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Delta - Momodesign Alumina


Phormula
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Delta MomoDesign Alumina

My Delta with a little tuning

 

 

Introduction

Being a long time “Dolcevita” user, I have always associated the Delta brand with “classic look” fountain pens. While do use (and love) my “Dolcevita”, for daily writing on the run I tend to give preference to more modern designs, such as the Faber Castell Ambition or Rotring Newton, which are my travelling workhorses.

To much of my surprise, a few weeks ago I was surfing the website of one of my pens, inks and paper suppliers when I bounced into this Delta, developed in cooperation with MomoDesign. While Delta is a brand known to any fountain pen enthusiast, let me spend a few words to introduce MomoDesign. The company was originally started as the style centre of Momo, a company well known to any car racing enthusiast, being a supplier of accessories for sporty, racing and luxury cars, such as alloy rims and steering wheels. The two businesses got separated in the ‘90s, with the original brand being sold and MomoDesign focusing on design and marketing of fashion accessories, including pens. The sporty heritage of the company is reflected in the design and the choice of materials such as aluminimum, titanium, ceramic, magnesium and carbon fiber along with more classic ones such as leather for its products, that range from helmets to shoes, watches, accessories, fragrances and (of course) writing instruments. The latter are manufactured by Delta. The MomoDesign Alumina is the latest addiction to the range. It is a pen made entirely with aluminium available in three colors: Titanium, Blue and Black and as a fountain pen, roller and ballpoint. The fountain pen offers the classic choice of fine, medium and broad nibs.

When I saw the pen on the website I immediately liked the design and, thanks to a not so small but still reasonable (about 150 Euros) price tag, I decided to bite the bullet and add a blue MomoDesign Alumina with a fine nib to my usual order of paper and inks.

 

Aesthetics and design: 8.5

Let me say it loud and clear: if you love classic pens, the “Alumina” is not your cup of tea. The pen features a modern, somehow sporty design that matches the aluminum and the electric blue color adds to the sensation. I recommend the black version for people looking for a touch of understatement. The barrel has a recess bearing the MomoDesign brand, while the company logo, reminding a three-spoke wheel is engraved both on the top of the cap and at the end of the barrel. The clip is a standard one, with a single, long rectangular hole. Spring action is provided by the elasticity of the steel, i.e. no spring mechanism in the cap. Unscrewing of the cap requires a full turn and reveals an aluminum grip section holding an oversized but well matched steel nib that bears both MomoDesign logo and the Delta. Reference to Delta is also made with the “Delta Italy” at the end of the cap. The name of the pen is written on a black ring at the base of the grip section, just before the nib. Unscrewing the barrel reveals a standard, not screw-type converter (provided with the pen). The pen can also accept international cartridges, long and short. The pen has two peculiarities. The threads on the cap and the barrel are designed in such a way that when the cap is screwed, the clip aligns with the recess bearing the MomoDesign writing. The other peculiarity might appeal those people that like to write with the pen posted. The end part of the barrel bears a thread that allows the cap to be securely screwed when posting. Once again, when the cap is screwed at the end of the barrel, the clip becomes aligned with the logo. The trim of the nib, clip and MomoDesign logos is dark grey.

 

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Realization and quality: 9.5

Nothing to say, it is a pen made with care, as per Delta tradition. Delta claims that it is hand made from an aluminum rod. Considering the price tag, full marks are fully earned. The blue painting and the trim is flawless and all parts are precisely matched together. The only nuisance is when the pen is loaded with two short ones, the one not in use bounces in the barrel when the pen is shaken, with the typical rattling sound. Most users won’t notice, but the thing could annoy a fountain pen nerd. After some weeks of careless use, i.e. carrying around it in a bag with no protection, the surface shows no sign of wear.

 

Weight and dimensions: 9

Being entirely made of metal, the pen is quite heavy. Loaded with two standard international cartridges it weights a full 35 grams (23 grams without the cap). It is also quite lengthy, almost 14 cm when capped and 12.5 cm uncapped. The grip section is straight and measures about 1 cm diameter. People that are used to hold the pen keeping fingers quite away from the nib may not like the thread grooves and the pronounced step at the end. I tend to hold the pen quite close to the nib, hence for me the threads are no issue. All in all it is well balanced and it is not tiring even after long writing sessions. At least this was my experience with it. I happened to write for 2-3 hours without interruptions and found the “Alumina” quite comfortable. Like all metals pen, it is relatively cold when first taken into hand, but aluminum has a high thermal conductivity, hence the pen warms up quickly. I don’t like to post pens, those willing to practice posting with this pen need to take into account that the aluminum cap is quite heavy and, albeit securely screwed at the end of the barrel, the whole pen, from nib tip to barrel end becomes nearly 17 cm long.

