Pilot is one of the world's most prolific fountain pen brands and manufactures hundreds of fountain pens, inks, and accessories beloved by millions of fountain pen enthusiasts. One popular accessory they make is their proprietary cartridge converter: the CON-40.
The CON-40 is a converter that Pilot has more or less standardized, but it has a relatively low ink capacity and can be finicky. That's why we've created a guide that explains the CON-40's origin and ways to get the most out of your converter!
Pilot has used several converters in the last decade, three of which are still in use today:
- This converter is included with Pilot fountain pens such as the Metropolitan, Explorer, and the Parallel. To fill your pen, you simply squeeze this converter to transfer a color into your ink barrel. You might also hear this tool be called an aerometric converter.
- This Pilot converter was discontinued but can be remembered as a sturdier version of the CON-B.
- The CON-40 converter is Pilot's standard converter and is available on the broadest number of pens. You can find this converter in your favorite Pilot pens like the Vanishing Point, Décimo, Falcon, e95s, and Prera.
- The Con-50 is the predecessor to the Con-40. It was initially designed without an agitator, but one was later added, making it the primary Pilot converter until the Con-40 replaced it around 2016.
Side note: In Europe, for some pens like the Metropolitan, you may find a modified version with a standard international converter, instead of the Pilot CON series mentioned above.
How the CON-40 works:
A CON-40 converter takes the place of the Pilot/Namiki cartridge. It got its "converter" name because when you're using this tool, you're essentially changing the filling mechanism of the pen from a cartridge to a bottle filler. To fit this converter onto your pen, push it on the back of the grip until it is set in place.
This converter features a screw mechanism that moves the piston up and down to draw ink into the converter by vacuum pressure. Ink flows out of the pen as you write, with no need to screw down the piston until it's time to clean or refill it because air will naturally replace the ink used.
Stainless steel agitator balls are used in the converter to keep the ink from hanging at the back of the tool, which is a unique CON-40 characteristic that gives you an enjoyable writing experience.
How to Get a Complete Fill:
Sometimes people have a hard time getting a full fill using the Con-40 because its wider opening makes it tougher to get an effective vacuum than with other converters.
When comparing the CON-40 to a standard international converter, there's a drastic difference in the opening size of the mouth of a converter. When using a completely dried-up pen, you can usually get between a third or a fourth of the converter filled with ink, which can be a little underwhelming if you're hoping to fill the converter to the brim with ink.
In fountain pens like the Pilot Vanishing Point, using the CON-40 may make you feel like no ink is being added to your pen's barrel. The nib unit covers most of the converter, so it looks as if you're not getting any ink in the pen on an initial fill. To mitigate that, simply move the piston up and down, or refill it a couple of times, which will help get more ink in the converter.
If you're looking to fill your pen entirely, you'll just need your regular filling supplies: your pen, a bottle of your favorite ink, and a towel for cleanup.
Step-by-Step Process to Get the Most Ink Into Your Con-40:
- Remove the pen's body and seat the converter securely on the back of the pen's grip (or the nib unit in the case of the Vanishing Point).
- Turn the filler knob counterclockwise to move the piston seal all the way down toward the nib if it isn't there already.
- Insert the nib unit or the pen grip in your bottle of ink until the filler hole on the underside of the feed is fully submerged.
- Slowly turn the converter knob clockwise as you draw ink into the converter, while keeping the filler hole submerged in the ink the entire time.
- Expel all the ink from the converter by turning it completely counterclockwise again. It may seem like you've emptied it, but you've primed the feed with ink, which helps the next fill.
- Fill the converter halfway, then remove the nib from the ink. Wipe the excess on the side of the bottle, and turn the nib vertically towards the sky. Then, turn the piston knob clockwise again, as if you were filling it, until the piston seats all the way at the back of the converter. This will pull any ink out of the feed down into the converter, leaving air at the top.
- With the nib still pointing up, turn the converter counterclockwise again to expel the air out of the converter and feed, leaving the ink in the converter. Stop when you notice ink starting to pool up and out of the feed, and back it down a tad until there isn't any ink coming out of the feed.
- Fill the remainder of the converter just as you did in step 4. This time, you should already have a primed feed and maybe a little ink in the converter at a level above where it filled previously.
- Finally, if you still aren't seeing as complete a filling as you'd like, repeat the air expulsion and ink filling until you get it as close to full as possible. It may not be 100%, but it will get close!
This trick can maximize the filling of any cartridge/converter or piston-filling pen, but it's especially advantageous with a Pilot/Namiki that uses the CON-40. You might make a bit of a mess as you get the hang of this process, so make sure you're experimenting in an area that's easy to clean up.
Suppose you're constantly on the go and want to keep spare ink with you. In that case, you can use the Pineider Pen Filler or Visconti Traveling Inkwell to fill your pen vertically from the onset, which gets the most ink into the pen, though the Vanishing Point nib unit is too thin to pair with these options.
You can also use an ink syringe with a blunt-tip needle if you feel like bypassing this process. This allows you to fill the converter directly. It can also be used to simply refill Pilot ink cartridges, which are double the ink capacity of the CON-40.
There you have it! With this information, you can extend your ink life with your Pilot/Namiki fountain pen. For other awesome fountain pen tips, check out the Goulet Pens YouTube channel for all your fountain pen needs. Write on!