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Karas Kustoms Fountain-K Arrived

karas fountain-k aluminum

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23 replies to this topic

#1 tonybelding

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 16:34

My Karas Kustoms Fountain-K arrived in this morning's mail.  I opted for the gold-anodized aluminum body, silver (or clear) anodized aluminum grip section, and a Fine nib.

 

So, here are some quick first impressions. . .

 

It is, in fact, a compact pen.  It's not tiny, but it's smaller than the Bexley that I've been carrying in my vest pen loop, and it's fatter-but-shorter than a Sheaffer Targa.  The cap, in particular, is slimmer than a lot of screw-on caps and, closing flush with the body, it can't hang it up when slipping the pen into a loop.  The knurled top makes it easy to pull out, too.

 

The pocket clip works much better than I expected.  I'd heard about how stiff these are, and I usually avoid very stiff clips.  However, the shape is ideal, it doesn't have sharp edges, and it slips into the canvas loop easily, and it holds firmly.

 

The gold color is attractive.  The finish isn't super slick, but to me it has exactly the right luster that anodized aluminum ought to have.  I can put it under the loupe and find a couple of flea-bite sized dings, but for a pen of this material, style and price point, it simply looks good.

 

The cap can be posted.  It can actually go on pretty securely, but it hangs way out on the end of the barrel, and I'd worry about wear to the finish.  I think most people will choose not to post it.

 

The cap give me some concerns.  The threads are very "loose", and the cap can wobble and rattle all the way down until its lip snugs up against the shoulder of the pen body.  When you screw it all the way down, a sort of wedge forms with threads pushing one direction and the lip pushing the other direction and locking it shut.  However. . .  If any bump or jostle were to break that wedge loose, there is no more friction, and the cap would immediately come unscrewed -- in your bag, in your pocket, wherever it is.  It does not seem secure to me.

 

Also, I have some doubts about the cap seal.  As already mentioned, the threads are quite loose.  There is no inner cap.  There is no O-ring.  There is basically nothing to seal the cap except the lip wedged against the shoulder of the pen body.  Only time will tell if this is sufficient to keep the pen from drying out.

 

The No. 5 nib and feed and converter are all off-the-shelf standard parts.  I would normally prefer a screw-in converter, but I don't think it matters in this case, since the interior of the pen is so filled that there's no space for the converter to shift around.  It also fits snugly onto the feed.

 

After filling the pen and starting to write, it immediately burped ink onto the page!

 

Oops, did I not wipe off the nib properly?  I grabbed a paper towel and wiped it.  Then started to write again. . .  and it immediately burped more ink onto the page!

 

What the hey?

 

I wiped it again and gave it a minute to settle down, then started writing again.  I got about two words in, and it suddenly became super-wet as if it was just about to burp again, but then it went back to normal and started writing well.  Smooth, good flow. . .

 

I'm still trying to figure out what happened.

 

Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat.  I am concerned that grabbing the pen may warm it so quickly that it creates a slight over-pressure inside the pen body and pushes out a burp of ink, which is more than the (rather small) ink collector can handle.

 

I'll have more to report later.  Eventually I'll work up an actual review.

 



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#2 inkstainedruth

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 20:07

Pix!  You know the drill here -- pix or it didn't happen (especially the burping...  :lol:).  

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#3 tonybelding

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 22:49

OK, you asked for it. . .

 

fountain-k_01.jpg

 

Size comparison with Safari, Sheaffer Targa, TWSBI 530.

 

fountain-k_02.jpg

 

Nib size comparison.  Look how tiny it is, even compared with the TWSBI's No. 5 nib!  It seems as though the Fountain-K nib is set back into the section to allow your fingertips closer to the page.  This is something that might appeal to regular ballpoint users, but most likely not to experienced fountain pen users who are accustomed to holding it at a lower angle.  IMHO the TWSBI got it just about perfect.

 

fountain-k_03.jpg

 

Close up of metal work.  (Including flea bite!)

 

k-burp.jpg

 

It hasn't done this anymore today yet.  However. . .   Remember when I said it was "a little dry"?  It's proving too dry for me.  I have to press down too hard to keep it writing.  It looks like I'll either have to try a super-wet ink in it (like Legal Lapis or Texas Live Oak) or try to adjust the nib for greater flow.

