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Customized Twsbi Vac 700: Vintage Flex-Italic


hanryy
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This is my Vac 700 with a custom section sporting a vintage 14kt Mabie Todd “Swan” no.6 flex italic nib.

 

IMAG0267.jpg

 

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:

IMAG0264.jpg

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:

IMAG0265.jpg

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.

IMAG0260.jpg

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.

IMAG0266.jpg

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

 

 

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Somehow, I suspect that this marriage of Nibs and Feeds of Old and Pen Bodies of new will become a popular one. How many Vac-700 will get a visit to a pen turners operating table to get a “plastic section” ectomy to be followed by some ebonite recon-section surgery as part of a “Nib job” only time will tell but I think I going to start saving my nickels and dimes.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

Benjamin Franklin

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Somehow, I suspect that this marriage of Nibs and Feeds of Old and Pen Bodies of new will become a popular one. How many Vac-700 will get a visit to a pen turners operating table to get a “plastic section” ectomy to be followed by some ebonite recon-section surgery as part of a “Nib job” only time will tell but I think I going to start saving my nickels and dimes.

 

I think it will be the natural progression of the vintage flex community as the supply of these pens which still have quality bodies slowly withers away. The gold nibs may well be the most durable part of the pen with respect to time.

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Very nice marrige you have there.

 

I would imagine the cost was not cheap but not over the top either for such a fine writer.

 

I really like the ebonite grip section... great idea!

 

Congrats and thanks for sharing with such an in-depth review.

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What a great pen! Green ink looks amazing too and really matches its vintage look. What I'm amazed of is the photos ... especially the third one. I guess you took a class or two on how to compose a photo :)

Greetings from Bulgaria, Peter

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Very nice. Who did the customization?

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



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Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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What a great pen! Green ink looks amazing too and really matches its vintage look. What I'm amazed of is the photos ... especially the third one. I guess you took a class or two on how to compose a photo :)

Greetings from Bulgaria, Peter

Thank you for the kind words! I have always been a fan of the color green. I have since loaded the pen with some actually vintage skrip emerald green. Also an excellent combination.

 

Very nice. Who did the customization?

Appleman was the kind FPN member who made the custom section for me.

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Very cool. Thank you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).



Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar



Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016



Check out inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY

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  • 3 years later...

This is amazing, and looks like what I want to do. Sorry to revive a three year old thread, but out of curiosity, did you ever try this setup with a Vac 20 ink bottle?

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This is amazing, and looks like what I want to do. Sorry to revive a three year old thread, but out of curiosity, did you ever try this setup with a Vac 20 ink bottle?

 

As a matter of fact, yes I did and it works just fine with the Vac 20 ink bottle. It was my preferred method of filling up this pen.

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Looks lovely, I have a Swan No.2 nib and am pondering over different options for it. This definitely gives me a few ideas.

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