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Pilot Custom 823


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28 replies to this topic

#1 burmeseboyz

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:57

My first FP review here so any constructive criticism would be appreciated. I've only had this pen for a day and a half but I'm in love with it and just had to write a review sharing. No writing samples I'm afraid, I'm much too shy embarrassed_smile.gif . Honestly, my writing is mediocre at best. And the pictures are a little blurry (low light, digital camera etc...) sorry. I'll edit it if something comes up in the future but I feel like I'll keep loving this pen as much as I do now! thumbup.gif


First Impressions 7/10
The pen, on opening the package and seeing it for the first time, did not impress me. The material looked just like regular plastic and there was no sparkles or otherwise on the pen. But after handling it, and feeling it's balance and weight, I knew that it was of quality engineering and that it will not disappoint. But no bells or whistles but it was solid. the plastic was dense and certainly led to the weight of the pen. The definition of quality.

Appearance 8/10
The pen's translucent barrel filled with ink and the dark brown hint of the plastic makes one classy looking pen. The gold plated hardware also helps with the appearance as you can see from the pictures, Figure 1. Pardon my photography. And the nib is one big fella and perfect for those with insecurities, Figure 2. It is beautiful and the point looks well made and aligned. The metal piston rod looks solid and I have every confidence in the pen based just on its appearance and feel. However brown might not be the color of choice for some people and the same goes for black. You're pretty limited in that department but I can say that I personally love the brown and an so happy for ordering that color.

IMG_0416.jpg
Figure 1. Closeup of the cap showing off the gold plated furnishings and the translucent material.

IMG_0418.jpg
Figure 2. Blurry picture of nib showing off it's relatively large size. It's not massive but it matches the size of the pen rather well and is quite impressive.



Design 7/10
The only design flaw of this pen is the need to unscrew the blind cap to allow for the flow of ink from the barrel into the feed. I think the idea of sealing off the ink reservoir to prevent ink evaporation or leaking is a good thing but I don't really want to unscrew the blind cap all the time. Apart from that, the balance, the feel, the size (Figure 3), it's all perfect and I don't mind the screw cap. But it's not as mobile as other pens due to the blind cap issue. More for long stretches of writing.

IMG_0423.jpg
Figure 3. Comparing the size of the Pilot Custom 823 (middle) with the Pelikan M605 (top) and a green Parker 51 regular (bottom). It's one decently sized pen and will feel comfortable in a large range of hand sizes. Ruler on top for reference.

Nib 9/10
The medium nib is buttery smooth but the point loss comes from the pen being a little picky about the ink that you feed it. I first had J. Herbin Black and it would require me to unscrew the whole blind cap for proper flow but when I filled her up with Noodler's American Eel Black, you only need to unscrew it around 2mm for proper flow. Apart from that the flow is superb and the nib is springy and provides a smooth wet line.

Filling System 9/10
The filling system on this pen has to be the best around today. It's the most fun to fill and the sight of ink flowing into the barrel fills me with pleasure. The ink capacity is also really high and I'm sure you can write lots with it.

Cost and Value 8/10
I know it's not as expensive as some other players out there but it is pretty expensive. In Japan its around ~$185 USD but you can't get it in the US so I had to order them from ebay for $244. But I heard that some were being sold for $200 so maybe that would put up the cost/value ratio. I wouldn't have gotten it if it was not an early birthday present. But it is one great writer and I am in love with fountain pens, and this particular fountain pen all over again.

Conclusion 8/10
Well this pen is great and I love it. Everything about it is superb except for the picky ink and the blind cap unscrewing thing that can prevent its use as a quick note taker. But I think the pen is designed more for comfortable and elegant writing on your desk and not for a quick note in the field. Pilot's VP is more suited for that. Overall a great buy with no regrets.

EDIT: One additional note is that for some inks, the pen's blind cap will need to be unscrewed past the threading for proper flow. But don't worry about the plunger extending further as you're writing. There is an additional mechanism that initially prevents the extension of the plunger. Good safety precaution. Also, you won't even notice the blind cap when you have the pen posted, which feels a little more hefty but well balanced in my hands. It feels around the same weight as a vanishing point but writes so much better.


