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Noodler's Ahab Setup For Beginners



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Initially I didn't want to make a new topic for this, but considering the amount of confusion surrounding the new Ahab, I think it's appropriate. There are already numerous threads about it, and some individuals giving really helpful advice, so I didn't want to be selfish and wanted to add my 2 cents by writing this up.

 

Consider this a beginner's guide of how to set up your new Ahab if you never pulled a feed out of your pen, and don't have a clue about how to adjust things. I'm not an expert. This is actually the first time I pulled a nib/feed from my pen, and I want to help people who don't know where to start.

 

The point that has to be stressed again here, is that there is a high chance that your pen won't write well out of the box! Why? Simply because this is a pen designed for people who want to customize, and tinker with it. If you want a pen that works from the start with no intervention, this pen is not for you. Getting this pen to write the way you want may require nothing, but chances are it WILL require some DIY. Now don't get me wrong, you don't need to do any serious manufacturing edits on the pen.

 

It just takes patience to experiment and find what's best for you. If you have it, this pen might well become one of your very favorites, considering the price tag. Keep in mind that having a 20$ pen with these features is practically a miracle. Don't get upset or let down by it not working out of the box. If you have the patience to set this pen up, it will reward you. If you don't, maybe avoiding it will save you some frustration.

 

That's pretty much it for a rough introduction to what this pen is. It's meant to be tinkered with, not to be working from the beginning. Having done some research about it, and knowing this, I bought my first Ahab last week (a clear demonstrator from Goulet Pens), knowing what I bought. I didn't expect it to write perfectly out of the box. Frankly, I didn't expect it to write at all in the beginning. My expectations were not so far off. Let me take you through the steps I did to turn a practically unusable pen to a writing delight. Some of these steps may not be necessary for some pens, but I'm listing everything to keep it simple. You may want to skip some of them if you feel like it, and then return back to them.

 

1. Disassembly

First of all, don't be afraid to take the thing apart. Seriously. You can do no harm, and putting it back together is deadly easy. To be sure, take a photo of the nib/feed from the bottom of the pen so you know exactly how it was positioned originally. But frankly, the original position doesn't matter at all. You will most probably want to find a better one. Nevertheless, just for the feeling of playing things safe, go ahead, take a photo. Another thing I want to introduce is counting the fins. By fins I mean the thin channels on the feed, which are perpendicular to the large, top & bottom channels of the feed, both running along the length of the feed. The number of fins visible (i.e. those out of the section) will become the main measure of setting up the nib/feed position.

 

So, with your photo taken, hold your pen horizontally, grab the nib and feed with your fingers, and just pull them out. If it goes tough, try adding a bit of a twisting motion, or grab the nib/feed assembly with a paper towel for a better grip.

 

The rest of the pen is disassembled easily as everything is threaded.

 

2. Changing the O-ring (optional)

I don't know about the new batches of Ahabs, but mine had the old O-ring in place. So my next step after disassembling the pen was to change the O-ring. I can only say that the original one was very very hard to move in the piston, and the new works like a delight.

 

There's a very good video on how to change the O-ring done by Brian Goulet here:

 

3. Cleaning 1

Cleaning is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective techniques how to get this pen writing. From what I gather, most of the feeds are full of manufacturing dirt; and this was true for mine as well. I could see, even before pulling it out, that it's dirty. This dirt prevents ink from flowing, not mentioning oils which may be still left on the feed from the manufacturing process.

 

Having the pen apart, take some soapy water and an old, hard toothbrush. Pay special attention to the feed. Scrub it very thoroughly with soapy water. I also cleaned other parts of the pen, but that's not necessary I guess.

 

The final step in cleaning the feed I did was to run the blunt side of an x-acto knife through the fins and channels. Be careful NOT to cut anything! You can also use a toothpick, or something less aggressive which is thin enough. Just run the thing through the feed to make sure no dirt is left there.

 

4. Assembly

Putting the pen back together is easy really. Note that there is a slot in which the nib needs to go in the section. Finding this slot is easy with a demonstrator visually, but you can also find it by turning the nib in the section until it snaps in place. That's where the nib stays.

 

Now the actual assembly is a matter of personal preference. I found it best to put the nib and feed together, slide them into the section like that, and then pushing the nib all the way to the end of the slit. After that, I adjusted my feed as needed. Note that it is very important that the top feed channel is aligned with the slit of the nib! It is imperative that they are aligned, as this can make a big difference in flow. You may have a feed that has an asymmetrical tip - don't care about that, be sure to align the channel.

