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Seeking Reliability

yard-o-led london uk reliable small barrel gold nib

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#1 Abicadabra

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:25

Hello, 

I'm afraid I'm coming at this from a rather newcomer's perspective, as I only have one fountain pen to my name, but I'm really in need of help and this seems like a lovely, friendly, knowledgeable community from which to seek it! I'm afraid it's a rather long story, but I don't want to do it the injustice of not starting at the beginning.

I've always only liked writing with fountain pens, and used the same £10 Parker (Jotter) all the way through school. It seemed almost timely when it came to a sticky end just a few days after I finished my final exams. My Grandma took me to get a very lovely new pen to start medical school with. I have unusually small hands, and found that the small diameter barrel of the Jotter was rarely replicated in better pens. It sounds bizarre, I know, but I really don't like how the bulkier ones feel, and I can't control them properly. After much deliberating and traipsing between shops, I fell in love with a Yard-o-led Viceroy Pocket Barley pen. The nib was just unlike anything else I tried out - I think I really like the softness of the white gold. And it even had the lovely small barrel!

It just so happened that I really use it a huge amount. I'm studying in Cambridge, which is stuck in a bygone era, and I hand in 3-4 handwritten essays a week, as well as transcribing numerous lectures and supervisions. And I just loved it so much! It was so beautiful to write with, and such a generous gift. I loved writing with it for work and pleasure, and loved thinking of my Grandma and the continuity of only using one pen. Everyone knows me for always carrying it around in a little blue carry case. 

Unfortunately, just shy of a year, the pen started playing up. Eventually, it wouldn't ever write ink for very long, even when I cleaned it out in all the ordinary ways. I took it to the shop I got it from who agreed that something wasn't right, and we sent it back. Yard-o-led returned it some weeks later, and it seemed back to normal. A few months later, it happened again. I sent it back. And then it happened again. This time, I was eager to get in touch with them, but they're very hard to contact. I was frustrated that this unusual and generous expenditure was not working as it should, and I didn't know if I was doing something wrong. Eventually, when I got through (by writing longhand and sending it to the repairs address), it turned out that the main brothers are profoundly deaf, so cannot use a phone. Oops. 

Sobered by this, I was receptive. They said that something was, indeed, wrong and they'd replaced the nib and feeder. Yet again, it worked like a dream for the first few months. I only ever use yard-o-led cartridges that I buy off the filofax website, and I use the pen every day. I don’t press hard when I write, and I never let anyone else use it. Over the last few weeks it’s began to play up on occasion. Sometimes it just needed to be left alone for a few minutes, nib down. Sometimes, washing it through with the converter until it ran clear and then putting in a new cartridge did the trick. It’s got increasingly common, and eventually stopped in the middle of some writing. I washed it through 5 times, with increasingly warm water. Each time the same thing happened: it ran inky and I kept going until it’s clear. Then it flows across the page nicely with a very dilute, watery mark, and as soon as the water runs out it stops again. I’ve tried several different cartridges, and left it over night, but all to no avail. 

Completely at a loss, and frustrated and disappointed, I e-mailed Yard-o-led yet again. I said that, with a heavy heart, unless they had other suggestions, a refund would perhaps be the best option if they were prepared to offer it. My £10 Parker was infinitely more reliable, albeit so much less a work of craftsmanship and lovely to write with.They were eminently lovely:

"I am the manager of Yard O Led and I am so sorry you are still experiencing problems with your pen. I can asure you we are just as frustrated as you with the quality issues we have been experiencing not just with your pen. I can assure you it is not something you are doing wrong. I have in the past returned nibs to the manufacturer to see if they can solve this kind of problem and unfortunately I have got nowhere."

This seems to suggest that I'm not the only case they've had. Has anyone else come across this problem with Yard-o-led? Anyway, John offered me a replacement nib unit, but later that day the director got in touch and offered me a full refund.

I've spoken to my grandma and she feels that it would be entirely appropriate to get the refund and go out to buy another pen from a different, more reliable brand. But I just wanted to do some research first, which brought me here amongst other places. So here are my questions:

Do you think it is worth refunding and going to another brand? Are other pens likely to be more reliable, or is this normal for a fountain pen? Should I stick it out and try a replacement nib one more time? (As an extra complication, they have none in stock so I'd have to wait some time).
Could you possibly suggest pens that have a small barrel and gold or white gold (soft) nib, for somewhere in the region of £260? It would be useful to see alternatives. I've had real trouble finding anything of this sort somewhere where I could try it out, except some vintage pens. I really do want to be able to go and try out a pen. Which brings me on to: 
Any particular recommendations of FP shops in London? (Ideally SW or central). There do seem to be several, but with my elderly Grandma I'd really rather only make one trip, and I don't know where exactly is best. I'm not quite sure enough what I'm looking for.
And with Vintage pens: I've heard so much that you mustn't let others write with your FP. I can't find anywhere clearly explained - how is this overcome with vintage pens? Are they any less pliable to write with, rather than collect?

