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Conklin All-American (orange spice)


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#1 teaguejb

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:04

Conklin All-American Orange Spice

Appearance and Finish







This is my first review, and I have borrowed a format which most people on FPN seem to like. Last week I picked up a Conklin All-American Orange Spice at FPH. The orange is just shy of a fluorescent kind of orange; it’s close to a “traffic cone” orange. I certainly like the color a lot. I generally like black pens or metallic finishes, but this one caught my eye. The silver-plated clip and band alternating with the black plastic trim look really nice too, especially with the orange body. It’s a shame the Conklin name is laser-etched—not engraved—onto both the clip and the cap band. The cap is snap-on and fits very well—better than either my Sheaffer Prelude or my Parker Sonnet.



I’m embarrassed to say I’m not altogether sure what material is used for the body, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a common plastic material. If anyone can fill in the blank here, I would be grateful. I do think the body of the pen looks slightly cheapish because of the material used and/or the finish applied to the material.

Score: 4/5

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Size and Weight

This pen is somewhat lighter than most of my pens, weighing in at 28 grams (converter filled with ink). I tend to prefer heavier pens overall, but it’s not so light that it bothers me—in fact, it’s a nice change to lightweight. The length of the pen capped is 5-3/8 inches. Posted length is 5-3/4 inches. The un-posted length is 4-3/4 inches which is very comfortable in my rather small hand. I always write un-posted. The snap-on action of the cap when posting is very, very nice. There is no worry at all that the cap will go anywhere, and the weight is only slightly cap-heavy when posted. Overall, it’s a relatively nicely balanced pen. As I said, I generally write un-posted because I can’t stand any weight at all on the back end of the pen. Below is a photo with two other similarly sized pens: the Parker Sonnet and the Sheaffer Prelude.



As you can see, the All-American has slightly more girth and is about 1/8” longer than either of these other pens.

Score: 5/5

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Nib Design and Performance



This pen comes standard with a 14k gold nib. I chose a medium nib. As you can see in the image, the nib does not have an intricately engraved design on the top, but this is far less important than a nib that performs well, right? Right out of the box, it wrote like butter. In my somewhat limited experience, I would say this nib was relatively expressive with a reasonable amount of flex to it…all my other pens have relatively rigid nibs. The feel of the nib is quite smooth and lays down a nice, wet line. I filled with Sheaffer Skrip Black, which I think may be a little too watery, in fact. No drips or running so far, but no drying out and no skipping or stopping so far either. I plan to try a slightly thicker ink next which I think would do well in this pen. The “sweet spot” of the nib does not seem as large as my other pens. The nib gets very scratchy if its orientation with the paper goes outside the range of the "sweet spot." I’ve actually had problems writing on a particular kind of paper (a journal I bought at Barnes and Noble) with this pen, but I’ve had similar problems with other pens when writing in that notebook as well. The photo below is a writing sample (not on the problematic paper). The right side of the page seems a little out of focus…my apologies.



There is an interesting—albeit superfluous—feature to discuss. The feed on the underside of the nib is completely transparent. It’s difficult to see in the photo below, but you should get a rough idea. Conklin calls this their “demonstrator feed.” Okay. Maybe I’ll find the usefulness of this later on.




Score (double-weighted): 5/5

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Ink Filling System

This pen is filled either by cartridge or converter. When I tested the pen at FPH, I immediately noticed that something was rattling around inside. Jimmy said “they don’t connect the converter at the factory because of the gold nib.” So, I opened the pen and installed the empty converter just because. The screw/crank portion of the converter is large and looks unusual, although it functions exactly as expected. There is a bit of a problem, though. The converter doesn’t sit very snugly in the section. It has a lot of room to rock back and forth. This creates a rattling which happens pretty much whenever the pen is moved. So far, there has been no leaking of any kind, just the rattling. I realize the above description makes it seem as if it is a maddening amount of noise from the pen, but it’s really not loud. You can definitely feel the rattling while holding the pen in your hand. This is an unfortunate design flaw worthy of a two-point deduction. The pen comes with a lifetime warranty for the original owner, so if the converter ever leaks, the pen will obviously go back to Conklin.




Score (double-weighted): 3/5

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Cost/Value

I paid $88 for this pen at FPH. I don’t think there is any other pen in this price range with a gold nib. There are a couple with gold-plated nibs, I think. It really is a decent looking pen with a great nib and great writing performance. I wish Conklin had fixed the rattling problem. If you are able to overlook this issue (assuming it doesn’t starting leaking), the pen is worth the price. With the warranty, this is worth the risk. Without the gold nib, I would not have considered purchasing this pen, however.

Score: 4/5

-----------------
Overall Impression

I do like this pen despite my criticisms of it. I’m a function-before-form kind of guy, so the criticisms due to appearance don’t really bother me. Even the rattling doesn’t bother me as long as leaking problem doesn’t arise. It writes very well, feels comfortable in my hand, and looks nice although not “jewelry-case” nice.


