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  1. Greetings all, I posted this in the Market Place too, but figured fellow TWSBI enthusiasts might be interested as well. They just released a photo of their next special edition gold Mini-AL. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZjTGMIjNTb/ Enjoy!
  2. A coworker came into my office yesterday. She had entered a raffle to raise money for a friend, and she'd won a custom fountain pen! Since I'm the biggest fountain pen lover in the office, she offered it to me for free. And here's what a I got: A custom pen from Mini Wood Productions (MWP). It's based on their "Füller" series. MWP is based in Conroe, Texas. Their website says that their pens aren't "kit" but rather "create one at a time on a manual lathe." What an interesting pen. The body is aluminum, but pretty thick (making for a heavy pen-- sorry that I don't have a small enough scale to accurately measure). On their regular Fuller pens, the section is aluminum too, but I think this one has a copper section. The section is long -- about 23 mm -- with a couple of grooves near the top of the section for grip. There's a serious step down from the body to the section, but because the section is so long, it's not noticeable when you hold the pen. The cap, though, is acrylic -- listed as "alumilite" on the package I got. The cap is gorgeous -- lovely green, red, orange swirls with flecks dancing and highlighting the pattern. But it is super light compared to the body of the pen. And it sits in stark contrast to the utilitarian look of the aluminum body and the aluminum finial. The cap has no band, but I guess it doesn't need one because of the contrast to the aluminum body. Almost like two different pens smooshed together. The cap doesn't post-- it's a few millimeters too small to do so. Finally, there's no clip, so the pen rolls were it wants (and the cap does too if you put it on your desk while you're writing). This pen comes with a #6 EF from Edison. It writes smooth and clean right out of the (cardboard) box. But the website indicates that the "standard" Fullers come with Jowo nibs. I have to say, I've never seen a pen like this before. I really dig the beautiful cap, and the body is not uncomfortable to write with (if you like heavier pens), but the juxtaposition of the two is just a little shocking, at least initially. I'm so grateful to my colleague who gave me the pen, and I'll keep it inked with Birmingham Pen Honus Wagner Brown for a while -- it might be my editing pen. And for anyone looking for a unique, customizable pen, check out MWP.
  3. tonybelding

    Karas Kustoms Fountain-K

    The Karas Kustoms Fountain-K is one of the first pens in a while that has piqued my interest. I wasn't sure if I would find time for a full review, but here we are! First some background: Karas Kustoms (headed by Bill Karas) got their entry into the pen business by machining rollerball and ballpoint pens out of aluminum. The "Ink" was their first venture into fountain pens, and the Fountain-K is their second model. However, the Fountain-K is closely derived from an earlier rollerball design, the Render-K. The Ink is their full-sized fountain pen, and the Fountain-K is the more compact model. Karas Kustoms is a machine shop, and these are machined metal pens. They are available in aluminum, brass and copper. The brass and copper pens are, of course, more costly and much heavier, and they are sold with a bare metal finish that can tarnish and develop a dark patina over time -- attractive to some, and perfectly in line with their industrial style. My personal view is that people new to the pen hobby are often attracted to heavy pens at first but then come to prefer more lightweight pens as they gain experience. (This was definitely true for me.) Thus, I tend to view the copper and brass pens as novelty items to some extent, and I think the aluminum pens will be the real mainstays in the long run. Also, the aluminum pens are available in many anodized colors, or in a "raw" tumbled aluminum finish for that industrial look. Karas Kustoms does not make "custom pens" in the sense of a company like Edison. What they do, however, is offer all the interchangeable parts that can be assembled in many combinations. You can choose your material and color for the pen body, your material and finish for the grip section, and then choose from EF through B nib tip. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/karas/fountain-k_04.jpg I got my pen with a gold-anodized aluminum body, silver-anodized aluminum section, and a F nib. The price was $75, which is perhaps more than an impulse buy, but still nicely within the sub-$100 affordable category. Even though the Fountain-K looked very attractive to me in pictures, I also had some points of skepticism. Would the pocket clip be too stiff? Would the cap seal well and not dry out? Would the cap come loose in my pocket? This is a product from a relatively new-and-unproven company without a track record in fountain pens. Do they know what they're doing? After having the pen for a while, my conclusion is. . . Yes, they do. Mostly. I did have a few issues to sort out with mine. First there was the burping. Immediately after filling the pen, it burped ink onto the page. It did this with every ink that I tried, and it did it twice in quick succession, and then the ink flow continued to be erratic for a little while, but gradually settled down. I blamed this at first on the nib or feed, but then a FPNer suggested that I try a different converter. I was lucky enough to have an