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Pilot Custom Grandee


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#1 araybanfan

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 14:47

Before the year ended, I chanced upon a custom grandee f nib off ebay. I took my chance to the advertised NOS pen of the late 70s. I had zero knowledge on the pen, the photos were too good to be true. The nib looks like a falcon variant without further enquiry to the seller I had my heart set on this pen. Eventually, I battled up to the last minute on the bid followed by a 2 weeks wait on postage. The pen arrived as advertised. With an untested method I bathed the pen with bee wax to prevent ink smearings to the teak shell which actually worked out for me. The pen has darken considerably over the process.

Please forgive my impromptu scribbles with this new tool.
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Being impressed with the pen, I did my research I stand corrected on the following, the key hole clip is unique marking its origin of age and time supposedly. Retailing at about 10,000 yen, it cost almost 3 times more than a regular pilot myu from the pilot family back then. The sharp flat top and bottom echoes the modern streamline falcon. And more evidently closer to the wooden incarnation with the 845. Posted Image

#2 Dillo

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 18:20

Hi,

If you are curious about the breather hole, very few Pilot pens actually use the breather hole in the nib itself as the place where it takes in air. In many pens, it is usually a hole under the feed or in some that don't have a hole under the feed, the crescent shaped hole on top of the nib.

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#3 symphony

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 20:11

Hi. Pilot pens are my favorite.

Even PRERA feels so wet and smooth for me. lol

Thank you so much for the nice picture! :happyberet:

#4 kernando

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:25

Isn't it maple, and not teak? The place to worry about ink is the back end if posting, if ink droplets get into the cap.

What is the date code on the nib? When did the Elabo/Falcon even start? I doubt the nibs have anything to do with each other, and I wouldn't think of the whole pens as related. And it's not a soft nib, so it shouldn't even flex enough to railroad.

Of course, it's in the name that it isn't small - it's Grandée. But the Custom (just Custom) was a little bigger.

#5 Dillo

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:27

Hi,

I would also advise a lot of caution when trying to make these pens flex. I have seen pens snap when their nibs that were not designed to be flexed get flexed. Not the nib, but the feed and grip section. The Elabo/Falcon and other pens with soft nibs have an open nib design where a good portion of the nib is set in the section thus allowing them to endure the strain of flexing. I'm actually not sure if this pen was designed for that. I would be afraid of breaking the grip section if the nib isn't one that is designed to be set deeply at all. For example, if you try to flex a Lamy Safari, the feed with snap off. The same is true for many Japanese pens with the clip-on open nibs.

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#6 JLS1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 13:51

I also bought a Pilot Custom Grandee about 2 years ago for about $50 as the wood body had a crack in it, which was supposedly stable. It was a fantastically smooth writer and a reliable workhorse that stayed in my rotation until the crack in the body started to grow. I've since 'retired' the pen as I don't want to it to break further; I expect I'll probably get it fixed at some point in the future and bring it back into my rotation as it was/is that good!

#7 araybanfan

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 14:54

Isn't it maple, and not teak? The place to worry about ink is the back end if posting, if ink droplets get into the cap.

Do you have this pen or are you simply assuming? I bought it off, http://www.ebay.com/...=p2047675.l2557

What is the date code on the nib? When did the Elabo/Falcon even start? I doubt the nibs have anything to do with each other, and I wouldn't think of the whole pens as related. And it's not a soft nib, so it shouldn't even flex enough to railroad.



Does the date code serve any purposes? It ends with 79. 1979 I presume? Does the number serve any purpose to decode the DNA of the pen? I don't know when the elabo falcon was pioneered? I couldn't care if this pen works when i was bidding for it, i merely remarked that it looked like a falcon nib. That alone warranted the bids. To my hands it does give me variations when i pen down a line depending on pressure much like the falcon that i own.
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It is indeed a soft nib from my experiences with writing and drawing with it, definitely not a vintage flex. It gives a fine to a medium broad and snaps back in place with breaking no sweat. If you have the same pen base on your assumptions made perhaps you may enlighten me over the nail nib variants with some real life examples.

