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Dux 612 - Another View
Posted 20 February 2006 - 06:23
"These were the best of times. These were the worst of times."
Let me begin by warning you, I talk too much. If you want to jump to the conclusion, here it is:
Good pen by any standard.
Fantastic for the price.
"What have I got to lose," was my first reaction when reading Ray Blake's exploits with the Dux 612.
His wife's family is from Pakistan. While visiting, Ray journeyed to local pen stores (as though that would be a surprise). He discovered a locally made product, the Dux pen and picked up a few -- just to try out, of course.
Dux is a Pakistani pen manufacturer that turns out a surprisingly good product. Ray quickly decided to buy more, then returned home and wrote a review.
I saw his review along with Old Griz' comments and decided that I needed to try a couple, as well.
I sent a message to Ray and ordered a burgundy pen and a dark green pen. He shipped them out the next business day.
The story began at this point: with the worst of times.
No pens came.
Two weeks later, no pens.
Four weeks later, no pens.
Six weeks later, still no pens.
One of the things I quickly came to realize is that Ray is a reputable dealer. Even though problems with delivery weren't his responsibility, Ray was determined that I should get my pens. So, he shipped a couple more.
After seven weeks, here came the first set. No reason for the delay. Package was in fine shape. Pens were carefully packed in a padded envelope with additional bubble wrap surrounding the pens inside. They couldn't have been in better condition.
The story switched. These became the best of times.
I now have two new pens to play with.
Later on, I'll have four -- probably by some time in May or June. Maybe in 2006. Maybe 2007. Who knows?
Anyway, enough talk about shipping. It's time to talk pens!
First, a simple examination then the first test.
The simple examination revealed a nice looking pen. The cap is attractive. Appears to be polished brass. Rather thin metal but then again, this is a cheap pen. Ray's price for the pen -- with shipping -- is only a few bucks.
The cap sits on the pen, itself by friction. The harder you push, the tighter it gets. If you push too hard, too often, you'll probably wear something out prematurely.
None the less, fit & finish is good. Quality control gets high marks. Everything fits well. Materials are good, even if a bit lightweight.
Take it apart and you see a clear bladder that holds ink with a cartridge-looking thing over it that holds the ink sac in place and also shoves out air so the sac will suck ink. Simple but effective.
Screwing the barrel back on reveals the threading to be properly matched. Things screw back together solidly. More good marks for quality control.
Now, let's take a look at the nib. Most of the nib is hooded a la Parker except more so. Only the point is visible. Under a magnifying glass, the tines appear to be divided equally. The Dux 612 pens have iridium tipped nibs, a point (pardon the pun) emphasized on the plastic wrapper the pens come in. The wrapper says right there, "Dux Fountain pen. With iridium tipped nib."
Under the magnifying glass, the tip looks good. Not perfect but good. For a pen of its price, really, really good.
Okay. Time to fill the pens with ink. The time for trial has come.
The first test was simple enough. Get ink in the pen. They don't accept cartridges so find your favorite bottle.
I tried two different types of ink. The first was Noodler's Navajo Turquoise (Kathy's favorite), and the second, Private Reserve Copper Burst. I selected them in part because getting a sense of what pens would do using ink from two different manufacturers and also to try a darker ink (Copper Burst) alongside a medium ink (Navajo Turquoise).
Time now for Real World Testing (for effect, cue the reverb and say, "Real World Testing" a couple of times, changing your voice slightly the second time you say it. Now apply for a job as a radio announcer).
This test is simple. Ink either gets sucked up or it doesn't. Or, it argues with you then spits some color of ink on your hands to make it look like you've caught the Bird Flu and are not long for this world.
In the case of both the Dux 612 pens Ray sent me, ink was drawn into the clear bladder without hesitation. I pressed on the cartridge-looking metal bar a couple of times and ink was drawn in just fine.
Test number one? Passed.
Test number two: Writing (if you're still into the reverb thing, say "WRITING...writing...writing")
This is where the rubber meets the road, or the nib meets the paper. Or, something like that.
The first writing test was on nice stationery (25% cotton). If a pen writes well anywhere, it's going to write well on good stationery.
Amazing how some pens fail this simple test. For example, I got a Sheaffer Javelin (not really a Sheaffer but a Bic with Sheaffer stamped on it). When you looked under a magnifying glass, you could see that the slice thing between the tines was very unevenly cut. The Javelin could barely get ink on the paper. Sheaffer employees should have confiscated those things and heaved them into the Mississippi River.
So, simple as it seems, a pen could fail right here. So, a test comprised of writing on good paper is actually tougher than it appears.
Pen #1 (Noodler's Navajo Turquoise)
Writes well? Yes.
Smooth flow. Yes.
No skipping. Yes.
Constant wet line? Yes.
How wet? Rather wet though not too much.
Readability: Very good.
Pen #2 (Private Reserve Copper Burst)
Above questions: Check to all
Test #1? Passed. These are reportedly fine nibs but I would classify both as being slightly heavier than a fine. Nowhere near heavy enough to be a medium but a bit beyond a fine. That's my opinion, anyway.
Test #2 is writing on some good quality card or index stock (index card, for example). A pen should write well here, also. Note the operative word here: "should."
Pen #1: Check to all.
Pen #2: Check to all.
Passed test #2.