identical spare converter (from Goulet) on hand to try, and it fixed the problem. I can only presume the original converter wasn't making an airtight seal onto the feed nipple. As far as I can tell, this was a freakish problem that few will encounter, and it could happen to any pen that accepts a converter. It's not a Fountain-K issue, as such. The second difficulty was with ink flow. As is all-too-common with new pens, it was a dry writer. Too dry. I pondered a nib swap, but the Fountain-K nib has an unusual profile and doesn't swap easily with other No. 5 nibs. You really need to change out the entire nib-and-feed assembly. However, I noticed it seemed to get a little better as I wrote with it, and I thought, "Maybe it just needs some breaking-in?" I made a series of firm strokes down the back cover of a notebook, flexing it pretty hard. Suddenly the flow was good! Easiest nib adjustment I ever made. Once adjusted, it performs as I expect a contemporary, made in Germany, fine steel nib to perform: firm, smooth and perfectly serviceable. No surprises there. Now, with the pen writing as it should, I could focus on more details of its design and construction. Cosmetically, I agonized a bit over the choice of color and finish, even though (or perhaps because!) they all looked good in the photos. The gold color pen I picked does not disappoint. The anodized aluminum has a satin luster that cannot be mistaken for gold metal, but it does somewhat resemble clean brass. The cap has one tiny "flea bite" ding, but it's only visible when I look closely. The knurled (checkered?) cap, slightly rough edges of the pocket clip, and exposed clip screws all reinforce the industrial styling. It does look good! It's sharp looking without being at all pretentious. In that sense I think it falls into the same stylistic category as a Lamy 2000 or a stainless steel Sheaffer Targa. Nobody's going to take it for a "status" or prestige pen, but nobody's going to see it as shoddy either. This is a very easy pen to carry in a pocket or pen loop. I often wear a canvas vest with a pen slot sewn into the pocket, and the Fountain-K fits very neatly into that space. The tension on the clip is perfect, and it does not snag or chew on the fabric. The knurled portion of the cap makes a perfect handle when pulling out the pen to use it. The smooth profile of the body and cap also allows it to slide in and out easily, and I don't have to worry about wear from the canvas upon the super-tough anodized finish. Portability is a strength of the Fountain-K. The "guts" of this pen are pretty standard. The nib-and-feed assembly is German made, and the converter is a standard Schmidt K5. It's not a screw-in converter, which I would usually prefer (and which might have avoided the problem I had with that first converter), but the pen body is perfectly sized without any extra space for the converter to shift about. The only unusual thing to see here is the very small nib. It's a No. 5 nib, but it's shorter than most and has a very specific profile to fit into a recessed area of the feed. I don't think I've seen a modern fountain pen that puts my fingers this close to the page, and I don't particularly like it. For my money, I would have preferred a more standard No. 5 nib like you'll find in a TWSBI 580, for example. On the other hand. . . If you are accustomed to writing with ballpoints and want a fountain pen you can hold similarly, then you might love writing with the Fountain-K. If you have very small hands, then you might love it. For me it's not going to be the most comfortable for long writing sessions. However, in the context of a "carry" pen that I'll be using away from the house, scribbling down quick notes, signing documents or writing a check -- then it's OK. (And let's not forget, the Karas Kustoms Ink is bigger and has a larger nib!) http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/karas/fountain-k_03.jpg After using the pen lightly for a few days, I encountered another problem. The two tiny screws holding the pocket clip in place came loose! Luckily I caught them before they fell out. The fix for this was easy: use a small screwdriver to remove them, put a tiny dab of threadlock compound on each screw, then put everything back together. It should be good now. However. . . This is not a fault that I can easily dismiss. It would have been very easy to lose those screws, and then my pen would have been out of service until I could get replacements. Not everyone has a tube of threadlock laying about in their toolbox either. Pens have had pocket clips for many decades, and the vast majority have been designed in such a way that the clips won't spontaneously come loose. Even simply applying threadlock when the caps are assembled would probably solve this. Why don't they? http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/karas/fountain-k_05.jpg After carrying and using the Fountain-K for a while, I realized this is no Lamy 2000 and this is no Targa. It's a less expensive, less sophisticated pen. A better comparison might be the good old Esterbrook J. The Fountain-K is actually very close in size to an Esterbrook J, and it shares the traits of toughness, compactness, customization and affordability. If Esterbrook was still in business today -- and was owned by Alcoa -- this is the pen they might give us.
  4. It seems no one posted this news so allow me to present new kickstarter fountain pen project: Trilogy Pens ZERØ I believe the design is quite nice but I can't find any info concerning the pen dimensions. What are your thoughts on this one?
