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Warning: Rant. Pen Unusable Out Of Box

unusable problem flow misaligned baby bottom

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24 replies to this topic

#1 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 18:51

Just a rant... skip if you want to.

 

Yesterday I acquired a Sailor Professional Gear Medium as my second "big pen," alongside a Parker Duofold Fine. It was the replacement for my attention-w***** Sonnet. ("If you don't use me for 16 hours, I'll punish you by drying out.") As I'm very happy with my Sailor Sapporo since day one, I expected epic goodness of its bigger brother/sister.

 

Uh... no.

 

I did what I would normally do: open the box, flush the pen (soapy luke-warm water, then clear water, thoroughly), and then I inked it. No dice. It wouldn't write. *ZILCH.* "Hm. Maybe I clogged it with iron gall ink sediment..." Flush, clean, dip the pen and write: still nothing. When pressing harder, the pen would suddenly start to write, but it was somewhat scratchy.

 

So, I cleaned it out again, and decided to take my 20x loupe to it.

 

Diagnosis:

- Right tine misaligned, a fraction of a millimeter downward.

- No slit: tines were completely clamped shut.

 

Remedy:

- Align tines.

- Separate tines like SBRE Brown shows in some of his video's on how to make a pen wetter.

 

Result of the next dip test:

- Pen would write, but it showed baby bottom behavior: hard starting and skipping as soon as pressure diminished.

 

So, lastly, I wrote a few number 8 and infinity signs on 12K micromesh paper, flossed the nib using a brass sheet, cleaned the nib thoroughly, and tried another dip test.

 

AAAH, normal writing! Finally!

 

I then refilled the pen, and did a normal writing test. It now writes as well and as smooth as my Sapporo (and Duofold). If I post the pen and then keep it between my thumb and index finger at the very end, I can drop the nib onto the paper, and drag the pen across. It will write under its own weight, as (IMHO) a good fountain pen should be able to do.

 

To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that a company, famous for making 'the smoothest nibs ever created' sends out a pen that doesn't even put ink onto the paper right after unboxing. That's ridiculous. This is a pen costing almost €300 (at least in the Netherlands), and I shouldn't have to fix the nib myself. (This was fixing, not tuning, IMHO.)

 

It's fortunate that I restored a number of vintage pens and tinkered with a bunch of cheap Chinese pens (all are sold/traded by now), so that I do have the basic knowledge and experience to do small nib adjustments. I'm sure that any 'normal' customer would have sent this pen back within 5 minutes after unoboxing.

 

/End Rant


Edited by FloatingFountain, 15 June 2014 - 19:11.


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#2 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 18:56

I'd sent it back, with out doing the repair work.


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#3 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 19:08

Half a year ago, I would have, because I wouldn't have had any knowledge on how to fix this problem. If it still hadn't written after aligning the tines and widening the tine gap, I would indeed have sent it back. Now it's not necessary anymore. Fortunately, it now writes very well; if it had written like this out of the box, I would have been very happy.

 

I'm happy with it now as well, but then, I would have been happy since the first minute. Unboxing a €300 pen that doesn't put down a drop of ink after filling is a bit of a shocker, to be honest, and not very endearing to the brand. Does stuff like this happen often (with any brand, not only Sailor), or should I regard this as an exception when buying high-end pens?


Edited by FloatingFountain, 15 June 2014 - 19:09.


#4 alexander_k

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 19:57

I thought that quality control at Sailor was good but apparently they too make mistakes. As the OP says, one should expect a perfectly functional pen at this level. Tuning is often a matter of personal preference but having to fix such problems is not right.



#5 Suji

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 20:51

Out of curiosity, if after all that if you had sent it back, would they have accepted it and gave you a new one, or is it possible that doing that to the tines might void the return?


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#6 Chrissy

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:02

I would have sent it back too.

 

 

Out of curiosity, if after all that if you had sent it back, would they have accepted it and gave you a new one, or is it possible that doing that to the tines might void the return?

 

I suspect that the warranty would be voided.



#7 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:12

Out of curiosity, if after all that if you had sent it back, would they have accepted it and gave you a new one, or is it possible that doing that to the tines might void the return?

 

I don't know. I have had good service of the store where I got this pen.

