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Should I Call A Professional Or Take Matters Into My Own Hands?



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I posted a few days ago that I bought my first Pilot VP on Ebay. Well, I actually bought TWO Pilot VPs… both fine nibs. One blue with rhodium accents, one red with rhodium accents. I inked up the blue one right away and have been using it non-stop. It's an absolute dream. I haven't used another pen since I inked it. Well, today I thought "I'm going to ink up my new red VP" with a sample of Noodler's Antietam that I got from Goulet a while back. I inked it up, started writing, and immediately thought "Oh, that's not quite right." The nib is very smooth when moving down, or to the left, but when moving to the right it's very clearly scratchy. I can feel it catching on the paper (slightly but consistently) and it makes a scratching sound. I imagine that the tines might be misaligned, but I do not own a loupe, and the fine is so tiny I can't tell with the naked eye.

 

So, I've got two options:

 

1) Buy a loupe, try to determine the problem, and attempt to fix it myself. (Gasp!)

or

2) Send it off to a professional for a tuning.

 

I've been using FPs for a few years, but have never attempted to mess with (I mean, fix) a nib.

 

Thoughts?

 

(One last thought…it seems that if I'm going to get into messing with nibs, perhaps I should practice on a less expensive and bigger nib than the VP fine?)

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OcalaFlGuy

Take the pen to a nearby jewelry store or pawnshop and ask to borrow a loupe of theirs at their counter. Read up in them meantime here about HOW to bend the offending tine up or down. They'll be glad to let you use a loupe and their counters are usually lit pretty well.

 

You should be able to make a minor tine adjustment and recheck it at their counter. Take the pen in inked and bring some paper to check it.

 

Then buy yourself a decent 15x loupe.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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londonbooks

I think that any skilled nib repair person would agree that it is better to practice with a less expensive nib or two. A loupe is a good idea and sending out has its' risks. There's the mailing process and also sending a pen to someone you don't know much about. But then again it's very easy to damage a nib especially for a beginner.

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Buy a loupe. You don't need to go mad, but look at past loupe-advice on this site. Mine ia fairly good 10X one that I bought for my laste father about ten years ago. It was about £30, which translates at the moment to about $50 I think.

 

It does the job, but if you can afford it, spend a bit more. A loupe is a little tricky to use, and if you go up to 15X or 20X you get a smaller radius of focus (not the correct term), but, obviously, more magnification.

 

I have nearly spoiled a couple of nibs by trying to widen the tine-gap, but I haven't done any harm by adjusting tine-alignment. Nor will you, so long as you proceed with care. It's not that hazardous.

 

But you need that loupe. Even if you borrow one.

 

Try this before sending it off to a tweaker.

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Since you live in Los Angeles, perhaps you can find a local FPNer who would help.

 

It's not so easy in rural Britain.

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Thanks for the help, everyone. I'll buy a loupe and take a look. If it looks like a simple misalignment, perhaps I'll be brave enough to attempt to align the tines on my own (after reading the advice and how-to's on FPN, of course!).

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fledermaus89

I found tine adjustments with a loupe pretty quick and easy to do. It's definitely a skill worth learning since tines can go out of alignment easily.

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If you didn't ink up the scratchy VP with the same ink you used in your smooth writer, you may want to do that just to make sure it's not an ink issue.

 

If that doesn't appear to be the issue, look at the tines in your smooth writing VP first to serve as a reference for what you want to achieve with your scratchy writer. If the tines look perfectly well aligned, then of course your problem may lie elsewhere. If it looks like you need to adjust the nib tines, take it slow, take it easy, and don't overdue it. You don't want to have to undo anything. In the end, you'll probably get it sorted out, and be ahead of the game when you run into a similar problem in the future, as you almost certainly will.

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If you didn't ink up the scratchy VP with the same ink you used in your smooth writer, you may want to do that just to make sure it's not an ink issue.

 

If that doesn't appear to be the issue, look at the tines in your smooth writing VP first to serve as a reference for what you want to achieve with your scratchy writer. If the tines look perfectly well aligned, then of course your problem may lie elsewhere. If it looks like you need to adjust the nib tines, take it slow, take it easy, and don't overdue it. You don't want to have to undo anything. In the end, you'll probably get it sorted out, and be ahead of the game when you run into a similar problem in the future, as you almost certainly will.

 

Good point -- I inked my smooth writer with Pilot's Blue-Black cartridge, and I inked the scratchy writer with Noodler's Antietam. I'll clean out the scratchy one and give it a try with a Blue-Black cartridge, just to be sure. Thanks for the tip -- I should have thought of that!

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Great. I don't know how others feel about it, but after becoming intimately familiar with 50 or so fountain pens over the past several years, my feeling is that there may be something to manufacturers designing inks to work best in their own brand of fountain pens (or vice versa). That has often been my experience. If I'm having some quirky writing issues, switching to the same brand of ink as the pen often fixes any issues. Of course, I also understand that some pen manufacturers put their name on inks that are actually made by other companies (Cross I think being one of them).

Edited by sotto2

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If the scratch feeling is directional, either left or right, it is definitely an alignment issue. Some inks certainly feel smoother than others, but not in a directional manner.

 

If adjusting yourself, just go easy, a VP nib is pretty soft but not very springy, it doesn't take much to move them. They are a little more difficult to work on than some because of their small size and minimal over hang of the feed, but I have been able to make some adjustments on mine. As long as you aren't too ham fisted, you should be ok, and if you don't succeed, you can always find someone else to do it, which you would have had to do anyway if you hadn't tried yourself.

 

Since it is scratchy when moving from left to right, the left tine must be lower than the right. Because of the minimal overlap of nib and feed, it would be advisable to bend the left tine up, rather than trying to move the right one down.

 

I like to use one of these while making adjustments - Magnifier Head Strap With Lights, as it helps me see movement while the work is underway, and both hands are free. The included loupe can come in handy too. The optics are fair but not great, so for close inspection, I use a handheld 15X loupe. I much prefer this to a 10X, also have a 22X, but that is a little too much, in that the depth of field is a real challenge. The 15X is a good compromise. The one I have is the Belomo Triplet - Amazon.com: BelOMO 15x Triplet Loupe Folding Magnifier: Health & Personal Care . I'm very happy with it.

 

Dan

"Life is like an analogy" -Anon-

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Nobody's mentioned: where did you buy them? If it's a local B&M store, return it and they should be able to sort things out for you, possibly while you wait. Even if it's a distant store or mail order, the seller should make things right if you return it.

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It is relatively easy to source a jeweller's loupe. I use the Belomo triplet. Although if you have sharp and young eyes, you can often see and realign a nib without a loupe. Easier with one.

 

The Pilot VP nibs are not that expensive. And easy to disassemble - it slips right off the feed. This allows for easy adjustment. A gentle pull or tug with a fingernail often brings nib alignments back into balance. Plenty of articles available on the topic. It is essential the tines are aligned and balanced before troubleshooting other potential causes of your problem (e.g. a sharp inner tine or corner) although my experience with VP nibs is I've never encountered that!

 

Good luck.

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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WilsonCQB1911

I found tine adjustments with a loupe pretty quick and easy to do. It's definitely a skill worth learning since tines can go out of alignment easily.

 

Agreed.

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