My new pen skips! Why? Can it be fixed?
FAQ 23.0 - 23.1.6 by Burt Janz
  Article # 241 Article Type: FAQ


23.0 My new pen skips! Why? Can it be fixed?

No new out-of-the-box pen should skip or be hesitant when writing. Unfortunately, some do. And, as has been noted several times in the news group, there are limits to what can be done to stop a pen from skipping.

There are various opinions as to what to do and how to stop it, but they almost always end in some requirement that the nib or feed be adjusted or worked on in some other way.

When I purchase a pen which skips (usually on the beginning of the first downstroke), I first try flushing the pen out with ink several times. I keep a few bottles of Quink on hand just for that purpose. Since I will be using ink in the pen (not Formula 409 or dish washing soap), I flush the pen with ink twice and then just sit it on a table with cap on for 5 minutes or so. I repeat this exercise two or three times. Then I flush the pen with water and fill it with my ìcurrent favoriteî ink (which is, at the moment, Waterman blue-black... but that will probably change this month back to some shade of blue).

23.1 Is there anything I can do about it?

Here are some other useful tips from the net (if the attribution is wrong, tell me immediately at

23.1.1 Arthur Twydle - Tuning a Fountain Pen

Several contributors made reference to the page at where there appears to be a wealth of information on nib tuning.

23.1.2 (Xander Craig)

Before even starting to write, wash all new pens thoroughly with clean, cold water, and all used pens with cold water and a drop of dishwashing detergent. Dry with a cloth on the outside and numerous piston inhales and exhales, followed by a good shake, for the inside. Ink the pen, fully expel the ink, re-ink the pen and expel three drops. Holding the pen upright, turn the piston or converter to its fullest inhale position. Clean the nib with a good rag that won't leave bits of fiber or paper behind (no toilet paper or kleenex). Check that touching the pen to a piece of paper towel will emit a spot. Use the pen regularly on good paper with a high cotton content (not cheap xerox or legal pads) for three days. If flow is poor, exhale the ink thoroughly, clean as above, and re-fill with a different brand of ink.

I'll offer another little trick which seemed to help sometimes (although it could be a placebo effect). I have heard discussed a number of places that "writing" (while rolling the nib back and forth evenly over the galls surface) with a new pen on an ink bottle can somtimes smooth the writing experience of a new pen which writes unexpectedly roughly. My understanding is that the ink bottle effectively acts as ultrafine sand paper. My understanding as well is that a nib that is badly screwed up will not benefit from such a treatment, but at east such a treament falls under the "do no harm" heading that I think we would want to bear in mind for all such tricks.

23.1.3 (Herman Berliss)

Frank, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that from time to time during the process of making a nib, metal particles are not always completely removed, and cutting oil may be left behind. This may cause a brand new fountain pen to skip, and in this case using an ultrasonic cleaner should take care of the problem.

23.1.4 (Frank Dubiel)

On some hard rubber feeds there may be oils if the feed was cut in a milling machine, but I've never seen this problem except on some extremely cheaply made Chinese pens, and in a few hours the ink washes any oil away. Although sometimes with rubber it may take a week or so for the feed to thoroughly get "wet." All rubber feeds are cleaned at the factory before installing in a pen and are or should be treated in a wetting bath to perform instantly.

NO pen new or old should skip. Assuming the ink and paper are OK and the pen is otherwise adjusted properly and well "wet" which may take a week or so NO pen should ever skip. If its new and still skips on downstroke most likely the nib is improperly ground. I've covered this many times, here, in Da Book and on line. Probably half of all expensive (i.e Gold nib) pens have poorly ground nibs and many of these have the excessive roundness that causes skipping. Sometimes it can be fixed by regrinding, but more often the nib has to be changed.

23.1.5 (Chuck Swisher)

Flush your new pen with a mixture of distilled water and dishwashing liquid (1:10 ratio). This will help remove any oils that might remain from manufacturing of the these components.

23.1.6 (G Tillotson)

Gently pull a piece of mylar through the tines of the nib, switching the direction of the abrasive side on the second pass. (I've done this on a few nibs to remove strange burrs and get the flow going properly.)


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