Revive A Bad Ballpoint

Ballpoints, like all pens, write best when they’re used. While rollerballs and fountain pens stop writing when they dry out, ballpoints often just write poorly. Sometimes simply using the pen will usually revive it, and within a few pages of writing it will be back to full potential. Other times that doesn’t work, or the pen just doesn’t write. If it’s a cheap disposable you might be happy tossing it, but if it’s a cartridge that cost a few bucks it’s worth a little time to fix.

When I buy a new pen I often con myself into getting a spare refill (or two) when I buy it, and then they sit around for a few years before they get used. After that long, they tend to be sticky writers, and even the supposedly 100-year self life Fisher refills don’t write very well when old. Not to mention the freebie pens that accumulate here and there that invariably get really stiff – especially the ones that have lived in a car for a few years. All can be improved.

Alcohol is the answer. First pour yourself a stiff drink. Actually, no, you don’t need the drink. What you do need is alcohol – rubbing alcohol will do nicely. A quarter of an inch or so in a shot glass works well. Now dip the point of the pen in and let it sit for a few minutes. It usually doesn’t take long, and you’ll see a bit of ink dissolving in the water. Alcohol will dissolve ballpoint ink, and will loosen up any cruddy ink near the ball. Take the pen out and write a bit. It should be smoother and have more nicely flowing ink. If not, let it soak for a little longer and try again.

So why not revive some of those old pens that are lying around? You may be surprised at how well they can be made to write.

Why You Need A Yellow Pen

Yellow is rare. You won’t find many pens in this color. This means you don’t have to worry too much about temptation. There just aren’t enough out there to break you. In fact, you can probably go into any pen store or pen show and leave with nothing because they didn’t have anything in the right yellow.

EXCEPTION: The Parker Duofold in Mandarin Yellow is hotter than a June bride in a feather bed, but cost enough for a weekend in Vegas. The ‘Citrine’ isn’t quite as nice, but costs less.

I have four: Caran d’Ache 849 ballpoint, Pelikan M200 fountain pen, and Lamy Safari fountain pen and ballpoint. Only the 849 is the ‘right’ yellow in my mind, but ‘wrong’ yellow is better than no yellow.

Yellow is a high energy color. So is orange, but orange looks like a traffic cone and yellow looks like the sun – which makes you feel better? It stimulates thought, and reminds me of a beach. But orange shares most of the other fine traits of yellow.

There’s no doubt about ownership. Who else owns a yellow pen? This is why I have yellow luggage. Do you want to steal a yellow bag and then try to blend in?

Yellow is a high-visibility color. Easy to find in a bag, in the dark, and on the ground. Ok, in early summer out on my lawn there’s a little competition.

Yellow is distinctive. “Oh, you mean the guy with the yellow pen?”

Yellow is one of the manliest of colors. Scuba tanks, hard hats, heavy equipment, caution signs, race cars, and many uber cool watches are yellow.

Is your pen collection dominated by safe colors – black, silver, gold? Get yourself a yellow pen, and see if it doesn’t improve your state of mind. You might be surprised.