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Lamy Safari Al-Star


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13 replies to this topic

#1 WMD

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:09

If anybody read my welcome thread a while back, you'd know that I got into fountain pens when I stole my mom's Sheaffer calligraphy pen. She ended up not caring, but I wanted my own, something without the italic nib (didn't go well with my small handwriting). So, enter the Safari Al-Star. Now, I may have some things wrong here because I don't entirely know what to look for, but I'll give it a shot.

This pen is basically a slightly more expensive (I got it for $31.50) version of the Safari made out of aluminum. It matches, almost perfectly, the color of my Apple PowerBook G4, which I'm quite happy about. biggrin.gif It's very classy looking, considering its price class.

Compared to what I read about the regular Safari, the Al-Star is noticeably heavy compared to typical ballpoint/roller pens, and my mom's Sheaffer NoNonsense. Sometimes I use it with the cap detached to make it lighter. At that end, the pen is long enough that my hand doesn't touch the cap when writing with it - I have pretty small hands.

The nib size is Extra Fine. I write small, and somebody here told me that Lamy nibs tend to run big, so I got the smallest nib offered. Well, I think this guideline skips over the Safari - this is certainly Extra Fine. In fact, I had to readjust for size because the Sheaffer had me writing slightly larger than normal. It writes fine enough for me to do math with it (writing tiny exponents...not easy). Perhaps a Fine would've been optimal for normal writing, but I can live with this. (Probably saves ink too.) It seems to write somewhat dry, but I don't have much to compare it to.

What I am noticing so far is that the nib appears to be a bit rough and scratchy. Hopefully, this is just a "breaking in" thing that will go away. Even if it didn't, it's not too bad, but not optimal.

The only real problem I've had with it is ink flow. Although the flow is steady while I write - no cutting out - if I leave the pen uncapped for more than 10 seconds (!!!), it stops writing and I have to play with it for a while (sometimes up to a minute) to get it flowing again. The obvious solution is to always cap it, but...ten seconds? If it matters, I didn't clean it before I popped in the first cartridge - but I also don't recall it happening right away. I got it this past Tuesday, and it started yesterday (Wednesday).

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied. It's not perfect, but many of these "issues" can probably be overcome with some time and getting used to it. This ink flow thing is annoying, though. Unfortunately, I don't have a camera so I don't have any pictures or handwriting samples to show. If I ever get a hold of one, I'll add those.

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#2 JRodriguez

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 08:38

I also had an ink flow problem with my first Al-Star. It was a fine nib. Like you I also first used a cartridge, but mine pen skipped and dried out right away. I ended up getting a Lamy converter and used it to flush the pen a number of times with soapy water, then I used the converter filled with waterman black and the pen wrote great - at least I think that was the ink I used. As for the scratchiness of the xf nib, I honestly don't know how Lamy extra fine nibs write. It certainly oughtn't be horribly scratchy though. The problems you're experiencing aren't things that you should have to get used to. Honestly, if the problem with the ink flow persists, I would recommend that you return the pen, especially if you purchased it from a B&M store. Good luck.

#3 jsonewald

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 12:51

The EF nib can feel less smooth than the broader nibs. It is more sensitive to the quality and surface of the paper. The ink can make difference in smoothness also.

However, drying out in 10 seconds seems a little unusual. I have 6 of them always inked, and none behave that way. Safaris and AL Stars are notable for being extremely reliable. This one may just need to be adjusted, or it may be faulty. If the pen can be returned, that would be my first choice.

#4 djuna

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 14:38

I'm the happy owner of an Al-Star, and I would say you might be better off getting a converter and using bottled ink, or at least using the converter and flushing it well--I've only used bottled ink with mine, and have had no flow problems or drying out. I'm not sure why this is, maybe using cartidges doesn't allow the feed to become fully saturated with ink the way using a converter does.
The extra fine nib can be a bit toothy at first, but mine seemed to smooth out considerably with use--in fact, I have a new Studio (same nib) that I'm "breaking in", and it should get better fairly quickly for you. If not, send it back to Lamy, I'm sure they'll make it right.

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#5 HDoug

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 18:17

QUOTE(WMD @ Feb 7 2007, 10:09 PM)
...It matches, almost perfectly, the color of my Apple PowerBook G4, which I'm quite happy about. biggrin.gif  It's very classy looking, considering its price class.

My thoughts exactly...

Doug



#6 WMD

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 18:22

QUOTE(jsonewald @ Feb 8 2007, 07:51 AM)
However, drying out in 10 seconds seems a little unusual. I have 6 of them always inked, and none behave that way. Safaris and AL Stars are notable for being extremely reliable. This one may just need to be adjusted, or it may be faulty. If the pen can be returned, that would be my first choice.

