able to type as fast as I think.¬† Revision is done long hand, and I make all my character notes and so forth in pen.¬† I do a lot of brainstorming and idea mapping by hand, as well.¬† And yes… all in green ink.¬† My fingers are always stained with green.

DM: What are your favorite pens? Why?

NS: I LOVE my Waterman [Phileas].¬† The barrel is wider, so my fingers don’t cramp, and it has a really smooth flow.¬† I hate scratchy pens.¬† My handwriting is atrocious. Only my best friend can read it, and I write very quickly.¬† The pen needs to be able to keep up and not skip or scratch along the page.¬† And of course, the barrel has that green marbling — the green thing again!¬† The one I have my eye on from your website it that gorgeous vintage 0655 Conklin Endura.¬† Wow.¬† Stunning. Love the coloration of the barrel.¬† But unless a whole bunch of your fans and friends buy my book, that’s a wee bit out of my league.

DM: How did you get into fountain pens?

NS: My pop used to take me to auctions and estate sales when I was little.¬† Back in those days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were always three things you could always find in large quantities — old keys¬†(you know, skeleton keys), raggedy stuffed animals and fountain pens.¬† You could buy them by the box!¬† I would always get to buy one of each (kept me pacified, I suppose).¬† I’d bring along a notepad and scribble (without ink of course) with the pens, pretending to be a famous author giving my autograph to the stuffed animals.¬† There’s something magical about fountain pens that make you think anything is possible — they’re elegant and old world and for some odd reason they give me a sense of confidence.¬† Of permanence.¬† I guess I’m a bit old fashioned — heck I still have an old Underwood typewriter that I bang on occasionally.

DM: What types of ink do you like best? Why?

NS: I’m not much of an ink snob.¬† But I don’t like a lot of smearing (it’s always getting on my hands) so a quick drying ink is good.¬† And it has to flow smoothly and not clog up my pen a lot.¬† But most importantly, it has to be green.¬† Emerald green.¬† I’m open to recommendations, O Great Pen Guru. *nudge nudge wink wink*

DM: Okay. So, I know the ink is barely dry on “Restless Natives,” but can you tell us a little about what to expect next?

NS: No rest for the wicked, you know.¬† The physical copy of “Restless Natives” is coming soon (probably a few weeks) and the second book in the current series is written and awaiting revision.¬† That one is slated for publication in January, gods willing and the river don’t rise, as my Gran would have said.¬† I’m also working on a fantasy novel, and have the bare bones of a second mystery series set in a haunted bed & breakfast.¬† Oh, and then there’s this idea I had for an adventure novel set in the ’20s (a la H. Rider Haggard and Indiana Jones) only with a woman heroine.¬† Like I said earlier, I’ve got more ideas than time!

DM: It has been a pleasure speaking with you, Nan. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and pen passions with us at Drippy Musings.

NS:¬† No, thank you!¬† It’s been a joy sharing with you, thanks for inviting me.¬† And as soon as I sell enough books, we’ll have to talk about that Conklin!

Be sure to check out Nan Sampson’s book “Restless Natives” at Amazon.com. It is a fun read, and a great summertime escape while you are lounging by the pool or chillin’ in the shade.