 

If aligning and spreading the tines hadn't worked, I would have quit and returned the pen. I expect that this would not have been a problem, because aligning and spreading a tine using ones fingernail is exceptionally trivial. The pen started to write almost perfectly however, showing the slightest hint of a baby bottom, a problem which I have had with several of the Chinese pens, for which I resolved it by writing a few (2-3) figure 8's on 12K micromesh using only the pen's own weight. I was fairly confident that it would work for the ProGear as well, and it did.

 

See this article at nibs.com.

 


2. Round inner-margins.

Many pens tips today are sold with rounded inner margins. This is roundness at the place where the slit meets the paper. Manufacturers do this to insure smoothness. However, skipping can result. If ink does not reach the paper when the tip touches, the writing can be frustrated with skipping, especially on the initial stroke. Some work with Micromesh can "break in" the tip so that it does not skip. By removing some material from the tip, the slit is brought closer to the writing surface, making the intimate contact between ink and paper possible. (But, see warning above.)



#8 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:14

I suspect that the warranty would be voided.

 

After the tine realignment, probably not.

 

After the micromesh, it probably is, but I don't really mind now that the pen writes well. It was a risk I was willing to take, mainly because I was becoming very tired of swapping pens over and over again, and I was fairly confident that I could fix these problems myself because I had fixed them at least a dozen times before on the cheap Chinese pens.


Edited by FloatingFountain, 15 June 2014 - 21:16.


#9 JonSzanto

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:18

Things happen, even with respected companies. If it was an inexpensive-to-moderate pen, I might have done what you did. With a pen of that value, it would have gone back immediately. I'm glad it worked out for you, but your impatience might very well have made a bad situation worse. Maybe next time a visit to the store will avoid rants! ;)


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#10 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:27

Things happen, even with respected companies. If it was an inexpensive-to-moderate pen, I might have done what you did. With a pen of that value, it would have gone back immediately. I'm glad it worked out for you, but your impatience might very well have made a bad situation worse. Maybe next time a visit to the store will avoid rants! ;)

 

A visit to that store costs me an entire day and close to €60. It's not exactly next door.

 

Normally I'm not impatient, but after swapping pen after pen (different models) for three months between different stores and sellers, encountering problem after problem (drying out, bent nib, loose clips, pen taken apart by customs, extremely crappy restoration of a 'fully restored pen'), I decided to quit swapping and just fix this problem myself because I knew how.

 

And, as I said, if the pen hadn't written after the tine adjustment (= pushing it into place using a fingernail), I *would* have sent it back, because in that case, nothing I could ever do myself would have helped. Had I done so, I would probably have cancelled all orders with this and other stores for at least six months, because I actually am very tired of stuff that doesn't work as it should.

 

I'm a fountain pen user, not a tinkerer. It's the reason why I dispensed with all the vintage and cheap Chinese ones and switched (back) to modern ones, but quality control seems to be lacking on all pens below €1000 or so.

 

All this hassle reminds me of me trying to replace my 19 inch Eizo computer monitor since 2007. I've tried DELL, Eizo, Lacie and NEC in the last three years, returning each monitor because of one or more glaring problems. Shoddy workmanship, loud buzzing if backlight not at 100%, banding if contrast not at 100%, huge backlight bleeding.... and were talking about €600 - €800 monitors here. I still have that 19 inch monitor today.

 

It reminds me of having to call DELL for Next Business Day Support to fix my Precision workstation notebook... *ON THE DAY I RECEIVED IT* in 2009. Next time, I'd appreciate it if they would actually screw down the parts after putting them in, so the bottom plate doesn't come off and the mainboard doesn't fall out during transport. Argh. Notebook value: €1495.

 

It also reminds me having to return my father's 47" inch TV just after unboxing because of dead speakers in 2012. TV value: €1295.

 

Sometimes I feel if I can't buy anything that JUST *** WORKS AS IT SHOULD, not even if it's fairly expensive stuff. It's ridiculous that one can receive such expensive products as professional graphics design monitors, workstation notebooks (and fountain pens) with glaring defects. It just points to exceedingly shoddy quality control, IMHO.

 

After I get really peeved off, I'm known to refuse to spend money on any luxury products for many months in a row. I feel such a fit coming on right now, so if you see any news items regarding the Dutch economy crashing big time, you know it's because of me.

 

Oh... yes, indeed. I'm angry. Fortunately I was rational enough to wait a day before fixing that pen.


Edited by FloatingFountain, 15 June 2014 - 21:50.


#11 pajaro

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:38

Just a rant... skip if you want to.

