A friend gave me a vintage music nib to see if I could make it fit the Ahab/Konrad. The conversion attempt was successful; I really only had to cut a bit off the nib base (to allow the cap to fit over the nib) since the rest of the nib fit the feed just fine. I wrote with it, had fun, but decided I probably would not use it. I sent it back, with thanks. After it was in the mail, I felt sender's remorse *smiles*. So, I set out to see if I could duplicate the music nib experience by converting a standard, stiff italic nib into a flexible italic nib.
I converted a stiff, Goulet 1.1mm stub italic nib to a flexible italic nib using the same procedure outlined in my thread "Converting A Regular Nib Into A Flex Nib For Noodler's Ahab/Konrad". Briefly, I extended the slit of the nib using a Dremel cutoff wheel, and then ground the sides of the nib following Pterodactylus' Ease My Flex mod.
The nib became very flexible, and will lay down a nice wide line when flexed. The width difference between the thins and thicks for the unmodified, stiff italic nib is about 2.4x, while the width difference for the flexible italic nib is about 7x.
The pen gobbles ink. As you can see from my writing sample (comparing pointed flex, regular italic, and flex italic), flex italic writing lays down Lots more ink than the other styles. In addition, the modified nib writes very wet - the inked line displays a convex cross-section before drying, even when un-flexed. The wet line shows little shading; 50% dilution of the ink improved the shading, as seen on the second writing sample page. Noodler's Cactus Gruen Eel lays a wet line in my other pens and nibs, so I am not sure if the wetness of this nib is due to the conversion process, or the ink. I suspect the nib has something to do with it, as this nib's lines are Very wet. More testing will be done :-)
Since this pen gobbles ink, unless I wrote Real Slow, I would draw down the ink in the ink channel so fast that the tip would go dry, usually railroading first.
This high rate of ink consumption meant that I had to modify the ebonite feed to boost the ink supply. First, I connected all the fin's "canyons" to the ink channel. I cut away the factory “dam” between the fins on the right side of the feed, using a razor saw. Noodler's pens come with half the canyons not connected, to allow the user to modify the feed for their ink, paper, and style of writing.
I found that even connecting all the right-side canyons to the ink channel was insufficient - the pen would write, but would exhaust the ink supply very quickly. I could see ink in the fins, but it was not refilling the ink channel on the top of the feed. One nice thing about the slot conversion: you can see what the ink in the ink channel is doing :-)
Further investigation with a loupe found the cause: the canyons, as milled by the pen factory, don't actually reach the bottom of the ink channel. The canyons are cut shallow, leaving "hanging valleys" for those of you who studied geology. As a result, once the ink level in the ink channel drops below the base of the canyon, capillary action can no longer pull ink from the canyon across into the ink channel. Thus, the nib runs dry, and won't be resupplied by the canyons. (See diagram - black=ebonite, green=ink, red=#11 blade cut)
To fix this problem, I made a cut in eight canyons on the right side with an Exacto #11 blade (red section on drawing). This allowed the canyon ink to reach the bottom of the ink channel; it was no longer disconnected from the ink in the channel, even if the ink level fell to the bottom of the channel. The cut is just a knife blade slit, I did not remove (with a razor saw) all the ebonite that made the hanging valley problem in the first place. This is because I don't know if the hanging valleys provide some other positive factor in the feed design.
With this modification of 8 of the hanging valleys, I can now write 70-90 italic letters (or 40-50 letters of cursive) before exhausting the ink channel and its fin&canyon ink supply. Then, I can either wait for the channel to refill naturally, or make a small push of the piston plunger to recharge the feed and channel immediately.
I did not cut all the canyons with the #11 blade. I was concerned that if I cut them all, the feed would become too wet for the other nibs I have. If I really get into flex italic writing, I might dedicate this pen to that style, and cut the "hanging valleys" of the rest of the canyons. Hopefully this would allow even longer writing stints before exhausting the feed.
The nib works, it flexes easily, and is fun to use.
Storing pen vertically with nib-down, and cap off, did not lead to ink dropping from nib after 11 minutes. So, pen is safe to hold vertically while pondering your next sentence. But I'd still store the pen nib-up when you are done.
The feed can't keep up with long stints of writing, and must be manually recharged with the plunger if you don't want to wait for natural recharge.
Further modification of the feed is possible, but might result in a feed that only works with this nib.
The nib writes very wet, which will prove a problem if you have cheap paper.
Dilution of the ink will increase shading. But, dilution of the ink’s surfactant may reduce the max line width the ink can handle (ie. reduce max flex), and may reduce the speed of natural recharge of the feed.
Refinements for the next conversion:
I will reduce the flex a little by not taking as much off the sides (less EMF mod). This nib is almost a wet noodle, and a little more stiffness would be welcome.
1.Comparison of pointed flex nib, regular italic nib, and flexible italic nib. Note; the flex italic was written with un-diluted ink.
2. Flex italic with 50% dilution ink to increase shading.
3. Cross section of the black ebonite feed, showing the failure of green ink in the fin/canyons to flow into the ink channel when the channel ink level drops below the bottom of the canyon. Red section is placement of the #11 blade cut.
4. The converted nib. It fit loose in my Ahab, so I added a piece of masking tape to the top of the nib as a shim.
Edited by Brooks MT, 08 March 2014 - 23:38.