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Gate City Pen, The Belmont (0.8 Stub Grind)

gate city bexley belmont syringe review stub richard binder

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#1 Gaslight

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 19:31

Let's talk about a pen which is seldom mentioned here (or anywhere else for that matter...).

 

The Gate City Belmont Syringe Filler.

 

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1. Appearance & Design (9/10)

This is the caribbean version, which looks pretty amazing, under my lamp the material sparkles like metal flake paint on cars (I tried to capture that in the first photo following this paragraph), the material is resin as far as I can tell.

 

The pen tapers towards the end of the filler cap and the section, with the biggest circumference at the thread of the filling 'mechanism'. The ink chamber is translucent with a slightly blue/turquoise hue. It has a black section and a two-tone steel nib (it's possible to order the pen with a gold nib) and a pretty big cap with some engraved text on it.

 

All in all, a pretty looking pen. Three things which bother me: The threads at both ends of the ink chamber look somewhat rough, the cap is build from two parts and I don't like the seam between them and finally the clip, which is too small for the cap and looks like a joke.

 

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2. Construction & Quality (6/10)

Not sure if I wanna go down even further to 5 points. This is a 160,- US $ pen and it just doesn't feel the part. The whole thing and its components feel flimsy. There was glue (or pretty old silicone grease) at the threads, making the thing feel sticky. Nib wasn't correctly aligned to the feed and now for the thing which drives me nuts: The filler cap sits slightly askew on the barrel  (see photo below), I can feel a ridge with my thumb. Maybe this is because I'm German and precision craftsmanship is something we germans like very much, but I could rant for hours about this...

 

Addendum: For folks who think a Ford Lightning pickup truck is nicely build, this won't be a problem, you can add 2 points to the score...  :P

 

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3. Weight & Dimensions (8/10)

Not much to say, it's light (that's nice, at least in my opinion) and a bit bigger than a Pelikan M200. For me (6'2 guy with small hands) this is the right size. It posts pretty well, if that's important for you. To add a bit more text to this paragraph I've made three photos of the box, as you can see the pen seems to be made by Bexley.

 

 

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4. Nib & Performance (9/10)

Now for the important part: The nib is a two-tone steel nib and it would look nice if there was just a Bexley-logo and not this big, ugly "Iridium Point Germany" text...

 

This was a broad, which Richard transformed into a 0.8 stub nib. After aligning the feed and a bit of writing it skipped, a lot. After some extreme flushing/cleaning/scrubbing/cursing this was solved and now the pen writes as it should. The line is easily as wide as my Lamy 1.1 and shows nice variation. I've ordered a 6/10 wetness (Richards default wetness) and the pen lays down beautiful wet lines. It's smooth and writes with minimal feedback, but it's not as smooth as my TWSBI 1.5 stub, which glides without any feedback at all.

 

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5. Filling system & Maintenance (9/10)

System or mechanism is a big word for something which is essentially a simple syringe. Unscrew the filler cap and you can move the plunger up and down. That's it...

 

Great for fast flushing and it holds a ton of ink, around 1.8ml! If you are into nifty filling systems, buy a piston or vacuum filler, this here is easy, fast, reliable and pretty simple.

 

Everything can be disassembled for cleaning and re-greasing. Nib and feed are friction fit and pull out easily. I would give it 10 out of 10, but there's a thread insert which holds the plunger and is screwed into the ink chamber. The filler cap also attaches to that insert and the thing is pretty difficult to remove. If this could be unscrewed with -let's say- a TWSBI wrench, this would be pretty close to perfect...

 

6. Cost & Value (7/10)

It looks really nice, I love how it sparkles in bright light, it writes really well and it's a syringe filler, which is something you don't see that much. But it's also a pen with a very simple filling mechanism, mediocre build quality, average materials and an ugly steel nib to put it very bluntly. I know that Bexley isn't the biggest manufacturer and that I shouldn't compare it to mass production pens, but in the end a 60,- $ TWSBI seems the much better deal than the 160,- $ Belmont.

 

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7. Conclusion (48/60)

I'm sure that in some parts this review sounds like I hate the thing. But no, I like it, really!

 

It looks really great, it's a great writer and the filling system is special (even if it's as simple as it gets). I'm disappointed with the quality, I've expected something that was built like a tank but I've got a paper plane...made out of thin paper...

 

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I hope this was useful to some of you and if you have questions/unsolicited criticism/useful info/bitter rants/etc. please voice them below  :lol:


Edited by Gaslight, 03 July 2014 - 19:51.

