Today’s article follows my previous tutorial on making a Lamy Fude nib. If you attempted to make your own Fude nib on a Lamy pen I mentioned it may be necessary for you to adjust your feed as well because the Fude nib functions like a very wide italic nib which requires much greater ink supply than a regular nib does. The mod is applicable to pretty much all Lamy feeds that use their Z50 nibs. I promised I will show you how I did my mod so without further ado let’s just dive in.

Lamy Vista with modified Fude EF nib
Lamy Vista with modified Fude EF nib

Despite the fact that this mod does not alter your feed permanently and can be easily returned to the original condition, I’d still like to mention that if you decide to do this, or any other modification for that matter, on any of your pens, you are doing so on your own responsibility. The following is just my hack that I show for educational purposes. If it inspires you to do the same on your pen that’s all well and good, but Iā€™m fairly certain the manufacturer would advise against it, so please do use your own judgement.

Contents

Air-ink Interchange

The point of this mod is to replicate the mechanics of a vintage fountain pen feed. Fortunately, Lamy feed is designed in a way that allows us to do this conversion. To understand how to proceed, we first need to understand how a fountain pen feed works. We need to understand a principle of air-ink interchange. Once we do so, we not only know what we’re doing, but we’re also going to understand how any fountain pen works. I feel the need to mention that this may seem ridiculous to some people – my explaining the basic physics of air-ink interchange that is, but I don’t think everyone is aware of the way feeds in fountain pens function.

So, what is an air-ink interchange? The name itself is pretty descriptive . It describes the way the feed inside the pen regulates the interchange of air and ink. First, let’s look at some images of the feed found inside a pen. Pretty much all feeds work on the same principle regardless of the brand or particular type of pen, provided it’s a fountain pen.

Lamy Feed top view
Lamy Feed top view
Lamy Feed bottom view
Lamy Feed bottom view

What you can see on the two images above is a Lamy feed from the Vista fountain pen. The basic feed design of modern feeds features a single (double in case of Lamy and Pelikan) ink channel on top of the feed and one channel that is on the bottom side of the feed (channels on the Lamy feed are partially covered with an additional plastic part). The top channel(s) supplies the ink onto the paper through the nib slit and the bottom channel serves as a filler hole when you fill the pen or as an air intake hole when you write.

Ebonite feeds in vintage fountain pens feature a single deep and wide top air channel with usually three fissures cut in this main channel that serve as ink channels. That way one channel accommodates both ink and air. Ink flows out of the pen through the fissures to the nib and onto the paper and air is sucked into the pen and the ink reservoir through the breather hole on top of the nib and through the large channel. So this way the one channel is accommodating both the air intake and ink release. And that’s how air-ink interchange is regulated in the pen through the feed. The point is that vacuum within the ink reservoir is preserved. In layman’s terms, for each “drop” of ink leaving the ink reservoir a “bubble” of air has to travel back into the reservoir, replacing the released ink. Regulating this vacuum chamber assures that the ink (which is basically just dyed water, hence it’s a fluid with low density) won’t leak from the pen uncontrollably all at once. I even prepared a little diagram to help you understand these mechanics.

A diagram illustrating the Mechanics of a (vintage) fountain pen feed
A diagram illustrating the Mechanics of a (vintage) fountain pen feed

Now modern feeds do work on the very same principle but the mechanics are slightly different. They all feature a separate filler hole/air intake channel. This channel is situated on the bottom part of the feed. The top channel therefore doesn’t usually serve as an air channel, although some modern feeds have it too. The Lamy feed does not. The point of this tutorial is, therefore, to create an intake channel at the top of the feed and plug the filler channel at the bottom. If we just opened the top channel we would then have two intakes breaking vacuum inside the reservoir. Why open it at all? Because that way we create one very large channel which allows more ink to travel to the nib, hence improving the flow capacity of the ink.

