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Thread: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Last weekend the Lone Star Pen Club hosted a meeting with Dr Leighton Davies-Smith as the speaker. His web-site Scribe technical consulting contains a couple of excellent documents well worth reading. He is the man who was originally behind Parker Penman Inks and has more recently designed a new set of similar inks called Scribe inks that have been reviewed in the Ink Review forum from samples generously sent by "junglejim."
    Pen Realm (Kirk Speer) also now stocks this range of Scribe inks.

    Dr Leighton was a most interesting speaker mainly because it quickly became clear that he knew almost everything there was to know about how fountain pen ink is made and how it works in pens. From the designing of the ink to the designing of the pens to ensure they work in harmony together as well as they can. Some of the information he showed to us is on his web-site and is well worth a read.

    I'm only going to mention a couple of very interesting things that I learned.

    1) The first was diluting ink that has become concentrated inside cartridges due to evaporation. We were talking about old Parker Penman cartridges at the time but many fountain pen users will have seen cartridges that are now half full because of age and evaporation.

    Dr Leighton said that he cringes every time he sees a recommendation to add water to these cartridges using a syringe. I can hold up my hand and say I've done this and recommended it myself rather than just using the cartridge of now concentrated ink. However, Dr Leighton says that you've not only lost water through the plastic cartridge case, but you've also lost alcohol and bactericide. Therefore by adding only water you are diluting the original alcohol and bactericide levels and taking a higher risk of getting mould growing inside your pen. So he keeps a bottle of liquid containing water, alcohol and bactericide and uses that solution to reconstitute the remaining liquid in evaporated cartridges.

    I mentioned that I had some isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and 4% Natural Pigments phenol (carbolic acid) and he confirmed that adding some of both to the water before reconstituting the ink inside your cartridge would work better than just water. At that point we didn't discuss exact proportions but it's something I'm going to experiment with unless I can get more detailed information from Dr Leighton by email.

    2) We moved along to the problem of transporting fountain pens on planes and were shown diagrams of how the ink level looks inside a fountain pen when clipped into your pocket. When you have ink plus air inside your pen, then the fins of the collector are doing their job and collecting some droplets of ink. If the pen goes on a plane then the air will expand and push the ink level down so that more ink goes into the collector. If that gets full then the excess will leak into the feed and pen cap.

    The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to have as little air as possible in your pen filling mechanism. This means that there is less air to expand and the ink level won't be pushed further down into the collector.

    So - before you fly either fill your pen as full as you can or travel with it almost empty so there isn't enough ink to fill the collector. Then it's unlikely to leak.
    Last edited by Chrissy; May 1st, 2021 at 10:23 AM.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Senior Member Yazeh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Thanks Chrissy for this informative post.

    Do all pens have collectors? I could only find that in the Parker 51?

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    Thanks Chrissy for this informative post.

    Do all pens have collectors? I could only find that in the Parker 51?
    You're welcome.
    I believe it's an integral part. Some might just call it the feed but it will at least be an extension of that inside the section. The collector is what collects the ink so that you get instant writing when you start to write. There isn't just a hole in the section with a small feed stuck behind the nib in the end.
    Last edited by Chrissy; May 1st, 2021 at 03:13 AM.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Chrissy. You are probably the perfect fountain pen user / expert to attend that meeting.

    Thank you for distilling the information for the rest of us.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    FPG Donor ♕ Chrissy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Chrissy. You are probably the perfect fountain pen user / expert to attend that meeting.

    Thank you for distilling the information for the rest of us.
    You're welcome. Did you get that I found it fascinating? LOL
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Senior Member Jon Szanto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    He's an amazing guy. I'm glad I have a membership in the PCA because the two latest issues contained a two-part article/interview with L D-S and he covered much of this material. So interesting to hear from the source. I've also had other insights from him, courtesy of joint correspondence with James Young, where he talks about how valuable it is for a person like himself - a scientist in the lab, coming up with this stuff - getting feedback from actual users.

    As to the dilution of the ink in a cartridge: I'm totally on board that simply adding water will not return the exact same function and experience. I'm far less concerned about a massive contamination from one little cartridge, especially when it has been sealed. Yes, the plastic is gas-permeable and therefore liquids can evaporate, but I don't think that microbes and other bad things can penetrate. Not an activity I'm engaged in, but I wouldn't hesitate using H2O for ink hydration for fear of the plague.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Dr Leighton Davies-Smith and fountain pen inks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    He's an amazing guy. I'm glad I have a membership in the PCA because the two latest issues contained a two-part article/interview with L D-S and he covered much of this material. So interesting to hear from the source. I've also had other insights from him, courtesy of joint correspondence with James Young, where he talks about how valuable it is for a person like himself - a scientist in the lab, coming up with this stuff - getting feedback from actual users.

    As to the dilution of the ink in a cartridge: I'm totally on board that simply adding water will not return the exact same function and experience. I'm far less concerned about a massive contamination from one little cartridge, especially when it has been sealed. Yes, the plastic is gas-permeable and therefore liquids can evaporate, but I don't think that microbes and other bad things can penetrate. Not an activity I'm engaged in, but I wouldn't hesitate using H2O for ink hydration for fear of the plague.
    I don't believe he was suggesting that bacteria could penetrate into the cartridge but more that the original bactericide that has been diluted with water will therefore be less effective at doing it's job when it gets into the fountain pen
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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