My Custom Grandee

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My SEF Falcon II

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Of course, it's in the name that it isn't small - it's Grandée. But the Custom (just Custom) was a little bigger.


It's in the name and just custom happens to be bigger? Many pens within the pilot family come with the custom tag. And if scale is relative and i apply your logic, am i suppose to assume that BMW Z4 convertible is not small, the 5 series just happens to be bigger. I for one am used to a sedan vehicle.

Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 22 January 2013 - 16:11.


#8 araybanfan

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 15:01

I also bought a Pilot Custom Grandee about 2 years ago for about $50 as the wood body had a crack in it, which was supposedly stable. It was a fantastically smooth writer and a reliable workhorse that stayed in my rotation until the crack in the body started to grow. I've since 'retired' the pen as I don't want to it to break further; I expect I'll probably get it fixed at some point in the future and bring it back into my rotation as it was/is that good!


I concur totally. Do you have the fine nib? The smoothness on mine is pretty darn good. For $90+ I could not be happier. I hope you get the barrel fixed soon or find a suitable pen to reuse the nib. Good luck. Cheers.

#9 Dillo

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:38

Hi,

From your pictures, it appears that your pen uses a clipped-on open nib. You have to be careful with flexing that. You could crack the feed off the pen.

Dillon

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#10 araybanfan

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 04:35

Hi,

From your pictures, it appears that your pen uses a clipped-on open nib. You have to be careful with flexing that. You could crack the feed off the pen.

Dillon


I am more concern with the wood giving way with time as noted by JLS1. I do have the safari as well and i have never ventured on flexing the nib. I am surprised with this reference made from your previous post. Even if the grandee does break or snap or for whatever reason, so be it. For a $100 it is a good run for the money buying a late 70s pen which i have never own. BTW my first fountain pen from the early 90s is still in good working condition. Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 23 January 2013 - 04:39.


#11 Dillo

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 23:52

Hi,

I'm cautioning you because I have seen enough pens like this that had snapped feeds and grips due to this. A nib may be able to flex, but the construction of the pen might not be suitable for this. I really think that you should be careful with this. It may be springy, but it's best not to flex it. It's a good pen, and a good specimen. It's not made anymore, and you can't just replace it.

Dillon

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#12 araybanfan

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:19

Hi,

I'm cautioning you because I have seen enough pens like this that had snapped feeds and grips due to this. A nib may be able to flex, but the construction of the pen might not be suitable for this. I really think that you should be careful with this. It may be springy, but it's best not to flex it. It's a good pen, and a good specimen. It's not made anymore, and you can't just replace it.

Dillon


One can never measure enough worries when imagination is the ultimate limit. Your judgements are based on assumptions. You may have seen other pens in failure as you drew a safari pen into the context instead of this pilot specifically. Now I certainly realise its not made anymore. If i am going to baby like a museum piece and not know it personally, it will be just another white elephant. I am a pen user not a collector. Neither do i abuse them to the point of failure. Thanks for your kind thoughts. I am surely having fun with it. When its finally gone someday perhaps i can look back at the moments of creation it has gone through with me. A pen is but a tool to extend our thoughts in a physical form. It is the thought that counts afterall.

#13 Dillo

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:37

Hi,

I repair pens and specialize in nibs, and I have seen thousands of pens. It is not true that these judgements are based on assumptions as I have actually seen these pens break in that manner, and they can't be repaired due to lack of spare parts which is a pity due to the fact that they have excellent nibs. I am not such a collector either. I use all of my pens, but I temper my usage by taking into account the limits of their design. Pens have design limits. You can flex a Falcon/Elabo happily, but not one of these pens. I have many Pilots with nibs like these and I never flex them because I have seen many of them break or crack because of this. They simply were not designed for the stresses involved in flexing.

Dillon

Edited by Dillo, 24 January 2013 - 01:40.

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#14 araybanfan

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:41

Thats great. When the time comes i may consult you on a repair. Lol

#15 kernando

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:13

I have a Custom Grandee in black plastic, but not the maple one. Wooden Japanese pens are usually maple in the normal models. The Custom came in maple. They still make the round pen in maple. Are you assuming the Italian seller knows better?

I told you to worry about ink in the cap getting on the butt end in posting the cap because I have a Custom maple with ink stains from before I got it.

The Custom Grandee has a couple decades of age on the Falcon, not sure about Elabo version. It's not a flexible nib. It's not even a soft nib. It would be marked with an S for soft if they had made it so. The similarities between the Falcon/Elabo and Custom Grandee nibs are they they are both gold and pointy. The Elabo nib has very different curves, and the Grandee nib has a second breather hole.

When the Custom came out, that was probably the only line of Customs. I was simply telling you that it's funny that the Custom is bigger and that the presumably later Custom Grandee can't be small, but it's still not as big as a regular Custom. The Custom Grandee is a normal sized pen, like a Pelikan m200/m400 is a normal sized pen. There has simply been a lot of bigger-is-better boardroom pocket jewelry size-inflation in the last few decades.

Your car analogy failed because you have things backwards. The pen with the bigger sounding name is normal sized and the bigger pen has the normal name.

#16 araybanfan

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 12:43

I have a Custom Grandee in black plastic, but not the maple one. Wooden Japanese pens are usually maple in the normal models. The Custom came in maple. They still make the round pen in maple. Are you assuming the Italian seller knows better?


Yes I do realise the pens do come in maple. So are you questioning the italian seller based on his posting to be groundless? Are you quoting me off the home grounds in japan with your claims?

I told you to worry about ink in the cap getting on the butt end in posting the cap because I have a Custom maple with ink stains from before I got it.


I don't post in any case, thanks for the concern. Try beewax it helps with ink stains.

The Custom Grandee has a couple decades of age on the Falcon, not sure about Elabo version. It's not a flexible nib. It's not even a soft nib. It would be marked with an S for soft if they had made it so. The similarities between the Falcon/Elabo and Custom Grandee nibs are they they are both gold and pointy. The Elabo nib has very different curves, and the Grandee nib has a second breather hole.



A couple of decades ahead of the falcon? This is one dating from the 80s surely 1979 is not a few decases ahead http://kmpn.blogspot...generation.html Then again you can't trust someone out of japan to make the claim. Yes i have noted on the 2nd breather hole. Just because its not marked with a S doesn't mean it can't behave in a similar way. Of course your version may differ. Here is mine:



When the Custom came out, that was probably the only line of Customs. I was simply telling you that it's funny that the Custom is bigger and that the presumably later Custom Grandee can't be small, but it's still not as big as a regular Custom. The Custom Grandee is a normal sized pen, like a Pelikan m200/m400 is a normal sized pen. There has simply been a lot of bigger-is-better boardroom pocket jewelry size-inflation in the last few decades.


When did i ever claim bigger is better? I am much use to the 823 and falcon on a daily basis, yes to me this grandee feels smaller in terms of girth and length comparatively. I balance my pen at the screw thread without posting with most of my pens. Due to this the habit i do find shorter pens uncomfortable. Like you said its in the name grandee what makes it reduce to the length on par with the smaller pelikans in your claim now?

Your car analogy failed because you have things backwards. The pen with the bigger sounding name is normal sized and the bigger pen has the normal name.


Scale is relative, I am used to the bigger pilots thus i am entitled to my opinion of its smaller size comparatively as noted in your observation that it is equal to a m200/400. If your analogy that grandee is in its name previously only to claim that it is regular now equaling to the smaller pelikans. I hope you can live up to your hype with some real measure instead of using your own yardstick on others. Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 24 January 2013 - 16:53.


#17 fuchsiaprincess

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 22:46

Araybanfan, you have some well-respected and very experienced members offering their opinions, which you can take with a pinch of salt.

However, it doesn't pay to antagonise and argue with any FPN member who is kind enough to offer any advice.

Just sayin'.......

