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Life expectancy of nibs


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#1 J-san

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:15

A classmate of mine saw my Vanishing Point while taking notes in class and commented that he had never used a fountain pen before. He was interested in the VP and asked me some questions about FPs, how they work, how you refill them, etc. Then he asked me how long the nibs last. I couldn't answer that one.

I'm sure some of you FPN veterans have pens decades old and maybe older. How long do the nibs last assuming one takes good care of the pen? I know different metals will wear out faster than others, but let's say we are referring to a 14K gold nib (which I believe my VP has).


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#2 BillTheEditor

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:19

I'm 60. Some of my pens are older than that, with their original nibs, and they show no signs of being worn out after years of use. So who can say what the life expectancy of a nib might be?

#3 rroossinck

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:28

QUOTE(J-san @ Jan 9 2007, 10:15 PM)
...A classmate of mine saw my Vanishing Point...

Your VP? cool.gif

That sure didn't take long for your fingers to get used to it. Like it, I trust?

I second Bill's response. If well cared for, pens will outlast their owner's children, in many cases. I know that there are plenty of folks here who treasure the pens that their grandparents and great-grandparents used.
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#4 J-san

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:49

LOL, you caught me, Ryan! Okay, not mine, but my girlfriend's VP (hey, I paid for it!!). She's graciously letting me take it for a test-run for a week or so. I must admit, the "click-it" feature sure is handy for when you are idle. Class note taking is a lot of stop and go for me. I'm getting used to the clip, so I think I'll have to look into getting one for myself.

Wow, I had no idea they could last for so long. I guess that makes fountain pens even better! I heard about people grinding down nibs and I thought they did that when their nib wore out so they could convert them to calligraphy nibs or something like that.

Edited by J-san, 10 January 2007 - 04:50.

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#5 Benjamin McFerret

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:49

I think it depends on how often you use your pen. If you have one pen that you use everyday for life you might have to replace the nib once or twice in your lifetime. I have heard of people wearing the iridium off their nibs after years of use but not very often. If you have few pens, your nibs will probably outlast you. I think most of us have enough pens that we won't have to ever replace a worn out nib. For example, I have a pen with an eighty or ninety year old nib that is still running strong.

Wait a minute! The VP listed in your collection isn't even yours? I may have to tell your girlfriend. laugh.gif

Ben
Note, this is all just my opinion.

Edited by Benjamin McFerret, 10 January 2007 - 14:08.


#6 rroossinck

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 05:12

Come on Benjamin...you're married. You know the drill.

What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine...you know, the credo of most wives everywhere? smile.gif

This is just like it, but it's one of the rare occasion where one of us guys actually gets a leg up! wink.gif

Jason, you're just like me...my first impression was "No way! Not for me!", but then after a few more sentences with one in a more comfortable environment, all was solved. I'm hooked on mine.
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#7 Benjamin McFerret

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 05:15

QUOTE
What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine...you know, the credo of most wives everywhere?
Yeah, but I think that always works in the woman's favor. What's mine is hers and what's hers is hers - not mine. wink.gif I'm just lucky she doesn't like fountain pens.

Ben

Edited by Benjamin McFerret, 10 January 2007 - 05:27.


#8 rroossinck

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 05:39

It must be that once a year parallel universe that happens only in Minnesota...either way, he got lucky.

You and I in Illinois and Iowa are subject to the "real world". smile.gif

Just playin', Jason. We're glad you like the VP enough to list it in your own collection...smile.gif
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#9 Nihontochicken

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 05:44

QUOTE
I'm 60. Some of my pens are older than that, with their original nibs, and they show no signs of being worn out after years of use.


Well, I must certainly defer to the wisdom of my elders*. laugh.gif My guess is that most nibs die from over-stress (too much pressure by a new user, dropped on a hard surface, etc.). An "iridium" tip (osmium, ruthenium, whatever) can wear out by normal long term use, I guess, at the cost of severe old age wrist arthritis to the perpetrator. wink.gif

* I'm only a youngin, just 58! roflmho.gif roflmho.gif roflmho.gif
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#10 JimStrutton

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:37

All I can say is that my Xmas present from 62 is still writing as well as ever and that is after pretty much constant use for at least 20 of the years. I have older pens that have been restored and have yet to find one that needed a new nib just through pure wear, it has always been damage. Nibs can distort over time with writing pressure, but that can be straightened.

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#11 Chris

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 13:45

I often use a Sheaffer Statesman that was my late father's. He used it every day whilst he was working and just about every day once he retired.

Now that it has seen over fifty years of use, the medium palladium nib is now nice and smooth rolleyes.gif . I expect the nib alone will last at least that long again.

