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Thread: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

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    Default Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Hi,

    I'm a new member of the FPG forum, and I am super nostalgic about hooded fountain pens. As they grew on me during my K-12 school years and the first 2 years of university back in Eastern Europe under a communist regime.

    So, I grew up with Chinese hooded FPs, you know, those of the Parker 51 knock-off kinds - such as Hero 610 and their newer variant - Hero 329 (the one with the brass emblem inset into the feed above the nib, which looked like a little arrow or starship). I liked them for being resilient writers, not drying up or skipping, but less for their "aerometric" converter.

    In trying to resuscitate my love for FPs, I purchased a more modern Chinese version, i.e. featuring a piston converter, like this alleged "Hero" brand and model 3019:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hero-3019-M...s/324447314183

    But man, I was utterly disappointed: scratchy and skipping. Sometimes it doesn't even want to write on one of these straight-lined student notebooks. Although I wouldn't call it a "hard starter". It has no problem starting right way, even when stored horizontally (but with cap closed) and for a few days.

    I'm using Parker Washable Blue ink.
    I think I might have got a dud, with quality control problems - nib not tuned-up / polished properly. In essence, $10 lost for what is otherwise a 1 dollar chinese crap.

    Would you be able to restore my confidence in fountain pens? It is a "solid writer" which I am looking for. For writing engineering, computer software programming notes, on a daily basis. Practically a direct replacement to ballpoint "BIC" pens and alike.

    I hate scratchy pens, I need something that writes fluidly, without effort, and which encourage you to write more and clear up / focus your thoughts. Something durable and not letting you down.

    Psychologically, I seem to have a rejection problem with exposed nibs. The more hooded / hidden they are, and the their tip looks like a tip of a nail or a wire, the better is accepted. I don't know why. Maybe because I wish to consider the FPs as a very utilitarian writing tool, and less of a fancy / artsy / literature / calligraphy type of of thing.
    Hooded nibs also look like a dolphin head, too, and hence inspiring calm and peace.

    I also think that the hooded nibs keep the ink flow better, and are less prone to drying, I don't know.
    Also, when I see a fully (or even half) exposed nib, the first reaction in my brain is that it is fragile and bending (and irreversibly getting damaged).

    Would you be able to help me find a good, reliable hooded pen in the current market? Or maybe you can help me overcome my physiological barrier of accepting fully-exposed nibs, and then maybe approach a Pilot Metropolitan or a Lamy Safari?

    P.S. The grip on that Hero 3019 (which I think is a counterfeit Hero, because it may not the real Hero company from the seventies and eighties China), is absolutely horrible. I hate it, because first of all it is thinner than the rest of the pen's body / barrel, and it also forces me to keep my fingers (which are no longer teenager fingers since my school years) closer to the nib. I tend to prefer bulkier pens (like Hero 616 aka Doctor's Pen) or pens not having a "reduction area" and which would allow me to hold them at a variable distance from the nib, depending on my mood, how hurried I am with a job, etc.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Nothing in the world is guaranteed, and asking for a hooded nib in a pen that costs less than $20 to be a perfectly smooth writer is... optimistic, but you might want to give the Wing Sung 618 a try. Easily found on eBay. Light-weight plastic construction but you can't expect too much at that price point. They now come in a few colors and clear demo. Hooded nib and piston fill, so a reliable filling system that holds a lot of ink. You can also find some Youtube reviews if you want to check there first. They come in quite a bit *under* your budget so you could probably get two and see which works best, keep the other for backup/parts, etc. I have a feeling it may come close to meeting your needs. In the meantime, save up for a really well-made pen, maybe a Lamy 2000.

    Good luck, and welcome to FPG!

    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Hi Jon,

    Thank so much for the warm welcome, and for suggesting the Wing Sung 618 - I'll give it a try.
    Also, what would you think about Parker 45 (also available on e-bay) - is it too antiquated and low chance of finding something with a less worn-out nib? :-)

    Yeah, $20 is a pretty stiff budget, but it's only to "test the waters" and get my love for FPs back in swing again. And maybe try a better quality pen later on.

    Thanks again.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    The Hero 565 is a pretty nice pen for the price (less than $5). It is nice and girthy and seems well made, at least mine does.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    I also vote for the Wing Sung 618. Iíve bought four of them, and three were superb writers right out of the box. One needed tweaking, and I ended up replacing that nib with a spare I had also bought for cheap from a Chinese Ebay vendor. Iíve also had good experiences with the Wing Sung 601 (not 601A), which is a vac-fill version of the 618.

