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Regret And Return: A Tale Of Pilot Falcons



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alexander_k

This wasn't my first Pilot Falcon. Years ago I had another, one with a metal body and a soft medium nib. It wasn't a success. I couldn't manage the flexibility of the nib and even less the ink flow. In the end, I gave up and passed it on. It wasn't my first or last failure with fountain pens but in this case I was left with the niggling suspicion that the main issue was the rather too generous flow, not the flex.

So, when a few weeks ago a Pilot Falcon was advertised for sale at the local digital marketplace, I jumped at the opportunity and bought a nice, practically new Falcon with a soft fine nib from a hobbyist with an impressive collection. The new Falcon was made of resin, so it felt much lighter than the metal one but not uncomfortably so. Being large enough and well balanced, it rested safely and stably in my hand (always unposted), while the rather toothy nib sled effortlessly on paper. Unlike the medium nib of the old pen, the new fine nib remained under control without surprising me with gushes of ink, even with Rohrer and Klingner's Blau Permanent, a wet ink with the tendency to feather on 80 gr copy paper. From the very first day I knew this Falcon was a keeper.

I believe that the main reason for that was that in the intervening years between my first and second Falcon I had more exposure to various kinds of flex. With the experience gained, I had become more patient and controlled with semiflex nibs like the one on the new Falcon. Above all, however, my hunch was proved right: even though I preferred broader nibs, the soft medium on the Falcon was too much for my writing habits. The soft fine worked much better, similarly to most of my vintage flexy nibs, which seldom go above medium.

Finally, how about comparing the soft fine Falcon nib to modern and vintage flex? Having no modern flexy nib inked at the moment, I compared it to a Nakaya Portable with a non-elastic medium nib. The Falcon was clearly softer and more responsive with a bit more line variation. A vintage semiflex, the Aikin Lambert Mercantile, was not much softer than the Falcon but more responsive. Flexible nibs, such as those on a Waterman's Ripple and a Conway Stewart Duro 2A were much softer and allowed for more line variation. The biggest difference, however, was that the vintage nibs were quit immune to railroading. By contrast, a fast or poorly controlled stroke with the Falcon resulted into railroading, which can be seen in the photograph.

The conclusion is a happy one: the soft medium nib made all the difference and the new Falcon became one of the frequently used pens at my desk, especially as it brought out more shading in Blau Permanent than the two Sailors in which the ink has been used previously.

 

20200711_161629.jpg

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What a pleasant outcome from giving the model a second chance. Thank you for describing your journey.

 

I am curious as to what number or proportion of your collection you would characterize as frequently used, and whether that privileged set consists of pens that are quite similar to one another or quite different and hence useful for different purposes.

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TheDutchGuy

Glad to hear that you found a Falcon which works well for you! A modern, reliable, affordable flex pen without a sac and with a good nib isn’t easy to find and the Falcon seems to have little competition in its price range. I’ve tried several but so far sparks did not fly (I guess I’m a bit spoilt by my vintage flex pen). The Falcon is still on my radar, though.

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alexander_k

What a pleasant outcome from giving the model a second chance. Thank you for describing your journey.

 

I am curious as to what number or proportion of your collection you would characterize as frequently used, and whether that privileged set consists of pens that are quite similar to one another or quite different and hence useful for different purposes.

 

I'd say that at least 25 pens are inked and in use every week. Another 50 has to wait patiently for their turn, while slightly more than that are waiting to be repaired. Oh yes, and another 10-15 waits to be sold or given away. So, I'm proud to say that I've finally managed to reduce my collection to the bare minimum ;-)

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Finally, how about comparing the soft fine Falcon nib to modern and vintage flex? Having no modern flexy nib inked at the moment, I compared it to a Nakaya Portable with a non-elastic medium nib. The Falcon was clearly softer and more responsive with a bit more line variation. A vintage semiflex, the Aikin Lambert Mercantile, was not much softer than the Falcon but more responsive. Flexible nibs, such as those on a Waterman's Ripple and a Conway Stewart Duro 2A were much softer and allowed for more line variation. The biggest difference, however, was that the vintage nibs were quit immune to railroading. By contrast, a fast or poorly controlled stroke with the Falcon resulted into railroading, which can be seen in the photograph.

