Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Next Step: Lamy Z24 Converter

I recently decided to take the next step with my Lamy Safari fountain pen and venture into the world of bottled inks, so to get started, I bought a Lamy Z24 converter.  If you own a Lamy Safari, Vista, AL-Star, Joy, or Nexx fountain pen, then the Z24 is the recommended converter that you will need if you want to use bottled inks with your pen.  (However, if you don't want to buy a converter, you can also refill empty ink cartridges with a syringe.  I haven't tried this method yet.)  This post is not going to be a review of the Z24 converter, but more of an introduction to using it and getting started with bottled inks.

Here is what the Z24 converter looks like before it's inserted into the pen.  The red end is the part that you'll twist to draw ink up into the converter.  It has the Lamy logo on it to match the pen.  And (hard to see in this photo), the converter also has two tiny nubs on either side of it - you'll need to use these when you're inserting it into the pen.


But before you start loading up your pen and converter with ink, you'll first need to clean your pen.  If you have a Lamy pen, you'll need to do this even if your pen is brand new, because Lamy tests all of their pens with ink right out of the factory.  So even if you've never used your pen before, there is still likely some ink in the nib and the feed that you'll need to clean out.  And you'll definitely need to clean your pen if you've used the ink cartridge and maybe let some ink dry in there (oops, that would be me!).  With a cartridge/converter pen like the Lamy, you have two main options for cleaning your pen: by drawing water in and out of the pen repeatedly with the converter OR by flushing out the pen with clean water using a bulb syringe.  (The links above are to a pair of videos by Brian Goulet from Ink Nouveau, and you should check them out if you need to see how to clean your pen with either of these methods.)

Cleaning with the converter (left), a very slow, tedious process if your pen is as inky as mine was inside, vs. cleaning with a bulb syringe (right), a much faster method.  Note: I'm not actually using the bulb syringe in this photo, just demonstrating how I would hold it to flush water through my pen.  I would have needed at least three or four hands to take a photo while flushing the pen, and I only have two :)

I highly recommend that you buy a bulb syringe (which you may also find being sold as a "nasal aspirator" in the baby supplies section of your drugstore) and clean your pen that way, because the first method gets very tedious very quickly (unless your pen is brand new or doesn't need much cleaning, or if you want to waste an entire afternoon cleaning one pen).

Once your pen is clean, then you can insert the converter (if you haven't done so already to clean the pen).  Line up the nubs on the side of the converter with the small notches on the pen and push it on.  This will ensure that the converter is securely attached to your pen.  (Writer's Bloc has a more detailed post (with better photos) of how to install your Lamy converter.)


Now comes the fun part: loading up your pen with ink!

With the converter, it's very easy to do (much easier than I was expecting; for some reason I expected the entire process to be much more complicated than it was, which was partly why I kept putting off  buying my first bottled inks).  Just submerge the nib of the pen in the ink, and twist the piston (using the red end of the converter) to draw ink up into the pen.  You can fill your pen completely full with ink or just partly full.  If you fill it fuller than you want, you can twist the piston back the other way to remove the ink again.


After you've filled your pen with ink, use a paper towel to wipe any excess ink off the pen, and then start writing!  The ink I filled my pen with for this example was Diamine Meadow, a lovely bright green that's a good match for the green body of my Lamy Safari, and this will be the first ink I'll review here later this month.


Overall, I am happy with my first experience using the Lamy Z24 converter with my Lamy Safari fountain pen.  Once I become a bit more comfortable with the process (and don't need to be taking photos of every step!), I think that it should take me only a few minutes to flush out my pen and load it up with a new ink colour.

The main disadvantage to using the converter is that the converter has a much smaller ink capacity than the Lamy cartridges do.  This is why some users prefer to refill their old ink cartridges with a syringe rather than using the converter.  I may try this method in the future, but ink capacity is not something that I'm really concerned about at this point, so for now I am happy with the converter.  If you are interested in that method, Brian Goulet has made a video on it.

Other than that, I would definitely recommend a Lamy pen and a converter if you're looking to get started using bottled fountain pen inks.  It really is a very easy and pain-free process and there's nothing to be intimidated about.

Related post: comparison of the Z24 and Z26 converters.

10 comments:

  1. Great intro to the process. If you use the bulb syringe for clean out don't forget a little bit of flushing to get old ink out of the converter as well. Bulb syringe is definitely faster.

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    1. Yes, I'll be sure to do that. I've also noticed that, for me at least, flushing with the converter at the end also makes it easier for me to see that the pen really is clean.

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  2. I'm an avid user of and great proponent of Lamy pens. Especially the Safari and Vista series. I've pens in the $K's price range, and Lamy's honestly beats them most...I have 4 of them and there permanently inked with the same inks. P.S. a good ink also enhances the experience. Another reasonable pen in the $ 13/ range is the Pelikano (not Pelikan); used in the EU school system to teach writing. The higher-end pelikans are great too. Germany quality. Enjoy, LeRoy

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    1. I haven't decided what my next fountain pen will be, but I'll definitely consider the Pelikano. I can't afford expensive pens, so it's great that there are cheaper options available (like the Lamy) that are still of good quality.

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  3. I have a Lamy Vista with a converter and J. Herbin inks. All good and now I am going to have to buy another Lamy pen and a couple more colors. Personally, I do not worry about capacity because I like to switch out inks. Get this converter.

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    1. That's my thinking too, lcsdothgrin. I want to be able to use lots of different ink colours, so I don't really want any one colour to be in there that long anyway. The converter works for me!

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  4. Thanks for this post. I'm in the process of buying a Lamy Safari myself (blue body with medium nib) and you made the whole process a teensy bit less scarier. I'm still afraid that I might screw up the maintenance and make the pen unusable... And I'm sure that you're not supposed to wash the pen with running water. I'd love to hear about your using syringes to refill the cartridges as that's what I'm thinking of doing to save money...

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    1. Don't be scared, Windi! I really think it would be hard to do anything to make the pen unusable. As I said in the post, the process was much easier than I had expected, so much so that I kept wondering why I had waited so long to get to this point. I'm not sure about the running water, but I think that just a gentle stream of water would probably be okay. Or just get a bulb syringe like I did. That's the recommended method for cleaning, and it's very easy. (And the bulb syringe only cost me a dollar or two at the drugstore.)

      I may not get into refilling the cartridges with a syringe for a while yet, but, yeah, I should try that out. Though the converter only costs about 5 dollars, so it's not a huge cost.

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  5. When you are trying inks, be sure and try Noodlers Lexington Grey. It's an interesting color. It looks a bit like pencil, since it's lighter than black. And it's bulletproof (meaning it's water resistant.) It's become my favorite ink. (And my favorite fountain pens are my Ahabs.)

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    1. That does look like an interesting ink colour! And I haven't tried any of Noodler's bulletproof inks yet either. I'll definitely consider it for a future order of ink samples.

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