Sorry about the Essay. 

Best Wishes

 

Abi

 



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#2 Inkling13

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:29

It might be that your ink is slowly precipitating in your pen, resulting in decreasing flow. Sounds like what ever is happening, is happening fairly regularly. I couldn't say what causes it, but have you tried a US cleaner? If a pen wrote well out of the box, it should stay that way unless something was building up in it. Usually, a new pen will have issues from manufacturing show up in the first use, and issues from your end of things come up down the road. 

If you are looking for reliability, Pilot is a good brand, as I've blindly bought pens by them unseen and have always been satisfied. 



#3 Abicadabra

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:36

It might be that your ink is slowly precipitating in your pen, resulting in decreasing flow. Sounds like what ever is happening, is happening fairly regularly. I couldn't say what causes it, but have you tried a US cleaner? If a pen wrote well out of the box, it should stay that way unless something was building up in it. Usually, a new pen will have issues from manufacturing show up in the first use, and issues from your end of things come up down the road. 

If you are looking for reliability, Pilot is a good brand, as I've blindly bought pens by them unseen and have always been satisfied. 

 

Thank you, that's very interesting: it's not something that Yard-o-led have ever mentioned in my (extensive!) communication with them. Can I be terribly ignorant and ask what a US cleaner is? Googling it hasn't helped me much. I'm assuming it's not just a cleaner from America? 


Edited by Abicadabra, 12 February 2014 - 01:42.


#4 doggonecarl

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 01:58

Get a Pilot Cavalier and save yourself 200 pounds.

#5 Sasha Royale

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:02

Sorry to learn of your plight.  Which ink are you using ?   If flushing were more convenient,

pen owners would flush more often. 

 

fpn_1357109297__earbulbs.jpg

 

I have no experience with Yard-o-Lead, but the vintage Parker 45 served me through secondary

school, college, and a Navy ocean deployment.  The Parker 45 is rather slender, too.  I have also

had good results with the slender Reform 1745, though I have not given it extended use. 

 

Good luck.


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#6 J English Smith

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:49

There are a lot of good semi-vintage pens that have thin barrels - the Aurora Hastil and original Montblanc Noblesse come to mind. Both of these are very solid, no nonsense sort of pens that can be found readily for under $125. And just slightly thicker, the old reliable Parker 25, a wonderful, underrated writer - cheap but good. I have not owned a Yard-O-Led product, they are beautifully finished. I wonder if your pen could be improved with nib flossing - using very thin brass shims to slightly widen the slit gap. If you love the pen, I would recommend sending it to a local nibmeister to have him work it. If not, sell it, and move on to another great pen that meets your specs.

 

And yes, Parker 45. Cheap and good. If the form factor works for you, a wide variety of finishes and nibs. Their plastics on the hood are the weak spot, but not all have the shrinkage/bowing issues. You just have to find a good one.


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#7 J English Smith

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:50

As to flushing - I use Koh-I-Nor Rapidoease. Rare that it can improve flow per se, better used to disloge old ink. A tin here in the US costs about $9.


"Most people go through life using up half their energy trying to protect a dignity they never had."
-Marlowe, in The Long Goodbye

#8 merlinsfv

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 03:06

Can I be terribly ignorant and ask what a US cleaner is? Googling it hasn't helped me much. I'm assuming it's not just a cleaner from America?
[/quote]

No, a US cleaner is not a cleaner made in America, it' an ultrasonic cleaner. Often sold for cleaning jewelery.

That is a very legitimate question, nothing ignorant about it.

#9 Edwaroth

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 03:19

Pelikan M400 or M600 works well with smaller hands.



#10 kiavonne

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 11:04

The Pelikan M400 would be closer to your price range with a gold nib, the M200 is the same size pen with a steel nib and well within your range.  These are piston fill pens.

 

I also find Pilot pens to be very reliable.  Although I prefer the slightly more stout Vanishing Point/Capless, the Decimo version of this pen may be something you could look into for a more slender version.  Cartridge/converter pens, whose proprietary cartridges are very easy to refill with bottled ink and hold more ink than their converters.  Clip placement seems to bother some, dependent upon grip, but I find it to be fine.

 

There will be more suggestions, I'm sure.

 

Welcome to FPN, Abicadabra.  


