Ink Drop Soup: The Pilot Prera-Plumix Switcheroo

20 10 2012

This recipe calls for one Pilot Prera and one Pilot Plumix

Here’s a few quick pictures for those of you curious about swapping out the nib of your Pilot Prera for the lovely italic nib on the Pilot Plumix. Possibly you want to make your handwriting fancier or maybe you dropped the nib on a hard tile floor; whatever the reason, here’s how I did it.

I recommend you do this with pens devoid of ink

I started with the Prera for this demonstration simply because it was closer to the camera when I started taking pictures. If you haven’t done this before, maybe start on the far cheaper Plumix (or Pilot Penmanship, if you’re looking to swap on an extra fine nib); the motion is the same. Hold the barrel in one hand. Hold the nib and feed with the other (I prefer putting my thumb under the feed and my index finger on top of the nib). Slowly pull the nib and feed out, and perhaps try gently twisting the barrel as you do so if it seems stiff. The nib and feed should come out, and you’re halfway done. If you started with the Plumix, keep the nib on hand and set the rest of the pen to the side.

Same as before

Take the second pen, and do the same thing to get the feed and nib out. Though I swap the nibs, I like to keep the feeds with their original pen, but that’s probably not necessary.

Now for the magic

Take the feed you want to put in the Prera and the nib you want to be on the Prera. Put the nib on top of the feed; the feed is notched on the top and sides in such a way that you’ll know when it’s on where it should be.

And back in it goes, voilà

Hold the nib and feed together in one hand, the barrel in the other, and slide them together until they stop. From what I can tell, there’s no particular way the feed and nib have to line up with the barrel, so there’s no big worry. If you’ve done this all correctly, you should have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib. If you’ve done this incorrectly, I absolve myself of all responsibility.


Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen – Medium Flat Italic Nib – Black Body with Blue Ink

3 03 2011

The sketches were a bit uninspired. They were...despired. Perspired. Not even spired.

I can’t leave a big-box SuperStore without checking their pen section, and a recent prowl of Target’s pen aisle did not leave me disappointed. For the first time, physically before me in a store where arguably normal people shop, an affordable fountain pen!

Baby, for $6.37 you can take me home any day of the week (provided you have that aforementioned $6.37 plus local tax rate)

The somewhat garishly designed packaging enthusiastically proclaims in sunshine-daycare yellow, “Real Fountain Pen!” …Unlike all those fake fountain pens you’ve had to contend with, Pilot delivers a finely-crafted stick of plastic veracity and unparalleled integrity. Thank goodness Pilot’s on top of these things. And that they’re telling you about it–I would have surely mistaken this for another one of those confoundingly meddlesome fake fountain pens if it weren’t for this astute packaging.

The pen cap is a squid-head. There, now you can't unsee it.

The body of the Plumix is lightweight plastic, but seems well thought-out.

This is not to say that the design of the Squid leaves it completely clean of ink

The cap unscrews from the body (snap-on caps, especially if snapped on with the pen pointing down, encourage the ink to come out, leaving beads of ink on the nib and in the cap. Very wasteful) but posts on the end just by pushing the cap on.

The barrel unscrews from the grip and nib section, and the nib itself is easy to remove so that you can align the grip and nib to be conducive to your hand’s writing posture, a fact I did not figure out until after I’d dropped the pen from my pocket, knocking the nib loose, necessitating my fiddling with the nib.

Deliciously smooth writing on some fantastic Clairefontaine paper, done mostly when the nib was knocked loose. Still wrote!

Having never really removed a nib from a pen before, I found it a surprisingly simple task (“AUGH! UAAGH! THE METAL PART FELL OFF! OH CRAP LET’S JUST WASH EVERYTHING OFF AND HOPE IT’LL ALL GO BACK TOGETHER”), and my original problem with the angle of the nib relative to the positioning of the grip became a moot point–I could angle the nib however I wanted!

Since there isn’t much weight to the body, it’s hard to comment on the balance of the pen, but nothing feels off about the way the pen sits in the hand. Above the grip, the barrel has a slight bulge outward that fits perfectly into the web over the thenar space (thanks, The Internet; I was just going to call it “that fleshy web crook space, you know, the one between your thumb and forefinger, whatsitcalled, you know”) and then tapers off into a slender end. The barrel has these strange parabola-shaped grooves, the purpose of which I cannot discern beyond being merely decorative, and the cap has two modest little anti-roll protrusions that effectively render the cap a convenient squid-shape.

These are all small, simple touches that make a pen unique, and I appreciate them. This is what I feel so many common American pens are lacking–an appreciation of pennovation.

My first comment when I unscrewed the cap: "Where are the little balls on the end??" I did not realize the nib was italic; neither did the packaging.

Before we move on to the nib, the grip needs a little more appreciation. Note how the the bottom of the grip arches up to rest comfortably atop your finger. Carefully discern the subtly cut out concave panel–there are two of these, one for the thumb to grip, the other for the gripping finger of your choice (I rest the pen atop my ring finger, and grip with thumb and middle). The grip is entirely smooth and entirely hard plastic, but it’s comfortable. It’s a carefully designed molding of plastic where I was expecting something bare-minimum. My apologies, Pilot. The grip you designed here is an unexpected delight.

I know we've had some problems with cheap Pilot Medium fountain pen nibs before, but this, this one is different. This one has the power of SUPER QUALITY JAPAN.

The nib, I’m happy to report, is not like other cheap Pilot fountain pen nibs. Granted, I don’t really have any other Pilot italic nibs for comparison (or any italic nibs for comparison), but this one seems to put out a decent but not excessive amount of ink, and it writes so smoothly (especially on Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper) that I can’t stop writing in cursive with this pen. The mere act of cursive writing is so fun! I just keep writing nonsense even when I have nothing of substance to write. And my handwriting asymptotically approaches being pretty!

At the end of the day, this is a fun and cheap (AND REAL!!!) fountain pen that you can (provided your Target has them in stock) get with instant gratification, ripping open the package the moment your transaction is complete, and it makes writing fun. Isn’t that what a pen should really be for?


A pen should also be for use as a weapon in an emergency situation or a dramatic scene in a television drama.

You can’t order them online from Target, but they do have a link to find it at a Target store: Pilot Plumix Refillable Fountain Pen – Blue at Target


And, because I love JetPens, they get a link too:Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen – Medium Flat Italic Nib – Black Body at JetPens