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Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen


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#301 Kyosu

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 15:26

The problem is that the flow is now too wet with normal writing. I attribute to my being too aggressive by opening three ribs close to the nib-tip as often recommended here on FPN and even alluded to in the (poorly written IMHO) enclosed instruction sheet that came with the pen. What I needed to do was open up some ribs closer to the feed. I wish I only opened one or two ribs closer to the nib tip - but unfortunately that was a one-way trip :-(



Cutting the ribs is not a one-way trip. You can use bees wax to fill them in again. I have used this successfully to close vents (ribs) in Ahabs that write too wet

#302 Drone

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 15:38




The problem is that the flow is now too wet with normal writing. I attribute to my being too aggressive by opening three ribs close to the nib-tip as often recommended here on FPN and even alluded to in the (poorly written IMHO) enclosed instruction sheet that came with the pen. What I needed to do was open up some ribs closer to the feed. I wish I only opened one or two ribs closer to the nib tip - but unfortunately that was a one-way trip :-(



Cutting the ribs is not a one-way trip. You can use bees wax to fill them in again. I have used this successfully to close vents (ribs) in Ahabs that write too wet


Dear Kyosu, Good suggestion.

Another (easier) alternative is to reposition the feed lower with respect to the nib tip. Right now I have it as close as possible to the tip. I just want to make sure the flow is stable with the nib/feed position as it is right now. I'll run the rest of this converter of ink through the pen then move the feed down and see how it goes after moving the feed position.

Regards, David

Edited by Drone, 21 April 2012 - 15:39.


#303 SamCapote

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:02

Drone (David), great information about opening the lower slits. I had never tried doing that, nor asked Nathan about it. Your solution does make me wonder if your problem was related to some wax/lubricant in the "blow hole" that comes up in the lengthwise air channel, acting as an ink repelling barrier. I remember Nathan mentioning that reaming out that hole with a paper clip resolved some flow issues when he was troubleshooting the problem, and before he learned that the manufacturer decided on their own to start using cutting lubricants.

I did think that spare nibs/feeds were available from Dick Egolf at the website here. Try contacting him with what you had wrong and ask for replacements. Let us know what happens. Next time I speak with Nathan, I'll ask him about those spare parts, and what cutting the back slits might mean as a clue, and what he has found for the best "bandaid" to fix over done cuts....although beeswax that Kyosu mentioned sounds great. That's something I don't have in the house. :roflmho:
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#304 Drone

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 17:36

Drone (David), great information about opening the lower slits. I had never tried doing that, nor asked Nathan about it. Your solution does make me wonder if your problem was related to some wax/lubricant in the "blow hole" that comes up in the lengthwise air channel, acting as an ink repelling barrier. I remember Nathan mentioning that reaming out that hole with a paper clip resolved some flow issues when he was troubleshooting the problem, and before he learned that the manufacturer decided on their own to start using cutting lubricants.

I did think that spare nibs/feeds were available from Dick Egolf at the website here. Try contacting him with what you had wrong and ask for replacements. Let us know what happens. Next time I speak with Nathan, I'll ask him about those spare parts, and what cutting the back slits might mean as a clue, and what he has found for the best "bandaid" to fix over done cuts....although beeswax that Kyosu mentioned sounds great. That's something I don't have in the house. :roflmho:


SamCapote, Thanks for the reply.

Sorry for the long post, but there's a lot to say how my Ahab adventure is going...

I did thoroughly clean the "blow hole" as well as the feed hole with some soft wire, then I tossed it in the ultrasonic cleaner for good measure, then blew it clean/dry with some compressed air and re-inspected the feed under magnification. I'm pretty sure there are no lubricants anywhere in the feed. After all I've been through with this pen so-far, I probably have the cleanest Ahab on the planet.

Update on Ahab Performance:

My black Ahab pen has been writing flawlessly since opening up a couple of feed ribs closer to the section (more on this below). I've been through almost five loads of ink since then.

As I mentioned previously, after opening up the new ribs closer to the section, the flow problems have been totally solved, but the pen is a bit too wet; likely due to my opening up too many ribs (3 of them) closest to the nib in the beginning.

