Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen review

Thanks to Goulet Pens who sent me these pens for review, I can present you with two Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens, one plain silver with medium nib, the other plain black with fine nib. Disclaimer: I received the pens free of charge but no other payment or incentive for this review, and all the opinions herein are my own.

There are several different patterns available for the trim piece around the mid-section of these pens, as well as gold and purple finishes, but I opted for the plain versions because I wasn't sure I would like the patterns. Looking more carefully at the photos on Goulet Pens I believe that some of them, such as the silver dots, are quite interesting.

The Pilot Metropolitan must be a new model because I can't remember hearing about it a year ago. It certainly wasn't available when I got into fountain pens, around 2010-11, because instead of the much more expensive Pilot Prera, I might have looked into one of these instead. As it stands, the Pilot Metropolitan is a very affordable entry-level fountain pen which the Goulets sell for a modest $15. Let's dig in and find out what you get for 3 Lincolns.

The Pilot Metropolitan comes in a simple but neat exterior cardboard sleeve. Inside is the inner display case which is made of some sort of thin metal or tin, with a plastic window through which the pen and a blue ink cartridge can be seen.

Pilot Metropolitan external box

Pilot Metropolitan internal box

This is quite a lot of decent quality packaging for a $15 pen. I actually prefer it to that of the Pilot Vanishing Point. This case looks sturdier and the metal is superior to the VP's fake-leather-covered-cardboard.

Here's what the case looks with the lid open. Pilot also includes a blue ink cartridge to get you started.

Pilot Metropolitan internal box open

Body, construction, and dimensions
The Pilot Metropolitan is a sleek, metal-bodied fountain pen, with a slim cigar-shaped body. It tapers to a rounded point at both ends and there's no finial to speak of.

Pilot Metropolitan silver

The silver version comes with a brushed metal finish, while the wide trim band around the middle is polished aluminum. The middle band can also be one of several patterns, such as dots, python, zig-zag and so on.

Regardless of color and finish, all Metropolitan pens sport a polished chrome clip which seems to be tension-loaded. It's very plain and I can't say I like it but it serves its purpose.

Moving on, uncapping the pen reveals the glossy black plastic section and the nib.

Pilot Metropolitan silver uncapped

The cap is of the slip-on type and snaps close with a solid click. You can post the cap but it doesn't feel very secure unless you press it down hard. I prefer to use the Metropolitan un-posted because the balance feels better for me. Posted, it's a little top heavy.

Pilot Metropolitan posted

Seeing the nib, immediately hinted that this would be a good writer. Why? Because at first sight the nib looked very similar to the Prera's. And the Prera is a very good writer. So are the nibs identical? I will reveal that shortly.

Unscrewing the barrel from the section reveals the filling mechanism. It's a squeeze converter.

Pilot Metropolitan silver disassembled

Now, I have some reservations regarding squeeze converters. They're rather imprecise when filling, you can't see the contents, ink capacity is low and, well, basically they're not the most elegant filling system out there. But considering the price of this pen, I'm actually glad that they even included a converter. Other manufacturers won't even dream of going beyond the courtesy lone cartridge for price points below $40-50. So I see this as a big plus.

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black disassembled

Here are the two pens I reviewed, next to each other. The black has a fine nib, while the silver sports a medium.

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black

The black pen has a similar brushed finish, but the black band is glossier than the silver.

Dimensions for the Pilot Metropolitan are as follows:

Length capped: 13.7 cm / 5.4 in
Length un-capped: 13 cm / 5 in
Length posted: 15.5 cm / 6 in
Weight (capped, with converter): 26.4 g / 0.93 oz
Weight (un-capped, with converter): 17.1 g / 0.6 oz

Here are the two Metropolitans compared to the Prera. They are longer but slimmer. I prefer the Prera's shape though, but that's a more premium pen.

Capped Pilot Metropolitan black and silver vs Prera

In operation, the Metropolitan is well balanced without posting the cap. While I would prefer a slightly thicker body, it is by no means uncomfortable. The glossy section is a bit slippery but the fingers won't slide too low because they are stopped by the flared end.

