Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    592
    Thanks
    232
    Thanked 278 Times in 150 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    I've been noticing lately more cracked nibs on Ebay. Mainly "good to decent" vintage pens Mentmore’s, De Le Rue’s, Waterman’s, Burnham’s, Conway’s etc.

    Whilst failure from general use very well could be the reason. However, the placement of these cracks suggests undue pressure is the problem. Commonly the area around the breather hole. Where failure would occur due to “flexing”.

    Flexible nibs are outside of my area of knowledge so my experience is limited.

    It could be debated how many of those nibs were actually flexible and how many were improperly used? Some very well may have been used correctly and just failed through normal use.

    So I was thinking are there actually durable flexible nibs?

    From what I recall the tipping of a nib should last around 25 years of good use (I can't recall a source) however is this really the case with pushing out line variation. Clearly there is a lot that goes into making flexible nibs and it definitely could be agreed that certain nibs can yield more than others and show no obvious signs of fatigue.

    However, from a general point of view putting undue stress on a nib either through a heavy hand or squeezing out line variation would make a nib fail sooner. Back when softer nibs were widely available a replacement nib here and there probably wasn't an issue. Clearly finding replacements these days is a lot harder.

    So my question is, is the life span of a flexible nib used correctly generally shorter than a rigid nib or will a nib with true flexible nib characteristics actually last on the same time scales as a rigid nib?

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to top pen For This Useful Post:

    damfino (October 11th, 2020)

  3. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    96
    Thanks
    17
    Thanked 90 Times in 56 Posts
    Rep Power
    4

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    In my limited personal experience, I would say they are durable providing they are not abused. I have two Conway Stewart's with flexible nibs, one 1930s vintage and the other a 1950s vintage. Both are intact and function perfectly.

    I should add that I remember reading a long time ago that the nibs from about 1950 were made stronger to withstand added downward pressure as Biros became more common.
    Last edited by An old bloke; October 10th, 2020 at 05:18 PM.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to An old bloke For This Useful Post:

    damfino (October 11th, 2020), penwash (October 12th, 2020)

  5. #3
    Member eachan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    Highlands of Scotland
    Posts
    49
    Thanks
    116
    Thanked 37 Times in 19 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    Mentmores, Conway Stewarts and Burnhams are not often flexible. It is more likely that these nibs were damaged by people trying to force flexibility that the nib was not capable of. A truly flexible nib is very durable. I've often had very flexible Swans over one hundred years old.

    These broken nibs may well be the result of the modern craze for flex. You only have to see the photos of ridiculously extended nibs that some sellers produce to realise how little mechanical sympathy some people have.

  6. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to eachan For This Useful Post:

    AzJon (October 12th, 2020), damfino (October 11th, 2020), Jon Szanto (October 10th, 2020), penwash (October 12th, 2020), SchaumburgSwan (October 10th, 2020), TFarnon (October 11th, 2020), welch (October 16th, 2020)

  7. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    31
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 7 Times in 5 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    I am by no means an authority but I did study metallurgy back in the day. My guess would be aa truly flexible nib should be quite durable becasue it is elastically flexing and returning. What Ibelieve youa re seeing is nibs that are not flexible being flexed and thus causing plastic deformation that eventually leads to failure. Just becasue you can push down on a nib and the tines spread a bit doesn't make the nib a flexible nib and doing so to one that is not meant for it would result in the kinds of damage you noted.

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Aurelius For This Useful Post:

    damfino (October 11th, 2020), Detman101 (October 10th, 2020)

  9. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Dallas, as in the 80's TV Series
    Posts
    2,752
    Thanks
    1,890
    Thanked 3,611 Times in 1,288 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    Ah, flexible nibs. My obsession

    And because I am obsessed with both restoring vintage pens and flexible nibs, I probably have handled more of them than FP hobbyists on average. And more importantly, I believe my experience mirrors those who have comparable (or much more) "hours" than I do.

    Based on that experience, I can say that nibs that were made to be flexible are indeed durable, sometimes scarily so, as it is evident in the number of flexible nibs that I were able to repair, back into service. All 14K gold, by the way.

    As far as their durability when writing, we have to consider that most of the time, flexible nibs are used to write normally (no flex), so their durability shouldn't be less than their firm buddies. But even when they are used for flex writing, the good ones -- that were designed to flex -- show no stress and (it's hard to explain it in words) they feel "up to the task".

    Now, I have to also add that I always, always, attempt to inform anyone who would listen, to take it easy, to never "punch the gas" before they actually are familiar with the nib. I have a collection of emails from my buyers who thanked me for this caution, and for some with whom I keep in touch, they are still using their flex nibs years after they bought it from me.

    As for photos or listings with broken nibs on ebay, well, ebay has never been a good compass for merchandise quality, especially when it comes to one-off items such as vintage pens. So buyers be cautioned, and again, experience does help in navigating the wild-wild-bay
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

  10. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to penwash For This Useful Post:

    AzJon (October 12th, 2020), damfino (October 11th, 2020), Detman101 (October 11th, 2020), eachan (October 11th, 2020), Jon Szanto (October 12th, 2020), manoeuver (October 13th, 2020), oldstoat (October 17th, 2020), Stands on Feet (October 12th, 2020), TFarnon (October 11th, 2020)

  11. #6
    Senior Member Wahl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Spain
    Posts
    1,150
    Thanks
    19
    Thanked 254 Times in 194 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    Agree with @penwash, you can flex, but should nor "overflex" !

  12. #7
    Senior Member AzJon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Flagstaff
    Posts
    705
    Thanks
    993
    Thanked 701 Times in 302 Posts
    Rep Power
    5

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    This is also why I prefer the definition of flex to be in terms of ease of flex, not size of the swell.

    I was sold a Conklin with a "superflex" nib on it recently that was barely above semi-flex in my opinion, but, when forced, made large swells (I was uncomfortable creating lines to the size of the swells seen in the sellers image by about half).

    Flex is not, and should not, be about the line-width variation, but the responsiveness of the nib.

  13. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to AzJon For This Useful Post:

    Ahriman4891 (October 18th, 2020), azkid (October 12th, 2020), Detman101 (October 12th, 2020), Jon Szanto (October 12th, 2020)

  14. #8
    Senior Member Scrawler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,100
    Thanks
    1,007
    Thanked 1,036 Times in 481 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    Some people think it fun to push nibs to their elastic limit. When a gold nib is pushed a work hardening process occurs and the nib becomes relatively more brittle and cracks happen. The secret to all nibs lasting is to keep them well within their elastic limit and don't go showing off how broad your nib can go. I don't think it is a good idea to go beyond 60% of the flexibility of any nib.

  15. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Scrawler For This Useful Post:

    Ahriman4891 (October 18th, 2020), AzJon (October 14th, 2020), Detman101 (October 17th, 2020), oldstoat (October 17th, 2020)

  16. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    19
    Thanks
    19
    Thanked 5 Times in 3 Posts
    Rep Power
    0

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    With the popularity of flex nibs being what it is, why aren't more manufacturers making flex nibs?

    Could it be that flex nibs require more maintenance (come out of alignment with time)?

  17. #10
    Senior Member Detman101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    n/a
    Posts
    248
    Thanks
    422
    Thanked 107 Times in 57 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: Are flexible nibs actually durable?

    I'm no expert, but I'm sure that Flex nibs introduce complications to the manufacturing/sales/support process that most manufacturers aren't willing to deal with for a miniscule uptick in profit earned.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •