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Pilot Custom 823


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#1 RyanL27

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:51

Pilot Custom 823

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I was first attracted to this pen after reading the review of it in Stylophiles magzine (available here). The reviewer said the pen was a superb writer with rather conservative looks and a unique, high-capacity filling system...so needless to say, I was interested. I posted a couple of questions about the pen here and on Pentrace and received some very positive comments about the pen and an offer from a Pentracer to sell me his broad nibbed 823 since he had a fine nibbed version as well and preferred that one. I went ahead and purchased his pen, and it arrived this afternoon. I've since given it a full workout, and here are the results.

Appearance/Finnish 5/5

The pen arrived in a large, heavy cardboard box. Inside was the pen and a 70ml bottle of Pilot black ink, both sitting in a nice fabric bed. My initial impression was one of delight. The 823 is certainly a quality pen, and this is evident upon first picking it up and feeling how well the cap screws onto the barrel - smooth without the least bit resistance. The engraved cap band reads CUSTOM 823***PIILOT MADE IN JAPAN***, which wraps around the entire circumference. The clip is plain with a ball end and PILOT subtly engraved at the top. The color is a dark translucent grey, which displays the vacuum filling system and once filled, the ink level inside the barrel.

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Size/Weight/Comfort 5/5

I was surprised by both the 823's size and weight. It's roughly 1/4 inch longer than my Pelikan m800 and seems as heavy, if not a touch heavier, than the m800. However, the pen does not feel overweight whatsoever. I prefer the feel and size of this pen unposted, and unlike many pens, it's plenty long to be entirely comfortable without the extra length from a posted cap. Posted, the 823 feels a touch heavy and long for my liking, which if fine because I prefer to leave the cap on the desk anyway - no scuff marks that way.

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Pilot 823, Pelikan m800, Bexley America the Beautiful

This pen handles superbly, and it deserves an absolute best rating in this department. It's surely my new favorite in terms of feel in the hand and beats even my Bexley America the Beautiful here, which I earlier gave a perfect 5/5 rating.

Nib and Writing Performance 5/5

This nib is a broad #15, which is Pilot's largest nib, according to what I've read at least. As many know, a Japanese medium writes a finer line than it's grading indicates by American standards. Notably, this broad writes even significantly finer than my Pilot Vanishing Point Broad, with the 823's nib writing most similarly to my Pelikan m800 fine nib. That said, this nib is smooth! It is unquestionably the best out of the box nib I've ever used. It's so far perfectly reliable, with excellent, somewhat wet flow and no tooth at all. The nib is firm but not without expressiveness - perfect for day-to-day writing and note taking.

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If you're looking for one of the best writers out there in pendom and don't want a customized (Binderized) stub/italic, look no further and order the Custom 823. You can't possibly be disappointed with this as a writing machine.

Filling System 5/5

This is where the 823 reveals itself as wholly unique among modern pendom. It fills via a vacuum plunger system. That is, to fill the pen, you unscrew the blind cap and pull it out, extending a metal rod out the back of the pen and retracting a piston inside the pen barrel. Then, immerse the nib in ink and swiftly push the blind cap/rod/plunger back down into the pen. Because the back of the pen is fitted with an airtight seal, pushing the plunger down creates a vacuum as it seals against the walls and descends down the pen barrel. When the plunger reaches the bottom of its descent, it arrives at a larger section inside the barrel, which releases the vacuous seal and thereby sucks ink into the pen from the immersed nib.

It's really an efficient system, and it holds a considerable abundance of ink. Without any piston mechanism inside the pen, the entire barrel is left for ink capacity, and I imagine it will take some serious work to write this first fill out of the pen. Also, the plunger acts as a stopper valve for the pen much like a Danitrio eyedropper. When the blind cap is screwed down, the plunger cuts ink flow off from the nib, which allows for easy plane travel and is a nice all-around feature. Just a slight turn of the blind cap brings flow back to the nib, which immediately starts writing with a smooth, wet line of ink.

If you've ever come into contact with a vintage Sheaffer Vacuum-filling pen, you already know the downside to such a filling system; eventually the seals wear out and the airtight vacuum fails. However, as mentioned in Stylophiles, the modern materials used in the 823 will likely resist such failure much better than did the packing units of old. However, this remains my one reservation regarding the 823 as I'd like this one to last a good, long time. When the seal does fail, ink will likely leak out the back of the pen, which could make a mess of a nice shirt. I'm thinking of adding just a bit of silicone grease to the blind cap threads as a precautionary measure in case the seal ever does begin to leak. That way, I would at least not get ink all over myself.

