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Micarta V2 An Experiment In Time

micarta twsbi micarta v2 jowo #6 nib

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25 replies to this topic

#1 coffeetoofull

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 19:40

The TWSBI Micarta fountain pen is made from a unique material (Micarta), which makes it a useful and versatile pen beyond the casual spectrum of the coffeehouse. Reviews about the TWSBI Micarta Version 1 and Micarta Version 2 have flourished on the FPN and other sites. I will not attempt another detailed review, but will provide a few points which determined my purchase and/also how the pen has performed.

 
“Micarta was originally used in electrical and decorative applications. Micarta was developed by George Westinghouse at least as early as 1910 using phenolic resins invented by Leo Baekeland. These resins were used to impregnate paper and cotton fabric which were cured under pressure and high temperature to produce laminates.” - Wikipedia
 
What is the “life state" of the TWSBI Micarta material when compared to the acrylic fountain pen, or pens made of various materials? I realize that TWSBI offers a stable product for sale. But, since it is made of a composite material, I would think that it would have a very minor shrink rate, as do acrylics/plastics, over many years. Antique stores are full of pens which seem far from their original size.
 
[attachment=307672:P1080076.jpeg]
 
I was hesitant to purchase this pen, due to its size. But, finally opted to make a purchase, since it is no longer in production (scarcity), and as an experiment with my man’s medium size hand. My pens have a #5 size nib, and are a size smaller than this pen. The Micarta is a light to medium weight pen with a section/grip diameter (max/min) = 12.3/10.8mm. I am hoping that the Micarta’s larger grip size will allow me to rest my fingers, while alternating between other pens. It’s an experiment.
 
I chose the Micarta Version 2 / 805 over the Version 1 for the plastic insert lining to the cap, and the gold plated stainless steel 14 carat JoWo #6 nib. Although the Version 1 had a Bock nib, and I did not see a great deal of negative reviews on it, I thought the later version might be of interest. The number 805 appears on my clip version, while 803 appears on the version without a clip. The gold clip matches the colour of the nib. The clip is tight and fits easily within a man’s shirt pocket.
 
I, also, ordered this pen to accompany my ’YES World Watch II’ from YES Watch Company. The gold on the Micarta Version 2 closely matches the rose gold on the YES watch.
 
[attachment=307673:P1080075.jpeg]
 
The pen has several unique stampings in black to the top of the cap (company logo), and around the base of the cap (Chinese lettering and TWSBI). All are indiscreet, while providing classic styling to the nature of the pen. The Micarta cap and body colour are matching on my pen. The Micarta material feels like a smooth pleasant resinous wood. I do not detect any odors emanating from the Micarta pen or barrel.
 
I don’t find the pen to look like a ‘cigar' or appear as 'utilitarian’. It has a unique pleasant styling, which reminds me of visits to the Japanese gardens. I would not mind taking this pen with me to the gardens, but would not take a similar Japanese handmade wood pen, which costs 15 to 20 times as much, outside the house.
 
[attachment=307674:P1080081.jpeg]
 
The nib is not as wide as most #6 nibs, due to its smaller shoulders, which I prefer. The plastic feed is beautifully proportioned and constructed with a large air channel leading to approximately 15 “comb” serrations. The gold plated nib has the company logo imprinted on the top of the nib, along with scroll designs, the company name, and size of nib. These extras add to the presence of the pen. The tines on this nib, although not obtrusive to visualizing your script, are (in my opinion) long, but then again, I’m used to the #5 nib. The nib and tines are strong to prevent bending. (I write with a “light hand” and let the nib work for me.) Some reviews have stated that the EF Micarta nib writes like a ‘nail’, and does not provide enough flexibility. However, I found that the JoWo nib wrote like a true EF (probably due to The Writing Desk tweaking it), and that there was enough variance to the line, if one did not pressure it to perform like a medium or bold nib. In my opinion, writing with an EF nib takes some finesse and consistency. The rounded EF smooth nib is, also, one of the most forgiving nibs to those of us who print and scribble in notation. I have not experienced any problems with starting the pen during the day or after leaving it over night. Of course, the choice of paper and ink are a determining factor in any pen’s performance.
 
