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Thread: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

  1. #21
    Senior Member penwash's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by wingwiper View Post
    I have stuck Noodlers, Goulet, Jowo, Bock nibs into vintage pens, however it seems like sacrilege and usually go back and find the correct or close to it 14k vintage back in it.
    To me, it's not a matter of sacrilege, it's a simple choice between steel modern nibs, or 14k vintage nibs (mostly comes with "character" after decades of existence).

    If I like the pen enough to upgrade the nib, I find that I always gravitate towards a 14K vintage one.

    My issue usually is that I don't have enough of them
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    Senior Member RobJohnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    It is not as if the fitment of a modern nib is a permanent change. I wouldn't swap out a good and original nib in a vintage pen for a modern nib but I would fit something modern on a temporary basis if I had a vintage pen that needed a nib.

    Two examples, I had a no name small button filler without a nib, I fitted a much later Burnham nib to keep the pen in use. I have a 1935 pen that had been in the family from new, it had a terrible steel Warranted nib from new, the pen was unusable. I fitted a modern Indian gold nib/section and feed to keep the pen in use.
    Last edited by RobJohnson; December 28th, 2020 at 01:55 PM.

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    Senior Member grainweevil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobJohnson View Post
    It is not as if the fitment of a modern nib is a permanent change. I wouldn't swap out a good and original nib in a vintage pen for a modern nib but I would fit something modern on a temporary basis if I had a vintage pen that needed a nib.
    Yup, that.

    Quote Originally Posted by da vinci View Post
    Grainweevil, would you share which makes/models of pens you have switched nibs on?
    I was afraid you'd ask that. Let it be said that I'm a bit of an inveterate nib tinkerer, have a fair few pens, and keeping track of what I've done or undone is not a strong point. Off the top of my head I can only think of the modern Kaweco into a 1940s Kaweco Dia and a couple of Schmidts (numbers elude me) in a brace of Cameron and MacNiven eyedroppers that I strongly suspect are not as old as the filling system suggests. Sorry; I'm fully aware those examples are likely as much use as a chocolate teapot.
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    Senior Member Ole Juul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wingwiper View Post
    I have stuck Noodlers, Goulet, Jowo, Bock nibs into vintage pens, however it seems like sacrilege and usually go back and find the correct or close to it 14k vintage back in it.
    To me, it's not a matter of sacrilege, it's a simple choice between steel modern nibs, or 14k vintage nibs (mostly comes with "character" after decades of existence).

    If I like the pen enough to upgrade the nib, I find that I always gravitate towards a 14K vintage one.

    My issue usually is that I don't have enough of them
    I assume that modern 14K nibs aren't worth the money?

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    ...I assume that modern 14K nibs aren't worth the money?
    That's a rather broad assumption. I own a ratio of about 30:70 modern to vintage. My modern Auroras, Sheaffers, Montblancs, Pelikans that come to mind have great nibs. Mind you, the ones I now have are the best of what has passed through my hands, but I cannot agree that broadly modern 14k nibs are not worth the money. Some aren't, to be sure, but you gotta try each to find out.

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    Senior Member Ole Juul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    ...I assume that modern 14K nibs aren't worth the money?
    That's a rather broad assumption. I own a ratio of about 30:70 modern to vintage. My modern Auroras, Sheaffers, Montblancs, Pelikans that come to mind have great nibs. Mind you, the ones I now have are the best of what has passed through my hands, but I cannot agree that broadly modern 14k nibs are not worth the money. Some aren't, to be sure, but you gotta try each to find out.
    I have no such assumption myself. I was talking to @penwash. It seemed to be the case with him, judging by what he said. Hence my question.

