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#1 haywoody

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:07

Hi,

I was Googling "Lamy Safari colors" a few years ago and found my way to this thread. That was my intro to FPN. The Safari was the first fountain pen I ever spent money on. I remember staring at them in a drafting/art supply store near my university many times before I could bring myself to spend $24 for a pen! I'm glad I did... my Charcoal Safari was my only FP and daily writer for nearly 10 years. It wrote without a problem for nearly 17 years until it developed a leak last year. Not too bad for $24.

I have built up a collection of all the colors over the last few years and ended up with some interesting paraphernalia too. This post is the first installment, design changes, with several more to come. The information here is speculation based on the pens sitting in my collection. I doubt it is complete and I am sure there are other variants out there... some of this information is guaranteed to be incorrect. Corrections and additions are welcome.

So, aside from the F sticker on the front pen, what is the difference between the four pictured below?

safari_a1.jpg

They are all obviously textured Charcoal but there are minor design changes from the oldest (front) to most recent (back). Lets call them first through fourth generation. How to spot the differences:

First generation - launched in 1980 these were available in textured finish with 3 color options - Terracotta orange, Savannah green and Charcoal black. The white pen might have been made this early too but I have not seen one.The easiest way to identify the pen is by the lack of imprint in the bottom of the barrel. Another minor detail that is different from future generations is the cap nut is hexagonal. You can see the flats on it if you shine a light into the cap. The pen was designed for cartridges or the old-style metal squeeze bar converter so there are only two wide slots at the threaded end of the section. I believe the old-style converters were included with the pen in some markets and sold separately in others.

Second generation - these appeared sometime in the mid 80's. The "W. Germany" imprint was added to the bottom of the barrel. The inner cap was redesigned (the early material deteriorated quite easily) and the cap nut was changed to a round shape. Other colors were added, including white, red, yellow and blue. Most of these colors were only offered with a smooth texture. The charcoal was still textured and the white was made in both textured and smooth. I have heard rumors of a smooth charcoal but never actually seen one. The Terracotta and Savannah were discontinued.

Third generation - these came around 1990 or 1991. There were two changes on this pen: the barrel imprint was changed to "Germany," thanks to reunification, and extra slots were added to the section to accept the snaps on the plastic piston converter. Colors were basically the same as the previous generation but the textured white disappeared and the first demonstrator was added. The demonstrator might be considered the first "LE" Safari. Around the mid-90's they were sold in some markets but I don't know if they ever appeared as a regular catalog item.

Fourth generation - this change came in the mid to late 90's and was a big one. The clip, nib and feed remained the same but all other parts were redesigned. The Lamy logo and nib size were added to the nib via laser-etching. The barrel was changed from one part to two. The cap and cap ring were combined into one part. The cap asembly was redesigned to snap together, eliminating the machined top screw and cap nut. I believe this redesign was done as a cost-saving measure. The price of these pens has changed very little in nearly 30 years and this redesign allowed Lamy to lower the manufacturing cost. Total number of parts went from 14 down to 11 and they eliminated two costly machined parts. All done without really altering the appearance or quality of the pen - not bad. The original white pen disappeared, a textured grey was introduced and followed by many LE colors. The demonstrator exists in this generation too but it went away when the Vista was introduced.

safari_a2.jpg
Same pens with the section threads showing. The slots for the piston converter were added on the third generation pens

safari_a3.jpg
Tops, generation 1-4, left to right

safari_a4.jpg
Bottoms, generation 1-4, left to right

safari_a5.jpg
Autopsy shot - third generation pen

safari_a6.jpg
Autopsy shot - fourth generation pen

safari_a7.jpg
Converters and a cartridge

If you have a Safari which falls outside the descriptions above, please post (and let me know if you are interested in selling it yikes.gif ).

Next installment... nibs

/Woody









#2 diplomat

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:31

Wow, I am speechless! This is a wealth of information, it would deserve to stay in a book.
And how long did you take to bring together all this? only two years? That's impressive.

I didn't know that four different generations were made. So far I was collecting only the colours and that's all. This is a new world opening to me...

The anatomy pics are great. Really useful. So in the third generation the brass clip was continuous and then they introduced a gap to allow the insert in the new top cap? Or the gap is there already? It's the only thing I can't tell from the pic. Other thing I don't understand is the purpose of the second part of the barrel: what was it made for?

Thank you very much for this contribution which enlighten the story of a pen that actually made history!

Andre

#3 haywoody

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 22:57

I'm glad somebody is interested in this smile.gif .

I have been at it closer to 5 years... or 19 if I get credit back to the first purchase. I have not tried to collect every variation of the pen but I suppose I am heading in that direction.

The clip is the same for all pens; the gap is there in both pictures. It assembles onto the cap from the top in the older pens and through the two holes on the fourth generation pens. It is made with a gap because it is much cheaper to manufacture that way.

