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Kaweco Nibs And German Quality Control


yixiel
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Hello everyone,

 

Today I just want to write an opinionated post about what I consider German fountain pens quality control. Please take note, this is my view, my opinion, and thus is highly subjective. I don't claim to write here about absolute truths, incontestable facts and scientific observations. Thanks.

 

 

Over the years I have purchased dozens of nibs for Lamy as well as Kaweco and Pelikan. The rate of success was less than 20% overall. Maybe I am the most unlucky man on earth, but let me explain. I like EF nibs and not a single EF Lamy nib that I bought was smooth. They were all more or less scratchy, misaligned or toothy. I could live with that if I wasn't able to straighen them out and smoothen them with lapping film myself. Something I paid Lamy to do for me but they shamefully didn't and sold me a half finished product.

 

Next, Kaweco. Now these other guys decided to go in the other extreme. They make all their nibs so smooth that they practically don't write. Yes. You buy a fountain pen just to look at it. Everybody complains all over the internet about Kaweco nibs having baby bottom and yet Kaweco completely ignores the problem. All my Kaweco nibs have this problem. Does every fountain pen customer have to become a nibmeister himself? Is this what the world of fountain pens is turning into?

 

Then I spent a ton of money on Pelikans and found that the only nibs that write legible for me without writting just 30 words per page are the EF nibs. But all of them have flow issues and if you even try to adjust the flow, the smoothness is gone, the nib is ruined and again ... back to grinding and smoothing.

 

I've found Japanese pens to be the highest quality of them all, but also the least attractive. While the Europeans are extremely expensive pieces of art that cannot write but look gorgeous and like true fountain pens should (at least in my personal opinion), the Japanese ones are of superb quality but ...

 

I know that you can't make a fountain pen nib that can satisfy everybody, and I know that many people might actually not be bothered by a scratchy nib or a nib that skips a little every 3 words. The world is a vast place and there are many individuals in it, for sure. Some might even like writing with absolutely whatever writing tool they find on a desk, for them being more important what you write than how you write it. And some may exclusively type. But even so, I strongly believe that is is pretty common sense and has been established for a long time how a nib should write and it's only a matter of additional effort to bring it there. It's possible and I think it's better if manufacturers did it instead of their customers, just like going to a dentist shouldn't require that you fix your filling after you return home.

 

I apologize to the readers that have German pens that write like a dream. And I tell them to cherish those pens even more now after they've read my opinions. I am sure there are many such pens out there.

 

 

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I agree with you as far as nibs department is concerned....Japanese are best...

But if you are looking at beautiful Japanese pens... then take a look at Nakayas and Namikis .... they are stunner....

 

Yes I find Italian pens more beautiful... but again pathetic nibs...

vaibhav mehandiratta

architect & fountain pen connoisseur

 

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As long as people doesnt stop buying their products despite all these flaws come to their senses and start questioning the practices of the company. They probably wont change..

 

I have seen ridiculous reviews hailing bad grinds as "human touch and prone to human errors". Means all the nibmeisters are machines?

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The problem may be the European market as much as the manufacturers. Low-end Lamy nibs are made in very large quantities and aimed at students, who tend not to be the most critical of users. Lamy seems to have made the business decision that more careful quality control would not result in more earnings, so the heck with it. Their low-end nibs seem to vary widely in width, finish, and tuning. I understand the nibs on the 2000 are much better.

Baby bottom seems to be a separate issue. I've run into it on quite a number of pens with European nibs--to the point that I'm beginning to believe it is intentional. If you are a dedicated fountain-pen user and write with no pressure, baby bottom will drive you nuts. But if you are a ballpoint user and press down like the Incredible Hulk when you write, splaying out the tines of even a rigid nib slightly, that little bit of baby bottom will keep the nib smooth and will not cause skipping. After all, you are mashing the nib into the paper, so there's no loss of contact between ink and surface. It may be that a bit of baby bottom delivers a better writing experience for owners who are not trained to use fountain pens properly. And these days, that would be the majority of owners for major pen brands.

