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Modern Fountain Pens Smooth Out Better Than Vintage?

smoothing polishing nib mylar paper micromesh tines

11 replies to this topic

#1 Nestor

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 23:35

I was smoothing a few nibs today, some from modern fountain pens and some from vintage. I did notice that the final result favored the modern fountain pens and not the vintage ones, despite the fact that the same polishing method was used. Specifically I got much more buttery effect out of a plain parker IM fountain pen with a steel nib, compared to a parker 51 with a gold nib. This got me thinking whether this had to do with the tipping of the nibs and the slit cut. I imagine that modern pens take advantage of new technology which has provided better methods to apply tipping at the nib and to cut open slits for the ink to flow. Is this something that may explain the difference between the smoothness of the nibs? Meaning the parker 51 having a more "rough" (with air pockets) tipping or inner tines, due to inferior manufacturing process, compared to the one we use today. :unsure:



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#2 Brianm-14-FRMS

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 04:49

Did the Parker 51 really need "smoothing?"
Brian

#3 Nestor

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 11:25

Did the Parker 51 really need "smoothing?"

Yes it did quite a lot actually, after I inspected the nib under a microscope, the tipping was full of small pores (like empty airholes) despite that I smoothed it with some super light abrassive (0,3 micron lapping film). This is the reason why I asked if the tippings back then had imperfections.



#4 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 14:11

If a nib is gold or steel has nothing to do with the tipping........

 

It is not that modern tipping compound is better than vintage.....it is different. There was a very fine link, that showed how the major companies got rid of the expensive iridium and made other rare earth compounds, looking for cheap and hard wearing. All companies changing often..., even yearly, looking to save money and make a better than the competition tip.

 

Is the modern diamond dust rubber nib slicer better than the old metal one....could be....defiantly cheaper....could be the old one was good enough.  & No, if a laser is now used....I don't see it being better, just cheaper....no more buying lots of rubber diamond dusted disks or paying skilled wages to a disk changer.

 

Old tec, is not that out of date, and new tec ain't always better in spite of the hype....could be cheaper.  Does lasering a nib on the back make it better? Doubt it. Is cheaper or they'd stayed with the more labor intensive past.

 

The better of tipping, all has to do with the price of rare earth. Much of the 'iridium' compounds used in tipping is now made in Germany.

Companies I don't think make their own rare earth compounds any more....they order exactly what they want. Is standard good enough for a niche industry? Once each company had it's own.  I doubt that is mixed there now....cost too much in engineering and testing, when there is a company that specializes in that...........even exports to China, the rare earth capitol of the world now.

 

Tipping was perfected in WW2.

Before that lumps and bumps and small pores were normal, and be very careful smoothing pre' WW2 nibs in chunks or lumps can fall out.

 

Drag....is micro-corrosion/'Iridium' rust, from sitting a few generations in the dark of the drawer. I remove drag only to good and smooth....in to me butter smooth is way too much work....and for what?

Perhaps I have better paper.............good and smooth lets me know something about the paper and the ink...........where butter smooth....is a bit too slick. (Really, really too lazy to go the extra mile....that I didn't need.)

 

 

Butter smooth is a more modern desire after micro-mesh was broadcast here on the com as a way to get it. Modern nibs ...Pelikan fat and blobby semi-nails., MB a fat  stubbish in wider nibs, are butter smooth.................a problem often happens with butter smooth, is baby bottom, from over polishing.

 

Once Regular Flex was normal issue...it is a springy comfortable flex rate (don't know what a soft Japanese nib is)........but the Pelikan 200 is the classic regular flex nib. I do find them real good and smooth.... not quite Butter smooth...and I see no reason to want it in a 200. The nib gives a good smooth ride. And the ride is part of smooth...IMO.

 

Not every nib 'must' be butter smooth...or how can you play with inks or papers.

 

One does need al least one  'toothy' pen.....just to have one....or an old Aurora....toothy = feels like writing with a pencil.

