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Retro 51 'tornado' - Fountain Pen Review


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13 replies to this topic

#1 MassTahDohn

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 20:50

Background info!!!!

So I went to the store today to pick out a pen for my dad for Christmas. I did some research and narrowed it down to 2 pens/models. One being this, and the other being the Faber-Castell Ambition. I got this pen with a bottle of Private Reserve Velvet Black and Dakota Red. And an international converter. Not only was it the incompetence of the salesman (REALLY bad!) it was my lack of common sense. Of course you can't use converters in these pens, I even commented how small the barrel was! *facepalm* But in the end I fell in love with this pen and decided to give my dad my LAMY Studio!

Appearance and Design 8/10 (7/7 on the pen, 1/3 on packaging)

The pen is absolutely GORGEOUS! It's called 'Lava' and it looks fantastic!!!! The orange swirls :) The Copper clip and cap, it's stunning! The same can't be said for the packaging though sadly... Boring box, but it does have an aluminum cigar tub, which I will use for other things :) So overwhelmed by the pen itself, underwhelmed by packaging

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Construction and Quality 9/10

Body is resin. I like it, nothing wrong but nothing that blew me out of the park. Very sturdy, feels like it can last A LONG time! Cap screws on/off quite seamlessly, although if you try to post it you need to push quite hard on it, no screw on the end which is disappointing. And sometimes the cap just falls off when it's posted which is a HUGE nuisance! Tip on the cap is copper or bronze or some brass colored metal. Feels good :) The plastic grip does feel quite cheap but all in all it's a very well constructed sturdy pen!

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Weight and Dimensions 6/10

Ahhh.... Here's where it get's annoying. It's a small pen, only 5 inches in length capped. Take the cap off it becomes 4.25 inches. Post the cap and it becomes 5.75 inches.... HUGE jumps in length, really hard to write unposted since it's SO small but way to long to write posted, Oh and the cap weighs more than the body! Very weird, I don't like it, but I'll get used to it!

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Nib and Performance 10/10

Wow... WOW!!!!! One of the smoothest nibs I've ever written with, easily the smoothest that I own, it is just incredible, it is BEYOND buttery! It is a medium so you get a full ink flow it is a very wet pen. I wouldn't advise taking notes with this because you will run out of ink fast, this is one of the best nibs just for writing. I LOVE it. I believe it is 14K gold plated? I'm not sure, but the tip is Iriduim. Oh and the nib is GIGANTIC :)

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Filling and Maintenance 7/10 (Filling 2/5 Maintenance 5/5)

Cartridge filler, UGH! The catch is I have been unable to find a converter that can fit in the tiny body that this pen has! So for now it's cartridges. Very easy to maintain, I popped the cartridge in and it started writing, no need to flush it out of fix the tines or do anything! Since it's Retro 51 they are quite easy to maintain too, and they are nearly impossible to break :)

Cost and Value 10/10

I got this pen for $47.50!!! It's a VERY good price for the quality of this pen. It writes like it should be past $100 and looks are up there too!

Conclusion 50/60

Not the highest score, but the nib is outstanding! I love writing with this pen, THE best pen I own right now. Granted I don't own a lot of pens and the ones I do own aren't fantastic but this is so far beyond the pens that I own now. If you have $50 dollars and you want a fountain pen. GET THIS you won't be disappointed! I love it :)

Edited by MassTahDohn, 28 November 2010 - 20:52.

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#2 aircraft_electrician

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 22:46

I've got 2 of these in different colors, and the Tornado is one of my favorite "inexpensive" modern pens. The only drawback is its inability to drink from a bottle, and this is only a problem with one of Tornadoes. One of mine has a metal barrel, which has plenty of room for a short international converter, and it works rather well. The other, which has a plastic barrel, like your does not have room inside for a converter.

Otherwise, some of my favorite modern pens.

Tom
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#3 TWRDO

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 02:31

I have a black Tornado. A Monteverde small converter works in some of the Tornados, but not all, so that might be worth a shot. They're cheap so it wouldn't be a huge loss if it didn't work.

My nib was also very smooth - too smooth actually, as it had a pretty bad baby-bottom. A few minutes with the micro abrasive sheet solved that though. Mine was also VERY wet out of the box, as in you used an entire cartridge in maybe a page and a half of writing. A simple tightening of the tines solved that too.
I do agree about the odd imbalance between pen and cap size and weight. The pen is too short to use unposted, but there isn't really a good way to post the cap other than pressing it on hard. That aside, it's still one of my favorite pens to use.
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#4 lovemy51

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 03:05

i have one in black and the only complaint is that the cap doesn't post well, or not at all, on the back of the barrel (lacquer body), making it off balance to write with it unposted -the body being so small and all...

this doesn't happen with the resin bodies like MassTahDohn's. the only thing.......... i don't mean to bash the R51, they are good pens for the money.... is that the rose gold (copper color???) appointments don't match the gold nib (IMO).

other than that, nice pen ;)

thx for the review, MassTahDohn!