EDIT: I forgot to add the points.

Edited by burmeseboyz, 15 July 2007 - 15:16.

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#2 Johnson

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 04:01

Thanks for the great review! I think the brown is such an attractive color. I'm not a big gold trim guy unless some brown is involved.

Not sure if you have an M800 for comparison, but if you do, how does the size of the M800 nib compare to the size of the 823 nib?
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#3 burmeseboyz

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 00:07

QUOTE(Johnson @ Jul 14 2007, 04:01 AM) View Post
Not sure if you have an M800 for comparison, but if you do, how does the size of the M800 nib compare to the size of the 823 nib?


Thanks for the comments. The brown really does look great and the opaque plastic ends are actually dark brown and not black. You need to see the color in some decent light. And I don't have an M800 but I took some closeup shots with it next to my M605's nib.

IMG_0430.jpg

THe nib is around 1.25 to 1.5 times that of the M600 nib and so I would imagine that it would be around the same size as the M800's nib. But I don't have one for a direct comparison. The above picture shows off some of the engravings, but it's done with a crappy digital in low light so you might want to look at the beautiful details on the pictures in the stylophiles review.

Here's a less angled picture that gives a good comparison of the nib sizes.
IMG_0431.jpg

The nib is about 2.5cm long and 1 cm wide. Hope that helps.
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In thy most need to go
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#4 Brian

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 22:44

That was a great review. I like the ruler idea for comparing sizes. Is this pen a vacuum filler that creates a void behind the piston that gets filled when the piston goes to the end of travel?

#5 burmeseboyz

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 22:23

QUOTE(Brian @ Jul 17 2007, 10:44 PM) View Post
That was a great review. I like the ruler idea for comparing sizes. Is this pen a vacuum filler that creates a void behind the piston that gets filled when the piston goes to the end of travel?


Thanks for the comments. And yes, this pen is a vacuum filler like the sheaffer vacuum fillers and works in exactly the way you described. An intro can be found on Richard Binder's website. But one additional thing Pilot did was to use the rubber plunger to stopper the ink reservoir to prevent any leaks. This reduced the rate that the pen would dry out and also the chances of ink leaking out. But at the same time, it means you have to unscrew the blind cap to allow the ink to flow into the feed. You don't have to worry about the blind cap coming off or ink leaking from it. It's okay to leave it unscrewed for a relatively long period of time and have it sit on your desk. But being paranoid that I'll accidentally pull out the plunger, I always screw it back in when I'm done. Pilot has a little stop mechanism to prevent such accidents, but with enough force, the plunger does come out so it's not foolproof. But if you think you can get past that, it's a great pen and I highly recommend it.
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#6 TheNobleSavage

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 16:21

I have an 823 in black with a broad nib and it is a fantastic writer. I had to order directly from Japan but it was well worth it AFAIK. The thing I noticed is that the pen only fills 75% at the most when filling it up, but that is not such a bad thing because it holds a ton of ink anyways. It is unfortunate that this pen is not available in the States but it is one of the best kept secrets in the pen world.

Great review!!!

TNS
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#7 RayG

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 17:34

Is it necessary to open and close the plunger end for writing during the day, or will closing the cap be sufficient to prevent leaks as with the Densho?
Ray


#8 burmeseboyz

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 20:03

Thanks for the comments. It really is a great pen. And like other Japanese pens, the medium nib is just slightly thicker than a western fine. And it's not necessary to close the plunger end every time you set it aside. Closing the cap will prevent any leaks and that should be enough. However, the opened plunger does look a little funny, at least in my eyes.
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In thy most need to go
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#9 sjldaniel

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 20:42

QUOTE(The Noble Savage @ Jul 19 2007, 04:21 PM) View Post
I have an 823 in black with a broad nib and it is a fantastic writer. I had to order directly from Japan but it was well worth it AFAIK. The thing I noticed is that the pen only fills 75% at the most when filling it up, but that is not such a bad thing because it holds a ton of ink anyways. It is unfortunate that this pen is not available in the States but it is one of the best kept secrets in the pen world.