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To write is to act.
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#11 Medsen Fey

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 11:21

I have a couple of Sheaffer Targas and they have been extremely reliable as well as very smooth writers.

Edited by Medsen Fey, 12 February 2014 - 11:22.


#12 twdpens

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 11:29

Disclaimer: we have been a Yard-O-Led retailer for about 10 years now and in that time have sold a lot of Viceroy fountain pens. I wouldn't use a Yard-O-Led nib as my avatar if I didn't have confidence in the brand.

 

Before you give up on your pen, please try at least one of the following two things:

 

1. Try a different ink. I now it sounds inconceivable that Yard-O-Led cartridges won't work properly in their own pens but it's a known fact that not all pen/ink combinations work as well as others. Beg, borrow or steal some standard washable blue like Waterman, Parker or Sheaffer and fill your pen with the converter. Note that Yard-O-Led cartridges and bottled inks are made in the UK by Diamine.

 

2. Flush your nib unit with dilute ammonia solution. As a Yard-O-Led retailer we do get the occasional pen back for service and/or repair. I do recall one occasion when a customer returned a pen to have the flow increased. This was duly done but later on it displayed the characteristics you described. I checked my repair notes and I hadn't done an ammonia flush, just an ultrasonic clean (that's what US stands for, BTW). The customer returned the pen again, I cleaned it mode thoroughly the next time and it's been fine ever since. You can buy ammonia solution in branches of Homebase but use it diluted 10:1 with plain water.

 

If that fails, accept the refund.

 

HTH,

 

Martin


Edited by twdpens, 12 February 2014 - 11:30.

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#13 Buzz_130

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 11:51

If you are looking for a modern pen, the Japanese pen makers do an excellent job with completely reliable and durable pens.  I really like the Platinum #3776 series of pens with the slip and seal caps.  C/C pens with great nibs.  These have been very faithful writers and companions.  You will find many Pilot fans here as well with great inclusions like the Vanishing Point (my wife and i have one each).  I also really like the feel of the Sailor 1911; the 21k nib is probably my favorite for the Japanese makers.  

 

For the vintage, my favorite is the Parker "51."  This pen is an amazing piece of engineering and design.  Large reservoir, thin feel, great nib, and huge collector that simply allows it to write.  The "51" will push through any FP ink you can find today, and, if you get an aerometric, the sac will be good for another 30 years.  There are several great restorers who can get you a very nice "51" aero that you will really enjoy.

 

If you look at the old Parker "51" adds, they specifically talk about the ability to share with others.

 

Your budget has many options available, and welcome to FPN.

 

Buzz 



#14 hari317

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 12:02

Could you possibly suggest pens that have a small barrel and gold or white gold (soft) nib, for somewhere in the region of £260? It would be useful to see alternatives. I've had real trouble finding anything of this sort somewhere where I could try it out, except some vintage pens. I really do want to be able to go and try out a pen. Which brings me on to: 
Any particular recommendations of FP shops in London? (Ideally SW or central). There do seem to be several, but with my elderly Grandma I'd really rather only make one trip, and I don't know where exactly is best. I'm not quite sure enough what I'm looking for.



 

I would recommend a Montblanc Mozart Fountain pen(Model No 114). It is small and i think will be well suited to your requirements. You can buy if from any of the Montblanc Boutiques in London.

 

http://int.montblanc...iquelocator.php

 

My review of the Mozart:

 

http://www.fountainp...ge-a-wa-mozart/

 

I have several Yard O Led pens and yes some did have frustrating nib and feeder issues. I love the pens for the feel, silverwork.


Edited by hari317, 12 February 2014 - 12:07.

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#15 WirlWind

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 12:35

Well I think I have finally managed to be the first person to say "Get a parker 51!" in a thread.

 

Seriously, usually it's in the first few comments lol.

 

See if you can find a NoS (new old stock) or a really good condition one off ebay and it should last you for ages.

 

Hell, I hear stories of people getting one off ebay or finding one that's been sitting in a drawer for years and they test it and it still writes even with the old ink lol.

 

Also, the section is pretty thin and the pen has a simple elegance to it. Oh, and the 14k hooded nibs are nice.

 

 

There's also the cheaper option of a Lamy Safari / Al-star / other lamy models.

 

If you hold your pen in the tripod grip, these pens are pretty amazing for the low cost and they are pretty solid as well. Plus they can be pulled apart for easy cleaning and nib swapping.


Edited by WirlWind, 12 February 2014 - 12:35.

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#16 View from the Loft

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 13:00

Oh my, sorry to hear of your troubles.

 

Martin's advice is good, and if that doesn't work, then yes, a refund is your best bet.

