Anyone with a recommendation for a #fountainpen? I've been considering getting one and just completed my self-imposed two-month test run with a disposable Pilot Varsity with satisfactory results. Here's what I'm looking for:
Something fairly slim, say 11mm barrel or less
Vacuum/plunger fill, piston would be a reasonable alternative
Flexible nib would be a plus
So far I think my best option might be a used Conklin Nozac Vest Pocket or perhaps a Sheaffer Balance Slender. I don't mind a little DIY effort, but if it'd take expensive specialised tools to maintain an old pen, then maybe I'm better off looking at newer models. What #fountainpens can the Fediverse recommend?
@khird You are speaking my language! I am a huge fountain pen collector and every day user.
So for starters you can fit a vacuum/plunger converter in virtually any fountain pen, so that doesnt need to be a criteria... slim shouldnt be too hard (though to be fair im not sure the exact sizes)... Where you might run into some issues is the flex nib.
Modern flex nibs are either very expensive (~500 USD), or very poor performing (to the point of being useless)... Your best bet is to either give up on flex, accept just a small amount of flex (we wouldnt really call that a flex nib usually), or buy vintage if you really want good flex.
In fact, vintage pens are a great idea overall if you really want the best writing instrument possible for the price.
Whats your price range/?
@freemo I've found three candidates in the models I mentioned above for less than 100USD. From the descriptions, they need some work, but unless someone pipes up to say that such repair isn't feasible as a DIY project, the price to beat currently stands at 75USD. At 30USD I can impulse buy.
I'm happy with it being only semi-flex - my understanding is that there's a negative correlation between robustness and flexibility in nibs, and as a relatively new fountain pen user it's probably wisest not to get anything that I'd damage unintentionally (especially if it's some collectible vintage item). I'd just like to get a bit of line variation.
@khird Flexible nibs are more delecate, its true, and you will hear people caution you... but I wouldnt let that stop you. I had absolutely no writing skills and my first pen was a wet noodle (as delicate and flexible as you can get).. as long as your mindful its fine, i have yet to bend a nib. Just be mindful.
That said, its more about writing style.. A flexible nib is for signing and requires a type of writing style very different from a firm nib. So it simply may not be a fit for that reason. Generally a flex nib wont be great for fast note-taking like writing. But its amazing if you want your writing to look good.
What sort of work do the pens you have your eye on need, maybe I can give you some idea as to how doable it is, I've done some minor repairs on a few pens.
By the way if you just want a nice standard firm nib pen that is a workhorse, lamy is a relatively cheap but very reliable pen.
@freemo of the three:
1. A Nozac QF which is described "plunger knob is detached" - it's not clear whether this means from the plunger shaft or from the body
2. A Sheaffer Balance which is described "vacuum filler requires attention"
3. Another Sheaffer Balance which is described "the filling system will need to be restored"
I see your point about flexibility vs application. I'd put my need somewhere in the middle - neither very slow writing like signatures only, nor very fast writing like taking dictation or stenography. Mainly note-taking and letter-writing.
@khird Its hard to say from mjust a description but I suspect all three of these likely would need a spare part to be repaired. They may not be easy fixes (photos of the damage might help).
Sheafer balance should be a fine every day writer for you you.
If you do want a bit of flex but firm enough to be an every day writer and not too delicate consider the pilot falcon
Attached is an image of three pens with various degrees of flex, all but the bottom one would be fgirm enough for every day writing but with good flex when engaged. The middle one is the pilot falcon
@khird I'd suggest a Noodler's Standard Flex aka Nib Creaper. It's piston-filling, but slim, with an ink window, ebonite feed, & available in a variety of colours (I have a cobalt one, which was my first Flex pen). Made from cotton butyrate --a compostable plastic-- which can breakdown if discarded/composted but will remain solid if stored in a drawer. It does have an odour to it (more or less depending on the colour), which some may find off-putting, but that does wear off over time.
@khird You should probably stick with a new pen. Vintage pens require upkeep and if you don't know what you're looking for, you can wind up with a very expensive repair. Vintage Conklins can be very expensive. Go with Lamy, Pilot, Monteverdi, Opus, etc. They don't generally have flex but you can get the nibs in a variety of widths and styles and they write beautifully.
@Bee Ah, thanks. Any ideas what models of those I ought to be considering? I'll note that TWSBI also offers a number of attractively-priced vacuum/plunger and piston fill pens, but they're quite wide for my liking.
@khird If you are just getting your toes wet you might want to try a TWSBI Swipe to start. They are in the US$25-30 range and come packaged with two converters (twist and vacuum plunger.) Not a bad price for what you get. I believe the grip is in the 8-9mm range and the barrel is around 13.
I can't speak to flexibility, as I don't bear down on the nib. (Mom taught me to use very light pressure when she let me try her pen when I was a kid.)
@khird Hi Kyle, I'm not sure why people are suggesting Lamis. They are neither plunger nor flex. You might as well stay with your Pilot.
For flex, do check out Noodlers. I have a Nib Creaper that I like, but the Ahab has a plunger, has gorgeous colors and are inexpensive. The body goes from 10-14mm.
Before spending a lot, I would observe that I keep coming back to my Platinum Preppys (like your Pilot) simply for reliability and smoothness.
@khird Gerry Berg is generally regarded as the vintage plunger/vacuum filler repair and restoration specialist. These can be tricky because they require gasket/seal replacement. I don’t know that he has his own website but his contact info is on this page. https://www.fivestarpens.com/links_to_other_pen_sites.html
I’ve used AT Cross fountain pens, I have two, both metal bodies. One is quite solid and heavy while the other is a finer, lighter, design. However, my most often used fountain pen is a Lamy Safari design. It’s light to hold and probably the most comfortable of the three. All have screw/piston ink holders.
The Lamy is perhaps worth a punt, not too expensive.
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