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Huashilai A053


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#1 richardandtracy

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 14:09

This is a review of the Amber & Black Huashilai A053 Pen.

This pen is obviously inspired by the Parker Duofold Centennial and/or the Kaigelu 316. Due to the quality of the pen, I shall only really compare it with the Kaigelu 316 during this review. It does not rate a comparison with the Duofold Centennial.
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I have only seen it described as an A053 on the Keda Pens web site ( http://huashilai.en.alibaba.com/ ). Keda Pens seem to own the Huashilai brand.

Initial Impressions
The first impression when opening the outer packaging and slipping off the velveteen sleeve was 'Ooh, this is quite nice'. The pen had cost £3.56, of which £0.61 (US$0.99) was the pen, and the rest was postage, so a response of 'quite nice' was almost more than expected.
The pen cap is plain black, the barrel of a black & amber acrylic and the finials are black. Quite posh looking, and very similar to the Kaigelu 316 in many ways.
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Once I got it in my paw, the thing that struck me most was the weight. I think of the Duofold as a heavy pen at 35g, the K316 is 46g when inked, and this one feels to have the same heft as the Kaigelu. Why is it so heavy? After taking the cap and barrel off, the answer was immediately obvious. Huashilai used solid brass finials at the end of the cap and barrel, and the body of the cap is painted brass too. This gives extra weight, but not really in useful positions. The cap posts slightly lower than the K316, but due to the brass cap being so heavy and so far back from the nib when posted, the centre of gravity is only just below the flesh between thumb & fore finger on my large hand. While the nib is not trying to flip up off the paper when the pen is posted, it doesn't feel as if it it's far off. With a small/delicate hand you are likely to find it unbalanced when posted, with the nib trying to lift off the page.

Having talked about the weight, I suppose I should give the dimensions and weight:


Dimensions
The sizes and weight are as below:
Length Capped: 142mm (K316 136.5mm)
Length Uncapped: 121mm (K316 126mm)
Length Posted: 172mm (K316 177mm)
Barrel Diameter: 12.60mm (K316 12.92mm)
Cap Diameter: 15.10mm (K316 15.02mm)
Weight: 50g , cap 21g (K316 46g)

Construction
The overall quality of fit and finish is adequate, not great. The painted cap and finials are well painted giving a smooth surface. The barrel finial is turned with a tiny, sharp, step on the corner of the finial. This has an unfortunate consequence, it allows the paint to wear off easily on the corner of the finial and in the month I've had the pen, it has worn off to produce a copper coloured ring.

The gold coloured furniture on the pen is probably not plated (given the pen's price), just covered in yellow coloured laquer in the same way as my Leonardo was. In a month of use this laquer has started to chip away and show the silver coloured base metal below on the clip and cap rings. It's acually showing more wear after a month than the year old K316.

The clip, cap rings and cap finial seem identical to the K316, with the noted exception of the finish.

The barrel is an acrylic tube, with a gold coloured threaded insert pressed & glued in at the section end and the finial glued in at the other end. The acrylic is well polished.

Due to the semi-transparent nature of the amber part of the acrylic, it is possible to see the silver coloured c/c and gold coloured barrel thread insert through the barrel. This is peculiar and I'm not too keen on it. This does slightly detract from the overall looks of the pen, but it's not a major issue.

The c/c is a piston c/c, of average quality, and it screws in. The c/c has no spring or ball in it to break the surface tension.

The nib is sharply engraved and the bi-coloured plating accurately stops at the edge of the engraving. This is precision work, and better than on my Duofold International.
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The cap clicks over an extended diameter ring at the base of the section. This is not accurately guided over the section and it is possible for a step at the barrel thread insert to jam up on the cap lip, preventing the pen from clicking shut properly.


Durability
As noted, after a month of use, plating and paint wear is noticable. Conclusion: Poor.


Writing with the Pen
I have already mentioned one major problem of writing with the pen. This is the high centre of gravity when posted. For me, it's not a problem, as I don't like posting, however it may be a problem for some. The barrel is long enough to write moderately comfortably with my hands (I take 'Extra Large' gloves) when unposted, as I do with the K316 and Centennial. I am not convinced I really like the weight of the big brass finial pressing down on the flesh between my thumb & fore finger, and that's the only reason I said 'moderately comfortably' and not 'comfortably'. In this respect it's not much different from the K316. However, there is something about the solidity of the feel of the K316 that this pen doesn't have. I cannot put my finger on it, but it just doesn't feel quite as nice.

The writing with the nib is not inspiring, it's just a run-of-the-mill writing instrument. The nib, as it comes out of the box, is usable and well aligned, not particularly smooth or rough. It's just there... As stated by Huashilai, it is a Medium. Possibly a shade on the fine side for a UK user (it's a US medium).

When writing with the pen, it is quite nice to write with. I find I can write all day with pens under 25g, almost regardless of the section design. However for pens heavier than 25g, the section design must be good for me to be able to write all day with them. This pen's section is a little large in diameter for me, but some may find it very pleasant. It is larger than the K316 here. Due to the reasonable section shape, despite it's weight, it can be used for a large part of a day before the weight becomes an issue.

The nib is stiff, however there is a small hint of flex, but you need to press hard to get it, and that ends up being tiring. The feed copes well when the nib is flexed - and could probably cope with a tweaked nib to make it flow better.

One real irritant with the pen is the cap click mechanism. I always put the cap back on after a few seconds of rest from writing. After a large part of the day, a significant amount of ink is either sprayed by the click or sucked into the cap on removal. This ALWAYS gets on my hands. Not wildly impressed with this.


Value for Money
I got the pen for £3.56 inc postage.
Now to the real point. Was it Value for Money?
Good question. The pen is quite well made & moderately pretty. It is similar in size to the Duofold Centennial and K316, and much cheaper than either. However, due to its durability limitations I'd say you'd be better off getting a K316 instead, despite the fact that the K316 will cost you at least 4x as much.

In general terms, it is a better pen for the money than any western pen I know. This is a sweeping statement, however it is a reasonable pen at a marvellous price, despite the fact it's not as good value as a K316.


Conclusion
This is a run of the mill pen at a good price. You would be better off getting a K316, but if your budget is stretched to nearly breaking point, this will do the job quite competantly.

I hope this is useful,


Regards,

Richard.








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#2 lovemy51

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 06:20

great review, richard! i was very close to buying one. i think i'll follow your advise and stick with the K's. thanx.






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