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Fitting A Nikko G Nib Into A Noodler's Creeper


Brooks MT
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I fit a Nikko G, a common Copperplate dip pen nib, into my Creeper. The advantage of the G is that it allows one to draw finer hairlines than the Noodler nib. Also the G can be used as a replacement nib if you damage the Noodler nib. You should have no trouble modifying the Nikko G nib if you are used to grinding Noodler nibs with a Dremel, for instance, see Pterodacylus' thread: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/240492-noodlers-ahab-ease-my-flex-mod/
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The procedure I used for modifying the Nikko G was to:
1) Narrow the body of the nib.
2) Reduce length of Nikko G to match the length of the Noodler's nib supplied with the Creeper.
3) Clean.

Details (G=Nikko G nib, N=Noodler nib):
1) The G has a smaller diameter arc than the N. When placed on top of the feed, the extra arc perches the nib above the feed. This prevents insertion of both G and feed into the Creeper pen. By narrowing the body of the G, the height of the discrepancy is reduced enough to allow insertion. Having no experience with heat-setting a nib to an ebonite feed, I don't know if heat-setting would accomplish the same thing.

Grind both sides of the G body; conveniently, the cuts in the side of the body, up near the breather hole, provide a guide for how much metal to remove. Remove metal from the cut all the way to the base. See photo.

Hold the nib in your hand while grinding. Dip nib frequently in water to keep it cool (not only saves your fingers, but also preserves the temper of the metal). The grindstone does not care if the metal is wet. I put down a pad of newspaper on my workbench to catch grinding particles. If dampened, it will hold them and keep them from dispersing.

I used the large cylindrical grind stone pictured. Due to the diameter of the stone, I ended up grinding off most of the small tab of metal on the tip-side of the cut; this does no harm, though it leaves a sharp barb, that will need to be deburred (to protect your fingers when you insert/remove the nib, and to keep cleaning tissues from snagging and leaving bits behind).

I deburred all cuts using wetordry sandpaper. There will be slivers of metal left on the sides of the nib after grinding. Be careful when sanding. There will also be slivers on the damp newspaper. Metal workers know how important it is to deburr - In this case, not only to save your fingers, but also to keep the nib from scratching and gouging the feed and pen.

2) Hold the G up to the N, match tips, and mark the base end of the G to match the length of the N. The G is much longer than the N, and if it is not reduced in length, it will be impossible to screw the cap onto the pen. Also, if the length is not reduced, it will be hard to achieve the feed/tip distance necessary for good ink flow.

I used a Dremel cutoff wheel to cut to length. The nib gets very hot very quickly when using the cutoff wheel, so take light cuts and dunk the nib in water frequently. Don't worry, if you forget, your fingers will remind you :-)

I deburred with the conical grinding wheel and sandpaper, but you could deburr with just sandpaper. Round the corners a bit to keep them from digging into the feed or pen body.

3) Clean the nib with soapy water + ammonia to remove finger oils and any oil/grease from the grinding wheels and sandpaper.

4) Test fit:
i) If the nib + feed won't enter the pen w/o excessive force, then you need to remove a bit more metal along the sides.
ii) Check exposure of the nib: on my pen, if I measure more than 2.0 mm of nib metal exposed (from pen to tip), the screw-on cap will bottom on the tip. You can grind off more from the base if the nib sticks out too far. Or, you could wrap a couple threads on the pen with tape to stop the cap a couple turns early. Don't forget to debur between each test fitting.

Benefits:
1. As you can see on the test sheet, the hairlines from the G are much narrower than the hairlines from the N. I can get narrow hairlines with the N if I float the pen over the paper, certainly. But the G makes achieving hairlines easier. Wide lines are also very easy to achieve.

2. Replacement nib for the Creeper, if ever necessary.

3. Feed not altered, so reinstallation of the Noodler nib easy.

4. Last, but not least, you will make our benefactor, Nathan Tardif, happy. He designed the pen to take other brands of nibs, and takes a deserved pride in his accomplishment.

Negatives:
1) The Nikko G is plain steel, while the Noodler nib is stainless steel (tested with a magnet). I don't know how long the G will withstand rust.

2) Dip pen nibs are scratchy, compared to fountain pen nibs. The G may require a higher grade of paper than the N to avoid catching the point. I tested some Georgia-Pacific paper from Wal-Mart ("Standard Bright, Multipurpose, 20 pound", next grade up from their "Basic") and had no trouble with the G. <Incidentally, Bay State Blue, diluted 50% with distilled water, showed much less feathering on this paper than when I wrote on it with full strength ink.> The demo paper in the photo, using Waterman ink, is a copy paper of unknown origin (my wife picks up recycling from various locations around Bozeman).