But, those were, after all, easy. Now, it's time for some plain old 20# copy paper. This is where life may be a bit more challenging. If you've been watching the Olympics on TV, this would be where Olympic skiers hit their first moguls and the luge riders go into the first curve (have I spelled "luge" correctly? My spell check program doesn't seem to like it but doesn't have any alternatives.) Ink doesn't sit on top of the paper quite so well on a 20# "bond" paper. If you looked under a microscope, you would see that paper is a bit rough. None the less, any pen should be able to get through this one without blotching or significant unevenness. Do they?
Pen #1: Check to all.
Pen #2: Check to all.
Passed test #3.
What shall we do to test our pens this time? Newsprint? Yup. A very thirsty paper. Sucks up ink.
Pen #1: Still looks good. A steady hand will enjoy a steady flow of ink. A hand like mind jerks around the corners which is why my handwriting isn't very good. But, the pen has to deliver without skipping. Pen #1 was just fine. The ink blotched slightly around corners, a signal that the line may be just a trifle wet for some people but fine for me.
Pen #2. Same. Differences in performance were negligible. So slight that they could be more attributed to my writing than differences in either pen or ink.
Passed test #4.
Now, it's time for fun stuff. These are everyday pens and likely to be used in everyday situations. Sometimes you have to write on things like....... Uhhhh....... Corrugated cardboard.
Pen #1. That nice wet line really proves itself here. Corrugated cardboard really sucks the ink. Still, no skipping. Even, steady flow. Maybe you wouldn't want to write an address on a brown cardboard box with Navajo Turquoise ink written with a fine point but it would still be legible.
Pen #2. Yup. No problems here, either.
Passed test #5.
Now, it's time for the two pens to be put in Real World Olympic Competition
Okay, I'll admit there's no such thing as Real World Olympic Competition. There's real world and there's Olympic competition but there's no Real World Olympic Competition, especially for fountain pens.
Cue the herald trumpets. Cue the fireworks display. Cue the synchronized swimmers. Cue the zeppelin with cameras pointed toward the action. Lights! Camera! Action!
Test #6 is writing a message on the back of a slick paper catalogue in a moving car while talking on a cellular telephone (please let someone else drive if you're going to do this).
In order to fulfill this competition, the written line has to be clear and legible (except as may be impossible due to the automobile going over road repairs). Lack of legibility caused by external factors will not be counted against the pen however lack of clarity and legibility caused by the pen sliding over slick paper while the car is in normal motion results in significant loss of points -- or even DQ (disqualification).
Quiet is now requested while the judges score final point totals.
(Rumble, rumble, rumble. Judges are tallying their scores)
Pen #1: 8.3, quite a respectable score.
Technical scoring lost a few points because one digit of a phone number was illegible and had to be rewritten. Points for artistry were good. Except for the one digit which didn't come out well, the message was at least legible and looked fairly good.
Pen #2: 8.5, also a quite respectable score.
Technical scoring was just a bit better but probably because the brown ink is darker. A bit of skipping but not so serious as to make the message illegible. Artistic scoring was just a bit lower because darker ink revealed slight skips more evidently.
Are results in the slick catalogue aboard a moving car competition worthy of a gold medal? Probably not.
A silver? No.
Bronze? Well, at least a bronze contender. Certainly, a bronze contender.
Now, it's time for overall scoring.
This is not a bad pen by any standard. It's really quite good. For the price, it's wonderful.
Styling is nice. Clean lines. No unnecessary ornamentation. If you like a nice, streamlined appearance, you'll especially appreciate the Dux 612. Cheerful appearance.
Very lightweight. Some may find it too light. When posted, still a good balance.
This will make a good "everyday" pen for the vast majority of users.
It won't be your favorite pen in twenty years because it is too light. This is a pen which will wear out after a time. How long? Don't know. For the time being it should give good service and be enjoyable to use.
I like mine already and will give the others away as gifts to people I'm trying to convert to fountain pen-dom.
I don't know if Ray has any left but if he does, you should get one. This pen will never be your favorite but it's one you will like from the moment you open the package.
I'm really impressed. Kathy & I went to a symphony concert last Saturday and after the concert, we met some friends for dessert. I passed around the Dux pen. Other people thought it was really nice.
One person asked how much it cost and speculated sixty dollars. I should have offered it to her for fifty. Ray was selling them for six or eight dollars including shipping. I may give it to her as a birthday gift and let her think it cost me sixty bucks. She is a retired science teacher and had a great story about a science project and a model of a volcano and too much air getting in at the wrong time and the superintendent of schools being in the building at the time and you can figure out the rest. It involved smoke and strong odors of sulfur and having to open a bunch of windows in the middle of winter and something about a table with a large burn mark in it. All while the superintendent of schools was there. Good story.
Anyway, the pen is great. I recommend it.
Posted 20 February 2006 - 09:39
Great review, loved the humor
I have several of those pens from Ray, been giving them out as gifts to convert more people to the habit of writing with a real pen. I also got a friend who used fountain pens but only with cartridges to buy a bottle of ink!
I have kept a couple back for myself, because they are a great everyday writer.
PS Big thanks to Ray too
Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert!
Posted 20 February 2006 - 10:07
Seriously, though, an exhaustive and (as a seller) gratifying review.
And, yes, I do have some left, and am getting some more, too. You can PM me for details.
Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:14
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