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Japanese Fountain Pen Quality Control - Not What It Used To Be?


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11 hours ago, mke said:

If the pen is capped than how should this be possible?

 

@JunkyardSam

> gold plating issues

Which parts had problems? And what year was it? You have a photo to show? Thanks.

 

 

 

What does being capped have to do with tines being thrown out of alignment due to rough handling? If a capped pen is not carefully packaged, the pen body absorbs the force of impact and transfers a significant portion of it directly to the nibs, which are snugly fix to the body. It's basic physics. For softer gold nibs, if they are subjected to repeated rough handling, it's perfectly reasonable that they are vulnerable to being misaligned. 

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Amazon is only the intermediary. Fortunately, they allow returns. If purchasing domestically ask the seller about returns. 

 

Next year shows are starting up again. All are on weekends. Go to them. If not in your area, drive there. A few hours on the road won't hurt and if you need to spend a night in a motel, have a fun road trip. Many of us do put in the time.

 

Ordering from overseas is always iffy. If you purchase from Kingdom Note, for example, they have videos online of the pens in action. If from Rakuten or Yahoo Japan, you're stuck. We can share experiences of damaged items and how much they have cost. 

 

eBay allows returns too. You can tell if the pen is scratchy in about ten seconds after opening the box. You should be able to dry write or write with water and return with no problems.

 

If the goal is to purchase your pen at the lowest rock bottom price, this is what happens.

 

Are expectations too high?

 

PS: Regarding ink. Initially always go with the manufacturers ink first. Supposedly it is designed for their pens. How that science, pseudoscience, or alchemy works is beyond me but, supposedly the case.

 

There is mention of QA/QC of Japanese pens not being what is used to be. Provide examples of pens you purchased new ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. Or, is this purely anecdotal, myth, or hearsay?

stan

Formerly Ryojusen Pens
The oldest and largest buyer and seller of vintage Japanese pens in America.


Member: Pen Collectors of America & Fuente, THE Japanese Pen Collectors Club

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4 hours ago, by78 said:

 

What does being capped have to do with tines being thrown out of alignment due to rough handling? If a capped pen is not carefully packaged, the pen body absorbs the force of impact and transfers a significant portion of it directly to the nibs, which are snugly fix to the body. It's basic physics. For softer gold nibs, if they are subjected to repeated rough handling, it's perfectly reasonable that they are vulnerable to being misaligned. 

 

I think you underestimate the resilience of gold alloys used in fountain pen nibs... 

 

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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7 hours ago, mke said:

....

 

I expected that everyone knows these details and is able to express the difference.

 

....

 

You'd be surprised how many "civilians" lack any understanding of the inner workings of the retail trade.

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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21 hours ago, mke said:

That Amazon has a larger number of lemons than other sellers is your first hypothesis. But is that really so? 

I would think that this hypothesis is a shaky foundation for the rest of the explanation.

 

Another one where I am not convinced is that Amazon would buy returned pens. Where is that marketplace for such stuff?

 

Don't you think they wouldn't simply buy a huge batch from the maker? I have heard that makers require that you don't give reductions on some pens for a certain time. I don't think that the pens Amazon buys are under that requirement. So, they simply can give any reduction they want to give.

 

What I could (eventually) believe is that they try to resell their own returned pens.

But, haven't you heard that they often just shred the returned stuff?

If they shred so easily returns, they certainly will not buy returned pens from other sellers.

 

p.s. I have heard that resellers get 50-70% reduction from makers - Amazon might even be better in achieving reductions.

 

 

 

 

My comment on people receiving 'bad' pens from Amazon was based on my seeing many anecdotal reports of it on FPN over the years.
Obviously, most people don't necessarily say "from seller X on Amazon Marketplace", only "from Amazon". This may skew the 'evidence' further.

My admitted-guess about Amazon possibly buying-up returned pens as a possible explanation has been superceded by awa54's comments regarding Amazon replacing returns back in to their own retail streams - and of the potential for purchasers 'returning' fakes to Amazon after buying a genuine item from them in the first instance.

 

Wrt the idea of Amazon shredding returned items, I had not actually heard that before.
But I must say that if you honestly believe that a company as Profit-oriented as Amazon is, as 'tax-efficient' as Amazon is, and which treats its workforce as Amazon does, shreds high-priced pens with gold nibs, I have a very nice bridge that I am now able to offer to you at a very discounted price! 😁

 

Having read awa54's post, my own opinion about the explanation for my having seen 'many' anecdotal reports on FPN of people receiving 'bad' pens (or pens with e.g. ink in their feed, no warranty booklet, no box, etc - but not fakes) from Amazon is that Amazon simply put any high-value pens that have been returned back in to their retail stream - eventually somebody will fail to return it, and they will then have made a profit.

 

Of course, this still doesn't explain how pens arrive with misaligned nibs. Like you, I do not understand how 'rough handling' can explain the phenomenon - surely no capped pen is going to have its nib come in to contact with anything during transit?
I don't claim that 'rough handling' during shipping definitely isn't the cause of this, but I would like to read an explanation of how a nib that doesn't bump up against anything could become misaligned.

Foul in clear conditions, but handsome in the fog.

