If you own a fountain pen with a piston converter, then you should understand how to properly lubricate the piston to keep your fountain pen in working order. After significant use, the piston may start to feel stiff and inflexible. It is important to properly complete the lubrication process throughout the life of your fountain pen.
Most modern fountain pens come with one of three types of ink reservoirs: a piston converter, an ink bladder, or a disposable cartridge. For those who want the ability to choose any ink color or brand they want, with a more convenient reservoir system, a converter literally converts a fountain pen cartridge for use with bottled inks. What defines a converter as “piston-style,” is its use of a built-in piston mechanism that transfers ink directly from the nib to the reservoir.
Before you make your first attempt at the piston lubrication process, read our best practices below.
- Start by removing all of the ink from the pen.
- Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Dry completely.
- If possible, carefully remove the nib.
- Depending on the model, you may either leave the piston in the pen or you may be able to remove it – but only with extreme care.
- Retract the piston.
- To properly lubricate your piston-converter fountain pen, it is best to use a 100 percent silicone grease lubricant. Silicone lubricants can be found at most dive shops, but be sure to choose pure, 100 percent silicone or best results. Thicker substances could gum-up, or seriously damage, the delicate mechanism.
- Apply a thin coating of silicone along the inside of the barrel and to the rubber piston seal. Use a toothpick, or another small, thin application device. Make sure not to choose an applicator that will scratch the piston seal, or leave a residue, or fibers behind.
- Engage the piston a few times to ensure the whole system is lubricated and functioning properly.
- Replace the nib.
- If necessary, re-position the piston into the barrel and carefully screw it into place.
This lubrication process should only take a few minutes, and should only have to be repeated once every few years.
Note that these steps should only be followed for pens using a synthetic seal. Older, more antiquated models require very different maintenance procedures.