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  1. Pen Pit Stop : TWSBI VAC Mini Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way – no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let’s find out how they have withstood the ravages of time. The fountain pen that arrives at the pit stop today is the “TWSBI VAC Mini” demonstrator (clear version). This is the only vacuum filler pen in my collection, and for that reason alone precious to me. Fortunately, it’s also a really good writer with an excellent nib that wrote smoothly right out of the box. I bought this pen in April 2016, and it has been in use for almost 6 years now. This pen is in my regular rotation, typically filled with a colourful ink that brings life to the transparent barrel. Let’s have a closer look at it. Pen Look & Feel My TWSBI VAC Mini is the clear version demonstrator. I love the minimalistic looks of the pen – it’s just transparent plastic with silver accents. I find it quite an elegant and aesthetically beautiful pen – in contrast with the more garish-looking coloured demonstrators that TWSIB has heaps of (not a fan of those 😉 This is a fairly minimalistic pen without much in the way of ornamentation. Some subtle branding is present, with the TWSBI logo on the finial, and a faint engraving on the cap spelling “TWSBI” and “VAC mini Taiwan”. The pen has a screw-on cap that unscrews with 1.5 rotations. It can be posted by screwing the cap on the threads at the end of the barrel. One thing I noticed: when posting the cap, it sometimes misaligns on the threads, resulting in a crooked post (to show this, take a look at the picture with the posted pen in the Safari comparison below). Just something to be aware of. I typically use the pen unposted, so it’s not an issue for me. The silver-coloured M-nib on my pen writes really smooth, and is a true pleasure to use. The VAC Mini is a vacuum filler – which is a really cool way to fill up a pen with ink. You unscrew the end cap, and pull out the piston rod. Next, put the nib in the ink bottle and push down the plunger – this creates a vacuum in the top part of the barrel. Near the nib unit, the ink reservoir flares out (indicated by the arrow). When the piston passes this point, there is a direct connection between the top and bottom parts. Now air pressure pushes the ink inside the barrel, equalizing pressure on both sides. Really neat! With the end cap screwed down, the plunger seals off the nib unit. In this position, no ink can flow to the nib. To use the pen, you need to unscrew the end cap a bit, allowing ink to flow from barrel to nib unit. You have to be aware of this – it happens more often than not that you’re writing with the pen, only to have it stop after a few lines. Darn… forgot to unscrew that end cap! The pictures above illustrate the size of the VAC mini in comparison with a standard Lamy Safari. The VAC mini is certainly not a large pen, but it’s not too small and can easily be used unposted. Pen Characteristics Build Quality : the pen is well build, and still looks great after almost 6 years of use. The plastic used for the transparent parts is still shiny and unscratched. Mind you – I treat my pens with respect, and always use a pen pouch when carrying them around. But still, the pen has aged gracefully. Weight & Dimensions : the pen is on the small side, comparable with a Pelikan M200/M400. It feels a bit heavier though, probably due to the metal used for the piston rod. For me, the pen is comfortable to use unposted (where it is a little bit smaller than a Pelikan M200/M400). But if you have larger hands, it’s probably best to use it posted. When posted, it’s exactly the same size as a posted Pelikan M200/M400. Filling System : this is a vacuum-filler pen, that can only be used with bottled ink. A rather unique filling system – I’m glad to have a pen of this type in my collection. Nib & Performance : the silver-coloured steel nib is well-proportioned for the size of this pen. The M-nib on my unit writes like a dream, and produces a wet and well-saturated line. I also appreciate the fact that replacement nib units are readily available. Price : I paid 69 EUR for the new pen (including taxes). Given the build quality of the pen, and the cool vacuum-filler mechanism, I’d say this is very good value for money. Conclusion The TWSBI VAC mini Demonstrator is a really nice-looking minimalistic pen, that beautifully showcases the inks you fill it with. I love the smooth nib on my unit that worked perfectly out-of-the-box. For me, size and weight are just perfect - a very comfortable pen for longer writing sessions. The crucial question is: would I buy this pen again? To this, my answer is a resounding YES. This pen totally fits my taste, and is also a very smooth writer. And that vacuum-filler mechanism is just so cool !
  2. sewhite1990

    Vac Mini Blind/filler Cap

    Hi all, Sorry if this has been answered already. Last night, while I was filling my Vac Mini (less than a month old to me), the blind/end/filler cap came unscrewed from the filler rod. It threads back on just fine, but it comes off super easily now. I'd like to prevent this from becoming a recurring issue. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to get the cap to stay on the rod? Thanks, -- Stephen
  3. Inferno2Inferno

    Twsbi Vac Mini - Smoke Leak/crack?

