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Ebonite Feed


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#1 smodak

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:46

What material are the current feeds made of? Whay are they inferior?

#2 hari317

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 05:02

Current MB feeds are made of plastic, what exact plastic? I do not know.

IMO they are not inferior, they seem to do their job well with the modern nibs with which they are fitted.

#3 Wael El-Dasher

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 07:40

I believe there are various factors in play;

Firstly, it's desirable to have the correct era feeder that matches the pen, nib, cap, barrel, piston filling system/threads...etc. Often people send their pens in for some repair that has nothing to do with the nib or feeder, but the feeders are replaced as part of the routine work performed on the pen. So the customer ends up, say with a 70's pen, that might have a new cap but the feeder was replaced, leaving them with a mixed era pen. To purists, this is an issue that has nothing to do with the pen's performance, but more to do with the correctness of the pen's components.

Another aspect is there is often the preception that change comes due to economical reasons. The ebonite feeders were more expensive to make and required more craft, while the new plastic ones are cast. To take another example, car door handles used to be real metal that's often chrome plated and had real mechanical connection to the locking mechanism, now however, they're a piece of plastic that's painted and often electronically connected to the locks via cable wires and solenoids, or more recently electrical wires. It's undoubtly cheaper, hence it's viewed as a change made due to an accountant's agenda vs, an engineer's objective, this is just a general view, irrespective of the reality.

For what it's worth, that's my take on it.


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#4 jar

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 13:58

Pretty much as above.

Ebonite feeds were hand cut and finished while plastic feeds are molded and in the past the human element added to the personality of the pen. My guess is that the modern ebonite feeds though are cut and finished by a laser, not a file or saw in the hands of a craftsman.

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#5 meiers

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 16:27

I own MB146's with both types of feeds. I cannot tell a practical difference.

#6 Mikale

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:58

I read that making Ebonite involves an expensive manfacturering process that involves corrosive chemicals. I believe that may have caused Montblanc to switch to using Plastic feeds. When you are looking to reduce the overhead cost in manufacturering a product the 'old school' process are normally the first to be replaced with a modern and more efficient methods. I am disappointed at MB that even after having resorted to using plastic feeds they do not pass the savings to their customers. However once their products were considered "Luxury items" there is no desire to reduce the prices on their line of fountain pens.

Edited by Mikale, 14 March 2012 - 12:59.

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#7 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 13:33

I own MB146's with both types of feeds. I cannot tell a practical difference.

same for me on my 146s and my 149s
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time
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#8 penboard.de

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 16:16

Hello out there.

a note from the small scale pen maker and pen restorer.

1. No, ebonite feeds are NOT superior to Plastic feeds. (sometimes)
take a Schmidt Feed - the big one - take a Pelikan Feed - they are just fantastic among many others.
Montblanc 149 and 146 Feeds are outstanding.

BUT there are so many ugly and badly working plastic feeds around.

2. There IS one major advantage over plastic - you cannot tune a plastic feed.
An ebonite feed, I can sand and mill, I can bend, I can increase or decrease inkflow.

3. NO, inkfeeds from ebonite cannot be done by Laser - its a time consuming work on the CNC lathe and mill, using metal tools.
I have assisted to the make of a new feed,in fact to two already - and it simply takes a lot of machine time -
and the abrasive ebonite eats the tools. So you have to change tools very often.

4. NO corrosive chemicals involved. The switch to plastic has surely had economical reasons.
A modern ebonite feed might easyly cost 10 Euro in production. thats quite a lot to save by using a plastic feed.

Best regards
Tom
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#9 mhphoto

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:48

Hello out there.

a note from the small scale pen maker and pen restorer.

1. No, ebonite feeds are NOT superior to Plastic feeds. (sometimes)
take a Schmidt Feed - the big one - take a Pelikan Feed - they are just fantastic among many others.
Montblanc 149 and 146 Feeds are outstanding.

BUT there are so many ugly and badly working plastic feeds around.

2. There IS one major advantage over plastic - you cannot tune a plastic feed.
An ebonite feed, I can sand and mill, I can bend, I can increase or decrease inkflow.

3. NO, inkfeeds from ebonite cannot be done by Laser - its a time consuming work on the CNC lathe and mill, using metal tools.
I have assisted to the make of a new feed,in fact to two already - and it simply takes a lot of machine time -
and the abrasive ebonite eats the tools. So you have to change tools very often.

4. NO corrosive chemicals involved. The switch to plastic has surely had economical reasons.
A modern ebonite feed might easyly cost 10 Euro in production. thats quite a lot to save by using a plastic feed.

Best regards
Tom


Isn't ebonite just a hard rubber? How does it wear down metal tooling so fast?

#10 mirosc

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:53

The usual myth is: Ebonite is better, because it has a different structure, it is more "spongy" than plastic and thus absorbes and delivers the ink much better. This improves not only ink flow, but also prevents that the nib is drying out and so - with an ebonite feed - you can start to write at once.