 

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Nib and performance: 6

The steel nib performance is the part of the pen that I liked the least. I have nothing against steel nibs, actually I am convinced that a well made steel nib can compete on equal grounds with a steel one. The nib of my “Alumina” is a fine which, in European terms, is close to a Japanese medium. The flow is pleasantly rich, without being excessive. As expected from a steel nib, it is quite stiff. The nib and the feeder are well matched together, ink flow remains steady during long writing sessions without interruptions. I also observed no skippings or false starts. Usually large nibs tend to dry if the pen is left unused for some time with the cap off or stored for some days in vertical position, this is not the case with the “Alumina”. Unfortunately the good picture is compromised by the fact that the nib was quite scratchy. Not the kind of scratchiness due to misaligned nibs, but rather than flowing on paper like a fountain pen should do, the nib was always offering some resistance, no matter the direction (left, right, up or down) in which it was moved. The scratchiness was also making the nib somehow noisy. I took a lens and inspected the nib but found nothing wrong with the tines and the iridium point. Having tested one pen only, I cannot state if this is typical of the pen or if I simply got a lemon.

 

Loading and maintenance: 8

No rocket science. As expected for this price tag, the pen is a cartridege-converter, with a standard converter supplied. The “Alumina” accepts standard international (i.e Pelikan) cartridges, readily available, at least here in Europe. As per any pen of this kind, maintenance is reduced to a minimum, consisting in the periodical flush of the section under tap water to remove residuals. The converter, if it becomes faulty, can be easily replaced with a minimum of expense.

 

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Quality / Price 7

It is not a steal. Period. For the same price tag here in Europe there are plenty of choices, such as the Montegrappa Parola, a Faber Castell e-Motion or Ondoro, a Visconti Rembrandt or a Staedtler Initium to name a few. It is quite a crowded arena because this is the amount of money that a lot of people are willing to spend for a gift or for their first “seriuous” fountain pen. The “Alumina” can put on the table the full aluminium construction, the overall quality of realization and the reputation of the Delta brand, but for this price tag I would expect a flawless steel nib, which was not my case. Hence I cannot go over a 7.

 

Conclusions: 7.5

Mixed feelings. I love the design and like to use the pen thanks to its ergonomics, but I cannot stand the performance of the nib. Assuming that I got a lemon and that other “Alumina” are equipped with a better performing nib, it is a good pen, provided that you like its sporty design, you are comfortable with an aluminum grip section (people with sweaty hands tend not to like metal grip sections) and you are willing to part with 150 Euro to get a cartridge-converter, albeit well made pen. It really boils down to personal preference. As I said before, there are plenty of choices in this price range and it is not difficult for everybody to find their cup of tea.

 

Conclusions (II) – How I fixed it

I was thinking to send it back to Delta and ask them to do something to smooth the nib, then it came back to my mind that a couple of years ago my TWSBI VAC 700 went literally into pieces, i.e. the polycarbonate body started developing stress cracking cracks in several places, up to the point that the pen was not worth fixing. At the time I disassembled the pen, saving the pieces that were not damaged and that I thought could become useful if I had to fix my other VAC 700. Among the saved pieces there was a first generation M nib. I decided to give a try. Maybe I was unconsciously inspired by the original Momo brand itself. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s people used to buy Momo accessories to tune their cars and give them a more sporty look. I disassembled the feeding section of the “Alumina”, swapped the nib with the TWSBI one keeping the original feeder. It fitted perfectly and since then I have a customized “Alumina” that writes like butter.

 

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Edited by Phormula

Don't take life too seriously

Nobody makes it out alive anyway

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Very interesting review. Thank you. I found it because I've just seen one of these mentioned elsewhere (FB) and I'm intrigued, but the poor nib is a worry. I have seen elsewhere that it can be a problem with Delta (I don't have a Delta). It is a very smart looking pen, and I love the idea of an aluminium body, but the nib issue might mean that I shan't add this to the "Wants" list.

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  • 6 months later...

Could you please show exactly how you disassembled the feeding section of the “Alumina” ?

I've tried with mine but it seems the nib is very hard to be removed.

Thanks

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