Great review!!!

TNS

I have an 823 in black with a medium nib, and it is one of my best writers. The pen itself is nothing flashy, but I love the feel of the pen and the way it balances perfectly in my hand (uncapped). I agree that the 823 is one of the most underrated pens out there.

I don't mean to hijack this post, but I have a question I would like to throw out to others who have used an 823. I have read comments posted by 823 owners they cannot get a complete fill when filling the 823. Like TNS, I can get only a 75% fill at best. However, I saw on the Ujuku shop website that there is a special 70ml bottle of Pilot ink suitable for filling an 823. Apparently, the depth of the bottle makes it "most suitable" for filling a pen such as the 823. Has anyone out there tried this bottle of ink?

I'm thinking of ordering one just to see if I can get a complete fill using this 70 ml bottle Pilot ink. But I would like to get any comments, if any, before placing the order. I tried looking for this 70ml Pilot ink in Japanese stationery stores and on the web, but could not find any retailers outside of Japan. Given the 823's large ink capacity, not getting a complete fill is not such a bad thing. But a part of me would still like to find out if it is possible to get a 100% fill.

#10 Pengrump

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 21:32

QUOTE(sjldaniel @ Jul 20 2007, 08:42 PM) View Post
QUOTE(The Noble Savage @ Jul 19 2007, 04:21 PM) View Post
I have an 823 in black with a broad nib and it is a fantastic writer. I had to order directly from Japan but it was well worth it AFAIK. The thing I noticed is that the pen only fills 75% at the most when filling it up, but that is not such a bad thing because it holds a ton of ink anyways. It is unfortunate that this pen is not available in the States but it is one of the best kept secrets in the pen world.

Great review!!!

TNS

I have an 823 in black with a medium nib, and it is one of my best writers. The pen itself is nothing flashy, but I love the feel of the pen and the way it balances perfectly in my hand (uncapped). I agree that the 823 is one of the most underrated pens out there.

I don't mean to hijack this post, but I have a question I would like to throw out to others who have used an 823. I have read comments posted by 823 owners they cannot get a complete fill when filling the 823. Like TNS, I can get only a 75% fill at best. However, I saw on the Ujuku shop website that there is a special 70ml bottle of Pilot ink suitable for filling an 823. Apparently, the depth of the bottle makes it "most suitable" for filling a pen such as the 823. Has anyone out there tried this bottle of ink?

I'm thinking of ordering one just to see if I can get a complete fill using this 70 ml bottle Pilot ink. But I would like to get any comments, if any, before placing the order. I tried looking for this 70ml Pilot ink in Japanese stationery stores and on the web, but could not find any retailers outside of Japan. Given the 823's large ink capacity, not getting a complete fill is not such a bad thing. But a part of me would still like to find out if it is possible to get a 100% fill.


I got a Pilot 823 set from Dr. Ron Dutcher. The pen (medium nib) came with the 70 ml bottle of Pilot ink. The bottle has a little inkwell in it. The pen does not go all the way into the bottle. I got about a 60% fill the first time I filled the pen. I used the Pilot 70ml bottle. Then when the pen ran out, I filled it 75% full with Aurora Black. The Aurora bottle is much deeper than the well in the Pilot bottle.

I believe one could get close to a 100% fill in the pen if one used a Visconti travelling ink pot. I have one, but I'm happy enough with a 75% fill that I probably won't bother with the ink pot. Even 75% is a lot of ink. I use the pen extensively, but that lasts me about five days.

#11 burmeseboyz

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 22:59

I haven't had experience with the 70mL Pilot ink bottles but I think the Noodler's 3oz bottles do a pretty good job at filling up the pen. I don't think you can get ~90-100% fill because the vacuum produced by the piston can't be that strong. Also, the viscosity of the ink might be a factor in how much ink gets into the pen. If the ink is very viscous, then the volume of ink that the pen sucks up won't be as large as it would be if the ink was not as viscous. Anyway, get the bottle to try the ink but I wouldn't think you'd get more of an improvement in filling because of the specific bottle.
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#12 zenshrink

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 01:24

I bought two of the special ink bottles in Japan and you still get the 60-75% fill.

