I have a profound weakness for demonstrator (transparent) pens, so when I visited Quill and Nib at the Valley West Mall, West Des Moines, my eye was drawn to this cheerful sunny Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen.
I don’t like yellow, but this was the only color they had left that was light enough for me to see the ink inside, which is why I like demonstrators in the first place. I don’t mind the color now – it’s a change from all the transparent demonstrators I already have.
These are the parts of an Ahab – from the top, the nib and section with the breather tube for the piston-fill system; cap with steel band; piston rod; and barrel.
The filling system was new to me and at first I was unsure how to go about using it. I thought about Googling, then asking Ahab-owning friends for help. But I decided, naah, I’ll play with it.
I chose magenta De Atramentis ink that I also got at Quill and Nib. (There were so many other lovely colors but alas! I had no room for more in my small hand-carry size suitcase.)
I dipped the nib into the ink and drew up on the rod. Success! The ink flowed into the chamber and up into the breather tube as well.
I still didn’t know if this was supposed to happen, but it seemed fine so I fitted the piston rod back into the barrel for the next step.
One thing that’s great about it is that it can be converted into an eyedropper fill with an o-ring, giving a generous 6ml ink capacity.
The piston rod is quite long when fully retracted.
I pushed the rod back in a bit. Ink dripped out of the nib, but at the same time air was expelled, which seemed to be the right thing to happen. When I read other reviews, the advice was when filling to first push the rod in to expel air, then dip in ink and draw back to fill the chamber. Now I know.
It’s a bit of a wet writer, which is only as it should be, since the Ahab has a semi-flex nib. Flex nibs use a lot of ink and are very thirsty. They tend to railroad when not enough ink for the flex gets up into the feed.
The Ahab’s got nothing on the vintage flex nibs that I own and have reviewed on this blog, such as those by Waterman and Sheaffer, but considering that it’s a modern version in steel and not the more malleable gold is quite an achievement.
Alas, it railroaded the first time I tried it! I was disappointed and put the pen away. What did I expect after all for $19?
After a couple of weeks I took it out again, and was pleased to find that things had somehow settled in and the pen was performing much better. Look at that juicy flex action on the downstroke, and the overall width variation!
Affordable cost + flex ability + eyedropper ready = good deal!
All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.