The short answer about the extra part in the barrel is that plastic molding technology has improved in the last 30 years. The plastic in the bottom of the barrel is very thick and it would have been difficult to make the barrel in one part, with the features they needed, without ruining the cosmetic appearance of the part. If you have a Vista you can see how they made the features on the newer pens with ribs. I will post some pictures of the two demonstrators later - that is probably easier than trying to describe the differences.

/Woody

#4 GeorgeP

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:17

Absolutely wonderful work there. Will you be adding the aluminum models as well?
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#5 Flourish

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:34

I also spent quite some time ogling the Lamy Safari before deciding on which one(s), years in fact, up until this year actually. All those colors and textures and different materials. Then there were all those nibs to choose from. Guaranteed every time I saw one I had to stop and ponder its potential. Now finally after years of contemplating my options I decided to take the Safari plunge. I finally figured out a criteria that would allow me to hold within my very hands a Safari perfect for me. The only problem is that it actually took 7 of them, but that is a hundred or so choices and options less than my years of ogling had provided me with.

This past Christmas season I decided I would put together my dream drawing, calligraphy and writing set. I had four criteria for it 1) I could only spend $200 for it, including a bottle of ink and pen case. 2) The set had to include a variety of nibs so that any style of calligraphic script was possible, except for fancy frilly roundhand scripts as I could find no flex nib pen by itself for under $200. 3) The pens had to work the way they were supposed to. Usually very hard to accomplish in this price range. 4) The pens had to be color coordinated.

Now after years of research in which my dream calligraphy set had achieved a total cost of just under $3000 I remembered all of the Safari's I had seen and fondled over the years. Ooooo, now there's an idea.

I love color and lots of it. The only problem is that when it is in my hands I am very easily distracted. So color was out if I ever wanted to actually use my pens for any length of time without wandering off into a rainbow filled day dream or two. Once again Safari's fit the bill with their incredible array of blacks greys white and clear.

But I absolutely had to have Nibs! Extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1 mm Italic, 1.5 mm Italic and 1.9 mm Italic to be exact and all lined up in a color coordinated row in a nice leather pen case. If only Safari also had a flex option.

There was only only pen I could think of that fit the bill for all of my criteria and the was, you guessed it, Safari. So for $200 I ended up with 7 beautiful color coordinated Safari's, Black 1.5 mm Italic, Charcoal 1.9 mm Italic, Graphite M, Aluminum F, silver blue B (I know a color but I just couldn't bring myself to get white which also distracts my attentions), Vista demonstrator 1.1 mm Italic and another Black XF, a bottle of Noodler's BulletProof Black and a Labelle leather 10 pen case. And if you don't include shipping I also got two notebooks to write in. Wow! A complete set of pens, less a flex nib, a bottle of ink, a pen case and two notebooks for $200!

But of course I would not be able to respect myself if I didn't have a flex nib pen in my arsenal so my ideal drawing calligraphy and writing set is a bit more than double my $200 limit, but I did already have a Namiki Falcon with Spencerian modifications so I say the flex nib pen doesn't count as part of the cost. As fellow pen enthusiasts I am sure you would agree with my I love Lucynomics.

And now you just clue me in to the fact that I actually had four different versions of my dream drawing, calligraphy and writing set to choose from. Thanks!

#6 biffybeans

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:37

Outstanding - great job! And Thank you!

#7 bphollin

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:48

I'll echo the FPN peers above in thanking you for sharing this wealth of information on one of my favorite pens, Haywoody! Thanks especially for the "autopsy" shots. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installments...

#8 haywoody

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 23:53

QUOTE (Flourish @ Jan 11 2009, 12:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also spent quite some time ogling the Lamy Safari before ...


Cool story about your calligraphy set, it sounds wonderful. Somebody here took a 14kt nib from a Lamy Studio and put it on a Safari... you could maybe get Mr. Mottishaw to add some flex to one of those and really complete your dream set. I'm not sure the nib would take the mod as wall as the Falcon (I had one of those, with the Spencerian mod, and it was wonderful) but it can't hurt to ask.

I also generally like the color in my pens to come only from the ink. My favorites, and the only ones I use on a regular basis, are the charcoal, light grey, black, white and demonstrator. My 5-year-old daughter likes to coordinate the more wild colors to her current drawing pad, color of her socks or her mood. Come to think of it, all those things are usually shades of grey for me too... so I guess we have the same purpose.

I have nibs in XXF (custom), XF, F, M, MK, L, OM, B, OB, 1.1, 1.5, 1.9 and a 0.7mm cursive italic (custom). Pics and writing samples to follow as soon as I set up the pictures...

/Woody


#9 Scrybe

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 00:25

Props on the kewl and informative post. Looking forward to reading any future posts on the different colours. Keep it up - I'm impressed!
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#10 Ted H

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 00:34

Great job, and thanks for the info.
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#11 hexadecimal

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 01:23

Wonderful work! Keep it up.

