Broads!

Nov. 17th, 2010 12:48 am
somniloquy: (Default)
Broads. I've gotten to love broads, recently. I have to say though that today a German broad came through my door that I think might be a bit too much to handle.

Assorted B nibs (and others for comparison)

I can't really keep this cheap gag up for very long, so I'll just write the post sensibly, shall I? This is, clearly, broad fountain pen nibs. I ordered a Lamy 2000 with a Broad nib and it arrived today. Lamy 2000s are excellent pens, and various folk had recommended a B nib on FPN, and I already have one with a Fine nib that I managed to screw up and a friendly pen shop managed to mostly repair but I'm still a little unhappy with it... anyway, I bought a 2000 with a B nib.

This is a broad nib. Really. It's easily the fattest fountain pen I have, larger by 0.1-0.2mm than the next broadest (which doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're writing with it, it's a lot). It's pretty much 1mm wide on the downstroke; it is slightly stubbed so is slightly narrower on side strokes, but not by a vast amount, it's not an italic.

On testing, my first instinct was to say "oh my god, I have to send this pen back, it's ridiculous". However, I loaded it with Lamy Blue Black and proceeded to try to write my NaNoWriMo pages with it, and you know, I think it might grow on me. There are positive points to broad nibs, one of the main in my opinion being that they are well lubricated and feel very pleasant on the page; no scratchiness. The fatness of the line is also more forgiving of slight hand jitters, and the amount of ink means that certain heavily-shading inks really do look very distinctive. So... I will keep using it for the moment unless and until it begins to annoy me.

I might buy one with a Medium nib now. Just so that I can see the difference. It's for research purposes. I can put that against tax, I'm sure.
somniloquy: (Default)
Fountain pens don't just run out of ink - they can have inadequate flow from whatever ink storage mechanism they are using through to the nib.

I am hand-writing my Nano as I've mentioned, and I use fountain pens. (I can only imagine the state my wrist would be in if I'd been using a biro to do 24,000-odd words so far.) In the past, I have rarely run out of ink in pens, generally getting bored with inks and changing them before that happened, but now it does happen.

More importantly than that, though, the flow of ink is sometimes inadequate. A little explanation of the mechanism of fountain pens here, which may be inadequate or incorrect in some detail: there is an ink reservoir (internal or convertor or cartridge) and from that the ink flows into the feed, and from there, to the nib. Both flows are by capillary action and gravity.

The feed is the part between the nib and whatever ink supply you have, and it's there to hold a reservoir of ink for use with the pen so that it doesn't suddenly stop being able to write if you turn it in the wrong direction, and also control the flow of ink through the nib so that it doesn't just gush through. Early fountain pens often suffer from poor feed design, so that they have trouble with both of these. Feeds are often removable, and have ridges and channels which fill with ink which then passes through tiny gaps to the nib. Feed design is a significant part of the difference between pens, and one of the hardest things to change - nibs can be altered and replaced but feeds are mostly too integral.

Obviously, the feed has to fill before you can write with a pen. Usually this takes place quite quickly, but what I seem to be finding is that you can write so quickly that a pen just can't suck up ink from the reservoir by capillary action at the same rate as you're pouring it out onto the page. I've been writing at times with Parker 51s, which have famously huge feeds that are really hard to flush out because of how much ink they hold, and after a few pages non-stop there is a definite difference in the amount of ink coming out of the nib. Not that it isn't working, but it is certainly drier to the page.

In contrast, I have to say that the Pilot Vanishing Point with a B nib continues to write with a consistent flow until it runs dry. The VP is more modern than the antique P51s that I have (over 50 years old) and the feed may have a better design, I suppose. Tragically, the VP also holds about half the amount of ink, so it does run dry, quite often.

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