The Micarta is a push-on convertor. It takes a dozen turns to open the barrel and reveal the convertor. I have not detected any leaks from the convertor, although I would prefer a more secure method of attaching the convertor to the pen. I always ink the convertor with a syringe to prevent staining. Four full turns secure the barrel to the cap, which prevents the nib from drying. When holding the pen further back from the grip area, I do not feel any sharpness from the barrel grooves. Although the ‘pen cap’ lacks a metal ‘cap lip’, the strength of the Micarta material should suffice to hold the cap to barrel without cracking or chipping. Also, a 'cap lip' would detract from the modern design of the overall pen.
 
I ordered the EF nib and was not disappointed. I asked The Writing Desk, UK to align and smooth the nib before sending it to the USA. It arrived in MINT condition and performed perfectly with Sailor Epinard green ink. The EF Micarta V2 is presented in a specially designed TWSBI notebook 162mm x 190mm graph paper.
 
Some pen enthusiasts have ordered other nibs from Pendleton Brown, Anderson, and Delta. The Delta Fusion Nib, and the TWSBI Vac 700 will, also, fit this pen.
 
Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull

Edited by coffeetoofull, 03 April 2015 - 01:11.


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#2 coffeetoofull

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 18:05

While finding the 'writing experience' a comfortable transition from the #5 nib pens to the new Micarta TWSBI EF fountain pen, I have been pleased with the experimental results of various inks on Moleskine, Cavallini, Midori, and Tomoe papers.

A listing of the inks with positive results were Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi Bamboo Charcoal Black, Diamine Monaco Red, Noodler's El Lawrence, Epinard Sailor Green, Noodler's Navajo Turquoise, De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes Night Blue, Pilot Tsuki-Yo Blue, Private Reserve Chocolat, Kaweco, Visconti Blue Black, J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage, and J. Herbin Lie De The.

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull



#3 A144

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 23:40

Thanks for the report!  After going back and forth on the Micarta for a while, I ended up with 2 after they were discontinued.  I use the F nibbed one a lot.  I swapped the EF nib on my other with a 1.1mm stub from Goulet.

 

They're very cool pens, and I really love the micarta material.


So many inks, so little time...


#4 coffeetoofull

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 03:04

Thanks for the update on being able to place a Goulet 1.1mm stub nib in the Micarta fountain pen. I was not aware that it was possible. This is a fun pen with a lot of character.

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull



#5 coffeetoofull

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Posted 12 April 2015 - 23:24

I replaced the convertor, which came with the Micarta fountain pen with a 'bluRAFI' Schmidt K5 convertor. Held side by side, I could not find a difference between the convertors. The bluRAFI had its name around the central band. The bluRAFI seemed to be a tighter fit in the interior nib assembly. 

I have been considering a light application of 'Renaissance Micro-Crystaline Wax Polish' to the exterior surfaces of the Micarta fountain pen. Have any of the FPN members tried an application of Renaissance Wax Polish to the Micarta fountain pen?
Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull


Edited by coffeetoofull, 12 April 2015 - 23:24.


#6 Bemo

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 02:29

Personally I don't think the Micarta was meant to be shiny. But tastes vary. Renaissance Wax has both advocates and detractors. Some say it is does contain some acids that could harm some materials.



#7 coffeetoofull

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 02:40

Members on FPN have commented that in time oils and matter from our hands will add a patina or colour to the Micarta. I suppose it would be best to contact TWSBI before deciding to apply a light coat of Renaissance Wax. The wax might destroy the intent and purpose, or the nature of the pen. I'm more of the opinion that it might be best not to apply the wax.

The J. Herbin inks used in the Micarta EF nib dry too quickly between usage, appear too light on cream paper (Lie De The), and flow too easily when in use (very little viscosity).

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull


Edited by coffeetoofull, 13 April 2015 - 22:16.


#8 Phormio

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 14:16

I've always wanted one and I think a version 3 that had a resin barrel inserted with a blind cap as ether a piston or vac filler would be magic!
Lots of wants, limited funds!

#9 coffeetoofull

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 22:05

I like your ideas for a Micarta 3, but I doubt we will see this pen, again. It has been discontinued from the TWSBI line. I don't know what it would take to resurrect the pen, again.

