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Parker 45 Flighter
Posted 02 November 2005 - 01:17
I received as a gift (thanks!) a Parker 45 flighter. The fine steel nib that came with it had a bit of a skipping problem so I asked Dan Carmell, the pen world's leading afficionado of these pens, if he had a 14K gold medium that he would be willing to part with. He did and the nib arrived today. I ran into the penroom (which is many other rooms as well) and suited it up. A cartridge of Quink blue and a quick twist of the wrist to change the nibs and we were off. Now after writing with it for a little while, here's my thoughts.
This is a really, really durable pen. The 45 was Parker's school pen and the stainless steel really makes it feel solid. It's got a nice heft to it because of the metal body and the look is no-frills. The 14K nib is much better than the original and lays down a nice fat medium line with great shading from the Quink. This might be the ultimate jeans pen.
It's sturdy and plain. This is a great virtue in my mind and thus the high score. If you are looking for something fancy that people will notice, look elsewhere, but if you want a pen that you can carry every day for the next 25 years and never be out of style, this may be it. One smooth shape from top to bottom, the profile is nicely streamlined and the matte finish accentuates the shapeliness. It's prettier than an ordinary 45 which has a metal cap and a colored plastic body because of the illusion that it's made of one solid piece. The cap slips on tightly and posts very securely. The barrel threads to access the cartridge/converter filler are well made and tighten down smoothly. The clip is not as tight as on my Parker 51, but it is plenty capable at staying attached even to the pocket of a pair of jeans.
The weight is nice, compared to the plastic 45 which seems a tad insubstantial in the hand. The design is classic. I don't think that the people in Janesville knew how to spell Bauhaus when this pen was designed, but it looks like the progenitor of the Lamy 2000. Solid color, square ends, curving middle and a snazzy arrow clip to show off on your alligator shirt. What more could you ask for? The diameter is on the small side of okay for me, but I find it comfortable to hold this pen a little further up the section that I do with some others, since the section is quite long before getting to the barrel joint.
Nib design and performance4.5/5
I am currently involved in a love affair with gold nibs, for no reason that I can fathom (the miser in me says "You can't really tell the difference between a gold and steel nib" and the pen buyer says "I'll show you the difference!") and this one is no different. Maybe I'm on a good streak, but since I got my Namiki VP, every gold nib I've tried has been good to me, including a beat up old 51 and a fistful of second tier junkers. Like I said, this pen originally had a fine steel nib that wasn't all that great so I upgraded to a 14K gold medium (For a while, Parker would upgrade at the factory in Janesville for a nominal fee. No idea if that deal is still on.) and it is wonderful. Nice and cushiony and it puts down a pretty fat, wet line. The shading that it gives with regular old cartridge Quink is a bit of a pleasant surprise. It's smooth with a good level of tactile feedback and the gold nib looks surprisingly good at the end of an all-silver pen. The nibs are trivially interchangeable (just twist the collar above the nib) so you can pick and choose and the semi-hooded design won't leave you wondering which way is up
Plain old Parker cartidge-converter. [RANT]Which is fine and reliable and all, but I think that proprietary cartridge designs bite big time. I know that Parker's design has been the same for eons, but can we just move on to the big, happy world of common standards. Every other aspect of technology is standardized to some degree and a perfectly decent standard exists for ink cartridges and is widely adopted. The vendor lock-in on ink cartridges has got to be vanishingly small, so why don't those French CEOs pull their heads out of their arses and join the 21st century new world order with standard international sized cartridges.[/RANT]
Can't beat free If you don't have anyone to give you one of these pens, you'll have to find one used and they don't come around all that often. I think the last one I saw was going for $40 which isn't bad but ain't great. I think that Parker was exchanging nibs for another $20, so figure on $60 for the pen as reviewed here. That's not too much, but it seems a little high for a basic workhorse. You can get a regular 45 used for $20 and have much the same experience as regards quality and design and some of the steel nibs out there are really nice.
I'm with Mr. Carmell: the 45 is a drastically underrated fountain pen for putting ink on paper. It's got a (brain-dead) reliable filling system, interchangeable nibs, nice construction and if you can find a flighter, you might never need another pen ever again. You might want one though
Excuse the amateurish, handheld picture. We should see if we can't recruit Bill Riepl (Stylophiles) to do one of his nice, sexy shots of a Parker 45 flighter.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 03:06
I have ground the original nib on mine to write well. The older 45s with steel or gold nibs are much better. I have three 45s.
Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.
Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 04:17
Posted 02 November 2005 - 05:33
It is truly sad that Parker isn't selling them in the US anymore, for this is the one pen that I believe is the post-1960 counterpart to the Esterbrook J — reliable, hard working and inexpensive without being cheap.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 06:05
Thanks for the great review!
