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Bulow X530


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#1 wastelanded

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 18:23

This is my first review: hopefully it can be of some use. This is the Xfountainpens model X530, aka Jinhao 159. Note: the scores I applied are for an average $20 Chinese pen. Of course it is not a Pelikan, or a Montblanc or other high end pen, and it would be unfair to compare this pen to those. So the scores are in relation to other pens of similar manufacture and price.

Appearance and Design: 10/10

The pen arrived in a sealed plastic bag, with sticky-labelled instructions on how to use the converter and how to insert a cartridge. At first glance I was impressed. The pen is very black, very shiny, and very heavy. This is a behemoth, a zeppelin of a pen. Cigar-shaped, black, chrome trim, a gracefully curving clip with a small blue jewel at the end. For a Chinese-made pen, it is very tasteful and understated: definitely a take on a Montblanc 149 or Sailor 1911, or a Jinhao 159, the other name for this beast. The cap band says Bulow, with an umlaut where one should be. My first impression was not a disappointment.

[attachment=126076:DSCF0002.JPG]

Construction and Quality: 9/10

Picking the pen up, it is certainly solid. The body is most obviously brass, with a lacquer finish. The finish is high gloss, and shows fingerprints readily: I keep taking the microfiber lens cloth to it. I don’t know how rugged the finish is, and I’m not at the point of wanting to find out. Yet. The cap is a screw-on, taking about 2/3 of a turn to open. The clip has a nice curve to it, and no sharp edges. Threads on both cap and body are metal. There is a slight chrome lip on the end of the section, just enough for the fingertips to get purchase on.

[attachment=126077:DSCF0004.JPG]

Weight and Dimensions: 8/10

On the digital postal scale at work, the pen weighs 54g capped, and 30g uncapped; if I dropped this bad boy, I’d worry about cracking a floor tile before damaging the pen. The cap does not post; you can post it if you like, but it flops there like a rogue landmine. It also makes the pen very top heavy: you’d need a seatbelt to keep it from flipping you out of your chair. Unposted, the pen’s centre of gravity is (in my hand) right over where the barrel rests against my index finger. So, surprisingly well balanced for me. I wrote and scribbled for 30 minutes with little hand or wrist fatigue. Your mileage may vary, of course. All in all, good contruction: smooth threads, clean finish.

Nib and Performance: 9/10

When buying the pen, I opted for the “German” Knox nib, Medium. One reason was I thought the two tone nib would suit the pen. I also thought that having a nib fitted by the vendor would give that part of the pen a little attention when it was done. The nib is quite attractive: the pics on the website do it no justice (the nibs shown in the website look like they were dug out of the ground). Steel, two tone, with smooth lines between the silver and gold. The engraving is eye-catching but not over the top. Available widths are XF, F, M, B, Oblique Broad, and Oblique 2X broad. The website says the nib is iridium tipped.

Sure it’s pretty, but does it work? The answer is yes indeed. Smooth from the start, a slight amount of feedback from the Carpe Diem notebook paper I baptized it on. Using Skrip black, the nib lays a wet line, quite dark. The line is a little thinner than I remember a medium nib to be, and there is very little flex. Not a 6d nail, but not far off. However, these are good nibs, at least this one is. Snap some up before the vender reads all the recent ravings about them and jacks up the price, like they did with their inks. As far as ease of replacement, I don’t see much of an issue. I actually will update this, as I’m going to order an OB nib for a little more of a line.

[attachment=126078:DSCF0006.JPG]

After standing upright, capped, for 24 hours, it took about a half inch of scribbling to get a solid line going. Dry-out seems not to be a problem. There is some class of a seal inside the cap.

Filling System and Maintenance: 10/10

Of course, this is a cartridge/converter filling system we have here. Unscrewing the section shows a surprisingly well-made converter. The screw piston is not floppy or flimsy: I may just score a couple of these for other pens. There is a small ball in the chamber, presumably to agitate the ink. Note the band around where the nipple is on the converter: I think this would ensure a better fit and seal. It certainly fits well in my Kaweco. One could also use cartridges as a backup, or if one prefers using cartridges. Three cycles of the screw plunger filled the converter with about what is in an international cartridge worth of ink. No leaks, solid fit, what else can I say?

