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Huashilai 3000


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#1 Miles R.

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 18:18

Preliminary note to people replying to this post: Please do not quote the entire post, as including photos clutters the page and makes the thread difficult to read. Please include a photograph only if you have a specific point to make about it.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any manufacturer or vendor mentioned in this review.

********

I think that I am in one respect in an especially good position to review this model of fountain pen, namely that I own copies of it in four different cap finishes. The photograph below shows them flanked by a couple of Jinhao pens (purchased from xFountainpens under the brand name of "Bülow") of similar design, the X450 on the left end and the X750 on the right. The four pens in between are all Huashilai 3000's. Not knowing of any official or standard terms for their various cap finishes, I call them, from left to right, brown shimmer, white marble, black marble, and (this one gave me some trouble) composite.

Huashilai 01.JPG

Here is the same lineup, with the caps off.

Huashilai 03.JPG

Besides these four, I know of two other finishes: the orange marble or "tiger eye," a photograph of which can be found in Motomo's review of the pen in that finish; and one that I know only from seeing it advertised on eBay, a black cap with a map of the USA in gold lines on it ( :blink: ).

The differences in finish apply only to the cap: all varieties of the Huashilai 3000 have barrels identically finished in glossy black lacquer.


First impressions

It was two years ago that I discovered Chinese fountain pens. Since then, intoxicated by the combination of variety and adequate-to-high quality with low price, I have bought dozens of them. The Huashilai 3000 first came to my attention about a year ago through a listing in the "Other Brands" section of ISellPens.com. (It is not there any more.) I ordered the one in black marble. It has been one of the most comfortable and smooth-writing pens that I own. Although I have had mixed experiences with subsequent copies of the pen that I have bought (more on that below, under "Construction and quality"), I find this pen to be, at least judged by its best copies, the best fountain pen that I have gotten for less than $100 new. (Its price is on the order of a tenth of that: see below, under "Cost and value").


Appearance and design

As will be apparent in the photographs above, the Huashilai 3000 shares the common "cigar-tube" design of many other metal-barreled fountain pens, notably the Jinhao X450 and X750. A user posting in Motomo's review claimed that the Huashilai 3000 and the Jinhao X750 are identical, but this is quite incorrect. Granted, the size, proportions, and construction are similar, and the clip and the tip of the cap are indistinguishable; but they are not at all identical in design or construction. The Huashilai outweighs the Jinhao by 8 grams (43 to 35), and this photograph should show how the shape of their caps differ:

Huashilai 07 (600).JPG

While the Jinhao cap is narrower than the chrome band at the base of it, that of the Huashilai is of the same width. The Jinhao also has a longer barrel with a shorter tip. But the most visually conspicuous difference is in the finish. I have seen X750's in various finishes, but never in one that can bear comparison with that of any of the caps of the Huashilai (or even the barrel, for that matter). It is not easy to show in a photograph how the finish of the cap gives an appearance of depth, as if it were at least a solid millimeter deep. This is most apparent in the two brown-colored ones, shown below, though even the black and the white marble ones show a depth of iridescence at certain angles.

Huashilai 08 (600).JPG

You will notice, however, that while the "composite" cap (again, I wish I had a better designation for it), like the black marble, has engraving at its base, the brown shimmer cap, like the white marble, has none. Another variation is that the ring at the end of the nib housing is gold on the black marble—or rather I should say on my black marble one, as I don't know whether this is the case generally—while it is chrome on the others.

Huashilai 04.JPG

There is also variation in the nibs. The nibs of my black marble, white marble, and brown composite pens all have engraved on them the words "Huashilai 22K GP" and the brand logo (I can't figure out what it is supposed to represent, but it's triangular in shape). My brown shimmer, however, has instead a flower design and the words "Iridium point." I don't know if this indicates a variation in the manufacture of the pens or if it is a sign of post-production tampering or counterfeiting. More on this below. In the photograph below, the white marble is on the left, the brown shimmer on the right. (That is not a discoloration on the tip but a reflection.)

