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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
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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...
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