[attachment=126079:DSCF0013.JPG]

Cost and Value: 9/10

Xfountainpens shows a “list” price of $49.99 for the X530 ‘Mitternacht’, but that’s only if you just fell off the turnip truck. The $14.99 I paid is about the typical price, even on Ebay for a Jinhao 159. The nib upgrade was $6.99, but I got 50% off that because I happened to see a post here about discount codes. So I paid $18.48 plus $4 shipping. A good deal? I say yes, for an attractive pen that writes fairly well. It may have been cheaper on the ‘bay, but not with the nice Knox nib. The sale went smoothly, and shipping wasn’t bad considering Xmas was in the middle of the shipping period. Brief aside: why do parcels come to Canada quicker from China and Korea than from the US? Just wondering. There was no duty or tax due from crossing the border. Indeed, in the many many purchases I have made from US retailers, the only time I ever had to pay duty was for a piece of sterling silver jewelry, and I think that was because it came by courier. Avoid couriers for cross-border shopping, or else customs brokers get their hands in your pocket.

Conclusion

All in all, I am pleased with my purchase. Some might find more things to fault with this pen, but it is a $20 Chinese pen and that is how I judged it. And for a $20 Chinese pen, it’s not too shabby at all, atall. The Knox nib was a pleasant surprise; I plumped for it only because of possible pre-shipment attention, but it performs very well for a $9 nib.

[attachment=126080:DSCF0003.JPG]

Edited by wastelanded, 24 January 2012 - 18:24.

"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

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#2 wastelanded

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 23:05

I will scan a writing sample as soon as I can get my scanner to work.
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#3 Uncle Red

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 18:06

Nice, thanks for the write up. I've got a bunch of the X450s and I've been looking tat this and the X750.

#4 wastelanded

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 03:39

Here is a written sample of the X530. The colour balance is not quite right, apologies: I didn't want to muck around too much or the edge detail would go off. Also, dimensions, which I left out of the review:

Length capped: 145mm
Length uncapped: 128mm
Length posted (unstable): 167mm
Widest diameter: 14mm

[attachment=126275:DSCF0001.JPG]
[attachment=126276:DSCF0002.JPG]
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#5 Skeet

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 08:51

You did a heck-of-a-job for your first review. Very concise and informative. I own a couple of Bulow pens. And for the price; they're really wonderful writers. Can't help but to love the X-530's nib engraving. Which type of camera took these excellent photos? Well done young Skywalker.:thumbup:

Edited by Skeet, 26 January 2012 - 08:54.

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#6 wastelanded

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 12:44

You did a heck-of-a-job for your first review. Very concise and informative. I own a couple of Bulow pens. And for the price; they're really wonderful writers. Can't help but to love the X-530's nib engraving. Which type of camera took these excellent photos? Well done young Skywalker.:thumbup:


Thanks very much Skeet! Working on another review today. These nibs are as good as folk are saying on here, I think I will be getting an X750 with an OB very soon. The camera was a Fuji Finepix 1800.

Edited by wastelanded, 26 January 2012 - 12:45.

"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#7 P.A.R.

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 15:04

I remember having one of these a little more than a year ago, and remember them as having great nibs but poor flow reliability. They would stop writing after a page or so and one would have to force ink to the feed by twisting forward the converter. :bonk: Is this still the case? If not, I may try this one again. :hmm1:

Edited by P.A.R., 26 January 2012 - 15:04.

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#8 wastelanded

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 15:12

I remember having one of these a little more than a year ago, and remember them as having great nibs but poor flow reliability. They would stop writing after a page or so and one would have to force ink to the feed by twisting forward the converter. :bonk: Is this still the case? If not, I may try this one again. :hmm1:


It did the first fill. The second fill, after I filled the tank I pointed the pen nib-up and turned the piston until a bubble of ink came out of the bottom of the feed. Seems ok now, no skipping. I think the main problem with converters is getting vacuum inside, and the ink stays at the top even when the pen is nib-down. There's a little ball inside this converter, presumably to keep things moving, but I don't know how effective it is. When that kind of thing happens with a pen, try a cartidge. If the flow problem disappears, it's the converter.
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#9 Uncle Red

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 17:35

It's a common problem with converters, some inks are more of a problem than others. When I notice the X450 is slowing down I shake the pen a bit so the ball goes back and forth and there's no problem.

@wastelanded, I like the poetry, who's is it?

#10 wastelanded

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 17:45

I guess since I was using Skrip, flow wasn't so much of a problem. There's a bit of shading too, I don't think it shows up in the photos. Good old Skrip, can't go wrong with it.

