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The Parker Vector

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#1 tntaylor


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Posted 14 September 2005 - 20:39

I'm curious to know what so many people see in the Parker Vector fountain pen.

I know I talk quite a lot of trash about the pen, but I really would like to know why some people like and freely use them.

To me, writing with the Vector (which was the first pen I bought - as it was the only one I could get my hands on - when I finally decided to make the leap to using FPs) is like writing with a rather long nail. It made hash of absolutely everything I wrote (yes, I should probably be blaming my own handwriting for that) and if the pen was not positioned just so, it skipped or didn't write at all.

I didn't mind at all when I accidentally misplaced the pen, since dropping seven bucks at the grocery store was no hard knocks. So, I bought a second (then promptly found the first, so now I've got two of the buggers).

Finally, my first real fountain pen, the Namiki Vanishing Point (medium nib), arrived in the post, and made me a believer again. Smoooooooooth.

Had I not been so hell bent on being a fountain pen writer, the Vector would have turned me against the pens, completely.

What adds insult to injury is that the Vector cartridge holds so darned much ink! It's just NOT fair!

Anyway, I want to know, I truly want to know, why is the Parker Vector liked by so many people? Enlighten me...please!

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#2 Dillo


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Posted 14 September 2005 - 21:31


It is like the Reflex. It will not write well unless you scribble with it for a year. By then, the tip may be shaped enough for it to write without skipping. If you really do not want a Vector, you could send it to me, or if you want me to grind it specially, I could do so for free since it is a Vector. My Reflex which uses the same nib as the Vector does not feel like the nail it used to be anymore.


Edited by Dillo, 14 September 2005 - 21:34.

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#3 KCat


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Posted 14 September 2005 - 23:19

When I was a teen (13-18), i loved my Vectors. I had the kit - one regular fine point, 2 or 3 italic nibs. they were pretty good though i smoothed the corners on one of the italics. But I suppose I had little else to compare it to other than my Osmiroid set which wasn't really appropriate for school. And I had pretty strong, healthy hands then.

Now... i will tolerate them if need be. But I can not use them for extended periods of time because the section is slippery and the connection between section and barrel cuts into my hand.

i think it's one of those pens you either love or hate and not a lot in between. But for a young person just getting started, they might be a good choice because of the nib selection and size.

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#4 randyholhut



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Posted 15 September 2005 - 03:47

The Vector certainly isn't Parker's greatest pen design. It is what it is — a cheap, durable steel nibbed school pen. And the rollerball version isn't bad either.

The Reflex may be somewhat more stylish, but given a choice between the two, I'd take the Vector. The writing quality is about the same, but the Vector is sturdier. Then again, I'd take a Sheaffer No Nonsense (old style) over both of them.

Parker has been making these pens for almost a quarter-century. If they were truly junk, they never would've lasted this long.

#5 Brian Anderson

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 05:07

I know I talk quite a lot of trash about the pen, but I really would like to know why some people like and freely use them.

Come on, lt's talk trash. ;)

Yeah, I don't get it either, for me I think the design is horrid. I'm more inclined to want to use a pencil than one of them. Then to add insult to injury, it's a cartridge pen. Yuck.

Really, though, I think that's just the kind of thing that makes this hobby interesting. One person's trash is another person's treasure. I actually scribbled with one for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't too bad, then a couple of days ago I found myself in position of half a vector (anybody have a cap?). Yikes.

People probably think Esterbrook's write like nails too, and to some extent many of them do. It's interesting that some of the cheapest pens, while not always winning high marks for form still win high marks for function. They do what they were designed to do with a price at such a level they can be readily and easily replaced. Probably one of the reasons I like to collect off-brand and third or fourth tier pens.

Wow, sounds like a business lecture on product placement and pricing. Time for some sleep.

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#6 HesNot


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:44

I have other pens that I prefer to use than my couple Vectors - but for a less then $10 pen I've found that the 2 I own have generally been very reliable and written quite well. In fact I don't think I've ever had one skip or fail to write properly.

I suspect that in such an inexpensive pen it is something of a roll of the dice regarding the performance/quality and there is likely some variation.
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#7 emrecan


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Posted 25 September 2005 - 13:55

I have a vector too.Is it really a thrash pen?Im thinking to upgrade from vector to higher level pen.Whats your suggestions?Pelikan M200 or maybe cross whats do you think about that?
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#8 JeffTL



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Posted 25 September 2005 - 14:58

I like to think of the Reflex/Vector as the modern equivalent of an Esterbrook LJ with a tipped manifold medium. Very affordable and very reliable.

