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My Experience With Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen



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On November 21, I placed an order for an Ahab pen from The Goulet Pen Company. I hinted to my wife about wanting one for Christmas, but seeing how busy she was and how Noodler's Flex Pens initially sold out in a matter hours last year, I wasn't sure if she would be able to get around to ordering these pens on time. However, on Christmas Day (to my surprise), I unwrapped a box containing TWO Ahab Flex pens, both in Ivory Darkness. This color will have to do for now, since the color I really want, solid black, is unavailable.

 

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/triathlete81/DSC_0684-1.jpg

 

My first impression of the Ahab pen was that the size was impressive, similar to a Montblanc 146. I remember picking up the familiar scent of the vegetal resin as I opened the box. I actually like this smell. I assure you, this scent fades with time, as it did to last year's Flex Nib Piston Fill Resin Pen. The pen is deceivingly light for its size. The cap posts, although not stably. I find it more comfortable to hold the cap in my non-dominant hand as I write, instead.

 

Initially, I soaked the pens in a 1:10 solution of ammonia to water. Black particles eventually dropped out of the feed area. I assume this was ebonite particulate which accumulated during the manufacturing process. I inked the first pen with black Pelikan 4001, using the piston converter. I did not adjust the feed prior to this. I watched as ink ran through those long tines, eventually priming the nib. How exciting!

 

The nib flexes fairly easily and less pressure was exerted to spread these tines than with the previous Flex Piston Fill pen. Not only do the tines spread, but they also bend during heavy flexing. The tines would quickly snap back into their original positions once force was removed from flexing the pen. I got the impression that the nib was sort of like a metal paintbrush, pasting ink down onto paper as I wrote. The nib on this pen is much stiffer than a dip pen, and slightly less flexible than a flexible Wahl Eversharp Skyline. Still, this pen is impressive, considering the $20 price tag.

 

After writing about a page's worth and with some heavy flexing, I noticed the pen began skipping. I made a few adjustments to the nib and feed placement, but I was eventually dissatisfied with the pen's performance. Eventually, I disassembled it and subtly deepened the fins using an Exacto blade. There was some improvement with ink flow, but not enough to make me stop fiddling with the pen. Frustrated, I put this pen away and then I removed the second pen, filling it with Quink (using the piston converter). To my surprise, the flow was decent. (As we know, Quink is a runny ink, and 4001 is a much thicker, slower flowing ink.) Railroading occurred only upon prolonged flexing.

 

I discovered the stiff movement of the piston converters difficult to operate. No matter how many times I flushed, they were difficult to press down and pull up. With my fingers wrapped around the transparent barrel of the converter, I could feel the piston inside pushing back at me, as it moved up and down. This was too tight of a fit.

 

Because of this, I eventually converted both pens to eyedropper fill. I also noticed a huge improvement in ink flow. The volume of ink contained in the barrel is also amazing. (6 mL!) Converting the pens to eyedropper-fill was the single best modification possible, because it obviously improved ink flow. The Ahab inked with Quink was quite drippy, now. I pulled the feed further out of the section to slow the ink flow. This was helpful. As for the Ahab inked with Pelikan 4001, I pushed the feed deeper into the section to increase flow, and this did occur.

 

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/triathlete81/DSC_0690-1.jpg

 

Above: The top writing sample was performed with Quink and the bottom, 4001.

 

As you can see, my tuning is far from perfect, but this should address concerns some people may have with their pens suffering from ink starvation. Both samples were written at a brisk pace - I write rather quickly, almost as quick as conversational speech. I'm sure if I slowed down, the top sample would have railroaded much later. The Ahab with the 4001 was not in any risk of ink starvation. In fact, if I were to have its nib pointed down for a long period of time, the feed will eventually saturate and I will see ink dribbling down the underside of the nib. So, I will probably pull the feed out to expose another fin when I have the time, thus slowing down the flow rate.

 

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/triathlete81/DSC_0688-1.jpg

 

Above: This is an image of the Quink Ahab. Note there are nine "cuts" exposed.

 

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/triathlete81/DSC_0687-1.jpg

 

Above: This is an image of the 4001 Ahab. There are eight "cuts" exposed. Also, the ink came out ink generous amounts, so it took quite some time for it to dry up on the paper.

 

My conclusion here is that there are several factors in adjusting the nib for ideal flow, and one of them is the type of ink used. I will continue to fiddle with exposing varying amounts of feed to adjust the flow rate. I suspect that I should probably push in the Quink Ahab's feed by one more fin and pull out the 4001 Ahab's feed by another fin.

 

Today, I've given both pens a lot of writing time. I noticed that when the barrel was 2/3 empty, ink flow slowed a bit. As soon as I refilled the pen, ink resumed to flow as previously adjusted. The same situation occurred for the Quink Ahab.

 

In the end, I am impressed with the Ahab. I am going to use them in my regular rotation, as I find them more interesting than some of my other pens, one of them being a Sheaffer Calligraphy eyedropper, equipped with a No-Nonsense F nib.

 

By the way, I am not associated with Goulet Pens, nor am I with Noodler's. I am merely a satisfied customer.

Edited by kcunvong
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Nice description of your adjustments and trial and error process.

 

Once adjusted to your preference, the Ahab is GREAT writer.

 

I have 4 of them and love the way they write and consitently carry at least one of them every day.

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Good review, thanks!

PAKMAN

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Nice review, pens and sample.

Both samples were written at a brisk pace - I write rather quickly, almost as quick as conversational speech.