I just tried actually timing it, and it was still working after three minutes. I hope this was a fluke.

As for converters...my current plan is to use the 10 cartridges I bought, and then buy a bottle and refill the cartridges with an inkjet refill kit syringe. I'll consider doing otherwise if the pen keeps drying out like it was yesterday.

QUOTE(JRodriguez)
As for the scratchiness of the xf nib, I honestly don't know how Lamy extra fine nibs write. It certainly oughtn't be horribly scratchy though.

Nah, it's not too terrible. Even if it stayed just like this, I wouldn't return it for that alone.

#7 *david*

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 19:14

I think Safari nibs are a good design but not perfectly consistent. I bought an extra fine that worte great and was not scratchy at all. Then I bought a fine, and it was scratchy and dry. I took it back, said, "Could I get a different nib for this", and the second one was much better.

#8 AlejoPlay

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 19:41

My Safari Medium Nib has some tooth. With LAMY or Waterman Ink it gives the impression of writing with a felt tip. The Waterman ink gives it a nicer flow.

My Al-Star has a glassy smooth nib and it skates across the page with no resistance at all.

I like having both. I keep meaning to put Waterman Brown in the Safari (it's a charcoal). But I have to order it online--Art Brown has no Waterman Brown in stock.

#9 Dillo

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 19:44

Hi,

Lamy ink is somewhat temperamental, so I don't recommend leaving your pen uncapped for too long.

Dillon

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#10 Renzhe

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 07:24

The T10 ink that came with my Safari (Hi aunt rebecca!) was very dry writing. I switched to Private Reserve American Blue and it's much wetter. The ink's the thing.

Also, after I switched, the EF nib wrote like a F so this is another case where Lamy nibs run wide.

Edited by Renzhe, 16 February 2007 - 07:27.

Renzhe

#11 scotthershall

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 02:02

I'm getting back into FPs after a few years away...

I just picked up a medium nib Safari (I have an Al Star with fine nib on it's way to me from Pear Tree Pens... I was near a B/M and I just couldn't help myself) while on business in Richmond, VA. The B/M (Paradise Pens) where I got the pen was having a sale so they were sold out of the converters so I decided to get two packs of blue T10s.

I have four types of paper at my disposal in my hotel room: Gold Fibre Ivory Retro legal pad (20lb), Gold Fibre canary legal pad, Ampad glue top canary legal pad, a Staples brand 5x8 canary legal pad, Staples white recycled copy paper, and some cheap hotel paper.

I also have a Pilot Varsity I have been using for the past two weeks. The Pilot writes fine on all the legal pads and copy paper, but feathers like crazy on the cheap hotel paper.

The Lamy skips and is very dry on the legal pads, but writes fine on the copy paper and the cheap hotel paper. The Lamy seems to do the worst on the 20lb Ivory paper. The legal pads to marginally better when a single sheet is torn out of the pad and placed on a hard surface.

I definitely feel the difference in the nibs of the Varsity and the Safari, but the Pilot ink is superior in my option. I have some Noodler's Ottoman Azure on the way with the Al Star. I hope the Noodler's writes better.

As a side note, while I was at the store I got to write on some Rhodia paper with a medium Safari inked with a Private Reserve brown ink... it was as close to writing nirvana as I have ever been.

Scott

Edited by scotthershall, 01 April 2007 - 02:03.


#12 GirchyGirchy

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 14:01

I have a green Al-Star with a medium nib, and while I enjoy how it writes, it does seem to dry up somewhat quickly. I've tried it with two inks already, and it's done the same with both. I can leave many of my pens unused for a week or two and they're fine, but the Al-Star seems to want to be used at least once every other day or so to keep the nib inked.

#13 scotthershall

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 00:31

Update: I got a Al-star with a find nib and a bottle of Noodler's Ottoman Azure this past weekend. It writes much better on all paper types. I'm guessing the problem is the ink... I thought Lamy would have don't a better job with it's ink. I'm waiting for a converter for the Vista so I can test my theory out.

Maybe it just took a while for the medium nib to "break in," but the find nib wrote well right out of the box.

Scott




#14 Arkanabar

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 20:19

I have a Safari with a converter, but I never use that to flush it. It takes too long. Instead, I get a glass, fill it with water, remove the nib/section unit and, holding it point down, dunk it in the water to fill it, then blow the water out the point. If I was having the sort of flow and drying problems you are, I might use a very weak solution of water and liquid soap for this.

Do this over a sink or in the bath.

If I recall correctly, Lamy ink comes from Mont Blanc, not generally regarded highly for their ink.






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