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    Senior Member wingwiper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    ...I assume that modern 14K nibs aren't worth the money?
    That's a rather broad assumption. I own a ratio of about 30:70 modern to vintage. My modern Auroras, Sheaffers, Montblancs, Pelikans that come to mind have great nibs. Mind you, the ones I now have are the best of what has passed through my hands, but I cannot agree that broadly modern 14k nibs are not worth the money. Some aren't, to be sure, but you gotta try each to find out.
    I agree with Fred where my ratio is more like 70:30 vintage-modern. The Pilot's, Sailor, Platinum, Pelikan, etc. are all worth the money granted gold has sky-rocketed and you will feel a little pain affording a newer pen paying for a gold nib. I just prefer vintage or buying gold nibbed modern pens 2nd hand these days. I just don't get the prices on some pens with steel nibs?
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    I bought a pen from Lexaf, a Rotring Tintenkuli (I think I spelled that right.) pen that required turning the section and reworking it to accept a Reform fountain pen nib and feed. Does that count? His thread of how he went about the whole thing should be around here somewhere. Here it is: https://fpgeeks.com/forum/showthread...rt-one-The-nib
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by penwash View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by wingwiper View Post
    I have stuck Noodlers, Goulet, Jowo, Bock nibs into vintage pens, however it seems like sacrilege and usually go back and find the correct or close to it 14k vintage back in it.
    To me, it's not a matter of sacrilege, it's a simple choice between steel modern nibs, or 14k vintage nibs (mostly comes with "character" after decades of existence).

    If I like the pen enough to upgrade the nib, I find that I always gravitate towards a 14K vintage one.

    My issue usually is that I don't have enough of them
    I assume that modern 14K nibs aren't worth the money?
    Speaking for myself, I like to buy in bulk. I try to buy a bunch of vintage pens at once whenever I can.

    This way I usually get quite a few vintage gold nibs for the same price that I'd have to pay Sailor to give me *one* of their 21K nib (I'd have to buy the pen also, I don't have connections who would allow me to buy just the nib).

    So I would love to get my hand on a stack of modern Sailor, Faber-Castell, Pilot, or Aurora gold nibs. But I don't know how to get them in bulk. And I can't justify their prices if I had to also buy the pens, unless I want to be one of their dealers, which is *not* how I want to spend my time in this hobby.

    Another important consideration for me is flex (others couldn't care less about this, so this matters zero to them).
    I can't get 14k modern nibs that is as flexible as my vintage ones.
    And I suspect that *if* one existed, it is too expensive for me to justify.
    - Will
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    Senior Member Ole Juul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    When I bought my first new pen in a long time, I chose an inexpensive Kaweco Sport. I noticed that they have a gold nib upgrade available in many stores for around $150. At that relatively ignorant point in my fountain pen journey I had considered it. However, I don't hear people talk about them, let alone extol their virtues, so I gave it a pass. I'm glad I did, because I've since discovered that I can get a completely restored Sheaffer (or other vintage pen) for only a few bucks more than a Kaweco that has a very excellent gold nib already.
    Last edited by Ole Juul; December 28th, 2020 at 06:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    I fitted a Montblanc 144 14K nib to a no name black hard rubber pen. The BHR pen is an eyedropper. It burps as well as the rest of the eyedroppers do. The BHR pen came from an estate sale, and the nib was rusted. Had to do something.

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    Senior Member mizgeorge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    I'm another nib swapper - and will happily fit whatever I think will work best for the pen (ancient or modern), and for what I want it to do.

    In terms of what the OP is looking for, though, I think the thing to avoid is vintage nibs for the European market - far more of these are likely to be flexible (to a greater or lesser extent), where 'nails' were more likely to be fitted to pens sold in or exported to the US and Canada, where that was, at the time, the preferred style.

    That's certainly the case in my admittedly limited experience.

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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by mizgeorge View Post
    I'm another nib swapper - and will happily fit whatever I think will work best for the pen (ancient or modern), and for what I want it to do.

    In terms of what the OP is looking for, though, I think the thing to avoid is vintage nibs for the European market - far more of these are likely to be flexible (to a greater or lesser extent), where 'nails' were more likely to be fitted to pens sold in or exported to the US and Canada, where that was, at the time, the preferred style.