The nib
As mentioned, as soon as I saw the Metropolitan's nib, I knew it would be good, because it looked very similar to the Prera's. So I took both pens apart (the medium-nibbed Metropolitan and the medium Prera) and here's what I saw.

Pilot Metropolitan vs Prera nib and feed

As I suspected, both nib and feed are identical. The only difference is in the pattern which appears on the nib. The Metropolitan has a small dashed design, while the Prera lacks this, instead featuring the words "Super Quality". Well, I'm happy to report that both nibs are "super quality".

Here's the underside of the two feeds. Again, they are identical, except for the fact that the Metropolitan's is a lighter color.

Pilot Metropolitan vs Prera nib and feed

Next is a series of photos comparing the fine nib from the black Metropolitan with the medium nib from the silver Metropolitan, and the medium nib from the Prera.

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black nibs

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black nibs close-up

Pilot Metropolitan nib vs Prera

Pilot Metropolitan black vs Prera

Pilot Metropolitan silver vs Prera

You can tell just by looking at these photos how much thinner the fine nib is compared to the medium.

But do they write?
Expectations can be low for inexpensive pens and high for expensive ones. My expectations for the Metropolitan were pretty high to start with but I'm happy to say that they were exceeded. I loaded both pens with Noodler's Heart of Darkness and also used a Jinhao X750 with a broad nib for comparison, filled with the same ink.

The medium nib in particular impressed me in no small measure. It writes better than the Prera. I suspect I was lucky to get a particularly good sample. This is without doubt the smoothest medium nib I have used. It writes like a dream, creamy smooth on any type of paper. It's so smooth, and the flow so satisfying that it resembles a Pilot V5 Rollerball. Scratch that, it's even smoother than the V5.

The medium nib's flow is well on the wet side with Noodler's HOD, but be rest assured that it doesn't gush. Since I like wet-flowing nibs, it is very enjoyable to use.

The fine nib has a different character. It is very smooth and the flow is consistent. It starts right away and never skips. Yet, due to the nature of the nib, it is not quite as smooth or as wet as the medium. Don't get me wrong, if the medium gets a 10/10 for smoothness, I'd give the fine a 8.5-9/10. Same for wetness.

The fine nib's strength lies in its precision. It lays a very thin and sharp line, which I'm sure would be perfect for Japanese or Chinese characters. If you like F/EF nibs, this is the nib for you. Myself, I prefer a thicker nib, that's why I favor the medium, but the fine is just as good, depending how you lean.

Both nibs require very little pressure to write.

Here's the writing sample on Clairefontaine 90g, showing a comparison between the Pilot Metropolitan M and F, as well as the Jinhao X750 B, followed by a couple more glamour shots.

Writing sample for Pilot Metropolitan

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black with writing sample

Pilot Metropolitan silver and black with writing sample

Notice how much tighter the spiral designs are with the F. Both pens pair incredibly well with Noodler's Heart of Darkness.

Final words
The Pilot Metropolitan is an inexpensive but definitely not cheap fountain pen. $15 gets you a stylish metal body with good balance and decent ergonomics, and even a squeeze converter which is pretty rare at this price point. But more importantly, this entry-level fountain pen comes with an incredible nib which puts more expensive pens to shame.

I can't recommend the Metropolitan strongly enough but it's up to you to decide which nib size you prefer. While both are amazing, my own bias makes me lean towards the medium. Whichever way you go, there's only a big heap of win, so if my review convinced you, head on to Goulet Pens and take a look.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen review

In an unprecedented turn of events, a few weeks ago I was swayed by a sale that Amazon was having on Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pens, and decided to buy one. I had noticed the Vanishing Point and lusted for it for a long time but never dared spend so much money on a fountain pen. As a reminder, my most expensive pen up to the point was the TWSBI Diamond 530 for which I paid about $45 at the time.

I bought my Pilot VP in Gun Metal Gray, with a Broad nib, for $125. Unfortunately, the sale on Amazon is over but they still have decent prices (starting at $129.95 as of this writing) on certain combinations for these pens so if my review sways you to buy one, you can do me a kindness by following the affiliate link on Amazon to the Pilot Vanishing Point. It won't cost you any extra but I will get a few pennies from the sale.

