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Thread: "Springy"?

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Then there's the term "mushy" used in our classifieds to describe a nib in comparison to a stiffer nib.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Thinking about this, since I have listed pens as having a nib with spring to it... That characteristic does effect the way the nib writes, and how the nib works with my hand. I do not like flexible nibs, especially wet noodle. I find even semi-flex hard to control. Spring though, I can deal with. It's a personal taste thing, but significant for me. I simply can not control, nor do I have the patience to learn how to control, a flex nib. If I see the word "flex" in a listing, I move on. But spring, I can live with. The distinction is important to me because while I avoid the one, the other may be interesting.

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    Senior Member AzJon's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Then there's the term "mushy" used in our classifieds to describe a nib in comparison to a stiffer nib.
    I assume "mushy" is being used to describe the snap-back on the nib when flexing. I reckon this applies to most modern steel "flex" nibs and some gold ones. The Pilot Falcon has a very soft, non-snappy, flex, imo.

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    I have a Sailor 1911 with a 21K broad nib that I recently sent to Michael Masuyama to grind into a cursive italic. When I first queried him, I told him that I owned a few vintage Sheaffer and Parker pens from the 30s and 40s with slightly springy stub nibs, and I asked him if it were possible to make the 1911's nib behave similarly. Turned out it wasn't, so I opted for the cursive italic. Here is Mr. Masuyama's reply to my query:

    David,

    I have read your first email as well as this one.
    Unfortunately, modification to add flex is only done to 14kt gold nibs. 18kt or 21kt alloy are too soft.

    Few things you need to be aware of.
    Vintage flexible nibs are springy, elastic and strong due to the fact that they are "forged" nibs. Forging process makes metal strong,
    tenacious, and springy so that if you bend it, it bounces back to the original shape. 100% of modern nibs are made of "cold rolled" metal.
    A chunk of gold alloy (14kt, 18kt, 21kt, etc) are thinned going between 2 rollers. The thin metal plate is then die cut into the nib shape, and
    pressed into the nib form (for the arch) before the writing tip is attached and decorative stamping is applied. Cold rolled plate is not as strong or
    springy as a forged plate. In order to give some bounce to modern nibs, the nib plate is tapered. (thick at the tip and thinner toward the foot of the nib)

    Adding flex modification involves "thinning" tines by shaving material off the back of nib tines so that the nib tines "give" more when pressed on the
    nib. Because the nibs becomes "thinner", 18kt gold alloy and 21kt gold alloy are too weak and such modification compromises the integrity of the
    nib.

    If you want a little extra bounce to modern nibs, you need to pick a 14kt gold nib (ideally #6 size nib) for a modification base.
    There are so called "flexible" nibs available from a number of European brands. Aurora, Eversharp, etc. They are soft, but NOT necessarily
    flexible. I repair many sprung modern "flexible nibs" every week because folks were mislead that the nibs to be flexible and applied excessive
    pressure for line variations, ended up sprung the nib tines. I don't really care what they call those nibs. But they are not as springy or
    elastic as those of forged vintage nibs.

    If you like the bounce feel of those old Sheaffer and Parker soft feel nibs, just stick with those and do not attempt to copy the feel of those nibs
    by modifying modern nibs. I can add some more bounce to modern 14kt gold nibs, but the feel is not the same. And if you apply a little too much
    flex to the modern modified flex added nibs, you end up springing the nib tines.

    Hope this helps.

    Michael
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    That's a really nice way to put it. It describes what I have noticed as the difference in feel between, say a 1930s Sheaffer Feathertouch and a modern Pelikan M200.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    "Forged" is the magic word when it comes to nibs.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    That's interesting, because the rolling out of the gold should cause a stretching of the gold grain structure, which would create tensile strength vs. annealed gold. I wonder if its a matter of what your starting gold width is, e.g. is the gold that is being rolled out already in an annealed plate form or is it starting from a relatively dense ingot that is rolled a significant number of times. This only occurs to me because there is no such thing as "hot" or "cold" forging with gold. All gold is worked in a cool state, it would shatter otherwise.

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    As I recall from discussions with penmeisters at pen shows long past, the 14k gold sheet was turned upon itself and rolled again and again, like filo dough. I don't know what the term of art is for that process.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    14K gold means 58% so bear in mind that it's not at all like pure gold. I don't believe pure gold is anneal-able. It is, and remains soft when worked. It is normally mixed with all kinds of metals. For jewelry, typically silver and copper in proportions to give it whatever desired color from lemon to rose. I've also seen it with nickel to make it hard and scratch resistant. I don't know what metals they use for gold nibs but in my opinion there's little value in discussing its metallurgical properties without clarifying the actual composition. Maybe there's a metallurgist or gold smith here who can correct me.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    14K gold means 58% so bear in mind that it's not at all like pure gold. I don't believe pure gold is anneal-able. It is, and remains soft when worked. It is normally mixed with all kinds of metals. For jewelry, typically silver and copper in proportions to give it whatever desired color from lemon to rose. I've also seen it with nickel to make it hard and scratch resistant. I don't know what metals they use for gold nibs but in my opinion there's little value in discussing its metallurgical properties without clarifying the actual composition. Maybe there's a metallurgist or gold smith here who can correct me.
    Sure. 18kt is softer than 14kt, but we still have fairly firm 18kt nibs out there, but are often said to make terrible flex nibs.

    You are correct that 24kt gold doesn't need to be annealed as it is very soft, but most vintage nibs are 14kt, so.


    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    As I recall from discussions with penmeisters at pen shows long past, the 14k gold sheet was turned upon itself and rolled again and again, like filo dough. I don't know what the term of art is for that process.
    Apropos your comment, here is an image from the Wahl Company:



    See step 5.

    https://archive.org/details/historyo...ge/58/mode/2up

    This company hammers the nib after its been rolled for "springiness or elasticity".

