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Conklin Glider


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#1 TMann

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:54

When you read through the reviews and threads here on FPN, there are a number of pen companies that are frequently mentioned: Pelikan, Sheaffer, Parker, Montblanc...and of course, from the vocal minority, Stipula. :D However, the name Conklin rare seems to come up around here. There was one review, as I recall, of the Conklin Mark Twain, but besides that the Conklin brand seems to fly below the radar screen around here.

So with that in mind, it shouldn't be too surprising that I wasn't really planning on purchasing the Conklin Glider that I am reviewing today. I happened to be browsing on the Green Board a few weeks back, and saw a really nice looking blue pen being advertised for sale. I have a thing for blue pens, and the price was very reasonable, so I jumped on it, not really knowing what to expect. The pen arrived a few days later and was even prettier than it appeared in the web photos. The color is called "Sapphire Blue", and the cap, barrel and section are all made out of the same marbled-blue acrylic material. The nib is made of polished steel, and clip and cap ring are also silver-colored. The filling system is a standard c/c, and the pen came with a reasonably sized converter.

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The pen itself is large, at least when compared to the other pens in my collection. It measure 5 3/4 inches when capped, and 6 1/2 inches when posted. (141 mm capped, and 168 mm posted.) However, it is not a heavy pen, and it feels as if it is about the same weight as my Pelikan m600. The Glider is a very comfortable pen to hold, and is well-balanced, whether it is being used posted or unposted.

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My Blue Pen Collection: Conklin Glider, Filcao Columbia "Gem of the Ocean," Pelikan m605, Parker 51, Parker Sonnet, Sheaffer NoNonsense.


My Glider originally came with a very smooth writing, steel nib. It wrote with a line that was somewhere between a fine and a medium, and seemed to be very reliable. I noted no hesitation or skipping after writing for a couple of pages. However, not being content to just leave it as it was, I decided to turn the nib into a stub nib. A stub nib, for those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, is a type of italic nib that has rounded edges and is smooth enough to be used for everyday writing. I had done a number of minor adjustments to some of my fountain pens in the past; I had even made stubs out of a couple of the "cheapies" that I had. However this was going to be the first time that I had ever modified one of my "nice" pens. It took me a number of hours yesterday evening and this afternoon getting the nib into it's new shape. All in all, it turned out pretty well. (I'll fill you in on the details later; the process wasn't entirely straightforward. :D)

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The pen writes really nicely, now. It is a narrow stub, so there is only a small amount of line variation. However, it's smooth enough that I can write a long letter with almost as much speed as I can with a standard round nib.

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So in conclusion, let me say that that I'm very pleased with my new blue pen. It is much nicer than I had expected it to be. It's attractive, reliable and very comfortable to hold. The marbled exterior adds a bit of interest to my otherwise understated (boring) pen collection and the stub nib adds a little bit of interest to my writing. It's definitely going to be a long-term member of my collection. :D

TMann

Edited by TMann, 14 November 2005 - 15:20.


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#2 Ray

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 08:01

What a great review, more than enough to make me want one as soon as possible!

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#3 Maja

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 08:34

Hi Ted,
Well I have a Glider as well...but mine is red and white (the so-called "koi" pattern) and I love it :) It is a large pen but one of the few I am comfortable using unposted (I like to post most of my pens) so I am glad it is well-balanced and not heavy. I'm glad you got up the nerve to try stubbing one of your "nicer" pens; that's basically where I am. I think I may have created a stub nib on my Hero "Doctor" pen (I only wanted to smooth the pen's nib, but I think I stubbed it in the process :rolleyes: ) so I am going to try doing that on a couple of cheapies before attempting to stub a more $$ pen.

Thanks for the excellent review (and photos) and congratulations on the pen and the stubbing job. They both look great!
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#4 Roger

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 13:20

Wonderful review, :D Doc. Not only interesting to read but your photography was beautiful. My favorite kind of images, the pens themselves and that's it. Also, your proportioning of the images to the size screen resolutions that I suspect most of us use :) was a thoughtful touch.

I have read of a few people that have talked about flow issues with Conklin, but you (and Maja) don't seem to have noticed any. Did I also read that Conklin is being made in Italy, somewhere? :unsure:

Really a pretty pen, and your first foray into nib customizing a "better pen" is very encouraging. I have a really nice Arkansas stone here (had to have good sharp knives to field dress those deer, you know) and the finer mylar to handle the finishing, so that is going to be my next learning event.

I like the simplicity of the Glider. It almost looks like a big brother :D to the Columbia next to it.

A very useful review for me, thanks.
Roger
Southern Arizona, USA

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#5 antoniosz

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 13:22

Nice review. The Glider is a very nice pen with beautiful plastics with a very low aftermarket price. The reasoon for this price is that the converters included in the pen were "bad" (they made the ink to clink on the wall of the converter). But as a result you can find them around $30-40 which is way lower than other pens with steel nibs.

#6 Roger

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 13:36

Nice review. The Glider is a very nice pen with beautiful plastics with a very low aftermarket price. The reasoon for this price is that the converters included in the pen were "bad" (they made the ink to clink on the wall of the converter). But as a result you can find them around $30-40 which is way lower than other pens with steel nibs.