But Pelikan? The one I have is a wonderful writer. But I've read quite a few complaints about them, and not just on the modest-priced pens like mine. No clue on that one. They seem so attentive to detail on everything else that you would expect them to take extra care on the nibs, but apparently they don't.

ron

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I normally only buy old semi-vintage and vintage Pelikans and or course have no problems,

My 200 Amethyst, and 215 are M's and I have no problems at all.

 

I don't care for EF....having only the basic, nail, regular flex, German vintage semi&maxi-semi-flex in EF.....the latter two are vintage so are thinner than modern, and no problems.

 

On the whole I like shading inks and EF is too narrow to show shading.

So if you want to use EF look for a wet well lubricated vivid supersaturated ink.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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I am not blown away either by the quality of the Lamy and Pelikan nibs I have tried so far. Even the gold nib on my M600 had a bit of baby bottom.

 

That said, try some Diplomats. I have two heavy Excellence As (one steel nib, one gold) and the petite Traveller and all three had excellent nbs out of the box, at very reasonable prices (of course it helped that one seller messed up and sent me the gold nib one for what would have been a good price for the steel nib version). Ink flow and the manufacturing of rest of the pen is flwaless, too. I have a third Excellence A with gold nib and a medium range Esteem that I haven't inked up and tried out yet, but even so they have left a very good impression after "dry writing" on a sheet of paper. Diplomat is my favourite brand by now, sadly they are much overlooked.

Edited by mhpr262
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Baby bottom seems to be a separate issue. I've run into it on quite a number of pens with European nibs--to the point that I'm beginning to believe it is intentional.

 

There is a posting from years ago somewhere on FPN from someone who visited one of the big nib manufacturers and got a tour of the factory. The woman who was in charge pointed out to him that they made the baby bottomed nibs. She, and the company, were clearly of the opinion that this was the proper way for the tipping material on a nib to look :wallbash: .

 

So, yeah, it's intentional, all right.

 

I think I remember the name of the company, but I'm not sure so I'm not going to name them here.

On a sacred quest for the perfect blue ink mixture!

ink stained wretch filling inkwell

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Why not?

Many things have been said about many companies.....so wouldn't bring the lawyers down on you.

 

I read a while back...that Kaweco was made now in Greece.....nibs could be JoWo...or Bock and made to spec...cheap spec.

Of course since I read that they could have moved back to Germany but I don't see why....in the wages were cheaper than Germany.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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I'm not sure how one would even go about making a baby-bottomed nib on purpose - wouldn't any flexible buffing wheel inevitable give the tip a convex shape? Or do the people doing the buffing press down so hard on the wheel that the tines get splayed apart and the insides of the gap have extra meterial removed?

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I'm not sure how one would even go about making a baby-bottomed nib on purpose - wouldn't any flexible buffing wheel inevitable give the tip a convex shape? Or do the people doing the buffing press down so hard on the wheel that the tines get splayed apart and the insides of the gap have extra meterial removed?

 

Varying smoothly between light and moderately heavy pressure on a sheet of micromesh should do it for you. As you say, all you have to do is get the tines to splay and rotate a bit as you are removing material.

ron

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I want to stay positive, regardless two new Kaweco Sports where neither F not B write without skipping, hard starts, missing sometimes the whole line.

Next step - even more flushing, experimenting with few more inks (last resort Kaweco blue cartridge which arrived with pens).

 

If nothing from above would work, I will use them to learn adjusting the nibs myself. Have to start from somewhere .

 

But when they write - it's great.

LETTER EXCHANGE PARTICIPANT

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experimenting with few more inks (last resort Kaweco blue cartridge which arrived with pens).