Some may dislike the Gun Metal Gray combo but the reason I bought it in this configuration is because it's probably the safest one you can get. I would have preferred the Matte Black but I heard many stories that the finish likes to come off after a while. Gun Metal Gray is unassuming and pretty stealthy so it won't attract much attention if I decide to take it out in public. And my goodness how these pens are made just for taking out in public!

As for the nib, I tend to prefer broad nibs because of the usual reasons: I like to go through inks as quickly as possible so I can change them frequently, and broad nibs usually bring out the characteristics of the ink more, which is useful for my ink reviews.

So was the Pilot Vanishing Point worth all the expense? We shall find out together but the outlook is good.

Pilot VP elegance

What is the Pilot Vanishing Point?
For the few of you who still don't know what these pens are, and why they are special, let me give you a quick primer. Essentially they are fountain pens which behave like a click-button ballpoint pen. They don't have a cap. Instead, the nib hides inside the pen's body when not in use, and is extended by means of a click button, in a similar manner to that cheap Bic that costs a dime a dozen.

But what's the advantage of these fountain pens? Doesn't the nib dry out? Well, the biggest advantage (to me at least) is that you can pick up this pen and start writing in one swift movement, without having to go through the motions of removing the cap, storing or posting it, then re-capping when you're done writing. If you are in the habit of taking frequent short notes, this can be a lifesaver. There are no caps to lose and the pen's balance doesn't change in use because there are no removable parts. As for the nib, the ink won't dry because Pilot uses a clever mechanism whereupon a tiny internal door seals the opening when the nib is retracted.

Another side effect of this pen's design is that it can mess with people's brains, especially those who haven't encountered something like it before. But this can also be a curse, because I can almost see the clueless coworker who grabs one of these off your desk without permission, clicks the tip open and then starts jabbing at a page without even realizing that he's holding the nib upside down. I shudder to think.

Who is the Pilot Vanishing Point for?
The Pilot VP is for the discerning, modern fountain pen user. Well, not really. While to me the design and function looks modern, this type of pen has been produced in a slightly different guise for many years (see the Namiki Vanishing Point). There are even several different modern pens with a "vanishing point" or "capless" design, such as Pilot's own Fermo (roughly double the price of the VP) and even one that Lamy produced until recently (can't recall the name, sorry).

It's safe to say that if you are functioning in a dynamic environment, where you need to take notes at a moment's notice, and you like a more upscale fountain pen, this might be the instrument for you.

For the money, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the packaging but on the other hand I'd prefer if it were even more basic, with the difference in cost rolled into the price of the pen. In truth, unless the pen costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, you most likely won't want to display it proudly anyway.

First, there's a sliding external cardboard box, which is elegant but simple. I really like the modern embossed design on it.

Pilot VP external box

Underneath is the actual box in which the Pilot Vanishing Point rests. This is a display-type snap-case with a faux leather finish. It's probably made out of cardboard.

Pilot VP internal case

You might notice some dust on the window. This pen must have been kept in storage for a long time because that's how I received it and the dust was nigh impossible to wipe off, perhaps due to the window being plastic.

Once you snap the case open, the beautiful Vanishing Point is revealed in its soft bed. Well, it was already revealed but you get the point.

Pilot VP in box

You'll notice the tag which says "Pilot Capless Broad Japan". The words "Vanishing Point" do appear on the UPC tag on the external box, as well as in the instruction manual, but not on this tag.

If you lift the insert by the silk ribbon you'll find more goodies hidden underneath. These include an instruction manual, a warranty card, but more importantly the CON-50 piston converter, a spare blue ink cartridge, and a blind cap for the cartridge. The Vanishing Point has a 3-year warranty and I'm actually going to mail in the warranty card, not because I'm afraid of anything going wrong but because it feels right to do so.

Pilot VP box contents

In the above photo I have already loaded the included ink cartridge. I could have gone with any of the inks in my collection but I thought it might be fitting to test it for the first time with Pilot/Namiki's own ink.