PS. did i mention that it's hard to get the converters for this? :blush:

#5 Robert Alan

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 03:48

Hello and thanks for the review!

The nib unit on your Retro 51 is exactly the same nib/feed threaded unit that comes on the Retro 51 Double-8 pen, Romet fountain pens, the Bexley Simplicity, and Bexley BX-701, for example. Schmidt makes an excellent nib unit and places like isellpens.com has spare nib units in fine, medium and broad for $15. The nib is either unplated steel or gold-plated, but I have no idea about the gold content of the plating.

Simple, small, slide-type piston converters sold to fit little Kaweco fountain pens (also sold at isellpens.com) should fit your pen. Although they don't hold much ink, at least one can try various bottled inks, and they are certainly useful for flushing a pen.

/Robert


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#6 pen2paper

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 04:52

I found the Retro 51 Scriptmaster double deskpen in tortoise at Tuesday Morning awhile back.. the celluloid, is gorgeous, great depth, colors. better than the photos.
Though the FP ink capacity is small.. it's a very capable writer.. the nib is indeed very smooth, wet.. nary a skip, or unpleasant anything about this pen.. its deskpal the rollerball is also the nicest writing rollerball I've ever used. there I've admitted the FPN heresy.. the rollerball has become a frequent go to pen here at my computer.. especially since the FP carts are So small, and my work pens are in my Bagallini ready for - work.
Also, the Scriptmaster design is very plain, lets the good looking celluloid sing.. > the reason I responded > very undersung pen in my very humble o.
http://www.amazon.co...L4&linkCode=asn
here's a photo of the single unit deskpen.. (nayy), also came in a nice blue.. but again, the tortoise is easily one of the nicest celluloids I've seen.. (I collect vintage celluloid non-pen items), too bad this one has been discontinued.. glad I lept when I saw it..

Edited by pen2paper, 03 December 2010 - 15:05.


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#7 Kabe

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 07:31

I have a Tornado, black, and unfortunately, it has become sealed! Can´t open it to change the cartridge. Since it´s all metal, I doubt warm water would work to loosen the threads, right?
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#8 Robert Alan

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 14:37

I have a Tornado, black, and unfortunately, it has become sealed! Can´t open it to change the cartridge. Since it´s all metal, I doubt warm water would work to loosen the threads, right?


Hello! Heat will expand any material (just run the water over the barrel). I would try hot water and some kind of rubber, gripping material (like the kind of pads used to remove stubborn jar caps) to get a better grip for turning the barrel and section. Also, perhaps a tiny drop of WD-40 (on the end of a tooth pick) applied where the barrel and section meet. WD-40, because of its viscosity, should be able to creap under the threads and lower the coefficient of friction which could enable you to unscrew the barrel.

Good luck!

/Robert

Edited by Robert Alan, 03 December 2010 - 14:39.

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#9 noctrl02

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 17:58

I have the stainless Tornado. Retro 51 sent me a free converter to fit it. I am told it does not fit the black version, as its taper is different. You may want to email their customer service to see if there is a converter available?
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#10 TWRDO

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 18:22

I have the stainless Tornado. Retro 51 sent me a free converter to fit it. I am told it does not fit the black version, as its taper is different. You may want to email their customer service to see if there is a converter available?


This converter: http://store.swisher...rter-p1308.aspx works just fine in my black Tornado.
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#11 Robert Alan

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 19:43

I have the stainless Tornado. Retro 51 sent me a free converter to fit it. I am told it does not fit the black version, as its taper is different. You may want to email their customer service to see if there is a converter available?


This converter: http://store.swisher...rter-p1308.aspx works just fine in my black Tornado.



Yes--that's the same one that fits the Kaweco Sport.
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#12 Kabe

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 04:07

Thanks, Robert, will try ASAP
The voice of this guitar of mine, at the awakening of the morning, wants to sing its joy;
I sing to your volcanoes, to your meadows and flowers, that are like mementos of the greatest of my loves;
If I am to die away from you, may they say I am sleeping, and bring me back home.
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#13 Misfit

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 01:11

I have my eye on the Retro 51 Tornado fountain pen in the EXT version in Lincoln (burnished copper).  Saw it at jetpens.com.  It shows it will come with a convertor and 2 ink cartidges.


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#14 CRWF82

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Posted 24 April 2015 - 17:12

I have the Retro 51 tornado in the black resin and I despise it. Thankfully it was a cheap pen. The first issue was the fact it would not take a convertor. The EXT variant is tough to find at the locations I have access to which is very few and are almost four hours away. To use my bottled inks I simply reused the cartridge and when that gave out I used an standard international short after some significant warranty voiding modifications. Before I modified my pen I did notice another problem with then pen which upset me a great deal. I had inked up the pen with one of my more expensive inks and in less than two days the ink evaporated. I examined my pen and found that the cap was not airtight on top. I sealed the air leak however after writing some more with it and noticing that it still didn't behave well I have decided to retire the pen from use.








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