Thanks to all for their FP cheapie recommendations. I've a lot of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens from my initial venture into FP's nearly a year ago (beginning with the gift of a Yiren 679 "Bookworm" from a friend - still a cheapie favorite of mine with its Omas "tribute" beautiful looks and excellent ink flow after only a tiny bit of nib tuning. I bought many Chinese pens in a few short months for very little via eBay most of which I haven't regretted and a very few that I have. At the price of these pens it's a small gamble to take, but considering that the majority of them tend to be quite decent writers after adjustment, it's one that that I highly recommend for those wanting a variety of interesting pens for a low price and especially those just getting into fountain pens. I've moved on to buying mostly higher priced pens, but they definitely come at a cost and you can have excellent writers rivaling much more expensive pens if you're willing to put in a bit of work.
My general findings: Jinhao pens are usually good. Baoer pens even more so. Yiren pens are a mixed bunch. With variable Chinese quality control, you can't count on getting the same quality of pen even pens of the same model. Many nibs on Chinese pens write too dry or wet out of the box.
Expect and learn to adjust nibs. This is a great learning experience for new fountain pen users - at least it was for me, so I'm glad of the Chinese QC issues I encountered when it comes to nibs. I've learned a lot that has benefited me with pens I've bought at all price points. If you screw up a nib on a $4 pen then you've not lost much and if it takes a #6 nib you can easily replace it.
Learn how to smooth/polish your nibs. Once you know how to adjust nib tines for flow and alignment, you're most of if not all the way to a fine performing yet inexpensive pen. Get yourself some 12000 grit micromesh and smooth the nib to your desired level.
Supplied converters with cheap pens are generally that - cheap - with some exceptions. They work OK, but aren't made with fine enough tolerances to keep ink from drying out fairly quickly in the pen. The all-clear, plastic converters that come in most Chinese pens are fine for those you use very regularly, but not for those that you don't and won't last very long. The converters with metal parts are generally of higher quality, but vary. I recommend you buy a small quantity of Schmidt brand or similar international size converters for pens you keep inked but don't use frequently and in readiness for those that fail.
Edited by GHigley, 11 March 2015 - 04:25.