Noodler’s Ahab

I bought my Noodler’s Ahab second hand at a Pens & Pints meet up. I had read a little bit about it and was intrigued by the flex nib. From the get go, I liked the look of the pen. I have a soft clear blue (Truk Lagoon). The whale shaped clip entranced me and I am not much of a clip girl. I have to admit that Nathan Tardiff’s video intrigued me.


I have had lots of interesting experiences with my Ahab. I have to admit, in the spirit of the pen, it is the pen I have mucked around with the most. Which isn’t saying much because I haven’t mucked much. I did try to eyedropper it and that has never worked. The last time I tried it, a couple of weeks ago, I watched aghast as my sample of Robert Oster Khaki went rushing into the sink.

I have only had one good eyedropper experience which is with my Franklin-Christoph Model 66 and a good thing too since it has no other filling system. Necessity may be playing a big role here. My other Franklin-Christoph (a Model 20) acts much like my Ahab when eyedroppered, which is to say a straw. Ink in, ink out. In one fell swoop or, equally distressing, in huge erratically spaced blobs. Eyedroppering is one of my 2017 goals.

I don’t know why I am fond of my Ahab. I just am. I like it and I like to write with it. So, I went back to using the piston filler that came with it. I got the bright idea of replacing the nib only because I liked the look of the Nemosine torched nib and loved the idea of a .6 stub. I bought one from Goulet Pens.  I think that my Ahab is one of the few pens I own that I could stick this nib in. Which I did. And then I tweaked the nib with mesh and Mylar.

Regardless of my loving attentions, the pen still squirted ink like an octopus. I decided to go all out and heat set the nib to the feed. It took a long time to get up the courage to do this but I did and, lo and behold, it seems to have worked. The pen is still an incredibly wet writer. I think it is the wettest pen I own. But it is not uncontrollable. My nib tweaking was not quite as good as I thought and every now and then the nib catches a little. I don’t think I will do anything more than write with a piece of mylar at hand to do single strokes as the catches happen in the hope that over time I will iron out the rough spot.

It is currently inked with my J. Herbin Lie de Thé but that is the ink that I polluted by accidentally dumping in a dark Robert Oster (not sure if it was Chocolate or Dark Chocolate) converter full of ink. Yikes. The “new” ink is a straight dark brown with no real character at all. Since I ran through gallons of ink trying to get the Ahab to work I thought it best to do the fill with a throwaway ink. But now I think the time has come to ink it up with an ink that loves to be in a wet pen. I will have to give that some thought.

In the meanwhile, it occurs to me that I have become a bit like the pen’s namesake in my obsession with this pen. Yes, given its price and the fact it was adopted, this is a bit ironic. The latest thing to capture my attention is the narrow rod at the top of the piston. It is full of ink. The rest of the piston is only a quarter full. I lost the breather tube and am unsure if this is connected to the issue. It could also be a Robert Oster issue that I have noticed with another pen. I am totally curious whether or not this ink will eventually drop down into the piston to be used or if it is going to hang there. Storing my pen nib down overnight to see what happens. IMG_0576


Robert Oster Inks

I am not sure when I first heard about this ink line. I do know that you would have to be under a rock not to have heard of Fire and Ice. The last time I saw such a fuss about an ink was Emerald of Chivor. I am not that fond of inks that do anything more than shade but I decided I had to give this a go. None of my local stores sell it. I found a good deal at Vanness online. They had a 12 4 ml sample pack of Robert Oster “Dark and Light” for $24 and a shipping fee of $9.00 US. (I threw a pen in there to make it worth the shipping. Ahem.) I love that the samples are twice the size of Goulet samples–but not twice the cost. Shipping is cheaper and much faster, too.

I ordered an individual sample of Fire and Ice from Goulet.

As for the sample box, I have had three pleasant surprises, all brown. The Bronze, Gold Antiqua and Caffe Crema are all on my “get full bottle” list. Loving the khaki but finding it “pools” too much. Of course, that could be the nib and/or the paper so I need to try it out in a few more combinations (yes, I love the 4 ml samples! that lets me get a few more runs at the ink and helps me make up my mind). Summer Storm is bizarre. It goes on saturated and moody but quickly dries to a washed out gray blue. Much as I am fascinated by the transformation, the end result is too blah for me. Barossa Grape is pleasing but very muted. Purple Rock is more my style and I am enjoying it but it has nothing to recommend it in my opinion over other stunning purples out there. I still have a few to go before I have run through the samples but discovering the three browns was a huge payoff and I am very pleased that I got this sample package.

Best news yet, I found a local source for these inks which will save me enormous shipping costs (I think. Every middleman needs to get their cut so I am going to price it out. If it works out well, I will come back and credit and reference. I don’t want to name names until I am sure that the pricing is fair and the service is reliable.)

P.S. Fire and Ice is interesting but it is going to take a mule kick to move me off Lamy Turquoise as my favourite turquoise.

Family Day

And we are not, so far, doing very well at it. Max is doing a chemistry assignment, the dogs are off to the park with the dog walker and I am surfing pen sites. Since we are enjoying our time off (except, possibly, Max) it is all to the good anyway.

I am in the process of packing my Visconti Rembrandt up for a trip to a nibmeister. I asked the Nibgrinder, Mark Bacas, if he thought he could grind my medium nib to a smooth cursive italic and he answered in the affirmative so off it goes.

This seems like the “next step” in my slow evolution. I read a post recently that I greatly admired wherein the author listed milestones in their pen evolution and it gave me pause. I would like to write a similar article but am so behind in everything it will have to wait. One of my milestones I have yet to achieve is having a custom ground nib. I did buy a used pen that the vendor assured me had had the nib ground and tuned by Richard Binder but that is not the same thing as engaging a nib grinder myself.

