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Review Of The Pilot Custom 823 F Nib


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19 replies to this topic

#1 xuan87

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 15:59

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INTRODUCTION: I was attracted to the Custom 823's plunger filler but I had a tough choice choosing among the 3 colors available, smoke, amber and clear. In the end, I chose smoke because it was not only the cheapest, but because I heard that it's limited in number ( not sure if that's true or not). The pen came in a nice padded box AND a bottle of black Pilot ink.

1. Appearance & Design (7/10) – The pen has a typical torpedo pen body with gold bands. The smoke body is slightly transparent. It's a really attractive design and a nice deviation from the usual black and gold design. The gold band around the bottom of the pen cap has “PILOT MADE IN JAPAN *** CUSTOM 823 ***” engraved on it in black. The only regret that I have with getting the smoke design is the it's hard seeing the level of ink left in the barrel especially if you filled it with black ink. I have a feeling that the amber and the clear (duh~) pens will allow you to look at the ink level more easily. Another design that people really like is that when the back cap is screwed in completely, the plunger cuts off the ink supply to the feed, reducing ink leakage. When you want to write, just unscrew the back cap and allow the ink flow to resume. While that seems really practical, I don't like it for a couple of reasons: The place I'm at can get really cold, so my nibs tend to get dry out and clogged easily. I found that if I completely screwed in the cap, the nib tends to be hard to start up and the the ink flow becomes irregular. Ink flow doesn't resume completely because of air bubbles trapped in the barrel. Hence, my back cap is forever uncapped unless I have to make a long distance trip with the pen. I would have prefer the pen without that feature or at least, make a variant of the pen without that feature available.

2. Construction & Quality (10/10) – There's nothing much to comment here, as the quality is top-notched. A perfect 10.

3. Weight & Dimensions (10/10) – I will classify this pen as a full-size pen and when empty, it's surprisingly light for a pen of that size. However, when the pen is fully filled, it has a nice heft to it. Hence, the heaviest part of the pen is somewhere in the middle, where the ink is stored in the barrel. I find it to be perfectly balanced and the size to be just right. Again, a perfect 10.

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4. Nib & Performance (16/20) – The nib is a 14K gold, one tone Fine nib. What I like about the nib is that it's huge! Hence, it really looks good on the pen. When I first got the pen, the nib didn't really write well; It was hard to start, it occasionally skipped, and the flow was irregular. After a while, I realized it was caused by ink drying up in the feed due to a lack of ink flow caused by the plunger. When the nib writes properly, the nib is a dream to use. It flexes slightly as well but I won't call it a full flex nib. It's a Japanese Fine nib and I will say that the actual line laid down is in between an Extra-Fine and Fine. I can't give the nib a perfect score because of the occasional problems it gives me.

5. Filling System & Maintenance (8/10) – The pen is a plunger filler and the main reason why I bought this pen. You'll only get about a 60% fill on the 1st try but if you fill it once or twice more with the nib still immersed in the ink, you can get up to 85%-90%. That means you get almost as much ink as if the pen is an eyedropper. However, I found that it is almost impossible to fully clean the pen. Firstly, the nib and feed can be removed with a simple tug, and the barrel can be screwed out and the body interior scrubbed or cleaned with a cotton bud. However, the cotton bud can’t reach the ink stain behind the plunger. The only way to remove that ink stain is to use a ultrasonic cleaner. Lastly I've read that cracks can develop in the barrel if you repeatedly unscrewed the barrel so please take note.

6. Cost & Value (9/10) – I bought this pen for $255 on ebay and you might be able to get it cheaper if you're patient and bid on it. For that price, you get a great pen and a bottle of ink to start you off. If anyone is looking for a workhorse pen that can hold a ton of ink, and you'll feel safe bringing with you on long distance trips, this pen is perfect for you. I can't give this pen a perfect in this section because there are other pens in this price range that write better.

7. Conclusion (Final score, 60/70) – This is a pen that comes loaded with features and I think it's a pen worth looking into if you need them. I won't get this pen for its nib but if you need a pen with a huge ink capacity, this is one pen that you should seriously consider. Personally, I find the plunger filling mechanism to be tedious to use and maintain and I probably won't buy another plunger filler in the future.
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#2 mongrelnomad

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 16:20

Thanks for a great review. :thumbup:

I disagree about the plunger - it's one of my fave filling systems. But my nib too was not the greatest...

IMO An undersung great...