So the packaging is okay but not amazing. As a side-note, I really liked the neat box my Lamy AL-Star came in. Very simple and functional. Here are some beautiful pictures of the Lamy Safari's packaging on FPGeeks' website.

Body, construction, and dimensions
This gorgeous silver torpedo is rather thick, especially around the midsection, and then tapers at both ends. It really looks like a torpedo. Here it is compared to some of my other pens (TWSBI Diamond 530, Lamy AL-Star, Noodler's Ahab, Pilot Prera):

Pilot VP length

The length is 5.5 inches (14cm), and that's about the same as a capped Lamy Safari/AL-Star or Noodler's Ahab. Maximum thickness is about 0.5 inch (1.27cm), comparable to a TWSBI 530/540/580 or a Noodler's Ahab.

Here are the weights compared for the pens in the above image:

Pilot Vanishing Point (with cartridge and blind cap) - 30.5g - 1.08oz
TWSBI 530 (no ink) - 25.7g - 0.91oz
Lamy AL-Star (with converter) - 21.8g - 0.77oz
Noodler's Ahab (no ink) - 18.8g - 0.66oz
Pilot Prera (with converter) - 16.1g - 0.56oz

As you can see, it is weightier than all of these pens, and you can feel it. You are really holding a large chunk of metal. In fairness, the other pens aren't metal, except for the Lamy which is aluminum, but the VP is made of a denser metal.

The Pilot Vanishing Point may not appeal to everybody due to the peculiarity that it has the clip at the nib end, as opposed to the butt end where most pens have it. But that, of course, is because it lacks a cap. Still, don't ballpoint pens have the clip at the plunger end? Yes, but the VP is a fountain pen and positioning the clip like that ensures the pen will sit with the nib upright when clipped to a shirt pocket. That way there's no risk of ink leaking into your shirt.

Pilot VP

The position of the clip may render the pen uncomfortable for some, but don't knock it until you try it. I took a calculated risk when buying this pen and it paid off. The clip position doesn't intrude at all, in fact it helps me hold the pen with the nib pointed in the right direction. I can basically grab it from the table, click it open and start writing without glancing at the tip to see if it is aligned properly.

The clip is spring-loaded, with medium stiffness. I haven't actually clipped it to a shirt pocket because it's still sitting on my home office desk.

Balance is damn near perfect, with the weight centered around the lower half, where you're holding it, which prevents it from being top-heavy.

Pilot VP in hand

The barrel is made of two sections, one containing the plunger, the other containing the nib end and the clip. While the body is metal, the Gun Metal Gray finish is not the bare metal. It is glossy and resembles some sort of lacquer. The black trimmings are painted matte, with the exception of the two gloss black rings which join the sections.

Pilot VP

One of the cool things about the Pilot VP is the nib unit itself. It is like a miniature self-contained fountain pen (without the cap) which resides inside a larger pen, like a set of Russian dolls.

Pilot VP nib unit with converter

If you wish, you can simply grab the nib unit and start using it like a fountain pen. It's just that you might find it rather thin. The big advantage is that you can dip the nib (which is longer than the average nib) into an ink bottle and avoid getting the rest of the pen (section, barrel, etc) dirty. The nib unit fits inside the pen body one way only, constrained by the notch shown below. This ensures it is aligned properly with the exit hole.

Pilot VP cartridge loaded

The Pilot Vanishing Point is operated via the plunger, like any ballpoint pen. Notice how long the plunger is. That's most likely because the nib needs to extend farther than a ballpoint tip.

As you press the plunger, a small gate - acting as an internal cap which seals the nib - retracts, just as the nib pushes past it. Here's how the process looks.

Pilot VP in action

This mechanism is incredibly smooth, unobtrusive and efficient. My pen hasn't dried one bit since I got it a few weeks ago, despite not getting a lot of use.

The plunger rattles a little when active but it's barely noticeable.

A closer look at the nib
The nib in the Pilot Vanishing Point is much narrower, but also longer, than a regular nib. Mine is a Broad and apparently it is 18k gold, whatever that means. It's probably gold plated because I doubt it's solid gold at this price. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Pilot VP nib unit

Pilot VP nib

Here's how the nib and the feed look when extended.

