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Thread: "break in" period? Is it just me?

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    Default "break in" period? Is it just me?

    I swear each nib has a "break in" period. For some pens, a few minutes, or other pens maybe a week of writing.

    What seems to help is a good bit of flexing (yes, even for a stiff steel nib).

    But, a pen seems to write differently and better after the initial break in period?

    Agree or Disagree or you might say, "what is this guy talking about"????


    Mookie

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    Senior Member silverlifter's Avatar
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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Nibs break in due to a number of factors. The most signficant is that the writer, ie., the human pushing the nib, adapts to the peculiarities of the nib. Pushing ink through the pen also helps, as it displaces any residues from manufacturing or storage.

    I disagree, vehemently, that "a good bit of flexing" helps. This only stresses the nib and, unless it is designed to flex, is damaging it, not breaking it in.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlifter View Post
    Nibs break in due to a number of factors. The most signficant is that the writer, ie., the human pushing the nib, adapts to the peculiarities of the nib. Pushing ink through the pen also helps, as it displaces any residues from manufacturing or storage.

    I disagree, vehemently, that "a good bit of flexing" helps. This only stresses the nib and, unless it is designed to flex, is damaging it, not breaking it in.
    I agree with this comment: I disagree, vehemently, that "a good bit of flexing" helps. This only stresses the nib and, unless it is designed to flex, is damaging it, not breaking it in.
    Last edited by Chrissy; January 6th, 2020 at 02:32 PM.
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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Disagree completely !!!!

    Imo there is nothing like a “break in”, that would mean in other words behavior change due to material fatigue.

    What you might think you observe as a “break in” is that YOU (your brain and your muscle memory) adapt to the pen using it , the pen is not adapting to you, you just get used to it and will adapt automatically to the pen.

    As Silverlifter claimed, torturing a nib with pressure is the best way to destroy it, just donˋt do this.

    But this „break in“ myth will probably never die no matter what we will write.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Perhaps you should take the approach that your hand has to be broken in, to work with each new and different nib.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pterodactylus View Post
    Disagree completely !!!!

    Imo there is nothing like a “break in”, that would mean in other words behavior change due to material fatigue.

    What you might think you observe as a “break in” is that YOU (your brain and your muscle memory) adapt to the pen using it , the pen is not adapting to you, you just get used to it and will adapt automatically to the pen.

    As Silverlifter claimed, torturing a nib with pressure is the best way to destroy it, just donˋt do this.

    But this „break in“ myth will probably never die no matter what we will write.
    Take the above advice to heart. I have purchased used pens with non-flex nibs that have been abused or used very heavy handedly resulting in non reversible damage to the nib. I have sent two back to eBay sellers for exactly that reason.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    If a nib changes to suit your hand in minutes or a week, the tipping material wouldn't last very long. In fact I regularly deal with pens approaching 120 years old that have plenty of tipping material. As others have explained, you get on better with the pen because your hand has adjusted to the pen.
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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    There's a similar myth among audiophiles that hardware needs to "burn in", caused by a very similar dynamic. After you listen to new speakers or headphones for a while, you get used to their ideosyncrasies and they start to sound better.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    I dunno, I've definitely had Pelikans that felt better after a couple of fills, and there have been pens with too-tight tines that wrote that bit more freely after I applied a little pressure on the page (and have shown no harm from it in the years since).

    As silverlifter has already identified, writing functions as a kind of flushing process, but I also wonder if nibs and feeds "settle" in much the same way as a new house: if there are any stresses or torque on the nib assembly from being screwed into the pen during manufacturing, for example, those might relax over time through repeated on-off contact with the paper and correct slight misalignment.

    I certainly don't completely buy the idea that it's just my hand adapting to the pen. When I try a pen for the second, third or tenth time after rotating through a dozen other pens, I'd be very impressed if my muscle memory had already produced any noticeable effect.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Yes.

    I find that after up to two weeks of constant use, most new pens are broken in and writing very well.

    Some pens take a day, others take longer. Some need a wash - others need a good scrub with a toothbrush on the feed.