Edited by TMann, 02 November 2005 - 06:06.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 09:55
But makes me a bit miffed, I traded my Parker 45 Flighter and matching BP for a Parker Sonnet a while back.
Now that had the SS nib in medium and I just did not find it quite smooth enough. I now regret not trying it with a gold nib.
Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert!
Posted 02 November 2005 - 17:08
(I love cold showers, I love cold showers....)
Posted 02 November 2005 - 17:41
The inclusion of a picture of the pen plus the short writing sample is a nice touch. A few written words with the pen just go together like bread and butter, milk and cookies...you name it.
One thing I have to ask is, was there a reason you wrote upside down on the calendar sheet of paper?
Southern Arizona, USA
Fountain Pen Talk Mailing List
Posted 02 November 2005 - 19:19
I'll second what the others said about format, although the format you chose is a good one - first used by some others here, naturally (not me - I'm not that smart/creative, I just recognized a good thing and jumped on the band wagon . )
Posted 02 November 2005 - 19:19
All: Randy's got a 45 flighter for sale in The Marketplace right now. Don't trip over yourselves buying it from him.
Posted 02 November 2005 - 19:46
I wondered to myself if that might be your method in madness. Makes good sense!
Roger: When using up old calendar pages, I try to use them upside down to remind myself that they're just scratch paper.
Southern Arizona, USA
Fountain Pen Talk Mailing List
Posted 06 November 2005 - 09:05
Glad you are enjoying the P45 so much. The "flighter" (all-metal" style is timeless and will never go out of fashion, IMO. I have a '45' myself but mine has a navy blue barrel and a chrome (?) cap. Nice writer and I like the shape of the nib (even if it is semi-hooded ).
Posted 06 November 2005 - 20:51
Thank you for your review! You could have misled me in believing you are a regular reviewer here . And I really like the added little touch with regard to the writing sample, too!
Warm regards, Wim
the Mad Dutchman
laugh a little, love a little, live a lot; laugh a lot, love a lot, live forever
Posted 07 February 2006 - 07:26
I just bought my Parker 45 standard, black plastic barrel, medium steel point (plated), new at Vroman's.
I have a '45' myself . . . . Nice writer and I like the shape of the nib
It is a very comfortable, medium-broad, medium-wet and smooth writer. It's one of my pens for rough drafts.
I haven't tried Quink Washable Blue in it yet; I prefer Sheaffer Skrip (Slovenian) to Parker Quink for washable blue (to be honest, I haven't tried Pelikan's Royal Blue at all yet), so Skrip's is the only blue this pen has had. Skrip blue behaves well on loose-fiber paper coming out of this pen -- the pen flows very evenly and the medium nib spreads the ink almost perfectly. I enjoy color variation with darker inks, but not with washable blues.
I also put Noodler's Blue-Black and N's Red in this pen. Both of those combinations are too wet for writing on loose-fiber paper, but they feel luxurious writing on "good" paper.
I agree with nmb that the clip is excellent.
Posted 09 February 2006 - 17:38
The pen's list price seems to be €35 here in Europe, according to www.parker.de. I bought it at Ebay for about €19 (incl. postage). I thought it was a good deal but I was wrong. I can't recommend it to anyone. It looks pretty from distance but that's all. An overpriced cheapo-pen.
Posted 09 February 2006 - 19:02
As someone who owns several of the 1960s versions of these pens, I can say that they are well constructed, reliable and have great nibs — be they 14K or steel.
If you've tried a modern 45 and found it wanting, I wouldn't give up on this pen. I would seek out a 1960s or 1970s version of the 45 and give it a try.
There's a reason why Parker has had this pen in more-or-less continuous production since 1960. It is one of the true classics of post-war fountain pen design.
Edited by randyholhut, 09 February 2006 - 19:06.
Posted 09 February 2006 - 19:27
€35 EUR ?! Oh, that's for the all-steel model. I paid $27.01 USD ($24.95 plus sales tax) for my plastic-body, steel-cap model here at a shop that usually charges manufacturers' suggested retail prices (MSRP).
Posted 23 May 2006 - 00:20
Posted 23 May 2006 - 00:58
Thanks, Sparky, that's the first time that I've seen the new production Parker 45s offered in the US for a couple of years. They even have the flighter, and soon I might have one, too
I checked today and found out that the nib for a parker 45 can be replaced for $20 for a gold nib with the Parker manufacturer. They sell it for $31 at montgomerypens.com, and then you have parker replace it with a gold nib for $20. I ordered mine today.
I was getting ready to order one from Europe because my daughter already has one with a medium nib but would rather have a fine, so I thought I'd order a fine and trade with her.