Posted Image Posted Image


#18 MYU

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:34

For a long time, I indulged the Pilot Custom pen line, buying several different models and inquiring with those in the know about them. As far as I know, Pilot didn't use teak with the custom. It was maple wood. If the pen came with a tag that said teak, then I'd say I've learned something new. Your photos don't capture the detail well, though. Maybe you can provide more detailed ones? I have this very pen and will try to do the same.

Posted Image


I don't own a Falcon/Elabo, but I have test driven one. "Flex" definitely comes to mind. You don't have to press much at all and the tines spread apart, widening the line. In the video above, I can see you exerting quite a bit of pressure to flex that nib... so I would call it more like "semi-flex", or "soft" as you said. There is also the background of the pen... who knows if it was modified in some way. That can be a possibility.

Your sketches are terrific araybanfan. Can you make a close-up of the nib drawing? It would be great to see it in more detail. :happyberet:

Edited by MYU, 10 February 2013 - 01:42.

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#19 araybanfan

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:10

Hi Myu, thanks for sharing the pic. As indicated i had no clue what i was buying myself into initially. The pen came in a box that has a sticker that says teak on the outer white box. I am not so hung up over the actual material, rather the comfort of a wooden pen is indeed welcoming. As i do not claim that it is a vintage flex. It does share traits with the falcon i am used to. With the initial writing samples from the beginning I do not exert that much pressure normally. While there are claims over how this pen should "supposedly" perform or i may kill the pen as a result of my attempted flexing, my findings are otherwise as indicated in the video.

Here is mine an early example of an omega seamaster. This watch hardly gets any of my wrist time.

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I hope this illustrates more details that you are looking for. The pen being a fine nib is still a tad too thick for me for fine detail drawings. However comfort and nib performance wise, it is a downright wonderful writer.

Posted Image

Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 10 February 2013 - 13:39.


#20 Dillo

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 20:53

Hi,

Your drawings are very nice.

While your nib may actually be soft and may flex without getting sprung, (a lot of Pilot nibs are like that), the rest of your pen was not designed for this. Flex is something that depends on two things, your nib and the how the nib is mounted to the pens or the construction of the pen. You have only one of those things. While you have a nib that may be more conducive to flexing, the way it is mounted to the pen is not sturdy enough to withstand this kind of flexing on a daily basis. In these pens, very little of the nib is buried in the grip section. This creates a lever arm and exerts extreme and very localized forces on the plastics of the grip section and feed. The Falcon/Elabo has an open nib design where a good portion of the end of the nib is buried in the grip section spreading these forces along a much larger area thus preventing any breakage or cracking.

Pilot designs most of their nibs to be slightly springy. This is in line with the theory they have about writing Japanese words where very slight, nearly imperceivable forces will cause very slight differences in the stroke width of the pen. You can see this for yourself if you have a light hand. In other words, it is designed to be somewhat springy and be able to do extremely slight flexing with little to no pressure. However, forcing the nib to flex in a manner necessary for other kinds of writing takes more force and will crack the feed at the point right after the end of the nib. The point where the forces are strongest since the forces are very localized due to the fact that the top of the nib is not being supported or stabilized much if at all by the grip section.

I have a lot of Pilots of that vintage and they are all slightly springy, but I do not flex them in this manner since I have seen many broken pens from people like you who like flex but don't realize that although the nib is springy, the rest of the pen was not designed to withstand the force of flexing the nib further. That said, I recommend a Pilot Custom with an FA nib. This nib is quite springy and is set in the pen in such a way that it can be used without fear of any breakage whatsoever unless you are hamfisted which you obviously aren't. If I remember correctly, it is more springy than the Falcon/Elabo.

When I was a lot younger I broke a fairly valuable and rare Japanese pen with an almost identical design to this one because I flexed it. While that is only one pen, I have seen many others like it broken in a similar way. Just because the nib can flex doesn't mean the rest of the pen can withstand the forces of flexing. It takes repeated usage to break. It does not happen overnight. If it was something that would happen overnight, you would know about it already. If it hasn't happened yet, that does not prove that it won't ever happen.