Overall Score: 4.1/5




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#2 rroossinck

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 05:04

Terrific review, Teague. Makes me sort of miss mine.

One comment re: "the usefulness" of the clear feed. The clear feed is a radical departure from their other feed design.

Namely, because it works. smile.gif

They use the same feed in the Victory series.

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#3 teaguejb

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 15:40

Thanks, rroossinck. I have an update for everyone. The rattling is still an issue, but no leaking problems have developed. In fact, I'm having quite the opposite problem with this pen. There is some sort of breathing problem with the feed which is creating a vacuum inside the converter. This means ink will not flow out of the converter and into the feed. The only way to circumvent this is to remove the body and turn the converter screw to force ink into the feed. I've contacted Conklin and they have agreed to repair the pen at no cost (obviously) and return it within 10 business days. This seems like a pretty fast turn-around. Am I right? We'll see if they are actually able to do this. I'll post another update when I get the pen back from Conklin. I still really like the way this pen writes (when the feed has an adequate supply of ink).

#4 Opus104

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 15:49

Great first review. I expect Conklin will be true to their word with a quick turn around. By and large the All American is a reliable pen.

Edited by Opus104, 01 January 2008 - 15:50.


#5 Deirdre

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 10:35

I hate rattling pens. It almost looks like the orange of my Vanishing Point, which is a really great orange.
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#6 rroossinck

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:38

I remember the rattling issue, but the seizing up is a new one on me. If you haven't sent it out yet, you might consider flushing the converter out really well with soap and water. If there's even a little bit of oil left over in the converter, it could bind it up a little.

Might be worth a shot.

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#7 Maja

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 16:59

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Dec 10 2007, 09:04 PM) View Post
Terrific review, Teague. Makes me sort of miss mine.

One comment re: "the usefulness" of the clear feed. The clear feed is a radical departure from their other feed design.

Namely, because it works. smile.gif

They use the same feed in the Victory series.

Good to know, rroossinck! I hope Teague's problems with ink flow are temporary (my Victory has zero problems with ink flow clap1.gif ) ; the All-American looks like a nice pen, and considering it has a 14K nib, sounds like a good value.

Thanks for a great review, Teaguejb! thumbup.gif

Edited by Maja, 02 January 2008 - 17:00.

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#8 Waduino

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 00:24

I bought one of these and have used a few converters full of de Atrementis Coral Red ink in it. I bought the pen because it writes like butter, just glides with a very nice line. Having used it for a few weeks I can say that I really enjoy it. Between the orange colour and the red ink, it adds a little fun and excitement to writing. Mine rattles too. I sent a note to Conklin just to see what they say. Sure, it would be nice if it didn't rattle, but the appearance and writing are way more important to me.
Wad.

#9 amh210

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 06:42

Of course it shouldn't be necessary, but you could probably fit a small piece of paper or sponge or foam or whatever in the barrel to take up the excess room and reduce/prevent the rattling.

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#10 Waduino

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 18:59

Good News!

I sent a note to Conklin and they said, heck just return the pen, we'll fix it up or replace it and send it back to you.

Then I realized that the problem is just that the included converter has a wiggly "screwing bit", I'm not familiar with converter anatomy vocabulary. I put in a different converter, et voilà, no more rattling. So the problem is just the converter. Easy fix. It's cheaper to replace it than to go through shipping and insurance, etc.

So now I'm doubly happy with the pen.
Wad.

Edited by Waduino, 23 January 2008 - 20:48.


#11 teaguejb

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 23:47

This update is overdue. I received the All-American in the mail from Conklin a couple of weeks ago. It actually arrived very quickly. I think it was out of my hands a grand total of 8 days. Very fast service! Sidebar: I packed my pen for shipment to them using the packing instructions from Richard Binder's website. However, Conklin shipped the pen back to me packed in one layer of bubble wrap in a regular manilla envelope! Fortunately, the pen wasn't damaged, but I was a little perturbed. Is it normal for manufacturer's to ship pens this way?

Conklin made the necessary adjustment, and now the pen works great. I didn't realize until others posted on this thread that I could put a different converter in this pen. I'll buy a spare converter some time and replace the one currently in the pen. Since I purchased this pen, I've seen other pens equipped with this style of converter, and everyone of them will rattle inside the pen. Despite the rattling issue, this pen is now my everyday pen. By the way, thanks for the soap trick idea...I had forgotten about that. I'll try the soap trick next time I encounter something like this before sending it back to the manufacturer.

Edited by teaguejb, 30 January 2008 - 23:50.


#12 Waduino

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 00:31

QUOTE(teaguejb @ Jan 30 2008, 06:47 PM) View Post
...Since I purchased this pen, I've seen other pens equipped with this style of converter, and everyone of them will rattle inside the pen...