    But I've found that after two weeks is the key - and it has to be used every day.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    I do believe break in is real. The break in might involve muscle memory on our part and an evolution of how the nib is being used on the pen's part.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    I always find this the weirdest conversation when it comes up.
    Pens do change after some use. Maybe it's not the nib. Maybe it is. Maybe it's inner workings. Maybe it's not.
    The muscle memory thing cracks me up as I have way too many pens to remember how I'm supposed to write with this one or that one.
    Some don't change. Some do. As Eciton says upthread, I find with some it takes a refill or two before they really start popping.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Some pens write better after the feed has been saturated and the air/ink exchange gets going (a little less full helps too). I find some P51s sometimes take a little for the ink to settle in the collector, etc. but otherwise I am in the "what is this guy talking about???" camp. heh.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Muscle memory aids in the forming of letters when using a pen. Less so with the weight applied to the nib, or other variables in play.

    For example, consider how you lift objects with one hand. There is no way that you have tried lifting all available objects, and thus by extension cannot have developed a muscle memory on a per object basis. And yet, and yet, we have no difficulty (normally, natch) in instantaneously assessing the weight and fragility of an object we are going to lift. Usually this enjoys a reasonably high degree of accuracy (based on previous experience of apparently similar objects), tho' it also incorporates real time sensory feedback and instant adjustment.

    This explains why once a person has learned how to write, it usually doesn't take much practice to be able to do so with a wide variety of instruments - brushes, pencils of varying softness, nibs of differing widths, pointy sticks in the sand and so on. For sure, some will require a little more adjustment for some people. As a generalisation tho' it sounds reasonable.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by DumDum View Post
    Muscle memory aids in the forming of letters when using a pen. Less so with the weight applied to the nib, or other variables in play.

    For example, consider how you lift objects with one hand. There is no way that you have tried lifting all available objects, and thus by extension cannot have developed a muscle memory on a per object basis. And yet, and yet, we have no difficulty (normally, natch) in instantaneously assessing the weight and fragility of an object we are going to lift. Usually this enjoys a reasonably high degree of accuracy (based on previous experience of apparently similar objects), tho' it also incorporates real time sensory feedback and instant adjustment.

    This explains why once a person has learned how to write, it usually doesn't take much practice to be able to do so with a wide variety of instruments - brushes, pencils of varying softness, nibs of differing widths, pointy sticks in the sand and so on. For sure, some will require a little more adjustment for some people. As a generalisation tho' it sounds reasonable.
    As a generalisation it does.
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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Nibs adjust to a different hand and it’s pressures. If they don’t tubing is needed. As a lefty I note every bit of scratchy tipping on the left tine as a hooker writer. I have been known to use some cardboard even to help smooth out toothy stuff. And I over press nibs and a softer gold nib will tend to tilt ever so little almost a Waverly style adjustment on some pens I have purchased. Steel nibs take some careful force to open up often more manual tuning but use and I find the nib and feed will settle under my hand. Again I press way too hard and don’t care I happily use my pens and if a pen is ruined it’s a parts pen.

    I suppose what others say is we adapt to the pen with use. It makes sense but I gotta tell you if a pen does not work for me in the first few moments of use and I give it more of a serious break in I am not babying the nib. I want the time to produce results in terms of less tooth, more wet or less and I want the nib and feed to settle or will try to heat set it again myself.


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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Nibs adjust to a different hand and it’s pressures.
    Magical self-adjusting nibs must be a Canadian exclusive.

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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    After a period of time spent dry, the feed and nib usually need time to become thoroughly wet. New and old pens need time to do this. Until this happens, a pen may be cranky and prone to writing a thin line or skipping.

    Muscle memory involves finding a pen's sweet spot. This is a different phenomenon that results in breaking in the writer.
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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    Quote Originally Posted by stub View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Nibs adjust to a different hand and it’s pressures.
    Magical self-adjusting nibs must be a Canadian exclusive.
    No magic and so far no sprung nibs either. But pressure yes if I don’t indent my paper it’s dang rare. I caused Richard Binder to cringe when writing. But hey that nib he had to adjust was not sprung but misaligned nib tines due to the pressure and on the left tine over time I wasn’t being gentle with my pen at all.

    Try writing on birch bark wearing mits! Dang cold weather today in fact in SK. Alaska would be warmer for me. Stay warm.

    Lol.


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    Default Re: "break in" period? Is it just me?

    What is being regarded as "breaking in" seems to have shifted from the OP's concentration on the nib. Now feed saturation, filling a Parker 51 collector and even flushing residues seem to be included now. Personally I wouldn't regard these latter tasks as "breaking in", just the normal preparation of a new or long unused pen.
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