  5. Maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention to the pen world, but the resurrection of the Wahl-Eversharp pen company slipped right past me. For those of you who haven’t delved into vintage pens or their history, a brief explanation may help. During the Golden Age of fountain pens, the “Big Four” American pen companies were dominant: Conklin, Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker and Wahl-Eversharp. Some of you may think my math is funny, but Conklin went into decline at roughly the same time Wahl-Eversharp was rising to prominence, so there were only four major companies at any given time. Wahl-Eversharp were best known for luxurious Gold Seal pens, the Equipoise, the faceted Doric and the art deco Skyline. All fountain pen makers were devastated by the sudden onslaught of ballpoints, and all of the Big Four changed hands in various ways. Waterman, Sheaffer and Parker never went away completely. The Conklin brand was revived a few years ago and is now owned (along with Monteverde) by Yafa. That left Wahl-Eversharp as the only “Big Four” brand that you couldn’t buy a brand new example of. Well... Now they’re back! Right now the revived Skyline is it, though they’re said to have a new Doric in the works. I’ve had a few Wahl-Eversharps in my collection and liked them, but I never had a Skyline. Although the design has garnered a lot of praise and is considered iconic by many, it always looked awkward and strangely proportioned to me. The pen body is sleek and streamlined, while the cap is big and clumsy. They don’t seem to go together. When I saw the new Skyline Technic, I had to reconsider my feelings. The pen body and the cap are machined from billet aluminum. The solid gray pen seemed understated, taming the excesses of the design and unifying the pen and cap. When I learned that these have a “revolutionary”, ceramic-coated, semi-flex, steel nib and a matching computer-designed feed, I was sold. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_technic_box.jpg Unboxing the pen, I was first confronted with a large, glossy, black, presentation box with metal hinges and a sort of fluffy, fleecy, white lining. The pen itself was sealed into a clear plastic capsule. I was unimpressed with this packaging. The big box is attractive when displaying the pen in a boutique or for gift-giving, but once you’ve got the pen it becomes nothing but a bulky piece of junk to store. These types of boxes are all too common, and I find myself wishing pen companies would go back to the good old days of small presentation boxes that were also practical storage cases. (For a modern example I might point to the Levenger True Writer.) http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_technic_box_closeup.jpg I also noted that the box has some cosmetic defects. This is what I call a “piano box” since the lacquered wood and metal hinges are reminiscent of piano construction. This one has some dings near the front-left corner, rough finish at the opposite corner, and slightly rounded-off edges near the corners of the lid closure. As well, the glossy black finish isn’t entirely smooth. Frankly, I have seen cheap Sheaffers sold in piano boxes that were more nicely done than this one. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_technic_capped.jpg After breaking the pen out of its carbonite prison, my first impression was very positive. The fit-and-finish on this pen are outstanding, as one would hope for in a pen of this price category. I give the new Wahl-Eversharp company praise for recreating the Skyline accurately, with the original’s size, shape, and even parts that are said to interchange with the original. Other classic pens that have been brought back from the past bore only loose, superficial resemblance to their vintage counterparts. (I’m looking at you, Sheaffer Balance!) http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_technic_uncapped.jpg The choice of C/C filling is not exciting, but it makes sense. It brings Skyline into the modern era, and it also solves the problem of the posted cap tending to scratch up the filling lever. In this case the supplied converter (already installed in the pen) is a screw-in type of high quality. It’s secure, it doesn’t leak, doesn’t wobble or rattle, and is about as good as converters get. The slender pen body is a thin and form-fitted shell that just barely contains the converter; there is no wasted space. This is different from the plastic-bodied Skylines, which make you access the cartridge or converter from the rear of the pen using a blind cap. That seems awkward, and I’m glad the metal Technic manages to avoid it. As metal pens go, it’s lightweight. It’s slightly lighter weight than my sterling silver Sheaffer Targa, but slightly heavier than several of my all-plastic pens (Bexleys, Edisons, etc.). Plastic threads inside the cap make posting safe; it's not going to scratch up the pen's body. It posts quite well, deeply and securely, and the balance when posted is very good. I do not usually post my pens, but this is one that actually feels more comfortable to me when posted. I really do find the pen's size, weight and balance pleasing. The Skyline Technic is available in black, in blue, and in natural aluminum colors. The natural aluminum that I got is not exactly what it sounds like, since it has a gray anodized (I presume) finish that doesn’t look like bare aluminum metal at all. It’s much darker, it’s more of a semi-gloss texture, and I find it handsome in a sort of subdued and rugged way. It should prove to be quite tough and scratch-resistant. When I turn the pen in my hand, I can see very slight shading differences around the pen, but this is not noticeable when not looking for it. The semi-flex nib was the one element that I was most eager to test, and which I was most uncertain about. The impressions from reviewers online varied widely, so the only way to get the real story was by writing with it myself. The nib is on the smaller side (No. 5) making it nicely proportional to the pen. (I find that No. 5 nibs are often more comfortable for me than the big No. 6 nibs, as I can get my fingers closer to the page and hold the pen at a more natural angle.) The ceramic finish on mine was a dark, glossy black, whereas the Wahl-Eversharp website had indicated this pen would come with a titanium gray nib. The immediate good news is that it’s quite a smooth writer. There was just a bit of very finely-grained “feedback” letting me know what kind of paper I was writing on. The flow was also very nicely adjusted as it came to me: wet but not gushing. Tip size is an issue for me. These nibs are supposed to be “fine to medium” size, but the one I got looks