DIllon

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#21 araybanfan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 01:30

Hi Dillon, thanks for the detail observations/reminders from the perspective of a pen repairer to a much experienced pen user as yourself. I have been using fountain pens since the days when drafting boards took up major floor area in architects offices and till this day I still draw with pens as much as i write with them no matter what version of computer software is in vogue. If you look closely on my drawing on the owl the main line weight is the default nib size. I only flexed on the branch and some minor areas with the feathers. In terms of percentage, the expressed lines are merely a small fraction to the entire framework. So why bother over soft nibs or semi flex pens? Purely the advantage with the multitude of line weight without breaking the concentration along the process with a single pen is a big plus. I appreciate a light touch to the medium, as in a line is laid without much force than necessary in drawing. The balance of the pen becomes the driving force for the outtake. Thus the length and weight of a pen are major factors to me other than the nib size. For me i find the falcon to be a better candidate than this current pen for the purpose. Thanks for the recommendation for the fa nib, i find the line weight variations beyond my intended use. I favour a thinner line as with the falcon soft extra fine by default as compared to the fa. While you may have highlighted on the fundamental limitation with this particular vintage pen, there is no way i can stop using it. Surely the longevity may be an issue, as with all shoes soles that do run out eventually, should it be a reason to stop me from wearing them or running with them especially when they are so comfortable? My answer is a no. Likewise with this pen, given the low cost of a few bottles of ink, i am happy to see whatever mileage it holds to serve. Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 11 February 2013 - 01:39.


#22 MYU

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:00

Nice additional Omega/Pilot watch/pen combo, araybanfan. I don't wear my Omega Seamaster much either (it's more of a dress watch), but I still cherish it. I can see the grain of your pen more clearly and it's definitely maple. But as you said, it's not really important. I think the wood looks great regardless. I had applied some wood conditioner to mine (which darkened it a little) and then left it alone for about a year, to later find it had lightened again with the wood drying out some. Applying the conditioner brought the darker coloration back and liveliness to the wood.

Pilot had made another wooden pen with this material, using the Custom body. But it uses the traditional large body inlaid nib, which has practically no spring to it. It's a nice nib in its own right, but I feel it is best served with an all metal body.

Edited by MYU, 11 February 2013 - 03:02.

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#23 araybanfan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:43

Nice additional Omega/Pilot watch/pen combo, araybanfan. I don't wear my Omega Seamaster much either (it's more of a dress watch), but I still cherish it. I can see the grain of your pen more clearly and it's definitely maple. But as you said, it's not really important. I think the wood looks great regardless. I had applied some wood conditioner to mine (which darkened it a little) and then left it alone for about a year, to later find it had lightened again with the wood drying out some. Applying the conditioner brought the darker coloration back and liveliness to the wood.

Pilot had made another wooden pen with this material, using the Custom body. But it uses the traditional large body inlaid nib, which has practically no spring to it. It's a nice nib in its own right, but I feel it is best served with an all metal body.


Hi Myu, thanks for the reply. Yes mine has darken quite abit as well from the dressing. As for production i am aware of a size 10 n 15 nib made out of wood from pilot currently. If you like metal body which the name myu should be indicative, the metal falcon should be ideal. My falcon nib has more resistance than the grandee, while both are soft. You will appreciate con 70 being the largest converter to match over the resin falcon. Pilot/namiki also makes a series of sterling silver version with an inlaid nib which too has a hint of softness. Sailor trident and parker t1 are great examples of metal pens as well. I am sure the rotring 600 is no stranger to you. I still have it on my desk at home. Like the watch it is no longer within my routine. Btw OT i read seamaster evolved out from the constellation series. I am quite surprised to see a de ville/ seamaster version. Your dial is expectionally clean. I have yet to get mine clean or replaced. The display looks like plexiglass as it is with mine too. I am very much used to a 44mm now as my daily wearer. Thanks.

Edited by araybanfan, 11 February 2013 - 05:45.