 

From what I have read on here, the Kaweco cartridges work worse than any ink with the Kaweco pens ... I have had good success with Standardgraph and Rohrer&Klingner inks when dealing with pens with ink starvation issues. Your problems do sound more like baby bottom, however. Just make sure you remove only tiny amounts of material and test often between the various stages.

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I have been in pens for about 20 years and have about 40 of them. To be blunt, yes -- you are going to have to learn to assess, adjust, shape, and polish nibs if you want to be happy in this way of life. It is a bit frightening at first; raised with rolling pens, nib treatment seems an archaic, mysterious, and expensive art -- if you make an irreversible mistake. So buy a micromesh kit, slowly build your toolbox, practice on inexpensive old pens, and gradually you will enjoy the rewards of being able to take nearly any nib and make it write like a pro. I have done things with expensive pens I never dreamed I could do, and I very much enjoy it. Nearly every pen I buy -- new or pre-loved -- needs a little care before it writes perfectly.

 

You can do it! Enjoy it! :)

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I've been 5 for 5 with my Montblancs as far as being perfect out of the box. 2 X 145s, 2 X 146s, 1 X 149.

Well MB repair screwed up one of my 146 nibs after a warranty repair but that is another issue.

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  • 2 months later...

Yixiel, I totally agree with you! A nib must write perfect out of the box!

A good fountainpen is an edc reliable writing tool

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I am lucky enough to have a German pen (Faber-Castell) that writes like a dream, but all in all I do agree with OP.

I have also had good experience with STDupont and have high hopes for Aurora (haven't had one of those as of yet).

 

Other than that it's all Pilots and Sailors for me.

 

Have you tried Franklin-Christoph, yixiel? I think Mike Masuyama used to work for Sailor and is definitely doing a great job on his nibs. Other than that, I can only suggest getting a custom pen to your liking and ask the manufacturer to fit in a Japanese nib for you. (not economically efficient but you will get an awesome pen)

 

I read a while back...that Kaweco was made now in Greece...

 

Is that for real? Wow, I had no idea. I am going to try and locate them.

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I have four Lamy EF nibs, and three of them wrote very well out of the box (and I'm left-handed, which really highlights scratchy nibs in the worst way)... I can't blame Lamy for the fourth one, because it was sent to me in the mail, and got slightly squashed in transit. Given that I squashed it back into minimally functional shape with my teeth? Well, ok. It's not the smoothest anymore. hahaha

 

But I have heard about the baby-bottom curse with Kaweco pens, and that is one of the main reasons I haven't purchased one yet. :-\ I'm doubly confused now that I read a manufacturer explaining how they do that on purpose?!

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I have also been disappointed by the nib on my Kaweco Sport. At first my hand would tire after just a line or two of writing, because I had to maintain constant pressure on the nib to keep the pen from skipping. This experience might be acceptable to a person who uses ballpoint pens on a regular basis, but I have used fountain pens for almost twenty years and am not accustomed to having to push. Fortunately, someone at a local pen gathering adjusted the nib for me, but the nib still doesn't compare with the nibs of my other pens. Of course, the Sport is inexpensive and I wouldn't expect it to write as well as an expensive pen, but at least in the United States, a Sport costs about twice as much as a Pilot Metropolitan, and the nib on the Metropolitan is much, much better.

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From what I've gathered Kaweco(just like Pelikan) overly polishes the Bock nibs resulting in lots of nibs with a babys bottom (just like Pelikan). It seems to be a German thing!

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I had the opposite experience. I found the Japanese nibs either too stiff, too soft, or too smooth and really uncomfortable for writing english. My samples aren't too many, namely the Pilot Metros, 78g and Custom Heritage 91 but I ain't gonna try more. On the other hand, my Western pens, though not as smooth, had a nice feel to them when writing English. I think the western nibs are designed with a bounce more appropriate for writing English letters. So unlike you, I have strayed to the opposite instead. Dump those Japanese pens!

 

Just another subjective view on nibs...

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