 

Now about the actual nib/feed configuration - most users find that having 9 complete fins (i.e. fins that go all the way to the bottom channel) visible is an optimal "go-to" setting. I can only confirm this. My configuration is that the 9th slit is aligned with the end of the section, and it works fine. Don't be afraid to repeat the process, you will be shortly an assembling pro :)

 

5. Cleaning 2

What I did with the pen assembled was the cleaning I do with all my pens. Take a glass of soapy water, and run it to and from the pen using the piston. Repeat this a few times.

Then, take a glass with clear water and do the same again to be sure that any soap left in the pen is flushed out. Simple as that.

 

Don't forget to let the pen dry afterwards. What I did was to disassemble it again and let it dry, and then put it back together again, but that's up to you.

 

6. Setup

Now this is the dreaded part which leads to frustration with many users. But don't be afraid, it just takes some patience, nothing more.

 

The amount of flow largely depends on the relative position of the nib and feed. Now remember that the nib has a set place in the section, so you will only be moving the feed. Generally speaking, the further you pull the feed out of the pen, the more flow you will get. Similarly, the more you push it into the section, the less you will get. As I said, this is valid generally, not absolutely.

 

So - ink your pen, get some towels and get ready. Try to write. Too little flow? Put your pen nib up, wipe the nib/feed not to get ink all over your fingers, and pull it out slightly. I find this easy by holding the pen in my right hand, my index finger holding the nib and my thumb sliding the feed up or down. Too much flow? Push the feed a bit into the section.

 

Now remember that we are speaking about very small adjustments. When changing the feed position, don't move it more than a milimeter or so. Very small distances make big differences. Also, don't forget to keep the feed aligned with the nib slit.

 

 

For most people, the process ends here. But for others, it doesn't. It didn't for me. I was still getting very little flow - I did a 2-3cm shaded stroke, and the flow was gone for minutes, or even hours. Then, when I tried again, the same happened. Regardless of the feed position. If you find that the pen is still too dry, after having the feed in the "wettest" position, proceed to the next step.

 

7. Fin enlargement

NOTE: This actually includes cutting the feed. You can't take this step back, so be careful, and take it slow.

 

There have been two threads about fin enlargement, which is mentioned in the leaflet packed with the pen. You can find the threads here and here. I'm going to extract the most important information and describe what I did.

 

Important: note that every feed is different. Some people have an OK flow from the beginning, some have to cut it. Be sure to inspect your pen and feed thoroughly, and be sure that you WANT to do adjustments before you do them. Cut the feed only when everything else fails. That being said, from the photos around here, and from inspecting my own feed, I can tell each is different in how many fins extend to the top channel. On my feed, all of the fins were cut to the channel on the left side. On the right side, none of them were cut to the top channel at all. This is not a defect. This is intentional, to let YOU customize the amount of flow.

 

Basically what I did was to cut the first two fin vents into the top channel. This was quick and easy. It's best done under a loupe/magnifying glass, because it's pretty hard to see anything in that size. You can use whatever sharp tool you have at hand, be it a scalpel, an x-acto knife or something similar. What I used was this very thin saw instrument with small teeth. Again, be sure to go slow, and to inspect twice before cutting further.

 

The question of how many channels you need to cut depends on how wet you want the pen you write, how many vents are cut to the channel on your feed. This may mean that you need to cut NO fins at all, or as many as 3 or 4. I recommend not cutting more than 1-2 at a time, because the difference is huge.

 

After cutting a fin or two, don't forget to rinse the feed thoroughly using the techniques described above.

 

---------------------------------------------

 

This is all I've done to my pen, and I can tell you that it's one fine pen after the adjustments. In the beginning, there was almost no flow, I literally couldn't use the flex because it would railroad too soon. After I opened the two fins, the flow is a lot better, a lot more wet, but the fine point ability is retained!

 

I cut the first two at a time, however, I still recommend going even slower, because the difference is very big and it might be too much for you.

 

Just to show you what the pen is capable after the edits, here are these pictures. In the first one, you can see a fine line comparison with a Waterman Perspective with a fine nib (black ink). (Neglect the text, it's a slovak poem :P) The shaded strokes were done in a normal pace.

