I’ve been using a lot of dark and pastel inks lately, and earlier this week I suddenly decided enough was enough. I needed some pink. And not just any pink… I wanted bright, in-your-face, rebelling-against-your-bad-day pink. It also occurred to me that I didn’t have a single Sailor inked up, but I didn’t really feel like any of my Sailors matched up well with the type of pink I had in mind.
Did I choose to give up on the perfect pink, or did I ditch my Sailors for another pen brand?
Neither. Instead, I grabbed one of the smallest but most impactful accessories in my pen collection. Then, I reached for my hot pink Franklin Christoph, carefully borrowed a nib from one of my Sailor Pro Gears, and just like that, my pocket 66 was eye-dropped with rebellious bright pink and fitted with one of my favorite nibs.
Flexible Nib Factory makes a variety of nib housings and feeds that allow you to take your pen customization to the next level. The housings are specifically designed to take nibs from some of your favorite brands like Pilot, Sailor, or Platinum, and fit them into standard Jowo or Bock housings. This opens up all kinds of new possibilities, including allowing you to use some the best nibs on the market in some of your favorite custom pens.
In addition to custom housing, Flexible Nib Factory makes replacement housing and feeds for Jowo nib units. The goal here is to keep the Jowo nib, but change up the feed and housing- either for the sake of asthetics or functionality (or both!). One option is a clear acrylic feed which looks particularly good in clear demonstrator pens.
You can also purchase ebonite feeds and housings, which improve ink flow and even come in a red version. These ebonite feeds are especially useful for flexible nibs, as they help provide a more steady and consistent ink flow as you change line variation on the page.
The pocket 66 (or any Franklin Christoph pen that takes a #6 sized nib) is a particularly great choice for the swap as the majority of Flexible Nib Factory’s custom housings do not allow for the use of a converter or cartridge (i.e. to use the feeds you must be able to eye-dropper the pen). This means you want to make sure your pen of choice does not have a metal body, section, or threads.
The hot pink match-up sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole. I quickly had an army of pocket 66s fitted with a variety of Sailor nibs, Platinum nibs, custom nibs, and crazy grinds.
A couple of notes:
- At first, I was nervous (an understatement) to remove my Sailor and Platinum nibs from their original pens. A year of pen-shows at the NibSmith table will train that fear right out of you. The most accurate way of describing it would be that swapping nibs between pens is not as tricky as you are likely imagining it to be, but it’s also not something you just do on a whim without thinking about it.
- Pens have different ways they fit into their respective feeds. For some, the entire section with nib, feed, and housing simply screw out of the pen- and you can easily screw in another nib, feed, and housing of your choice (Franklin Christoph, Carolina Pen Company etc.). However, not EVERY pen works this way, so you want to verify how your pen of choice functions before you start trying to twist or yank the nib out. For example, with Sailor pens the nib and feed are friction fit into the section of the pen. So you will need to grab some type of grippy material and pull the nib and feed directly out of the pen for removal.
- Even for nib housings that screw out of the pen, once you have the housing, nib, and feed removed- the nib and feed are typically (but not always) friction fit into the collar. The photo below shows a Carolina Pen Company Jowo nib and feed that have been removed from the housing.
- Putting the nib and feed back into housing is pretty easy, but you want to make sure you understand exactly where the feed should be aligned with the nib, and keep that alignment as you insert the nib and feed into the housing.
Flexible Nib Factory includes detailed instructions on their site, but if you’ve never fully removed a nib, you may want to watch some videos or read some articles about your specific pen and practice on pens at the lower end of your collection first. TWSBI Eco nibs and feeds are friction fit into the section and removed in basically the same fashion as a Sailor or Platinum so they may be a good first candidate if you have one on-hand (BUT TWSBI feeds are significantly more fragile than Sailor or Platinum feeds- so you have to be extra careful to not push too hard on the feed against the nib).
Once you get the hang of things, swapping nibs between pens could not be any simpler, and Flexible Nib Factory housings and feeds are one of my favorite ways to bring even greater variety and customization to my pens. Everyone needs a hot-pink eye-dropped Sailor-Franklin Christoph frankenpen in their life this week, don’t you think?
- Pen: Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 ($155), Flexible Nib Factory Housings ($12)
- Paper: Yamamoto Paper Cosmo Air Light 75g – A4 ($9.50 for 50 sheets)
- Stamps: Well-Appointed Desk “The Daily Grind” Rubber Stamps ($10)
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased with my own funds. Please see the About page for more details.
3 comments / Add your comment below
It’s like you read my mind! Just ordered Noodler’s Rachmaninov because I was craving hot pink in a broad nib this week.
Very informative post. Thanks!
OK wow I’ve never heard of these but since I was just swapping nibs around yesterday, this might be relevant to my interests!
In August 2018 I jumped at the chance to replace the truly lousy plastic feed in my Pilot Custom Heritage 743/FA semi-flexible nib pen with a $25.00 USD Ebonite feed made by Joey Grasty of Flexible Nib Factory LLC, Dallas, Texas. My CH743 was purchased in October 2015 from Danny Phua of Fook-Hing Trading Co. in Singapore (at the time I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia). Getting the pen in Singapore was a chore. Pilot, for some inexplicable reason, does NOT want its CH743 pen (among many other Pilot models) to be sold outside of Japan. Therefore, Fook-Hing Trading had to purchase the pen through a third-party forwarder in Japan.
Fortunately today, through the power of arbitrage via the Internet, it is easier to purchase a CH743 outside Japan. In 2015 I purchased my CH743 for around $220.00 USD before shipping from Singapore. Today (11-Oct-2020), you can buy a CH743 with FA nib on Amazon for $259.89 USD, shipping included.
From the day I received the 743CH, it was a troublesome writer. Flow-wise the cheap plastic feed could not keep up with the wonderful FA nib. I had to write very carefully and slowly in order to avoid railroading and skipping, and no, it wasn’t the ink, I still had problems when using Pilot/Namiki Blue, which I consider to be one of the best behaved inks on the market. Needless to say, my CH743 got very little use.
After swapping the factory plastic feed with the new Ebonite feed, the difference was like night and day. Ink flow was ample yet well regulated, flex writing was reliable and responsive, no skips, blobs, or railroading. It was like having a brand new pen, one that was actually designed properly from the outset. I posted a tutorial on replacing the plastic feed on a stock CH743 with a Flexible Nib Factory Ebonite feed on the Fountain Pen Network. The link is in the References below.
Flexible Nib Factory LLC, Dallas, Texas
Fook-Hing Trading Co., Singapore
PILOT”CUSTOM 743 / Black” (nib : Falcon)
My Pilot 743/FA With The Flexible Nib Factory Ebonite Feed