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Twsbi Vac 700 Review


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72 replies to this topic

#1 drav

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:12

TWSBI Logo.jpg


I tend to group my fountain pens into two classes: utilitarian and show. The utilitarian pens I use when I know I am going to be writing in less than ideal locations (dust, moisture, etc.). The show pens are for use mostly indoors, but they do get a lot of use too.

So this is a review on a utilitarian fountain pen, the TWSBI Vac 700. Having owned a TWSBI 540, I have been looking forward to their coming out with the Vac 700. I had bought the 540, a broad nib for it, and their inkwell in hopes that my purchases and others would fund their efforts to bring out the Vac 700. I always prefer different filling systems, and this one intrigued me.


TWSBI Cap.jpg


Appearance and Design – Similar to the 540 in a TWSBI way. Sort of like a Vanishing Point looks like a Vanishing Point, this looks like a TWSBI. The necked body section is a little different, but it did not detract in my opinion. I got the Amber color, and it is pleasant to look at. I would have given it a 10, but I think the blind cap color/opacity is different enough to detract. As well, the clip is matte, but the rest of the metal is not. That struck me odd. 8 out of 10


TWSBI Section.JPG


Construction and Quality – As with the 540, this is a solid feeling pen. There are no seams I could see, nor any blemishes. Everything screws in as it should and the vac system feels solid and works well. If it is like my other TWSBI, a drop onto concrete won’t hurt it. 10 out 10

Weight and Dimensions – This is a solid pen. It may not take the manliness title as per a previous thread, but it is not small. Slightly longer than its 540 cousin, this is not a pen for those wanting a small pen. It is fine with me, so I give it a 10 out of 10.

Nib and Performance – It uses a steel nib; mine was purchased in medium. Like the medium nib in my 540, it is quite smooth and a pleasure to write with. This nib, however, is drier. Not enough to complain, but present. No flex of course. I filled it with Noodler’s Antietam and so far, writes well on different papers I have around. It should make a fine, all around every day pen. I’ll deduct one point as it is not as readily changeable as the 540’s nib. 9 out 10. Below is a shot of the 700 and 540 nibs.


540 and 700 Nibs B.jpg


On a side note with regards to having the blind cap screwed down or not and posting, I have learned that when the blind cap is screwed down, a finite amount of ink is left in the feed. But in this position, the pen is more immune to pressure changes and is ideal for air travel and such. Leaving the blind cap screwed off the threads keeps the feed open to the entire barrel of ink. This would be ideal for writing reams. I have gone up to one page of 8.6X11 without any issues; I’ll report later as I write more.

The cap also posts. Unlike the 540, it posts on the body of the pen, so there is no worry about affecting the seal by inadvertently twisting the posted cap.
Filling System and Maintenance – The vacuum system works flawlessly. As you press down on the plunger, the rubber seal reaches a belled area of the body and come down quickly. This creates the vacuum that then draws in about 1.1 ml of ink. If you want to fill it up completely, you have to use a technique I have seen used with other similar vac fillers where the air is pushed out by pressing in on the blind cap, inserting the nib into the ink, then completing the plunge (and avoiding hitting the ink well with the nib). I have done this and filled it almost completely.


500 and 700 Posted.jpg


TWSBI gives you a wrench, a small vial of silicon oil, and two extra o-rings for the portion containing the blind cap. With all this information, I’d give it more than 10 if I could. 10 out of 10

Cost and Value – I got this straight from TWSBI for 85 USD. It came in the fabulous TWSBI package made famous earlier and included the wrench, silicon oil, and two o-rings. When considering other fountain pens of similar filling systems, you have to stick mainly to vintage if you want to keep the price down in the same level. I am talking Parker vacumatics, Sheaffer snorkels, Parker 51s, and so on. While these pens are quite nice in their own right, the Vac 700 is easier to maintain (no sacs or pellets) and, in my opinion, sturdier. At this price level and performance, I’d have to give it a 10 out of 10.

Conclusion – This is a nice pen. The amber color is pleasing to me, its writing ability meets expectations, and I love the filling system. I do a lot of writing for my work, so I really use my fountain pens. I run my pens through rotation, but this one will be out longer than the others. Mostly because I’ll take it places I would not want to put my favorite 51 or snorkel into.


TWSBI Vac.jpg


So my final rating would be 57 out of 60. Is this rating high compared to maybe a nice Maki style fountain pen from Platinum? Nope. I am not rating this pen against it. This is an everyday pen, and a fine one at that.

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#2 cnjackson

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:17

Thanks for this great review--your post makes the 700 all the more tempting to me (though I think I'd like the clear demonstrator)!