and feels like a full flabby M. My personal preference is for F and EF nibs, so this was not really my thing. Worse, it’s not a good choice for showing off what a “semi-flex” nib can do. Flex expression is more pronounced with finer nibs. The advertised “semi-flex” quality of this nib is something I’m not really finding. It’s firm. It’s not a manifold type nail, but it’s firm. You can make it flex quite a bit if you push it. If you write with a ballpoint-trained Gorilla Hand, then it will produce bold text, but writing in the normal way of fountain pens won’t really give you anything. I doubt whether I would have even advertised this as a semi-flex. My Sheaffer Targa is more expressive, and Sheaffer have hardly been known for nib flexibility. Worse, I also had some instances of hard starting, where the pen skips on the first stroke as it touches the paper. It didn’t happen too often, but it shouldn’t happen at all. I have too many other pens in my collection that never do this. Thus, I contacted Wahl-Eversharp. I got a swift response promising a replacement nib — indeed, a replacement nib-feed-section assembly. Also, I was told a small run of “natural aluminum” Technics came with the black nib, but they are now shipping a much lighter colored nib, called “light titanium” finish. I opted for one of these as the replacement, and I found it actually looks much like normal polished steel. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_technic_nib.jpg The hand-written note that came with the replacement nib said, “I hope this works better for you — it was good to my hand.” That seems to be saying it was tested before being sent to me. I had to question that assumption, though, as soon as I had it inked up and touched paper. It’s a gusher! It’s a fire hose! Am I really expected to write with this? Ink flow on the first nib was perfect, so why is this one a fire hose? At least this proved the computer-designed feed can deliver a lot of ink throughput! Now feeling rather frustrated, I pulled one of my driest inks out of the closet: Montblanc Jonathan Swift Seaweed Green. This tamed the fire hose down to a wet-but-usable level (at least on my denser paper, such as a Rhodia pad) with lots of shading. This is still not the style of writing that I usually go for, but it’s acceptable, and some people might like it. Also, the replacement nib doesn’t skip as much as the first one. It still does once in a while, but it’s infrequent enough to not be much of a bother now. Since I received the replacement nib, feed and section assembly and was never asked the return the original, I now find myself with spare parts to play around with. I began trying to fit some other #5 sized nibs into the original feed and section to see how they perform. A nib from a TWSBI 530 fit with no problem, and so did a FPR (Fountain Pen Revolution) flex nib from India. In both instances they became quite wet when fully seated. It seems as though the feed and its housing are applying pressure to the nib in a way that causes its tines to spread slightly, so that every nib installed becomes wetter than it was before. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/skyline_FPR_flex.jpg The FPR nib is most interesting, as its dull steel color closely matches that of the pen body, it writes smoothly, its fine point better suits my preference, and it also has a wee bit of flex. FPR currently have these listed for $7 each, or 3 for $15. However, the FPR nib also has an occasional hard-start. That makes it the third nib in a row with this problem, to some extent, and I’m beginning to think the feed is the actual source of the problem. Forcing the tines apart may not only make the nibs write wet, but it may also contribute to the hard starts. Even though I eventually got mine writing somewhat acceptably, I’ve got to say the Wahl-Eversharp nib was a big disappointment. The “revolutionary” semi-flex nib doesn’t flex in a way that I find particularly useful, and it’s flabby, and I’m restricted to dry inks and premium paper. I was told I could get a Fine nib (or, I assume, perhaps even EF) custom ground for an additional $50. Hmm... An additional $50 to get a fine nib on an already quite expensive pen? You know, I can buy a TWSBI with my choice of EF, F, M, B, 1.1mm ST or 1.5mm ST nibs. Why does this much more costly Wahl-Eversharp only come with M? Well, the TWSBI nibs are generally good writers, but quite firm; they won’t flex at all. The Wahl-Eversharp nib can be made to flex if you Gorilla Hand it. Surely that is worth something? Then I compare with the steel nib in my Baoer 388, a Chinese pen with a list price of $15. (I actually got mine on sale for $5!) Then I compare with the FPR nibs from India. These aren’t like vintage flex either, but they can actually flex a little bit when writing normally — more than I’m really seeing from the Skyline nib. http://zobeid.zapto.org/image/pens/wahl_skyline_technic/targa_skyline_baoer.jpg That brings us to the larger question of value. This pen sells right about the $280 mark. That’s for a non-limited-edition C/C filling pen made from aluminum and steel, not silver and gold. I could buy two nice Bexleys with steel nibs for that much, or probably four Monteverdes. Actually my sterling silver Sheaffer Targa with a 14K gold nib cost me only $200, and it writes much nicer. I’m not saying the Skyline is a rip-off, or that anyone who buys it is a chump. However... You probably need some sort of attachment to Wahl-Eversharp, to the style of the vintage Skyline, and you need to appreciate the aluminum construction and the superb fit and finish. If those don’t push your buttons, there’s not much logic in choosing this. The nib is particularly disappointing. This is the highest-priced pen I can recall seeing sold with a steel nib. Then factor in the minor-but-persistent hard-start problem, the lack of options for tip size, the poor flow adjustment of the second example, and the minimal degree of flex. Although this steel nib is perhaps as good as a typical modern gold nib, it doesn’t offer any improvement over gold, and it doesn’t cost any less than gold, so what’s the point? Harsh though it may sound, I hope this review comes across as constructive criticism. I’m thinking back to the first pens from the revived Conklin, a few years ago, and how they were actually rather crude in some ways. They’ve improved greatly since then, and I hope Wahl-Eversharp will go through a similar learning curve and product improvement. One sign of optimism is that the parts of the package actually made in-house by Wahl-Eversharp (namely, the pen body and cap) are so excellent. It's only the outsourced (I assume) bits that let me down, so I'm sure that can be solved.