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Every Pilot pen I've bought has had an excellent nib -- and that goes for Metropolitans, Decimos, a Saturn (Korean-made for the Korean market that I paid ten bucks for in an antiques shop), and Falcon.  It also includes the used Vanishing Point I gave my husband after swapping out the F nib unit in it for the EF unit in my first Decimo (and he likes the pen a lot, with the EF nib unit).  It also includes a couple of Varsities (other than them running out of ink way too fast -- one of these days I'm going to try the trick of refilling them with regular ink).

The Sailors were not as good as the Pilots but still okay.  The Pro-Gear Slim is okay, but I find the zoom nib to be a little more feedbacky than I really care for. The 1911S with the MF nib is excellent; the one with the music nib is very, very wet.  

Don't like my Platinum Plaisir much.  I got it early on, after reading about how good the Platinum nibs are; but the pen writes very dry, and is also one with the old-style coated nibs.  And after a year or two of changing inks fairly often,  and fairly thorough flushing regimens between fills of different inks, the coating started to flake off.  :(  The Preppies are all set up with the rollerball heads) and well, make of that what you want (but of course they all came free with bottles of Noodler's ink back before Nathan Tardif started including Charlie pens with the larger bottles).  

I also have one Japanese-made Cross pen, the Solo bought from a friend's estate.  Not sure which company made the pen for Cross, but I liked that pen so much I bought a second Solo (different color and with a different width nib).  Not sure where the second one was made, because it's not marked "Made in Japan" the way the first one was -- but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a third one.

As for where they're ordered from?  I've gotten two of the Decimos from Japan -- one through someone at a pen show who had contacts there, and the third from a US retailer.  I think all the others that I have real provenance for were from US retailers, except for the Pro-Gear Slim, which came from Cult Pens in the UK.

If Japanese pen QC is "not what it used to be, as the OP contended", then all I can say is that their QC must have used to be AWESOME.  Because other than the one Plaisir nib (and of course have never used the nibs for the Preppies), I've had relatively good experiences with how most of my Japanese pens wrote.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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On 11/27/2021 at 9:04 AM, awa54 said:

 

I think you underestimate the resilience of gold alloys used in fountain pen nibs... 

 

 

Not all gold alloys are created equal, and not all rough handlings are equally rough. 

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On the subject of gold nib alloys: I have yet to meet the Pilot gold nib, 14k, 18k, white or yellow, that wasn't work hardened and/or heat treated to be springy. Thickness is largely responsible for just how "soft" a nib feels, but less springy metal will also affect that.

Even the 22k yellow gold nibs in two of my Platinum pens are able to return to their original shape after being flexed lightly (pure gold is extremely malleable).

 

Now think of how much *sustained* force is required to open the tines on a nib and how many times that is repeated in a *single page* of writing, then multiply that by the years and often decades, that a vintage gold nib has been used for daily writing, yet still returns to a neutral and correctly adjusted position.

 

Given the mass of a gold nib and plastic/resin/ebonite pen barrel plus cap, I would estimate that the pen would have to be thrown against a hard surface at extremely high speed/force to even have a chance of exceeding the metals modulus of elasticity.

 

My experience is that fairly often,  misaligned tipping is caused by the shape of the feed and how the nib is mounted to it, in these cases, the nib returns to neutral (tines aligned) when removed from the feed.

 

The "Soft Bendy Gold" theory begs the question of how pens with stainless steel nibs are also occasionally delivered with misaligned tines...

 

BTW, I in no way endorse Amazons habit of putting small items in large boxes with little or no packing material, I just don't think that it's the cause of the issues people are describing.

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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I have wondered before if temperature changes in shipping are responsible for some misalignments. The extreme cold in a plane's cargo hold, heat in shipping containers, etcetera.

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3 hours ago, Harold said:

Not all airplanes are jumbojets, though. Smaller aircraft usually don't have temperature controlled holds.

 

 

In the first world and in International freight handling, I think you'll find that 100% of the aircraft in use carrying commercial freight have pressurized holds.

In addition, most flights made in unpressurized aircraft are not going to exceed 10,000 feet (3000m), as above that low performance piston engines lose efficiency and crew need to have oxygen supply on board.

 

Please also remember that historically gold was used in high precision applications where dimensional stability was required, before modern ultra-temperature stable alloys were created.

I found an industrial materials site that cited gold, silver and copper (the three metals most often used in yellow gold alloys) as having extended ductility at lower temperatures than the high strength materials they listed. The engineering materials they discussed were rated in strength down to -270C, in the text it was implicit that gold, silver and copper all exceeded that range (but lacked the strength for practical applications in holding ultra-cold liquified gasses).

 

Gold may not be titanium or stainless alloy, but the alloys used in pen nibs are *much* stronger, more resilient and stable than some here are giving them credit for!

I work in the jewelry trade and I see 10 through 18 karat gold endure extended wear and abuse in jewelry, far worse treatment than a capped pen nib suffers in shipping and handling ...unless of course we start talking about catastrophic mishaps, like containers dropped from a loading crane, or packages run over by a fork lift, etc.

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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I don't see any of the alloys used for nib making deforming due to temperature shifts during transport either. But it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if a feed could deform enough to push the tines out of alignment. A shipping container sitting in the sun for days, goods loaded onto a truck in the midst of winter; something like that.

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