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FGarbrecht

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Just a little rant about the lack of technical specs on most suppliers websites for pen parts. I'm trying to branch out into kitless and fully custom building, and part of the fun and challenge is to design around the parts that are generally commercially obtained, like nibs and feed assemblies. When suppliers don't specify technical data (like basic dimensions, threading specs, etc), it gets pretty hard to know what to buy. Even basic info like 'this is a Bock (Jowo, Heritance, etc) spec feed assembly' is often lacking, but at least that basic information would be enough to know what tooling is necessary to complete the build.

Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough, but the frustrations are daunting. Also, I realize that a phone call or email to the supplier would probably resolve these questions, but c'mon, if you are supplying parts for custom building then it seems reasonable (to me at least) to provide the basic minimal specs someone would need to make informed buying decisions. I suppose someday I'll have taps and dies and drill bits in every possible combination, but until then I'd rather buy my parts to fit the basic tooling I have, rather than the converse.
 
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eharri446

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You can obtain the specs for the BOCK components from Beaufort Ink at the following web site: https://www.beaufortink.co.uk/

You will need to send an email to them and they will send you the specs for the BOCK #5 and #6 sections and the feeds.

One thing about the BOCK feeds and sections is the use of special taps to create the threads for them to fit into.

There is a tutorial in the library that shows how to use a cigar pen kit to make a kit less pen. The section for that pen lit has threads that are M10 X 1.0 which is an easily found tap from either VictorNet or Drills and Cutters web sites.

I am not sure if he can provide you the information on the various nibs that he provides, but you might want to send an email to ExoticBlanks and ask if he has that information.

Hopefully this sheds some light on your dilemma.
 

Sprung

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Check out fpnibs.com - for Bock and Jowo nibs (the two nib manufacturers that are commonly used in custom fountain pen making) they give the tap sizes needed for the feed, as well as include diagrams in the product photos that show all the needed dimensions of the nibs, feeds, etc.

If a supplier doesn't specify who made the nib/feed/housing, I'd move on and find a better supplier who identifies what they're selling so you know what you're working with. Meisternibs.com is the US supplier of Jowo nibs - while they don't give you the tap, etc dimensions, they are a good supplier. Classicnib.com has been the US supplier of Bock nibs, but they seem to be out of stock of many of them, and some of their previous Bock offerings not listed on their website anymore. Silverpenparts.com has some of the specialty taps and dies you'll need. And, yes, each nib/feed/housing has a different tap requirement. Many making custom pens tend to stick to one nib manufacturer, with Jowo being more popular than Bock and #6 size more commonly used than #5 size.

I have ordered nib/feed/housing units from both FPnibs.com and Meisternibs.com and have no complaints with either. I prefer FPnibs because, if you're ordering more than 1 or 2 nib units, it works out to be an overall better price than ordering from Meisternibs.

I would also check out the library here - there are some great tutorials on custom pen making and some of them give the tap/die information as well.

Finally, the whole idea of custom pen making is that you're stepping away from pre-designed kits that are fairly easy to make into a finished pen to be able to make something truly custom. With that comes the notion that there's going to have to be some level of work figuring things out, research, getting nib unit in hand and doing some measuring with calipers yourself, trial and error, etc.
 

FGarbrecht

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Aug 22, 2019
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NY
You can obtain the specs for the BOCK components from Beaufort Ink at the following web site: https://www.beaufortink.co.uk/

You will need to send an email to them and they will send you the specs for the BOCK #5 and #6 sections and the feeds.

One thing about the BOCK feeds and sections is the use of special taps to create the threads for them to fit into.

There is a tutorial in the library that shows how to use a cigar pen kit to make a kit less pen. The section for that pen lit has threads that are M10 X 1.0 which is an easily found tap from either VictorNet or Drills and Cutters web sites.

I am not sure if he can provide you the information on the various nibs that he provides, but you might want to send an email to ExoticBlanks and ask if he has that information.

Hopefully this sheds some light on your dilemma.
I ordered a bunch of stuff from Beaufort Ink last night, specifically because they are pretty much the only supplier I could find that actually publishes sufficient and specific information for my purposes. My complaint is leveled primarily at domestic US suppliers. FPnibs and Beaufort do seem to publish adequate technical info (although it could still be better), and I went with Beaufort because the pricing and shipping costs were more competitive. I suppose that the market for high end pen components is so small that it's not worth the time for most suppliers to try. I'll continue to explore what's available and take my business there. I've had a few other disappointments with domestic suppliers (but some good experiences too), but it seems crazy that I have to order supplies from Japan and Great Britain.....
 