 

Yesterday I acquired a Sailor Professional Gear Medium as my second "big pen," alongside a Parker Duofold Fine. It was the replacement for my attention-w***** Sonnet. ("If you don't use me for 16 hours, I'll punish you by drying out.") As I'm very happy with my Sailor Sapporo since day one, I expected epic goodness of its bigger brother/sister.

 

Uh... no.

 

I did what I would normally do: open the box, flush the pen (soapy luke-warm water, then clear water, thoroughly), and then I inked it. No dice. It wouldn't write. *ZILCH.* "Hm. Maybe I clogged it with iron gall ink sediment..." Flush, clean, dip the pen and write: still nothing. When pressing harder, the pen would suddenly start to write, but it was somewhat scratchy.

 

So, I cleaned it out again, and decided to take my 20x loupe to it.

 

Diagnosis:

- Right tine misaligned, a fraction of a millimeter downward.

- No slit: tines were completely clamped shut.

 

Remedy:

- Align tines.

- Separate tines like SBRE Brown shows in some of his video's on how to make a pen wetter.

 

Result of the next dip test:

- Pen would write, but it showed baby bottom behavior: hard starting and skipping as soon as pressure diminished.

 

So, lastly, I wrote a few number 8 and infinity signs on 12K micromesh paper, flossed the nib using a brass sheet, cleaned the nib thoroughly, and tried another dip test.

 

AAAH, normal writing! Finally!

 

I then refilled the pen, and did a normal writing test. It now writes as well and as smooth as my Sapporo (and Duofold). If I post the pen and then keep it between my thumb and index finger at the very end, I can drop the nib onto the paper, and drag the pen across. It will write under its own weight, as (IMHO) a good fountain pen should be able to do.

 

To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that a company, famous for making 'the smoothest nibs ever created' sends out a pen that doesn't even put ink onto the paper right after unboxing. That's ridiculous. This is a pen costing almost €300 (at least in the Netherlands), and I shouldn't have to fix the nib myself. (This was fixing, not tuning, IMHO.)

 

It's fortunate that I restored a number of vintage pens and tinkered with a bunch of cheap Chinese pens (all are sold/traded by now), so that I do have the basic knowledge and experience to do small nib adjustments. I'm sure that any 'normal' customer would have sent this pen back within 5 minutes after unoboxing.

 

/End Rant

As far as the Sonnet goes, I have found that the antidote for this is to unscrew the nib unit, clean it gently , clean out the section of ink residue and you will be OK.

 

As far as the Sailor goes, my experience with a couple of them is that they are a decent but middle of the road pen.  I liked a lot of Watermans better, and they are mot as great as a Parker 51, but they aren't inferior in any way to a Sheaffer Prelude or Parker Sonnet.

 

The lesson from the Sonnet and Prelude is to not let them get dried ink in the feed collector fins that look like a millipede's legs.  You might not see it, but if the pen seems to dry up too fast, unscrew the nib unit on either pen and rinse them out with lukewarm water.  Then keep an open mind.


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#12 tinta

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 21:40

 

A visit to that store costs me an entire day and close to €60. It's not exactly next door.

 

You could ship it for much less. 

If you're dealing with a reliable company & you have done business with them before, surely they would re-issue this expensive pen., or at least fix the problem.

Tinkering with it could void your warranty.


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#13 FloatingFountain

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 22:01

As far as the Sonnet goes, I have found that the antidote for this is to unscrew the nib unit, clean it gently , clean out the section of ink residue and you will be OK.

 

As far as the Sailor goes, my experience with a couple of them is that they are a decent but middle of the road pen.  I liked a lot of Watermans better, and they are mot as great as a Parker 51, but they aren't inferior in any way to a Sheaffer Prelude or Parker Sonnet.

 

The lesson from the Sonnet and Prelude is to not let them get dried ink in the feed collector fins that look like a millipede's legs.  You might not see it, but if the pen seems to dry up too fast, unscrew the nib unit on either pen and rinse them out with lukewarm water.  Then keep an open mind.

 

I've tried 5 inks and a dozen cleanings with the black Sonnet and it would still completely dry out overnight. That's useless. Even the Duofold doesn't last longer than around 6-7 days before it starts to get into problems. Fortunately, wiping it with a paper towel is enough to fix that.