On a vendor's site, the Noodler pen write-up was somewhat dismissive of the pen due to thick hairlines. With the G on your pen, you can scoff at that criticism :-)

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This is pretty cool. Based on Nathan's video I shopped for some calligraphy nibs. My local art supply house was out of Nikko Gs. I will have to look at some online stores. Excellent job with good pictures. Thanks for posting this.

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I've seen Nathan's Speedball video, pretty neat. My wife, a much better calligrapher than I, has a box of Speedball nibs around here somewhere :-).

 

I'm not a Speedball nib guy, but I'll take a look at them to see how their arc compares with the Ahab/Konrad nib arc. The Ahab/Konrad arc fits nicely around a 1/4" bolt. You could take a bolt with you while shopping for calligraphy nibs; as Nathan says, there is no standardization of nib sizes in the industry.

 

I got my Nikko G's from a college bookstore, and online from:

http://www.johnnealbooks.com/

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Nib sizes for Ahab and Creeper:

I discuss the nibs in terms of "arc" rather than diameter. The arc must match the feed diameter at the ink channel on top of the feed, and must also allow insertion of both feed and nib into the pen. Heat setting will fix the 1st criteria, but not the second. These nibs don't have a uniform diameter. Placed against the feed, for example, the top of the nib may match the feed diameter precisely, but the lower edges of the body usually pull away from the feed. These lower edges are what I had to grind off to make the Nikko G fit into the Creeper. See diagram.

Below are some arcs I measured by holding flexible, dip-pen nibs against various diameter bolts or brass tubeing.
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Ahab/Konrad feed diameter measured with calipers = 0.248" (6.30mm), just smaller than a 1/4" bolt (0.250").

Flexible nibs with arc of 7/32" (0.21875", 5.56mm):
*Hunt 512
Gillotte F 404 bronze color

Both nibs have smaller arcs than the feed, therefore will perch on top of the feed, like the Nikko G perches on top of the Creeper feed. Grinding off the sides of the body may make the nibs suitable for Ahab/Konrad.
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Creeper feed diameter measured with calipers = 0.187" (4.75mm), just smaller than a 3/16" bolt.

Flexible nibs of approximately 3/16" (4.76mm) arc:
*Nikko G
*Leonardt/Hiro 40 (the "Blue Pumpkin")
*Gillotte 303 & 404 blue color
*Elettra 4 (the "Hand") (John Neal Books' N127?)
Speedball C-0 (if all Speedball nibs are the same, than the whole line would work. Nathan fits them using heat setting in his video)
Hunt 99

Nib with slightly smaller arc than 3/16":
*Leonardt EF Principal (somewhere between 3/16" and 5/32")

The above nibs with an * are still available from http://www.johnnealbooks.com (I have no connection to this vendor). My collection of nibs is old, so I can't guarantee that the newer ones are the same size, unfortunately. For instance, among my nibs, the Gillotte F 404 bronze finish has a larger arc than the Gillotte 404 blue finish. The bronze version might fit the Ahab, while the blue version might fit the Creeper.

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Edited by Brooks MT
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Hunt 512 a no-go

 

I looked at converting a Hunt 512 for the Ahab/Konrad. Opps, I did not fully appreciate the shape of the Hunt nib. This nib has a narrow neck between the body and the slit. This neck means that the nib won't rest on the feed as needed. The feed would need major heat-setting, or major carving, to accommodate the body, neck, and the nib's slit&tip portion of the Hunt 512.

On a happier note, I can report that Ace Hardware carries little oil candles that look identical to the Tiki oil candle Nathan Tardif recommends for heat-setting the ebonite feed to a nib. The label on the Ace candle is "Ultra Pure Liquid Candle", price about $2.50 in Bozeman. They were stocked on a shelf with bottles of lamp oil, and with wax tea candles.

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Nothing new under the Sun :-). I found this thread today, people putting dip pen nibs into the Creeper back in 2011. I need to learn how to search the forum better, I could have just added my work to the existing thread :-/.

 

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/198197-swapping-dip-nibs-into-noodlers-flex-pen/

 

I did start a thread for converting a Noodler's Ahab/Konrad stiff nib into a flex nib for same. Hopefully this info is not just a repeat of a previous thread:

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/260041-converting-a-regular-nib-into-a-flex-nib-for-noodlers-ahabkonrad/

Edited by Brooks MT
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Converting a Leonardt Principal EF dip pen nib to fit Noodler Creeper

The Principal is probably one of the most flexible dip pen nibs available. It's a modern reproduction of a famous flex nib, and is available from numerous vendors (eg. www.johnnealbooks.com/).

This conversion was pretty easy. The nib fits the Creeper very well, once it is cut to match the shape of the standard Noodler flex nib body. No additional "easy my flex" mod is needed, nor is it desired. This nib will flex under the weight of the pen alone, so you don't need to add any more :-).