 

I use the Falcon often for practicing Spencerian - contrary to popular opinion, I wouldn't say it's a 'flex' or even 'semi-flex' nib by any standards - it's a Japanese nib that produces minor line variation on the downstroke...my experience is that it needs so much force to flex that it ultimately digs into the paper and I lose control of the movement.

The grind is also somewhat different than the usual western nibs - sideways movement is scratchier than vertical movement, again, suitable for Japanese with lots of vertical strokes. The feed is also not designed to sustain flex beyond small strokes.

 

As a comparison, I tried a Pilot 53R from the 50s recently which also has a 14k gold nib. It achieves a similar amount of flex with relatively little pressure, typical of pens of that era.

 

But, as others have mentioned, the Falcon a decent modern fountain pen for the price, with a 'finer than EF' nib for practicing Palmer or Spencerian.

Edited by proton007

In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts

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  • 1 month later...

When I first got the Falcon - modded by Mottishaw for flex and CI - it was difficult for me to write with. I stuck with it, and agree with the above, it takes some amount of patience and skill to use these pens. Whenever I see a negative review of the pen now, I wonder if the user isn't simply used to how a pen should "feel" and is turned off if it's different in any way. One of the greatest joys of this hobby is being able to master the tool, allowing it to take you where you might not have gone otherwise.

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inkstainedruth

I'm glad I ran across this thread. Especially with the two new colors of Falcons about to come out (blue and purple). The impression I've gotten in the past is that the nibs aren't "flexy" per se -- just that they're soft and maybe springy (my first Pelikan, an older M400, has a nib like that).

​Modified nibs like what you've got, pensmahrt, is going to be a whole different animal from what I'm talking about -- your nib was worked on specifically to add to the flex. But I wonder whether yours will give the same writing experience as, say, the vintage music nib harvested off a no-name lever filler I've now got gracing a Parker Parkette....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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...

Finally, how about comparing the soft fine Falcon nib to modern and vintage flex? Having no modern flexy nib inked at the moment, I compared it to a Nakaya Portable with a non-elastic medium nib. The Falcon was clearly softer and more responsive with a bit more line variation. A vintage semiflex, the Aikin Lambert Mercantile, was not much softer than the Falcon but more responsive. Flexible nibs, such as those on a Waterman's Ripple and a Conway Stewart Duro 2A were much softer and allowed for more line variation. The biggest difference, however, was that the vintage nibs were quit immune to railroading. By contrast, a fast or poorly controlled stroke with the Falcon resulted into railroading, which can be seen in the photograph. ...

 

Hi the falcon in the pic is the metal one. HTH.

In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

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I had my EF metal falcon modified for spencerian (needlepoint + flex)

 

Biggest takeaway? The flex honestly sucks. It's still quite firm and barely, BARELY squeaks out 1mm lines.

 

But what surprised me the most?

 

I use it CONSTANTLY.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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inkstainedruth

I didn't know new Falcon colors were coming out. Do you know when?

According to the email from Goulet Pens, sometime in October. They won't have the B nib, just EF/F/M, but I suspect that other places will (I have to decide if I can afford one -- I spent a lot of money yesterday -- and which nib I'm going to want).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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According to the email from Goulet Pens, sometime in October. They won't have the B nib, just EF/F/M, but I suspect that other places will (I have to decide if I can afford one -- I spent a lot of money yesterday -- and which nib I'm going to want).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

Ah, thanks for letting me know!

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inkstainedruth

I had my EF metal falcon modified for spencerian (needlepoint + flex)

 

Biggest takeaway? The flex honestly sucks. It's still quite firm and barely, BARELY squeaks out 1mm lines.

 

But what surprised me the most?

 

I use it CONSTANTLY.

:lticaptd:

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Well I don't like metal pens at all, but have two metal Falcons - a SF (which writes way too wide and has been a disappointment from the moment I got it) and a more recently acquired SEF that I like a lot.

