Can You Replace A Fountain Pen Nib?

Many reputable fountain pen manufacturers sell their pens in a range of nib sizes to suit different handwriting styles. Whether you can replace the nib depends on if the manufacturer of your particular brand of pen sells them separately. Most fountain pens have removable nibs, but not replacement nibs are not always available.

You can replace the nib on any fountain pen but only reputable pen brands sell replacements. Although some pens use standardized nibs, many don’t. The parts of different brands and models are often proprietary and not interchangeable. If you want a pen with different nib options, research it first.

There are several reasons for wanting to replace a nib ranging from because the current one is broken or worn out to the fact that you think a different sized nib would better suit your handwriting. Some replacement nibs are available in the form of a whole new grip section for the pen, while others consist of just the nib blade that is inserted onto the feed in the grip.

Replacing Fountain Pen Nibs

The nib section of a fountain pen basically consists of three parts – the nib blade, which is usually made of metal and transfers the ink to the paper; the feed, which can be plastic or acrylic or some other material, and which transports the ink to the nib; and the grip section or housing that holds the nib and the feed.

Sometimes the nib can be detached from the feed, but in many instances, the blade and the feed are a single unit that must be twisted, unscrewed, or pulled out of the housing together. In the case of more expensive pens, the entire grip section with the blade and the feed has to be replaced. With these pens, you simply unscrew the whole grip section and screw on a new one.

Because of the way they are assembled, most fountain pen nibs can be removed. However, some nib sections screw out, some are friction fitted, and some are captive threaded. The latter means the nib is held in place by a collar that screws over the nib. Don’t try to just pull the nib out of any pen because you will, in all likelihood, damage it.

For example, while the Sheaffer 300 nib can be pulled out, the Parker 45 must be screwed out. Cheaper pens often have the nib set permanently into the plastic feed. These nibs are generally not replaceable because it is more cost-effective just to buy another pen.

Improper pressure on the nib or feed section can lead to a bent nib and a cracked feed or housing. If it is a valuable pen, you may not want to risk removing and replacing the nib yourself. Instead, go to the dealer you bought it from and ask for help and information.

To remove the nib on a Pelikan pen, hold the nib with one hand and the pen barrel with the other. Then twist the nib section counter-clockwise. The nib will unscrew easily from the barrel.

If your pen is a Lamy, cut a small piece of sticking tape and place it across the nib. Hold the pen, so the nib is horizontal with the tape hanging down on each side. Grip the tape around the index finger while securing it with the thumb and middle finger. While applying gentle downward pressure, pull the sellotape away from the pen.

The nib should come off with the tape and slide off the feed. Slide the new nib gently onto the feed, making sure it fits properly. Remember to empty the pen of ink before removing the nib!

Pens With Replaceable Nibs

It is not only the brand of the pen that you have to consider when searching for a replacement nib but also the particular model.  For example, different nibs are available for the Waterman Expert and Waterman Carene models, so if you have a Waterman fountain pen, check which model. The one won’t necessarily fit the other.

Similarly, the Parker Premier nib is different from the Parker Vector nib, the Parker Urban, and the Parker Duofold nibs. These nibs are sold as a complete unit with the feed and grip section of the pen and can be pretty pricey in some cases, depending on the pen model and the materials used in the replacement nib.

Parker pen nibs are not interchangeable and only fit the particular model they were designed for. They unscrew from the pen in different ways and are made from various materials ranging from stainless steel to solid gold. Naturally, the price varies accordingly.

Replacement nibs are also available for various Cross fountain pens models such as the Townsend, Beverley, Peerless, and Century II. The more expensive the pen, the more expensive the nib is to replace. Like the Parker, they are sold as a complete unit comprising the feed, grip section, and nib blade and are not interchangeable.

Since the grip section is the most complex and functional part of the pen, it can cost almost as much as the pen to replace it. If your pen is very old, replacement nibs may be unavailable or extremely hard to come by. It pays to take good care of the nib you already have by capping the pen when not in use and ensuring it doesn’t roll off your desk.

Lamy sells just the nib blade, not the entire grip section, so replacement nibs are more affordable than many other brands. You still need to buy the nib for your particular model in some instances, so it helps to know if it is an Aion or Imporium, for example. Some of these nibs will fit several Lamy models, while others are specifically designed for the Aion or Lamy Lx fountain pen.

