Fountain pens are a timeless writing instrument that have been cherished by writers, artists, and pen enthusiasts for centuries. They offer the elegance of handwriting with fluid ink flow and a unique writing experience.
However, fountain pens store their ink differently than modern gel or ballpoint pens. They have three basic filling systems: cartridge, converter, and built-ins that will change how you use and maintain your pen. For this post, I’ll be talking about fountain pen converters.
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Choosing the right converter for your fountain pen can be daunting, given the vast array of options available in today’s market. To help you choose the correct converter, we’ve compiled a guide on fountain pen converter compatibility to assist you in finding the right fit for your specific pens.
Types of Fountain Pen Converters
A fountain pen converter is a device that allows you to fill your fountain pen with bottled ink instead of using disposable cartridges. Several fountain pen converters are available today, but they break down into two main categories: Standard International and proprietary converters.
Standard International Converter
The Standard International converters are widely used in fountain pens. While international size cartridges come in short and long sizes, the converters only come in one size. Many manufacturers such as Kaweco, Faber-Castell, and Monteverde create converters to this standard specification, but as long as they are labeled as “Standard International,” can be used interchangeably in other fountain pens that also take standard international.
On the other hand, some manufacturers have created their own proprietary converters that will only work with their pens and may only work with a specific pen and not all of their products. Notable brands that use proprietary sizes are LAMY, Montblanc, Parker, Pilot, and Platinum.
As you can see, the converter you choose will mostly depend on your pen type and brand. However, within these two categories, there are different filling mechanisms that you can choose from that can often be left up to your own preference.
- Piston Converter
The piston converter is one of the most common types of fountain pen converters. It has an internal plunger mechanism that easily draws up ink from the bottle and fills your pen’s reservoir. This is typically done by twisting the end knob in this type of converter, but are sometimes done with a plunger mechanism.
- Squeeze Converter
Squeeze converters require manual pressure on a rubber bladder which forces air out and then draws ink into it through suction action, which helps fill up the reservoir of your fountain pen with ease.
- Push-Button Converter
The push-button converter draws ink inside using the suction created when repeatedly pushing the button at the end of the converter.
Fountain Pen Converter Compatibility Chart
To ensure you choose the correct converter for your fountain pen, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations. As an overview, I’ve created a chart to show the compatibility of top pen brands and their converters.
1 Kaweco Sport Pocket Fountain Pens use the Sport Piston Converter. Other, full-size Kaweco pens utilize the standard international converter.
2 Sailor’s Chalana fountain pen uses specific slim converters. All other Sailor fountain pens (except for the Realo) use the Sailor standard converters.
How to Fill a Fountain Pen Converter
Filling a fountain pen converter is trickier than inserting a cartridge, but with a little explanation, it’s very easy. For simplicity, I’ll be explaining how to use a piston converter. If you have another converter, read here for help filling those.
- Insert the converter into the grip section like a cartridge.
- With the piston fully raised, dip the entire nib into the ink bottle.
- Twist the knob to lower the piston, expelling air from the converter.
- Twist the knob the opposite way to raise the piston to fill the converter with ink.
- Repeat steps three and four until the chamber is completely filled with ink.
- Blot the nib with a paper towel to remove any excess ink.
For a more in-depth look, check out our guide on How to Fill a Foutain Pen Converter.
Converters are a great way to use different ink colors and types to make your writing experience more enjoyable and creative. However, finding the right converter for your fountain pen can be tricky, especially if you have a collection of pens from various brands.
Hopefully we’ve been able to provide valuable information on the compatibility of popular fountain pen converters with different brands of fountain pens. With this knowledge, you can select the right converter that fits perfectly with your favorite fountain pen and enjoy a seamless writing experience every time.
If you have any questions, check out our FAQs below or leave a comment, and we’ll try to help you out with your fountain pen problems.
Fountain Pen FAQs
What is a fountain pen converter?
A fountain pen converter is a device that allows you to refill the ink in your fountain pen directly from a bottle of ink. This can be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than using disposable cartridges, as well as giving you access to a wider variety of inks.
What is the best fountain pen with converter for beginners?
As a beginner in the world of fountain pens, it can be overwhelming to choose the best option for your needs. One important aspect to consider is whether or not you want a pen with a converter, which allows you to fill the pen with ink from a bottle rather than using disposable cartridges. Here are some recommendations for the best fountain pen with converter for beginners:
For more recommendations for beginner users, check out our post Here.
Should I shake my fountain pen before writing?
While it might be tempting to get your ink flowing by shaking a pen, it’s not a great idea. Shaking the pen may cause the ink to come out too quickly, spraying ink around the room. If your pen isn’t writing, you can let your pen rest nib down for a few hours, or add a few drops of water to the nib. For more help, check out our guide on what to do if your fountain pen won’t write.
Can I refill a cartridge-based fountain pen without a converter or a piston?
It may be possible to do this and it is called an eyedropper conversion. I wouldn’t recommend doing this for beginners because if done incorrectly can be a huge mess. However, if you would like to, you need to make sure your fountain pen barrel is airtight. For more help, see our guide here on how to do an eyedropper conversion.
Do LAMY pens only work with LAMY ink?
No! LAMY pens work with any fountain pen ink. The caveat being fountain pen ink. So don’t try adding gel ink, other drawing ink, or anything not specified as fountain pen ink. If any fountain pen brand says it “will work best with” their own ink they are simply trying to sell more ink. Nothing will happen to your pen by adding another brand’s ink.
Do fountain pens work with gel ink?
That’s a big No. You shouldn’t add any ink into your fountain pen that isn’t specified as fountain pen ink. Using ink that’s not meant for fountain pens, such as calligraphy ink, gel ink, or drawing ink, can cause leaking, clogging, poor ink flow, or possibly corrosion of the fountain pen’s components.
How often do you have to refill a fountain pen?
That depends on your fountain pen, the filling system, your ink, and how much you write. If you write multiple pages a day, you may need to refill daily, or at least every 2-3 days. If you only write occasionally, your pen may last you weeks or months.
It’s a good idea to completely use up the ink in your converter or filling mechanism before refilling. It’s also a good idea to clean your pen between refills, or at least every few times, and definitely clean if you are changing ink types as the mixing inks can cause clogs or corrosion of the pen’s parts.
Learn more about How Fountain Pens Work Here.
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