Huashilai 05.JPG


Construction and quality

I have experienced wide variations of quality in the pens that I have found sold under the name of the Huashilai 3000. I use this roundabout phrasing for the following reason. I have heard that in China today, there are counterfeits not only of well-known and costly models of fountain pens but even of obscure and cheap Chinese ones. (The example cited was the Hero 616, one of the cheapest fountain pens to be found!) If this is the case, and if the Huashilai 3000 is among the models of pen that have been counterfeited, it would account for the great variations in quality that I have seen among the copies that I have owned. The white marble and brown composite pens shown here are actually the second copy of each that I have had. The first white marble that I got had a cap that fit loosely on the barrel (it would stay on, but would rattle) and would not post on the tail; also, the black pieces on the ends of the barrel and the cap were out of alignment. The first brown composite that I bought wrote such a feeble and dry line that I returned it for a refund. (Later, when I discovered how good the Huashilai 3000 is at its best and how hard it is to come by one in this particular finish, I regretted that I had not kept it and tried to adjust the nib. Luckily, I eventually found another on eBay.)

That said, the better copies of this pen that I have owned—four out of the six that have come into my hands—have been of good workmanship, comparable to that of the Jinhao X450 and X750 pens that I have owned.


Weight and dimensions

I have a strong preference for metal-barreled pens. To be more exact, I have a strong preference for pens with a mass of at least 30 grams. The Huashilai 3000 weighs, according to my little hand-held postal balance, 43 grams, the same as the Jinhao X450. It is thus quite a heavy pen. However, I find the balance to be perfect—that is, for writing with the cap posted. Those who prefer to write with it unposted may wish to know that the cap weighs 14 grams. The length of the pen, capped, is 5 9/16 inches (14.2 cm), about 2 mm longer than the Jinhao X450. Posted, its length is 6 5/16 inches (16 cm).


Nib and performance

Two of these pens are among the most smooth-writing in my collection. The other two have a quite comfortable feel on the page. I have experienced no scratching, squeaking, or skipping with any of them. I also find that when left unused for a day or so they do not dry out as do the Jinhao pens that I have had, but start writing immediately. They are also superior to the Jinhao pens in consistency of flow. Apart from one pen that I think I damaged when it fell to the floor uncapped (I can see no damage in the nib, and it moves over the page just as smoothly as before, but the flow is now irregular), my pens of this model write consistently from the time they are inked until the converter is nearly empty. This is more than I can say, e.g., of my Waterman Carène.

There are slight variations in width among the points of the Huashilai 3000's in my collection, though all within a range of what I would describe as "medium." When I wrote sample lines with each of the pens, using the same ink (Herbin Lie de thé) on the same paper (Staples office pad—of a sort that they no longer sell, unfortunately), I was surprised to see how little variation in breadth of line they showed, as it had been my impression that the brown shimmer (second line in photo below) was close to a standard "fine" and the black marble (third line) to a "broad"; but this may have been due to differences in the inks that I had formerly been using with them.

Huashilai 09.JPG


Filling system and maintenance

The Huashilai 3000 is sometimes sold with cartridges: I think that they are of a standard sort. I don't know, as I only use the convertor that comes with every pen (shown below). It is of the usual twist-to-fill sort.

Huashilai 10.JPG


Cost and value

I have paid between $7 and $15 for each of these pens, prices that in some cases included a gift box and the cost of shipping. It is only because there are so many cheap fountain pens available from China that one can even think of getting a pen of this sort of design and construction for less than $50. I originally wrote "design, construction, and quality," but that last word is the sticky point. The good ones are of very good quality; but there are some bad ones out there (see above under "Construction and quality"). Perhaps it is the fault of counterfeiters rather than of the manufacturer that there are defective pens being sold under the name of this model: that does little good for the buyer, who cannot be certain whether he or she is getting the real thing or a counterfeit. I can only say that most—4 out of 6—of the Huashilai 3000's that I have bought have been very good pens. And, prices being as low as they are, I have been willing to take my chances. (The vendors on eBay will accept returns, but when they are charging, say, $4 for the pen and $6 to ship it to you from Hong Kong, it doesn't make much sense to return a defective one.)


