One Of Those New Noodler’s Pens08/29/2010
Yes, that’s right. Noodler’s Ink has crossed over and released two fountain pens. Nathan Tardiff, creator of the innovative American brand, was well-known for his skill at pen repair before he put his efforts into creating a line of ink. That breadth of knowledge has pushed expectations high so purchasing the relatively low-priced new offering was an easy choice.
The brown ebonite model with the aerometric (squeeze) filler caught my eye and I ordered one from Jet Pens as soon as it was available. If you like more color to your pen, the piston filler comes in brighter hues as well as basic black. As far as I can tell, the nibs on the two models are identical.
Unfortunately, my pen arrived askew in the packing materials. The box has only the documentation and an open ended plastic bag to protect the pen. The slip cap came off in shipment and the nib got banged around most unnecessarily. Had the bag been sealed or the cap better seated, this wouldn’t have happened. The cardboard box isn’t sturdy enough to resist crushing when shipped in a padded envelope. Though Jet Pens offered to exchange it, I decided to review the pen as-is rather than get a replacement.
The light-weight ebonite/hard rubber body makes this Noodler’s FP an easy choice for a carry pen. The balance is very good and the length of the barrel well-suited to writing unposted. While that means keeping track of the cap, the low weight makes long sessions a breeze.
The swirls of earthy color lend the pen an organic appearance and the simple metal appointments complete a low-key aesthetic. People may look but they won’t be gobsmacked. All to the good if you are sitting in a cafe writing that great novel. Take something flashier if you want to be interrupted or need a conversation starter.
My nib required a slight adjustment. That misalignment could have been caused by the shipping mishap so I wouldn’t downgrade the pen for that issue. Frankly, just using the pen for a day or two might have resolved the problem. That has worked with a number of pens in my experience. Other people have reported no alignment issues so you shouldn’t expect any.
(Yes, that is a brown ink but my scanner thinks it’s black. Hrumph!)
It seemed fitting to try a Noodler’s ink in a Noodler’s pen so I loaded up #41 Brown for a test drive. The nib is smooth and works beautifully with a very light touch especially since the flow is anything but dry. On a wetness scale of one to ten, I’d give it a seven. The nib size is rated as medium-fine and while it isn’t a nail neither is it a soft nib. Fail to use a light touch and the flow will turn the resulting line into a medium width. If you are heavy-handed, expect a medium line. If you have a light touch, that line will be more narrow but you will also have the option to put a tiny bit of muscle into it and get a wider line. That can be useful for making words stand out or underlining with more emphasis. I find this a fun extra rather than a drawback.
The aerometric filler is the most disappointing feature. I’ve used this style in the Parker ’51’ as well as Pilot converters with better success than the Noodler’s version. Despite repeated attempts to get it to fill more than a third, it just will not suck up more ink. This may just be my pen since I’ve read no other reviews that mention poor filling as an issue. If the aero filler doesn’t thrill you, the piston style fountain pen is the other option. Ebonite appeals more to me despite the challenge of filling it. Besides it has a clear sac that makes it easy to see how much ink remains so at least you know when to refill. That convenience somewhat offsets the lack of a full tank.
One handy bit is that as the ink started to run dry, my writing faded slowly rather than so quickly that I couldn’t finish a word. In fact I had about a half page of use remaining as the ink turned from dark to medium brown and finally quit. No sputters, no skips, no ink blobs, just a slow fade. At least with #41 Brown this was true and a nice improvement over some of my pens that make a big fuss over running out of ink.
For those who like variety, the aero model can be converted to an eyedropper filler and will accept at least some #2 vintage nibs. Check out Bleubug’s review for more information.
After three weeks of use, the Noodler’s Aero Fountain Pen is easy to recommend as long as the filler caveat doesn’t concern you. The fit and finish are in line with other low-end pens though it lacks the solid feel of the comparably priced Lamy Safari. However, the more traditionally styled Noodler’s FP may well be a better fit for those who like a fountain pen that actually looks like a fountain pen.
Pen photos courtesy of JetPens.com.