A couple of fills ago, I moved the feed back away from the nib, more like it was when the pen shipped. As a result, the flow has decreased somewhat. But I consider the flow to still be a little too wet. Too bad I can't "un-hack" one or two of the cut ribs closest to the nib (hence my desire to start with a new "spare" feed).

I've been running well behaved blue inks (Namiki/Pilot blue and Parker Quink blue) so-far. Next I plan to try some of my slower flowing inks (typically reds) to see how they behave in the Ahab. With the blue inks I get stable flow with normal writing pressure and no railing at all when fully flexed - even with a lot of dramatic flourishes.

Also, I should add that the Ahab has been behaving quite well, even with the high flow rate. So-far, no burps or blobs and almost no nib creep - this even with running with a pen that goes from pocket (cold) to hand (warm) with a near empty ink reservoir. I am pleasantly surprised about this :-)

More Details on What I Did to the Feed:

To be specific, I opened what looks like ribs 7 and 8 counting back from the nib on the feed. Using a very fine (small) pointy X-Acto like knife, I cut the rib channels right down to the lengthwise channel. "Cut" is probably the wrong word, the (Ebonite?) nib material needs to be more-like "chipped" away with the knife edge, then the cut sort-of cleaned out with the dull side square edge of another X-Acto blade put in backwards in the handle.

I used two X-Acto type knife holders, one with the blade inserted properly, the other with the blade put in backwards. This is just to speed up the process. You can certainly duplicate this with one holder and one blade.

Remember, after "hacking" the feed, clean all the chips away thoroughly!

I chose to open feed ribs 7and 8 (again, counting back from the nib-end) so if the feed is seated back a bit further from the nib, the opened ribs would not reside under the section. I did this for fear that if the opened ribs were under the section, the area where section meets the feed might become too wet and leak a bit.

About Spare Ahab Parts:

Funny that you mention contacting Dick Egolf at Luxury Brands LLC via the Noodler's contact form link you provided - I did exactly that a month ago, asking how I can obtain some spare Ahab nibs and/or feeds. I received a prompt reply from Mr. Egolf on 26 March stating:

"Hi David, Please let me know when you will be placing an order with your U.S. dealer and I will make sure that they have some to ship you."

However I was not planning on placing an order with anyone at the time. I sent an Email to Mr. Egolf asking if he could ship me some Ahab parts to my address in the U.S. and also asked for price and payment details via PayPal.

I don't expect to get spare Ahab parts for free - I'm willing to pay a reasonable price for them. But at-least some spare feeds are required as I would like to replace the feed in my black Ahab with one that is hacked to flow a bit less - and new Ahab(s) I order may indeed need a spare feed, just in case.

I did not receive a reply to my second Email from Mr. Egolf. Perhaps the spare Ahab parts are only available through a Noodler's distributor and not directly from Mr. Egolf at Luxury Brands.

A month later, now that I got my Ahab working, I plan to place another order (probably with the Goulet's) over the weekend. I plan to order at least one more Ahab, just to see how it goes the second time around.

I'll send another Email to Mr. Egolf with the details of my next order. Perhaps there is something he can do.

Ahab Nib Tuning:

Note, I think the average Ahab user should not need to "tune" nib. If the nib feels "scratchy" or "toothy", especially when NOT flexed, then make sure the tines are aligned (a magnifier helps) and bend them a bit if they're not (lots here on FPN on how to do this).

But I'm obsessed with how my nibs write and can't leave well-enough alone. So here we go...

A couple of days ago, I decided to tune the Ahab nib - it was writing a little "toothy" for my hand. The tines looked properly aligned under magnification and they look like they taper properly. But I decided to try a bit of smoothing anyway.

I started with a nail buffer then moved to micro-mesh sheets. The nib smoothed out quite a bit, but was still a bit toothy when flexed.

Again, under magnification, I used some micro-mesh sheet to smooth out the nib edges where they meet between the two tines. I've done this before with fine full-flex nibs, and it is a delicate procedure (to avoid "baby-bottoming" the nib). Now the nib is nearly perfect.