 

As for slimmer pens - new, an M400 is a safe option.  I can't speak for any of the other modern suggestions as I haven't used them.

 

Vintage:

Parker 45 (suggest you look for the Flighter - stainless steel version - then there is no issue with the hood bowing/cracking)

Parker 51 (not quite so slim)

Various Conway Steward models such as the 27, 58, 75  (likely to be lever fill, so bottled ink only)

 

The Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star are fatter pens, and have a section that dictates how you hold the pen - it's a marmite pen (if you know what I mean :) )

 

Don't give up on FPs, though.  If you are handing in hand written essays, they will save you from all sorts of physical hand problems.

 

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.



#17 dspeers58

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 13:27

I would recommend a Platinum pen, a 3776 Century, as it is not too large, and is very reliable. Nibs are smooth and pens are well-balanced in the hand. Not as pretty as your Yard-o-Led. They write well.



#18 Abicadabra

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 13:59

Disclaimer: we have been a Yard-O-Led retailer for about 10 years now and in that time have sold a lot of Viceroy fountain pens. I wouldn't use a Yard-O-Led nib as my avatar if I didn't have confidence in the brand.

 

Before you give up on your pen, please try at least one of the following two things:

 

1. Try a different ink. I now it sounds inconceivable that Yard-O-Led cartridges won't work properly in their own pens but it's a known fact that not all pen/ink combinations work as well as others. Beg, borrow or steal some standard washable blue like Waterman, Parker or Sheaffer and fill your pen with the converter. Note that Yard-O-Led cartridges and bottled inks are made in the UK by Diamine.

 

2. Flush your nib unit with dilute ammonia solution. As a Yard-O-Led retailer we do get the occasional pen back for service and/or repair. I do recall one occasion when a customer returned a pen to have the flow increased. This was duly done but later on it displayed the characteristics you described. I checked my repair notes and I hadn't done an ammonia flush, just an ultrasonic clean (that's what US stands for, BTW). The customer returned the pen again, I cleaned it mode thoroughly the next time and it's been fine ever since. You can buy ammonia solution in branches of Homebase but use it diluted 10:1 with plain water.

 

If that fails, accept the refund.

 

HTH,

 

Martin


Thank you so much everyone - so many interesting tips and suggestions! Such a wealth of experience :) 

This comment is particularly interesting and helpful, and I'll certainly be trying out both of those things. I'm perplexed by the ink thought, but it actually makes perfect sense given that it runs fine with water. I just wanted to clarify, incase you'd got the wrong impression: I'm not trying to say that Yard-o-led is bad. I can't make any comment whatsoever about their products in general, except for their allusion to other problems in that e-mail. I really only know this one that I've had. I love my pen and I'd done everything that I could find out how to do to try and look after it.  And it's incredibly beautifully finished, and really such a joy to write with. Indeed, one thing I was genuinely wondering was whether I should get a refund and then buy a similar model. It just seemed silly given the issues I've had. I've also been very impressed with their personal customer service (once I got through to them).

It's really useful to hear that you, as somebody infinitely more experienced, has full faith in its ability to work. They didn't give me that impression as much as you have, so thank you: I'll persevere. It's just that I've put so many hours in to trying to fix/wash through/send/write to them about this pen, and it was such an extravagance. I was partly venturing onto FPN to see whether this is just a normal side effect of using this more ancient kind of pen, or whether there was actually something wrong.

Thank you! 

Abi
 



#19 holgalee

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 14:08

I'm sorry to read of your issues with the pen and completely emphatise with you. If flushing with diluted ammonia doesn't work, you may want to get a Pilot pen, either the Custom Heritage 91 (which accepts the huge con-70 conveter) or the Custom Heritage 92, which is a piston filler. The older 74 series has some skipping issues (not sure if it is the nib or feed) but the 91 is excellent and I have three of them. The 92 is even more lovely as I like demonstrators, and both pens are really easy to clean as the nib and feed can be pulled out. I have really small hands as well and these are about the largest pen I can handle. There are some ebay sellers offering the pens for less than U$100, just check their feedback to make sure they're reliable.

#20 WirsPlm

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 14:38

Just chiming in to sympathize, and agree that it sounds like a case for Rapidoeze or a diluted ammonia solution. Generally, flushing out with a cleaning solution is a good thing to do every few months, because fountain pens work by ink flowing through very tiny channels, which are super easy to clog and often just pieces of dye in the ink are enough to do it. I would try that and maybe putting the section in an ultrasonic cleaner, although ultrasonics do require some care because the vibrations can cause wear (putting the pen inside a thin disposable plastic cup filled with water can help, to make sure it doesn't contact the actual cleaner).





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