  6. My Karas Kustoms Fountain-K arrived in this morning's mail. I opted for the gold-anodized aluminum body, silver (or clear) anodized aluminum grip section, and a Fine nib. So, here are some quick first impressions. . . It is, in fact, a compact pen. It's not tiny, but it's smaller than the Bexley that I've been carrying in my vest pen loop, and it's fatter-but-shorter than a Sheaffer Targa. The cap, in particular, is slimmer than a lot of screw-on caps and, closing flush with the body, it can't hang it up when slipping the pen into a loop. The knurled top makes it easy to pull out, too. The pocket clip works much better than I expected. I'd heard about how stiff these are, and I usually avoid very stiff clips. However, the shape is ideal, it doesn't have sharp edges, and it slips into the canvas loop easily, and it holds firmly. The gold color is attractive. The finish isn't super slick, but to me it has exactly the right luster that anodized aluminum ought to have. I can put it under the loupe and find a couple of flea-bite sized dings, but for a pen of this material, style and price point, it simply looks good. The cap can be posted. It can actually go on pretty securely, but it hangs way out on the end of the barrel, and I'd worry about wear to the finish. I think most people will choose not to post it. The cap give me some concerns. The threads are very "loose", and the cap can wobble and rattle all the way down until its lip snugs up against the shoulder of the pen body. When you screw it all the way down, a sort of wedge forms with threads pushing one direction and the lip pushing the other direction and locking it shut. However. . . If any bump or jostle were to break that wedge loose, there is no more friction, and the cap would immediately come unscrewed -- in your bag, in your pocket, wherever it is. It does not seem secure to me. Also, I have some doubts about the cap seal. As already mentioned, the threads are quite loose. There is no inner cap. There is no O-ring. There is basically nothing to seal the cap except the lip wedged against the shoulder of the pen body. Only time will tell if this is sufficient to keep the pen from drying out. The No. 5 nib and feed and converter are all off-the-shelf standard parts. I would normally prefer a screw-in converter, but I don't think it matters in this case, since the interior of the pen is so filled that there's no space for the converter to shift around. It also fits snugly onto the feed. After filling the pen and starting to write, it immediately burped ink onto the page! Oops, did I not wipe off the nib properly? I grabbed a paper towel and wiped it. Then started to write again. . . and it immediately burped more ink onto the page! What the hey? I wiped it again and gave it a minute to settle down, then started writing again. I got about two words in, and it suddenly became super-wet as if it was just about to burp again, but then it went back to normal and started writing well. Smooth, good flow. . . I'm still trying to figure out what happened. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. I am concerned that grabbing the pen may warm it so quickly that it creates a slight over-pressure inside the pen body and pushes out a burp of ink, which is more than the (rather small) ink collector can handle. I'll have more to report later. Eventually I'll work up an actual review.
  7. I want a Karas Kustoms Fountain-K pen. They are sold through Goulet now, so that should be easy, right? Wrong! They are offered in many choices of material and finish: copper, brass, raw tumbled aluminum, and aluminum anodized in a wide range of colors. I know I don't want the copper or brass, but what color of aluminum I should get is driving me nuts. There are several that look really good to me, although exactly how dark these colors look in "real life" is hard to discern exactly from photos shot under varied lighting. I almost went for olive green, but then saw that color is out of stock. Blue, gold or gray all look good to me. Silver, black, or tumbled raw are viable options. They don't even have a photo of the orange one yet. . . I almost went for blue, then thought. . . If I got blue, I would find myself only wanting to use blue ink in it. But then I thought, I like blue ink. I have a lot of blue ink here. Is that so bad? I think this would be a good looking pen almost without regard to the chosen color. There is no "wrong" choice here, and that somehow makes it so much harder.