#9 Quest


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Posted 18 March 2008 - 06:00

One of my favorite pens is a Vector which has a checker-board style, in bright colors. It always writes well, and I always get compliments when I show it in a meeting. I would love to have another one just like it.

#10 richardandtracy


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Posted 18 March 2008 - 09:58

I, too, generally dislike the Vector. However I don't dislike it for the nib. That may be because each time I get a new one I write figures of 8 on 600 grade wet & dry paper for about 10 minutes to grind it to my way of writing. Then I smoothe it off with doing the same on a bit of brown paper. This does wear the nib a lot - but it's not the bit that limits the pen life.

The reason I dislike the Vector is the way the cap clutch ring wears out the platic grip area on the section. There seems to be no way to repair this. A terrible waste of money.

Generally the size & everything else suits me.



#11 Juan in Andalucia

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 13:43

I took most of my university notes with a couple of parker vectors and a waterman centurion (the plastic version of the centurion), so my opinion is biased.

I'd probably wouldn't suggest a vector as a 1st fountain pen (a Lamy Safari seems a much better suggestion), but the vector brings me some nice memories.

#12 J English Smith

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 14:32

My 2 cents - It's a decent, cheap pen for the money. Unlike the Frontier, which I hear has cap problems after a year or two (I own three now, I guess I will find out for myself), I have one Vector I've used off and on for 18+ years without a problem.

It is just a bit thin for me - and the section is a little slippery. The nib is ok, cheap but reliable and "no fuss."

For a new writer who wants to see if fountain pens are for them, but who find the Lamy Safari form factor too wide or too modern, it's a good entry-level pen.

I WAS surprised that Parker is bringing it back. I'd rather see them update the 25 style, or more fully release the Profile/IM fountain pen, which is a bump up from the Vector and a little more comfortable to hold.
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#13 christob



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Posted 18 March 2008 - 15:52

I like it. biggrin.gif

What I like most is the design; a slim tube giving a simple modern style (especially after the clip design was tweaked). A no nonsense pen which to me actually looks better than the expensive pens developed from its form.

Of course the nib is not the world's smoothest (But the pen seems to take longer to dry on the nib than my Sonnets.) I have had a cap split from being pressed on with too much force. The wearing of the clutch hasn't happened to me, yet. But I can see it will be a problem.

For a starter pen I'd go for a Pelikano or Lamy Safari (their left-hand nib is butter smooth, and who else has a left hand nib btw?). But the Vector has the better styling.

#14 RandyE



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Posted 20 March 2008 - 15:19

I have an 88 set (fountain and ballpoint) that I got back in 1989, and I've never had any problems with either of them. They have a nice heft, they write well, and the fountain was my main writer until just this year when I got a second (and third) fountain pen. I prefer thinner pens to be honest, so perhaps that's part of it's appeal for me. My 88 is a medium nib (my other pens have fine nibs) and I do recall some flow problems when it was brand new, but once I wrote with it for a short time they went away, never to return. With the Parker cartridges (black) I have always had good flow and instant starting.

Here's a link to some good info on the differences between the similar models (Vector, 88, Rialto) for those interested http://www.penhero.c...er/Parker88.htm

- R

Edited by RandyE, 20 March 2008 - 15:20.

#15 SquelchB


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Posted 20 March 2008 - 15:30

Vector was my first Parker FP and I've loved it so far. The design is perfect - minimalism as can be. I admit, it's too thin to write for me now, but that's only matter of being used. I have to say I didn't experience any of the cracking problems with plastic that are mentioned frequently, however the ring used to hold the cap in place (what's it called anyway? I thought it was clutch ring, but that's obviously something else) is worn so the cap sits very, very lightly and is too easily pulled off. However the nib has always been very smooth and is even smoother now after two years of everyday use.
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#16 swarden43



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Posted 21 March 2008 - 16:55

The Vector was the pen that convinced me to use fountain pens. I figured at $5 it was a good pen to experiment with. I still own and use my first one. Stylish? No. But it writes smooth enough for my satisfaction.
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#17 playpen


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Posted 23 March 2008 - 15:14

I would love to know who sells the Vector in NYC. I can't seem to find sources for these pens in the metro area but I am sure that they must sell them all over the place. They are fantastic pens and make great gifts for kids too.
I presently have one loaded with Baystate Blue and I am not afraid that the pen will clog and cause me any great loss as a result. I am also not afraid I will suffer a huge monetary loss should I lose the pen. If anyone knows where they are sold (especially the new very colorfully designed ones, please post the information here! smile.gif

#18 scholiast



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Posted 23 March 2008 - 15:43

I have never been overly fond of the Vector either. However, it was one of my first real FPs and, thus, it has nostalgia appeal for me.
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#19 ethernautrix


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Posted 23 March 2008 - 17:05

Huh... I have two Vectors, FP and RB, both steel. I've had them for... 20 years. Never had a problem with the nibs. (I liked the arrow clip and that they were all silver.) I haven't used them in years, but they're good starter pens. (I don't like the plastic ones, though.)