Edited by mongrelnomad, 20 July 2012 - 17:44.

Too many pens; too little writing.

#3 terminal

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 16:49

Very interesting review.

The ink blocking plunger setting is interesting. There's another thread going on 'modern safety pens' (which is meant to be about retractable nibs I think) but this is an interesting aside.

Too bad it doesn't work very well! lol

So my question to you is: does the nib really deserve a low rating, or is that low(ered) rating all related to the filling system?
"One always looking for flaws leaves too little time for construction" ...

#4 xuan87

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 06:49

Thanks for a great review. :thumbup:

I disagree about the plunger - it's one of my fave filling systems. But my nib too was not the greatest...

IMO An undersung great...


I can certainly understand why you will like the plunger though there are some design flaws about it that I don't like. I won't go into too much details here but I hope to do a short article soon about my opinions of the different filling systems available today.

Very interesting review.

The ink blocking plunger setting is interesting. There's another thread going on 'modern safety pens' (which is meant to be about retractable nibs I think) but this is an interesting aside.

Too bad it doesn't work very well! lol

So my question to you is: does the nib really deserve a low rating, or is that low(ered) rating all related to the filling system?


Thinking about it, there are a few design flaws that contribute to the nib skipping. For one, the cap isn't airtight, hence ink left in the feed dried up too quickly, resulting in the nib not starting up perfectly. For another, when the backcap is fully closed. the plunger will stopper the ink feed, preventing ink from flowing to the feed. Hence, this makes it easier for the ink in the feed to dry up. Even when the backcap is unscrewed fully, the plunger is still partially blocking the feed, so ink flow is still bad. Since all these directly affect the writing experience, I decide to just deduct the points from the nib section.
Please check out my blogshop for fountain pens and inks at http://inkoholicanonymous.blogspot.com/ Reviews of my pens can be found there too!

#5 Ytland

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 08:13

Wow, thanks for that great review! I also had (and reviewed :P ) this pen in the past. I was initially very impressed with it, but with use I noticed that the balance was quite off for my hand both posted and unposted, resulting in some pretty bad hand fatigue even when writing lightly. The screw valve was also really annoying for notetaking and it seemed pretty picky about inks. The only think going for it really was the MASSIVE ink capacity, so I decided to find it a new home.

My current workhorse is an M605 with a super fine, super smooth nib I ground myself. It fits real nice in the hand and the balance and weight is perfect... It makes me wonder why I put up with the 823 for so long before selling it off.

Jack.

Express Nib Grinding Down Under at AUSSIE PEN REPAIR
Email: aussiepenrepair@gmail.com

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#6 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 19:52

It is filling system is clearly inspired from the sheaffer balance.A good nib indeed but nothing stellar.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#7 Inkling13

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Posted 15 December 2013 - 22:57

I can certainly understand why you will like the plunger though there are some design flaws about it that I don't like. I won't go into too much details here but I hope to do a short article soon about my opinions of the different filling systems available today.



Thinking about it, there are a few design flaws that contribute to the nib skipping. For one, the cap isn't airtight, hence ink left in the feed dried up too quickly, resulting in the nib not starting up perfectly. For another, when the backcap is fully closed. the plunger will stopper the ink feed, preventing ink from flowing to the feed. Hence, this makes it easier for the ink in the feed to dry up. Even when the backcap is unscrewed fully, the plunger is still partially blocking the feed, so ink flow is still bad. Since all these directly affect the writing experience, I decide to just deduct the points from the nib section.

Figured I would add my 2cents here. The issue with the starving nib is inherent to this filling style, but Pilot has mentioned on stickers that come with the pen to unscrew it 2mm to allow ink flow, nothing like what the picture in the post shows. Danitrios have this feature too, because with such a large reservoir of ink, there is always the danger of it burping in transit, and shutting it off, is the surest way to prevent it. 



#8 oronet commander

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 10:24

Great review, that collects my impressions exactly. I was very worried about the random skipping of mine and was thinking about nib "baby bottom". I must check if leaving the bottom screw always open it totally disappears...



#9 mikehodgman

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 13:12

Hmmmmmm.  This is a pen I was going to get soon.  Is it like the TWSBI Vac 700 where you have to unscrew the top section to ensure ink flow?  I don't want to get a pen that skips.  I was going to send it off to get a stub as well... 



#10 oronet commander

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 13:38

Is it like the TWSBI Vac 700 where you have to unscrew the top section to ensure ink flow?

