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Pilot 823 After Cross Century?

pilot 823 cross century cleaning ink

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22 replies to this topic

#1 Dan_public

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 03:03

Hi.   My name is Dan and I'm looking for a new pen.    My current pen is a Cross Century (circa 1980's).  Decent pen but much smaller than the Pilot 823, which is on my radar .    It looks like a Pilot 823 would fit the my needs, but I'm nervous about throwing down $300 USD for a new pen.  For folks who have used a much smaller pen like the old Cross Century and now have an 823 (or similar):

  • How difficult was it to switch to a larger pen like the 823?
  • What was your experience changing from a cartridge ink system to a vacuum filling system?   Any dislikes and drawbacks?   Major likes and benefits?

Also:

  • How difficult is it to clean your 823 when you want to try a new ink? 
  • What ink do you use in your 823?  Inks that perform poorly? Perform very well?  Recommendations?
  • Thoughts on the Pilot Iroshizuku inks?   If so, what color do you prefer?
  • Also, do you have the Amber or Black 823?
  • Would you buy the 823 again? 
  • Other fountain pens to consider (under $300 USD)? 

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

 

Dan.


Edited by Dan_public, 04 April 2016 - 03:05.


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#2 FOUR X FOUR

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 03:16

Hey Dan. Welcome to the forum. The 823 is an awesome pen. It's easy to take apart, clean and put it back together. You won't be disappointed

#3 vnnil

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 04:00

1. As long as you have a proper three fingers grip there should not be any major problem

2 and 3. The main problem is that cleaning the pen is more complicated than simply cleaning a cartridge or converter. Unless you are willing to disassemble the pen, which Pilot advices against, it will be very difficult to completely clean it. But huge ink capacity is definitely a bonus.

4. Pilot and Sailor inks performed excellent.

5. Expensive and hard to get, but very nice. Not waterproof though.

6. Amber

7. Of course!

8. Sailor black luster, Pilot 912. Also, it's cheaper if you buy from Japan

#4 ac12

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 05:42

I have NOT been able to get used to a larger pen.

My favorite pens are still 'slimlines' like the Parker 180/Classic, Reform 1745, Esterbrook LJ, the 'original' Cross Century from the 1980s.

I have tried to use larger pens, but beyond 12mm barrel size and beyond 30g weight, I cannot use them for more than 1 page of writing.
My hands feel like it is a relief to get back to my slim pens.

So, what I am saying is, you may or may not be able to get used to a fatter pen. I was not able to get used to a fatter/heavier pen.

Edited by ac12, 04 April 2016 - 05:42.

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#5 rutherfordr

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 18:58

I didn't think the adjustment was very difficult at all -- the 823 is one of the most comfortable pens that I own.

If you have a light touch with a crescent wrench, it's easy to remove the piston assembly for cleaning. If you're not comfortable with that, then you're going to have to flush it with water a couple dozen times when you want to switch inks.

The Iroshizuku inks are fantastic, and they're easily available through amazon. I like to match the color of the ink to the color of the pen, so I fill my amber 823 with Iroshizuku Ina-Ho ("Rice Ear" golden brown) ink.

I have the Amber pen, and the black one is in the mail. Both have medium nibs.

IMO the best Pilot fountain pens are the Custom 74 and the Custom Heritage 91, because they're the perfect size for me. They're big enough to be comfortable, and they're small and light enough to make writing easy.


Edited by rutherfordr, 04 April 2016 - 19:32.

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#6 deacondavid

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 04:34

>How difficult was it to switch to a larger pen like the 823?

 

When I returned to using fountain pens after having been away for many years, my pen collection consisted of two Pelikan M200s, a pair of Waterman Phileas, a Waterman Laureat I, a small Reform pen and a Lamy Vista. I did not like the Vista because of its large size.

 

I have learned to love the feel of the Custom 823 (mine has a fine nib) and the other larger pens I have acquired in the past year or so.