Uncle Red, the poem is an excerpt from one of my own pieces.
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#11 robofkent

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 20:36

I've just received a Jinhao 159 in the post today and it is one impressive pen! Not only the size of it but the standard nib is the smoothest medium I have ever experienced in a Chinese pen!

#12 Malcy

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 21:11

I have a 159 in the post. I don't usually go for Chinese pens but this was a middle of the night, I can't get to sleep Wow that's big and only £6.80 inc postage, why not give it a go kind of thing.

So I await with interest. It will impress the kids at school even if it doesn't write. :roflmho:
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#13 robofkent

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 22:23

I have a 159 in the post. I don't usually go for Chinese pens but this was a middle of the night, I can't get to sleep Wow that's big and only £6.80 inc postage, why not give it a go kind of thing.

So I await with interest. It will impress the kids at school even if it doesn't write. :roflmho:


I don't think you will be disappointed!

#14 wastelanded

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 00:16

I have a 159 in the post. I don't usually go for Chinese pens but this was a middle of the night, I can't get to sleep Wow that's big and only £6.80 inc postage, why not give it a go kind of thing.

So I await with interest. It will impress the kids at school even if it doesn't write. :roflmho:


I don't think you will be disappointed!


And, as Boris the Blade said, "It is heavy. If it does not work, you can always hit him with it."

Seriously, it's a nice pen for the money!
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#15 LameDeer

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 17:49

I remember having one of these a little more than a year ago, and remember them as having great nibs but poor flow reliability. They would stop writing after a page or so and one would have to force ink to the feed by twisting forward the converter. :bonk: Is this still the case? If not, I may try this one again. :hmm1:


I received one as a gift a year ago. I wrote to the company about the same issue with ink flow. I was instructed how to fill the pen properly. After a year, filling with fresh ink each morning as well as thoroughly flushing with water once a week, the ink flow problem remains. About a page and a half, ink has to be forced to the nib. I purchased two more pens for my daughters, each a different style than my own. Again, the same problem with ink flow. Also, the finish wears off easily. It is now part metal, maybe brass and black paint of some sort showing. Odd. I wondered from the time of manufacture to present if these pens aren't constructed from leftover materials stolen from the Tibetan Monasteries by the Chinese. I could also find no information whatsoever about Chesterfield Ink.
If someone is in such a hurry for a signature and offers a ball point pen rather than waiting for the ink to dry, perhaps a second consideration should be given before the signature is written.

#16 wastelanded

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 18:09

Well, like most of my other pens, it works more reliably with cartridges. I've explored all the angles as to why, and I no longer care. I'm sticking with cartridges. I don't use buckets of ink, the price difference isn't that important to me. For the time being, until I get a good piston fill, it's carts for me. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

I could also find no information whatsoever about Chesterfield Ink.


Chesterfield ink is, by all accounts, Diamine ink repackaged. There's an Excel chart in here somewhere with the colour/name comparisons. It used to be a cheaper way to get Diamine, but if you calculate the price per mL, Chesterfield is *more* expensive than Diamine.

I am waiting for Xfountainpens to jack up the price of the Knox nibs as well, now that a lot of people on here are after them.
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#17 sebas0902

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:09

I just received this morning the triad, black, silver and swirled, X530, with Knox M nibs. It performs better than quite a few of my more expensive pens. Much better than what you expect for a 15 € pen.
Wastedlanded has described the pen wonderfully, so nothing to add, just a few more pics (sorry for the poor qlt, phone camera). Definitely, this X530 is a winner for the price.

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The triad por sebas0902, en Flickr

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Bullow x530 Knox M nib por sebas0902, en Flickr

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silver X 530 por sebas0902, en Flickr

Edited by sebas0902, 04 April 2012 - 12:12.


#18 robofkent

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 15:40

I now have the Bulow versions too but I prefer the Jinhao 159 only because you can post this and the Bulows you cannot.

#19 wastelanded

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:59

That swirly one looks very tempting! And the shiny one, it's like a souvenir from a transatlantic zeppelin flight. Praps I'll pick up the triad and gift the black one to someone.

Rob, how do you find the nib on the 159? Is it as wet as others have said?
"I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original." - Franz Joseph Haydn 1732 - 1809

#20 KrazyIvan

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 14:46

I think I like this version over the Jinhao only because it loses the crest/badge emblem on the clip.






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