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Customized Twsbi Vac 700: Vintage Flex-Italic
hanryy posted a topic in Fountain Pen ReviewsThis is my Vac 700 with a custom section sporting a vintage 14kt Mabie Todd “Swan” no.6 flex italic nib. The Pen Holder: I am sure many of you here have already seen quite a few reviews of the TWSBI Vac 700. Like many others out there I was impressed with the looks and quality of this pen. The clear EF nibed pen I received directly from TWSBI wrote perfectly out of the box, but my personal preference is for flexi nibs so I immediately began searching for an adequate replacement. The Custom Section: After a long tedious search I was unable to source an appropriate nib that could be easily transplanted to the TWSBI section. As such I decided to go custom. I had a fantastic Mabie Todd Swan no.6 nib and feed without a matching body so I thought they would be a great match for this pen. Our own Appleman here on FPN was the gentleman who did the wonderful work shown in the attached photos. The custom section is made out of black ebonite. Appleman did a great job creating a girthy section with a nice curvature which is extremely comfortable to hold. As you can see in the images, there is also less of a step from the barrel to the section when compared to an unmodified Vac 700. This was a huge plus as well! The ebonite feels warm to the touch and due to its solid construction moves the balance of the pen toward the front of the pen which I prefer. I find that if I remove the clip to the pen from the cap then the pen is actually quite reasonably balanced when posted. I am sure the very large chunk of gold at the front end helps as well Although I do not have a Vac 20 yet, I hope that this pen will still be compatible with TWSBI’s Vac inkwell. The Nib: Before this project I had the nib in a Noodler’s Konrad which wrote well. However a nib of this quality needs a pen holder which offers the sense of luxury. So I was not happy with that set up. When it was in this pen body, I had the tip customized to a rather sharp cursive italic by Mr. Pendelton Brown. He did fabulous work. In the TWSBI pen holder the Swan writes an amazing M (western) cursive italic that can easy flex to a glorious 3+mm downstroke. Whether or not this is a “superflex”, “wet noodle” or otherwise is beyond my experience as I have only used a handful of flex nibs. I will say that the force required to flex this pen is small enough that flexing on every letter can be done without fatigue. The cross strokes can be hairline thin when a light hand is used. The nib is very responsive, but the flood of ink that comes with the flexing can sometimes puddle up if the stroke is not followed through on. None-the-less, the full flex writing experience is smooth and quite enjoyable on higher quality papers. The matching vintage Swan ladder feed manages to keep up very well considering how much ink is laid down. After long sessions of flexing the flow does require some time to catch up (as you can see by the time I get to “jumps”), but honestly I am surprised these vintage feeds can supply as much ink as they do. The Rhodia dotpad paper crinkles under the stream of ink… Of full flex writing the pen only manages to write about 5 pages of text (single stroke fill-60%ish full). This is quite surprising considering the Vac 700’s large ink capacity. However I do not anticipate writing pages of flex writing so this is not an issue. Under normal writing conditions the ink supply will last a long time. When writing with a light hand the nib handles with ease. The pen is smooth and flow is generous but not uncontrollable. I would be comfortable using this pen on cheaper printer paper for unflexed writing. On some 30% recycled copier paper the pen writes without feathering, but the line is a more stubish M-B line. Most of my inks are of the Iroshizuku line which to my understanding are quite wet. I will need to try some dryer inks. (any recommendations?). I have been considering some iron-gal inks but am unsure if R&K Salix or Scabiosa will react with the steel plunger rod. If anyone has some experience with these inks and Vac 700’s please let me know. Conclusions: This pen has blown away all my expectations and it is truly going to be my prized pen for many years to come. This mix of vintage and modern has created a sweet spot for me personally. I am left wondering if I will ever need another pen again. The balance of the pen leans toward my preferences, the looks are stunning and eye catching and most importantly the writing experience is heavenly. Thank you all for looking! ~Hanryy