#13 sjldaniel

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 01:29

Thank you for all your responses. They helped tremendously. I'm going to pass on the 70ml Pilot bottle ink and put that money toward the purchase of my next pen purchase. I think burmeseboyz is right. The vacuum may not be strong enough to allow for a 100% fill regardless of what bottle ink you use. Thank you again.

#14 docsamson

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 23:09

Thanks for the review of the Custom 823. This is one of the pens I love to get my hands on. From everything I've read on the boards here, this is one of the best writers out there, better than the Sailor 1911 from a lot of people's reactions.

Along with a Danitrio, this is the pen I'm looking forward to getting for my collection and it's probably the only one I'd pick up on a whim if I happen to come across it in person, which will never happen.

This is one hard pen to pick up in the states even if you don't mind paying a premium which you will pay if you buy from one of the few places that offer it on the web ($230 - 260). Not horrible but I'll keep looking.

I heard Richie from Cyberpens had good prices if you e-mailed him. I did but he never replied. Just as well, this is something I don't need to be searching for right now.

I love reading over your review though,
Brad

#15 Lloyd

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 00:14

QUOTE(docsamson @ Aug 1 2007, 07:09 PM) View Post
I heard Richie from Cyberpens had good prices if you e-mailed him. I did but he never replied. Just as well, this is something I don't need to be searching for right now.

I love reading over your review though,
Brad

Because of the almighty dollar rolleyes.gif , Richie costs $250 to ship a 823 to the states. He's tough to reach but extremely trustworthy.

Edited by Lloyd, 02 August 2007 - 00:15.

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#16 docsamson

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 01:48

I heard Richie was a good guy. Maybe I'll try him again once I can afford to. Maybe a trip to Japan is in my future.

QUOTE(Lloyd @ Aug 1 2007, 05:14 PM) View Post
QUOTE(docsamson @ Aug 1 2007, 07:09 PM) View Post
I heard Richie from Cyberpens had good prices if you e-mailed him. I did but he never replied. Just as well, this is something I don't need to be searching for right now.

I love reading over your review though,
Brad

Because of the almighty dollar rolleyes.gif , Richie costs $250 to ship a 823 to the states. He's tough to reach but extremely trustworthy.



#17 southpaw

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 02:35


Great review! I've got one in black with a medium nib and it's a pure writing machine! ENJOY!!!
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#18 RayG

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 03:27

This pen is certainly very enticing. smile.gif One more question for the owners - does posting the cap interfere with the airflow?
Ray


#19 tamburlaine

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 09:19

That is such a lovely looking pen. Thank you for the review. I think I have decided that the only modern pens for common use worth buying are either Japanese or German.

QUOTE(Lloyd @ Aug 2 2007, 01:14 AM) View Post
QUOTE(docsamson @ Aug 1 2007, 07:09 PM) View Post
I heard Richie from Cyberpens had good prices if you e-mailed him. I did but he never replied. Just as well, this is something I don't need to be searching for right now.

I love reading over your review though,
Brad

Because of the almighty dollar rolleyes.gif , Richie costs $250 to ship a 823 to the states. He's tough to reach but extremely trustworthy.


I concur here - I just bought a very cheap pen from Cyberpens (on eBay), received it very quickly (if you discount the delivery time because of the current postal strikes) and at an excellent price. While he replied to my queries about the pen being sold very quickly, I also asked him through eBay and through separate emails about other, Japanese, pens. Yet to receive any word from him. Either he doesn't like talking about Japanese pens, or, I believe he is probably enjoying a Summer holiday and is only replying to queries about items he is able to ship immediately. sleep.gif

Edited by patrick1314, 02 August 2007 - 09:20.

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#20 docsamson

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 09:56

Ack! I just found one on eBay. Couldn't resist. I didn't know that japan_antique was engeika as well. At least that's what my Paypal account says. I can't wait.






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