 

Average conversational speech is about 110 wpm, handwriting about 25 wpm, if you're writing that fast I wouldn't call it brisk, I'd call it lightning

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Or perhaps he's a slow and careful talker :)

 

The double o-ring kit (you need a toothpick or a needle to reach other and pull it off) makes the piston operate as smoothly as a syringe and is a significant improvement. A little silicone grease may also help. Nice review!

In Rotation: MB 146 (EF), Noodler's Ahab bumblebee, Edison Pearl (F), Sailor ProGear (N-MF)

In storage: MB 149 (18k EF), TWSBI 540 (B), ST Dupont Olympio XL (EF), MB Dumas (B stub), Waterman Preface (ST), Edison Pearl (0.5mm CI), Noodler's Ahab clear, Pilot VP (M), Danitrio Densho (F), Aurora Optima (F), Lamy 2000 (F), Visconti Homo Sapiens (stub)

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Thank you, everyone! I probably shouldn't have said "conversational speech" - probably "brisk" would be a better choice of words. I will look into the double o-ring kit. I wrote this in hope that people with problems getting their Ahabs to start up would read it and not get discouraged. It really is a tinkerer's pen. Happy New Year, everyone.

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After many hours of adjusting, I came up with algorithm I put together, just for the beginner so not to get discouraged. It's not perfect, but it's a start somewhere. Have fun, and follow the algorithm at your own risk! (Feedback is welcome and I will integrate it into the algorithm, as needed.)

 

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j120/triathlete81/Beginning.jpg

Edited by kcunvong
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I may be mistaken in this, but it appears to me that pushing the feed in further actually makes the pen write a little dryer than with the feed further out. True?

 

If the feed was metering air into the pen, then this would make sense. But I suspect that the air channel meters air, so the airflow restriction is constant regardless of feed orientation.

 

Someone please correct my understanding. Even with 11 slits showing, I'm still getting plenty of flow with admittedly very aqueous Perle Noire.

 

H

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I may be mistaken in this, but it appears to me that pushing the feed in further actually makes the pen write a little dryer than with the feed further out. True?

 

If the feed was metering air into the pen, then this would make sense. But I suspect that the air channel meters air, so the airflow restriction is constant regardless of feed orientation.

 

Someone please correct my understanding. Even with 11 slits showing, I'm still getting plenty of flow with admittedly very aqueous Perle Noire.

 

H

 

Hi Hohn,

Yes, having a dry writer was a huge concern for me, and the placement of the feed makes a big difference. Check out

, where Brian talks about cleaning the original Noodler's flex pen. At around 7:35, Brian begins to talk about setting the feed and its placement.

 

Best,

Mick

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The nib flexes fairly easily and less pressure was exerted to spread these tines than with the previous Flex Piston Fill pen.

 

My experience is the opposite. Great diagram! Are you a manager?

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The nib flexes fairly easily and less pressure was exerted to spread these tines than with the previous Flex Piston Fill pen.

 

My experience is the opposite. Great diagram! Are you a manager?

 

Thank you! No, just a medical student... it was fun to put together, although I should've spent the time hitting the books.

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although I should've spent the time hitting the books.

 

Well, it seems that books and learning are overrated after all: even my GP with forty years of experience and excellent diagnostic skills unashamedly turns to his computer to read me my symptoms. He wasn't like that before the Internet. Are only medical students expected to learn things by heart nowadays?

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I am about to order my first Noodlers pen - I see you are one of the reasons why the black ones are no longer in stock! :-)

 

That diagram is brilliant - I laughed when I saw it, very clever!

 

This review is also good overall and I thank you for taking the time to share with us your experiences.

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Well, it seems that books and learning are overrated after all: even my GP with forty years of experience and excellent diagnostic skills unashamedly turns to his computer to read me my symptoms. He wasn't like that before the Internet. Are only medical students expected to learn things by heart nowadays?

 

Maybe wanted to make sure he didn't miss anything...? It's funny: the stuff you learn in school. It's so fundamental to medicine, you never use it and you'll probably forget it anyway... but not before taking your board exams.

 

I am about to order my first Noodlers pen - I see you are one of the reasons why the black ones are no longer in stock! :-)

 

That diagram is brilliant - I laughed when I saw it, very clever!

 

This review is also good overall and I thank you for taking the time to share with us your experiences.

 

Thank you - glad you enjoyed it. =) Black is my favorite color for a pen. I wish Noodler's made solid black Ahabs.

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Ah well, I read on here somewhere, a message from Goulet that the solid black one is due out this month!

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  • 4 months later...

nice review! Q:Is ahab better than the noodler std flex pen? other than looks and the piston filling is there any other difference??

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  • 1 year later...

Looking for a budget fountain pen with a flex nib? The Noodlers Ahab was my hope for a budget pen. It has a huge reservoir and a fast filler. My clear demonstrator model has a nice feel in the hand. However I have a problem with this pen. It's not that easy to tune for reliable flow. Another observation frankly, is that the nib feels a bit stiff to me.

Sorry, but I am comfortable being one of the few to conclude the Ahab is overrated. I have two of them and I like the idea and features, but I can't depend on it as a daily driver.

Edited by yankfroggy
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In the matter of the ersatz flexible Ahab and Konrad pens..gave away more than

two dozen..kept a couple of the interestin' colors..I did swap

out the nibs for a few of the recipients...No problemo with a one of 'em......This of course is

my very humble opinion..and experience......

 

 

Fred

nihil sequitur geminis ex particularibus unquam......

 

say good night......

good nite......

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  • 2 years later...
thomdavies2053

I love mine. Am playing a lot but very satisfied. Really like the 1.1 stub Knox. O rings can be a problem for eyedropper, too fragile. Will try a work around; nylon tape, heavier grease, last resort glue. Nibs just push in and pull out.

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