  8. The Esprit was my first cartridge filler fountain pen, brought to me by one of our dadas (respectable like an elder brother) belonging to the same native place. It was his store from where we (as students) used to buy notebooks, refills and other inexpensive fountain pens of pilot, pentel and ball points pens of mitsubishi. Those days, there were no internet shops and bays and of course no money . I always used to think of how awesome his connects were, coming from a small city where I oncer grew up and he used to narrate numerous tales of his adventurous pen trips to Delhi & Calcutta (Now Kolkata). Feel I owe him quite a bit of my fountain pen addiction. Another recent review by Vig reminded me of my rotring Esprit, resting inside one of the drawers. Of course this is not the old one from 1998-99. I have bought this one as a souvenir Thought I would post a review of this one. Link to blogpost is below: Short Review of the Rotring Esprit For those of you who like slim and light pens, the Esprit is really quite a nice pen. And it happily fits your MTN Pen holder. The Esprit was released as the next avatar to the numbered models, rotring 400 in this case. It was a finite displacement for the haloed red-ring from the section of 400 to its cap end, apart from the flattened ends. The fountain pen comes with a standard steel nib. A corresponding rollerball, ballpoint and a mechanical pencil were also released. The smaller sized telescoping Esprit Mini series came later and became Parker Esprit, soon after acquisition. Lamy CP1 pen does bear some common characteristics with the Esprit. DESIGN (5/6) The Esprit comes in anodised aluminium make with steel and plastic fittings. Till now I have seen two finishes of this - Tourmaline Green and Black. The minis came with a lot more colour options. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rxT4p9F5VM8/Ve7eEAHaA0I/AAAAAAAAFcA/oyaJ_Jz4_WQ/s1600/DSC_6148.jpg The pen is a slender cylinder with a lovely red ring at the finial. Once you pull the cap, it does come off with an audible click, and you have a ribbed metallic section. The grip section has a tapered end, and there rests the rotring steel nib. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u4WsfHL9OQc/Ve7eFHt799I/AAAAAAAAFcM/Rq_YPxfsk1g/s1600/DSC_6150.jpg The cap is light with a snap-on mechanism. A tension fit clip starts with the trademarked red ring at the finial. The clip carries the rotring brand name. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QM4leBC2cSQ/Ve7eMJXendI/AAAAAAAAFc4/FtmVWY6dt-E/s1600/cap.jpg FILLING SYSTEM (5/6) It’s an international cartridge converter system. The construction is good with a steel insert inside the section and another runs the threads for the aluminium barrel. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jPv669j1WCM/Ve7eEZM2yQI/AAAAAAAAFcE/HB1iHdVFY5Q/s1600/DSC_6164.jpg A Schmidt/FCD or a rotring converter will fit snugly into the section vis-a-vis other standard international converters like Waterman. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RB48Bb8OFzk/Ve7eINspkmI/AAAAAAAAFco/8reR_aEb_nI/s1600/DSC_6168.jpg NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (5/6) The nib is made of stainless steel and comes in a standard rotring design. I came across only F & M widths for this pen. All these nibs have been wet and generally smooth. A no-frills design of the nib sans any breather hole gives it a characteristic industrial look, besides the metallic make of the pen. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-NJUe5RVoEfc/Ve7eHohDpUI/AAAAAAAAFcg/XMsuGGbf6Og/s1600/DSC_6177.jpg The branding and nib specifications are imprinted on either sides of the nib. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-T99tcjVwm_0/Ve7eHLWzRDI/AAAAAAAAFcY/e7-BGhnTY2Q/s1600/DSC_6181.jpg A standard black plastic feed sans any fins and a big feeder hole define its minimalism. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lmvBaJ8uRqM/Ve7eIWKja4I/AAAAAAAAFcs/7J6h2qQmUeY/s1600/DSC_6185.jpg PHYSICS OF IT (4/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING The pen is light and slim. You can post the pen as well and it does not feel any more heavier than 15g. The grip section tapers away from the barrel cross section as it becomes relatively thinner. I feel that I am used to thicker sections for quite some time now. Uncapped Length ~ 12.7 cmPosted Length ~ 17.3 cmNib Leverage ~ 1.6 cmUncapped and posted pictures of the Esprit beside a ruler run below for your reference. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FgzODfCK1yw/Ve7eMoWXAWI/AAAAAAAAFdA/cLjc8X8hmCU/s1600/physics.jpg ECONOMIC VALUE(6/6) I have no idea of its original retail price. I had bought the pen at a cost of USD 12 off ebay. Since it has been now discontinued, some stationery stores in Mumbai carry at least a few pieces of Esprit or a similar looking 400 model. OVERALL (5/6) This steel nib has a hint of feedback with a nice wet flow. The medium nib is stiff and does not have any line variation among horizontal and vertical strokes. These wet lines take almost 35 secs to dry a wet Diamine majestic blue on MD paper. And I find some of the fine nibs running as wide as the mediums. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Vtq1uViWKIM/Ve7eM49eNsI/AAAAAAAAFdE/ZKmCLhyTJWU/s1600/DSC_6194.jpg Thank you for going through the review. You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here. REFERENCES rOtring Timeline Tiku 600 series Newell Rubbermaid Inc Rotring 400
