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Pelikan Level 1


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11 replies to this topic

#1 meanwhile

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 22:55

Overview
The Levels were an attempt to make fountain pens absolutely as easy to use as they could be. Instead of taking the pen apart to insert a short lived cartridge or messily dipping their pens' nibs in ink, Level owners simply had to press a special ink bottle against the pens, umm, butt, and squeeze. This transferred about 8 cc of ink in a single mess free operation. And, yes, it really worked!

Or rather it still does, because Levels are cheap on ebay.

So the Level gives you huge capacity and mess free filling, albeit from a special bottle (which you can refill with any ink you like). It is also claimed to be flight safe, and it uses the excellent nib from the Go and Pelikano, so it writes about as well as any fountain pen on earth. The body has excellent ergonomics, with a long comfortable section that accommodates a range of grips. The body is translucent, letting you see how much of that ink is left. With some caveats, I consider the Level 1 an excellent buy - I got mine for about £10 NOS on ebay, including international postage and a bottle of ink!

Nib 5/5
As I've already said, this is the same nib that the Go and Pelikano use. I've not heard of anyone disliking this nib, and a lot of users report that they prefer it to the nib of much expensive pens. I certainly prefer it to the nib that my M200 had and compare it favourably with any nib I've ever used. It's in a different league to Lamy Safaris and Waterman Kultur\Phileas - it really is a nib that feels in the class of a classic Sheaffer or high end Bock nib. It's smooth, but gives a good feeling of feedback. The wetness, which I rate "middle of the road", is constant under any sort of reasonable writing pressure. It's stiff, but not uncomfortably so. My nib is rated as Medium and I would say that's exactly right.

Filler 5/5
As I've said, you stick a bottle up the pen's butt and squeeze. And if you think that's altogether to enema-ish, wait until you learn the Level's cleaning procedure!

Anyway, to fill the Level you turn the dial on the end of the barrel so that the circle marked on it is aligned with the circle on the pen barrel. You then insert the ink bottle, holding the ensemble so that the bottle is top and the pen is bottom, and squeeze. This done, you remove the bottle.

But wait! The Level has two ink tanks! You've just filled the larger but reserve one. To fill the smaller one that's directly connect with the nib, turn that dial so that it's triangle aligns with the circle on the barrel, wait briefly with the pen held nib down, and you're done. You repeat this whenever the shows signs of running out of ink in its writing reservoir.

This is great engineering. The real problem with "big ink" pens are evaporation and thermal expansion. Because the main ink supply is tightly sealed away in a locked chamber, evaporation does little to rob you of ink and wreck your pen with sediment. And expansion isn't a problem either - the ink is too tightly sealed away to be forced out by warmed up air bubbles (the bane of eyedroppers that don't have cut-off valves like those on the Danitrios.)

The worst thing connected with filling is the ink supplied with the Level. It's awful, thin blue-gray stuff that makes Quink seem like Supershow Blue. I'd advise you to pour it away and put something decent in the special bottle instead.

WARNING!
If you press hard on the filler bottle and the Level's valves are in the wrong position, you will drench your hands and whatever surface you are over with ink!



Ergonomics 5/5
It's "right size" - about the same as an M800, I think, weighs almost nothing, and as I said the section design is good.

Appearence 4/5
The Level as is minimal and functional as a pen can become, subject to good ergonomics. It's a translucent tube with a tapering section with a nib sticking out. The cap looks like a slight piece of fancy-fication, but it isn't. It's a "Pharaoh's hat" shape, broader at the closed end than the the open end. I thought this was just an mis-attempt at looking interesting, but makes it easy to draw the pen from a jeans pocket, and then thumb off the cap - only one hand required throughout!

Construction 4/5
Sturdy tasteful plastic. The pen would have got a 5 if I wasn't slightly worried about the longevity of the clip. (The Go's clip is the best clip I've seen other than the PFM's, which it more or less copies, albeit with a flourish of bad taste and plastic coating.) It is an effective clip however - springy! But I'm probably being harsh - the body and cap feel like they are very tough, certainly sturdier than the Phileas, and possibly tougher than the Safari.

Value 5/5
A superb writing super high capacity pen for only £10 ($20)! As a carry-always pen, I don't think the Level can be beaten. It clings to your pocket, holds a tanker of ink, writes superbly, the translucent barrel lets you know how ink you have left, it can take a few knocks, and you won't be out of serious money if you lose it.

Tomorrow I shall explain how to clean a Level without dismantling it. It's a pain, so I recommend sticking to one colour of ink per pen - which means throwing away the ink that came in the bottle with the pen. But not the bottle! And I shall add photographs, if I can.

Edited to add:
I'm working looong hours time to get a piece of software shipped. As a consequence I just left my Level uncapped at about 6pm and just found it now at 4am. (I'm having to keep very weird hours for complicated reasons.) After almost 12 hours of being uncapped the Level wrote perfectly on my third scrawl - less than five seconds after I picked it up!