 

>What was your experience changing from a cartridge ink system to a vacuum filling system?

 

For the most part, the vacuum-filler is a major upgrade over cartridge/converter pens. Of course, even before my return to using pens, my favorites were piston-fillers (the M200s), so the change to a vacuum-filler was not tough for me. 

 

>Any dislikes and drawbacks?   Major likes and benefits?

 

For me, the major dislike is the limited nib selection. I would like the option of an extra fine nib or a posting nib. You can get a couple more options (the falcon and the waverly) if you order from the right pen shop in Japan. Otherwise, your choice is a frustratingly narrow selection of fine, medium or broad.

 

The major like can also be the drawback. Vacuum-fillers hold a lot of ink, which means that you make a major commitment when you fill a pen. A cartridge/converter means that you can try out more inks.

 

Some people hate the shut-off (you must unscrew the filler cap to write more than a page or so). On the flip side, with it screwed in, you have a pen that is very safe on a plane.

 

>How difficult is it to clean your 823 when you want to try a new ink?

 

This could be considered another drawback... While you can take it apart (if you're careful), you will find that a couple of dozen fills with water are needed to get it ready for a new ink if you don't want to take it apart.

 

>What ink do you use in your 823?

 

Thus far, I have used

  • KWZ Iron Gall Green #2 (what's in the pen right now, just swapped out this morning). The rod that you use to do the vacuum-fills is made of titanium, so it is not affected by Iron Gall inks.
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Shin Ryoku
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Asa Gao
  • Noodler's Eel Blue
  • Noodler's Squeteague
  • Sailor Jentle Oku-Yama

>Inks that perform poorly? Perform very well?  Recommendations?

 

Thus far, I have not found an ink that didn't work well in the 823.

 

>Thoughts on the Pilot Iroshizuku inks?   If so, what color do you prefer?

 

They're well-behaved inks. I wish they handled contact with water better than they do, though. Shin-Ryoku is a very nice green and there are several outstanding blues.

 

>Also, do you have the Amber or Black 823?

 

I have an Amber model, but have been considering a Clear demonstrator (available in Japan, alas, not in the US)

 

>Would you buy the 823 again? 

 

As mentioned, I am seriously considering another one.

 

>Other fountain pens to consider (under $300 USD)?

 

The TWSBI Vac 700 is also a vacuum filler, has a wider nib selection and is a lot cheaper. It's a larger pen, though, so if the size is concerning you, it may not be your best bet. Still, a Vac 700 (at about a fifth of the price of a Custom 823), may be a less expensive way to try out vacuum-filling and see if it is for you.

 

The Pilot Custom 912 has a slightly smaller nib than the 823, but offers a staggering fifteen nib options. It's a cartridge/convertor and a slightly smaller pen than the 823.

 

>Thanks in advance for any help.

 

Happy hunting! Let us know what you decide to get!


Current Daily Carry: Pilot Custom 743 with 14k Posting nib (Sailor Kiwa-Guro), Sailor 1911L Realo Champagne with 21k Extra Fine nib (Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu). Platinum Century 3776 Bourgogne (Diamine Syrah), Nakaya Portable Writer Midori with 14k Extra Extra Fine nib (Lamy Peridot), Pilot Vanishing Point Stealth Black with Extra Fine nib unit (Pilot Blue Black), a dozen Nockco DotDash index cards of various sizes and a Traveler's Notebook.


#7 Dan_public

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 05:20

Folks, many thanks for the great feedback!

 

Regarding cleaning, I'm fairly handy with tools and can work with some delicate parts.   So removing the piston assembly sounds doable.  Thanks for the tip.

 

Interestingly comments about size and weight; ac12's max size measurements are useful metrics.   The 823's weight is slightly under 30 grams and the barrel size is only 1/2 gram greater that the 12 gram limit.   Obviously our tolerance for large size may be different, but at least it's a start.

