Why you should be regularly cleaning your Parker Pen
It's completely pointless to invest in the most premium fountain pen making brand and not look after what you have. Not only will it help your pen's longevity but it will also make sure that the pen functions to the best of its ability; through removing any debris or dried ink that's preventing a clear ink flow, you can ensure your pen is writing how its supposed to.
Furthermore, for those who like to switch their inks around, through cleaning your pen you're making sure that ink avoids contamination so you can get a clear colour.
Lastly, through knowing how to dissemble your fountain pen you can identify and fix any issues that your pen encounters.
Using your fountain pen for the first time
For those who have never used a fountain pen before, there are a few steps you should take before writing to make sure you're getting the best writing experience possible.
Firstly, be sure to identify that you have the right ink cartridge for your fountain pen; forcing the wrong sized cartridge into your pen can be a sure-fire way to ruin your fountain pen. Similarly, if you're fountain pen supports the use of a converter, make sure you have the specific converter that your fountain pen requires.
Once you've found the right cartridge, be sure to carefully fit it into your fountain pen and squeeze it until some ink starts to ooze out of the tip. This shows that the ink cartridge is ready for use.
If you experience any hard-starting from your fountain pen, give the cartridge a good shake to ensure the inks running. If you're using the converter, make sure to follow the instructions to carefully withdraw the ink from your bottle and into the fountain pens ink chamber.
Cleaning the Nib
90% of issues that fountain pen users encounter will come down to issues with the nib, therefore it's of upmost importance to properly clean and maintain your nib.
To begin the nib cleaning process you want to first remove the cartridge or converter that is in your fountain pen.
Next, you want to let the nib soak in some warm water for up to a day. This helps to remove any debris that is clogging up your ink flow and Parker's ink is water soluble therefore the majority of dried ink should dissolve into the water.
Once you've removed the nib, use a spare toothbrush to brush any debris that's still clinging to the nib. Furthermore, the toothbrush will help to get rid of any dried ink if there's any left.
After finishing the cleaning process, you can use a simple paper towel to dry the nib before reassembling your fountain pen.
How to Store your pen
When your not using your fountain pen regularly, you should try your best to store it correctly in order to properly maintain it. Firstly try to keep the facing upwards (the nib should be facing the sky), this can help prevent the fountain pen's ink from drying or clogging the feed.
Another great option for storing your fountain pen is investing in a suitable pen pocket/case. You can even use your original packaging from when you first bought the pen. The reason why you should consider storing your pen in one of these cases is it will help not only keep your fountain pen functional, but also keep it looking new and unscratched.
Using the right Ink
Before dumping any old ink into your fountain pen, there are a few steps you should take to make sure it's safe for your pen.
Firstly, if you open your bottle of ink and it has a foul smell radiating from it, dispose of it immediately. The smell means your ink has started to mould and if you do put the ink in your pen, you could begin a domino effect of ruining your products; the mould spores can be transferred to your pen and then to other inks.
Another step you should take before using your ink is to turn it upside down and watch it flow, if you can see sludge or slime-like movement then you should discard of that ink. This is because this slimey texture indicates that your ink has dried up, if you put this ink into your fountain pen then you're likely to clog your feed and the slit in your nib.
If possible try to use the best ink possible with your fountain pen, not only is it going to provide you with the best writing experience possible but its also going to cause the least erosion to your fountain pen.
There are a few variables that decide the quality of an ink: it's thickness, it's dry time, it's colour and the amount it feathers. The thicker the ink, the more likely it will clog up your feed and barrel; you should opt for an ink that flows well.
As for the drying time, the quicker the better. A shorter drying team means the less cautious you have to be about smudging and smearing your ink.
Your colour choice will largely come down to your personal preference, however you should make sure that the colour is not contaminated with different shades as this can leave your writing looking odd.
Lastly, your ink should have minimal feathering. Ink feathering is where your lines are not as clean and crisp as they should be; this can be down to your ink's reaction to paper.
How to clean the whole pen
Before even starting the cleaning process, you need to make sure you remove as much ink as possible from your ink-filling system (cartridge holder, converter or eyedropper).
You can do this through letting your ink-filling section soak in some warm water for a few hours, this should remove the majority of dried ink due to the majority of pen ink being water soluble and therefore should dissolve in the warm water.
If there's still dried ink in the ink-filling system once you've remove it from the warm water, you can use a toothbrush with a standard home cleaning product to remove it.
Once you've cleaned your ink-filling system, it's time to clean your pen's ink delivery system.
First you will need to dissemble your pen, for the majority of fountain pens you should be able to just twist off the nib by turning it clockwise away from the grip section. For some fountain pens, there may be a special tool that comes in the package to help dissemble the pen.
Once dissembled, similar to the ink-filling section, let the nib and feed soak in some water for a few hours. As previously mentioned, this should let the ink clogging up the nib and feed dissolve. If you're pen supports a piston-filling system, as you would suck ink up to the chamber, do the same with water to clean the insides.
Lastly, use a toothbrush to pick out any dried ink that's left in the unit. However be careful to not be too aggressive with it.
How to properly inspect your pen
To identify what condition your pen is there are various steps you need to undertake.
Lets start with the nib. Firstly, you want to check that the nib slit is the same width at the tip as at the top. If the slit starts to get wider towards the tip, eventually the ink will start to leak out of the pen. If the slit start to get wider towards the top, the opposite will occur. The ink flow will be far from optimal, you may even struggle to get any ink flow at all. If the slit is not in alignment you can take your pen to a specialist to re-align it.
Next, you want to examine your nib tines; they should be in exact alignment. If one is higher or lower than the other, your pen may be juicier when writing in one direction and drier when writing in another. Similar, to slit width problems, if there's a problem with your nib tine alignment then you should take your pen to a specialist. The reason why fixing it yourself is not recommended is in 99% of cases you're going to do even more damage to your pen.
After you've examined your nib condition, you can have a look at your converter/cartridge condition. If your pen has a converter system, you should look to see if it's a tight fit; if it feels loose it's likely to start leaking at some point and cause damage to the insides of the pen. To combat this issue, be sure to immediately replace your loose converter with a new, tight one.
The easiest area to examine is the body of your fountain pen. Look for any obvious damage such as cracks, scratches and holes in your barrel; if there is any, look to immediately replace it.
Hopefully, you now have a greater understanding of what is required to properly maintain a fountain pen. By following the advice above, you will not only be able to maximise the performance of the pen but also get the most longevity out of your fountain pen!