I don't recommend doing this unless you've tried this before - or if you have a spare nib just in case. (Hmmm - we're back to the spare parts issue again.) BTW, I always tune my nibs while wet with ink, which seems to produce the best results.

Conclusion So-Far:

Now with the Ahab working, I'm loving this pen! I'm putting a lot of mileage on it. My other (far more expensive) pens just look-on in envy :-)

Getting to this point has been quite an adventure. The positive outcome would have been impossible without all the help I've received from the FPN community.

That said; at the moment I would still not consider the Ahab to be a "pen for the masses". I would not gift an Ahab to a friend or family member without a good going-over by me first.

The Ahab is a wonderful pen at a wonderful price - once you get it working. Once we have an easy way to obtain spare Ahab parts, I would consider the Ahab to be the ideal pen for someone willing to learn how to tune on a pen and get it working "just right" for your hand.

Disclaimer:

Everything I've posted in this thread is about my sample of one (1) black Ahab. Reading the many threads and posts about the Ahab on FPN and elsewhere, I get a strong feeling that out-of-the-box Ahab performance can vary widely. After I get my second (or more) Ahab(s), I'll post-back with my findings.

If your get a new Ahab and feel it isn't flowing properly, do the simple step of cleaning the nib, feed, and section thoroughly before starting to "hack" the feed. Heck, clean everything - all the pen parts. There's a lot more on this in this thread.

Even if you think your Ahab is working "properly" out of the box. Make sure you put a lot of mileage on the pen before coming to that conclusion.

If your pen writes good after filling, that is no indication of how it will write once the ink in the feed after the initial fill is depleted. I recommend you fill your new Ahab and then aggressively flex the pen over (at-least) several sheets full of flourishes to see if flow stops (your flexed lines start to look like "rail road tracks").

Another indicator of poor flow is using your Ahab during an important meeting and then half-way through the meeting the pen stops writing - causing you to start into embarrassing bouts of shaking the pen trying to get ink back into the feed (with blobs of ink flying around the room).

Please Understand:

IMHO fountain pens are indeed "living" organisms. They will wait until your are in the most embarrassing situation before they stop working! Rule-of-thumb: For example - if you meet a beautiful woman (or man), DO NOT use your fountain pen to take down her/his phone number! The Jealous (bleep) of a pen won't write (he-he)!

Thanks & Best Regards, David

#305 Pemako

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 19:40

Sounds like you can have a lot of "fun" with an Ahab, but a pen like that is the last thing I would take to an important meeting...

#306 SamCapote

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 01:16


Drone (David), great information about opening the lower slits. I had never tried doing that, nor asked Nathan about it. Your solution does make me wonder if your problem was related to some wax/lubricant in the "blow hole" that comes up in the lengthwise air channel, acting as an ink repelling barrier. I remember Nathan mentioning that reaming out that hole with a paper clip resolved some flow issues when he was troubleshooting the problem, and before he learned that the manufacturer decided on their own to start using cutting lubricants.

I did think that spare nibs/feeds were available from Dick Egolf at the website here. Try contacting him with what you had wrong and ask for replacements. Let us know what happens. Next time I speak with Nathan, I'll ask him about those spare parts, and what cutting the back slits might mean as a clue, and what he has found for the best "bandaid" to fix over done cuts....although beeswax that Kyosu mentioned sounds great. That's something I don't have in the house. :roflmho:


SamCapote, Thanks for the reply.

Sorry for the long post, but there's a lot to say how my Ahab adventure is going......blah blah blah.


First, since some previous people have a low threshold of meaning inference, I use "blah blah blah" the way someone else might use "....clipped" so no meaning is intended. :thumbup:

Second, you have ten times the patience I would have with that pen. I likely would have used it to test out the new InSinkerator garbage disposal I installed that has the motto: "Grind almost anything; Hear almost nothing." Seriously, it is very interesting about cutting the back slits, and describing your technique in detail. I also started doing nib smoothing, including using the Mylar fine grit to take off the sharp inside (slit) tine edges of several pens.