    This Glorious Nippon Steel! BS regarding folding is pure fabrication.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post

    Sure. 18kt is softer than 14kt, but we still have fairly firm 18kt nibs out there, but are often said to make terrible flex nibs.

    You are correct that 24kt gold doesn't need to be annealed as it is very soft, but most vintage nibs are 14kt, so.


    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    As I recall from discussions with penmeisters at pen shows long past, the 14k gold sheet was turned upon itself and rolled again and again, like filo dough. I don't know what the term of art is for that process.
    Apropos your comment, here is an image from the Wahl Company:



    See step 5.

    https://archive.org/details/historyo...ge/58/mode/2up

    This company hammers the nib after its been rolled for "springiness or elasticity".

    This Glorious Nippon Steel! BS regarding folding is pure fabrication.
    I still have no idea what a 14K nib is made of. Is it copper? That would make sense because that can be quite hard and springy when not annealed. The Wahl information leaves out that part and explains what they do after the nib metal is produced.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by AzJon View Post

    Sure. 18kt is softer than 14kt, but we still have fairly firm 18kt nibs out there, but are often said to make terrible flex nibs.

    You are correct that 24kt gold doesn't need to be annealed as it is very soft, but most vintage nibs are 14kt, so.


    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    As I recall from discussions with penmeisters at pen shows long past, the 14k gold sheet was turned upon itself and rolled again and again, like filo dough. I don't know what the term of art is for that process.
    Apropos your comment, here is an image from the Wahl Company:



    See step 5.

    https://archive.org/details/historyo...ge/58/mode/2up

    This company hammers the nib after its been rolled for "springiness or elasticity".

    This Glorious Nippon Steel! BS regarding folding is pure fabrication.
    I still have no idea what a 14K nib is made of. Is it copper? That would make sense because that can be quite hard and springy when not annealed. The Wahl information leaves out that part and explains what they do after the nib metal is produced.
    585 Gold (in the US 14K Gold) is usually a mix of:

    58% Gold
    4-28% Silver
    14-28% Copper

    What it exactly contains (beside of the 58% gold) depends of the manufacturer and the purpose of the planned usage.
    The above mixing rate is usually used for creating jewelry.

    Pure gold is way too soft to use in almost all applications, therefore you alloy it with silver and copper to make it harder, better to work with and more mechanical resistant.

    Beside the usual Silver and Copper also other metals may be used for special requirements (just like e.g. Steel or Aluminum alloys which also contains other metals in changing concentrations depending on the use case) to give the material the desired attributes.

    Beside the 58% Gold nothing is guaranteed.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; September 22nd, 2020 at 11:23 AM.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pterodactylus View Post
    ... Beside the 58% Gold nothing is guaranteed.
    Exactly.

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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Reading the Wahl list it appears that it is only the rolling (part 5) that imparts the springiness. Does that mean that more or less rolling leads to more or less flexibility? And the list does not mention the hammering that can be seen in the linked extract, so was that an additional process that came after part 5?

    Without evidence I have clear doubts that the method for producing flexible nibs is lost, rather that it is not economic in the current market.
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    Senior Member AzJon's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Springy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Reading the Wahl list it appears that it is only the rolling (part 5) that imparts the springiness. Does that mean that more or less rolling leads to more or less flexibility? And the list does not mention the hammering that can be seen in the linked extract, so was that an additional process that came after part 5?

    Without evidence I have clear doubts that the method for producing flexible nibs is lost, rather that it is not economic in the current market.
    Gold will "work harden", which is to say that as it is hammered or rolled, it will become stiffer over time. Its how a thin gold bracelet can have any tensile strength. In an annealed state, you could squeeze a gold bangle in half with your one hand.

    Gold has more workability than, say, silver, but the principle is the same: rolling, hammering, and bending will cause the metal matrix to compress and get stiffer. You can heat the metal back up, which will reform the silver and copper granules, making it soft again. Were you to anneal a nib after making it, it would not withstand virtually any pressure before being sprung. Now, depending on the thickness of the gold, you do need to anneal it with repetative rolling to keep it from being too hard and cracking under pressure.

    I actually reckon that 14kt gold nibs, aside from being made a bit thicker, are heavily rolled to create as much tensile strength as possible in the metal, hence a Pelikan M400 nib (and M600) being an absolute nail. I'm sure that other companies would roll out their gold and anneal it before the last few rollouts. While not perfect, I bet you could get it within a few rolls and get a certain number of nibs that had a flexible quality to them. The punching out of the nib and pressing to for its shape would add further tension. As anyone that has used an array of vintage flex, tine length, nib thickness, and nib width are poor indicators or whether or not a nib is flexible or not. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to tell visually how much flex, if any at all, any given nib will have. To me, that means it has to come down to the structure of the gold itself and how much tension was worked into it.

    Regarding the economics: I also reckon than older nibs show up with flex more often because, as a part of quality control, stiffer, more heavily hardened nibs, were simply melted back down and used again later. This would be done because the style of writing of the time would dictate the need for a flexible nib. The advent of the Business Hand and its thin, even lines, would eliminate the need for flex. Thus, stiffer nibs that are easier to use for larger groups of people, with fewer odds of damaging a nib.

    We also see relatively flexible (certainly lovely semi-flex) Pelikan pens well into the 60s, reliably. I believe this has to do with the last generation of Kurrent script writers being the main demand for gold nib pens, which emphasized more line variation. Even M600s from the 80s have flex in them.

    Anyhow, the notion that the "art of flex nibs" is lost, is, imo, a bunch of hoohaw and its more a matter of economics and outsourcing nib manufacture than acutal technical know-how

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