What a strange world we live in, where people communicate by text more than ever before, yet the art of proper handwriting is seen as a thing from the past.

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#2 wahlfreak

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 19:54

I'd have expected a USD160 pen to have a more unique nib than the standard IPG nib...


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#3 de_pen_dent

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 16:30

Nice, detailed review - thanks for posting it.

 

I have the pen and rate it a bit better than you do, actually.   FWIW, I didnt find anything particularly objectionable about the build quality, and for me, the unique filling mechanism makes it worth owning.      I thought it was very good value for the money (esp given no cracking or nib performance issues) and ended up buying the Galapagos as well :)

 

As for the nib - at this price point, most pens are going to have steel nibs.    And when one gets them from Richard, they work really, really well.    


Edited by de_pen_dent, 04 July 2014 - 16:34.

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#4 French

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 16:54

Thank you for the honest review. It is always nice to hear about both the beauty and the warts. I'm glad to hear you actually like the pen, it is one I've been considering for quite some time.

French

#5 hari317

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Posted 04 July 2014 - 17:01

Thank you for sharing your frank and honest opinion. That lopsided blind cap is hilarious.


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#6 Sridhar

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 03:55

For that money you can have a delightful custom made without the build issues. 



#7 mbradley

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 05:57

Thanks for the review. I don't know that I could live with the blind cap as it is, perhaps better to just see humour as Hari does.

 

 

Michael



#8 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 11:36

average quality made pen,would rather stick for jim gaston's limited edition bexleys


Edited by georges zaslavsky, 05 July 2014 - 11:37.

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#9 watch_art

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 21:05

Vanness has the last of Gaston's customs, I think (the devel and angel pens) and they were made by Bexley.  Neat pens. 

 

As for the Belmont, what makes you think it's so flimsy?  I have one too and wouldn't call it flimsy at all.

 

My blind cap isn't as lopsided as yours (I can't see the difference) though I can feel it with my thumb.

 

IPG nibs - it's just marked IPG - it's not a cheap nib.  JoWo of Germany makes these and they're good points.  These are the same nibs used by Bexley, Edison, myself, and many others.


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#10 Gaslight

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 09:19

As for the Belmont, what makes you think it's so flimsy?  I have one too and wouldn't call it flimsy at all.

 

Hi, it just feels flimsy, haven't broken it of course, (yet :lol: ), so it's just my feeling, not actual experience from breaking something.

 

But in comparision to my other pens, the Belmont feels.... flimsy really is the best word I can come up with, the parts

are pretty thin plastic, as I unscrewed the section I really was afraid it'll break...

 

My Pelikan M200 is also a lightweight pen, but to me it feels much sturdier, like you could throw it out of the window onto the street

without breaking it. (And yes, this is partly experience speaking, one of my M200s suffered more than 20 years of my abuse....)

 

With the Belmont I'll try my best never to drop it... pretty sure something would crack.


What a strange world we live in, where people communicate by text more than ever before, yet the art of proper handwriting is seen as a thing from the past.

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#11 terminal

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 10:03

As for the nib - at this price point, most pens are going to have steel nibs.    And when one gets them from Richard, they work really, really well.    

 

I disagree that the $160 price point mostly has steel nibs.  The Lamy 2000 has a gold nib and happens to be $160.  

 

As to gold vs. steel... I'm definitely not here to have that argument...


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#12 Gaslight

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 11:38

 

I disagree that the $160 price point mostly has steel nibs.  The Lamy 2000 has a gold nib and happens to be $160.  

 

As to gold vs. steel... I'm definitely not here to have that argument...

 

As far as pen prices go, I hate living in Europe ;)

The Lamy 2000 is around 280,- US$ here.... and it's a german brand...


What a strange world we live in, where people communicate by text more than ever before, yet the art of proper handwriting is seen as a thing from the past.

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#13 de_pen_dent

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 18:45

 

I disagree that the $160 price point mostly has steel nibs.  The Lamy 2000 has a gold nib and happens to be $160.  

 

As to gold vs. steel... I'm definitely not here to have that argument...