 

The second scan shows when railroading kicks in. The shaded strokes there were done as fast as possible, so it's incredible that the pen keeps up that well! After it begins railroading, it takes ~5 seconds to start again. This was minutes to hours before my adjustments!

 

Picture no. 1:

http://www51.zippyshare.com/v/22293290/file.html

 

Picture no. 2:

http://www51.zippyshare.com/v/6369153/file.html

 

Just to be sure that this was no coincidence, I left the pen nib up overnight, but it still writes well!

 

-------------------------------------------

 

I hope this helped some people and cleared some confusion. I would hereby want to thank Nathan for designing this marvelous pen, the people at Goulet Pens for the great service they provide, and to all the members of this forum which contributed and helped me become a happy Ahab user :)

 

Don't give up on this pen, and you will like it ;)

 

Here are some threads which might be of interest, and from which much of the information above was extracted:

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/208348-noodlers-ahab-flex-pen/

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/209380-noodlers-ahab-flex-adjustment-tips/

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/209439-ahab-pen-opening-up-fin-vents-with-photos/page__p__2175615__hl__ahab__fromsearch__1#entry2175615

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/209438-noodlers-ahab-pen-writing-adjustment/page__p__2175614__hl__ahab__fromsearch__1#entry2175614

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/208562-noodlers-ahab-troubles/

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/210238-ahab-feed-update-from-nathan-mr-noodlers/

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thank you so much! i just received an Ahab as a holiday present and it has proven to be a slow starter. your tutorial is very clear and easy to follow, and a quick cleaning job has taken care of the slow starts. i am loving this pen! thank you again!.

"Hell Verde Conquered."- Percival Harrison Fawcett

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WOW! Very nice, comprehensive post right there. Thanks for taking the time to summarize all that!

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

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This is all I've done to my pen, and I can tell you that it's one fine pen after the adjustments. In the beginning, there was almost no flow, I literally couldn't use the flex because it would railroad too soon. After I opened the two fins, the flow is a lot better, a lot more wet, but the fine point ability is retained!

 

Thanks very much for your great write-up. A lot of work, and it is most appreciated.

 

So... Did opening those two fins take care of the railroading?

--

Glenn (love those pen posses)

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You're welcome, I'm always happy to help when I can :)

 

So... Did opening those two fins take care of the railroading?

 

Yes, it did. As you can see in the scans, those long strokes can be done practically forever, so that means flex writing without railroading.

 

HOWEVER: The above is a Waterman Florida Blue filled in the piston. When I filled the pen as an eyedropper with J.Herbin Ambre de Birmaine; the flow is noticeably drier. I don't know whether this is because of the ink or because of the eyedropper fill. I definitely want to use it as an eyedropper however. So I'll do some more research, fill it as it originally was, then fill it with Waterman as an eyedropper and see.

 

Maybe opening a channel or two more will be needed.

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Note that it is very important that the top feed channel is aligned with the slit of the nib! It is imperative that they are aligned, as this can make a big difference in flow. You may have a feed that has an asymmetrical tip - don't care about that, be sure to align the channel.

 

Your note there about asymmetrical tips on the feeds pointed me to the exact place to fix my flow problems. Thank you for mentioning this - my Ahab is now producing a constant flow instead of on / off :)

"...using a fountain pen should feel like riding a unicorn through a field of cupcakes during a rainstorm of scotch while eating bacon" - Dan Smith

"Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn't try it on" - Billy Connolly

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Being a newbie, some photos would be very helpful, and appreciated. I agree with the last post, these pens shouldn't take that much work. I have 3 of them, and 2 just leak ink like crazy- is this nib creep?

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$20 or $200 it SHOULD write right out of the box! These posts make it sound like it is a do-it-yourself pen construction kit!

 

The red line in the post is for people like you. It IS a do-it-yourself construction kit! That's what it's about. If you're uncomfortable with it, don't buy it, that's it. The thing that it doesn't write right is actually an advantage, because it allows YOU to customize it. If you don't want to, fine, don't buy it. The pen is designed for people who do.

 

Not even to mention that what's writing 'right' ? Everyone has a different 'writing right', and this pen allows you to fine tune that. For 20$, that's an incredible value. If you don't see it as a value, no problem. My advice stays: stay away from the pen.

 

It's completely normal that some people like this pen and some don't. You just have to understand that the pen is directed at a different audience, and the premise that it SHOULD write fine out of the box is simply false for this pen, and denies its concept.

