Pen Class: Economy ($25 and under)
Street Price:: $24.00
Body Material: Ebonite
Nib Material: Steel
Nib Size: Fine-ish Medium
Cap Type: Slip Cap
Filling Mechanism: Aerometric Squeeze / Convertable to Eyedropper
Ink Capacity: Aerometric 0.4 ml / 0.014 oz Eyedropper 3.0 ml / 0.10 oz
Overall Weight: 16 g / 0.57 oz
Cap Weight: 5 g / 0.18 oz
Body Weight: 11 g / 0.39 zo
Overall Length Capped: 147 mm / 5.79 in
Overall Length Posted: 165 mm / 6.50 in
Body Length (not including nib): 108 mm / 4.25 in
Nib Length: 17 mm / 0.67 in
Body Length (including nib): 125 mm / 4.92 in
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 13 mm / 0.51 in
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 15 mm / 0.59 in
Body Diameter at Ink Window: 11 mm / 0.43 in
Body Diameter at Blind Cap End: 9 mm / 0.35 in
If this pen were a movie, it would be…
Fundamental Frolics (1981)
Eric: 3 – The packaging of the Noodler’s Ebonite is identical to that of the Noodler’s Piston Fill Resin, so forgive me while I repeat myself: The pen arrives in a heavy paper box that is decorated with typical Noodler’s art. A thin plastic bag “protects” the pen in the box. Also in the box is a bit of Noodler’s advertising, as well as aerometric filling instructions and instructions for eyedropper conversion. The box itself is not ghastly, but it’s going in the recycling bin.
Dan: 3 – The packing of the Noodler’s Ebonite fountain pen is exactly the same as their Piston Fill Resin fountain pen. I’ve never found the packaging or labels of Noodler’s products to be that interesting. But, one thing I did find interesting was the sheet of paper included inside the box. In addition to the instructions, Nathan retells the story of his inspiration for the design of this pen. He also gives the names of each pen, the green and black woodgrain ebonite pen is called the “Dartmouth” and the brown and black woodgrain ebonite pen is called the “Beaver”.
Eric: 6 – I truly appreciate a pen that gives me options when it comes to the filling system. The Noodler’s Aerometric / Eyedropper Ebonite advertises its filling system duality in its very name. An aerometric filler is nice in and of itself. The option to convert the pen to an eyedropper is icing on the cake. Converting this pen to eyedropper is a simple matter of removing the friction-fit, metal aerometric “pump” and then pulling slowly on the end of the sac (which is glued in place) until it gives way. Converting back to aerometric is as simple as putting everything back in place, but will require a touch of rubber cement for the reattachment of the sac. There is no mention in the instruction of using a bit of silicon grease on the section threads when converting to eyedropper, and perhaps silicon grease is not needed as an o-ring in strategically placed. However, I will be taking no chances and opt for the use of silicon grease.
For the purpose of this review, I have converted my Noodler’s to an eyedropper filler. Correct me if I’m wrong, Dan, but I assume you will be sticking with the aerometric filling system.
Dan: 5.5 – Normally, Eric, you’d be right on. Before having used the pen I would have said I’m keeping it as an aerometric filler. But the aero filler on this pen is so terrible I’m actually using it as an eye-dropper! That says a lot for me because I rarely ever use a pen as an eye-dropper unless it’s specifically made that way and it’s the only way to fill it.
The problem with the aerometric filler is that I could never get more than a quarter of the sac to fill with ink. I think it has to do with the sac being too small in diameter and the material being too “limp”, for lack of a better term. What I mean, exactly, is that when you squeeze the sac it doesn’t have enough rebound to create the vacuum required to pull more ink in. It really makes me appreciate Parker’s design that much more.
Converting to an eye-dropper was simple enough, as Eric described above. But, things didn’t go that easy for me. You can see exactly how it’s done by Nathan in the video below. As you can see, he just pulls it off. I pulled mine off too, but tore the sac in the process. The glue and remaining part of the sac had to be removed from the section. Unlike Eric’s pen, mine did come with silicon grease on the section threads.