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FGarbrecht

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Aug 22, 2019
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NY
Check out fpnibs.com - for Bock and Jowo nibs (the two nib manufacturers that are commonly used in custom fountain pen making) they give the tap sizes needed for the feed, as well as include diagrams in the product photos that show all the needed dimensions of the nibs, feeds, etc.

If a supplier doesn't specify who made the nib/feed/housing, I'd move on and find a better supplier who identifies what they're selling so you know what you're working with. Meisternibs.com is the US supplier of Jowo nibs - while they don't give you the tap, etc dimensions, they are a good supplier. Classicnib.com has been the US supplier of Bock nibs, but they seem to be out of stock of many of them, and some of their previous Bock offerings not listed on their website anymore. Silverpenparts.com has some of the specialty taps and dies you'll need. And, yes, each nib/feed/housing has a different tap requirement. Many making custom pens tend to stick to one nib manufacturer, with Jowo being more popular than Bock and #6 size more commonly used than #5 size.

I have ordered nib/feed/housing units from both FPnibs.com and Meisternibs.com and have no complaints with either. I prefer FPnibs because, if you're ordering more than 1 or 2 nib units, it works out to be an overall better price than ordering from Meisternibs.

I would also check out the library here - there are some great tutorials on custom pen making and some of them give the tap/die information as well.

Finally, the whole idea of custom pen making is that you're stepping away from pre-designed kits that are fairly easy to make into a finished pen to be able to make something truly custom. With that comes the notion that there's going to have to be some level of work figuring things out, research, getting nib unit in hand and doing some measuring with calipers yourself, trial and error, etc.
I appreciate your comments and I've read all of the tutorials here relevant to kitless pen making. I thought the prices I saw at FPnibs were very high, but I don't have a good sense yet of the price/quality issues with fountain pen parts; I'm still learning in this regard. I also appreciate your comment about figuring things out yourself (which I enjoy doing), but if you have tips on how to figure out thread pitch on a small part like a feed assembly, let me know, because my old eyes can't do the comparison on a pitch chart!
 
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skiprat

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Mmm.....please don't get upset with my reply, but if you are going to venture into fully custom and kitless pens then you are most definitely going to need to know how to at least measure the specs for yourself. A car dealer won't give you a detailed workshop manual for the cars he sells and then tell you what tools to buy and where to buy them from.
The biggest fun part of making unique custom pens is the learning journey and to be creative. Don't just clone what everyone else does. I see hundreds of custom pens here, but they are all getting identical with just a different blank. May as well just stick to kits and leave the finial off for that matter.
 

FGarbrecht

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Mmm.....please don't get upset with my reply, but if you are going to venture into fully custom and kitless pens then you are most definitely going to need to know how to at least measure the specs for yourself. A car dealer won't give you a detailed workshop manual for the cars he sells and then tell you what tools to buy and where to buy them from.
The biggest fun part of making unique custom pens is the learning journey and to be creative. Don't just clone what everyone else does. I see hundreds of custom pens here, but they are all getting identical with just a different blank. May as well just stick to kits and leave the finial off for that matter.
Certainly no offense taken! One thing this adventure has taught me is the value of patience and a zen-like attitude to the process. My only point is that I can't make a completely custom hand-made pen because I can't make a feed or a nib, and it would be nice if the people who sell them to penmakers would provide a bit more technical info. I do measure everything I get at this point (thanks to a few unfortunate experiences getting items that were wrong or misrepresented), but I can't afford to buy an item without specs without knowing that I have the tools to incorporate it into my design; I prefer to design with known specs in mind, but if suppliers can't be troubled to publish them, that makes the process harder than it needs to be. I'm just grateful that there is a community like this to help the journey along.
 

mredburn

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Vendors based primarily around custom Kitless pen making are fairly new to the pen making field. Most of the nibs/feed assemblies information was/is not readily available and most of the kitless makers learned the thread pitches of the brand of feeds they wanted to use and then used a digital caliper to measure the rest for themselves. I doubt anyone has pressed for them to post that information.
 