Well, my problem is: I'm neither a chemist nor a physicist, so I don't have any clue if this is true or just an urban legend. But when I compare my pens with plastic feeds and ebonite feeds I can't tell a difference - they both can dry out, they both are capable of delivering perfect ink flow, they both look similar. I prefer ebonite feeds, because on some plastic feeds you can see the point where the injection has broken off and that looks ugly. It's boils down to cosmetics for me...
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#11 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 22:20

Well, I think most of my feeds from the semi-flex, maxi-semi-flex era (German) pre'66**,and the few full flexible nibs were on ebonite feeds, that was better for nibs that needed more ink.

There seems...and I'm sort of 'new' at looking at older nibs....30's and before, but the collector slits are much less in the era of super flex times. In fact I'd wondered how come such feeds looked totally flat.
(Not it was not stupidity of old time Engineers; a nice ivory slap sick worked wonders.)

Is plastic feeds a reason why we have so few pens now made with semi-flex or 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex nibs now?
The more flexible vintage nibs demand too much ink, for fast delivery?
The less flexible modern ones need less ink at any one time???

I am not sure if Aurora still uses ebonite. I understand it is still possible to get a semi-flex nib from them.


I am pre '50's ignorant; with MB.

MB had the '50's-65 and the '66-75 nibs the first were according to Max's chart more flexi, the second batch were also described as some what flexible.

There appears if I remember my reading a feed change after '75 (the last of the semi-flex) and after 90-91 by MB.
I have the luck to have a nice semi-flex '55 MB 234 1/2 Deluxe.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 18 March 2012 - 22:26.

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For that get a 'flexi' or a "flex" nib.

"

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens only; not the users of other companies pens. The size you grind a nib to, is your standard only. Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#12 professionaldilettante

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 23:33

I think that there are several factors at play. First of all, ebonite is favored because it is easily wettable with water and other water based solutions (think ink). Water won't bead up on a rough ebonite surface. Plastic feeds, from what I have heard, need to be treated with an etchant or something to achieve the same feature. Also, there is the idea of more workmanship. It's harder to machine ebonite, because of the fillers that are used. The tools need to be kept sharp, and each piece of feed needs to be individually cut. I'm pretty sure that there is no such thing as injection molding for ebonite, but it sure exists for a plastic feed. Lastly, because these ebonite feeds are made on an individual basis, that too increases its desireability. Would you rather have a pen such as a Montblanc made from machine created parts, hand assembled, or would you rather have an urushi Nakaya, with its urushi painted on by hand? All those factors I think contribute to the desirability of an ebonite feed in a pen, but then again, most of my highend pens, all $100+ in price, have plastic feeds. The one pen I do have with an ebonite feed is my ebonite Ranga pen, that cost me less than $20. :roflmho:
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#13 Gojira

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:29

I really can't tell the difference in performance using either type of feed. However, I did notice that that my ebonite feeds tend to err...for want of a better term, 'pick up' the colour of the ink used particularly inks with sheen. I won't say that it's staining but close. The ebonite feed on a Signum now has an obvious reddish shine when viewed at certain angles under bright light after being inked with one of the Sailor LE inks...can't remember which though.

#14 Blade Runner

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:00

I've found no difference in performance of feeds between ebonite and plastic types.

#15 Blade Runner

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 03:02

Perhaps some people rave about ebonite because it is less common, older technology, and they feel the need to feel superior about something simply because it's older.

Edited by Blade Runner, 19 March 2012 - 03:04.


#16 professionaldilettante

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:32

Perhaps some people rave about ebonite because it is less common, older technology, and they feel the need to feel superior about something simply because it's older.

Isn't that the whole lot of us here? Fountain pens are older :roflmho: :roflmho:
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#17 691175002

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:41

There is a real difference between ebonite and regular plastic. They behave differently in the presence of a liquid.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wetting

The smooth surface of regular plastic repels water and is given a rough finish to allow the ink to flow properly. This means that if you manually adjust a plastic feed by cutting the channel with a knife or similar, there is a chance the surface will repel ink and the feed will no longer work.

As ebonite wets regardless of finish, you can fiddle with the feed all you like. This is why the noodlers flex line of pens uses an ebonite feed; the pens can require some major tuning in terms of ink flow so cutting into the feed is a common adjustment.

If such a feed was made of plastic it would be far less reliable. Of course, this is only an advantage of ebonite if the feed fails to work properly in the first place. Otherwise there would be no need for adjustment.

Edited by 691175002, 19 March 2012 - 05:43.


#18 MHfernandes

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 04:31


Hello out there.

a note from the small scale pen maker and pen restorer.

1. No, ebonite feeds are NOT superior to Plastic feeds. (sometimes)
take a Schmidt Feed - the big one - take a Pelikan Feed - they are just fantastic among many others.
Montblanc 149 and 146 Feeds are outstanding.

BUT there are so many ugly and badly working plastic feeds around.