Chris

#3 Fabienne

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:27

Great review. Gives me a great idea of what this one is like. Alas, you say that there is no flex with the nib and that is what I liked about the 540. Not that it is a flex nib (it's not really) but there is some give, that there is a good feel with paper, that is what I love about the 540. Did you say whether this is a Bock nib? the rest of the stuff is nice but...it's the nib for me.


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#4 Amandaa

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:50

Is just me or is this "amber" and the diamond 530 different? All the photos of this one appear to be darker to me.

#5 drav

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:55

I believe it is a Bock nib. Something I read earlier pointed to that. But you do have to realize that flex can be subjective. I get some line variation with pressure, but this is not Namiki Soft Medium. I bet that with a brass shim, it would be wetter before too long.

All the best,

Dan

#6 drav

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:01

Is just me or is this "amber" and the diamond 530 different? All the photos of this one appear to be darker to me.


I do not have a 540 in amber, but even the pictures in their website seem to indicate that the 540 is a wee bit lighter than the 700. My lighting was natural, and all I know is that each time I went to take a picture, it clouded up. My eyes would say that the real color is an orangish amber, as opposed to the pictures that are reddish amber.

Still, I think it is a nice color, and as I indicated, I do not own a similar color, so I do enjoy it.

Cheers!

Dan

#7 kriskhang

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:10

I've been looking at TWSBI's while keeping one hand close to the purchase button and the other hand close by to slap it away since I know that if I buy one, I will want the other filling system as well...Now I'd better let the "hand of reason" go on a short break!

#8 Amandaa

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:45

Thanks Dan! It is a nice color.

#9 Rhincodon

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:40

Thanks so much for the review! Especially since it was so recently released.

Do you know if the nibs of the 540 and the Vac 700 are interchangeable at all? As in, if you popped out the nib+feed from the housing, would it fit in the other pen?
I'll come up with something eventually.

#10 terminal

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:43

Good call on the clip, I hadn't notcied that
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#11 vistafan

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 13:24

Thanks for the great review. I'm really tempted by it now, but the dryness of the nib puts me off.

#12 drav

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 13:31

Thanks so much for the review! Especially since it was so recently released.

Do you know if the nibs of the 540 and the Vac 700 are interchangeable at all? As in, if you popped out the nib+feed from the housing, would it fit in the other pen?


That is a question I can't answer. The 700 nib is larger, so I am not sure it would fit into a 540. The reverse would mean that the 540 would just fall out as it would be too small. The nib section comes off just like that of the 540, so I think you could swap out different 700 nibs.

Lastly, I read that it is the same nib on the Micarta, so I imagine swapping between these would work out?

Regards,
Dan

#13 drav

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 13:36

Thanks for the great review. I'm really tempted by it now, but the dryness of the nib puts me off.


I imagine a little work with a brass shim would change all that! I am going to use it for a while before I make that determination.

That said, I have found a decent deal of variation in TWSBI nibs. The original on my 540 (fine) could not put down a consistent line to save its life and I sold it to someone who works on nibs. The second one, a medium, would write all day beautifully with Noodler's bulletproof. My last nib (broad) wrote so wet that the pen had a difficult time supplying enough ink.

Good luck on deciding!

Dan

#14 Vincent1278

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 14:55

Is that a #6 nib? I'd have to find a replacement from a vintage pen. That steel one just doesn't do it for me
Regards,

Vince

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#15 leod

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 15:56

Is just me or is this "amber" and the diamond 530 different? All the photos of this one appear to be darker to me.


I do not have a 540 in amber, but even the pictures in their website seem to indicate that the 540 is a wee bit lighter than the 700. My lighting was natural, and all I know is that each time I went to take a picture, it clouded up. My eyes would say that the real color is an orangish amber, as opposed to the pictures that are reddish amber.

Still, I think it is a nice color, and as I indicated, I do not own a similar color, so I do enjoy it.


all the pics i've seen so far is that the 700 is darker (reddish) then the 540 (yellowish). It would be nice to see both color side by side.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing

#16 Amandaa

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 17:31

I'd love to see a side by side as well. To me the vac color seems a more true "amber" and the 540 looks more orange.

#17 drav

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:27

Is that a #6 nib? I'd have to find a replacement from a vintage pen. That steel one just doesn't do it for me



It is a Bock nib, and if I remember correctly, it is a #6. I just don't have the reference. Same as the Micarta though.'

If you don't mind me asking, how do you do the replacement?

Best regards,

Dan

#18 fncll

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 01:39

Thanks for a nicely detailed review. I now officially can't wait to get mine!
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#19 Chi Town

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 02:36

Nice Review, but as it was said earlier the dryness is a concern as I had that problem with my micarta. Even though Philip took 1st class care of me and my pen, it now writes beautifully as it should.

Mike

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#20 Drinky

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 05:29

I...I must have this pen.






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