(another Lamy enthusiast)
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#12 pen2paper

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:31

well done Woody!
also enjoyed the autopsy pics..any possibility that in your next installment that we could see these photos side by side?
(for those of us with small screens)
red safari medium, and joy set:)



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#13 Pjake

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:41

A++++ for the effort and content!

Thanks!!!

Peter

#14 zquilts

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 03:56

What an absolutely fabulously cool post.
Thank you for this very cogent anaylsis. Much enjoyed!

#15 shadowsforbars

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 04:38

Love the way you weave together the history of the model, the technical details and your personal story with the Safari. Thank you.

#16 chainwhip

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:35

Thanks Woody for the great information you've shared!
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WTB: MB Kafka, Lamy Safari 2009 Orange, Pilot MYU (Black or Clear/White Stripe), Seiko FrankenTuna SKZ253 / SKZ255

#17 Garageboy

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 22:59

Wow, very impressive!

#18 Philips

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 23:10

What an amazing piece of research work you have done! I love to read about and see the design improvements that have been made throughout the life of the pen - very well spotted. The change from W. Germany to Germany on the end of the barrel is a very important piece of social history as well. The exploded photographs are very interesting.

I'm really looking forward to any more information you post up on this fabulous workhorse of a pen thumbup.gif

Phil
(Charcoal Safari - 4th Generation wink.gif )

#19 HDoug

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 23:45

Great info and photos! Thank you very much!

Doug

#20 pmsalty

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 02:46

Wonderful info. This is one reason why this is such an interesting hobby! Thanks for the great job.
PMS
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#21 Aslan

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 04:24

Very nice work! Thank you.

(4G Charcoal here)
John

#22 Bill Smith

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 14:45

Cool information on the Safari, I have a couple and I am a fan of the pen with a black and chrome, Blue and red and a stock red with black clip.

I do have one question for you, how did you dis-asemble the cap to get the clip off. My red Safari has a great nib but the clip on the cap was bent in a bit of stupidity a few years back. I have to bend the clip back but I have to take the cap apart.
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#23 haywoody

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 17:58

QUOTE (Bill Smith @ Jan 12 2009, 03:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...
I do have one question for you, how did you dis-asemble the cap to get the clip off. My red Safari has a great nib but the clip on the cap was bent in a bit of stupidity a few years back. I have to bend the clip back but I have to take the cap apart.


It certainly is not as easy as the older models. If you look inside the cap you can see the end of the top button poking through the inner cap. You need to push the end out of the cap (same direction you go when you insert the pen into the cap). I use a flat-ended rod, standing on a table. Put the cap on top of the rod and pull the cap down making sure to keep your hands away from the top. Try not to shoot the top button into the ceiling or your eye. After you get the button out you can just pull the clip through the holes in the cap.

Putting it back in is a bit tougher. You need a tube which has an outer diameter small enough to fit all the way into the inner cap and an inner diameter large enough to clear the snap on the top button. I used a the barrel of a cheap mechanical pencil. Put all the parts back together in the correct order with the button down on the table. Take your tube and push it into the inner cap in the same direction you pushed to pop it out. It doesn't take too much force to snap it back in. Try to cap your pen... if it does not fully seat (the "o-ring" should completely disappear inside the cap) then the button is not snapped in all the way.

Keep in mind that these things are not really designed to be disassembled. The top button also seals the inner cap when properly assembled so if you don't get it back in all the way or you tear up the inner cap your pen might dry out when capped.

Installment #2 later tonight with a bit of luck.

Thanks for all the kind feedback so far.

/Woody

#24 gigipurple

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 18:05

Thank you for sharing all this information and wonderful pictures with us. I really enjoyed reading through it. Love Safari pens too! Gigi

#25 Robe

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 18:26

I have a Green Savannah and now I know that is a first generation, your is a truly amazing work, thanks for sharing.
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#26 haywoody

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:25

Nib time. The nib is the heart of any pen and, although it is steel, probably the most expensive component of the Safari. The Safari was launched as a low-cost pen mainly targeted at students. Nevertheless, from the start they offered a wide range of nib choices. Instead of trying to figure out the proper mix to produce and ship most pens where assembled with fine or medium nibs. The nib was designed with a friction-fit to the feed so it could be exchanged without special tools or disassembling the pen. Dealers were supplied with small boxes containing the full range of nibs so the customer could try several and leave with his or her favorite. This system still exists for the current pens and some dealers (especially in Europe) still offer the nib swap on-site.

For the first through third generation pens the nibs came in silver chrome-plated or black chrome-plated (possibly black oxide) steel. I think the early pens were shipped with black nibs to match the clips. The silver nibs that turn up on some early pens most likely came from a nib swap at the shop. The full range of sizes was offered in both finishes. Modern pens ship with the nib finished to match the clip.