 

 

Re. photos - I don't have a camera at hand right now, so I can't post any photos. But there's nothing new I would introduce. Check the threads I linked to, they are full of important photos.

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Here's an update on my further testing of the pen.

 

After numerous testing sessions, overnight sits, piston and eyedropper fills, and countless flushes and cleans, I've found out three very important things:

 

1. The two principles at fight are ink keeping up with your fast flex writing, and how wet the line is. By enlarging the vents, the ink can keep up with faster writing, so you will get less railroading. At the same time however, more ink comes out all the time, so your flex writing will become much wetter. You have to find a compromise between these two.

 

As for me, I've cut the third channel, and the pen worked OK with Waterman Florida Blue. No railroading, pretty wet, but not a gusher. Then I tried J.Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, and the line is even wetter.

 

2. Every time you pull the nib/feed out and put it back again, it's different. I thought this was just me, but now I believe it isn't. Even when you disassemble the nib/feed from the section, and then put it again carefully, the same way it was before, the result may be different.

 

I don't know why this is, but I repeatedly pulled the nib/feed out and put it back again while inked, and sometimes there was quite a difference in flow

 

3. Once railroading was taken care of, I found out that there is another serious issue - feathering and bleeding. The tines are very, VERY sharp. Combined with wet flow, this pen feathers and bleeds incredibly on cheap paper, and sometimes even on higher quality paper. You can clearly see the lines that the tines carve into the paper.

 

This is also dependent on ink. The Waterman I mentioned was fine to write with on ordinary inkjet paper, while the Herbin feathers so much that it's unusable. Which is really a pity, 'cause I really wanted to use that ink on daily basis with this pen :(

 

Now all I wish for is that the pen wouldn't feather, and that I would have some more feeds to play with.

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$20 or $200 it SHOULD write right out of the box! These posts make it sound like it is a do-it-yourself pen construction kit!

 

The red line in the post is for people like you. It IS a do-it-yourself construction kit! That's what it's about. If you're uncomfortable with it, don't buy it, that's it. The thing that it doesn't write right is actually an advantage, because it allows YOU to customize it. If you don't want to, fine, don't buy it. The pen is designed for people who do.

 

Not even to mention that what's writing 'right' ? Everyone has a different 'writing right', and this pen allows you to fine tune that. For 20$, that's an incredible value. If you don't see it as a value, no problem. My advice stays: stay away from the pen.

 

It's completely normal that some people like this pen and some don't. You just have to understand that the pen is directed at a different audience, and the premise that it SHOULD write fine out of the box is simply false for this pen, and denies its concept.

 

 

Re. photos - I don't have a camera at hand right now, so I can't post any photos. But there's nothing new I would introduce. Check the threads I linked to, they are full of important photos.

By "right out of the box" I meant as soon as it came out of the box, not the manner in which the pen "writes." And if it is a do-it-yourself kit, it should mention it in the ads for it.

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A contrarian experience, my Arizona Sunset performed OOB awesome, love this baby. Have Noodlers Navy in it. My purple demo went through the wash procedure due to reading threads here and it's amazing also, using Noodlers red black in it. I have a few not opened yet, thanks to some holiday gifts. I find the Ahab revolutionary and now I know something about pens. I even got my Dubiel book out and started reading it for the first time. Bravo to Noodler's for changing the pen world (pun not intended).

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Here's an update on my further testing of the pen.

 

After numerous testing sessions, overnight sits, piston and eyedropper fills, and countless flushes and cleans, I've found out three very important things:

 

1. The two principles at fight are ink keeping up with your fast flex writing, and how wet the line is. By enlarging the vents, the ink can keep up with faster writing, so you will get less railroading. At the same time however, more ink comes out all the time, so your flex writing will become much wetter. You have to find a compromise between these two.

 

As for me, I've cut the third channel, and the pen worked OK with Waterman Florida Blue. No railroading, pretty wet, but not a gusher. Then I tried J.Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, and the line is even wetter.

 

2. Every time you pull the nib/feed out and put it back again, it's different. I thought this was just me, but now I believe it isn't. Even when you disassemble the nib/feed from the section, and then put it again carefully, the same way it was before, the result may be different.

 

I don't know why this is, but I repeatedly pulled the nib/feed out and put it back again while inked, and sometimes there was quite a difference in flow

 

3. Once railroading was taken care of, I found out that there is another serious issue - feathering and bleeding. The tines are very, VERY sharp. Combined with wet flow, this pen feathers and bleeds incredibly on cheap paper, and sometimes even on higher quality paper. You can clearly see the lines that the tines carve into the paper.