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull



#10 mhphoto

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Posted 24 April 2015 - 00:16

Great write up!

I had the V1 model for a long time. Olive the patina it developed, but its propensity to wick ink away into the section (which leads to the threads, which leads to the cap…) caused me to do a day long pen flush soak (great for getting ink stains off the material) and then a several day dry out period. Then I coated all exposed surfaces (including the inside of the cap) with Renaissance Wax and buffed. After that I never had an issue with be-wick'd ink.

Then when I heard it was being discontinued I snagged a V2 version. I did a less rigorous Renaissance Waxing on it, but I think they solved the wicking problem with the V2's new inner cap.

I've not noticed any shrinking of the material in either.

fpn_1451747045__img_1999-2.jpg

 


#11 coffeetoofull

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Posted 26 April 2015 - 02:57

Thanks for sharing the information on your experience with Renaissance Wax. Did you fill the converter from the nib? The Fountain Pen Day Review for the Micarta V2 shows inking from the bottle, without any residue of ink, or staining to the Micarta fountain pen. I filled the converter with a syringe and have, also, tried the small international cartridges, without any staining to the interior or exterior of the Micarta pen. I have not removed the the EF nib to replace it with a Goulet or Anderson #6 nib (no difference in these nibs?). This will probably be the next part of my experiment. What were the reasons for the change to the patina on the V1 - unusual conditions? I wonder what the rate of shrinkage for acrylic versus Micarta would be over a couple of decades?

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull



#12 coffeetoofull

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Posted 01 May 2015 - 19:27

When asked about Renaissance Wax, Philip Wang, TWSBI Pens, states that there is "no need to apply anything to the Micarta fountain pen. As long as you don't let ink dry on the Micarta material it will not deteriorate."
In another email reply about the shrink rate of micarta versus acrylic, Philip Wang, states that "the micarta material doesn't really shrink. Its like the handle of a knife. Same material so it doesn't really change."
However, I still maintain that whatever the composition of the material in a pen's manufacture, that it must retain a shrink rate, no matter how minor, and especially over a period of 20 to 50 years.



#13 Earthdawn

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 05:28

Great review !!!

 

I have to say I still LOVE my Micarta. I will add another at some point in time. It has proven to be amazingly durable as well as super easy to maintain.

 

Here is a pic of my nib swap. I got an Anderson's nib at the LI show this year with the intent of using it in my Micarta. the 1.1 is a fantastic match and the feed has zero issues keeping up. 

 

InstaReel%20Photo%2019_zps2pdtgomm.png



#14 Betweenthelines

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 06:23

Thanks for this post.

 

I really love my Micarta - and I think it is a severely underrated pen, though I get why it was perceived as such an "odd bird".  It was priced far higher than any other TWSBI (and still retained a steel nib), so I think its target market wasn't really prepared for this pen.  On top of that, there is the C/C filling system, the tendency for nibs to arrive writing far too dry, and the very unique material, which you either love or hate.  Some folks saw an ugly duckling that was prone to staining.  

 

I saw it as the ultimate "adventure pen" - rugged and wonderfully tactile and organic feeling.  I tend to live a pretty outdoor lifestyle so this was the obvious choice for me.  To solve the potential nib issues I was hearing about, I ordered mine from Mr. Pendleton Brown with one of his signature grinds.  Interestingly (or perhaps appropriately), it arrived writing too dry and skipped consistently.  I sent it back to Mr. Brown for followup and of course he fixed it right up.  This hinted that the dry writing issue was indeed a real problem.

 

I took my pen on a trip around the world.  It's wonderful to be able to throw it in a bag and not worry about it getting scratched, and pull it out out in the "field" and have a lovely stub-italic writing experience.  This pen just screamed "me", and I will own it forever.  A shame it didn't catch on - but I think it is such a "niche" pen that the target market was just too narrow.

 

Ah well, I will enjoy it!  And I'm glad others do too.