 

One point that I failed to mention was that I my cross pen has been sitting in a drawer for most of the last 30 years.   When I bought the Cross, I quickly became disillusioned because it was scratchy and dry.   So I stopped using it.

 

When I started reading about fountain pens again a few months ago, one article described how to fix those problems.   After some tuning and stretching the tines, the Cross is nice and wet, and most of the scratchiness is gone.   However, with the original problems gone and a fair amount of use, it doesn't feel quite right. So it may be the size or something else that's bugging me.  I.e. it may be too small.

 

One idea would be to buy a large, decent quality FP to see if a large FP will work for me.  It that works, then leap on an 823.   What do you think?   Good idea?   Dumb idea?   Other ways to try out an FP for size? 

 

Again, thanks for the feedback.

 

Regards,

 

Dan.

 



#8 Dan_public

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 05:26

Ah Ha!  More good feedback.  

 

While I was writing the above, deacondavid jumped in with great stuff.  

 

Thanks David! 

 

Dan.



#9 FOUR X FOUR

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 05:40

Hey Dan, do you own a TWSBI?

#10 deacondavid

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 11:49

Dan, if you gave up on the Cross because a scratchy nib, you should try a Pilot pen. I have a lot of Pilots and the smoothest of the lot is my Custom 823. The nib on my 823 is probably the smoothest nib in my collection that hasn't been tuned by a nibmeister. Maybe I was lucky, but, based on the performance of my other Pilots, I don't think so.


Current Daily Carry: Pilot Custom 743 with 14k Posting nib (Sailor Kiwa-Guro), Sailor 1911L Realo Champagne with 21k Extra Fine nib (Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu). Platinum Century 3776 Bourgogne (Diamine Syrah), Nakaya Portable Writer Midori with 14k Extra Extra Fine nib (Lamy Peridot), Pilot Vanishing Point Stealth Black with Extra Fine nib unit (Pilot Blue Black), a dozen Nockco DotDash index cards of various sizes and a Traveler's Notebook.


#11 deacondavid

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 12:04

Another pen to consider is the recently-released TWSBI Vac Mini. It's a shorter pen than the 823, but weighs about the same. It has a good selection of nib options (While the Vac 700 had a 1.5mm stub option that you might be able to find, TWSBI has discontinued it), costs a little bit less than the Vac 700, but still is a vacuum-filler. It also includes a tool that can be used on the 823 (or so I have heard - I have never have the nerve to take mine apart) and silicon grease. I may have seriously lucked out with my Vac Mini, but I find that the extra fine nib in it is the smoothest steel nib I have ever experienced (at least right out of the box).

 

A couple of notes about both TWSBI vacuum-fillers:

  • TWSBI has a nice filling system with the Vac 20/20A bottles. The bottles thread onto the section and allow for a great inverted fill that will (after a couple of strokes) make an almost complete fill with minimal mess and fuss.
  • The rods in the TSWBI vacuum-fillers are made of stainless steel, so using an iron gall ink in them is riskier than the 823.

Still, they are a great introduction to the vacuum-filler pens (and, hey - free tool!).


Current Daily Carry: Pilot Custom 743 with 14k Posting nib (Sailor Kiwa-Guro), Sailor 1911L Realo Champagne with 21k Extra Fine nib (Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu). Platinum Century 3776 Bourgogne (Diamine Syrah), Nakaya Portable Writer Midori with 14k Extra Extra Fine nib (Lamy Peridot), Pilot Vanishing Point Stealth Black with Extra Fine nib unit (Pilot Blue Black), a dozen Nockco DotDash index cards of various sizes and a Traveler's Notebook.


#12 Dan_public

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 15:25

Good morning.

My apologies if I've confused the issue...

After approximately 30 years of sitting in a drawer, I started using the Cross Century again a few months ago. It was still scratchy and dry. Based on the article mentioned above, I adjusted and tuned it. Now it's wet and fairly smooth, so I still use it.