Even with this reservation regarding the longevity of the vacuum filler, I give the 823 5/5 because it works flawlessly now, holding a whole lot of ink, and I can't be sure I'll ever have a single problem with it.


Conclusion

This is an awesome pen, and I'm so glad I sprung for the somewhat high cost. The pen is large, subtly attractive and a fabulous writer. On top of that, it has huge ink capacity and is unique for its filling system and the fact that it's not yet available directly in the States. It's also air-travel friendly with the valve shutoff. All in all, this is one of my top three pens and certainly my favorite with an uncustomized nib. I highly recommend you consider it if you're in the market for a quality, smooth daily tool.

Edited by RyanL27, 04 July 2006 - 21:12.

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#2 Dawn

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:10

Thanks for this review it was a pleasure to read that you are enjoying your new pen so much.

Its a lovely looking pen, very stylish I think :)

Dawn

#3 smudgy

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 04:13

Thanks for the thorough review. Interesting about the filling system! :)
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#4 Ravula

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 05:23

What did you pay for this pen?

#5 RyanL27

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 05:29

I'm pretty sure the pen retails for about $270, but I paid $225 for a slightly used one.
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#6 The Noble Savage

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 05:41

I have one like yours, Black, Broad nib and is loved by its owner!!!

I was debateing to either get the 745 or the 823. The price was about the same but eventhough the 745 had more nib options, the 823 had a larger nib, and it has a much larger ink capacity abd is a slightly larger pen. I decided on the 823 due to all of the above advantages. I have to admit that I have no regrets!! The 823 is a top notch pen that rates high in my favorite pen catagories!!! Great review!!!

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#7 Ravula

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 16:47

I'm pretty sure the pen retails for about $270, but I paid $225 for a slightly used one.

Thanks!

#8 Inkanthropist

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 20:40

Thanks for the great review of a beautiful pen, Ryan. I have a Custom 74, which I reviewed here, and the 823 strikes me as a much fancier and more refined version of that model.

Neil
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#9 saintsimon

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 22:43

Again a an convincing example of the usual superior factory nib-QC in Japan. Most European makers often fail on this important field.

#10 meanwhile

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 19:13

This pen sounds about perfect to me! The one thing that's stopped from buying a Sailor 1911 is the "boring" convertor filler.
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#11 Mary P

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 19:23

While Sheaffer vacuum fill pens can make a messwhen their packing units fail, (I know from personal experience :( ) many of those packing units lasted 50+ years before failure. Thus, I wouldn't worry too much about a vacumm fill pen made with even more durable materials. It sounds like a wonderful pen. Relax and enjoy :)9
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#12 RyanL27

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 20:05

That's a good point, Mary. I'm sure this filler will prove to be pretty reliable. I'm loving this pen the more even more as I continue to use it. The nib is an absolute delight, and I've found I like this pen best with Noodlers inks - currently filled with black.

Thanks for all the responses, everyone!
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#13 Roger

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 22:28

This pen sounds about perfect to me! The one thing that's stopped from buying a Sailor 1911 is the "boring" convertor filler.

Don't be letting Sailor's use of a converter be off putting for you. Sailor has one of, if not the best converter feeders going. Their converter has a wide mouth and puts a lot of ink at the feed nipple for sending on to the feed.

Also, "stiction" (the ink sticking on the interior walls and not advancing down the converter while in use) is virtually not in play. Flow problems with a Sailor are rarely due to the converter. More likely clogged feed or badly aligned tines and that's darned seldom cause the Sailors are a very well crafted pen with great nibs.

Their only fault is that which is common to converters as a species. Less writing time between fills! :(

Try 'em, you'll like 'em! :bunny1:
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#14 sonia_simone

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 03:29

I'm torn between a Sailor 1911 and an Omas for my next pen (maybe a secondhand Paragon or similar from Mottishaw). The descriptions of those Sailor nibs are really tempting me.
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#15 southpaw

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 00:50

Excellent review! I continue to :drool: over the 823 - sounds like an incredible pen, very near perfect, dare I say!
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#16 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 17:08

What a beautiful pen!

#17 Blorgy

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 19:40

I weighed my pen before and after filling with water. I filled it 6 times. The weight gain varied from 1.43 to 1.67 gm. The average gain was about 1.56 gm.

#18 KendallJ

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 20:31

Pilot nibs are without a doubt the best Quality control nibs I have ever experience. Pen to pen variablity is very small.