I don't think it's the design of the converter, as such. I replaced it with one from my Hemisphere and the rattling stopped, although it's the same design. I believe the issue is that the clear plastic threaded bit that you turn has a very loose fit on the threads of the black plunger. The sloppy fit of the threads lets the clear plastic bit wobble, which is what you hear hitting the barrel if you knock it. Those two pieces on my other converter have a much tighter fit and so no wobbling.

If you're curious, you can just unscrew the metal sleeve on the converter and the whole thing will come apart. Have fun putting it back together!

Something sort of related. The fit of the threads that hold the barrel to the section also seem to be somewhat sloppy to me. It tightens fine, so there's no issue, but the fit could be tighter. Maybe Conklin's specs on threads are not as tight as they might be.

Great pen though. Great nib. I smile everytime I pick it up to write. rolleyes.gif

Wad.

#13 omasfan

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 04:48

Great review! I am still to buy my first Conklin. It will probably be a vintage and not a modern one.


QUOTE
Jimmy said “they don’t connect the converter at the factory because of the gold nib.”

What does the fact that the nib is gold have to do with the loose converter inside the barrel? I didn't quite follow Jimmy's argument.

#14 teaguejb

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 16:27

QUOTE
What does the fact that the nib is gold have to do with the loose converter inside the barrel? I didn't quite follow Jimmy's argument.


I don't really have a good answer for you. He might have been making that up on the spot. I could imagine that a manufacturer would rather ship the converter loose than connected. I don't know the reasoning behind this, but I don't think it really matters one way or the other. You'll have to open the pen to fill the converter anyway. ???

#15 Waduino

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 15:49

I tried some Pelikans the other day, M400, M600, M605, M215, etc. and altough the nibs were nice and I may buy one for their ink capacity I could see why people who buy them online say that they feel like cheap plastic when they receive them. The plastic does not feel at all like I might think an expensive pen should feel.

I use the Conklin every day and one nice thing about it is the way it feels. I don't know what the body is (polycarbonate?) but it has a very smooth and comfortable feel to it, way nicer than the Pels for my taste anyway.

This pen is turning out to be very nice to use.

Wad.

#16 RevAaron

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 16:13

My apologies for resurrecting an older thread, but I just wanted to +1 Waduino for the follow up post he did after a month. All reviews should have one! Especially with our lot- we can be a bit touch and go in which pens we like. Downright fickle even. smile.gif

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#17 roger3

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 03:05

QUOTE (teaguejb @ Jan 30 2008, 04:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This update is overdue. I received the All-American in the mail from Conklin a couple of weeks ago. It actually arrived very quickly. I think it was out of my hands a grand total of 8 days. Very fast service! Sidebar: I packed my pen for shipment to them using the packing instructions from Richard Binder's website. However, Conklin shipped the pen back to me packed in one layer of bubble wrap in a regular manilla envelope! Fortunately, the pen wasn't damaged, but I was a little perturbed. Is it normal for manufacturer's to ship pens this way?

Conklin made the necessary adjustment, and now the pen works great. I didn't realize until others posted on this thread that I could put a different converter in this pen. I'll buy a spare converter some time and replace the one currently in the pen. Since I purchased this pen, I've seen other pens equipped with this style of converter, and everyone of them will rattle inside the pen. Despite the rattling issue, this pen is now my everyday pen. By the way, thanks for the soap trick idea...I had forgotten about that. I'll try the soap trick next time I encounter something like this before sending it back to the manufacturer.

Thanks for the terrific review! I have experienced this same issue with the Metropolis. My other conklins did not have this loose converter and when I swapped converters ( putting one from a Glider into the Metropolis) I found the fit to be snug and quiet as it should be...Conklin may have some quality control issues to be addressed
May you and those you love, be always blessed with peace and never ending joy.
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#18 karynv

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 19:21

I just bought a Banana All-American, partly because of your great review. It didn't come with a converter, and I don't really want to buy a Conklin converter based on everyone's comments. Any particular converter you would suggest? I'm afraid of putting in any old international converter then leaking when I least expect it.
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#19 ImNotSam

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 17:15

I just bought a Banana All-American, partly because of your great review. It didn't come with a converter, and I don't really want to buy a Conklin converter based on everyone's comments. Any particular converter you would suggest? I'm afraid of putting in any old international converter then leaking when I least expect it.



I've been wondering about the converter, too. I also bought a Banana All-American, probably about the same time you did (also with no converter), and much to my surprise, I use this pen all the time - it actually writes beautifully, and I usually carry it with me. I recently realized it's the first pen I reach for when I'm rummaging through my laptop bag. Maybe because it's so easy to spot ... :lol:

#20 jonro

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 04:01

I'd like to point out that the 1940s Wearever Pacemaker had a clear plastic "C-Flow" feed that worked well. I believe it was advertised as an innovation that would allow you to easily determine if there was ink left in the pen. I have a couple of Pacemakers and it works. I don't know if Conklin's clear feed does the same or not (it probably does), but it's interesting that they included it on this pen since vintage Conklins did not have clear feeds.






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