Eric: 4 – My test drive did not go well. The ebonite felt good in my hand, but the pen is thinner than I’d like it to be. The nib is not “glide across the paper smooth” but it’s not scratchy. It provides quite a bit of feedback, so if you enjoy that, you’ll be happy with this nib. The main problem was the pen’s propensity for hard starts. I don’t care for a pen that thinks the end of each sentence is equivalent to the tolling of the recess bell. I will hold the nib and feed under lukewarm running water before embarking on the Road Trip hoping to clear away anything left over from the manufacturing process that might be causing a flow problem.
Dan: 7.5 – Eric doesn’t seem to have much luck on Test Drives with Noodler’s pens. Mine was completely different; about the same as with the Piston Fill Resin fountain pen. I filled the
tank pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi (Horse Tail Brown) using the aerometric filler and started scribbling away. The nib was smooth and it laid down a juicy wet line that was very pleasing. I don’t use many ebonite pens and I forgot how nice they feel. It’s warm and soft and seems to be much easier to keep a good grip on, even when there’s a little moisture on my hands.
Eric: 6 – The Noodler’s stainless steel nib (about the same size as a vintage #2) is as basic a nib as you’ll ever find. It has a basic nib shape, a basic nib slit, and a basic, round, breather hole. It is devoid of any decorative embellishments but does announce the maker’s name (NOODLER’S INK Co.). It is an absolutely acceptable nib for an Economy Class pen.
Dan: 6 – Yeah, I don’t have much to add. The one nice thing about the feed is that it is made from ebonite as well. It works well with the nib and delivers a healthy flow that I’m a big fan of. Good job, Noodlers.
Eric: 3 – It is difficult to rate a pen’s performance when the very purpose of the pen (applying ink to paper) is wrought with hesitant starts. If I ignore the hesitant starts, however, I can appreciate that the pen’s eyedropper filling system works just as it should. Flow seems perfect when the pen is actually applying ink to paper. Even with perfect flow and a filling system that works just as it should, however, the importance of the pen’s actual ability to write is the overwhelming factor when considering Performance and I cannot see myself clear to rate the pen any higher in this category.
Dan: 7.5 – The only thing I can complain about on this pen is the performance of the aerometric filler. It’s just terrible. If you buy one of these pens the first thing you need to do is remove the aero filler and make it an eye-dropper. It’ll hold a ton of ink and you won’t have to worry about filling it as often. Everything else about this pen was just dandy. I’ve not noticed any leaks since converting it to an eye-dropper and the flow from the nib and feed have been fantastic. In fact, if there was a standard by which I measured flow, this pen would be it. I know my preference for flow isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s, but unless you prefer a really dry nib I think you’d like this.
Eric: 7.75 – As with all Noodler’s pens, much thought was put into the design of the Aerometric / Eyedropper Ebonite Fountain Pen. The pen is thin, which will make it uncomfortable for some hands during long writing sessions, but the slip cap design makes it a wonderfully convenient pen for quick notes and short messages. The pen was specifically designed to allow for two different filling systems (Aerometric & Eyedropper), which speaks volumes to the design considerations behind the pen. Each pen is hand made (no two are 100% identical). The furniture (clip and cap ring) is understated, neat, tidy and good-looking. Made from ebonite (not plastic), the pen will last a long time but is biodegradable once interred. As the pen’s accompanying instructions humorously state: if you are an environmentalist, this might be an asset, but if you intend to live forever it will be a liability.
Dan: 7.75 – Rarely do I read any of the info that comes with a pen. I usually just tear the box open, fill the pen, and start writing. But I’m glad I didn’t do that this time. On the info sheet that comes with the Noodler’s Ebonite fountain pen you’ll find the reasons why Nathan designed the pen the way he did and where he got his inspiration from. For example, the reason he used a slip cap design is to avoid the frustrating experience of the threads wearing down or even breaking over the long life span this pen is capable of. Another benefit of the slip cap is that you can grip the pen anywhere along the section and barrel and not worry about cap threads making your grip uncomfortable.