When the fourth generation pens were introduced Lamy started to laser-etch the company name and nib size on the top surface. This is certainly more practical but I miss the clean look of the old nibs.

The available sizes are shown below, book-ended by two custom-ground nibs, along with writing samples on Rhodia paper.

safari_b1.jpg

Stroke for each size:

XXF (custom) - 0.2 mm
XF - 0.4
F - 0.5
M - 0.6
K (Kugel - rounded fine) - 0.5
L (left-hand fine) - 0.5
OM - 0.6
B - 0.7
OB - 0.7
1.1* - 1.0 / 0.3
1.5* - 1.3 / 0.3
1.9* - 1.5 / 0.3
C.I. (custom Pendimonium cursive italic) - 0.7 / 0.2

I think I have an MK (medium Kugel) somewhere but I am not sure because the sizes are not marked. There might be other standard sizes out there. These are mass-produced, low-cost nibs and you can tell. They are generally pretty smooth but the best from this bunch are the two custom-ground nibs. I honestly cannot tell the difference between the F, K and L nibs. You can see the oblique grind on the OM and OB but it is very difficult to distinguish them from the non-oblique sizes on the written samples. My advice, if you want something outside the normal F/M/B is to go for a custom grind. The Pendimonium nib is wonderful!

* The 1.1/1.5/1.9 italic nibs are available on the Lamy Joy, a variant of the Safari.

I had a few more pictures to upload but I am out of space... more to come after some house cleaning.

/Woody




#27 fmp

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:33

amazing review. Safari was my first fountain pen. From the pics, I guess I have a second generation, came with a white inner cap that disintegrate (literally, into pieces). I have since get a replacement part (black one) and replacement nib (chrome one, wince I think it look better with the white pen.)

In first post, "The barrel was changed from one part to two." - do you mean from two to one?

I have two questions:

1) the new inner cap, do they fit on 2nd gen model? I worry that the black inner cap may get loose again and that I will not be able to save the pen next time when that happen. (will those black inner cap stay fit for years? )

2) how did you take the parts out from the barrel (the thing with the imprint) out for 2nd, 3rd generation? this is one of my biggest puzzle for years.

Also, my feed from 2nd gen do not have the extension at the end. see pic...

Attached Images

  • 919016382_371f667cac.jpg

Edited by fmp, 12 January 2009 - 21:42.


#28 haywoody

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:44

QUOTE (fmp @ Jan 12 2009, 10:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
amazing review. Safari was my first fountain pen. From the pics, I guess I have a second generation, came with a white inner cap that disintegrate (literally, into pieces). I have since get a replacement part (black one) and replacement nib (chrome one, wince I think it look better with the white pen.)

I have two questions:

1) the new inner cap, do they fit on 2nd gen model? I worry that the black inner cap may get loose again and that I will not be able to save the pen next time when that happen. (will those black inner cap stay fit for years? )

2) how did you take the parts out from the barrel (the thing with the imprint) out for 2nd, 3rd generation? this is one of my biggest puzzle for years.


Thanks!

1) Good question. You might be able to trim the end off the new inner caps and fit it in an older pen but I have not tried it. I will give it a try within a few days and get back to you. The inner caps were made in translucent (milky white), white and black. I think the translucent material is the oldest and it falls apart easily... I doubt you can find a pen with it still in one piece. I have seen some of the white ones fall apart too but I have several NOS first generation pens with white inner caps that still work great. The black material seems to be softer and much more durable. I have never seen one that wasn't in good shape.

2) I didn't know barrel was two parts for a long time but always wondered why the imprint was oriented differently in each pen. I had one pen which rattled when you shook the barrel. I was trying to figure out what made the noise and noticed that the part with the imprint could spin. It is snapped in from the inside of the barrel with a very tight fit so that it should not even spin. It is not meant to take out and if you try you will probably damage the barrel. If you really want it out just put the barrel on the table and push against the insert with a rod the same size as the part (the eraser end of a pencil might work). Mine snapped back in but you can see the plastic is stressed and it rattles a lot more now.

/Woody

#29 haywoody

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:52

QUOTE (fmp @ Jan 12 2009, 10:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, my feed from 2nd gen do not have the extension at the end. see pic...


I just noticed your update with the picture... my 2nd generation pens definitely all have the feed extension. I just checked and I noticed something new - the feeds between the 2nd and 3rd generation are slightly different, at the extension. Maybe they had some trouble with it breaking (could explain why yours is missing - does it look like it could have broken off?) and changed the design a bit?

/Woody

#30 jbn10161

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 21:58

Just to echo and affirm what others have said: outstanding piece of work. Thanks for putting in the time and for sharing it with us!

What is a "Kugel" nib?
JN