2. There IS one major advantage over plastic - you cannot tune a plastic feed.
An ebonite feed, I can sand and mill, I can bend, I can increase or decrease inkflow.

3. NO, inkfeeds from ebonite cannot be done by Laser - its a time consuming work on the CNC lathe and mill, using metal tools.
I have assisted to the make of a new feed,in fact to two already - and it simply takes a lot of machine time -
and the abrasive ebonite eats the tools. So you have to change tools very often.

4. NO corrosive chemicals involved. The switch to plastic has surely had economical reasons.
A modern ebonite feed might easyly cost 10 Euro in production. thats quite a lot to save by using a plastic feed.

Best regards
Tom


Isn't ebonite just a hard rubber? How does it wear down metal tooling so fast?



I think it is ebony wood (hard dark brown wood) I'm not sure if the material really is rubber.

Regards.

Edited by MHfernandes, 07 August 2012 - 04:39.


#19 hari317

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 11:04

I think it is ebony wood (hard dark brown wood) I'm not sure if the material really is rubber.

Regards.


:W2FPN:

You can take our word that the feeder material is Hard Rubber, NOT wood.

Hari

#20 humsin

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 17:07



Hello out there.

a note from the small scale pen maker and pen restorer.

1. No, ebonite feeds are NOT superior to Plastic feeds. (sometimes)
take a Schmidt Feed - the big one - take a Pelikan Feed - they are just fantastic among many others.
Montblanc 149 and 146 Feeds are outstanding.

BUT there are so many ugly and badly working plastic feeds around.

2. There IS one major advantage over plastic - you cannot tune a plastic feed.
An ebonite feed, I can sand and mill, I can bend, I can increase or decrease inkflow.

3. NO, inkfeeds from ebonite cannot be done by Laser - its a time consuming work on the CNC lathe and mill, using metal tools.
I have assisted to the make of a new feed,in fact to two already - and it simply takes a lot of machine time -
and the abrasive ebonite eats the tools. So you have to change tools very often.

4. NO corrosive chemicals involved. The switch to plastic has surely had economical reasons.
A modern ebonite feed might easyly cost 10 Euro in production. thats quite a lot to save by using a plastic feed.

Best regards
Tom


Isn't ebonite just a hard rubber? How does it wear down metal tooling so fast?



I think it is ebony wood (hard dark brown wood) I'm not sure if the material really is rubber.

Regards.


Ebonite is a man-made alternative to ebony.
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#21 karmakoda

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 17:27

Ebonite is rubber and 30 to 40 percent sulphur, combined in a process called vulcanizing, which hardens and strengthens the rubber. This revolutionary process was developed by Charles Goodyear, US Patent 1844.

OK, now I've started my day by plagiarizing "Wikipedia".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebonite

In the early days, it was a material to "rave about", modern plastics were still unknown and versions of ebonite such as bakelite were used well into the 1960s and '70s.
Vintage black hard rubber (BHR) pens are highly sought after and some current pen manufacturers offer models in ebonite swirl or solid color.
For a feed, I like it if it is appropriate to the era, or year, of my pen.

#22 MHfernandes

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 10:32

Yes, I agree that ebonite is hard rubber, but in my defense, I tought that ebonite was wood, because a youtube video that shows how aurora makes the ebonite feeder, and it has a VERY wood-alike appearence:


Edited by MHfernandes, 21 October 2012 - 10:33.


#23 Inked

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:21

Yes, I agree that ebonite is hard rubber, but in my defense, I tought that ebonite was wood, because a youtube video that shows how aurora makes the ebonite feeder, and it has a VERY wood-alike appearence:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=YuSqIbxQTjI



Thanks for the video link. Very interesting and enlightening.

What kind of tree produces masonite? Or is that a man made product by a certain men's club? :rolleyes:

Inked

Edited by Inked, 22 October 2012 - 02:43.


#24 Mr Blifil

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:04

They should go back to making feeds with ebony. There's gotta be a few of those trees left somewhere.
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#25 Dillo

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 06:49

Hi,

As mentioned earlier, ebonite has better wetting properties than plastic. Plastic is often treated with surfactant to improve the wetting properties. If the surfactant treatment is not done properly, the feed will repel ink and the ink will not flow properly.

Aurora still uses ebonite feeds in some pens and so does Omas.

Dillon

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#26 notbob

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 14:35

Aurora still uses ebonite feeds in some pens and so does Omas.


Apparently, lotta bowling balls are still made of ebonite. So, if ya wanna go crazy and experiment, a bandsaw and an old black bowling ball are jes the thing. ;)

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#27 Dillo

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 14:37


Aurora still uses ebonite feeds in some pens and so does Omas.


Apparently, lotta bowling balls are still made of ebonite. So, if ya wanna go crazy and experiment, a bandsaw and an old black bowling ball are jes the thing. ;)


You can also buy ebonite rod stock. That might be easier to work with.

Dillon

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