Pilot Custom 742 Falcon Update #1


That cranky Pilot Custom 742 Falcon returned from its spa visit improved but not perfect. Not that it isn’t a handsome pen and comfortable to use. It is certainly that but the nib and flow just challenge me in a way that other fountain pens don’t.

To give the pen a fair chance, the original Pilot piston converter was temporarily swapped for a Pilot cartridge which improved the flow somewhat. Since sucking up ink from a bottle proved utterly useless with the converter, I purchased some pipettes with narrow tips to better fill the stubborn thing. Although it took a bit of doing to get the ink to zip along, the nib is much improved over its initial performance and the converter is now useful.

Funny how the pen seems to work best with Pilot ink, from Pilot Blue-Black to the black cartridge to a fill of Iroshizuku Asa-Gao. Hopefully, it will expand its repertoire to include a few other inks known for shading like Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Golden Brown. However, for now Asa-Gao will do.

Nevertheless, the flow still cuts out especially on descenders. It does not happen nearly as often as it did prior to its trip to the spa for some corrective work but the issue is still there. The nib has not been customized for my hand and might work beautifully as is for someone else. Someday I may put that to the test.

Another issue is that the nib sometimes catches unless held at what for me is an unforgiving angle. Again, the nib has not been customized for me so even though a monkey owned it first, I have to assume this is what is normal for the 742 Falcon nib. It is not an insurmountable problem but rather one that requires practice to overcome or possibly modification for a wider range of contact.

Of this I am certain: modern flex cannot compare to vintage flex. The mechanics are very different in how that wider line is accomplished and the effort necessary is much greater. Perhaps once the 742 FA has broken in to the degree my Namiki Falcons have, it will demonstrate enough suppleness to sustain a comfortable rhythm. Maybe a better flow will result as well. In the meantime it will get some use as held lightly, the nib is quite soft and nearly effortless to use. It will suffice for journal writing but not for correspondence where legibility is more important. After all no one needs to read my journal. Heh. Not even me!



  1. Great post. You are indeed right about the vintage flex nibs. I read this with great interest because I have similar issues with my Pilots and I think I’ve quietly decided they are just “not for me.” It happens I pulled one from the collection today after about one year without using it, but since it’s in the rotation with a late 40s fine point P51 and a Waterman 52 bchr (now there’s a flex nib!) I’m just not drawn to it. I have a MB 149 so I reach for that when I want a pen of that size and heft. If I could resolve the nib issues I might feel differently.


  2. I’ve found that the CON-70 converter that comes with the Custom 742 is really not very good, despite its large ink volume. It never really worked for me. Sometimes, all I got were ink bubbles. I finally replaced it with a CON-50 converter and all is well, though ink volume is less. Reliability rules, so I don’t regret the change.


  3. My FAs wrote beautifully from the get go. I think Iroshizuku inks may have been made for these pens, as the flow is effortless. But I have been successful with other brands as well.

    I hope over time you will come to love them as much as I do.


  4. It’s the other way around for me. The FA15 nib on my Custom 743 is smooth, and the soft fine on my Namiki Falcon catches if not at the right angle. And you are right about the pen working better with the cartridges.


    • Not so different for me. The 742 is smooth with a light touch but writes a very wide line compared to what I’ve seen others achieve with the same size nib. The Namiki Falcon is more fine and can catch to be sure though one of mine is less likely to do so than the other.

      I’ve switched to a CON-50 with some improvement in the 742 though it still skips and lays down tracks here and there. It just isn’t what I expected from my research. Someone else might be thrilled with the medium line and be able to coax more consistent performance from it.

      Next I’d like to try a Namiki Falcon B. Now that could be a whole lot of fun. 🙂


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