  9. The first amazingly smooth German fountain pen I had was a rotring (besides lamy). Actually, I did get quite a few freeways over a period of time and gifted them to friends and relatives. Below is a blog link to the review: Rotring Freeway Review Rotring is a German company that never seems to need any introduction. Just for the sake of this post I am devoting a few lines of history. It was started in 1928 with a tubular tipped stylographic fountain pen commonly known as Tiku and was incorporated as Titenkuli Handels GmbH. Later in the 1984, the calligraphic ArtPen was introduced, which was followed by the more famous and most sought after 600 series fountain pens (the architect’s fountain pen). There were a few changes in name in between and you can find their historical timeline here. In 1998, it was taken over by Sanford US, a part of Newell Rubbermaid Inc which also owns brands like Parker and Waterman. Rotring stopped manufacturing fountain pens soon after this acquisition. And yes of course, rot ring literally translates into red ring, which can be seen in almost all its writing instruments. The Freeway was one such pen which was released when the company had already started diversifying into writing instruments. It is equipped with a rotring standard steel nib. A corresponding rollerball, ballpoint and a mechanical pencil were also released. DESIGN - THE BRUSHED METALLICS (5/6) The Freeway comes in four different colours, all in matte finish - blue, ruby red, silver and black. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ahMcHrjxpHU/Vc4Cxj0RLCI/AAAAAAAAFGQ/hdGStfiIMsk/s1600/freeway-bp_1.jpg An aluminium body renders substantial weight to this pen. The pen has a cigar shape with a rather conspicuous red ring at the finial. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-q2Yt0utD9do/Vc4CEV8tiQI/AAAAAAAAFFQ/UWkf_wwsemI/s1600/DSC_5108.jpg Once you pull the cap, it does come off with an audible click, and you have a beautifully brushed metallic grip section. The grip section is slightly tapered and at the end rests a stainless steel insert along with a steel nib. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fGwHxkvyx4k/Vc4CBe_Oz3I/AAAAAAAAFFI/DNa_8R9YwBY/s1600/DSC_5111.jpg The cap is substantial with a snap-on mechanism. A tension fit clip starts with the trademarked red ring at the finial. It has an engraved ellipse (no idea why!) with rOtring branding below. I had purchased a few freeways over a period of time and one of them had a slightly wiggly clip. A satin chrome trim gives the cap band some aesthetics. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qwl3VMik-jk/Vc4B1TSfXJI/AAAAAAAAFFA/CqO8YT75fXE/s1600/Cap.jpg The colours are really attractive but they can fade, come off over a period of time. FILLING SYSTEM (4/6) Nothing spectacular here as it’s an international cartridge converter system. A brass insert inside the section houses the feed system. The construction is simply solid. A Schmidt or rotring converter fits quite snugly with the freeway section vis-a-vis other standard international converters. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hjB-hWdYeNw/Vc4CGBUk9AI/AAAAAAAAFFY/8JxweP_hzdg/s1600/DSC_5133.jpg NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (6/6) The nib is made of stainless steel and comes in a standard rotring design. I came across only F & M widths for the freeway. I never found any other nib widths for this pen, though the same nib had a wider variety of widths for the 600. All the nibs have been wet and smooth. A no-frills design of the nib sans any breather hole gives it a characteristic industrial look, besides the metallic parts of the pen. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Eq5qlvGNOFs/Vc4CTsDFzjI/AAAAAAAAFFg/3d__r_wMJJw/s1600/DSC_5139.jpg The branding and nib specifications are imprinted on either sides of the nib. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-D5fdcDkmd4Q/Vc4CV9L2XJI/AAAAAAAAFFs/SkQAcnhRW-4/s1600/DSC_5143.jpg A standard black plastic feed sans any fins and a big feeder hole define the minimalistic design. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MOOkskXEUbc/Vc4CV5tw2MI/AAAAAAAAFFw/LRBTt-kEPNk/s1600/DSC_5141.jpg PHYSICS OF IT (4/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING The pen feels substantial by itself but posting it makes it difficult to wield. It might feel a bit short of length. Uncapped Length ~ 12.5 cm Posted Length ~ 15.5 cm Nib Leverage ~ 1.6 cm Overall Weight ~ 35-40 g Capped, uncapped and posted comparisons with a m200 runs below for your reference. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mIc6W7WZeJg/Vc4CucUchZI/AAAAAAAAFF4/JP5LuOppvWY/s1600/DSC_5164.jpg http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xS_tWIVgIuQ/Vc4CvlC-HDI/AAAAAAAAFGA/P1CuRcz1wcY/s1600/DSC_5170.jpghttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UP4kzpA10f4/Vc4Cw_m_4nI/AAAAAAAAFGM/thw10orCA7I/s1600/DSC_5173.jpg ECONOMIC VALUE(6/6) I have no idea of its original retail price. I had bought the first pen at a cost of USD 6, and the subsequent ones at even lower prices! Since it has been discontinued, a lot of offline pen stores in Mumbai carry at least a few pieces of the Freeway and the Espirit. OVERALL (5/6) This steel nib is a winner and is very smooth with a wet flow. The fine nib is stiff and does not have any line variation among the horizontal and vertical strokes. These wet lines take almost 35 secs to dry a Pilot blue black ink on MD paper. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bOrhL209blY/Vc4C8UKIZ8I/AAAAAAAAFGY/dvaGZ9OCJHk/s1600/DSC_5189.jpg Thank you for going through the review. You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here. REFERENCES rOtring Timeline Tiku 600 series Newell Rubbermaid Inc
  10. Time for a second stab at a review. This time I'd like to draw attention to what I think is an inexpensive, almost criminally unknown pen - the Ohto Dude in silver. I'm going to sum up my review right now: If you like the look of the Kaweco Al-Sport with the Raw Aluminum finish but wanted a full size pen, take a serious look at the Dude. It's bloody gorgeous. First Impressions: 10 The pen came in a simple plastic sleeve with two international short ink cartridges, one blue, one black. The pen fits international standard converters but does not come with one. My reliable Schmidt K5 converter fitted perfectly, and that's what I have installed. For a pen that costs ~$20, this is perfectly acceptable to me. Indeed, I'd rather have more money put in to engineering and quality control than packaging. Besides, if you've been in this hobby long enough you've probably got a drawer full of converters floating around. What really surprised