Pilot VP nib and feed

I can understand people who dislike the appearance. If you give it too much thought it does look like an ugly little thing. I prefer too see it as a very fancy ballpoint/rollerball tip instead.

Here it is compared to the broad nibs in the TWSBI Diamond 530 and Kaweco Sport Classic.

Pilot VP, TWSBI 530, Kaweco Sport nibs

And again compared only to the TWSBI 530.

Pilot VP vs TWSBI 530

Notice that the size of the tipping for all three nibs is pretty much identical. And so is the line they produce, though each pen has its unique personality.

One thing worth mentioning is that the nib never dried up on me when exposed, not even during several prolonged photo sessions. I've never quite encountered this in other nibs. I don't know if there's a special trick that Pilot employs or it's just happenstance.

But does it write?
It writes, and well it does. This is one of the smoothest broad nibs I've used, even slightly more so than the TWSBI 530's, which is a superlative nib in itself.

Pilot VP writing sample

On paper it glides like a hot knife through butter (pardon the oft-used metaphor). Any paper. The sample above is Clairefontaine 90g, but cheap copy paper doesn't phase this nib at all. On both papers it almost feels like there's an air cushion between the surface and the nib.

To be honest, I was expecting this Japanese broad nib to be more like a European medium. I was wrong. The line is just as wide as the TWSBI's and Kaweco's German nibs. The VP nib is, however, slightly smoother than the TWSBI and a lot more than the Kaweco. It turns out that Japanese broad nibs aren't very different from other broads after all.

You might be curious about the springiness of this nib and I can tell you that it likes to flex a little. It's obviously not a flex nib but it is far from a stiff nail. In fact, the springiness allows it to imbue some extra line variation if a little pressure is applied. Check out this poor quality Instagram shot that I took while typing this paragraph.

Flow can always be a deal-breaker but this is certainly not the case here. The unit supplies the nib with plenty of ink, in a very controlled manner. I've never encountered a hard start or any skipping whatsoever. When I click it, it's ready to go. I feel supremely confident that it won't spit ink but at the same time it will lay a nice, fat, wet line, just the way I like it. On the other hand, cheap paper does not a great partner make, as it likes to suck in all that extra ink like a sponge.

While I like the nib and would buy it all over again if I had the chance, I'm already thinking about potentially acquiring a medium nib unit to complement this one. I like broad nibs because they go through inks quickly and show off the ink shading nicely, but for journaling or more official note-taking, a thinner nib might be more appropriate. Besides, it might be fun to keep different inks in each nib unit and swap them when the need arises, though I would have to figure out how to store and keep them from drying.

A quick word about Pilot's ink
While I'm usually quick to dismiss the ink cartridges that are sometimes included with fountain pens, I have to admit that Pilot/Namiki's blue ink is quite excellent. Not only is it a pleasant, saturated blue, but it actually features some very decent shading, which allows the broad nib in the VP to shine even more. Here are two close-ups of the writing sample.

Pilot VP writing sample 3

Pilot VP writing sample 2

Of course, you would expect such an ink to work perfectly with the pen it accompanies, and perhaps that's partly why the pen writes so smoothly. On second thoughts, that might also be a reason why it doesn't dry out when the nib is exposed for such a long time. Either way, I'm very pleased with the blue Pilot ink cartridge. In the end, I still can't wait to finish it so I can try other inks in this pen.

Final words
The Pilot Vanishing Point is my most expensive fountain pen to date, and though it took some courage to buy it, I am very glad I did. I don't regret the choice of the broad nib either. The Vanishing Point is so different than any other pen I own, but its design makes it more practical and durable than all the others. It is stealthy, yet recognizable. The build and mechanism are tuned with Japanese precision. The nib, oh boy is it smooth! And it flows so well that it makes me forget all the hard starts and skipping issues I had with lesser pens.