Now I'm trying to understand why it still bothers me. With no other FP to compare it to, that's difficult. I'm hoping that the 823 will be smoother and fit my hand better.

To resolve this, I just ordered a Nemosine Fission for comparison to my Cross. I don't expect it to be as good as the Pilot, but it's very inexpensive ($25 USD), is supposed to have a smooth nib, and is roughly the same size and weight as the 823. So it's a cheap way of seeing how a big pen fits in my hand. It should be here Thursday. If it feels good after a few days used, I'll report back and order the 823. If not... Back to the drawing board. Slight pun intended. :)

Regards,

Dan

P.s. Four X Four, thanks, but I don't own a TWSBI. It would be great for comparison.

#13 ehemem

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Posted 05 April 2016 - 23:28

Are you anywhere in the Seattle area? If you are, there is a Seattle Pen Club, and lots of members have 823s. And you can handle the pen. The SPC meets monthly on the third Saturday of the month, but this month they will be meeting up in Bellingham.



#14 nyx_h

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 00:03

Get an 823 from ebay - Japanese sellers are letting it go for $200, rather than $300!


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#15 Dan_public

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 02:33

Are you anywhere in the Seattle area? If you are, there is a Seattle Pen Club, and lots of members have 823s. And you can handle the pen. The SPC meets monthly on the third Saturday of the month, but this month they will be meeting up in Bellingham.

ehemem,

 

Thanks for the heads up.  I live in Bellevue, just east of Seattle.   I'd be happy to drive to Bellingham on April 16th, but it turns out that I'll be in Michigan then.  :(  In any case, I just sent George an email asking him to add me to the email list.

 

Best regards,

 

Dan.



#16 Dan_public

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 02:43

nyx_h,

 

Thanks for the heads-up!

 

Regards,

 

Dan.



#17 FOUR X FOUR

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 03:16

[quote name="Dan_public" post="3600862" timestamp="1459910614"]
nyx_h,
 
Thanks for the heads-up!
 
Regards,
 
I asked if you own a TWSBI because you can use the wrench to loosen the 823 piston. Good luck to ya[attachment=355421:image.jpg]

#18 Dan_public

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 04:06

You didn't bother to answer my question. That's cool. I asked if you own a TWSBI because you can use the wrench to loosen the 823 piston. Good luck to yaattachicon.gifimage.jpg

FOUR X FOUR,

Please accept my apology. I missed that. I don't own a TWSBI.

Thanks for posting the pic. It looks a special wrench. I own a decent set of wrenches in imperial and metric. Do you need a special, thin wrench for the 823 or would a standard thickness wrench work?

Thanks,

Dan.

Edited by Dan_public, 06 April 2016 - 04:07.


#19 deacondavid

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 11:50

>Do you need a special, thin wrench for the 823 or would a standard thickness wrench work?

 

You're going want a wrench that is pretty thin. This is not to say that you don't have a tool that will work, just that the  tool included with the TWSBI pens is perfect and known to work well. Note that TWSBI introduced a new style of tool (it's made of plastic and thicker) with the Eco. It should also work with the 823, but I have not had the opportunity to test it.


Current Daily Carry: Pilot Custom 743 with 14k Posting nib (Sailor Kiwa-Guro), Sailor 1911L Realo Champagne with 21k Extra Fine nib (Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu). Platinum Century 3776 Bourgogne (Diamine Syrah), Nakaya Portable Writer Midori with 14k Extra Extra Fine nib (Lamy Peridot), Pilot Vanishing Point Stealth Black with Extra Fine nib unit (Pilot Blue Black), a dozen Nockco DotDash index cards of various sizes and a Traveler's Notebook.


#20 rutherfordr

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 16:18

I think it's a 7mm wrench. Standard thickness would work fine -- just pull the plunger out enough to make room for the wrench.


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