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 – I received a Vanishing Point pen as a gift and watched your YouTube video on how it works. I want to change out the Twist Converter for the cartridge and based on the video it looks like it just slides out from the nib unit. I can’t get mine to move and am not sure what to do. Is there a trick to getting the Twist Converter out? Do I need to go back to the gym?

It shouldn’t be that hard…are you sure you’re holding on to the right parts? The unit splits apart where you see in this picture. If you have a firm grip on the nib unit, and a firm grip on the metal band on the converter, and twist while you pull them apart, it will give in.

Pilot Con-50, broken apart

I recently purchased a Pilot Metal Falcon, and it is an awesome pen, however I ordered it with the Extra-Fine nib. I like it for practicing, or just writing for fun, because the of character of writing it produces is fantastic with the relatively wide variation, however I do not like it as a daily writer because it can be a bit scratchy/temperamental. So then I’d like to ask you if you could special order me an additional nib. I know that the medium sized nib is very smooth as I have demoed it before, however I’d like to know in your opinion how the regular fine feels too? I would like to order one of the two individual nib units, but would like your thoughts on them first.

Just for reference I also have a Lamy Vista in Fine, and once had an Al-Star in Extra Fine. So I went to the Nib Nook to compare the Lamy EF to the Falcon nibs, and as best as my eyes can see it looks as if the Falcon SM might be almost as fine as the Lamy EF. Which is impressive, but makes sense to me, since I was once told that Japanese pens are usually cut finer across the whole range than American or European pens. In your opinion would you say that my impression of that comparison is accurate? If so, the SM nib would most likely be my choice.

I’m glad you like your Metal Falcon, that EF nib is sweet, isn’t it? I completely agree with your assessment though, I love the nib but it’s really not ideal for a daily writer. We can special order nibs…it’s actually the whole front grip section with the nib, we’ve special ordered them before.

As far as which nib you should get, that’s a bit tough. It might help to see a video I made where I wrote with all 4 PMF nib sizes, here. The EF you have gives the best line variation, at the expense of smoothness. The F is smoother, but still not glassy. It still gives good variation but doesn’t have the same bite as the EF. The M is much smoother, more like what you’d expect a non-flexible nib to feel like. It still gives some good variation, not as much as the EF or F clearly, but given that you already have an EF I would say you’d probably be happiest with the way the M feels on the page. Given that you have an EF, I would say the M would probably be your best option to maximize your pen’s versatility. You can keep the M on there as a daily carry, and whip out the EF when you want to get fancy.

What you mentioned about the nib sizes is generally a pretty safe assumption, but I’ve found that it’s more true for the EF and F nibs than for the M and B nibs. Generally, the Japanese EF and F are much finer than Western nibs, the M is usually pretty close to a Western M (perhaps a bit thinner, but not a full size thinner, usually), and the B is pretty much the same as Western B’s. If you’re looking for something close to a Lamy EF, then you would want to go with the Falcon SF, the SM is broader, more like the Lamy M when unflexed:

I still think you should go with the M nib, because it’s going to give you the most versatility apart from your EF nib.

Does Noodler’s Heart of Darkness dry faster than Noodler’s Black? Does HoD have any advantages over Black, or is Black the clear winner?

There isn’t really a clear winner….most folks debate between the two as to which is better. Black is more popular, I can say that, but HoD is only available in a 4.5 ounce so that may be part of the reason why….some folks surely don’t want to buy a 4.5 ounce bottle. Honestly, I love both inks, and they perform pretty similarly. In some pens and on some papers, one may dry a little faster, look a little darker, or resist feathering a little better than the other, but it’s a real tight race with no clear winner. The best I can say is try a sample of both, and see which you prefer for yourself.

If you can believe it, my 7 year old son enjoys watching your ink and pen reviews with me! He’s tried out one of my older Cross fountain pens and now he wants one of his own. Of course, that means my daughter wants one too. What would you recommend for a first pen? I’d like something that uses a converter and cartridges. The Pilot Metropolitan and Pelikan Pelicano look like they may work?

That’s great that your kids are getting into fountain pens, they’re a lot of fun for them! The Pilot Metropolitan is a great pen, it writes well and doesn’t break the bank. I highly recommend that one. It does come with a converter and a single cartridge, and it takes Pilot/Namiki proprietary cartridges. The Pelikano is also worth considering…it’s a little more expensive and doesn’t come with a converter, but it writes well and it does take a more universal Standard International cartridge/converter, so that’s a benefit. The Pelikano Jr is also worth a look, it’s more affordable than the Pelikano. Another pen you may want to consider is the Lamy Nexx, it’s designed similarly to the Pelikano, but there are much great nib choices for that pen. Lamy also has proprietary cartridges and a converter (not included). 

I’m going to buy the LAMY Safari Apple Green pen from you if it’s not the same as the (discontinued) Lime Green. Please let me know if these are different pens or the same. I ask because most websites just have them listed as “green.” One was even tagged “Lime Green” and said something in the description like “This pen has that great Apple Green color.” It’s very confusing, but I really like both those colors and have the Lime Green. If they really are two separate pen colors, then I really want the Apple Green too.

Well, I don’t have a Lime Green on me to compare, but here is a great blog post from Rants of the Archer that shows both. They’re definitely different colors. I love the Apple Green, I think it’s a bit more pleasant than the Lime. That’s just my opinion though. The Lime Green was a limited edition color a couple of years back, and the Apple Green is a limited edition from last year (and should be going away soon, actually). I’d definitely pick one up if you find it appealing (haha, that was an unintended pun!). 

Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. I’ll be compiling this coming week’s emails into next week’s Mailbox Monday post!

Write On,
Brian Goulet