    So I recently purchased a TWSBI Vac Mini in Smoke from my local fountain pen store. I must say the filling mechanism is super cool and it writes really well, however, I am having an issue with it and I am seeking FPN community input. Today when I was writing, I noticed some ink drops on my thumb and the side of my middle finger where the grip section/cap threads would normally rest on my hand. My immediate thought was that there was a crack in the pen and that it was leaking onto my fingers. However, when I ran that section of the pen across some paper, there was no ink left behind nor was there any additional ink drip after more writing. I inspected the grip and cap threads with a flashlight and a laser pointer to see if there were any cracks and failed to see anything (in a way this was perhaps unsurprising as I never dropped the pen before). This left me thinking, could it just be ink trickle from being bounced around in my knapsack, or is there actually a crack in the pen I should look to get repaired? Has anyone else experienced something similar before? Thanks for any input!
  4. All, I'm in a dilemma with my current TWSBI pen. Bottom line: I have a Vac Mini which I enjoy but am wondering if I would appreciate a 580 more. I love the design of most of TWSBI's pens (Precision notwithstanding...) and I like having a demonstrator with swappable nib units (though I have yet to buy an extra). As for the Vac Mini itself, I do enjoy the novelty of the plunger/vacuum filling system though it's not a selling point to me, and the nib writes very well. But...my Vac mini has been very "fiddly" which I don't love: the plunger knob keeps coming off when I unscrew it despite my best efforts and help from Philip Wang on how to reattach. I had to order new barrel O-rings because one just fell off, so it doesn't post well at the moment, and it's a PITA to clean. I bought it as a "travel pen" and the one time I flew with it, I had ink leak significantly despite a full fill, ink chamber sealed, and storing it nib-up (thankfully it was in a Ziploc bag). Finally, it's reasonably comfortable to write with posted (I have relatively small hands), I don't find myself reaching for it because of the effort to post/unpost constantly when writing, and the section is a bit narrow. Do any of you own both a 580 and a Vac Mini? If so let me know if you think I'd enjoy the 580 more over the Vac based on my issues with it -- I've made a decision to self-limit my pen collection so this would be a "swap" -- I'd likely sell or trade the Vac Mini to any interested and buy a 580. I don't like the look of the Vac 700 but am reconsidering it as well. ~AK
  5. kittywonghf

    Twsbi Vac Mini Review (Ef)

