Noodler’s Neponset – First Impressions

After the build up to the Neponset fountain pen release I seem to have found myself with two.  Sort of intentional… but I must admit to having the feeling of getting swept up in the fever. At least it was only two!

A couple of reasons: first, from experience there’s some variability in Nooder’s pens, and most of the time they need some fettling. Second, I’ll probably give one away as a gift to another fountain pen user in the family. And one more reason – I liked the look of both the Red Rebellion and the Jade Green and couldn’t choose 🙂

The Jade one arrived first. I appreciated that the supplier had free shipping on orders over $35. A really nice touch was a surprise in the package – a Rhodia No 10 grid pad. I use these all the time, so that’s handy too.

I didn’t have much time to test it out on Friday, but did ink it up with Apache Sunset. First things first, I did take the nib and feed out (they’re just friction fit and the section has a round internal cross section, so orientation when putting it back together is not important). I always wash new Noodler’s nibs and feeds in warm water with a few drops of washing-up liquid, then rinse and dry well.

Really first initial impressions were that it was a hard start and pretty skippy unless fair pressure was applied, and even then though the line didn’t skip the nib had a bit more feedback than I would have liked. Time to plan the fettling strategy.

I took the pen apart again, and flossed both nib slits with a brass sheet. While doing this I noticed that the breather holes didn’t go all the way through the nib. I presume they should have done. I didn’t fix this now. Something to consider if needed later.

Noodler's Neponset image
Noodler’s Vishnu Victory nib

I then heat-set the nib using the hot-water method. Finally after re-assembling the pen I inked it up – with something more appropriate for this pen color than Apache Sunset! I used Noodler’s Sequoia Green, of which I had a sample.

A quick test of the pen suggested it wasn’t as smooth as I’d have liked, and the tines looked aligned (at least as well as I guessed they should – not having seen a three tined nib before!). Time to break out the polishing pads. I started at 8,000 grit, then 12,000 and finally a quick round with the 1.0μm then 0.3μm lapping films. It worked a treat. The nib now wrote very smoothly, had no hard starts and no skips (at least as long as I didn’t hold the nib at the wrong angle).

And it seemed wetter in general delivering sufficient ink to keep a line going with no pressure – certainly not excessively wet. And the basic line is what I’d call fine, or perhaps very fine. But when you start to flex it a bit ink delivery keeps up nicely and it lays down a very wet line.

Saturday

The Red Rebellion Neponset arrived next.

Noodler's Neponset image
Noodler’s Neponset Red Rebellion

I compared both pens and I was immediately struck by the better fit of the component on the Red Rebellion. And better match between the pattern of the cap and the body, which was nicely bold in this case. The Jade pen has a much less bold pattern on the pen body: it doesn’t match the ebonite pattern on the cap. A pity for that pen. And see how the clip fit is poor on both but worse on the Jade pen. But functionally this doesn’t affect the pen, and I’m not expecting Pelikan levels of fit and finish. And for other Jade pens I expect there’s better match between the two parts – I think the bold swirls look better, as in the cap here.

Noodler's Neponset image
Neponset in Jade – note the mismatched pattern in the cap and body

Since the Jade pen needed fettling I didn’t even ink up the Red Rebellion. Just a quick dip test which confirmed my suspicions. So I went through the same routine:

  1. disassemble the pen
  2. wash nib, feed and section in warm soapy water
  3. rinse well, then dry
  4. floss the nib slits with a brass sheet
  5. heat set the feed to the nib (hot-water method)
  6. reassemble the pen
  7. check alignment visually (it was OK)
  8. ink the pen
  9. smooth the nib (8000-12000-1.0μm-0.3μm)
  10. write!

Once that was done the pen worked really well, and was much wetter than the Jade one. I used Noodler’s V-Mail Rabaul Red – perhaps the ink might make a difference? The result of the wetter fine line was that it was actually much more difficult to write with a fine line, especially if the pen had just been flexed – the ink flow was high and the amount of the ink on the page tended to fill-out the finer lines. With practice I can probably get this right, leaving off the pressure sooner, to allow the line time to run-down in width.

Noodler's Neponset image
Noodler’s V-Mail Red Rabaul (Neponset)

Overall Impression

These are big pens. I like that. YMMV. After using the Neponset I went back to try an Ahab, and that actually felt small. It isn’t really. I prefer using pens uncapped so the Neponset suits me well.

Standard writing. These pens work well, especially after a little work, as detailed above. They’ll be great everyday writers.

Flex writing. I have to say my observations here are entirely subjective. I was expecting the three tined nib to flex a little bit more easily than an Ahab flex nib. If it does I couldn’t feel it. It needs a fair degree of pressure to get the maximum line variation, and I haven’t gone that far yet. The information sheet with the pen suggests up to 3mm. I’ve gone up to 2mm, and that feels like a lot of pressure. The nib may “open up” with time.

I’ll certainly be keeping one of these in my everyday rotation.How is your Neponset? Comments welcome below.

Suppliers used for items mentioned in this article
Vanness Pens Jade Neponset
Anderson Pens Red Rebellion Neponset
Goulet Pens Ink
Writer’s Bloc French Ruled Clairefontaine loose-leaf paper
Richard Binder Lapping films

Other FP and Ink suppliers I use
XFountainPens.com
Amazon – when all of the above don’t have what I’m looking for!

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