Third, I don't actually know Dick Egolf's policy or his customer service effectiveness, but if you contact him again, make sure to mention that this is about getting a defective replacement nib/feed for all you have gone through trying to get it working, and not related to buying another pen. I suspect without a widely available supply of ebonite feeds able to be found by the average pen enthusiast, that Nathan and/or Dick may not want to be generally distributing their feeds in quantity without knowing a person bought a Noodler's pen....but I'm not 100% on that.

Thanks for all your feedback....good and bad (in terms of having to go through so much hassle). :notworthy1:
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#307 Woodwise

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:33

I found that this pen does not really flex unless I use way more pressure than I am accustomed to use. It runs very wet. It does not start all the time; in fact, I have found, just as in the video, that I can be writing along and it goes dry. I cleaned it and stuck in the drawer. Writing with a flex pen should be natural, and with this pen you must be very focused on the /act/ of writing, not /what/ you are writing. Were it not for the construction details, it would warrant a zer0. I shouldn't have to toss a brand new pen in the drawer. Watch the video closely, folks.

#308 msolok

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 23:12

I found that this pen does not really flex unless I use way more pressure than I am accustomed to use. It runs very wet. It does not start all the time; in fact, I have found, just as in the video, that I can be writing along and it goes dry. I cleaned it and stuck in the drawer. Writing with a flex pen should be natural, and with this pen you must be very focused on the /act/ of writing, not /what/ you are writing. Were it not for the construction details, it would warrant a zer0. I shouldn't have to toss a brand new pen in the drawer. Watch the video closely, folks.


Your Ahab is new and not broken in so the nib will take some more pressure to flex. After some break-in you will find it will flex a lot easier and further than when new. But you need to break it in. This is normal.

As for the hard starts and writing dry, sound like you need to adjust the nib and feed. The beauty of the Ahab (and all the Noodlers pens) is they are designed to be modified to get it writing just how YOU like it (unlike many other current pens which will take a lot more effort to adjust and usually just have a single writing characteristic). The Ahab was designed to be tinkered with until you get it just how you like it, it's not an out of the box writer (unlike something that is Lamy, which works well out of the box, but you better like how it writes as it is almost impossible to change).

There is a lot of info on how to adjust the Ahab to get it writing well. The first things I would suggest you try are giving it a good clean in water and a little soap (and use a toothbrush to scrub the feed and make sure there are no blockages), make sure the nib slit is aligned with the feed channel (and the feed channel may not be central on the feed) and adjust how far towards the end of the nib the end of the feed is. Give it a little tinkering and I can just about guarantee you will get it performing perfectly.
I have 5 Ahabs, 1 Konrad (and my partner has 4 Ahab's and 1 Flex) and all are brillant writers ONCE I set them up. Some required a little more attention than the others, but once done they are brillant. To be honest, I think they compete with many pens several times their price. For $20 they are an absolute steal!

If you aren't interested in tinkering, then in all honesty the Noodlers pens are not for you.

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Lamy Safari's x5, Lamy Al Star's x3, Lamy Studio's x2, A Lamy 2000, Kaweco Sports/AL Sports x7, Noodlers pens (Konrad and Ahab) x10, Noodlers Konrad Ebonite x2, Hero 616 x10, Reform 1745 x10, Sailor 1911m x2, Sailor 1911 Realo x3, Sailor Pro Gear Realo x2, Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver, Visconti Opera Club Cherry Juice (M Dreamtouch Nib), Visconti Opera Elements x3 (Amber and Black with M Dreamtouch Nib, Blue with M Gold Nib), Visconti Homo Sapiens Steel Age Maxi, Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, Montblanc 146 Le Grande... Plus I am sure I have forgotten some.
 

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#309 Drone

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 00:40

@Woodwise,

It sounds like you demand your pens work well out of the box. I don't fault this opinion at all. But if that's the case, Noodler's pens are not for you, in my opinion.