In short, I feel that this freshly kindled love for the Pilot Vanishing Point will burn bright for many years. But aren't there any negatives, you might ask? None whatsoever. But then love is blind and I'm just a little biased.

Pilot VP elegance

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

De Atramentis Black Green ink review

Today's review marks a double-premiere: my first contact with the De Atramentis brand and the first partnership with one of my favorite pen shops, Goulet Pens, who were very kind to send me a bottle of De Atramentis Black Green ink. As a disclaimer I will have to mention that I received the ink for free but no other payment for this review, and all the opinions herein are my own.

I specifically asked the Goulets for this ink, among the (literally) hundreds they have, because I decided to try a new brand and also because I wanted to compare it to a very similar ink I tested recently, Diamine Green Black. The impressions of that ink are still fresh so De Atramentis Black Green proved to be a good choice.

Bottle and pricing
A bottle of De Atramentis Black Green is $12.50 and holds 35 ml / 1.2 oz. At $0.37 per milliliter it is rather expensive but that's what you get for an ink that's imported from Germany (despite the French-sounding name) and is allegedly hand-made. Hmm so that makes it a sort of German Noodler's? I bet they have more than one man running the show though.

De Atramentis Black Green bottle

The Noodler's comparison isn't entirely without merit because I can see some similarities in the style of the bottles, which are rather plain but neo-vintage looking, while sporting different art on the labels for each ink. The one thing that this ink is apparently missing is a box, but I guess the black bottle substitutes the role of light protection.

This particular ink is part of the Black Edition series of De Atramentis inks. This signifies that the bottle is tinted black, to prevent any light (UV or otherwise) from altering the ink. This also means that you can't see the ink inside the bottle which can be a bit of a bummer if you like to photograph the bottle in contre-jour fashion, like me.

Color and saturation
It's astonishing how similar De Atramentis Black Green and Diamine Green Black seem to be at first glance, especially since I tested both of them in my Lamy AL-Star with EF nib. If you start looking closer, you will start seeing plenty of small differences.

For starters, I think De Atramentis Black Green should be called De Atramentis Gray Green because it veers more towards gray than black. It is less saturated than the Diamine ink and also shades less, making it overall duller and more somber. In fact, it could just as well be called De Atramentis Khaki.

In the below comparison I added Diamine Graphite (which has hints of green) so you could see how the two green inks compare to a gray one.

De Atramentis Black Green compared with 2 inks

While the shading is not as pronounced as Diamine Green Black's, De Atramentis Black Green certainly has variation, and while it is subtle, it is more apparent on bright, smooth, high quality paper like the Clairefontaine 90g I tested on.

De Atramentis Black Green with Lamy AL-Star


On cheap paper it ghosts a little and may even bleed if you are a heavy writer like I am. No worries on good paper though.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
While nothing really stands out here in terms of wetness or smoothness, De Atramentis Black Green flows impeccably if not particularly wet. I'd give it a 6/10 for wetness but if you are looking for controlled flow, this might just be the ink for you.

De Atramentis Black Green with Lamy AL-Star

Drying time
On cheap paper it dries almost instantly, and within 10 seconds on Clairefontaint/Rhodia. That's pretty good, but remember it's not a wet ink and I used an EF nib.

Smearing when dry

Water resistance
Now here's something that surprised me. Nowhere is this ink marked as water resistant. Yet, my standard dunk-it-for-1-minute-under-running-water test didn't phase it one bit. The sample remains completely readable after drying up, which puts it way ahead of Diamine Green Black in this aspect. Incidentally you can see how the dye components in the ink were broken up by the water: the green washed away while the gray remained.

For my first foray into the De Atramentis brand, I can say that I am generally pleased with De Atramentis Black Green Black Edition Deepwater Obsession (yes, this seems to be the full name). While not particularly remarkable, the performance is very solid, with no weak spots. As an unexpected perk, it seems to be more water resistant than most inks outside Noodler's specialized ones.

De Atramentis Black Green bottle

Personally, if I were to choose between De Atramentis Black Green and Diamine Green Black, I would go for the latter, but that's just because I prefer the slightly greener ink. However, there's no shortage of De Atramentis inks to choose from, and the Goulets have a wide variety of them, as well as a boatload of scented De Atramentis inks. I've already identified a few which look interesting. As for the scented ones, though I'm not in the habit of sniffing inks, they might be interesting to try.

