Let's talk about a pen which is seldom mentioned here (or anywhere else for that matter...).
The Gate City Belmont Syringe Filler.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
Edited by Gaslight, 03 July 2014 - 19:51.