The Lamy Z50 black PVD nib will fit most Lamy fountain pens, as will the Lamy Z55 14K Bi-color. The price depends on whether they are made of gold, platinum, or stainless steel.

Other pen brands for which replacement nibs are available include –

  • Faber-Castell E-motion and Ambition models,
  • Sheaffer,
  • Caran ‘Ache,
  • Waterman,
  • Visconti,
  • Diplomat Excellence, Esteem and Traveller models
  • Conklin
  • S. T Dupont

Pelikan, another highly regarded fountain pen manufacturer, also sells nibs for its more expensive pen ranges such as the M1000, M250, M300, M400, and M650. The nib comes attached to the feed section, so the entire grip of the pen doesn’t need to be replaced. Pilot sells nibs for its vanishing point pens.

Some Pilot fountain pen nibs are interchangeable, but this is not recommended as it may void the warranty and affect writing quality. Some other brands make their nibs interchangeable but only within the brand. Modern standard-sized #4, #5, and #6 nibs may fit into various pens, but you could ruin the pen by using the incorrect nib with it.

Modern fountain pens may use standard #4, #5, and #6 nibs which means that the nib base is 4mm, 5mm, or 6 mm wide. The size of the nib’s base does not affect the line thickness of the nib when you write with it. Replacement nibs might not fit the pen as well as the original, which is another reason to preserve and protect the original nib.

Lamy will allow swapping of nibs, but only with another Lamy nib, so you can use a Safari nib in a Vista pen, for instance. Many fountain pen brands do not make nibs in standard sizes. The nib is made to fit the feed, which is often of a proprietary design. If you want a pen for which different nibs can be purchased, it is best to do some research before buying one.

The list of Lamy models with interchangeable nibs is quite a long one. It includes the Aion, Imporium, Lx, Al-Star, Studio, Persona, and Scala. To remove a Lamy nib, you slide the blade off the feed carefully so as to not damage it.

Montblanc nibs are not generally interchangeable, and you may need specific tools to replace one with another. Perhaps it’s a good idea to ask your Montblanc dealer to do it for you, given the price of these pens. Sailor fountain pen nibs are interchangeable only in some of their models, so you would have to know the model of your pen before buying one.

TWSBI has made it relatively easy to swap nibs on their fountain pens by using the standard sizes, but you still need to check the model to know what size nib you need to buy. Noodler’s sells a pack of five nibs called the Noodler’s Art Nib Pack as well as nibs for their Ahab, Konrad, and Creaper models. These nibs are very reasonably priced because they don’t include the feed and grip section.

Many fountain pen retailers keep various replacement nibs for the pens they sell, but you can also search online for one. Japanese companies that manufacture nibs for their pens are Platinum, Pilot, and Sailor. They have different characteristics from other brands. For example, a Japanese fine nib is more like a western extra-fine nib. A Japanese extra-fine nib is much narrower than a western extra-fine.

Bock, a German company, makes fountain pen nibs in standard sizes that fit on different makes of pens that use these sizes. For instance, make standard sizes in 5, 6, and 8 further classified according to nib type. While they may fit a range of fountain pens, they won’t necessarily fit all pens.

Bock has an excellent reputation for quality and precision and has been making nibs for more than seventy-five years. Up until 2019, Conklin and Monteverde pens used Bock nibs. However, in October 2019, these pen brands started using Jowo nibs. Jowo is another German nib manufacturer.

Apparently, there is a shortage of fountain pen replacement nibs, and Bock and Jowo can sometimes be backlogged for months or even a year. Goulet Pens has an exclusive arrangement to use Bock nibs in the Conklin and Monteverde pens they sell to overcome these difficulties. 

Different Fountain Pen Nibs Are Available For The Same Models

Modern fountain pens use mostly nibs made of stainless steel or gold alloys. Some pens only use stainless steel, while others only use gold, but some manufacturers offer a choice of different nibs made for the same pen model. Titanium nibs for certain pens are also sold, but they are not as widely available.