You are touching on the flow issue that I mentioned, Antonios. What have owners done about this? Does the converter resist the usual soapy washes, and can any other converters be used?
Roger
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#7 davyr

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 15:45

very nice review and pen, tmann. i wonder how many nibs you altered before feeling comfortable enough to do it to your conklin? did you happen to ruin any? :blush:
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#8 southpaw

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 16:10

Thanks for the review. I've toyed with the idea of getting a Conklin - I like the looks of several of their pens, plus they make some larger sized ones which is appealing. Good price-point on many of them. I haven't yet due to reported QC issues, but you don't seem to have experienced any. Perhaps Conklin has improved??? Makes me reconsider.
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#9 TMann

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 17:51

Southpaw,

Hey there! I have only had my Conklin for a few weeks, so I don't know if my good experience is typical, or is somewhat of an anomoly. However, as you stated, they're nice looking pens, at pretty reasonable prices, so it might be worth taking the risk.

TMann

#10 TMann

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 18:01

My Nib Grinding History: a follow-up to my Conklin review

My first experience with nib grinding occured a few months ago. I was a little dissatisfied with the nib on my Sheaffer Prelude, as it was toothier than I was expecting. I did a quick web search, found a couple of good articles on nib grinding/smooth, and decided that I would try and smooth out Sheaffer nib myself. The results were less than satisfactory; I was a bit too aggresssive with the 1500 grit paper than I was using and ended up making a slight flat spot on the nib of my pen. Doh! I played with it for a while, but finally ended up purchasing a "professionally ground" stub nib from the nice folks at Pendemonium.com which still resides on my Prelude.

Unfortunately...this initial experience with the Sheaffer only served to peak my interest in this black art of nib modification. I did some more reading, bought a 20x loupe, bought some high-quality smoothing papers from Richard Binder, and because reasonably adept at "tuning" my nibs. I like my pens to write a fairly wet line, so most of mine have been tweaked to write that way. This sort of minor nib maintenance is not THAT difficult after you've done a few and I feel reasonably assured that I'm not going to be ruining any of my pens that way.

As far as nib grinding, though, my experience is much more limited. I ended up modifying that original Sheaffer nib and turned it into a useable stub. I also made a stub out of an old Parker Reflex that I had. I read everything that I could on the Web about nib grinding. And lastly, I spent a lot of time looking at some of the stub nibs that I've had in my posession, trying to see how the true "nib-meisters" shaped their nibs. Even with all of that though, I must admit that I was a bit nervous about working on a pen that I actually cared about! I took my time with the project, though, and made sure that I carefully thought through each step of the way. There were a number of articles that I found particularly helpful:

Wim's Nib Smoothing Primer
Ludwig Tan's Description of Italic Nibs
Richard Binder's Article on Nib Basics on the Pentrace website.
Richard Binder's Nib Descriptions from his website.

The tough thing about my particular project, is that I was trying to take a somewhat narrow nib, and make it flat enough to give some line variation, while at the same time keeping the corners rounded enough to make for a smooth writing experience. It would have been a much easier project if the nib had been a broad nib to start with, or if I was trying to make a sharp italic type nib.

Anyways...it was a fun project. I have a couple more inexpensive FP's that I can practice on, so I think that I'm going to see if I can improve my techniques a bit.

Thanks for reading about my little adventure! Hopefully it'll inspire a few of you to take the plunge and start learning how to modify nib for yourself!

TMann

#11 TMann

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 20:47

One last point to make about modifying fountain pen nibs...

Roger and I were just talking off-line about a nib that he has from Richard Binder, and about the amazing amount of skill that goes into making a good stub or italic nib. My brief foray into the world of nib modification has made me even more impressed with the work of Richard, John Mottishaw and others. If you ever have the opportunity to look at a Binder nib or Mottishaw nib under a microscope, it is astounding to observe how smooth and even they've managed to make their nibs. OTOH, if you were to take a look at my amateurish attempt at making a stub nib, you would be also be amazed...amazed that this pen is even able to put out a normal line! Seriously. It's not as easy as it looks! The difference in skill between making a nib that works and one that works well is pretty significant. Remember that you're dealing with a piece of metal that is smaller than the head of an eraser and forming it into a complex shape that will allow a smooth flow of pigmented water onto the paper. It's pretty wild, when you think about it. :D

TMann

Edited by TMann, 14 November 2005 - 20:48.


#12 Maja

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 03:29

Thanks for posting your experiences with nib maintenance (or smoothing as I like to call it) and nib grinding, Ted. You've given some would-be nibmeisters a lot of hope around here :lol:
Richard's 3-D images of various nib types really shows the difference between the various nib types. It's quite amazing that he (and others) are able to grind such a small surface down to achieve that appearance! Admirable...
Still, it's nice to know that with patience, know-how and the right tools a person can someday be able to at least smooth his/her own pen's scratchy nib at home. :)


P.S. So Wim....you changed the title of your article and added some more info at the end? ;)

Edited by Maja, 16 November 2005 - 03:31.

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#13 Slush99

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 04:22

Beautiful pen! I should get one. Nice review! :drool:
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#14 handlebar

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 19:43

Thanks for the review!!! I only this last week received my Conklin Glider Forest Green!! What a delightful pen i must say indeed! Beautiful colors and a fine point make it a delightful pen to write with.
I must say i was hesitant to buy it as i had tried the Twain series and was not impressed with it. It was too light and just didn't "feel" good to me. But the price was good on this new Glider and so i gave it a shot. Glad i did.

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#15 Bill

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 22:01

Is there a source for nibs for this pen? Are they user changeable?

I have the Blue Saphire Glider and like its handling but the medium nib is too broad for my taste.

Bill

#16 calvin

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 18:29

I have been looking at the Conklin Glider and was pleased to find your review - it was really nice. Whle reading it, I noticed that your collection includes a Filcao Columbia. I don't see a review for this pen in the new listing of 'Fountain Pen Reviews', have you considered doing a review of it?

Calvin






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