Affordable flex is difficult to find. My recent practice in learning copperplate script makes me appreciate flexible nibs as writing tools. Dip pen nibs offer both affordability and ultimate flexibility and line variation, if the writer is willing to carry jars of ink. Vintage flex fountain pen nibs offer portability at the price of a vintage flex pen. In this thread I will present results of informal experiments with nib flex modifications that start with the well-documented “ease my flex," and then include a central cut-out inspired by dip pen nibs.
This thread will ultimately contain a series of four tests:
1. The first test, in this post -- modifications on inexpensive Jinhao and Airmail Wality nibs.
2. The “ease-my-flex” modification -- also known as "angel wings" -- applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs, from Fountain Pen Revolution. I selected FPR nibs because they're affordable, easily available in multiple sizes and types, and my previous experiences with them have been positive. FPN contributor Pterodactylus started a discussion of the "ease my flex" modification in February 2013, initially applied to the Noodler's Ahab model:
3. A “central cutout” modification applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs. Also known as the "Cross of Lorraine."See post no. 5 by FPN contributor Freddy in this discussion thread:
Synnove, the FPN contributor behind these "central cutout" tests, also created this thread: http://www.fountainp...-edison-jowo-6/ Additionally, Synnove did a small study on how much weight on the nib it took to splay the tines a given width. http://www.fountainp...-fat-grail-pen/
4. A modification applied to flex and extra fine, no. 6, steel nibs that includes both ease-my-flex and central-cut-out.
Test 1 was conducted on Jinhao x450 and Airmail Wality 71j pens that I already owned. Tests 2 through 4 are being conducted on FPR nibs, feeds, and Click pen bodies supplied by Kevin Thiemann of FPR. For the most part, Kevin supplied materials; I supplied labor and documentation.
Today’s post includes my experience and results of the first test. I used a Dremel-type grinding tool to remove a small scallop with a depth of about 2 mm on each side of the shoulders of nibs on Jinhao x450 and Airmail Wality 71j pens. I wrote with the pens, and then used a Dremel-type cutoff disc to enlarge the breather holes to a horizontal oval about 3.5 mm wide. I documented both nibs with photographs, but did not document a writing sample from the Jinhao x450.
TEST NO. 1 -- FLEX NIB MODIFICATIONS ON AIRMAIL WALITY NO. 6 FINE NIB AND JINHAO NO. 6 MEDIUM NIB
A. WRITING RESULTS AFTER REMOVING WING SCALLOPS ONLY
Jinhao x450 with no. 6 medium nib, 6 mm standard plastic feed
More give/bounce in the writing experience, and tines separate slightly to make the nib wetter. Some flex if pushed, but this nib starts as a medium and requires too much pressure to generate line variation. Nib is smooth.
Airmail Wality 71J with Airmail no. 6 fine nib, 6.3 mm standard ebonite feed
More give/bounce in the writing experience. Tines definitely separate, making the nib wetter and the writing experience much more fun. Not much line variation. Nib has some feedback.
B. WRITING RESULTS AFTER CREATION OF WING SCALLOPS AND 3.5 MM OVAL BREATHER HOLE
Jinhao x450 no. 6 nib, medium
Not much pressure required to make tines separate easily. Line width varies from about 0.6 mm to 1.2 mm -- basically 2X. Well-lubricated, pleasant writing experience. Plastic feed keeps up if the writer maintains steady, moderate pace. Occasional priming of feed required before a large flourish, or railroading occurs. More fun to write with. The snap-back, however, is sluggish, and after extensive writing, sometimes the tines don't return to their original position at all.
Airmail Wality 71J with Airmail no. 6, fine
Not much pressure required to make tines separate easily. Line width varies from about 0.4 mm to 1.1 mm -- about 3X. Standard ebonite feed nearly always keeps up. Increased flex seems to pull more ink, making the writing experience well-lubricated. Writer must push nib to unpleasant levels of pressure before railroading occurs. Much more fun to write with.
C. ELEVEN OBSERVATIONS
1. One trial with the Jinhao no. 6 nib used only the expansion of the vent hole, with no wing scallop removal. In the writing trial, the tines widened, but didn't seem to snap back into position. Without wing scallops, the lines were all wide, all uncontrollably juicy, all the time.
2. The enlarged vent hole made a significant difference in the ability of the tines to separate.
3. The Dremel cut-off disc can make a crescent-like, oval, enlarged horizontal vent hole. The oval hole is ugly. Jeweler's needle files might help shape the hole, and some kind of buffing/polishing process would help. The design of vent/reservoir holes in dip nibs may provide some inspiration.
4. Gold-tone nibs lose their finish in the grinding process. Chrome-colored steel nibs might be more attractive candidates.
5. The back side of the nib, behind the slit, took some abrasion in the grinding process. Ink supply did not seem to be impeded.
6. The design of standard dip nibs is more utilitarian, often showing grinding marks where the manufacturer thinned the nib material. A pen user who modifies nibs for calligraphy may need to discount nib aesthetics.
7. Cutting the scallops from the wings is fairly simple and foolproof, and requires about 10 minutes. Enlarging the vent hole requires more precision, and also takes about 10 minutes. This is my first flex nib modification, and my first time using a Dremel tool.
8. The standard ebonite feed in the Airmail Wality 71J keeps up extremely well. No deepening of the ink channel was required.
9. The plastic feed in the Jinhao x450 kept up better than expected.
10. The modification process improves writing performance in both nibs, making the writing experience much more enjoyable. The modification also makes the nibs lay down significantly more ink, and the ink capacity of the Airmail Wality eyedropper helps.
11. This modification makes the standard fine Airmail Wality nib enjoyable to write with. Airmail Wality pen bodies are well-crafted, but provide significant amounts of feedback, and I usually swap the standard nib for something else.