    A Parker 45 can also be a really good pen, but I donít think you are guaranteed a good one if spending less than $20. Decent user-quality pens cost more like $35-50 these days.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Lamy Al Star.............................................. ............

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Lamy Al Star.............................................. ............
    Not a hooded nib.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    About a year ago I bought two Jinhao 911 pens with extra fine 0.38mm nibs for about $5.00. These pens resemble a Parker 51 flighter but use a converter. The nib in one of the pens was ok, the other was very smooth.

    Jinhao911.png

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    Also, what would you think about Parker 45 (also available on e-bay) - is it too antiquated and low chance of finding something with a less worn-out nib? :-)
    The 45 is a nice choice and as long as the nib is good, will be of good service for years. The biggest issue if buying off auctions, beyond how the nib might be, is that the plastic in the hoods often shrank. Since they aren't really expensive pens, this is a good one to buy from a reputable seller. If you don't want to go eBay, you should take a look at Peyton Street Pens, as they usually have some in their inventory. I took a quick look last night and saw a number of them from $40 to around $70. Also, the nib unit is quite easy to change as it simply screws into place. My only issue - personal one - is that the pen is on the thin side and isn't as comfortable for me; that is the case with the 51 though, so if you are good with these other pens the 45 is likely a contender.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    Hi Jon,

    Thank so much for the warm welcome, and for suggesting the Wing Sung 618 - I'll give it a try.
    Also, what would you think about Parker 45 (also available on e-bay) - is it too antiquated and low chance of finding something with a less worn-out nib? :-)

    Yeah, $20 is a pretty stiff budget, but it's only to "test the waters" and get my love for FPs back in swing again. And maybe try a better quality pen later on.

    Thanks again.
    Wing Sung 601. It's a 'vac' filler in the shape of the Parker 51 or Hero 616. I have two of them, they write well, and they are around your budget.

    Also a semi-hooded homage to the Parker 45...I think it was a Moonman 80, though I could be mistaken about the number (I don't have the pen on hand right now). It writes as well as the Parker 45 I have.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!


    Dr. Inkenstein--it was a dark and stormy write!

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by elaineb View Post
    I also vote for the Wing Sung 618. Iíve bought four of them, and three were superb writers right out of the box. One needed tweaking, and I ended up replacing that nib with a spare I had also bought for cheap from a Chinese Ebay vendor. Iíve also had good experiences with the Wing Sung 601 (not 601A), which is a vac-fill version of the 618.
    Now you've really made me curious about the Wing Sung 618 - about which found a good review here. Looks very interesting - I like the fact that its exterior body / girth is more uniform and not super-thin close to the nib, and that it can be fully disassembled. Although, the outer-threaded barrel is less ideal than a smooth design (any form of obstacle from the tip all the way up, doesn't feel great to me, but if it writes well and smoothly, then no complaints). The built-in piston filling mechanism is also interesting, never tried one before - wow that can hold a lot of ink.

    I have also found an interesting page about Hero and Wing Sung history here. It looks like Hero/Wing Sung model numbers consisting of 3 digits, are expected to be a better quality than the 4 digit one (which based on that # 3019 garbage I've got, seem to be true).

    Quote Originally Posted by elaineb View Post
    A Parker 45 can also be a really good pen, but I donít think you are guaranteed a good one if spending less than $20. Decent user-quality pens cost more like $35-50 these days.
    Good point - Yeah, it would be too risky to pursue that.

    Now I'm wondering: are there any other hooded-nib options that are not Chinese? Or at least, some reputable online stores which could do pre-tweaking / polishing and other standard quality control on the nibs, before putting them for sale?

    Also, what about Medium nib options (hooded and maybe normal/exposed) out there? I never tried Medium nibs ("Medium" by Chinese/Japanese standards I mean, not American/European) - would they be more forgiving with those cheap notebooks that you usually see at Walmart or OfficeDepot, and thus feeling less scratchy / less like nails? Speaking of paper quality, I find it very curious, back in my school years in Eastern Europe (1981-1989), the paper quality was far from being ideal, and those chinese pens had no issue with that. Hopefully what I was experiencing with that "Hero" 3019 was atypical...

    Thanks SO MUCH for the help.
    Last edited by smihaila; January 31st, 2021 at 02:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    Now I'm wondering: are there any other hooded-nib options that are not Chinese?
    Certainly not at your price point. After the fame and style of the Parker 51 waned, virtually all hooded nib pens fell out of fashion, the exceptions being Chinese pens primarily.