 

This is also dependent on ink. The Waterman I mentioned was fine to write with on ordinary inkjet paper, while the Herbin feathers so much that it's unusable. Which is really a pity, 'cause I really wanted to use that ink on daily basis with this pen :(

 

Now all I wish for is that the pen wouldn't feather, and that I would have some more feeds to play with.

 

I understand the vents can be carefully blocked back off with a bit of bee's wax. The difference in the flow after removing and re-installing the feed may be due to a slightly varying fit between the feed and the nib. A slightly larger or smaller gap each time.

 

In my experience (so far) it seems a bit more sensitive to ink properties than some other pens. It may be due to how well the ink wets the ebonite. I had to lengthen the ink channel slightly to accommodate #41 brown, where the other pen with the Blue eel in it wanted a couple of vents opened up before it began behaving. It's very likely that the best performance with these pens will be after setting them up to a specific ink and staying with it, in that pen.

 

At least they are affordable!

 

Yes Leonardo I understand your frustration. As I understand the maker is taking the vendor to task about the concerns that many have had with the pen. I'm sure it will be sorted out soon. Please remember this pen is a hobby/artist type product and as such might be a different experience than a pack of Bic Crystals from Wally world...

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The difference in the flow after removing and re-installing the feed may be due to a slightly varying fit between the feed and the nib. A slightly larger or smaller gap each time.

 

In my experience (so far) it seems a bit more sensitive to ink properties than some other pens. It may be due to how well the ink wets the ebonite. I had to lengthen the ink channel slightly to accommodate #41 brown, where the other pen with the Blue eel in it wanted a couple of vents opened up before it began behaving. It's very likely that the best performance with these pens will be after setting them up to a specific ink and staying with it, in that pen.

 

I'm thinking in the same direction in both concerns. I've been experimenting with the Herbin Ambre for days now, and I think I'm giving up. One time it railroads as hell, then it gushes ink out as crazy. And I don't see a pattern. Every time it's different, and if there is no railroading it's too wet so it feathers and bleeds, and vice versa. I've had quite a nice experience with Waterman inks however.

I'll try to put the Florida Blue back in and see if the behavior is a little bit more consistent with it.

 

How exactly did lengthening the channel reflect on the pen characteristics? Is it more wet? In what way is it different to opening the channels?

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The difference in the flow after removing and re-installing the feed may be due to a slightly varying fit between the feed and the nib. A slightly larger or smaller gap each time.

 

In my experience (so far) it seems a bit more sensitive to ink properties than some other pens. It may be due to how well the ink wets the ebonite. I had to lengthen the ink channel slightly to accommodate #41 brown, where the other pen with the Blue eel in it wanted a couple of vents opened up before it began behaving. It's very likely that the best performance with these pens will be after setting them up to a specific ink and staying with it, in that pen.

 

I'm thinking in the same direction in both concerns. I've been experimenting with the Herbin Ambre for days now, and I think I'm giving up. One time it railroads as hell, then it gushes ink out as crazy. And I don't see a pattern. Every time it's different, and if there is no railroading it's too wet so it feathers and bleeds, and vice versa. I've had quite a nice experience with Waterman inks however.

I'll try to put the Florida Blue back in and see if the behavior is a little bit more consistent with it.

 

How exactly did lengthening the channel reflect on the pen characteristics? Is it more wet? In what way is it different to opening the channels?

Lengthening the channel seems to have made the pen less prone to drying out, an easier starter. For me, certain Noodler's inks are hard starters, #41, Whaleman's Sepia and KTC. (I love the colors though!) I have #41 in my Green Ahab. #41 (when it's flowing!) is (again for me) a very wet ink, just hard starting. By lengthening the channel I can carry and use the pen for work, but if it sits for day or so it's hard starting.

The Ahab with the blue eel ink can sit for a week and still start right up! I can't use the ink at work, however because it takes too long to dry :( I need to get a bottle of plain old Noodler's blue (or maybe the Bernake fast dry) to try out.

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I just got my Ahab, I'm messing around with it trying to get the flow going. I'm a newbie with FPs, but the breather tube is quite pinched, though it seems to still be letting in ink. Should it be like that, or should I open it up? Thanks!

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