Edited again:
At the time I wrote this review I didn't appreciate that the nib used on the Go, Level, and Pelikano is very special. It's actually a wing nib, possibly stolen from the c. 1960 Meisterstuck when Mont Blanc were at their technical peak. The nib seals in the feed, giving most of the benefits of a hooded design while looking conventional. The benefit is a supremely reliable pen that is very reluctant to dry out - I suspect it actually out does the P51. I had a Level also used as a cat toy (I guard the others carefully now, but the Level is my so-what pen) not only survive an entire night of feline torture but actually start with no re-wetting of the nib after being uncapped for 18 hours. The pen also failed to leak any ink on the floor, although it had obviously been quite roughly treated. Tough pen! I do consider my Level indispensable - it can write for almost as long as a big Danitrio ED - literally a week of heavy writing - has a nib that would be acceptable on a £200 pen, doesn't dry out, and is almost indestructible.

Edited by meanwhile, 13 August 2007 - 12:01.

- Jonathan

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#2 Maja

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 07:43

Thanks for the review, Jonathan! I have a Level 65 (is there any difference between it and a Level 1? I looked on FPN & Google but couldn't find an answer...) and it is a sturdy, reliable fountain pen that holds a ton of ink. It's the sort of pen I would feel comfortable using during a long English exam smile.gif

Looking forward to the rest of your review and perhaps some photographs.....
Vancouver (B.C) Pen Club (our website)

#3 meanwhile

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 10:08

QUOTE(Maja @ Apr 18 2007, 08:43 AM) View Post
Thanks for the review, Jonathan! I have a Level 65 (is there any difference between it and a Level 1?


As far as I can tell, there are two basic models of Level. In "low numbers", these are the 1 and the 5. In "high numbers" I think the 1 is the 65 - it seems as if Pelikan used different numbering in different markets.

The 5 is the luxury pen. The easy way to tell the difference is that it doesn't have the Pharaoh's hat cap and unlike the 1 it's cap doesn't post.

- Jonathan

#4 randyholhut

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 18:52

The Level 1 is a decent pen in every way — the smooth nib, the enormous ink capacity, the rugged yet simple design.

I used to own one, but never really warmed up to it and traded it a couple of years ago. Like the Rotring Core, the Level 1 is an acquired taste.

The Level ink, on the other hand, I found to be great. It's plain Pelikan 4001 ink in a funny bottle. The royal blue that came with the pen I bought was a deeper and richer blue than Quink or Skrip, IMHO.

#5 meanwhile

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 00:13

Maybe I got an off bottle? Between batch variation and years in storage a lot might happen to an ink. Perhaps the best thing for anyone buying a Level is to dip the nib in the included ink and see if they like the result before writing.
- Jonathan

#6 Maja

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 15:43

QUOTE(meanwhile @ Apr 18 2007, 03:08 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Maja @ Apr 18 2007, 08:43 AM) View Post
Thanks for the review, Jonathan! I have a Level 65 (is there any difference between it and a Level 1?


As far as I can tell, there are two basic models of Level. In "low numbers", these are the 1 and the 5. In "high numbers" I think the 1 is the 65 - it seems as if Pelikan used different numbering in different markets.

The 5 is the luxury pen. The easy way to tell the difference is that it doesn't have the Pharaoh's hat cap and unlike the 1 it's cap doesn't post.


Thanks! I knew the 5 was the upscale model, but I suspected that the Level 1 was referred to as the Level 65 in some countries. On Rick Conner's site, he refers to it as the Level 1 (article here: http://www.rickconne...oply/pel.4.html ) , while on Werner Ruetigger's excellent Pelikan history site, it is called a Level 65 :
http://www.ruettinge...dell-level.html
I

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#7 Blorgy

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 20:38

QUOTE(meanwhile @ Apr 17 2007, 10:55 PM) View Post
Overview
This transferred about 8 cc of ink in a single mess free operation.

I could fit 8 cc into two Pelikan Level 65 pens, or 4 cc into one pen.

#8 meanwhile

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 12:27

I'll just add:

During a recent house moving my Level was the pen I kept on me for making notes while the pricier more fragile stuff was cased up. In the final stage of the move the pen disappeared. Two months later I found it again. It wrote first time, and the sealed main tank didn't seem to have lost any ink at all.
- Jonathan

#9 rroossinck

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 13:17

Great pens, aren't they? Perhaps a little finicky to fill 'em, but great pens!

*As a matter of fact, I wrote that signature that appears below with my black/yellow Level.

Edited by rroossinck, 06 July 2007 - 13:18.


Brassing Adds Character: Available by clicking on my signature.

#10 flexinib

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 22:05

meanwhile promised an explanation of how to clean a pelikan level I pen. but cannot find it, here in 2010. any chance, Meanwhile, you can post it again? or send it backchannel to john c. at flexinib@gmail.com
thanks

Flexinib

#11 Namo

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 17:12

Thank you for your review. I never realized that Pelikano nibs and the low end of Level serie had the same nibs! Thanks to this, I could change the B of my girlsfriend L65 and replace it by the F that she likes much more :clap1: (for some reason, it was ridiculously difficult to get only the nib for this pen...:mellow:).

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#12 Russ

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 23:22

I liked my Level 5 until the orifice admitting ink from the barrel to the feed somehow choked up. The plastic feed was destroyed while trying to remove it. Pelikan replaced it under warranty.

If it hadn't been for that issue, I think the engineering was great in theory. I was a little disappointed in the plasticky interior parts, however.






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