But, when I started school I used cheap Platignum cartridge pens with simple folded steel nibs (fountain pens were compulsory; the teachers could not "see" anything written in biro laugh.gif ). They scratched for a term or two, wrote reasonably smoothly for a term or two, and then the end of the nib fell off angry.gif . After a couple of these, I saved my pocket money and bought a Parker 65, and this wrote reams of stuff for the next five or six years or so without any nib wear.

Those of us who were at school then will remember just how much you had to write....

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#12 southpaw

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 13:51

Not sure how long, but I've got a Waterman from the 1920s, a couple of Parkers from the 1940s, and some Sheaffers from the 1930s-1940s and those nibs haven't worn out yet. I guess I'll have to get back to you and let you know when they wear out. If I haven't responded in a 100 years or so, you might want to check with my grandchildren. tongue.gif wink.gif

But seriously, there are pens from the late 1800s still going strong, so I think it's more a question of lack of abuse, care, and initial quality manufacture.
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#13 MYU

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 14:05

I'm no nib meister, but from what I understand elements like iridium have an amazing property of not "shedding", but are slightly moldable. Thus the iridium "should" remain on the nib for the life of the pen. There must be exceptions, such as pen abuse (too much pressure on the nib), caustic inks, abrasive paper, etc., as I have certainly seen nibs with the iridium "worn off".

But that's just my guess until someone like Richard can give the real scoop on it.
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Edited by MYU, 10 January 2007 - 14:06.

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#14 psfred

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 15:29

In the 50 or so pens I have, I have only seen real wear on one, a Parker 21 with a distinct, off-center "foot" that took a bit of work to smooth out. The "foot" is still there, but the edges are no longer sharp and the nib no longer "sings" nor drags.

It was out of alignment, too, so maybe using it like that cause the "foot" (a flat spot on the tipping), but likely it was a huge amount of use of abrasive papers at a single angle. Can't see it without a microscope, a loupe isn't strong enough.

I have a couple with a tip missing, bent all to you-know-where, and other wise mangled (some obviously dropped nib down), but only the one with serious wear.

I have a Snork Admiral with a lousy nib, but it worked as recieved -- the original owner bought it in 1954 and only used it a short while, rinsed it, and stored it until he sold it when clearing out the house, probably because it wrote badly (scratchy and loud). It has a badly pitted spot on one tip, must have gotten past QC as normally Sheaffer nibs are very nice. Not wear.

I do have a couple old celluoid no-names, but the nibs are all fairly decent.

It would take quite a bit of fairly serious writing on abrasive papers to wear out a tipped nib! Break, bend, twist in the cap, yeah, wear out, no.

Peter

#15 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 16:25

As long as the nibs only touch paper, I bet they would last pretty much indefinitely, barring abuse.

#16 J-san

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 22:21

I didn't want to spam up the forum by creating a new thread, but can you grind down a nib to make it into extra-extra fine? I want to know if and how I can grind down the nib on my Studio to match that of the VP. I'm a nut for fine lines. I don't even use 0.5mm mechanical pencils - I use the drafters' 0.3mm mech pencils laugh.gif If I can get the Studio to mimic a line like that, I'd love it for ever and ever. better not let my GF find out about my plans...
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#17 kissing

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 22:41

For such a nib adjustment, I'd send it to a nibmeister wink.gif

However, I'm sure there are some among us who know how to turn their nibs into EEFs...but you would need some special paper for the job unsure.gif

ps - otherwise you can save up to purchase a factory EF nib for the Studio

Edited by kissing, 10 January 2007 - 23:04.


#18 HDoug

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 22:51

Nakaya estimates their nibs will write 37 to 44 miles (60 to 70 km). I'm going to try doing some calculation using this, but they calculate that one could write a thousand characters per day for 10 years. I guess a truly prolific writer using only one pen may actually wear out a nib!

Doug

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Edited by HDoug, 10 January 2007 - 22:52.


#19 rroossinck

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 00:31

QUOTE(J-san @ Jan 10 2007, 04:21 PM)
I didn't want to spam up the forum by creating a new thread, but can you grind down a nib to make it into extra-extra fine? I want to know if and how I can grind down the nib on my Studio to match that of the VP. I'm a nut for fine lines. I don't even use 0.5mm mechanical pencils - I use the drafters' 0.3mm mech pencils laugh.gif If I can get the Studio to mimic a line like that, I'd love it for ever and ever. better not let my GF find out about my plans...

For creation of a needlepointed nib, I'm fairly certain that your best option is Richard Binder.
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#20 Rabbi Zvi Solomons

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 00:50

I don't reckon they'll wear out if the iridium is on the tip. Same would apply to the ancient ruby nibs on old penners. The iridium is the key. I have some old Sheaffers where the iridium is a bit thin - if the iridium goes the gold will wear out quickly. THat's why even steel nibs wear out - like the platignum folded rubbish. Iridium is blamming hard - who invented the iridium tip?

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