I have had some limited success of which I am quite proud in tuning nibs with mesh, Mylar, brass splints and a million videos and I could take a run at the Visconti. The fact that I haven’t even tried tells me that my heart is fully set on having it custom ground. I am not happy about the shipping process. It is stupidly expensive. I went to great lengths to try to get a local nibmeister. So far, to no avail.

The Rembrandt is one of the first pens I purchased. I was immediately attracted to its creamy ivory colour and the metal section (I only own two black fountain pens. One I inherited and the other is the Namiki Falcon I purchased used). I bought it at a brick and mortar store and there is no reason whatsoever that it should have given me any problems. The fact is that I am quite shy and felt uncomfortable taking it back to the store. I was sure I was to blame for the hard starts and skipping.  My very first pen, purchased from Singapore, had had a bad nib. I simply was not comfortable enough in my own skin to realize that these were the outliers and not the norm. It wasn’t until I had quite a number of pens under my belt that I began to suspect that it wasn’t me. The Visconti would sit out rotation after rotation. Whenever I did ink it, its behaviour irked me so much, it quickly went out of the line again. It constantly hard starts and skips. It was impossible to produce an entire paragraph much less a page of decent writing with it.

To be fair to the brick and mortar store: I have no clue what they would have done\would do if I brought it back in. I expect that they would have helped me. I bought a Kaweco AL Sport Classic at Wonder Pens that was terrible. I went back a month later, without a receipt, to get buy a new nib for it. As soon as they heard the story, the pen went into the back room and was tweaked and fixed, no charge. I was impressed by this as I was fully prepared to purchase a new nib. So, I have no reason to expect the store I bought the Visconti from would be any less attentive. I think what I really want is the grind. Especially because I do not own an italic nib and yes, that is another milestone to achieve. Two in the bush is worth one in the hand in this parable.


Saturday Shopping

I bought my most expensive pen and my cheapest pen today. (I might have bought a Platinum Preppy in 2011 in which case that statement is not totally accurate but this might also be a false memory. Living in the age of Trump.) I purchased my first Jinhao. I have since gone to the WonderPen site and discovered that this is a Jinhao 188 with a medium nib.


I bought it so I could practice my nib smoothing (which is why I didn’t even bother to find out the model or nib size when I bought it). I think my first attempts at tweaking it worked fairly well and I am pleased with this ugly duckling. It is inked with Robert Oster Purple Rock. That is a mar right above the band. I didn’t even notice it when I bought it because I was still lingering in my mind on my new Platinum 3776 tortoiseshell celluloid. It is stunning. Will try to take a decent picture of it.

It has the same shape and nib as my Platinum Yamanaka but this is a fine. It does not have the same slip cap which is a shame but I am guessing that they couldn’t put it next to the celluloid material.

I finally bought a blotting rocker and some blotting paper (my birthday present–thanks mom and dad).

Update at Eleven

I have allowed matters to go unattended for a couple of weeks and a lot has happened in my pen world in the interim. Where to start?

I took my 580 AL to work and lost the cap. In retrospect, it was inevitable. I cannot post this pen. My hands are quite little and posting this pen is like writing with a yard-stick. Sooner or later I was going to leave the cap somewhere. It was also inevitable because I had finally found an ink and paper combination that made me want to use this pen. After a few false starts trying to purchase a cap from brick and mortar stores, I found out I had to write to the company. This filled me with dread. I envisioned six months of back and forth. Wrong.

I had a reply from TWISBI within minutes, literally, of writing. I had advised that I lost my cap and needed to buy a replacement and inquired if I could do so. The response was send $5.00 for shipping and we will send you a cap. I read this several times before replying that the cap was not defective–I had lost it and needed to purchase a new one. Their reply, instant, was not to bother, they did not charge for this except for the shipping. I have never had a $5.00 shipping charge before. Twice that is usually the minimum (and it is very rare that I am charged the minimum). I fired up Paypal. A few days later I had my cap. This is, in my opinion, stellar customer service. Stellar.

In the interim, I discovered I had thrown out my 580 AL stub nib. That is okay. I still have a fine nib for it. And a cap. I can live with that.

In the meanwhile, I discovered that Robert Oster had an ink called Caffé Crema. I had to get it for my Pelikan Café Crème. I decided to order from Vanness because they had collections of Robert Oster samples. Why buy one ink when you can buy many? And while there, I decided I needed an Edison Beaumont. It is quite tiny so I ordered the stub nib. Always looking for the the same beloved experience I get with my TWISBI mini. On topic, Vanness only charged me $10.00 for shipping. The lowest ever if you throw TWISBI out as unbelievable and probably never to be repeated event.

It was only after the order shipped that it dawned on me that one of the common observations about the Beaumont is that it has a full sized nib even though it is quite small. Sigh. I imagined a gigantic TWISBI like spade of a 1.1 nib. I was not even excited to ink it up when it came in. The surprise is I can write with it. And quite like it.

Yes, in case you were wondering, the Robert Oster ink is now perfectly paired with the Pelikan. The prior perfect pairing was with Montblanc Toffee which is a wonderful ink in its own right but obviously second place at this point.

And, further, I put in an order to Goulet for a bunch of nib stuff: mylar and splints and the like. There is a strong argument that someone like me: impetuous, clumsy, forgetful should not start mucking around with nibs. But it feels like the next step.

Lastly, I made contact with a nib guy. I tried to reach a local person but no luck. I am going to have to suck up the shipping fees in and out of the US. I am going to get my Visconti ground to a smooth cursive Italian. I dislike this pen vehemently. It hard starts and skips. But never when I show it to somebody (it has an evil heart). It is my deepest hope that a custom grind will make me love this pen. Or at least enter into a negotiated peace.