I do have some butter smooth nibbed pens............It don't mean I reach for them often. I prefer the good and smooth vintage feeling....especially with a semi-flex nib. If I end up with a butter smooth nib in my hand..........sigh....it's not the End of the World. :) (Really I'm not going to run outside to the sidewalk and un-smooth it.)

 

Now nail and semi-nail is the regular issue....so must be butter smooth....in there is no spring of comfort to them, like regular flex. Parker was always (Outside of English made ones, do have a semi-flex Jr. Duofold) nail and semi-nail from the 'mid-30's on. And Parker of course was considered smooth in it's day...So was Sheaffer, who had regular flex, nails and in the '50's a rare semi-flex.

 

 

I grew up pre butter smooth.....even if the nibs were nails, like Parker or some Sheaffers;  so  I'm quite happy with 'good and smooth' the level under butter smooth..............which has problems with slick papers.

 

If one only uses poor paper butter smooth is an advantage.

 

The strange thing is so many noobies want butter smooth, yet some come back after a year and want to know how to get rid of butter smooth.

 

By the way, outside the P-51 & IM, what other pens did you smooth?

 

A nib has certain geometry, and the form of the tipping is there for a reason, so one should be very careful to keep it as it is. (Also a good reason to go only to good and smooth, in stead of grinding and grinding looking for butter smooth.)

There is a big difference between vintage, semi-vintage and modern Pelikan nib tip shape.........a lot of that has to do with what flex the nib had.

 

So a round modern semi-nail nib is different from an oblong semi-vintage regular flex tipping. A modern round ball is easier to make butter smooth.

But does the nib still have a clean line.....if it did? I don't expect a modern round ball nib to have a clean line.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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

 

 

 


#5 Nestor

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 18:08

If a nib is gold or steel has nothing to do with the tipping........

I agree that many people seek to give back some feedback to butter smooth nibs. I am not one of those people. To me a nib that isn't smoothed is a nib with flaw. I can forgive that, when this occurs in lower tier fountain pens. However it is not something I can tolerate in higher end fountain pens. But there have been times, that I smoothed a nib so much, seeking the buttery hover-like effect, that removed the whole tipping material (R.I.P. Sheaffer Valiant). So at the end of the day, if i have to choose a nib with a feedback, and a nib which is so much polished that no tipping is left, then sure I will choose the feedbacky nib. But that doesn't mean that I will be happy about it. It simply means that the other option was even worse.

 

The pens that I smoothed, was a Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique, a Parker Sonnet, a Parker IM, a Parker Duofold Jr and a Parker 51. All modern ones came out just fine. But this perhaps has to do with the fact that their tipping, had a round ball-like shape compared to the vintage ones which where more flat less rounded. That may explain why modern ones came out smoother than the vintage ones. 

By the way I don't really get what you mean by nail and semi-nail but I understand your points and I thank you for them. :)



#6 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 20:10

""But this perhaps has to do with the fact that their tipping, had a round ball-like shape compared to the vintage ones which where more flat less rounded. That may explain why modern ones came out smoother than the vintage ones.""

I think that is part of the reason.

 

 

Rigid nib, manifold, nail. 1 X tine spread, hardly any or no tine bend........or will spread it's tines once wider :( if one benches in the excess of 450 pounds. Really got to put your shoulder into it to get any movement at all of the tines.

P-51, 800, many other pens.

 

Semi-nail 2 X tine spread....when well mashed will spread the tines 2 X...not much tine bend.......like a P-75 or a modern post post '97 400 or 600.

Nail and semi-nail are harder for cross over ball point barbarians to bend into pretzels, so there is less repair costs. Now regular issue.

 

There are three nibs in the 3 X tine spread set.

Regular flex is a nice springy ride....that can be pretzeled so it is no longer the once normal issue it was.

If well mashed, will spread it's tines 3 X a light down stroke, and has some tine bend. Sheaffer once made some, made nails and a rare '50's semi-flex also. Esterbrook made some, Pelikan 200 is one. The semi-vintage '82-97 era is regular flex also.