darrin1200

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FPnibs provide the specs for, I believe, all their Bock and Yowo nib units. The ones I checked had a picture, on the description page, of a line drawing and dimensions. Not every one has a drawing, but there is at least one for each size.
Here is the #6 Jowo

There are also a lot of threads here on the forum discussing thread sizes of various nib units. While Yowo, Bock and Schmidt are the main ones used in this group, you can also get replacement nibs for some kit pens such as the “Baron”. These don’t come with specs, because they are usually proprietary to that kit. I have a list at home with the thread specs for a few, I am currently on vacation in Germany, which I will try to repost when I get back. The other dimensions for the units, are generally done with a micrometer.

Even with a the same nib units, you will find that different pen makers use different dimensions. Maybe only a few thou, but that can be the difference from one drill bit to another. I can show you three different makers that use different drills to pilot hole the same tap. It all depends on material, drill quality and work methods.

Cheers
 

1shootist

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Dec 2, 2018
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Ennis/Waxahachie Texas
Just a little rant about the lack of technical specs on most suppliers websites for pen parts. I'm trying to branch out into kitless and fully custom building, and part of the fun and challenge is to design around the parts that are generally commercially obtained, like nibs and feed assemblies. When suppliers don't specify technical data (like basic dimensions, threading specs, etc), it gets pretty hard to know what to buy. Even basic info like 'this is a Bock (Jowo, Heritance, etc) spec feed assembly' is often lacking, but at least that basic information would be enough to know what tooling is necessary to complete the build.

Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough, but the frustrations are daunting. Also, I realize that a phone call or email to the supplier would probably resolve these questions, but c'mon, if you are supplying parts for custom building then it seems reasonable (to me at least) to provide the basic minimal specs someone would need to make informed buying decisions. I suppose someday I'll have taps and dies and drill bits in every possible combination, but until then I'd rather buy my parts to fit the basic tooling I have, rather than the converse.
A rant that has become relevant with me. AARH !
An even with resorting to email, they go unanswered.
I did discover by reading this thread I need a 5.9mm bit for Bock #6 so thats postive movement.
A ways still to go though.
 

FGarbrecht

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A rant that has become relevant with me. AARH !
An even with resorting to email, they go unanswered.
I did discover by reading this thread I need a 5.9mm bit for Bock #6 so thats postive movement.
A ways still to go though.
I'm sure anyone who does any custom and/or kitless work knows this pain. Once you settle into a few designs that you like and choose a couple of nib/feed/section styles for your arsenal, it becomes less of an issue. If you like to experiment a lot with design and don't like being limited to a few nibs, it continues to be a problem. It's almost like there is a cabal protecting the secret and mystical knowledge of custom penmaking. ;)
 

jttheclockman

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One thing you have to remember most these companies are selling replacement parts for their kits not for you to build kitless pens. There is a whole different ballgame when it comes to simple fountain pens over rollerball or standard ink pens. So to is the kitless field another ballgame played by few.
 

FGarbrecht

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One thing you have to remember most these companies are selling replacement parts for their kits not for you to build kitless pens. There is a whole different ballgame when it comes to simple fountain pens over rollerball or standard ink pens. So to is the kitless field another ballgame played by few.
Even the small companies that sell to kitless makers do a pretty poor job of documenting their parts. Agree that it is a small world and there probably aren't incentives for them to spend the 2 seconds to update websites with useful information for custom designers, but then I wouldn't have anything to complain about, no? 😅
 

Penultimate

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I think part of the fun and challenge is to buy something and figure it out yourself. I discovered thru research, trial and error that I can use a 1/4-40 tap on many #5 nib sections. I don't need a $40 special metric tap.
Good luck
 

NT_2112

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Took a little bit for me to figure out how to reverse engineer my pen section to fit the nibs I bought on aliexpress. Turns out a 5.6mm drill bit and a M6.5x.5 tap will work pretty well.

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 10.27.07 PM.png
 

PenHog

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Right there with you, FGarbrecht :)

It definitely can be fun to do trial and error, pull out the thread gauge, etc. But the costs add up, and the time available to make pens is limited (in my case, very limited these days), so I share your frustration.
 
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