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#20 Shamouti



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Posted 25 March 2008 - 20:02

Vectors are inexpensive pens for beginners interested in Parker pens who never owned one. Jim Mamoulides @ PenHero had an article on the Vector too. Here's the link: http://www.penhero.c...arkerVector.htm

IMHO, Vectors are pens you like or dislike. Going to school, I had some bad EraserMate & EraserMate2 pens which smeared horribly. It was after I left 6th grade with inky stained hands, I decided to chuck 'em for good! Jotters seemed fine, but when they came out with the Vector roller ball & fountain pen, I was hooked. They were good for utility writing; work pens, nothing more.

They aren't the nicest pens Parker ever made, compared to Parker's pen lines throughout the years. Jotters & Vectors, because of the barrels, became imprintable pens for companies and special events, mostly for give aways or advertising. Vectors also had a terrific line of colors and designs. For example, the roller ball came out with a mosaic type color and a weird yellow, black & speckled colored barrel; really ugly! Both sported black matte clips and barrel ends. What can you expect? They came from the early 90's. Vector ballpoint pens had similar top buttons to Jotters and had stainless steel points on them, with a plastic checkerboard clip, which seemed uncomfortable to me. Roller balls, if lathed improperly had sharp plastic on the end of the barrel where the stainless steel tip screws in. Thank goodness for Parker's Lifetime Warranty.

Parker seemed to place the Vector everywhere. You'd find it in Parker's Calligraphy set, with F,M,B italic nibs, cartridges, a converter (which changed over the years) and a medium pelleted nib for regular writing. Colors and styles changed a lot too including the materials they used for assembly. Earlier roller ball & fountain pen Vectors had clips with 90 degree angle points behind the arrow, as in the pictures from Jim's PenHero article. These pens are actually quite user serviceable, although I wouldn't recommend everyone to try it. The caps of the Vectors usually had stickers to cover up the screw or rivet which held the clip, and inner cap secure. These stickers were colored a shiny black, matte white or stainless steel type.

Since Parker wanted to save some money, they redesigned the clip so the angles behind the arrow point became more of a 45 degree angle. This move was also supported by Parker's decision to move Vector and Jotter production from Janesville. If you removed the sticker above the pen cap, it would reveal a push rivet that in some cases become lose and make the clip move & scrape the barrel. It really drove me nuts when I bought a Vector flighter fountain pen in this design, because I knew from past experiences, how badly it would scratch.

Vector fountain pen nibs have also changed with the times too. Originally, the Vector nib had a small triangle which supported nice ink flow. I had some Penman ink cartridges (not the best I know!) and tried them on the fountain pen. They didn't flow right away, but I waited a day with the pen pointed clip down in my cup. Then when I used the Vector, it was a very smooth writer. Not super smooth, but good for general writing.

Later Vector fountain pen nibs changed as a result of Parker attempting to address the flow problem. Instead of the triangle design, it had a flat end on the back behind the nib and rounded edges meeting at the space between the tines. This design not only helped increase flow, but in some cases, caused a very wet, unreliable writer which quickly evaporated ink from cartridges. Bad.

Some of the nice things about earlier Vectors though are when you have one, such as I described with the 90 degree angled feather clip, you can remove the sticker, and unscrew the screw to exchange with the roller ball. All you had to do was remove the screw and inner cap from each and voila! You got a new Vector! I had a roller ball I didn't like and turned it into a fountain pen this way, so it was a lot of fun and easy to do. Modern Vectors don't allow that choice because of the materials they use. Pity.

Some complaints I have is you cannot use modern Parker converters for Vectors. I mean, the converters used in your Sonnet will not fit into a Vector because they are too wide. Sometimes the caps cannot post well on the barrel because either the pen cap is too hollowed out, so it would fall off, or too narrow, so it would force you to push in it, which I seriously don't recommend.

In summary, Vectors are utility pens and not for displaying with your Sonnets, Duofolds and the like. I use them mostly for testing new inks and playing darts now. Otherwise it's a personal choice.

Edited by Shamouti, 25 March 2008 - 20:25.

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