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Duke Carbon - a tale of two pens!


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#1 MikeLip

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 20:16

I am just getting started on this whole FP thing, and found that Dukes seemed to offer a lot of pen for the money. So I nosed around quite a while and found the carbon series. These seem to be a medium weight pen with a steel nib that is about a medium fine. The black carbon has a green inner shine under very strong light, the new one is a blue carbon and has a dark blue colored spiral wrap around the body under the surface - very attractive. They both are, with their understated chrome furniture, the Duke seal on the cap and clip, and nice if not fancy nibs.

When I got the black (which was my first experience with Duke) I was thrilled! "So *this* is what those FP maniacs are talking about!" :P Sweet smooth writing, a nice wet (but not so wet as to feather or bleed through - even on moleskine, using Waterman blue-black ink or Private Reserve American Blue) line, nicely expressive. Super balance either posted or unposted. Instant FP addict!

Then I got the blue carbon, and it was a different story. While the pen physically looks great, it won't write. I can write a partial stroke, then it starts skipping. I tried opening the times very carefully, and it still skips. It looks like the nib is positioned correctly against the feed, and I flushed it out a couple of times. Just to make matters worse, I got ANOTHER Duke (from the same buying binge) and, you guessed it, it's doing the same thing.

Ugh.

The pen is not expensive, so I am tempted to just write it off (pardon the pun). I'm not afraid to mess with nibs - my appallingly bad Lamy is now a super writer after I found that the tines were poorly aligned. 15 minutes of gentle coaxing changed the pen completely. But it seems to me that Duke may have some QC issues.

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#2 arvadajames

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:12

I have also gone through the cheap FP's from China route and have have very simular experience. I got total junk from Duke and Wality. A very nice pen in all respects except the cap rattles and fits loose (something you might expect from a $5 pen, but not a $20 pen) from Haolili, and a very nice pen from Hero. I think the quality control on these lower end pens is a (Potty Mouth) shoot at best.

#3 mfwebb

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 10:06

I discovered the whole range of Duke Pens recently and now have 6, all superb writers and equally as good as my Pelikans (800 and 200).

The Dukes I have are Ruby; Sapphire; Complete Esteem (red); Khaki Squares; Mini Torpedo and Cubist Cloisonne.

They all write beautifully straight out of the box and each one has cost me less than £12 including post and packing from America.

The only one I have an issue with is the Sapphire. The finish is OTT and there is a lip at the end of the cap which makes it uncomfortable in the hand when writing with the pen posted -- the lip rubs the skin between my thumb and first finger. The mini torpedo has the same lip at the end of the cap, but this pen is so short that there is no skin contact when writing so is not a problem.

Some from I sell pens and a couple from AKideal. Excellent service from both suppliers.

The Ruby was bought from a UK supplier on e-bay for £6 including P & P. It was such good value I have bought a second Ruby as a spare or maybe as a gift for someone in the future.
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#4 MikeLip

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 10:36

Wow - you've had better luck than I have! Maybe I won't write off Duke quite yet.

#5 MikeLip

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 11:15

Just as a follow up, I was able to coax the blue Carbon into being a good writer! It took me about an hour, a pair of padded electronics pliers (fine needlenose) since I don't have the thumbnails needed to grab nib shoulders, a 10X loupe and a lot of patience!

The nib was poorly aligned, and the tines too close together. After about, oh, maybe 6,245 interations of careful bend, test, spread, test, bend, test cycles :D the pen has repaid me with a nice, perfectly wet (but not too wet), smooth even line.

#6 al_write_well

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 18:51

I have a similar experience to MikeLip and his Duke Carbon. I obtained a Duke Red Carbon. It came in a padded box and looked great. Very substantial, I particularly liked the solid click when posting the cap.

But the pen absolutely would not write. Quite disappointing. Close examination of the nib indicated that it had not been formed with sufficiently sharp tooling. Some adjustments with needle pliers and jewelers screw drivers brought the pen to a functional state. It now works nicely.


#7 jonro

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 00:33

That's a nice looking pen. How's the fit and finish? It's difficult to tell from the photograph if it looks like a really nice pen or a nice, inexpensive pen when you hold it.

#8 al_write_well

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 04:32

Hi jonro. Yes, I agree, it is a nice looking pen, which is why I ordered it. Holding the pen and examining it, the fit and finish appears excellent. Everything screws together smoothly, the cap snaps onto both ends of the pen with a resounding click. The pen has substantial weight, and looks ready to do important writing jobs. Even the included converter appears to be above average in quality. But the slit in the nib just wasn't right, preventing the pen from working. I just don't understand it, to make such a handsome product and omit the final step of providing an operable nib, it just doesn't make sense. Fortunately, after some adjustment the pen worked fine. It says Germany in several places on the pen, but I believe this pen comes from China. Duke pen needs to improve QC so that their product efforts will reach full potential. I would be willing to pay another 25% for this pen to cover improved QC. More pictures can be seen at AKIDeal.com, note they also make a very attractive blue version.

#9 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 15:14

Is it just me, or does that design look more than a little like a Pelikan Souveran?
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#10 helius

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 20:19

QUOTE(Green Maned Lion @ Jan 30 2007, 11:14 AM)
Is it just me, or does that design look more than a little like a Pelikan Souveran?

I think it's accurate to say that it's inspired by the Pelikan Tradition/Sovereign lines. They are not straight copies by any means.

