>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!