 

I'm sort of getting a vibe of a fountain pen that was designed by people not too familiar with fountain pens.


Edited by tonybelding, 04 February 2016 - 22:51.


#4 Hangglidernerd

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 08:00

 Nice to see another while I wait.Tracking says mine will be here by Saturday.....(brass)....amazing the skills UPS has at foot dragging.



#5 sirgilbert357

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 15:11

Hmm...I was real close to ordering the "Ink" model, but I went with a Franklin-Christoph Iterum instead. After reading this review, I can say I'm glad I did. But as on this one, there is no inner cap on my Iterum either...so, not super excited about that. The section design is much better set up to receive an o-ring though, so I will be exploring that option this weekend.



#6 Hangglidernerd

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 02:22

Hmm...I was real close to ordering the "Ink" model, but I went with a Franklin-Christoph Iterum instead. After reading this review, I can say I'm glad I did. But as on this one, there is no inner cap on my Iterum either...so, not super excited about that. The section design is much better set up to receive an o-ring though, so I will be exploring that option this weekend.

 

I have a FC 02 and pocket 40.....both in the ice finish...they both get a bit of condensation in the caps each day so I certainly haven't worried any about an inner cap seal....I don't let them sit though so YMMV.



#7 inkandseeds

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:10

I have a copper KK Ink scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.  Other reviews that I have read are more positive, besides Karas Kustoms is relatively local for me.



#8 tonybelding

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:12

So far I've flushed it and filled with Legal Lapis.  After which it immediately burped ink on the page -- twice in a row, just like before.

 

With this very wet ink it writes a little better, but still too dry.  It's going to need some kind of adjustment.



#9 sirgilbert357

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:30

 

I have a FC 02 and pocket 40.....both in the ice finish...they both get a bit of condensation in the caps each day so I certainly haven't worried any about an inner cap seal....I don't let them sit though so YMMV.

 

I only have 4 pens, so they pretty much all get used daily...maybe I won't worry about an o-ring. It just seems like it would cushion the acrylic on acrylic bite that happens in that last bit of rotation when you're snugging the cap down.



#10 sirgilbert357

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:32

So far I've flushed it and filled with Legal Lapis.  After which it immediately burped ink on the page -- twice in a row, just like before.

 

With this very wet ink it writes a little better, but still too dry.  It's going to need some kind of adjustment.

 

That honestly sounds like some kind of air leak. Is the ink coming out through the nib's tip, the breather hole or what?



#11 tonybelding

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 18:38

 

That honestly sounds like some kind of air leak. Is the ink coming out through the nib's tip, the breather hole or what?

 

 

It just suddenly wrote super-wet, and then ink gushed out.  Even after the first two burps, the ink flow seemed erratic for a little while after filling it.



#12 akustyk

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 21:14

So far I've flushed it and filled with Legal Lapis.  After which it immediately burped ink on the page -- twice in a row, just like before.

 

With this very wet ink it writes a little better, but still too dry.  It's going to need some kind of adjustment.

 

Karas seems like so many other pen companies that get off-the-shelf nib units without doing any adjustment or testing prior to shipping.

 

Sorry to digress for a minute, but, while both Bock and Jowo are capable of making great nibs, few of their customers have the expertise and resources to customize, tune, and test nibs prior to shipping. The pen brands that do make their own nibs offer, in my experience, a more consistent writing experience.


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#13 tonybelding

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 01:40

You make an interesting point about nib tuning.  My recent experience with Jowo nibs is that they usually work pretty well "out of the box".  However, individual adjustment by the pen maker is not typical these days.

 

Tonight I think I am making some progress with the Fountain-K.  I think this burping problem is similar to one of the first fountain pens I ever got -- a Reform Czar, which is actually a quite upscale pen (with a 14K nib!) as compared with the inexpensive Reform pens most are familiar with.  Great pen. . .  but when I fill it, I have to carefully insert the edge of a tissue under the side of the nib to blot up the excess ink, or it will burp.  I think the same trick may work with the Fountain-K.

 

I also found an ink that my Fountain-K seems to really like. . .   Baystate Blue!  It's flowing pretty well, and it writes smoothly.  Maybe I've found my dedicated BSB pen after all?