Tools

The tools for the Lamy Feed Mod
The tools for the Lamy Feed Mod

As I mentioned in the introduction, this mod does not alter your feed permanently and is easily reversible. Of course, you can make it permanent depending on the materials you use but I intentionally selected materials that doesn’t damage the feed irreversibly.

The mod is applicable to pretty much all Lamy feeds that use their Z50 nibs. If you like wet nibs like I do, you’re not restricted to use it only with wide italic nibs or modded Fude nib.

Except your pen, be it Vista, Safari, Joy, Al-Star, Studio or any other Lamy pen using this type of Lamy feed, you only need a plasticine-like substance. I personally use Pritt Multi Fix adhesive tabs, simply because that’s what’s available to me locally. I’m sure there’s a lot of other solutions available online.

We will be using these Pritt tabs for plugging the filler hole in the feed. The advantage of using these adhesive tabs is that they stick to the plastic of the feed very well, sealing the intake channel perfectly, yet are easily removable.

The Mod

Now that you understand the air-ink interchange principle, you should be able to easily figure out how is this mod going to go. What we are basically going to do in this mod is to convert the Lamy feed into a vintage one, in principle. Fortunately Lamy feed lends itself to this modification very well because it has a removable tab on top of the feed which will act as our air channel. To avoid leakage, we are going to need to plug the filler hole at the bottom of the feed to retain vacuum in the reservoir, otherwise there would be nothing holding the ink inside.

As I said, it’s very simple. It’s a two-step process. First we remove the tab to open the air channel and then we plug the filler hole, keeping our air-ink interchange intact. Let me walk you through it step by step.

Step 1

Pull out the feed from the section, don't twist
Pull out the feed from the section, don’t twist

First step, of course is removing the feed from the section. A couple of pointers here. You first need to remove the nib. Then pull the feed out of the section, pull, do not twist, because the feed and section are shaped to fit together. You can slightly wiggle it from side to side but generally speaking if the feed doesn’t come out easily you may need to use some kind of rubbery material to improve your grip.

Step 2

Removing the top bar from the feed
Removing the top tab from the feed

When you have the feed out of the pen the second step is to remove a tab that covers the ink channels. It’s easy, there is no mechanism holding it in place. It is secured simply by friction. You can use your nail and pry it up from the back side of the feed as shown on the image above.

Tab removed
Tab removed

This is how the feed looks with the tab removed and the channels exposed. We pretty much replicated the way vintage feeds were made, expect that there is still a filler hole at the bottom of the feed, which would result in disrupting the vacuum in the ink reservoir, resulting in severe leakage. Which brings me to the final step.

Step 3

Pritt Multi-Fix adhesive tabs
Pritt Multi-Fix adhesive tabs
We need to form a small ball from the adhesive tabs with which we plug the filler hole
We need to form a small ball from the adhesive tabs with which we plug the filler hole

So we have removed the tab from the feed. Now we need to form a small ball from the Pritt Multi Fix with which we plug the filler hole. Before applying it though we need to insert the feed back into the pen. We need to seal the hole against the section so there are no cracks and the seal is perfect.

The feed without the tab is back in the section
The feed without the tab is back in the section
Lamy Feed filler hole
Lamy Feed filler hole
Put the ball onto the filler hole
Put the ball onto the filler hole

Gently put the ball on the filler hole and press on it with your finger so it forms a seal.

Press on the ball with your finger to form a seal around the filler hole
Press on the ball with your finger to form a seal around the filler hole

You don’t need to use as big a ball as I did here. I did so in order for it to show well on the photos. The point here is to plug the hole and the space around it.

Step 4

Lamy Feed Mod
Lamy Feed Mod

The final step is reattaching the nib onto the feed which not only finishes the modification itself but is also the final step in making the feed function properly. Since Lamy nibs have breather holes, plugging the filler/air intake channel produces design similar to vintage feeds. The air now goes back into the ink reservoir through the large channel while the ink travels in the opposite direction through the two fissures within the large air channel.