The only downside to this nib is that it loves to dig into the paper on upstrokes and cross strokes - ink spatters resulting. My dip pen nib holder is designed to lower the angle the nib meets the paper, just for this reason. A work-around for the Creeper is to hold the pen further up the barrel, rather than on the section (the normal place you put your fingers). The nib also benefits from some tip smoothing; I used the bottom of a waterglass, drawing the usual figure 8 pattern. More serious nib smoothing is possible, using the standard methods. Smoothed on the glass, the nib ran over the paper more easily. It still requires a light touch, and slow writing, if you want to avoid the spatter-ink effect. Smooth paper is also required.

 

The nib will rust, once it's protective coating is burned off, so probably not good to leave it in the pen.

Conversion:
1. Hold the standard Creeper flex nib on top of the Principal, match tips, and mark outline of Creeper nib on Principal with a marker pen. You'll need to grind off metal on both sides of the body, and cut the nib shorter at the base.

2. Grind off the excess metal on the sides of the Principal. I held the nib in my fingers, initially, but then tried holding it with some round-nose needle-nose pliers (plier jaws parallel to the nib, ie. in the U channel). That got my fingers out of the way. Dunk nib frequently to keep it from getting too hot.

3. Cut off base to match length of the Creeper nib. Delaying this cut helped me hold the nib in the previous step. I used the Dremel cutoff wheel, again dunking nib in water frequently.

4. Smooth edges of the cuts. A small conical grinding tip is useful: run it lightly along all cut edges at about a 45deg angle to the edge. This step will save a lot of wetordry sandpapering to deburr :-).

5. Run the nib through flame of a match or BBQ lighter. This will burn off the brown protective coating on the nib. The coating is hydrophobic, and will repel ink (fountain pen and dip pen ink). The nib will look blue after this step. Any rust-proofing is lost, of course.

6. Mount the nib in your pen with the feed, then smooth the tip of the nib by drawing figure 8's on the bottom of a water glass, or using whatever tip smoothing method you prefer. I inked the pen first to provide lubrication as I smoothed.

7. Practice different holds of the pen while writing to see which hold gives you the least snags of the tip on the paper. The edges of the tines are sharp, and will cut the paper, which you can feel after the ink dries. These cuts will preclude using very runny inks, I suspect. Cuts in the paper's surface will encourage feathering with a runny ink. At least, that's been my experience with other nibs/papers/inks.

The Nikko G is an easier nib for me to use in my Creeper. The stiffness of the nib makes it less prone to snag & spatter.

But I think the Principal is the ultimate flex nib conversion, if you are willing to spend the time to learn how to use it. 5x widths are easy to obtain;no tired fingers from pressing the nib to expand, it's a wet noodle. My penmanship does not do the Principal justice, I must admit.

Photos: Noodler's Liberty's Elysium ink is available only from www.gouletpens.com Paper is Staples 32# Fine Laser Paper 25% Cotton Ivory. It photographed as "white" but is a yellowish white.

 

The Leonardt Principal EF has a distinctive breather hole. The tines are shorter than the Noodler nib tines; the carbon steel is probably more springy than the stainless steel of the Noodler nib.

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Edited by Brooks MT
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Thanks for posting this! I was inspired by this post to buy a Noodler's Creaper just so I could try it out. I have Zebra G nibs, and I wonder if the metal is thicker than on a Nikko, as cutting it to length and grinding the sides down still made for a tight fit. So I ground the underside of the nib to reduce the thickness a bit and it seemed to do the trick.

 

It's good to know that I can replace my Creaper nib if it ever breaks, even if it is a pain to do so much grinding on the G nib. This was a fun little project, but I'm not about to sit down and modify all my G nibs in one go, haha!

 

And so the quest for perfect dip nib replacements on Noodler's pens continues. (Esterbrook 356 fits in the Creaper, by the way, but it will need to be heat-set. I just fiddled around a bit without heat setting and it looked rather nice. So whenever this G nib wears out, I'll get around to doing that.)

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The Nikko G is chrome plated.

Where you cut/grind the nib, you expose the base metal, and that is where it will start to rust from.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

www.SFPenShow.com

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TeaHive - I'm glad you found the conversion method useful :-)

Thank you for your report about needing to cut more from the Zebra G than I had to cut from the Nikko G. After reading your report, I went over to the shop and applied my calipers to un-modified Zebra and Nikko nibs. I had only 1 Zebra and 3 Nikkos....so the results may not be representative of all Zebras. But...the Zebra was about 0.010" wider than the Nikko. Thickness of the metal, measured at the uncut end, was the same for both brands of nibs.

The wider Zebra might explain why you had to grind off more to get it to fit. The arc would not be quite the same. I haven't bought enough nibs to know how consistent they are, for any brand.

In spite of the differences between the brands, you were able to adjust the method to get a usable nib, Well Done!

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