TWSBI meets vintage nib.

I picked up a couple of TWSBI Diamond piston-fill pens at Scribe Writing Essentials over the weekend. (This is your fault, Karlo.) I wasn’t really intending to mod one, but these thoughts do cross your mind when you’re working overtime on a Sunday.

The EF nib felt – normal. I pulled it out of the collar and tried a Waterman no. 2 nib. The no. 2 was bent away from the feed to an alarming degree, and I wasn’t about to try to bend it closer. So out it went.

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

On to the Eversharp Skyline nib, which is slightly shorter than a no. 2. In the image below, you can see how it and the feed weren’t even talking to each other.

Mad scientist at work

Mad scientist at work

I took a cutter to the feed and deepened the channel. (When you do this, practice restraint. You can take out more later, but you can’t put it back.) My first try yielded a pen that would write with light to normal pressure, but blanked when flexed.

First try

First try

I had better results the next round. The pen had decent flow, but the nib had to be set low for it to be in contact with the feed at the right point. That meant the feed would touch the paper at every downstroke.

If it's not one thing it's another

If it's not one thing it's another

Just a little bit more.

There is a light at the end of the feed channel

There is a light at the end of the feed channel

Mission accomplished.



Tinkering and TWSBIs go together. At the last pen meet I tried JP’s Conklin nib in a TWSBI and liked how it wrote.  If you have a spare vintage nib lying around, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Be careful, go slowly, pause often and check your progress.

TWSBI Stock EF, 1.5 mm, vintage Eversharp Skyline nibs

TWSBI Stock EF, 1.5 mm, vintage Eversharp Skyline nibs

I love it when a non-plan comes together.

Feed comparison

Feed comparison

Have you modded your TWSBI? Do share.

  • Caloy

    The photo-handwriting documentation of the nib transplantation of your TWSBI 540 is quite instructive. I am not as brave as you. When the TWSBI 530 first came out, they only had EF, F, and M nibs. Being a B/BB person, I just transplanted a same size No.5 broad Levenger nib. Very straightforward; unlike your series of iterations.

  • Brian Gray

    Very impressive tinkering!

  • Leigh Reyes

    Caloy – I hope it will help other people be a bit more adventurous with their pens. Especially if they have vintage nibs lying around not getting any use!
    Brian – thank you. 😀

  • Bruno Taut

    “Tinkering and TWSBIs go together.” Exactly!!!!

    Great job, wonderful results. My tinkering was limited to try other nibs on my Twsbi–Pilot, Sailor, Pelikan, and a wonderful music nib by Kubo Kohei. This one was the more demanding re ink flow, but nothing so extreme as your Eversharp and Waterman.

    May experiments continue!

    Thanks for your hard work keeping your blog active.


  • InkyIndi

    What an inspirational post! I haven’t done any modding with nibs but this post really has me itching to try. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Matt

    But why? Too little ink capacity in the skyline? I realize this might be a stupid question.

  • Leigh Reyes

    BT, Indi – 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Matt – Nothing like that. I’m too lazy to fix the Skyline. Well, I fixed it before, and it unfixed itself. So. Easier to pull out the nib. 😀

  • Karlo

    Great mod! So it is possible to be an enabler to THE enabler.

  • JD Eames

    Very cool, Leigh!

    A couple of weeks ago (inspired by Bruno Taut & pal @trhall:disqus ) I put a Pilot SF nib in a TWSBI. So far so good. Nothing fancy like you do. Just my lowly scrawl. I like it a lot. The PiloTWSBI, that is.


    P.S. Tried a vintage Sheaffer Feathertouch #5 that has no pen & looking for a job. But it did not work at all.

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  • Alan F.

    I’m scared to tinker with the pens – I might end up a) cutting myself (LOL) or b) stabbing the ceiling out of frustration or c) destroying it – like what I almost did to the lamy. LOL. 

  • PenTool

    Since I am a pen newbie, these comments are solely directed to the visuals:

    The Eversharp Skyline result in photo #2 is stunning. You created such a unique look. Could the result you achieved be repeated consistently? 

    Again, I’m just thinking “out-of-the-box”, but the result of the nib touching the paper in photo #4 could, with some practice, create some interesting effects, either when drawing or writing. 

    Thanks, Leigh….very, very interesting stuff!

  • leighpod

    Is that a #10 Pilot nib? The #15 (the one that goes in the 743) doesn’t fit. Tom knows more about Sheaffers but I would think the nibs would be very picky. 🙂

  • leighpod

    Just drop by my desk, silly. 

  • leighpod

    You mean railroading? I have yet to induce it deliberately in a pen. 🙂 But yes, it can be consistent enough as long as the ink flow is throttled or reduced. 
    The feed touching the paper does produce interesting effects but it just feels so darn irritating. LOL. You could probably get the same effect by splitting a bamboo nib. 

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  • antony sutton

    Hey Leigh

    As soon as I got my 530, I realised I hated the nib. i tried an OM nib form my Pelkian M600 which fitted perfectly first time with o modifications at all – I used the TWSBI feed for it.

    Still going strong, although i red=cently swapped it out for a TWSBI Bock B nib.

  • Leigh Reyes

    Good to know the M6xx nib fits!

  • JD Eames

    A #5 Pilot nib. Fits very well. There are at least four of us out in the world using the TWSBI this way. Still using it with pleasure.

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  • Rupert

    Delightful blog.  I shall purchase a TWSBI soon.  I’m on my way to Tokyo.  I wonder where’s a good fountain pen shop?  Perhaps in the Ginza?

  • Den

    Hmmm. I was wondering if you can put a vintage flex on a modern pen that was more or less hassle free. Now to find a vintage nib.

  • Pentangeli888

    Hi Leigh! I’ve modded a TWSBI 530 by adding flex to its Schmidt nib. I’ve shared photos of the now flexible nib (F to BBB) with a writing sample at our FPN-P egroup site. Let me know your comments.

  • Andrew H

    Would the FA #10 nib fit the TWSBI 540?

  • leighpod

    No, it’s too big. A pity. 😀

  • Todd Dolce

    How’d you do it? Any step by steps?

  • HanryYang

    This is an inspiring article. I was able to transplant a waterman ideal no 5 nib. The nib was actually too long to fit on the feed because there is a little backwall on the feed. I simply chopped this away such that this back wall was a fin or two farther back and now it fits like a glove.

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  • subhamoy

    I am a fountain pen enthusiast living in Germany. It is easy to get TWSBI Diamond 580 here, and I see some 14K Wahl-Eversharp nibs for sale on eBay too, but if I buy a brand new TWSBI, I do not want to cut the feed such that the official nib is rendered permanently unusable. If I wanted to experiment on spare feeds, where could I find some to play with? Do they also have standard numbers, like US #2 or Daurerfeder #2 or Waterman #2?

  • leighpod

    You could get a spare nib/feed assembly for the TWSBI. That way you can mod one feed and leave the other intact. I don’t know of any seller that has separate feeds. Anyone else want to chime in?

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