My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I’ll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

Brian, in your opinion, how does the Pilot Custom 74 compare to Platinum 3776 (like new Chartres Blue)? Thank you! I enjoy hearing your opinion since you can handle both of them and like the 74 very much.

Wow, tough question! I own both in a medium nib, and I must say, I really, really love both pens. Let me just say, I own both for a reason, and I’d buy both again. I would not be happy if I had to choose only one ;) There are some things I like more about one than the other, though. The Custom 74 has a higher ink capacity, has a slightly ‘springy’ nib that makes it feel softer when you write, it’s easier to see the ink level in the pen because the material is more translucent, and it is cheaper. But the Chartres Blue has the Platinum “slip-n-seal” cap technology, which is marketed to keep the nib wet for two years. I honestly haven’t tested this fact much with either pen though, because I write with them regularly ;) The nib is stiffer on the 3776 but still writes very well, and that blue color is just gorgeous. I’m definitely a fan of the aesthetics of the 3776 more than the Custom 74. So it really is a toss-up between the two for me. I do end up using my Custom 74 more though, mainly because it’s already 2 years ‘broken in’, and I’ve become very accustomed to the way it writes. 

I’d like to see you guys carry an ink that is really good at writing on waxy paper (like most greeting cards.) This is probably something you just ask Nathan about and let him work his magic, but that’s where I’d encourage him.

Oh boy, that might be hard, if not impossible. Currently, the only thing I know that might work is pigmented ink, because it’s meant to dry on a paper’s surface instead of absorbing in. It works well for watercolor paper, stuff that’s heavily sized, but I don’t know about waxy paper. That might just be pushing the limit of what a water-based ink can do. Even solvent-based Sharpies and things like that struggle on waxy paper.

I got a noodler’s creeper flex pen, and when I write I have found that ink leaks out of the slit in the nib. do you have any ideas on how to fix this?

I’m not sure you realize the irony of your question ;) What you’re describing is called nib creep, which is a fairly common aesthetic effect of a reaction between ink and pen. Some pens do it more than others, some inks do it more than others, and the combination of the two makes this symptom a bit elusive. There isn’t anything you can do to get rid of it besides change the ink or pen that you’re using. I think that the main cause of it is that highly saturated ink colors require more lubricants in them to flow properly…and since Noodler’s inks are known for both being very saturated in color and flowing well, their inks “creep” more than most. It doesn’t hurt anything, it’s just a visual thing. But some of the opposition to Noodler’s ink would complain about this nib creeping, and as a funny jab at his complainers, Nathan Tardif of Noodler’s named his first pens the Nib Creaper, a play on words of nib creep and the Grim Reaper, which is a tongue-in-cheek statement about how much some people exaggerate the seemingly negative qualities of nib creep in a pen. 

I bought the Platinum 3776 Bourgogne with a medium nib from you, and I love it. Now I want to get the Chartres (do you know of a good 12 step program). I am considering the Broad nib. Have you written with the Broad nib? I have the Lamy Safari Broad nib, how does it compare with that nib?

I’m a big fan of the 3776’s! If you like the Bourgogne then you’re going to enjoy the Chartres Blue as well, it’s the same well-writing beautiful pen with the most amazing blue color that I think I’ve ever seen in a translucent pen. I have indeed written with the broad nib, and it is fairly broad. When it comes to Platinum (and Japanece nibs in general), I find that their finer nibs tend to be ground much finer than Western brands’, but their broad nibs are usually comparable in size to Western nibs. It’ll write very close to the size of your Safari broad, you can see this in my writing sample on the Nib Nook:

The broad is a bit of a jump up from the medium, but is still very enjoyable. It feels smoother, and flows wetter. I use both medium and broad nib 3776’s myself and enjoy them both. The medium is closer to most other pens’ fine nibs, but the broad is more of a ‘true’ broad.  

I saw that some companies have nibs they sell to replace theirs. I own pretty much all Noodler’s standard flex, and the older standard nib pens. from the companies you guys offer nibs for, do you know of any that will fit them? or is there a piece you guys did where you showed what pen nibs were compatible with what pens? I read somewhere that some one used a Monteverdi 1.1nib in a Noodler’s Konrad flex. Looking for a pen with those capabilities there are actually limited options of KNOWN swappers (Lamy being one of few companies that makes tons of reasonably priced nibs for their pens). If you guys have something like that please let me know.

The Nib Creaper Flex (standard flex) Noodler’s pens use a #2 size nib, which is common in a lot of vintage pens, but we unfortunately don’t have any spare nibs that fit that size. The nibs we have that can be used in ‘other’ pens are the Edison, Monteverde, and TWSBI nibs. The TWSBI Mini uses #5 nibs (not super-common except on TWSBI) and the Vac-700 uses #6, which is the same as Edison (except the Encore) and Monteverde (except the Artista Crystal). These can all be swapped onto each other, if you actually remove the nib from the nib housing. They also all fit the Noodler’s Konrad and Ahab pens. In general though, nibs are not widely swappable across brands. There are a LOT of different nib styles and designs out there, and even if something physically fits another pen, it doesn’t mean that it will flow properly or write like it should with a different pen’s feed…so in general, it’s best to try to stick to the nibs made for the pen you’re using. 

I had a question about the Konrad/Ahabs. Do you know if the brush feed can actually fit inside the Ahab? I actually have a much higher preference to the Ahab’s CC-ish design (I like the air insulation, prevents burps… also the colours are much more varied!) over the Konrad.

I actually did, and it’s a no-go. The brush tip feed only fits the Konrad, mainly because the feed is threaded and needs to fit into a thread that fits on the Konrad. The Ahab doesn’t have these threads. The existing Konrad feed doesn’t even fit the ‘old’ prototype Konrad brush pens that were out about a year ago. Sorry!

Can I choose the nib size of the Platinum Preppy included in Noodler’s 4.5oz ink bottles?

Unfortunately not. They’re all fine nibs, and they’re a custom-modified Preppy so we’re not able to change them out.