I do not own many very expensive pens, however I have reasonable selection of affordable or cheap fountain pens I purchased for testing, to work or because they have been cheap. Sometimes they are hopeless, but from time to time you can find a gem which writes very well. Usually, I tweak them to get the best out of them in terms of writing experience. I spent quite a bit of time learning how to use pens like Noodler’s Ahab or Konrad which for many may be very frustrating. I like Noodler’s pens (especially Ahabs), but I do not like Noodler’s ‘semi-flexible’ steel nibs. I was experimenting with F.P.R. (Fountain Pen Revolution) nibs, which fits Noodler’s Ahab and Konrad pens with no problems, which in my personal opinion works better with these pens. Good quality and well lubricating inks are the keys here. I have few other pens which I really like how they look and how they are build, however the box-standard nib is not doing any justice. Even if pen writes with no issues, the pen itself feels quite generic and a bit soulless. Possibly there is nothing wrong with this, depending what you are expecting, but for my writing I like when nib is springy or softer, and allows to obtain nice looking line variation, which always adds some extra character to written text, making it more visually appealing. But there is a trap here and many novice fountain pen users was tricked, wanting as much flex and as thick line as possible. I believe this is the main source of frustration with Noodler’s pens, which at certain pressure start to railroad, skips causing a headache which possibly resulted few times, that people damped their beloved pens forever. With primed feeder and moderate pressure these pens can give really good results. With small and inexpensive ‘customization’ they may be even better as for instance my Noodler’s Ahab Vulcan Coral with #35 F.P.R. nib, which with the J. Herbin – 1670 Rouge Hematite is one of my ‘daily doodlers’. Most of my inky writing tests are done using customized in the same way clear Ahab demonstrator again with F.P.R nib.
I have pens with standard two-tones stainless steel JOWO nibs, which once tuned appropriately by good nibmeister can be really good. However, they are rather stiff. Golden JOWO nibs are softer and tuned for additional flexing by skilled person may be really really pleasing…but costly.
Recently, I came across a youtube review by Scrivery of stone washed titanium Namisu Orion pen which has been equipped and then tested with nibs made by company called BOCK, which I heard about many times but never write with. In the review both standard steel and titanium Bock nibs are shown and what I found very interesting was how springy these nibs were. So, I decided to give it a go and see what I can do with them myself. The nibs I purchased from Beaufort Ink in the UK are titanium Extra Fine and steel Fine.
I have few pens I wanted to try them out, but the one I was really interested to check was Conklin – All American Yellowstone, which I really like but with standard fitted crescent nib it feels a bit boring. I tried to fit F.P.R. semi-flex steel nib, but the fit was not great. I used it for a while with Noodler’s #6 semi-flex steel nib which fits pretty tight. However, I had some flow issues with that setting, which I was not happy with, especially when I use this very pretty pen on day basis. The good, but quite dry Sailor Jentle – Tokiwa Matsu ink, which I wanted to have with this pen was not helping either. Now was the Bock‘s titanium nib turn.
I have not used original Bock housing that nib came with. The only thing I did was swapping the nibs. Both feeder and housing are original from Conklin. Before I mounted it, I washed the nib in warm, soapy water to get rid of any potential oils used in the manufacturing process, which could affect the ink flow. The Bock nib fits well. Is not too tight, which is good. The steel F nib I temporary placed in my Edison Collier – Perssimon Swirl. Again, I swapped the nibs only.
I must say, the writing experience with the titanium nib is completely different from steel nib. Is also different comparing to gold nibs. The nib gives a bit of toothy feedback. It is not scratchy at all. It feels actually smooth, but gives pleasant feel that nib on the paper has some friction, which I like. I am not big fan of buttery smooth nibs which glide on the paper almost like on the glass. In my opinion the feedback is much less than with gold SF (soft fine) nib in Platinium 3776 I have. With no (or very gentle) pressure there is small line variation between up and down strokes, however with moderate pressure the line variation become significant. Titanium nib is very springy and to my surprise feels actually soft (I always considered Titanium as very hard and durable metal). This is not the case. The ink flows very well, and with moderate pressure and decent speed I have not noticed much railroading on smooth Rhodia paper.
The thing which really surprised me was how springy the steel F nib is. With nearly similar pressure I was able to get almost the same line variation! I agree with Scrively in his video review, that this is rather unusual, especially if you compare Bock steel nib to analogous from JOWO which is fairly firm. I must say not bad at all. The nib itself feels smooth, and the feedback is lesser than with Titanium one. Again, ink (I used Private Reserve – Orange Crush) flows well with no issues. .
On the pictures below you can see how much line variation you can squeeze out from these nibs. Both gave virtually the same line width. However, I would not recommend to push it too hard, especially with the Titanium nib, where tines can bent slightly. Easy to straighten, but with high pressure they may permanently spring.
Concluding, I am very pleased with the final effect I got using both tested Bock nibs. The springiness gives vary nice feel and pleasurable writing experience. My Conklin pen became now to be really decent writing instrument I will exploit now even more.
Some writhing samples with no pressure and moderate pressure applied:
- Disclaimer. All comments and findings only represents my personal views on reviewed products. I have no relation to brands, companies and stores mentioned in this review.