#14 Hangglidernerd

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 01:43


Mine is here...a pleasant experience so far. (about 6 hours of abuse)

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#15 tonybelding

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 19:02

I've been continuing to tinker with the pen and do some further testing.  I put the nib assembly through the sonic cleaner just to make sure there was nothing in it messing up the ink flow.  Then I tested with Diamine Asa Blue, which I think is a pretty normal kind of ink. . .   And it burped.

 

What I've determined is that it burps immediately after being filled, and every time it's filled.  It doesn't matter what ink I use, and it doesn't matter if I make special efforts to blot extra ink from underneath the nib.  It still happens, very consistently.  It burps once, maybe twice, and then it settles down.

 

Has anybody else observed this behavior?



#16 Hangglidernerd

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 22:17

Mine hasn't burped even once yet.....fingers crossed that doesn't change.....4 inks so far...Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris,Noodler's Army Green and Private Reserve Ebony Green and I just filled it with Noodler's El Lawrence last night....



#17 IrishEyes

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 17:46

A "burping" pen would drive me nuts very quickly! Have you thought of exchanging it for another of its kind through whoever you purchased it from?

I have a Wality that does something similar at inconsistent times while I write with it. Nothing seems to change that. Result? I never use the damn thing anymore :-(. Good thing it was a cheap pen. I don't feel like I lost out on much by not using it anymore. Someday, I'll either give it away or throw it away. It's no use to me if I can't depend on it!

"In the end, only kindness matters."

 

 


#18 sirgilbert357

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 21:43

I've been continuing to tinker with the pen and do some further testing.  I put the nib assembly through the sonic cleaner just to make sure there was nothing in it messing up the ink flow.  Then I tested with Diamine Asa Blue, which I think is a pretty normal kind of ink. . .   And it burped.

 

What I've determined is that it burps immediately after being filled, and every time it's filled.  It doesn't matter what ink I use, and it doesn't matter if I make special efforts to blot extra ink from underneath the nib.  It still happens, very consistently.  It burps once, maybe twice, and then it settles down.

 

Has anybody else observed this behavior?

 

I'd try to exchange it. Doesn't sound normal. Do you have another converter you could try with it?



#19 tonybelding

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 01:06

 

I'd try to exchange it. Doesn't sound normal. Do you have another converter you could try with it?

 

 

I was prepared to exchange it, and already had sent a note to Goulet asking about this.  They were prepared to work with me, but. . .

 

I want to thank you for suggesting the converter.  It seemed far-fetched to me, but I happened to have a couple of new and never-used Goulet converters sitting in my parts box, so I swapped one in.  It appears to be perfectly identical to the one the pen came with.  The only difference. . .   No more burping!  The only thing I can figure is that the converter it came with didn't have a perfectly air-tight seal onto the feed nipple.

 

That left one other problem, the dry-ness.  I investigated swapping in another No. 5 nib, but that proved not to be viable.  The nib supplied in the Fountain-K is shorter than standard and has a very specific profile to fit the feed.

 

Then I thought. . .  Maybe it just needs some breaking-in?  I made a few very firm strokes down the back cover of a notebook, flexing it pretty hard.  And. . .  Success!  The flow is increased and now it appears to write perfectly.


Edited by tonybelding, 11 February 2016 - 01:07.


#20 sirgilbert357

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 16:18

 

 

I was prepared to exchange it, and already had sent a note to Goulet asking about this.  They were prepared to work with me, but. . .

 

I want to thank you for suggesting the converter.  It seemed far-fetched to me, but I happened to have a couple of new and never-used Goulet converters sitting in my parts box, so I swapped one in.  It appears to be perfectly identical to the one the pen came with.  The only difference. . .   No more burping!  The only thing I can figure is that the converter it came with didn't have a perfectly air-tight seal onto the feed nipple.

 

That left one other problem, the dry-ness.  I investigated swapping in another No. 5 nib, but that proved not to be viable.  The nib supplied in the Fountain-K is shorter than standard and has a very specific profile to fit the feed.

 

Then I thought. . .  Maybe it just needs some breaking-in?  I made a few very firm strokes down the back cover of a notebook, flexing it pretty hard.  And. . .  Success!  The flow is increased and now it appears to write perfectly.

 

I love happy endings! Glad you got it sorted!!







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