Flex fountain pen recommendations?

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3,502
First and foremost, calling @jar! I've noticed you're quite prolific on the fountain pen network!

This is also a reach out for anyone else who may be able to help me in my searches. I've been playing around with the Jinhao X750 + Zebra G nib 'frankenpen' with some mixed results. For the most part, they've been hard starters but quickly give in to some quite wet writing. However, as they're situated in a fountain pen, which is naturally wet, they're rusting at an alarming rate as well as the nibs starting to round. I think it's an inherent issue with using an otherwise replaceable nib in an unfriendly-to-replace host.

Which brings me onto my question;

Where can I find a relatively inexpensive, semi-to-full-flex fountain pen?

I've seen a lot of talk of Noodlers' Ahab and/or Konrad pens with modifications to improve flex and flow, though that goes back down the DIY route. How about flexible pens out the box?

Price-wise, I'd probably be looking to spend no more than £45 (off the top of my head) as it would be a works' pen and used for daily writing. For reference, I'm enjoying using Diamine Ruby and Diamine Majestic Purple these days.

Cheers!
 

jar

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216
Location
Deep South Texas
Where can I find a relatively inexpensive, semi-to-full-flex fountain pen?

You can't in fountain pens. The reasonable place to look is in dip pens where you can still find real flexible nibs.

There aren't many true flex fountain pens being made these days and the few companies that are or were (Omas) making them were not inexpensive. Also, flex nibs really don't work well as a work's pen.

If you want a works pen that also provides some contrast in writing look for the variations in italic nibs, While Hard or Sharp Italic demands slow and controlled writing, Cursive Italic and Stub nibs work great as general work-horse pens.

One possible exception is the Esterbrook family. The nibs were simple user changeable screw in units and the characteristics were clearly labeled in a 4 digit system. There are several dealers that specialize in Esterbrooks and can get you started.

Esterbrook pens were well made, pretty durable, came in several sizes and colors and while never fancy they simply worked.
 
OP
Benz3ne
Messages
3,502
Where can I find a relatively inexpensive, semi-to-full-flex fountain pen?

You can't in fountain pens. The reasonable place to look is in dip pens where you can still find real flexible nibs.

There aren't many true flex fountain pens being made these days and the few companies that are or were (Omas) making them were not inexpensive. Also, flex nibs really don't work well as a work's pen.

If you want a works pen that also provides some contrast in writing look for the variations in italic nibs, While Hard or Sharp Italic demands slow and controlled writing, Cursive Italic and Stub nibs work great as general work-horse pens.

One possible exception is the Esterbrook family. The nibs were simple user changeable screw in units and the characteristics were clearly labeled in a 4 digit system. There are several dealers that specialize in Esterbrooks and can get you started.

Esterbrook pens were well made, pretty durable, came in several sizes and colors and while never fancy they simply worked.
Thanks for the comprehensive reply.

Unfortunately, I think a dip pen would be a step further away from my 'ideal' pen - that is, one which has at least a little flex as well as retaining ink in a reservoir. Hence, I've started looking at the Noodler's pens. I think an ebonite feed plus an inexpensive pen with replaceable nibs might be a decent 'jumping off' point. Thereafter, I can look at more expensive fountain pens. Fortunately, work doesn't involve too much writing, but I'm enjoying having the line variations and suchlike in the pens I'm using currently (the aforementioned Jinhao's). Perhaps a titanium Zebra G would have helped me out more than a steel one?

Thanks for the suggestion of an italic nib, also.

The Esterbrook pens do sound like they could be a happy medium between something with a bit of flex and a 'workhorse' pen. My only hindrance may be price, but I won't know until I look around!
 
Messages
1,819
Location
Silly Suffolk
First and foremost, calling @jar! I've noticed you're quite prolific on the fountain pen network!

