Conklin Nozac, Ohio Blue (M)
My one real buyer’s remorse for fountain pens is the Conklin Duraflex Limited Edition with OmniFlex™ nib I bought second-hand in June 2018. As I’ve mentioned I’ve spent most of the year in an email conversation with Conklin/Yafa and subsequently their UK distributor that has gone quiet, to try to get a replacement nib unit. The original nib was awful, being visibly misshapen – see the photos in that previous post – and a very hard starter. I’m not the only one who’s had this problem, with many owners hating their OmniFlexes. On Fountain Pen Day in November, I gave in and bought myself a replacement OmniFlex nib unit, which managed to be worse than the original. Since then, I’ve put a Noodler’s Ahab nib in the Duraflex just to make it usable.
Anyway, this experience has left me with a very bad taste for Conklin. Still, when I happened to come across an Amazon link with the Conklin Nozac in Ohio Blue that I’d previously coveted (before I’d had the Duraflex experience) for less than £40, down from the usual £165, I took a shot. Being Amazon Prime, I could easily return it if it sucked.
A day or so later, the pen arrived. It was a little bit of a hard starter, but otherwise it’s a beautiful pen. It has an incredibly satisfying magnetic “clunk” on the cap closing, and the nib looked somewhat competently ground.
Even better, it had a little bit of flex to it… not that much, but enough to give it a little line variation with a push.
This weekend I spent a little time looking at the nib to see if I could solve the hard start. Now, on magnification, there are a few issues. Again, it’s nowhere near as bad as the amateur OmniFlex nibs I have, but it was a little lopsided. There’s a little bit of tine misadjustment, and it’s ground for a far higher writing angle than I like.
Coincidentally, a package arrived today from Amazon with a mini cordless rotary tool I sniped as a Lightning Deal for £10:
So, what do you expect? I needed to try it out, and I had a misshapen nib…
I narrowed both tines to soften the flex a little, and I ground down the fatter tine to match. I carefully slimmed the wider half of the tip as well, although that’s something I do with great trepidation… in addition to having a greater potential of wrecking the tip, it also involves a lot more smoothing afterwards.
And it’s a lot better now! The tool worked well; I’m not sure whether it would have enough oomph to cut full flex scallops, although if taken slowly enough it could probably be done. It took some micro-mesh and a very fine oilstone to smooth the tip out for a better writing angle, to clean up the regrind of the wider half, and to correct the hard start (although the jury’s still out on that) It seems to write better, and while the line variation is, if anything, mildly less than the original grind, the pressure needed to get a little variation is much easier. It’s still a hemi-demi-semi-flex if best – “soft”, probably – but it’s nicer.
P.W.Akkerman Delfts Blauw is a beautiful ink, but in my experience it’s not the best cooperating ink I’ve found… a little dry for my taste. I think with a wetter ink it might perform better.
So, would I buy another Conklin? Maybe, at the right price, but I’m still going to assume I’ll have to fix, if not replace the nib. Conklin does make nice pen bodies, but they really need to get someone to sort out their nibs.
The cap-closing “clunk” is really satisfying, though.