Semi-flex needs half as much pressure as a regular flex to have a tad more tine bend and 3 X tine spread.

Maxi-semi-flex half of that or 1/4th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex to 3 X.

 

Super flex is more than a 3 X tine spread; 4 X, normally 5 or 6 x (7x is rare except for sprung nibs on Youtube and Ebay)..........and a marketable more ease of pressure to bend and spread the tines.

 

As a rough guide for noobies....in the more superflex nibs one has the more variate there is to find.

 

Easy Full Flex, half of Maxi's pressure....or 1/8th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex to 3X.

Wet Noodle, half of Easy Full Flex, or 1/16th of regular flex.

Weak Kneed Wet Noodle.................much less than a Wet Noodle.... I ran into a 1920's MB Safety Pen that was one...........no idea how much easier it was....didn't have a wet noodle with me. Did remind me of dip pens.

The term Weak Kneed Wet Noodle was invented by John Sowobada(sp?)/Oxnard on the com; a well know English nib grinder. He don't like the term nibmeister when applied to himself.

 

Then there are superflex dip pen nibs, like the Hunt 99-100-101 or Gillette 303/404 that make a wet noodle look uncooked. 

 

It is a system that works relatively well if one has a regular flex nib. :rolleyes:

 

There must be 1000's hiding out there....and in many's collection, in that use to be the regular issue nib, but it appears no one knows they have one. I see no feed back....Oh I got one, my Sheaffer is one....or well, got to go to the Esterbrook subsection. They know some of the nibs are regular flex. Same with enough Wearever or Venus nibs. It wasn't just cheap pens that had regular flex.

I just don't know US pens to direct one to the exact Sheaffer models. Same goes for the French Waterman. I have an English P-45 that is regular flex, but have no Stateside model which I'd suspect to be a semi-nail or nail.

As mentioned Pelikan 200, and semi-vintage 400's are such. The 120 also.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 21 January 2019 - 20:13.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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

 

 

 


#7 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 00:02

"""To me a nib that isn't smoothed is a nib with flaw.""""

 

What exactly is meant by that?...........If that is to mean, butter smooth or nothing, I disagree.

 

Smooth yes, but to what level?

 

Good and smooth is the level under butter smooth, and use to be as far as I can tell normal. Is what one gets with a Pelikan 200 when looking at modern. Nice and smooth.....but not quite butter smooth slick. I have had NOS pens that are are good and smooth level.

 

Butter smooth really came in when micro-mesh became common. (Coming over from the good and smooth gel/hybrid ball points helped, when a noobie was told old info....like a fountain pen is smoother than a ball point by far. Pre-gel/hybrid days. (Over here in Germany we are often 10 years behind the power curve. Free ball points in gel/hybrid is new to us. We are use to plowing the south forty with out the mule of the old fashioned ball point.)

 

When nibs became wide and blooby and often over polished to baby bottom on better pens....and cheap Chinese pens were not smooth....so had to be made butter smooth....in butter smooth had become expected as a supposed norm.  Luckily one can remove butter smooth real easy. :D

 

With good and smooth one don't have to worry about sliding around on slick paper like with butter smooth.

 

Is that feeling the paper? Could be, could also be good and smooth, where it don't slide on slick paper but there is no drag. Is the paper there; yes. But if one is not paying attention to the paper, it don't matter. It's smooth. ...just not slick. Of course poor paper is poor paper.

 

If a pen has sat in the dark of a drawer for a couple generations, it can and most likely will have developed drag. Micro-corrosion/'iridium' rust...........that has of course to be smoothed away.

I've done that to many old pens; bringing it to good and smooth/nice and smooth............will admit I could have worked on the nib for a very long time to get it butter smooth...........but I didn't need too. Too lazy and for me not necessary.