 

I've got only two experiences with Sailor: my Sapporo, with which I've been very happy since the day I got it. It writes without any pressure, and it seems incapable of drying out when capped. Even uncapped it will last 15 minutes or more with some of the wetter inks like Waterman. The second experience is this ProGear, which was actually worse than the worst $5 Chinese pen I tried.

 

The upshot for Sailor is that they still have pens that have a screw cap, convertor, and can be completely disassembled. Parker's only screw cap pen seems to be the Duofold. Pelikan and Montblanc are mostly piston fillers, and the Montblancs can't be taken apart. AFAIK, Waterman doesn't have any pens with screw caps left anymore. Besides, the only model I like is the Carène, and that pen also gets greatly mixed reviews.

 

 

You could ship it for much less. 

If you're dealing with a reliable company & you have done business with them before, surely they would re-issue this expensive pen., or at least fix the problem.

Tinkering with it could void your warranty.

 

You're right of course, but I've been shipping back and forth to this store (and others) for months, trying to find a pen that I like (and that actually works).

 

This was the first one that had a problem I was fairly sure of being able to fix myself, just because I did it almost a dozen times before. I just could see myself swapping this pen and receiving one with yet another unfixable problem.

 

I wonder if 1998 will ever return; when I could buy stuff and be sure it would work as described and keep working virtually forever (with the manufacturer also believing that, offering warranty for 5 years or more). My Yamaha 6416S burner and Plextor 40TSi CD-ROM were in use by me since 1998 up to 2004, sold to a friend, and they kept working there until 2013. At that point, the Yamaha burner finally broke down, after burning CD's for 15 (!) years. The Plextor still works, but has been replaced by a DVD-RW.


Edited by FloatingFountain, 15 June 2014 - 22:07.


#14 MarneM

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 22:29

I only have one Sailor, a maki-e owl pen that I bought because I love owls. It was my most expensive pen and I had also heard great things about sailor nibs. Mine was dry, scratchy and disappointing out of the box.

I loved the pen enough that I sent it to Pendleton Brown to put a fine italic on it, and now it writes great...but I don't generally think I should have to pay a nib meister just to make a pen write well!
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#15 Moshe ben David

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 04:46

Maybe in the thread I missed it.  How did the Duofold Fine perform out of the box?


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#16 FloatingFountain

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 05:20

Maybe in the thread I missed it.  How did the Duofold Fine perform out of the box?

 

Perfect.



#17 Moshe ben David

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 05:30

Maybe in the thread I missed it.  How did the Duofold Fine perform out of the box?

 

 

 

Perfect.

 

Thanks!  I am a real fan of modern Duofolds; more of these than any other pen in my collection.  All M nib though so I was curious.


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#18 JonSzanto

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 06:00

Oh... yes, indeed. I'm angry. Fortunately I was rational enough to wait a day before fixing that pen.

 

Ok.

 

To be fair (and I've clipped all of your lengthy and informative reply), I had precisely zero knowledge of all this backstory. I responded only to your initial post, about the problem with one pen. It appears that this pen is the apotheosis of a long history of disappointing purchases, which also serves to focus the anger. I'm sorry for all this, and yes, qc certainly isn't what it has been in the past. Cost is no guarantee of quality, track record of a company seems (often) not worth much anymore as well.

Knowing that, there isn't much one can do, is there? Pens are so personal, and the response from the user so unique, it sure helps if you can try something before buying. I realize that is difficult for you, but making your pilgrimage to some reputable dealer to spend the afternoon trying pens may be the only solid satisfaction for you. Other than that, it is just going to be a lot of research and the attempts at online orders or some other situation where you can return if not pleased.

 

I hope I didn't exacerbate the anger, but I also hope you understand that there appears to be more to this story than just a pen that was not satisfactory. I hope things can work out for you.


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#19 setriode

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 06:39

Is this like an experience I have been through? Yes.  Several times.  Does it surprise me? No.  

 

I ponder this question: What is the the minimum price set by pen manufacturers for a product forcibly undergoing human examination and testing before leaving the factory?



#20 amk

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 08:27

This reminds me of the time I bought a computer and had to return it to the factory... they had not actually wired the 'on' switch to anything inside the box.

 

It might be interesting to see if we can generate a 'good first time out / needs work before you write' list. But I'm not sure it's price related; one of the most reliable out-of-the-box pens I've ever tried is the Pilot V-pen, and that's a disposable cheapie! Must have had twenty or more, and every one wrote straight of the (purely figurative) box.


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