Nathan did a very thorough job in designing this pen for practicality and it really makes things easier for the end user. All I can say is thank you, Nathan! But, there is one aesthetic design aspect that just annoys me to death and that’s the little knob on top of the cap. It just doesn’t look right and it certainly doesn’t feel right. I expect a smooth, seamless transition from cap tip, to clip band, to cap body. But you can very much feel the step from one part to the next. It’s not as well done as the rest of the pen seems to be.
Eric: 8 – I am impressed with the detailing that has gone into this Economy Class pen. The junction between the section and barrel is flush to the point of being nearly indiscernible. The oddly shaped upper cap, which makes the pen appear to be wearing a beanie, is not immediately appealing to me but there is no question that it is made well. The cap ring is tasteful and displays the maker’s mark (NOODLERS INK) both neatly and elegantly. Speaking of the cap ring, it is not quite flush to the body of the cap itself and there is a very small gap at the “top” of the ring that should not be there. The barrel of the pen gracefully tapers from the section end to its rounded finale.
Dan: 8.25 – The detailing on this pen is superb. One of the first things I notice on a pen are junctions where two parts screw together, like the section and barrel, or a blind cap to the barrel, etc. Most manufacturers make steps at these locations to avoid having to be so precise. Noodler’s has obviously designed the section to flow smoothing into the barrel and has done an incredible job! There’s only one very small spot that I can feel that isn’t flush and I have to use my finger nail to even notice it. The rest of the pen is superb, no machine marks or rough spots anywhere on the pen.
Eric: 2 – Based on the design and detailing of this pen, I had high hopes that the Road Trip would be at least enjoyable. Unfortunately, it was an exercise in frustration. Although I had rinsed the feed, the pen’s habit of hesitant starting was not alleviated. Just to be clear, when I say “hesitant starting” I mean the pen has a tendency to take little breaks between words. If your sentence is, “Call me asap,” the upstroke of the “m” is likely to be missed completely, even though the pen wrote out the word “Call” without any problem. This hesitancy happened so many times during the Road Trip that I stopped counting somewhere along the 8 minute mark. For the duration of the trip, I attempted to correct the hesitant starts by holding the pen at slightly different angles and rotating the nib slightly clockwise and counter-clockwise. Nothing I did made an improvement.
Obviously, there is a problem somewhere between the nib and feed, possibly involving both. I will play with the set-up and I am hopeful that I will solve the problem. Should you acquire a Noodler’s Ebonite, hopefully you are as willing as I am to tinker with nibs and feeds.
Dan: 7 – My experience couldn’t have been more different than Eric’s. The pen was a performer the entire time. The ebonite just feels lovely in my hand and has actually made me start looking into acquiring more ebonite pens. Like I’ve said previously, the flow was perfect, the nib was smooth, and the overall experience was just really good. The pen is a little thin for my tastes and I would really like to see this design “super-sized”.
– Dual Filling System
– Environmentally Friendly
– May be too Thin for Some Hands
– May be a Problematic Writer
Famous Last Words:
Eric: The Noodler’s Aerometric/Eyedropper Ebonite Fountain Pen is heavy on merits that should not be ignored. My experience with hesitant starts might be an aberration. (Dan and I do not share notes for these reviews. As I write these words, I do not know if Dan had similar problems or a completely different experience.) The story behind the pen itself, which is included on the back of the instructions, it almost worth the price of the pen just for the history lesson it provides.
Dan: It’s really a shame that Eric had such a terrible experience with this pen because based on my ratings alone, it’s the highest scoring Economy pen I’ve tested. If Eric’s writing experience was just half of mine the Noodler’s Ebonite would be the best scoring Economy pen. All I can say is that if you buy one and it’s a good writer, then I think you’ll be very happy with it.
This pen was provided for review by Luxury Brands, LLC.