The tip of the nib is made of an alloy that may include metals from the platinum group, which are hard-wearing and corrosion resistant. The choice of which nib to use is basically down to the personal preference of the user. Gold nibs are more aesthetically pleasing and add a touch of class that many users appreciate.

It is not so much the material the nib is made from that affects the writing experience as the nib’s shape and size. A nib that works well delivers the ink to the paper in a smooth, unbroken flow.

You can sometimes buy different quality nibs for the same pen model in a particular range. For example, within the Kaweco pen range, you can purchase nibs for the Kaweco Sport, Lilliput, and DIA2 fountain pens in coated stainless steel, stainless steel, gold plate, or solid gold. Kaweco nibs also come with a rhodium-plated finish or a two-tone solid 14K gold nib.

Ruthenium and eighteen carat gold are some materials used to make the Parker Premier and Parker Duofold nibs, while the Parker Vector nib is made of stainless steel. You generally cannot use the nibs of manuscript or dip pens in fountain pens.

Occasionally, you can find replacements for vintage or antique fountain pen nibs, but this can be difficult since many of them are no longer in production. Antique nibs can be repaired and restored by a skilled craftsman, and some companies offer this service.

Repairing Bent Nibs

Bent nibs can be untwisted, straightened, and strengthened with iridium wire or replated. They can be polished re-tipped, and reset surprisingly well, so don’t throw away that old family fountain pen if the nib is damaged.

Vintage pens can be worth a great deal of money, so it can be worth having them expertly restored. The parts of most vintage pens are not interchangeable, but a skilled pen repairer may be able to make a new part. Some companies specialize in selling, repairing, and restoring vintage pens.

Fountain pen nibs get smoother with regular use over time, but it can take months before you will notice the difference. However, if the nib continues to be scratchy or cuts the paper, it could indicate a problem. Ideally, a nib should write smoothly straight out of the box. However, some people prefer a nib that is slightly scratchy because it provides more tactile feedback.

Misaligned tines could cause scratchiness. This can happen when you bump the nib or drop the pen onto the nib. If the tines become misaligned, it is possible to correct this,  but it is a job for a specialist unless the pen is cheap and easily replaced.

If you want to try repairing the nib yourself, these are the steps to follow –

Closely examine the nib for damage, then remove it. Gently gripping the nib between index finger and thumb, try to pull it away from the body. If you can’t remove the nib blade, just unscrew the grip section that holds the nib.

Press the nib down on a flat surface and apply gentle pressure to straighten it. Rolling it backward and forwards against the surface may help remove any bends. This can also be used to fix tines that have been separated or are splayed out.

Turn the nib so that it is at ninety degrees to the surface and roll it backward and forward from the tip to the base. This can remove the bends in the tines. Then flip it over and do the same on the other side. Slide a knife or other thin piece of metal between the tines and slowly move the nib up and down the knife’s length. This can help to correct misalignment between the tines.

You can then polish the nib with simichrome polish on a soft cloth. Avoid the polish coming into contact with the pen’s body. Polishing the nib improves ink flow. Reassemble and wait for the polish to dry before you use the pen.

 

Conclusions

To preserve and protect the nib of a fountain pen, always cap it when you aren’t using it and avoid dropping it. If you want to be sure that replacement nibs are available should something go wrong, it is best to buy a pen from a reputable brand and ensure beforehand that replacements are available. The parts of different fountain pens are seldom interchangeable as they are proprietary to the brand.

References:

https://www.theonlinepencompany.com/fountain-pen-nibs
https://www.nibs.com/catalog/nibs
https://scribblerplanet.com/are-fountain-pens-nibs-universal-are-nibs-interchangeable/
https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/266492-can-i-change-the-nib-of-any-fountain-pen-just-by-pulling-it-off/
https://www.penandpaper.co.uk/how-to-change-lamy-fountain-pen-nibs/
https://www.beaufortink.co.uk/bock-fountain-pen-nibs
https://www.hamiltonpens.com/blogs/articles/gold-nibs-vs-steel-nibs-which-is-the-best-fountain-pen-nib
https://www.nibs.com/content/nib-repairs-after
https://vintagepens.com/vintage_pens_catalog.shtml
https://www.vintagefountainpens.co.uk/repairs-and-restorations.html

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