There’s one last thing I want to mention. Removing the adhesive can get tricky if you leave it unattended for too long, so I recommend you to replace the seal once in a while. I found once a month or once every couple of months is enough.

Conclusion

Lamy Feed Mod completed
Lamy Feed Mod completed

The Lamy feeds are very capable in their default state. Dual ink channels are not very common in modern plastic feeds. I find that German manufacturers that were around for good number of decades like Lamy and Pelikan make really solid modern feeds. Despite this fact though, you can run into problems with very wide nibs, especially when you use the pen for drawing, which is very demanding on the ink supply. This is where this mod may come handy. And since it doesn’t alter the feed permanently, you are free to try it for yourself without any terminal consequences.

If you found this tutorial interesting, helpful, if you have any questions or want to share your experience, leave a comment down below and share this post on your favorite social sites. The links can be found below the gallery.

-Daniel

Gallery

14 Comments

  1. Alfrec September 23, 2018 at 12:45

    Works wonderfully! But only with the lamy cartridges, not so a converter. Still its a great option nonetheless demonstrating by the way, better than anything, the imperfect functionality of a converter and what is depending on it!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Novotny September 26, 2018 at 10:48

      Hi,

      That’s very interesting and may very well be the reason many pens have flow issues in general. At least it’s been reported to be the case every now and again. Glad it works for you with the cartridge. You can always refill it though it’s a bit more work.

      -Daniel

      Reply
      1. Quartz11 February 27, 2019 at 15:24

        I’m curious why it would work with a converter but not with a filled cartridge. I’ve done this modification–thanks to this highly informative tutorial–on 2 of my Al-Stars and noted that the flow did not increase by much, but I do use converters. I’ll use one of the Lamy Blue cartridges I have laying around to see if there’s a difference and will compare with a fully filled converter (filled by dipping the converter into ink rather than nib into ink).

        Reply
        1. Daniel Novotny February 28, 2019 at 09:21

          I’ll be interested to hear about your results!

          Reply
  2. Alex June 2, 2018 at 16:57

    Wonderful! I was a little disappointed with the broad stub nibs for the lamy pens because it feels like the feed can’t keep up with the nib very well. It doesn’t skip or anything, it just fails to deliver an even flow of ink across the whole line which makes the lines look sort of foggy or spotty. With this mod not only do I get a more even line of ink, I’ve even managed to draw some shading and sheen out of those boring lamy blue cartridges that comes with every pen! Absolutely amazing.

    I especially like that the mod is completely reversible, not that I’d want to reverse it but if it wasn’t I probably wouldn’t have dared to even try it in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Novotny June 4, 2018 at 09:22

      Hey Alex,

      Glad you’re enjoying your pen more now. Thanks for the comment.

      -Daniel

      Reply
  3. Sigrid July 29, 2017 at 16:59

    Hi Daniel,
    I have tried your hack, with my Lamy pen. I bought it recently and was working fine but then I started not being so pleased with its performance. So I took it apart according to your instructions and took the narrow tab out. It now provides a very juicy flow, which is what I was after. I have not plugged the hole yet, as I have had no problem with leakage yet. Genius!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Novotny July 29, 2017 at 19:09

      Hello Sigrid,

      It’s so great to hear that my idea improved your pen experience! What are your favorite inks that you use in the pen?