me though was the finish. Instead of the standard satin finish present on the Ohto Tasche, the Dude has a very lightly brushed finish with a "raw" look very similar to the Kaweco Al-Sport. It's gorgeous. Like, really, really gorgeous and something that's very difficult to show in pictures. The label "Ohto Dude Made in Japan" is stenciled on to the cap. It's in white over the silver finish and not highly visible, and since it's paint I expect it won't last that long. I don't really mind, I know what the brand and model of the pen are. Design and Apperance: 8 A very modern looking pen with a fully aluminum body (grip included) The cap and the majority of the body are faceted with six sides (hexagonal), with the body tapering to a round tail for posting the cap. Between the body and cap there's a triple ring in polished aluminum. The edge that butts up against the grip (when opened) is a touch on the sharp side, but it's nothing I noticed in usage. The clip is polished stainless steel and very tight, which is consistent with a lot of Asian pens I've used in the past. I have no concerns with it bending or breaking but it can be difficult to use. The cap is a slip type and posts securely for writing. The pen is extremely well balanced both posted and unposted, a consequence of the cap being fairly light compared to the rest of the body (6.8g for the cap vs. 25.25g for the entire pen with converter and ink). The pens caps very tightly, so tightly in fact that it's not uncommon to splash a little ink on the inside of the cap. Thankfully it doesn't get on the grip. The grip section is fully aluminum, with a black anodized finish. I was originally unsure if the grip was aluminum or plastic, but a quick test with a file on the underside confirmed that it's made of aluminum. It's slightly slippery but has a lovely hourglass shape that provides a fairly firm grip on the pen nonetheless. Fit and Finish: 8 Fit and finish are generally very good, with no body gaps, poorly fitted parts or serious issues. My only concern is that the first body ring that butts up against the grip is a little bit on the sharp side. I tend to hold my pens fairly close to the nib this was no issue for me, but if you hold your pens fairly high I could see it being an annoyance. Nib and Peformance: 8 As far as I know, each Ohto model comes with only a single nib size. Unlike the other Ohto pens I've owned/used in the past (Proud, Tasche, F-Lapa) that have Japanese F/Western XF nibs, the Dude has a Japanese M/Western F nib. The nib is fairly smooth and has a decent amount of spring to it. There is some feedback as is common on Japanese pens but it's fair from being scratchy or toothy. As it is it's a step or so below my very best steel nibs but very usable in everyday use. I could probably take a bit of micromesh to the tipping and smooth it out a little more but I probably won't. The pen started immediately on being inked after a quick wash with warm water. I've seen some other reviews of the Dude that had people complaining about excessively dry nibs but thankfully that wasn't the case for me - the pen writes a consistent, medium wet line with no skipping or hard starts. Even when not used for a few days the pen starts up immediately once the nib hits the paper. Compared to some other recent purchases that required a good bit of work to get the nibs to my satisfaction (looking at you Kaweco!) this was very nice. The nib and feed are standard friction-fit #5s, so can be easily replaced if you want something more exotic or a different size. This also makes cleaning very easy. Filling: 7 International cartridge/converter. The body will fit full sized international cartridges, full sized converters like the Schmidt K5 or two international short cartridges. Nothing special but reliable and easy to use. Value: 8 A few years ago I probably would've given the Dude a somewhat higher value ranking, but with so many excellent, low cost pens available these days the Dude has some stiff competition. The MOMA Muji and Pilot Metropolitan immediately come to mind. The Pilot comes with it's own converter and at least two nib sizes, but (at least for me) is less comfortable to use and not as well balanced, especially when posted. The Muji is lighter and has somewhat similar styling, but has a very sharp edge on the front of the grip that kind of bothered me. Having owned all three, I prefer the Dude but as always, YMMV. Conclusion: If you're looking for an entry-level Japanese pen and like modern styling, the Ohto Dude definitely deserves consideration. It combines a solid writing experience, good design and beautiful finish. There's some stiff competition at the $20 price point these days, but I think the Dude has enough points in it's favour to merit a serious consideration. Specifications: Length Capped: 135mm Length Uncapped: 125mm Length Posted: 152mm Weight Capped: 25.25g (with converter and ink) Weight Uncapped: 18.45g http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r181/jekostas/OhtoDude1_zpsa23eadbc.jpg http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r181/jekostas/OhtoDude2_zpsb3fb09ab.jpg http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r181/jekostas/OhtoDude3_zps13bff80e.jpg
  11. Redblur

    Can Anyone Help Id'ing This Pen?

    Hi all - I recently got a batch of pens on the Bay, and it included the attached mystery (to me) Sheaffer. It's made of aluminum (non-ferrous metal, anyway). The clip is brass-colored, spring-loaded, with an angular S logo. It is otherwise marked Sheaffer---Made In U.S.A. at the base of the cap. The most interesting aspect is the nib - it seems to be designed to allow the user to write in two orientations. The nib itself is a flat piece of metal, seated inside a rounded cone of black plastic(?). It is quite fine. One side of the nib assembly has a gold arrow head shape on it, rather like the original Star Trek logo. The other side is marked F and has what looks like a breather hole (or torpedo tube). Thanks very much! Edited due to factual error.





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