This is also a reach out for anyone else who may be able to help me in my searches. I've been playing around with the Jinhao X750 + Zebra G nib 'frankenpen' with some mixed results. For the most part, they've been hard starters but quickly give in to some quite wet writing. However, as they're situated in a fountain pen, which is naturally wet, they're rusting at an alarming rate as well as the nibs starting to round. I think it's an inherent issue with using an otherwise replaceable nib in an unfriendly-to-replace host.

Which brings me onto my question;

Where can I find a relatively inexpensive, semi-to-full-flex fountain pen?

I've seen a lot of talk of Noodlers' Ahab and/or Konrad pens with modifications to improve flex and flow, though that goes back down the DIY route. How about flexible pens out the box?

Price-wise, I'd probably be looking to spend no more than £45 (off the top of my head) as it would be a works' pen and used for daily writing. For reference, I'm enjoying using Diamine Ruby and Diamine Majestic Purple these days.

Cheers!
You can now get the Zebra nib in titanium, which I see is available on Amazon at £17 for 10. They do last a lot longer, but, in common with the semi-flex Bock FP titanium nib, they'll spring if you push them too hard. I have a couple of Jinhao/Zebra "Frankenpens" I set up for myself (with some difficulty).

I've got several Mabie Todd and Mentmore flex vintage pens, with gold nibs, but I want them to last me out. Therefore, for day to day use, I have Noodlers Ahab, Nib Creaper and Dixie pens, of which the Dixie is the best. Some worked out of the box, and some needed heat-setting and other work.

The best new flex pens, at reasonable prices, that I've bought lately are the Indian ones sold by Fountain Pen Revolution in the USA. Again, it's a bit pot-luck, but I have a Guru, a Kanwrite and a Himalaya (won in an FPR competition) which are all good flex writers from the off. I'm planning to commission a special pen from a chap in India, but he's booked up for ages ahead. Again, the FPR ranges are a mixed bag; some work "OOTB" and some need tinkering, but I don't know until I get it/them.

As I guess you know, some inks work well for flex, and others are hopeless; usually too dry-running, in my experience. Diamines are usually OK, unless you go in for shimmer inks and other similar novelties (I don't !).

I have an idea that someone in the States is going to produce "proper" flex nibs, but I doubt they'll be anything but expensive.

If you're fortunate and get an OOTB pen, it's possible to produce a reasonable flex hand with the current pens I've mentioned, but it requires more work and concentration than I'd give with a decades old old pure gold flex nib, which will run generously wet and as smooth as butter.
 
Messages
226
I wasn't too impressed with the Jinhao and Zebra nib combo. I was happier with the standard nib, I would also suggest a dip pen with G nibs


 
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Messages
1,819
Location
Silly Suffolk
I wasn't too impressed with the Jinhao and Zebra nib combo. I was happier with the standard nib, I would also suggest a dip pen with G nibs


Certainly the Zebra nib is best in its intended use as a dip pen nib. The Jinhao-Zebra fountain pen combination is sporadically good, but mine are always quick to dry out and hard to start. Even with the smoothest-running inks, it feels far more scratchy than the nib ever does in a pen holder. Personally, I think the Jinhao feed needs some work, but as it's plastic and not ebonite, it's not clear to me how to go about it. To be honest, I'm not especially interested in trying to make a silk purse of that particular sow's ear, even if it could be done.
 
OP
Benz3ne
Messages
3,502
Thanks all for the detailed responses. :) plenty to take on board! I’m very tempted to buy a Noodler Ahab or similar to modify, despite my reluctance to in my original post.

I also saw mentioned an “overfeed”, designed to give additional capillary action towards the nib, but not affecting the flex of the pen. Tried it with a piece of sticky tape today on a Jinhao Flex and, despite the shortcomings of the nib in its current state, worked surprisingly well. A couple of hard starts but that was not due to any lack of ink. Once going, no railroading and no short supply... may look into this further...

A dip pen would certainly be a nice ‘hobby’ item. I may get one for some calligraphy in what little spare time I’m getting these days. :)
 
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