Conclusion

I try to have some variety in the fountain pens that I have inked up at any given time, rather than having several of the same model. The Huashilai 3000 makes it difficult for me to do that, now that I have several copies of it, as the other pens in my collection (which includes a Pelikan M600—too light for me for everyday use—and a Waterman Carène—an inconsistent writer) can't equal it for the combination of smooth movement, consistent flow, and suitability to my particular preferences in weight and balance.

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#2 jandrese

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 19:08

very good review, thanks. I have never seen these pens. They are pretty good looking. Enjoy!

#3 Miles R.

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 22:44

Is there a standard term that is used for the individual instances of a product, as contrasted with the model to which they belong? At several points in the review I had to draw this distinction, but I don't know of a satisfactory way of expressing it. I would expect there to be a term for this purpose used in business, as one has occasion to say things like, "They want to buy twenty of this model": well, twenty whats of this model? I used the word "copy" in my review, as one does in speaking of books, but it suggests that I am talking about counterfeit instances. The fact that in some passages I am talking about counterfeits makes it all the more important that I not give that impression when I am not doing so. The word "instance" might convey my meaning, but it sounds slightly bizarre, as if a pen were an abstract quality rather than an artifact. "Specimen" also might work, but makes it sound as if I am talking about either animals or urine samples. For some reason I have the idea that I have seen the word "exemplar" used in this fashion, but I don't find any such meaning among the glosses in Merriam-Webster. Does anyone know?

#4 lovemy51

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:09

nice review, Miles. i have the second from the left (top pic). my only complaint is that the cap feels lose when it is posted (i mean closed -the cap doesn't post well on the back of the barrel). than again, it doesn't have any markings so it could be the counterfeit!! :unsure:

#5 Miles R.

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:28

nice review, Miles. i have the second from the left (top pic). my only complaint is that the cap feels lose when it is posted (i mean closed -the cap doesn't post well on the back of the barrel). than again, it doesn't have any markings so it could be the counterfeit!! :unsure:

I didn't mention this fact in my review, but even the one that I consider my non-defective white-marble-capped Huashilai 3000 has a cap that does not close securely. It is not loose like the bad one, but it comes off more easily than it should. It also won't stay on the barrel. I strongly suspect (1) that the problem here is poor quality control by the manufacturer rather than counterfeiting by others and (2) that the white-capped ones are particularly prone to defects. Caveant emptores!

(By the way, I am uncertain of terminology: I thought that to "post" a cap meant to fix it to the tail of the pen. Perhaps I was mistaken, and it merely means simply to fix it to the barrel, whether on the head or the tail?)

Edited by Miles R., 05 February 2012 - 12:30.


#6 lovemy51

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 05:18

(By the way, I am uncertain of terminology: I thought that to "post" a cap meant to fix it to the tail of the pen. Perhaps I was mistaken, and it merely means simply to fix it to the barrel, whether on the head or the tail?)

yeah, i'm confused about that too, so it takes me longer to explain!! :rolleyes:

i should mention that the cap closes securely, but it spins around -without coming off. :mellow:

#7 Toolattack

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 15:29

Interesting review Miles.
It amazes that you have only paid $7 -$15 for these pens.

#8 majorworks

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 15:40

Nice review, Miles. I saw your comment on my comment on the tiger-eye review.

I don't know that I necessarily got a "bad one." What I'll say is that since I last used my Huashilai (sometime last year), I've learned a bit more about nibs and getting them in shape. So when I get a chance, I'll try applying some of that knowledge to my Huashilai and see if I can take it to the next level.

I also don't think mine is a counterfeit. I picked it up from a fairly prominent Chinese eBay store (gotoschool888).
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#9 Miles R.

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 15:55

Nice review, Miles. I saw your comment on my comment on the tiger-eye review.