    I bought my TWSBI vac mini a couple of weeks ago, and since I haven't been able to find many reviews of the pen here, I figured I might give my two cents and see what happens http://www.stilografica.it/writable/Penne/TWSBI/TWSBI%20VAC%20mini%20-%20Fountain%20Pen%20-%20Penna%20Stilografica.jpg Packaging: 8/10 The Vac Mini comes in a clear plastic box and is held by two shaped plastic pieces which slots in and holds the pen in place. This makes for a very nice display case even when the pen is put away, however the two pieces that come off are a little troublesome as they are loose and will move about in the box when not affixed. Underneath the white plastic, TWSBI also offers the wrench to open the pen for cleaning, a small vial of silicone grease (which is a bit stubborn in terms of squeezing liquid out), and two spare O-rings, which is really nice. The plastic box is contained within a cardboard box when it first comes and is heavily padded out with foam pieces, so rest assured your pen is well protected during delivery Design: 7/10 I personally think that the TWSBI vac mini is a beautiful, portable demonstrator. The grip, body, and cap are all pretty much translucent resin save for the cap bands, the clip, and accents, and is made of a very nice clear resin. With a lighter ink in the barrel (or perhaps one that clings to the side adequately), the pen becomes beautifully highlighted. Mine is currently inked with Pelikan Edelstein Topaz. The top of the pen is embossed with the red twsbi logo, and a matte "TWSBI" and "vac mini" is laser engraved onto the chrome metal cap band. The pen is opened via twisting the cap, and also posts by twisting. This may be a downside for some people, but I personally do not mind as this ensures the cap is very secure. The threads are not too sharp for the hand either down in the grip section. As this is a vacuumatic filler, the back of the pen will have to be unscrewed during long writing sessions so as to allow ink to flow from the barrel to the nib unit, otherwise this creates a double reservoir. Once again, this might be a disadvantage to some people out of convenience's sake, but as someone who travels on planes at least twice a year (I study abroad), I think this is a handy feature to prevent leaks and such. The vacuum filler works perfectly if you also have the TWSBI Vac 20A Inkwell, giving a full fill in one or two plunges. If you fill it normally, you'll probably be able to get 3/4 of the ink capacity if you do it a couple times. I do not really mind this as the pen has a huge ink capacity (A whopping 2ml, in a pen this size, is a win!) -- plus some space for in demonstrator pens for ink to slosh around in makes it even more of an eye candy. The only qualm I have regarding the design is really the fiddly re-assembly after you took it apart to clean (which by the way is nearly impossible without full disassembly). Although TWSBI gives you all the tools to do so, the process isn't as straight forward as it can be. Because the threads are double-threaded, many components can fit on multiple ways and if you don't do it right, the clip will not align with the nib. With the vac mini, the cap posts in such a way that the clip will face either one of two directions, both 180 degrees opposite. Ideally, this would be in line with the nib, or directly in line with the feed. However, if you don't assemble the pen carefully, the clip will face a quarter turn away from the nib, or an eighth away, etc. and it really got on my nerves the first time I tried to reassemble it. This arduous process really discourages changing inks in the pen, which I think really takes away some points. Construction & Quality: 9/10 The TWSBI vac mini feels like a solid pen in the hand, and it is. The resin looks very clear and of high quality, metal accents are well polished. In the hand it feels just about right for a pen in the £50-60 price range. The threads are smooth and all the components are put together well. The clip wiggles left and right just a little bit, I wish they could have secured it better. As I said the only thing about this pen is that I'd probably just leave it be most of the time and avoid taking it apart. It is really quite a process, often requiring multiple times of taking it apart again and again just to realign the cap and the nib. Also be aware of displacing any O-rings / losing silicone grease in the grip, as this can easily lead to ink leaking into the grip section (nightmare for anyone with OCD! Weight & Dimensions: 8/10 The vac mini was designed to be a portable pen, which makes it quite significantly smaller than most other fountain pens, although it is a little bigger than its close cousin the diamond mini -- and quite honestly, this makes all the difference in the world. For me personally, the vac mini is just the right size that, if I needed a quick note, I could use the pen quite comfortably without posting (whereas the diamond mini is a smidgen too small for that), although I can still see this being a problem for people with bigger hands. Posted, the pen becomes a very very good length for most people, and is extremely well balanced. I am very impressed with how they designed this pen! *For reference, I have somewhat big hands for a female! Here's a comparison to my other pens: (Lamy 2000, TWSBI vac mini, Lamy Al-Star, Parker IM Premium) http://i.imgur.com/nWxXJlb.jpg Nib & Performance: 10/10 2 words: Simply brilliant. The EF nib is a true western EF, made by the German company Jowo... and BOY is it smooth. I would argue that it's even smoother than the established Lamy EF. It's quite a stiff steel nib and doesn't give a whole lot when pressure is applied, I would say it's harder than the Lamy nibs. I love it. It's an absolute joy to write with, I could only imagine how a medium or broad nib would write. The vac mini is also quite a wet writer -- not a gusher, just about the right amount of wetness to show off some amazing shading for an EF nib. It also reverse writes to a degree, but it's quite scratchy. The nib units can of course be swapped out easily, and the nib and feed can be easily removed during cleaning with a tug. Be careful when putting it back together to line it up with the grip section (little ridges) and push it all the way in, otherwise ink blobs will start forming and it's a pain to push it back whilst the pen is inked. Cost & Value: 10/10 For the price, I think this pen is completely worth it. It looks great, is portable, reliable, and is a great writer sized perfectly for the job. It's a workhorse pen that looks damn good, and the vac filler is just so much fun! For the features this pen scores, I think it is well worth the price tag. Conclusion: An extremely solid pen that is both functional and beautiful. Perfectly designed for travel (double reservoir with large ink capacity), writes very very well, and well built. The disadvantage is the lack of quick draw / quick posting, and of course the cleaning / disassembly being quite possibly the biggest hassle ever in order to line the cap up with the nib... But at the end of the day, I genuinely think the performance this pen gives is worth it. Just as long as you keep it inked with the same ink and keep with simple flushing most of the time.
  6. akrohn2010

    Leaky Vac Mini

    Long story short: I bought a TWSBI Vac mini since I love my Eco and was looking for a travel pen, figured this fit the bill. Just took it with me to a vacation in Costa Rica, filled with Noodlers Blue-Black, to journal while we're here and it keeps leaking. On the flight out I made sure to give it a FULL fill (using Brian Goulet's technique), and stored it nib up on the plane. When I uncapped it I got a handful of ink around the section and cap. Figured this was bound to happen despite my best efforts and shrugged it off. A couple days later it is still leaking, even after sitting in our room all day without any movement or pressure changes. Seems every time I uncap it to journal there is a smattering of ink inside the section and cap. Anyone have a similar experience or know what might be the problem? Perhaps I filled it TOO full or might have a crack in the plastic I can't see? I have kept the blind cap screwed down and sealed when not in use and unscrew it when writing. Any help is appreciated! Enjoy writing with this pen but surprised at its consistent leakage. ~AK PS - any of you looking for a getaway soon should seriously consider Costa Rica, it is an incredible place...Pura Vida!
  7. pacyhdermprincess

    Mini Or Vac Mini

    I just got a TWSBI 580. I love everything about it except the length when posted. I do not love it unposted as its too short for me. I'm looking at a Mini or Vac Mini to replace the 580. Which do you prefer? The Vac Mini is a bit longer posted so right now that's leading the race.





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