The convertor is great except that like a sac, this will expell material from the pen back into the ink bottle. I had a pilot with SITB and contaminated a bottle before I realized it.

Great review!
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#19 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 21:16

that is a very nice pen wink.gif
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time
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#20 Margana

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 23:39

QUOTE(KendallJ @ Jan 25 2007, 12:31 PM)
Pilot nibs are without a doubt the best Quality control nibs I have ever experience. Pen to pen variablity is very small.

The convertor is great except that like a sac, this will expell material from the pen back into the ink bottle. I had a pilot with SITB and contaminated a bottle before I realized it.

Great review!

Regarding the nib consistency is it applicable to all models or just the 823? Do they tend to be wet or dry writers? Maybe it's time to add a Pilot to my collection...
A certified Inkophile

#21 jimg

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 03:16

I have a number of Pilot pens, vintage and modern, and they all have very smooth nibs.

My Custom 823, bought in September 2006, is a favourite due to its smooth writing (Japanese medium nib), great ink capacity and great balance.

My Custom came with a special bottle of black Pilot ink which includes a plastic insert allowing efficient filling with the plunger system. This item operates very well but the Pilot black ink that came in the bottle was awful. Even after a good shake it had the consistency of black dust suspended in fluid and left grains on the page.

Needless to say I have ceased to use it, thoroughly flushed the pen, and am delighted with my dependable Waterman's blue/black.

As this is my only experience with Pilot ink other than via cartridges I am loathe to damn their bottled product out of hand. Does anyone else have experience with the Pilot black?

Edited by jimg, 29 January 2007 - 04:49.


#22 ProfMike

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 04:20

QUOTE(Margana @ Jan 28 2007, 11:39 PM)
QUOTE(KendallJ @ Jan 25 2007, 12:31 PM)
Pilot nibs are without a doubt the best Quality control nibs I have ever experience. Pen to pen variablity is very small.

The convertor is great except that like a sac, this will expell material from the pen back into the ink bottle. I had a pilot with SITB and contaminated a bottle before I realized it.

Great review!

Regarding the nib consistency is it applicable to all models or just the 823? Do they tend to be wet or dry writers? Maybe it's time to add a Pilot to my collection...

Fortunately, I've had experience with several varieties of Pilot pens. On the "cheap" end, the Namiki (Pilot) Knight has a fantastic Japanese medium nib. Extremely smooth with great flow OOTB. I got a red one from World-Lux (typical disclaimer) for $25 a couple months ago...

I have two Vanishing Points (Blue Carbonesque and Décimo Japan Pink) with fine nibs (western XF) and they're also great writers. The line is quite fine, but the nibs are smooth, delightful writers. They're fantastic for grading papers or writing notes in the margins of books.

I also have a Custom 823 with a Japanese fine nib. At first, I found the flow a bit dry and regretted the decision to order a fine nib... Then I brought the pen to the Philly pen show a few weeks ago. Roger Cromwell from Penopoly pens adjusted the feed for a better flow and I'm now... smile.gif9

The Custom 823 is now a silky smooth writer with ideal flow. The nib is quite fine, but I love it because of my small handwriting. biggrin.gif

If you haven't tried a Pilot/Namiki pen, my suggestion is to head out right now and find one lticaptd.gif Although I adore all my pens (if I don't like them, they get sold/returned very quickly), my Pilots have been great performers from the very beginning. I'm sure you'd enjoy one smile.gif

All the best,
Mike

PS - Pilot pens tend to flow smoothly, but certainly aren't overly generous - forgot to mention that earlier
Flow good, ooze bad!

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#23 ProfMike

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 04:34

QUOTE(jimg @ Jan 29 2007, 03:16 AM)
My Custom came with a special bottle of black Pilot ink which includes a plastic insert allowing efficient filling with the plunger system. This item operates very well but the Pilot black ink that came in the bottle was awful. Even after a good shake it had the consistency of black dust suspended in fluid and  left grains on the page.

Needless to say I have ceased to use it, thoroughly flushed the pen, and am delighted with my dependable Waterman's blue/black.

As this is my only experience with Pilot ink other than via cartridges I am loath to damn their bottled product out of hand. Does anyone else have experience with the Pilot black?

My Pilot Custom 823 came all by itself... sad.gif No ink at all. I wasn't sure what to use since I had heard that Pilot pens were fairly picky and preferred their own ink. Anyway, I've since been corrected, but that's another post tongue.gif The only Pilot ink I had was in cartridges, so I tried (what I thought) was the next best thing - Sailor grey. The flow was a bit dry, but was adjusted at the Philly pen show and I couldn't be happier now!