I don't know that I necessarily got a "bad one." What I'll say is that since I last used my Huashilai (sometime last year), I've learned a bit more about nibs and getting them in shape. So when I get a chance, I'll try applying some of that knowledge to my Huashilai and see if I can take it to the next level.

I also don't think mine is a counterfeit. I picked it up from a fairly prominent Chinese eBay store (gotoschool888).

I wish I could still edit the original review. Apart from a grammatical error that I would correct if I could, I would also emphasize that my remarks about counterfeits are purely speculative and based on hearsay concerning an entirely different make of Chinese pen. I would also make clear that in this pen it is the white-marbled-finish ones that seem to be particularly prone to defects (both of the two in that finish that I have had as well as the one that Lovemy51 has have caps that don't fit perfectly). And finally, I would retract what I said under "Construction and quality" about the workmanship of this pen being comparable to that of Jinhao pens. I notice now that on every one of my Huashilai 3000s the black end piece of the cap is not affixed perfectly: it is slightly out of alignment, as one can see by twirling the pen in one's fingers. I have not seen this in any of my Jinhao pens. It is a defect that does not affect functionality, but it betrays a sloppiness of manufacture or design. It's really a shame, because I still find these pens superior to the Jinhaos in the quality of the writing mechanism (flow is better and they don't dry out as easily) and, for my particular taste anyway, in feel (smoothness and balance).

I've also bought some of my pens from Gotoschool888, but I don't recall which ones!

Oh, and I shouldn't have said "$7 to $15"; I think the lowest price that I paid was $9.88, shipping included.

Edited by Miles R., 06 February 2012 - 15:58.


#10 Miles R.

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 21:03

I just got the orange-marble-capped one to complete my collection! (Yes, there is one other design, with the map of the USA on it, but I'm not going near it.) I tried to take a photo that would reveal the translucency of the material, something that was never apparent to me in any of the photos that I saw of this pen on eBay:

Huashilai orange 01.JPG

The cap fits snugly--maybe too snugly! It's a bit difficult to get open--and, although I have not yet inked it, the nib has the Huashilai name and logo on it rather than the words "iridium point," so it looks like one of the good ones.

Huashilai orange 02.JPG

Hee hee! I love a bargain!

Huashilai orange 03.JPG

Edited by Miles R., 06 February 2012 - 21:05.


#11 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 21:39

Thanks for the review. I do have the white marble Huashilai and it is a bit stingy with ink flow. Once I learn more about adjustment I should have a nice writer.

#12 minislot

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 19:50

Thanks for the review. This pen has the same nib unit as the Huashilai 8 Tiger Eye that I'm getting in the mail; and I do agree that when you get a good one that the value for money is incredible.

Edited by minislot, 07 February 2012 - 19:50.

The sad moment when you actually have to explain what a fountain pen is to somebody.

#13 Miles R.

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 20:03

Thanks for the review. This pen has the same nib unit as the Huashilai 8 Tiger Eye that I'm getting in the mail; and I do agree that when you get a good one that the value for money is incredible.

The nibs and nib housings are of similar in size and proportions but certainly not identical.

Huashilai comparison.JPG

That's the 8 on the left and the 3000 on the right.

#14 minislot

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 17:22

Thanks for the review. This pen has the same nib unit as the Huashilai 8 Tiger Eye that I'm getting in the mail; and I do agree that when you get a good one that the value for money is incredible.

The nibs and nib housings are of similar in size and proportions but certainly not identical.

Huashilai comparison.JPG

That's the 8 on the left and the 3000 on the right.

Thanks for the know how etc.
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The sad moment when you actually have to explain what a fountain pen is to somebody.

#15 dcobranchi

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 13:31

I just picked up an orange and black 3000 on eBay. It was DOA. Zero ink flow. It has the "flower" nib with "Iridium point" engraved on it. I took the nib and feed out and bent the nib open a bit until I felt a sharp "crack." It looks like whatever plating they did to the nib completely filled the slit. Once that was opened up, ink flowed nicely. It was a little scratchy, but a bit of writing on a cardboard box cleared that up nicely.

For $7 including shipping, it's a real bargain.






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