 

I did say "mostly", not "entirely"   :)


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#14 rwilsonedn

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 19:18

Thanks for the great review. I really like that you captured your own impressions instead of trying to be politically correct or to justify your purchase price. And the blind cap--I'm with Hari on that. It appears that someone is having a long-running misunderstanding with their lathe. But no, I don't think you have to be German to appreciate build quality, or to be sensitive to its absence.

ron



#15 MKeith

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 23:24

Gaslight,

 

If the blind cap is not made properly, I would  suggest you contact Richard Binder whom you purchased the pen from. Richard and Bexley stand behind their pens. A vendor deserves a chance to make it right. Also unless that pen got really banged around in shipping I can't understand how the nib could have been a problem as every one I have purchased from him was perfect.


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#16 Gaslight

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 06:58

Gaslight,

 

If the blind cap is not made properly, I would  suggest you contact Richard Binder whom you purchased the pen from. Richard and Bexley stand behind their pens. A vendor deserves a chance to make it right. Also unless that pen got really banged around in shipping I can't understand how the nib could have been a problem as every one I have purchased from him was perfect.

 

Hi Mkeith,

As things stand now, I'll go with Hari's stand on the cap and live with it, don't think a slighty lopsided cap really is worth the trouble of sending the pen back and forth, but I'll decide that in the next few days.

 

Nib-wise the pen is pretty spot-on and I think I didn't say otherwise in the review. I often mention Richards work here in the forum and I'm very happy with his work and I recommend his services quite often.

 

The nib just needed an intense flush and for the feed-allignment: This is probably due to shipping. The friction fit isn't that tight and I can move the nib out of allignment quite easily, so it is reasonable to assume that it was to mis-treatment while in transit (which took a friggin 16 days! Last pen from Richard was 5 days..)


What a strange world we live in, where people communicate by text more than ever before, yet the art of proper handwriting is seen as a thing from the past.

letter.png


#17 hari317

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 08:35

 

I disagree that the $160 price point mostly has steel nibs.  The Lamy 2000 has a gold nib and happens to be $160.  

 

As to gold vs. steel... I'm definitely not here to have that argument...

also plenty of gold nibbed pens are found at the 10,000JPY price point from the Japanese big three. even with shipping it will be less than 160USD, but customs might add some thing to the total.


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#18 SteveE

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 12:55

Just to add a note, I have discussed some of the Gate City pens with Howard Levy (President, Bexley Pen Co.) at the Chicago Pen Show.  Howard indicates that any problems or issues with Gate City pens need to be taken up with Richard.  Bexley makes the parts for the Gate City pens, but Richard (and those in his shop) does all the assembly work.  In this case, Bexley is a contractor to Gate City, so Richard should get the first try at working things out.

 

I guess the thing to keep in mind is that Richard has come up with some really neat re-releases of novel filler designs, but the pens are all hand assembled and as such, there is room for human error.  Yes, these should have been caught before shipping, but if it does bother you (and I saw that you said you weren't sure if it did), then contact Richard and let him have at it.

 

I don't have the Belmont, but I do have the Postal Senior and the New Dunn.  Neither pen was perfect as shipped, but the issues were minor and easily resolved.



#19 mhosea

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 23:28

Some of the criticism in the review, such as the blind cap not meeting with the barrel correctly, I agree with.  I have a couple of these, and I had to fix this on the first.  The second was much closer.  The first also has some threading issue in the cap or on the barrel that makes it hard to get the cap (the pen cap, not the blind cap) lined up half the time, and I can see excess, non-transparent glue in the cap where the bottom part of the cap was glued on (that's how cap bands in these hand-made pens are often inserted these days).  

 

As for the supposed "flimsy" construction, however, I do not think this has been properly analyzed.  It's made of acrylic, and I've actually bounced one of mine off a tile floor with no discernible effect.  TWSBI seems to be made of something else that cracks easily.  Try bouncing a TWSBI off a tile floor and tell me how it goes.  The durability of the Belmont is, IMHO, excellent, and the pen is likely to outlast a TWSBI by the better part of a century.  Whether it "feels" that way is something else entirely, of course.  My one concern about its "toughness" is that I suspect that it has an Achilles Heel where the barrel meets the cap.  I wouldn't want to apply too much sideways force there, but this only a guess.


Edited by mhosea, 25 September 2014 - 23:30.

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#20 mrchan

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 00:22

I'd have expected a USD160 pen to have a more unique nib than the standard IPG nib...

I second this wholeheartedly. I absolutely abhor nibs that look so superbly generic.

 

OP, I think your pen would have looked a lot better if it didn't have that transparent/demonstrator part in the middle..That look kinda cheapens the pen tbh..But that's just me..


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