    If you were willing to pay more, then the perfect pen for this kind of use and aesthetic is the iconic Lamy 2000, still in constant production and a legendary design and execution. There are many vintage pens that are also wonderful, such as the Aurora 88P from the 60s.

    Yes, there are certainly options beyond the current Chinese models, but not at your specified pricing.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by carlos.q View Post
    About a year ago I bought two Jinhao 911 pens with extra fine 0.38mm nibs for about $5.00. These pens resemble a Parker 51 flighter but use a converter. The nib in one of the pens was ok, the other was very smooth.
    Interesting that you mentioned Jinhao 911 - I was contemplating to buy that first, before I bit the bullet with "Hero" 3019. But the Jinhao 911 was alluded to be scratchy in some reviews.

    Also, while digging for more info on Wing Sung 618, I've got into a review that was comparing between 6 different chinese models (albeit all using standard nibs, not hooded ones), and the conclusion came to these 2 models being the better ones:
    - Jinhao 992 (reviewer praised it for being super smooth, even too smooth for his taste).
    - Wing Sung 3008 (which is a sort of Wing Sung 698).

    Thanks.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    Now I'm wondering: are there any other hooded-nib options that are not Chinese?
    Certainly not at your price point. After the fame and style of the Parker 51 waned, virtually all hooded nib pens fell out of fashion, the exceptions being Chinese pens primarily.

    If you were willing to pay more, then the perfect pen for this kind of use and aesthetic is the iconic Lamy 2000, still in constant production and a legendary design and execution. There are many vintage pens that are also wonderful, such as the Aurora 88P from the 60s.

    Yes, there are certainly options beyond the current Chinese models, but not at your specified pricing.
    Thank you for the info on non-Chinese options, and more specifically on Lamy 2000.
    I also appreciated your take on Parker 45, and the suggestion about Peyton Street Pens. Additionally to that store, I have these stores in my list: jetpens and gouletpens.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    The Platinum Plasir might be a solution.

    It is not a hooded nib,but does come fitted with the Platinum slip & seal system that does work.

    The Parker 51 hooded nib was designed to be used with suprachrome ink which was supposed to dry really quickly (compared to the iron gall inks of the time) so that the writer did not get smudges.

    Inks have changed since then. So, the Lamy safari, Faber Castell grip or Platinum Plasir will probably work for you.

    I have managed to get some used Parker 45s for less than £20 in the UK with gold nibs. Thing is, buying off of places like e-bay you don't know the size of the nib you are getting and often the vendor doesn't know either. The fine nib on the P45 is a lovely writer, and there are a number of spares available. The steel nibs are pretty good too. Some of the steel nibs are gold plated too and to find out if it is actually gold requires some disassembly. You might even find a Parker 51 or 21 if ou invest the time in sifting through e-bay listings.

    A "my uncle's pen I found in a drawer" might be a gold nib, or plated steel. Either way it is a good buy for less than £25. Anything more than that, I'd ask the dealer if they've checked whether the nib is gold (which involved removing the nib unit from the pen to find out) or not.

    I don't think hoods make a lot of difference these days - and steel nibs are quite strong. If your budget is no more than $20, then I think there are better open nibbed options for you than hooded ones.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Wing Sung 601. It's a 'vac' filler in the shape of the Parker 51 or Hero 616. I have two of them, they write well, and they are around your budget.

    Also a semi-hooded homage to the Parker 45...I think it was a Moonman 80, though I could be mistaken about the number (I don't have the pen on hand right now). It writes as well as the Parker 45 I have.
    I've never used vac fillers, and in my attempt at researching on how they work, I don't think I would like the principle of operation. And it requires a tighter sealing (and hence a better quality) piston, I guess?

    Thank you for the idea though.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    The Platinum Plasir might be a solution.

    It is not a hooded nib,but does come fitted with the Platinum slip & seal system that does work.
    In my attempt at finding more about the Platinum's "slip & seal" cap system (which I didn't know anything about), this article seems to imply that it's not that effective, or at least not after a significantly longer (6 moths+) period?
    Interesting, anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    The Parker 51 hooded nib was designed to be used with suprachrome ink which was supposed to dry really quickly (compared to the iron gall inks of the time) so that the writer did not get smudges.

    Inks have changed since then. So, the Lamy safari, Faber Castell grip or Platinum Plasir will probably work for you.
    [...]
    I don't think hoods make a lot of difference these days - and steel nibs are quite strong. If your budget is no more than $20, then I think there are better open nibbed options for you than hooded ones.
    So what you're saying, is that the contemporary inks are nowadays chemically formulated to prevent a too-quick dry-up?
    And hence, the edge that hooded nibs had over fully exposed nibs, has lost its relevance?