 

In hindsight that SF is the second pen from the same supplier that came with a dodgy nib. The other was a Sailor Profit fude that was bent way beyond what it should have been, but I thought it was just an awful nib without realising this particular one was damaged. Both these pens were early purchased in this hobby and I had no experience with their type. Anyone with more experience would have returned them. I will now just avoid that supplier!

It's all about the greys...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Glad to hear that you found a Falcon which works well for you! A modern, reliable, affordable flex pen without a sac and with a good nib isn’t easy to find and the Falcon seems to have little competition in its price range. I’ve tried several but so far sparks did not fly (I guess I’m a bit spoilt by my vintage flex pen). The Falcon is still on my radar, though.

 

The falcon didn't do much for me either, though I was happy enough scoring a metal falcon EF for $80 off ebay (it was labeled/titled really, really weirdly, so I think nobody saw it) that I sent it off to gena salorino for a spencerian modification. $90 later and it's a favorite. The flex is still terrible, but it's got an unbelievable amount of personality now.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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  • 8 months later...
TheDutchGuy

Pulled the trigger and ordered an SEF. Can’t wait.

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TheDutchGuy

Well, it’s here. And it’s both totally freaking awesome and disappointing at the same time.

 

89B6E112-97CA-462E-A631-D0D76C8FE10A.thumb.jpeg.cec8f9356d3a3cccc0d45c97046c064c.jpeg

 

Awesome, because it feels like an old friend straight out of the box. Without any getting-used-to period, the pen immediately gave me joy and improved my handwriting. For me, that’s rare, and if I do find that in a pen, then it’s bound to be a vintage one. I specifically ordered the resin model because of its low weight and it’s a joy to have it in my hand. That it’s a nice reverse writer is a bonus feature that I will take full advantage of.

 

Disappointing, because it has nothing to do with a Japanese EF.

 

6FC957AC-5362-4CB3-BBC5-301F272484CE.thumb.jpeg.f1c0a45d6aaa8d420ab7602d9c556d18.jpeg

 

^—This compares some Japanese F’s to the Falcon SEF, which I inked with Diamine Majestic Blue. Minimal pressure was used throughout. The photo somehow hides the differences in the downstrokes, which are quite visible here on my page. The SEF is the widest of these pens by far. To demonstrate that once more, I compared it to a Leonardo Furore F, which is a big, fat Western F:

 

39A9E94C-AF87-46B3-996A-DA1C9809C5F3.thumb.jpeg.f111aba635b58ffd50e32551075e88ac.jpeg

 

At first I attributed the line width to my choice of ink, since Majestic Blue is quite wet. So I changed to P4001 Blue Black, a dry ink. This dramatically reduced the wetness, but the line width decreased only marginally. Here is a comparison with a Custom 74 F, with the SEF inked with P4001 BB (you can tell by the paleness how dry the nib has become with this ink):

 

EE495346-4DE9-41CE-997C-E89A9A87FDE7.thumb.jpeg.5545f7d2a20dfaf1690b95ec3ef7fd14.jpeg

 

Whipping out a hand lens, the reason for the overly wide line width became apparent: the nib has a flat foot. By way of comparison, on the second photo you see the nib of my Justus 95 F, which has twice the tipping material but no flat foot.

 

08BA1B88-A609-42B6-BA41-F6BD9340F412.thumb.jpeg.8df857bcfe1753696f4226a11dd55bf5.jpeg

^—the Falcon SEF nib

 

899852CC-E3AA-4DC6-88FA-CDE4023988A5.thumb.jpeg.621483a8284d8b7b913870ee0ff869aa.jpeg

^—The Justus F nib

 

Since I’d find it hard to believe that a) Pilot would let a flat-footed SEF out the door and b) that the retailer wouldn’t notice it during their nib test, I’m tempted to assume that the retailer smoothed the nib and somehow flat-footed it. Of course I’ll take it up with them.

 

Interesting dilemma. Love this pen and nib, but it’s basically a customized pen and not what I ordered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by TheDutchGuy
Typo fixing
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