The following samples are written on photocopy, and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

De Atramentis Black Green on photocopy

De Atramentis Black Green on Clairefontaine

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to completely disassemble a Lamy Z24 converter

I've had my Lamy AL-Star fountain pen for a few years, along with the popular Z24 converter and while I love this pen, one thing kept me from using it more often in my rotation: the Z24 converter can be hard to clean. Ink likes to fill the recesses inside it, stick to the nooks and then dry up.

The last time I cleaned the converter, right after I finished the Diamine Green Black that was in it, it literally took me 15 minutes of flushing the Z24 over and over to realize that I wasn't going anywhere. As soon as I thought it was clean enough and shook it, out flew some more greenish water.

I decided that I had enough. I searched the internet for how to disassemble the Lamy Z24 converter and the only thing I could come up with was people assuring other people that it could be done, that they themselves had done it easily. Well, I tried in the past and failed. It seemed to me back then that the damn parts which make up the converter are fused together.

This time I used a different method and succeeded. What follows is a video (my first production video ever) of the procedure, as well as a written explanation with photos. Please excuse the amateurish quality of the video as well as my superglue-covered fingers. Also, please subscribe to my newly-minted Youtube channel if you wish, in the right sidebar.

What you're gonna need for the Z24 disassembly procedure is quite simple: a thin rod preferably made from plastic or wood, which can fit inside the converter, and your fingernails.

I used the plastic piston from an insulin syringe. I have a lot of them lying around, not because I'm diabetic but because I bought a pack of 100 a few years ago so I could use them to fill my cartridges, converters and fountain pens with ink. For this purpose the piston works wonderfully.

The first thing you want to do is to remove the black metal ring at the twisty knob end. This is easily removed by pulling outward with your fingers, perhaps twisting it a little if it feels stiff.

Now comes the tricky part. Underneath the metal ring you will notice that the red knob is mated to the black plastic piston assembly. This black part is actually the one that holds the piston inside the converter, and joins the knob and the piston. In the past I've tried pulling the assembly out with my fingers. Though my grip is pretty strong, I've never managed. The black part can be twisted but that doesn't help to extract it.

So I had to figure out a different way. This is where your nails come into action. Alternatively, you can use some sort of plastic shim, but I prefer the nails. I wouldn't recommend metal (like a knife blade for instance) because it will most likely damage the soft plastic of the converter.

You need to wedge your nail between the black part and the transparent converter body. Since the two parts seem melded together, it might help to bend the converter a little until a gap is formed between the two. At this point you should be able to slide your fingernail inside the gap.

You will now perform 2 simultaneous motions. First, you slide your fingernail along the gap, while rotating the black assembly (remember, this one is rather stiff to rotate). At the same time you pull outward with the other hand until the whole thing pops out.

There you go, the piston assembly has been removed from the transparent converter body. You can now unscrew the piston for cleaning but don't tell me I should have also detached the black assembly from the red knob because that would be pointless. Ink doesn't get between those parts anyway.

What remains is the small black ring/washer/valve/thing at the business end of the converter. This little part always bothered me the most because ink likes to accumulate between it and the walls of the converter, thus making it nigh impossible to wash the converter thoroughly. Well, not anymore buddy. Time to use the syringe piston.

Grab the syringe piston or whatever thin rod you have and stick it inside the converter. I would stay away from metal rods because, again, they could damage the soft plastic.

Brace the rod against the hard surface of a table and press down hard on the converter while pushing on the black washer thing until it pops out. Keep a finger or two on the opening because the sudden release could shoot it through the ceiling.

And there you have it. Taking the Lamy Z24 converter apart turns out to be a pretty simple procedure, but one which has eluded me for years. Now I'm hoping my method will bring relief to thousands of Lamy aficionados plagued by this very same conundrum.

I hope you have enjoyed this how-to and if you have a different method of doing this I'd love to hear about it in the comments.