 

Here's a photo of one of its adventures in Washington state -

 

yZz8WNO.jpg



#15 Algester

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 06:31

micarta is a sturdy composite thats what I know however I havent seen a micarta made tubing back from the 1970s so I;m not sure if there really is a shrink rate i think they were once use for electrical and gas tubing at one point
I also like the micarta and how the clipless really looks very "japanese" without the price point of a Nakaya, Hakase or Namiki or those elusive high end Sailors
but if people want a micarta piston filler didnt Sailor once made a micarta pen with a plastic section and long the lines I think they came up with a realo version as well?

Edited by Algester, 04 May 2015 - 06:35.


#16 Edsal17

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 15:22

I have two. I also felt that they had a rugged Nakaya vibe. The fact that they absorb oil and ink gives it that Wabi-sabi feel, but you can just soak it in water and start new if you want. My biggest complaints about the pens is of course the converter, and the fact that both seem to leak when carried.


Edited by Edsal17, 04 May 2015 - 15:44.


#17 coffeetoofull

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 04:00

I believe Philip Wang resolved the occasional complaints about the converter in the Micarta by creating the Version 2. The Micarta V2 pen provides a plastic insert around the ink nipple, and/also within the interior of the assembly area - for those who sporadically might have not been able to properly seat the converter or cartridge to its base. Of course, the obvious solution would be to provide a screw in converter.
I received the Goulet two tone #6 Medium Nib, today, and will be experimenting with De Atramentis inks (Atlantic Blue, Indigo Blue, and Blue Jeans), and Diamine Chocolate Brown ink with the Micarta V2 pen. I hope to be able to provide pictures and results to this topic.

Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull
Fountain Pen Day, also, emailed the following comment, which may be helpful to those who do not fill their  converter with a syringe. "On a side note make sure you wipe the section down with a damp paper towel after filling it. The Micarta may absorb the ink a little. If you do this each time you fill it you can prevent any discoloration."  


Edited by coffeetoofull, 06 May 2015 - 20:22.


#18 Frank C

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 04:15

I have always liked Micarta as a material. I have several pocket knives with Micarta scales and they are almost indestructible. I have considered these pens for some time, but never bought one. Thanks for all the information. Maybe version 3 is the way to go. 


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#19 coffeetoofull

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 22:40

An Exchange Of Nibs:

The Goulet Pen, #6, Medium, Two Tone, Nib performs like a very smooth Bold Nib, and does not compliment my style or size of writing, which could fit between 7mm lined paper. My ‘a’s and ‘e’s close, due to a generous nib’s flow rate of 8. I hold the pen at the proper angle, to prevent an increase of ink flow, but the Medium Nib with Diamine Chocolate Brown ink bleeds on Cavallini and Rhodia Dot paper, with very little pressure to the writing surface. The Cavallini paper is absorbent and expansive to this nib and ink, but does not bleed through to the back of the paper. The wings on the Goulet nib are larger than the TWSBI nib, but not obtrusive to viewing one’s script. The effortless Goulet nib, also, offers some additional flex over the TWSBI nib, although for a small script it is not necessary or useful. I suppose one could get used to a large heavy line, but the dry time is well over 30 seconds. The Classic TWSBI 1.1mm was a far better transition for a semi-thick line, and creates a readable script, when compared to the size and definition of the Medium Goulet nib, although, like the Goulet Medium nib, the TWSBI 1.1mm nib required one to slow down their writing speed. The EF TWSBI nib that comes with the Micarta pen is a perfect match for the pen. The small shouldered TWSBI #6 nib creates a line somewhere between a wide western and thin eastern line. Amazingly, the Goulet Medium nib used over one third of the International Schmidt K5 converter’s ink to create a full page of handwriting on a Cavallini Journal page. I replaced the TWSBI Extra Fine nib to the pen assembly with the Goulet Rubber Grip. This soft pliable inexpensive Grip is indispensable when removing or replacing a nib. It provides even pressure without damaging the nib or feed during removal and installation. The Extra Fine TWSBI nib performed beautifully with De Atrementis Atlantic Blue ink, which retained its dark even blue shades, without turning to a lighter blue grey overtone.



#20 J85909266

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Posted 24 May 2015 - 06:58

I love the Micarta! I have own many Busse Combat knives with Micarta handle scales, and it's just a pleasure to hold. I may try to dig one of these up, one day. Very unique pen. It's CC filling system, correct?

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