I've got Aurora black in it now, and it's amazing biggrin.gif All the Pilot ink I've used in cartridges has been completely trouble-free and has affirmed my confidence in the brand as a whole.

The only time I've found visual funk in my ink was with Private Reserve. When I first got involved with fountain pens about two years ago, I decided to try PR Black Cherry and Flannel Grey. They sat in a drawer for a couple months after their first use and developed an absolutely revolting snot-like (I'm sorry, but that's what it looked like sad.gif ) case of STIB. They went straight into the trash and I've been a little hesitant to try those inks since. blush.gif

Every Pilot ink I've tried has been perfectly satisfactory. Maybe the bottle you received was a one-in-a-million fluke...

It'll be interesting to see if anyone else has had a similar experience.

All the best,
Mike
Flow good, ooze bad!

Mike

#24 southpaw

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 19:27

My Pilot Custom 823 in smoke gray has a delightfully smooth medium nib. As to wetness, that varies based on how much I open the Japanese-style ED stopper. It can go from dry to nice and juicy, which is generally how I use it. The 823 comes in two different boxes, one a presentation box with a bottle of ink and one with just the pen. Mine came with the ink, and I requested Pilot Blue. IMHO, this is one of the best blue inks out there and is neglected. It's great stuff!
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#25 RyanL27

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 18:50

Sorry for bringing this post back from the dead, but I wanted to provide an update:

I unfortunately had to let go of my original 823 because of budgetary restrictions last summer. However, another 823 arrived in my mailbox today, and I must say that I'm wondering how I've made it the past 9 months without one. I went down to a Medium nib on this 823, and it's a perfectly smooth, wet and consistent writer. I just love the way this nib feels on either good or bad paper. It doesn't even consider hesitating when the nib touches down.

Everything about this pen screams quality - even looking at the nib gives a sense that it's fashioned with more care than others. I promptly loaded it with Diamine Sapphire, and I've been writing all day...so sweet. Between this and my new Emotica, I'm set to be pen-happy for a long, long time.

Anyway, these are becoming a bit more common around here and Pentrace, so if you're interested, I'd fully recommend grabbing one if you get the chance.
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#26 rroossinck

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 19:57

Argh...if only they made them with silver trim...
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#27 cellulophile

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 20:55

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Apr 26 2007, 07:57 PM) View Post
Argh...if only they made them with silver trim...


If you're willing to pay for it, replating is always an option. Daniel K. did just that for me a while ago and I couldn't be happier with the result. Best,
David

#28 JulioPB

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 17:24

QUOTE(RyanL27 @ Jul 3 2006, 09:51 PM) View Post
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Pilot Custom 823</span></span>



I was first attracted to this pen after reading the review of it in Stylophiles magzine (available here). The reviewer said the pen was a superb writer with rather conservative looks and a unique, high-capacity filling system...so needless to say, I was interested. I posted a couple of questions about the pen here and on Pentrace and received some very positive comments about the pen and an offer from a Pentracer to sell me his broad nibbed 823 since he had a fine nibbed version as well and preferred that one. I went ahead and purchased his pen, and it arrived this afternoon. I've since given it a full workout, and here are the results.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Appearance/Finnish 5/5 </span></span>

The pen arrived in a large, heavy cardboard box. Inside was the pen and a 70ml bottle of Pilot black ink, both sitting in a nice fabric bed. My initial impression was one of delight. The 823 is certainly a quality pen, and this is evident upon first picking it up and feeling how well the cap screws onto the barrel - smooth without the least bit resistance. The engraved cap band reads CUSTOM 823***PIILOT MADE IN JAPAN***, which wraps around the entire circumference. The clip is plain with a ball end and PILOT subtly engraved at the top. The color is a dark translucent grey, which displays the vacuum filling system and once filled, the ink level inside the barrel.




<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Size/Weight/Comfort 5/5 </span></span>

I was surprised by both the 823's size and weight. It's roughly 1/4 inch longer than my Pelikan m800 and seems as heavy, if not a touch heavier, than the m800. However, the pen does not feel overweight whatsoever. I prefer the feel and size of this pen unposted, and unlike many pens, it's plenty long to be entirely comfortable without the extra length from a posted cap. Posted, the 823 feels a touch heavy and long for my liking, which if fine because I prefer to leave the cap on the desk anyway - no scuff marks that way.