It's like if I put my mind to it I could make many an old pen look NOS if I polish it a lot, but a well maintained look was good enough; honest and required a lot less work.

And was good enough for me..........same with the nib..........I don't say....well not often.....where is my butter smooth nib.

Yes, I do have a few butter smooth pens. I'm not going to go out and sharpen them on the sidewalk to get rid of slickness. I do use them when it is their turn. If I was to get a bit OCD, I could use a dry ink....to get rid of butter smooth.

I could use a more lubricated wetter ink with good and smooth nibs to go little slicker.

 

:P Hummm...I could find my wettest, most lubricated ink, ink a butter smooth with it and skate on Triomphe. Or some Avery Zweckform 120 g glossy laser paper...which is much slicker than the Clairfonetaine. 

One can smooth a nib with the proper ink and paper with no work at all. ;)

 

Nib width makes a difference in feel also.

 

Paper makes a difference. 100-50% cotton is slower paper as are Laid and Linen Effect. Common copy paper is a good match for butter smooth. Cheap paper needs butter smooth most.

Good paper, even economical good paper like Oxford Optic 90g/used in Red&Black notebooks, or Clairefontaine Velote 90g will work fine with both good and smooth and butter smooth. They are not slick papers.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 23 January 2019 - 00:26.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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

 

 

 


#8 Honeybadgers

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 06:28

Short answer? No.

 

Long answer? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.


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#9 JonSzanto

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 21:28

In addition to another no, one thing the OP has completely overlooked is that when they are working on a P51 nib, they are working on a nib that has already written for somewhere in the vicinity of 50 years. It may very well have worn in some unusual patterns, you don't know how well or not the pen was treated, etc, etc. Beyond that is what can only be called a humorously small sample set upon which to draw a conclusion.

Setting aside the fact that I can't particularly stand a "buttery-smooth" nib, I've got nails in 100-year-old Sheaffers that skate across the page with just enough friction to let you know you are contacting the paper. Some came like that, some got like that with almost no work involved. Vintage nibs are not a problem.


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#10 Nestor

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 21:29

Short answer? No.

 

Long answer? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Short answer? Ok.

Long answer? Oooooooooooooooooooooookkkkkk.  :lticaptd:



#11 JonSzanto

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 22:05

Short answer? Ok.

Long answer? Oooooooooooooooooooooookkkkkk.  :lticaptd:

 

That's a great response!! We're not trying to hammer you, just strongly set our thoughts. No matter what, the world of nibs is a lot of fun.


"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."
~ Benjamin Franklin

#12 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 00:37

There is bound to be a ball point com....might have 50 members, 25 still alive.

 

How was I to know I was to need a 64 color crayon box..........there was a day when I thought 10-12 pens and ten inks would be more than enough. :D :lticaptd: :rolleyes:

 

I still learn something....often every week. If I stay away from paper....there in spite of having some 35 or so am still a 'noobie'................I have to stay away from the Ink Section...........I'm falling so, so far behind............hell I was behind 5 years ago, and there's a new ink company every year since....and :crybaby:.

 

Seriously we are living in the Golden Age of Inks.

 

Your P-51 is from the Golden Age of Pens..'20's?....to @ 1970.

How was I to know I was living through the Golden Age of Paper....no one told us.................that ended @ 1980. :bunny01:

 

We are here to have fun...BS a bit, scribble some....not necessary to actually learn to write, though there are some that have.

I have enough pens. I only need 5 or so more. I believe I said the same thing when I had only 50. At 75-90, I only need a couple, three or four more. :unsure:

Actually, it's Paper Time.

Some one gave me a small LIFE, noble note section..........real good Japanese paper....don't cost the world either.........got to go get another glass milk bottle.

Ain't nothing worse in the world than look at than a row of empty milk bottles.  :gaah:

 

 

Suggest you get some good to better paper with every three inks you buy, that way you don't fall behind the power curve. The ink dances on a floor of paper. :thumbup:


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 24 January 2019 - 00:38.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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

 

 

 




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