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Vintage Flex; Even A Limbo Master Can Have Lousy Manners


11 replies to this topic

#1 cunim

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 22:24

As I continue my  exploration of flex, I am finding that some nibs flex just fine but are miserable to write with.   That is, the quality of a nib is set by its weakest characteristic.  Great line variation and good flow are not enough to overcome rough writing or the need for excessive pressure.  So, we struggle with terms like "noodle" and "superflex",  but it only takes a short trial to come to terms with the flex characteristics of a nib.  Fortunately, writing a page defines a nib pretty well.  Not so easy via the internet.

 

In particular, the pleasure a nib gives is largely dependent on smooth writing and that is hard to know without hands-on testing.  Smoothness is dependent upon tipping integrity, equal tine length, tine alignment and tip shape.  These characteristics can require high magnification to evaluate, and are rarely detailed with a nib offering.  Therefore, online buying of vintage flex is, in my experience, a risky endeavor.  Almost all of these nibs are worn.  Some of them are just too worn to be of practical use.

 

Here's a case in point.  The first two pictures show a Waterman's Ideal #2 with a good appearance, easy flex, nice wet flow, and line variation from F to about  1.3 mm.  However, the tipping has pretty much shattered and one tine is longer than the other.  Tip shape is ..... complex.  The result is a rough and unpleasant writing experience.  Sadly, this nib is toast. I can't justify the cost of retipping a humble little #2, even if I were not worried about what that process would do to line width and to the temper of the alloy.

 

fpn_1528924605__tips0.jpg

 

fpn_1528924628__tips-1.jpg

 

Next, we have a 1st gen Wahl Doric (over sized) with what I think is a #5 Flexible nib.  This flows well, and flexes from 0.2 - 1.4 mm.  It does take a bit more pressure than I prefer but this is a keeper.  Despite the obvious area of wear, the tines are of about the same length, the tipping has not shattered and there is a continuous band of tipping at the very end of the nib.  Writes well.

 

fpn_1528924674__tips-2.jpg

 

Finally we have a little Mabie Todd #1 from a Blackbird.  This nib flexes with minimal pressure, varying in the range 0.35-1.9 mm.  There is a relatively small wear area at center, lots of smooth tipping forming a nice ball, equal tines and, as you would expect, this nib is a pleasure to write with.  Now, if I could just find more nibs with this group of features.

 

fpn_1528924688__tips-3.jpg

 



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#2 sidthecat

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 00:48

That sounds about right: the state of the tipping and the alignment of the tines are the biggest factor in the writing experience.

It’s the equivalent of the old proverb: “No hoof, no horse.”

#3 Honeybadgers

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 01:38

if you don't want to save that shattered #2, pass it along to someone who will! retipping vintage flex nibs is not super cheap, but it is worth doing.



#4 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 08:27

There was a very good article....but I didn't save the link...on the normal before WW2 when tipping was perfected. Before the War, tipping was lumpy, and chunks fell off.

As you show.

Smoothing can cause chunks to fall off; as reported by a few posters.

 

The longer tine.....could that have been oblique, before a piece fell off?

 

Dig up $80 in the States for who ever does the re-tipping or E-40 for the guy in Spain and have them re-tipped.


Everyone says poor Mozart dead at only 36. None say poor Mendelson, dead at only 38. His family only allowed him to start at 20, but before, musicians use to come to the Mendelson garden to steal the music of Mendelson and his sister. A good artist also, can still buy prints of his famous Scottish drawings in Scotland.

 

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

Pens/inks/paper on hold for a year....new addiction pocket watch chains. :happyberet:


#5 Honeybadgers

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:52

Also, older tipping could shatter if the nib was pressed down on during an upstroke, causing it to dig in and snap back out.



#6 sidthecat

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 16:54

I have some dip nibs with little rocks on their tips. Leroy Fairchild was the first maker to really perfect the process.
Im waiting for a Morton pen, which was supposed to use a very advanced tipping process. Ive never seen one, so Im looking forward to trying it out.

Edited by sidthecat, 15 June 2018 - 16:56.


#7 Stompie

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 18:25

Look up Greg Minuskin, he seems to do good work on all sorts of damaged and even broken nibs.

#8 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 07:01

Look up Greg Minuskin, he seems to do good work on all sorts of damaged and even broken nibs.

 

But beware, he is a gigantic d-bag if things go wrong, everything is your fault and he assumes no responsibility for his mistakes.

 

He does do spectacular work though. The catch-22 of fountain pen restorers.



#9 cunim

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 14:15

I think I will try FPNibs for retipping.  Best I can tell, Pablo will do a retip and regrind (XXF) combo for E55.  GregM is $90 for just the reitp and I suspect that will leave a pretty thick line.  If the FPN fix works, it might give me an interesting hybrid vintage flex.  Worth an experiment given how impressed I am with the FPN Jowo #6 semiflex.  The feed was a problem with that nib, but I put a Grasty J6E into it and that helps a lot.

 

BTW, I ordered one of FPN's full flexers but cancelled.  I don't really want a brush.  I was hoping to get another variation of the semiflex, but looks like the nib is sold out.  Not sure, as the web site is a bit confusing.



#10 sidthecat

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 16:54

I have had good experiences with Mr. Minuskin, including a nib that came back bent. He happily repaired it. I didn’t hurt that I blamed the Post Office.

#11 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 20:49

I have had good experiences with Mr. Minuskin, including a nib that came back bent. He happily repaired it. I didn’t hurt that I blamed the Post Office.

 

He accidentally shipped me a waterman 52 1/2 V that he forgot to remove the ink from, ruining the cardinal red ebonite. It also had a split ink sac.

 

Not only did he refuse responsibility for his mistake, when I asked him to pay return shipping, he threatened me with his lawyer.

 

And this was not my first interaction with him. I'd spent about $500 with him prior to this point and our interactions were very pleasant. He saved a parker vacumatic with a nightmare of a cracked nib, when nobody else would even LOOK at it.

 

But like I said, catch 22. The man does a spectacular job and his prices for pens are amazing (his nibwork is very expensive though, and I don't see any more of a quality versus Pablo or Mike) but catch his mood wrong and he will throw a child's temper tantrum.



#12 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 20:51

I think I will try FPNibs for retipping.  Best I can tell, Pablo will do a retip and regrind (XXF) combo for E55.  GregM is $90 for just the reitp and I suspect that will leave a pretty thick line.  If the FPN fix works, it might give me an interesting hybrid vintage flex.  Worth an experiment given how impressed I am with the FPN Jowo #6 semiflex.  The feed was a problem with that nib, but I put a Grasty J6E into it and that helps a lot.

 

BTW, I ordered one of FPN's full flexers but cancelled.  I don't really want a brush.  I was hoping to get another variation of the semiflex, but looks like the nib is sold out.  Not sure, as the web site is a bit confusing.

 

Email them. Pablo can work with you to create exactly what you want, his english and customer service are spectacular. I have a full flex and have had an 18k semiflex made by him and they were exactly what I was expecting.





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