Pilot Pens get good marks and there are more than a dozen in my collection. However, the Prera has disappointed me three times over. All had fine nibs that were stingy at best despite trials with at least a dozen inks. The blue went to a new home years ago, but the ivory and the gray stuck it out only because I like the colors and the chrome furnishings. After a nib replacement and a bit of work, both pens are now on my desk and getting lots of use. Here is what happened to turn these lemons into precious pens.
My Preras were purchased when the model was first released. I paid less than $30 for each. They received very little time in my rotation because the nibs were far too dry. Skipping and hard starts made them unpleasant little brats. Hence, years in the pen drawer and no appreciation from me.
Three years ago I read that Plumix nibs could be swapped for the original Prera nibs and that the Plumix medium nib could pass for an italic. That sounded intriguing so I bought a Plumix at Target and affixed the nib to the ivory Prera. Indeed it was a medium italic, a very straight cut affair with no tipping material. However, the flow was still underwhelming, so back into the pen drawer it went.
Some time later, I attempted to open the slit. After making several scratches on the front of the nib, I could see the tiniest amount of light and gave it a fill. Performance was better but not fluid. Back into the drawer it went. A few weeks ago, I needed an italic for a project and with a sigh gave the Prera one more chance, this time with Noodler’s Black. Eureka! Finally, the right ink for the nib and oh my gosh is it now a fantastic writer.
Holding out hope for the gray Prera and having been emboldened by my success, I ordered a Plumix from Jet Pens and on its arrival immediately swapped the nibs. Performance was improved and I had another italic to boot. Again the slit is too narrow for the degree of flow that I prefer, but I will work on that when the pen is in need of a refill.
Here are two pens that could have gone to new homes since they were disappointing and unused. About half the pens I’ve sold or given away have later been missed. I don’t know what that says about my choices, but it does say something about impatience. There are other pens I’ve held onto in hopes they would become more to my liking in future. Wishful thinking to be sure. It’s not like they are going to heal on their own, but my pen preferences have changed over the years. So what was formerly a meh pen, can become a wow pen because my perspective has changed, the right ink has come along, an adjustment improves performance, or some other reason entirely.
The point here is to give a pen a fair test before deciding it is not for you. The other thing is that even for someone as unhandy as I am, addressing nib issues is not impossible. I’ve murdered a few and failure is just part of the learning curve. You might not want to risk a gold nib, but there are plenty of inexpensive steel nibs on which you can hone your skills or at least get past any initial qualms.
For info on repairing or adjusting a fountain pen, Fountain Pen Network is a good place to start. I have Frank Dubiel’s “Fountain Pens The Complete Guide To Repair & Restoration Revised Edition” and I’ve learned a lot from Nathan Tardif’s videos. Who is your favorite pen repair guru?
Note: Pilot Prera Fountain Pens and Plumix Fountain Pens are available at Jet Pens should you want to create your own Prera Italic or they offer the clear body Prera with the medium italic nib already installed.