 

It is indeed. When closed, the piston closes the way to the feed to seal the pen.



#11 parnesh

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 21:49

I have a 823 with an M nib. While I have only used the pen with pilot ink (that comes with the pen), I have not noticed and skipping, hard starts etc.

 

I typically keep the plunger open about 2 mm at the start of the day.



#12 Inkling13

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 01:28

I have a 823 with an M nib. While I have only used the pen with pilot ink (that comes with the pen), I have not noticed and skipping, hard starts etc.

 

I typically keep the plunger open about 2 mm at the start of the day.

I didn't think that skipping and hard starts would be the case, especially for one of Pilot's more expensive pens. I will try to remember to report back when I receive mine in a few weeks. 



#13 parnesh

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 03:53

I didn't think that skipping and hard starts would be the case, especially for one of Pilot's more expensive pens. I will try to remember to report back when I receive mine in a few weeks. 

 

 

If the plunger is closed then yes this happens. You run out of ink after about a page (milage various depending on feed saturation). 



#14 Inkling13

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 04:15

 

 

If the plunger is closed then yes this happens. You run out of ink after about a page (milage various depending on feed saturation). 

But that's like driving your car with the parking brakes on. It's not as much an engineering issue as it is a user malfunction. There is a reason why most pens don't exceed 2.2ml without burping issues, or ink spilling during transit. 



#15 parnesh

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 04:58

But that's like driving your car with the parking brakes on. It's not as much an engineering issue as it is a user malfunction. There is a reason why most pens don't exceed 2.2ml without burping issues, or ink spilling during transit. 

 

 

Agreed. I really like the pen, the filling system etc. I don't use it for taking notes but for longer writing sessions it is very nice.



#16 proton007

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:50

But that's like driving your car with the parking brakes on. It's not as much an engineering issue as it is a user malfunction. There is a reason why most pens don't exceed 2.2ml without burping issues, or ink spilling during transit. 

 

My theory is that with 2.2 ml of ink, the pressure created in the barrel, just by the weight of the ink, is high. The piston works to control this pressure.

I'll be receiving one soon, its in the mail.

It seems in this case, reading the manual is important!


Edited by proton007, 17 December 2013 - 09:52.

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#17 Acer

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 11:12

Hi all,

 

I've had a Pilot 823 with a Medium nib for a couple of years & also suffer from ink skipping issues even with the plunger open at the ~ 2 mm recommended. Was thinking of sending it away to be looked at but from this message it seems to be an inherent problem. Maybe shutting the plunger when not in use leads to ink drying in the feed & partial blockage?

 

Pity as I otherwise find the pen comfortable & easy to fill.

 

Cheers,

 

Michael


Edited by Acer, 17 December 2013 - 11:12.


#18 proton007

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 12:18

Hi all,

 

I've had a Pilot 823 with a Medium nib for a couple of years & also suffer from ink skipping issues even with the plunger open at the ~ 2 mm recommended. Was thinking of sending it away to be looked at but from this message it seems to be an inherent problem. Maybe shutting the plunger when not in use leads to ink drying in the feed & partial blockage?

 

Pity as I otherwise find the pen comfortable & easy to fill.

 

Cheers,

 

Michael

 

Some reviews state that they did not experience any drying/skipping issues.

 

It seems some users screw the end cap everytime they stop using the pen after writing. It's not exactly needed, and will break the ink flow between the barrel and the feed.


In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts


#19 parnesh

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 12:34

 

Some reviews state that they did not experience any drying/skipping issues.

 

It seems some users screw the end cap everytime they stop using the pen after writing. It's not exactly needed, and will break the ink flow between the barrel and the feed.

Another possibility is that a member mentioned that the plunger design on the 823 has a propensity to form bubbles at the interface of the plunger and feed. Probably when the pen is inverted. This might interrupt the ink flow. 

 

I will try and find this post.



#20 proton007

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 12:52

Another possibility is that a member mentioned that the plunger design on the 823 has a propensity to form bubbles at the interface of the plunger and feed. Probably when the pen is inverted. This might interrupt the ink flow. 

 

I will try and find this post.

 

Quite possible.

 

I've also observed that Pilot's feed is longer than other pens, in general. It extends along the entire length of the holding section of the pen. In short term it can help with ink flow because a longer feed stores a lot of ink, but it won't respond to immediate demands of ink as quickly as, say, the Pelikan.

 

The usual observation is that Pilot's pens need a free flowing ink.


In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

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