Pilot 823, Pelikan m800, Bexley America the Beautiful

This pen handles superbly, and it deserves an absolute best rating in this department. It's surely my new favorite in terms of feel in the hand and beats even my Bexley America the Beautiful here, which I earlier gave a perfect 5/5 rating.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Nib and Writing Performance 5/5 </span></span>

This nib is a broad #15, which is Pilot's largest nib, according to what I've read at least. As many know, a Japanese medium writes a finer line than it's grading indicates by American standards. Notably, this broad writes even significantly finer than my Pilot Vanishing Point Broad, with the 823's nib writing most similarly to my Pelikan m800 fine nib. That said, this nib is smooth! It is unquestionably the best out of the box nib I've ever used. It's so far perfectly reliable, with excellent, somewhat wet flow and no tooth at all. The nib is firm but not without expressiveness - perfect for day-to-day writing and note taking.




If you're looking for one of the best writers out there in pendom and don't want a customized (Binderized) stub/italic, look no further and order the Custom 823. You can't possibly be disappointed with this as a writing machine.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Filling System 5/5 </span></span>

This is where the 823 reveals itself as wholly unique among modern pendom. It fills via a vacuum plunger system. That is, to fill the pen, you unscrew the blind cap and pull it out, extending a metal rod out the back of the pen and retracting a piston inside the pen barrel. Then, immerse the nib in ink and swiftly push the blind cap/rod/plunger back down into the pen. Because the back of the pen is fitted with an airtight seal, pushing the plunger down creates a vacuum as it seals against the walls and descends down the pen barrel. When the plunger reaches the bottom of its descent, it arrives at a larger section inside the barrel, which releases the vacuous seal and thereby sucks ink into the pen from the immersed nib.

It's really an efficient system, and it holds a considerable abundance of ink. Without any piston mechanism inside the pen, the entire barrel is left for ink capacity, and I imagine it will take some serious work to write this first fill out of the pen. Also, the plunger acts as a stopper valve for the pen much like a Danitrio eyedropper. When the blind cap is screwed down, the plunger cuts ink flow off from the nib, which allows for easy plane travel and is a nice all-around feature. Just a slight turn of the blind cap brings flow back to the nib, which immediately starts writing with a smooth, wet line of ink.

If you've ever come into contact with a vintage Sheaffer Vacuum-filling pen, you already know the downside to such a filling system; eventually the seals wear out and the airtight vacuum fails. However, as mentioned in Stylophiles, the modern materials used in the 823 will likely resist such failure much better than did the packing units of old. However, this remains my one reservation regarding the 823 as I'd like this one to last a good, long time. When the seal does fail, ink will likely leak out the back of the pen, which could make a mess of a nice shirt. I'm thinking of adding just a bit of silicone grease to the blind cap threads as a precautionary measure in case the seal ever does begin to leak. That way, I would at least not get ink all over myself.

Even with this reservation regarding the longevity of the vacuum filler, I give the 823 5/5 because it works flawlessly now, holding a whole lot of ink, and I can't be sure I'll ever have a single problem with it.


<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Conclusion</span></span>

This is an awesome pen, and I'm so glad I sprung for the somewhat high cost. The pen is large, subtly attractive and a fabulous writer. On top of that, it has huge ink capacity and is unique for its filling system and the fact that it's not yet available directly in the States. It's also air-travel friendly with the valve shutoff. All in all, this is one of my top three pens and certainly my favorite with an uncustomized nib. I highly recommend you consider it if you're in the market for a quality, smooth daily tool.


Hi Ryan:

It is a beautiful pen. It seems Japanesses are manufacturing some of the finest fountain pens all around.

By the way, may you please tell me brand and color of the inks in yur writing samplers,

Thanks,
Julio



#29 orion

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 00:17

Thanks for the great review.

Does anyone know how to fully fill the ink reservoir of this pen? Try as I might, I can only fill 3/4 of the ink reservoir. Is this an expected behavior of the vacuum plunger filling system? It seems a waste not to be able to fully utilize the huge ink capacity of this pen.

#30 burmeseboyz

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 00:23

QUOTE (orion @ Jan 28 2009, 12:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the great review.

Does anyone know how to fully fill the ink reservoir of this pen? Try as I might, I can only fill 3/4 of the ink reservoir. Is this an expected behavior of the vacuum plunger filling system? It seems a waste not to be able to fully utilize the huge ink capacity of this pen.


You can't fill it all the way with the plunger. If you want, you can unscrew the section and fill it with an eye dropper. But that kinda defeats the coolness of the plunger filler.
Everyman, I will go with thee
and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go
by thy side.

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