    If that's the case, then my reluctance in going with fully-exposed nibs is purely psychological. AND, for a $20 (or $30) price point, if one could move away from "Chinese lottery on quality control" and knock-offs (sometimes 2nd-level knock-off of OTHER knock-offs, see "Wing Sung" which may not be a real Wing Sung but another clone, go figure!), and get instead better quality pens, then hooded nibs is no longer be a must-have! Hence, I'd be open for more options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    I have managed to get some used Parker 45s for less than £20 in the UK with gold nibs. Thing is, buying off of places like e-bay you don't know the size of the nib you are getting and often the vendor doesn't know either. The fine nib on the P45 is a lovely writer, and there are a number of spares available. The steel nibs are pretty good too. Some of the steel nibs are gold plated too and to find out if it is actually gold requires some disassembly. You might even find a Parker 51 or 21 if ou invest the time in sifting through e-bay listings.

    A "my uncle's pen I found in a drawer" might be a gold nib, or plated steel. Either way it is a good buy for less than £25. Anything more than that, I'd ask the dealer if they've checked whether the nib is gold (which involved removing the nib unit from the pen to find out) or not.
    My suggestion for the "oldies but goldies" (aka antique) route was rather from the point of view of filtering out knock-offs, and due to getting a bit sick of trying to sieve thru Chinese "noise", in the hope of finding true quality, or t. Besides that, I'm not looking for fancy-artsy FPs i.e. I still consider them highly utilitarian for my needs (with an added bonus being that a FP would improve my writing, which is, and always has been, cursive).

    Another advantage for including non-hooded nibs in the options, I guess, is contemplating maybe also thicker nib lines like Medium, aka 0.7 mm? Which is not too different than the 0.5 mm which I got used to - I mean, does a Medium write thicker than a BIC-type ballpoint pen? The hooded options don't seem to come with anything other than F or EF.

    Apologies if it feels like I'm diverging from the original question - I am also trying to understand other options which I may not be aware of, and also trying to understanding my needs better :-)

    Thank you.
    Last edited by smihaila; January 31st, 2021 at 07:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    In my attempt at finding more about the Platinum's "slip & seal" cap system (which I didn't know anything about), this article seems to imply that it's not that effective, or at least not after a significantly longer (6 moths+) period?
    Interesting, anyway.
    You would be well advised to further research the slip & seal cap: it performs exceptionally. There are several posts on FPN that attest to its efficacy.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    Quote Originally Posted by smihaila View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Wing Sung 601. It's a 'vac' filler in the shape of the Parker 51 or Hero 616. I have two of them, they write well, and they are around your budget.

    Also a semi-hooded homage to the Parker 45...I think it was a Moonman 80, though I could be mistaken about the number (I don't have the pen on hand right now). It writes as well as the Parker 45 I have.

    I've never used vac fillers, and in my attempt at researching on how they work, I don't think I would like the principle of operation. And it requires a tighter sealing (and hence a better quality) piston, I guess?

    Thank you for the idea though.
    It's probably not a real vac-filler, but it does have a blind cap, and you do pump the button a couple of times to get a fill. It cleans easily enough, and seems to work well with dry inks.

    Oh, and the semi-hooded nib pen I have... it is the Moonman 80. Just about $20 on jetpens.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!


    Dr. Inkenstein--it was a dark and stormy write!

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    Default Re: Looking for smooth-writing F or EF hooded pens under $20

    1/ ...at least not after a significantly longer (6 months+) period? 6 months is very good. Half of my pens struggle at 6 days, the rest 6 weeks. The only ones that compete with 6 months in my experience are piston fillers - and they are ten times more expensive than the Plasir.

    2/ Yes - the Parker 51 was hooded to accommodate their new fast drying ink - which is why the hood was there. It was to prevent the ink from drying whilst the pen was uncapped (at the time they were competing with slow drying iron gall inks). Dye based inks today are friendlier to pens today, and tend not to dry out in the feed during a writing session. Some inks dry quicker than others. If you use your pen every day, it won't dry out.

    3/ A quality hooded nib for under $20 will be difficult to find. For under $20, Platinum, Pilot, Lamy, Famer Castell and Pelikan all have great options - but none of them are hooded. With Platinum you have the advantage of slip & seal - with Lamy, I believe you also get the advantage of interchangeable nibs.

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