When I first started browsing the Fountain Pen Network forums I was horrified at how much a high end fountain pen with a “decent nib” could cost. Now that I have been into the hobby for some time now, the sticker shock has worn off (a little bit).
Eventually I learned that many people switch the nibs in their fountain pens, which means that one could potentially put a high end nib in a lower end pen, with the associated cost savings. There is one problem though, not all nibs will fit in all fountain pens. It is often a long task to figure out for sure if a nib will fit into a fountain pen or not without buying them and crossing your fingers that everything is copacetic.
After reading and watching many reviews, I came across the Franklin Christoph company (commonly abbreviated as F-C). This company is held to have great nibs that are tuned very well from the factory. Many people swear by gold nibs, but I am starting to think that the big difference between a gold nib and a steel one is primarily how soft the nib is. Brian Gray of Edison Pens has a great article on this topic.
The thing is, the steel nibs are quite affordable so I thought I would upgrade a cheap(er) pen with a F-C nib to try to make a cheap pen that acts like a much more expensive pen.
I chose a Twsbi 580 as my pen to customize because it is a nice pen with a piston filler, a large ink capacity, and a cap that has a O-ring seal and a cap with a sealed section for the nib so if ink creeps onto the nib in your pocket, it wont get on the section where you hold the pen. All this adds up to a very practical pen for this project.
F-C sells both #5 nibs, and #6 nibs in both steel and gold, as well as specialized nibs that are less popular. The Twsbi 580 uses a #5 nib, so I bought that size for this project. I bought a 1.1 stub 580 as the 1.1 stub and larger nibs supposedly have a wetter feed in Twsbi pens and I wanted a relatively wet flow to the nib. (I bought a medium steel nib.)
So does a F-C nib fit into a Twsbi 580?
Yes! (And its a pretty dang good nib as well.) The steel nib is stiff, but it is just as smooth as my Lamy 2000, if not a little smoother!
Making the Switch:
The nib from F-C comes in a “nib unit” that includes a feed and housing for both the nib and feed. This unit is known to work in the Edison Collier, among other pens. The F-C nib will need to be taken out of the nib unit it comes in. It is useful to have something grippy for this task, like a piece of rubber to remove the nib without damaging it, but it can be done without it generally. It is friction fit, so just pull on the nib and feed with the flat of your thumb providing uniform pressure on the nib until it comes out.
Unscrew the Twsbi’s grip section and disassemble it completely.
Exchange the Twsbi nib with the F-C nib and reassemble the pen. You will need to make sure that the feed and nib are correctly seated, which will most likely be the cause of problems if you have any.
Enjoy your pen!
Ebonite feeds, which can be heat set (heated up to align it better to the nib) can also be purchased if you want to get the best performance from your pen. Fountain Pen Revolution (commonly abbreviated as FPR) sells a wide variety of ebonite feeds (among other useful parts). Supposedly a 5.3mm feed from FPR will fit a Twsbi 580, but I haven’t tested this, so take it with a grain of salt. Ebonite feeds soften at much lower temperatures than common engineering thermoplastics, which make it (relatively) easy to heat set an ebonite feed yourself. This is a pro to having an ebonite feed as opposed to a more common (nowadays) “plastic” feed. Also, ebonite feeds are known to purportedly be wetter than a comparable plastic feed due to the material itself.
A Jinhao X750 would be another possible pen for this type of project, although I haven’t tested if the Jinhao’s feed would have to be altered to fit. A Jinhao X750 uses a #6 nib, so make sure to buy that size nib instead of a #5.