The green carbon fiber (where the stripes are vertical, as opposed to the diagonal stripes for the red and blue pens) looks just as good as the green/black Pelikans to me.

#11 kissing

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 13:07

Wow, thanks for this biggrin.gif

I'm waiting to receive my first Duke pens, but was worried about how they would write. Upon reading this, I'm looking forward to seeing for myself how well these inexpensive pens write (Yes, Duke do offer a lot of pen for their prices biggrin.gif)

I'm awaiting a Duke Crane and a Duke Ruby. Maybe I'll write reviews on them when I get them and write wink.gif
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#12 mfwebb

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 07:12

You can see my review of the Duke Ruby using the link below. For some reason, it does not appear in the index, along with several others.

Maybe the mods could update the index when time permits. Thanks smile.gif

http://www.fountainp...showtopic=15231
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#13 Shelley

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 02:51

I have been tempted to try one of these carbon pens, but I fear for the quality issues you and others have mentioned.
Sure they are not very expensive-but i could spend the same money on ink that will work with my existing pens...think I will play it safe and wait awhile.
Thanks for the review though.
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#14 donwinn

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 03:42

I have a Duke Green Carbon Fibre, and it writes beautifully, although it does have a medium nib (F not available where I ordered the pen). I keep it fueled with Pelikan Green, so my green pen writes in green. Did the same with my green Pilot 78G, a Soft Fine. The carbon is currently in my pen chest, adjacent my Duke Uranus and Duke (un-named) chrome, in F and XF, respectively. No quality issues yet. happyberet.gif

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#15 bandityo

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 12:41

I had the problem that even if they did a nice wet line..within a day...even with cap on..they wouldnt start up the next day... dry as a board. I pretty much gave up on them...

any solutions if your nib is aligned but dries up by the next day?

david

#16 Univer

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 14:20

Hi,

Just a thought - have you checked the cap for air leaks? I had drying-out issues with my two Duke Sharks, and that turned out to be the culprit.

The problem is easy enough to diagnose: just blow into the cap (unsanitary, I know) to see if it's airtight. It's not quite as easy to fix: you'll need to locate the air leak and contrive some way to seal it. In my Shark pens, the leaks were at the clip attachment point, and I had success sealing them with melted wax (for one pen) and shellac (for the other).

Here's a link to a fairly detailed description of the techniques: http://www.fountainp...showtopic=10164

For what it's worth, I don't recall an air leak problem with my one Duke Carbon Fiber (and I don't have it here to check). If the problem isn't an air leak, maybe the ink is getting hung up in the converter - a sadly common phenomenon. Do a search, and you'll likely find a few possible fixes for that issue. (A change of inks might also help.)

I've found my Dukes to be nice pens and good writers, with an occasional issue here and there. (I've yet to encounter a brand, at any price level, that's issue-proof.)

Good luck,

Jon

QUOTE(bandityo @ Sep 5 2007, 12:41 PM) View Post
I had the problem that even if they did a nice wet line..within a day...even with cap on..they wouldnt start up the next day... dry as a board. I pretty much gave up on them...

any solutions if your nib is aligned but dries up by the next day?

david



#17 yumbo

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 01:09

I received my Duke Blue Carbon yesterday. It writes like a dream using PR Lake Placid Blue. Buttery smooth. Fit and finish is top notch. I inked it yesterday and this morning it started up with no problems. The medium nib does not have much give and writes more like a fine nib. Lots of pen for the $. The cap is heavy, so if you write with your pen posted it will throw the balance off.

- Yumbo

Edited by yumbo, 04 November 2007 - 01:10.

Gustatus similis pullus!

#18 dashreeve

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 00:53

I have ordered a few of the chinese made pens. I have a couple watermans, pelikans, a parker, several from levenger, rotrings, and sensas. I paid a lot for the watermans and pelikans, but had never considered trying out the cheap chinese pens. I ordered four online for around $37 total. the pens I ordered are Fuliwen and Hero. I thought with the preices so low, at least one out of four would be decent and all four cost less than any one of my other pens. I'll post a short review when they arrive next week. The reviews I found here 1st were all positive, then with more searching came some scary reviews. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

#19 lovemy51

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 05:05

hi dashreeve. welcome to FPN!

i have a few Dukes, Heros and one Fuliwen. they are very good writers. the only çhinese pen i've ever bought and i dislike immensely is the duke "shark", it is a poor starter. other than that, all the other ones write fine... and for the money... great

Edited by lovemy51, 23 November 2008 - 05:05.


#20 donwinn

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 12:30

QUOTE (lovemy51 @ Nov 22 2008, 11:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
hi dashreeve. welcome to FPN!

i have a few Dukes, Heros and one Fuliwen. they are very good writers. the only çhinese pen i've ever bought and i dislike immensely is the duke "shark", it is a poor starter. other than that, all the other ones write fine... and for the money... great


I have a Shark which is also a slow starter. Following the advice of a different thread, I removed the cap, and blew into it, and was not particularly surprised to find that it barely slowed down the blowing. I need to seal the cap, and then see if it still is a slow starter. I really like my Green Carbon, and my D10 Silver Rings. Got the Green Carbon from Akideals, the Silver Rings and the Shark from Goldquills, which is the new name for Akideals. I also have two slender Dukes; one of them a Uranus, the other an unnamed model chrome pen. The Uranus can sit for weeks in a drawer, and write as soon as I uncap it. Such a contrast with the Shark.

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