I agree with @msolok, your nib may ease-up with use, but don't expect any dramatic changes. The Ahab and Conrad nibs, while advertised as "Flex", are far from it. I own vintage pens with "wet-noodle" flexible nibs. The difference compared with a Noodler's flex pen is like night-and-day.

But there are some benefits to the "semi-flex" nature of the Noodler's pens. The nibs are far more robust than truly flexible nibs, yet you can get some flex when you need it. A full-flex nib (especially a fine flex nib) requires very careful (and slow) writing. Also, they don't take well to many types of paper. You're not likely to "spring" a Noodler's nib in everyday use, unless you drop it of-course (even then, you will probably come out OK).

In my experience, the Ahab (and other Noodler's pens) are most often NOT really great performers out of the box. You will have to tinker with them.

Cutting the feed channel and/or ribs on an Ahab is often necessary, and is a poorly explained process as far as I'm concerned. Also, once you start "hacking" the feed, it is a one-way trip. If the feed hacks don't work (or work too well), the pen is essentially ready for the trash bin.

This is unfortunate in my opinion. If Noodler's (Nathan) would make spare feeds (and even nibs) available in small quantity for separate purchase - then one could start over without having to trash the pen; which is such a waste. But alas, that is not the case. And as far as I know, Nathan has never provided a direct explanation as to why he refuses to make feeds and/or nibs available for separate purchase in small quantities.

One non-destructive "hack" I have heard about a few times is to remove the flexible breather tube connected to the feed. This may improve flow and get a cranky pen to work. I have not had much luck with this, but others swear by it. YMMV.

As an owner of quite a few Ahabs, I can say that all of them required work to make them truly useable - even then only a few really shine, while most are just so-so. I have had two Ahabs that were impossible to fix right out of the box. One had an internally-deformed section such hat when you seat the nib, the deformity put pressure on the nib and caused the tines spread apart (yes I tried other known good nib/feed combinations, with the same result). The other was a two-color Ahab where the two plastics were separating as if during the molding process, not enough heat was used. That pen was just scavenged for parts.

All said, I'm a big fan of Noodler's pens - the Ahab especially. When you get one to work really well, it's a pleasure to use. I look forward to the Ebonite Ripple Konrads - if they ever appear in enough quantity for me to actually purchase one. Time will tell...

Good Luck, David

#310 TSherbs

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:01

Another (easier) alternative is to reposition the feed lower with respect to the nib tip.


+1 This worked great for me. I moved the feed as close to the tine tips as I could. My Creaper has PR Spearmint in it and with normal writing pressure I get a bit of flex and some real shading and not too much ink. No hard starts, no skipping, no blobs.

And all for $14.

#311 IKWarren

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 16:02

I hated my Ahab when I first bought it and was constantly frustrated. The more I use it though, the more I love it. They are really amazing pens once they break in and start writing well.

#312 Fabienne

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 16:15

What IKWarren said. I didn't like mine at first, now that I started to use it, it's great for learning copperplate or experimenting without tearing your hair out over some fussy $600 "wet noodle" with a lever fill. The Ahab is a great plunger pen with minimum fuss. Not the most flexible but flexes pretty good. And you don't have to worry about springing it. I love mine (in Arizona to match it's little nib creeper flex sister). Yummm.


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#313 tapioca

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:23

Just my 2 cents:
I'm new to the forum but not new to fountain pens. I've had an Ahab for about a year. At first I had the hardest time with it. I cleaned and readjusted it over and over again with inconsistant results. Once I got it adjusted right the pen went from frustrating to wonderful. I also switched from Noodlers Baystate Blue ink to Heart of Darkness and that made a big difference. It's real smooth and the flex nib is very nice once I used the pen for a while. I also like that it holds a lot of ink. If you asked how I have it set up, I could not tell you. I can tell you that there is a threshold with the Ahab. Once you cross it, it's smooth writing from there on out. Now I have to remember not to mess with it.

#314 ruben50

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 00:35

Nice review! I just bought this pen specifically for use with my J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Fountain Pen Ink - 50 ml Bottle - Rouge Hematite. Looks to be a great combo.

 


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