    That's certainly the case in my admittedly limited experience.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Would you be able to provide some further details on the pens/nibs involved in your swapping and how easy/difficult you have found this to do? Thanks

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    Senior Member mizgeorge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by da vinci View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Would you be able to provide some further details on the pens/nibs involved in your swapping and how easy/difficult you have found this to do? Thanks
    Just about anything I fancy - from putting vintage flex nibs (often from otherwise unsalvageable pens) into basic Chinese bodies - I'm currently using a nib and slightly modified feed from an old Swan with a completely mangled barrel in a Jinhao xX450, to the complete opposite - for example a new JoWo nib (which I've stubbed myself) in a Pelikan 400NN - the latter done because I wanted to check that the pen was working fine, and ended up rather liking the result. I did make a point of using a 'proper' collar for this one to be sure I wouldn't damage the section threads. None have been particularly challenging - but as a goldsmith I already have a lot of tools on my bench that aren't exactly everyday.

    I find one of the most helpful things is to take lots of pictures during the disassembly - and also measurements (a basic set of digital calipers are ideal here) as the key almost always the relationship between nib, feed and pen - trying to stay as close as possible to the original makes all the difference, and it's very easy for things to slip out of alignment, especially with anything push-fit. The other thing is to allow enough time. It always takes far longer than you might think, and if it gets frustrating, it's often better to walk away for a while - trying again later seems to work far better than hurting your fingers (and your feed!)

    I'm also pretty unworried about getting it wrong - I've sacrificed a few ancient feeds in my attempts to get them to fit properly (especially for things like using dip pen nibs in modern piston-fillers) and replaced them with modern Indian ebonite ones that are cheap enough for me to have no qualms about hacking them mercilessly with all sorts of odd sharp implements.

    I tend to be looking for a more flexible (or at least softer) nib most of the time - especially for some of my more interesting coloured inks. For something firmer, a lot of modern steel nibs would do the job very well if you're happy to spend a bit of time smoothing and shaping, which takes no more than some micromesh or similar. For older pens, if the integrity of the look is important, I would use a GP version before I'd necessarily worry about finding a gold version - although these are easy enough to source from otherwise beyond-repair pens, which perhaps goes back more to your original question. I'd much rather have one pen that writes beautifully than two that are pretty but meh to use.

    All of this said, I'm not much of a purist - I don't collect pens for display/decorative/investment purposes - all my pens are used and I'm not messing around with super-expensive limited edition Italian masterpieces or stunningly finished Japanese object's d'art!

    Go play!

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    Senior Member Ron Z's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    I bought a stock of Prelude nibs a number of years ago just to put in lower end pens that don't have a nib, or had a really bad nib. They're good nibs, and were relatively inexpensive. I also have an OS Balance nib in a Pelikan 800, but may change that. Many of my "fantasy" Connaisseur pens have vintage nibs because I think that they write better than the later Sheaffer nibs. If you like the nib, and it fits properly, and you are not planning to sell it, why not?

    A similar fix would be to replace the feed with one that is either shorter or has shallower ink channels.
    That should be enough to link to the post above. I'm not sure that the length of the feed vs section was the problem. Maybe, but not likely. We find pens with feeds that are shorter, long, or the same length as a section that work perfectly fine. A nib and feed that are not tight in the section could be a problem, and I've run across many cases where the air channel was too deep, so caused the pen to flood. Replacing the feed took care of the problem. A pen that is nearly empty will tend to flood as well - maybe 3 pages worth would be enough if it didn't fill quite right.

    Many sections have two diameters cut in them - one wide enough to give a snug fit to nib and feed, and then the back cut to be a close fit to the tail of the feed, to keep ink from leaking around the feed.

    This picture shows two Waterman feeds - the difference in the depth of the air channel is clear - and the deeper one on the left caused the pen to flood. Once changed, the problem went away.


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    Default Re: Has anyone fitted a modern nib to a vintage pen?

    Thanks Ron, appreciate your comments.

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