      Reply
      1. Sigrid July 29, 2017 at 20:13

        I am only at the very beginning, so I am using a normal Lamy cartridge, but I am planning to buy some proper ink, thinking of the Edelstein Tanzanite and/or or some document proof ink, so I can use watercolour as well. I’ve just been looking for some cheap vintage piston pens online, as they are supposed to have more flexible nibs (?)
        So far I have mostly used pencil or “uniball eye” pens, which are the best of their kind! And some old fashioned dip pen. I’ve been inspired by your sketchbooks, I would love to be able to make juicy and expressive sketches like you do. I think using fountain pens and different inks will make me keep practicing and expand my range.
        What is your favourite pen and ink for drawing in your sketchbooks? And one more question, what kind of sketchbooks do you use? I am always looking for good and affordable sketchbooks. I just found one that I like a lot, and it is cheap, but it is terrible with the fountain pen. Do you buy your art supplies mostly online or are there good shops in Slovakia? Od do you come to Vienna? Haha, so many questions, sorry šŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Daniel Novotny July 30, 2017 at 12:48

          I enjoy Lamy inks, though they are not permanent. “Proper” ink for artwork would be permanent in my eyes. I have just finished a review of KWZ ink that is permanent, very well behaved and excellent value. The review will be up next week. Keep an eye on my website.

          Vintage pens can have more flexible nibs but it’s a lottery buying online. Those really good pens are extremely expensive. You hear online that a vintage pen with flex nib can be bought for $20 which I find utterly untrue. I purchased more expansive pens than that that had bad nibs (but I may have just been very unlucky). If you’re in Austria I would perhaps go to Vienna’s pen show. I know I’m planning to go next year. There I’m sure you can find great deals and people who won’t sell pens that don’t work.

          I have several pens that I like to use in my sketchbook. Indian Ebonite pens are excellent because they are eyedropper filled and have Ebonite feeds (I have some reviews on my website). The modded Lamy is great. Currently I’m using Platinum #3776 Century with a C nib. For me though the fun is in the ink for the most part. I love Noodler’s Ink, their permanent inks are great, De Atramentis offers some as well but is quite expensive, some Japanese inks are permanent, KWZI is a brand I fell in love with recently. There is quite a number of great inks out there. I review those I think deserve some recognition.

          I am using a Winsor & Newton sketchbook with 170g paper but that’s not the best choice for fountain pens. I don’t mind though, my pens don’t mind either. I’ve stocked up on them back when I was not using fountain pens for drawing. For notes I prefer Leuchtturm 1917. Don’t like the silky smooth surface of Rhodia and Clairfontaine.

          For paints and paper I shop at Boesner in Vienna. Everything else I purchase online. Pens and inks from the Netherlands or UK.

          I’m happy to respond, feel free to ask questions. This is what I like about pens, inks, art – brings people together.

          Reply
          1. Sigrid July 31, 2017 at 11:28

            Thank you Daniel,
            for your lengthy reply. Oh, my there is a whole world out there to discover, for the pen and ink lovers. I found out recently that there are lots of blogs and youtube channels dedicated to pen and in alone. I did not realise there are even pen shows! I shop at Boesner too. A couple of years ago I discovered another art store in Vienna, called Gerstaecker, I have never been to the physical store, but have ordered online. They have good sale offers some times, which Boesner does not do.
            I will be back!

            Reply
            1. Daniel Novotny July 31, 2017 at 17:41

              Part of the fun of using fountain pens is the wide variety of pens and inks out there. Great resources are: Goulet Pens YouTube channel, S. B. R. E. Brown also on YouTube. Matt Armstrong is another YouTuber, goes by the name of Pen Habit. Those are the main influencers, they are fun to watch even if you don’t necessarily need the information because you’re looking for a new pen. There’s much more of course. It’s a lively and active community.

              Thank you for the tip regarding the Gerstaecker store. I’ll definitely check it out. Boesner can get fairly expensive.

              Reply
  4. Martin June 29, 2017 at 20:11

    Wonderful. I’ve been hacking the feeds on my Jinhao/JoWo frankenpens, but I’m going to try your mod on my Vista next. I tried taking the insert out ages ago, but it hadn’t occurred to me to block the hole with Blu Tack. Your explanation was exemplary. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Novotny June 29, 2017 at 21:55

      It’s a lot of fun to work on our pens. I like this mod because it allows you to adjust the feed without altering it permanently. Let me know how you liked it afterwards.
      -Daniel

      Reply

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