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Loclen Electa


ParkerBeta
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Loclen is a new pen manufacturer (founded 2008) based in a small town outside Venice, Italy. They have launched three fountain pen models so far, in each case starting with a Kickstarter campaign. (A couple more models are in the Kickstarter phase right now.)

 

I was very taken by a picture I saw of the Loclen Electa somewhere. The pen I saw had the polished black metal (ruthenium) finish, and the knurled knob showing through the cutaway barrel in order to serve as a piston knob for a conventional converter wherein the ink level could be viewed by another cutaway window in the barrel was extremely cool. I guess this is what made the Kickstarter campaign for the pen a success (although I don't know how much of a success, because I happened to miss it). Anyway, Loclen must have done well with that campaign, because shortly after the campaign, they began to manufacture it for general sale.

 

If I were to choose one word to describe the design of the Electa, I would say "steampunk," especially for the all-brass version. In fact, I think the body is all-brass, and you can either have it as-is, or with a shiny chrome finish, or a shiny ruthenium finish. The one I have is the shiny chrome finish.

 

fpn_1590814257__electa1r.jpg

 

My Loclen Electa. Note the "steampunk" aspect of the beautifully knurled knob peeping through the cutaway barrel. The two longitudinal slits in the barrel are a viewing window into the conventional piston-style cartridge converter on whose tail the knurled knob is riding. You get a "piston-filling" pen with ink-view window out of a conventional cartridge-converter pen! Of course, you have to use the converter and not a cartridge in order to enjoy all this. The clip comes separate from the body -- you can choose whether to put it on the cap or go clipless, but if you want a clip, it is better not to change your mind as frequent mounting of the clip may mar the finish. Note also the machining marks on the cap and barrel, only partially covered by the shiny chrome plating.

 

fpn_1590819324__electa1b.jpg

 

The pen is not very large -- only about 5 inches (126mm) capped. The all-metal construction makes it quite heavy (39 grams). The cap is small but posts on the end of the barrel (there are threads there). The cap actually requires almost four full turns to unscrew -- a bit much, in my opinion.

 

One interesting aspect of the design is that the section does not screw into the barrel -- instead, it is press-fitted there, with a couple of O-rings for a tight fit. This is unique among all the pens in my collection. The advertising copy for the pen claims that this "floating" section makes for a "shock absorber" so that the nib feels smoother when flowing on the paper. Unfortunately, the section itself is so short that I could not get a good enough grip on it to be able to pull it out of the barrel. The instruction pamphlet that came with the pen said one should wrap a thin piece of foam around the section in order to get a good grip to pull it out, and I couldn't find such a piece of foam (I tried wrapping cloth around the section but it was not grippy enough).

 

Although the pen is on the short side, I found it more comfortable to write with the cap unposted, as posting makes it rather more heavy than is ideal, leading to fatigue after writing for a few paragraphs.

 

fpn_1590815750__electa2.jpg

 

At any rate, the steel M nib, although small and quite unadorned (no manufacturer engravings), writes extremely well. Perhaps the section does indeed have a "shock absorber" quality! The nib does have a slightly springy feel but that is probably the section moving, not the tines of the nib, as the nib exhibits next to no line-width variation.

 

fpn_1590817679__electa3.jpg

To summarize, the pen's selling point is its unique design. The knurled piston knob is very striking, and the ink view windows cut into the barrel are a good combination of form and function. The section is wide enough for a comfortable grip, although a bit on the shorter side, forcing your fingers to sit on the somewhat sharp threads. The body is machined by hand, and has the machining marks to prove it, though it is very well made to tight tolerances. This is a major turnoff for me. There are other machined metal pens like the Karas Kustoms that do not show such evidence of machining. The plain un-engraved and small nib is another turnoff, though it writes very well indeed. Overall, I would rate the pen as "Kickstarter" quality, i.e., a promising initial design that needs to be a bit more, er, polished.

 

In this regard, the biggest issue I have with the pen is the asking price. The Kickstarter backers got the pen in return for a very reasonable 65 euro contribution. But the pen is now distributed in the US at a list price of $250, and sold by various online retailers for $200. That makes it highly overpriced, as you are getting only its unique design and not the execution that sweats the last few details that may have made the pen worth the asking price. I bought a "show demo" model direct from the US distributor (Kenro) for slightly less than half of the list price, and I still do not feel it is worth the price I paid for it, notwithstanding the excellent writing quality of the nib.

Edited by ParkerBeta

S.T. Dupont Ellipsis 18kt M nib

Opus 88 Flow steel M nib

Waterman Man 100 Patrician Coral Red 18kt factory stub nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with Masuyama 0.7mm steel cursive italic nib

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I got one of these from the original Kickstarter - loved the design, but had problems with the finish wearing off. Carlo eventually sent me a replacement (the current version), and I was immediately impressed with the improvements to the fit and finish of the pen. It looks to me like yours might be 'intermediate' between the original Kickstarter version and the final product - mine has no machining marks, and the branding is more subtle. I have to agree with you, though, US$200-250 is a huge step up in cost, and I'm not convinced it's worth it.

 

p.s. Pulling the grip section off is no mean feat the first time around - though it does get easier with practice! (It's easier to clean out the converter if you remove it.). I'd recommend removing the nib unit first, to eliminate the possibility of damaging it - then get some bike-tyre rubber or other grip-type foam to help you pull the section out.

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Thanks for your comments, especially the tips on pulling out the section. I will try them when the pen runs out of ink. After reading your remarks on intermediate stages of the product between Kickstarter and the latest version, I took a look at pictures on some online stores. It seems that the latest version has a small Loclen logo engraved both on the nib and on the clip, while my pen has no logo in either location. Bummer about the machining marks on my pen, though - I cannot unsee them.

S.T. Dupont Ellipsis 18kt M nib

Opus 88 Flow steel M nib

Waterman Man 100 Patrician Coral Red 18kt factory stub nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with Masuyama 0.7mm steel cursive italic nib

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Also got the Kickstarter version. The weight feels significant. When I brought it to local pen meet, friends who test it also talks about the significant weight and smooth nibs.

 

A backer suggested adding silicon grease to the o-rings to make it easier to take out later, once you managed to pull it off. I find it's a hell of a struggle to pull the section out if I want a thorough cleaning of the converter.

 

Perhaps effect of early manufacturing batch, the bottom edge of my caps are sharp. If I push it on paper and turn, I could use it to cut a hole (and cut my finger a bit once).

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Are the O rings of that keep the section in place easy to buy and to put them in the pen? I like the design of the pen and specially of the clip.

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  • 8 months later...

Thanks for the info, the wife liked the looks ....with that silent woman's voice about buying me something for my own good.

I was a bit shy with Heavy Metal....but do like to please my wife.

 

That info saves 'us' some money in it's 'our' money.

The last time my wife bought me a birthday gift pen, I couldn't buy pen, ink nor paper for 9 months. I'd missed the small print on that one of our money. 

In reference to P. T. Barnum; to advise for free is foolish, ........busybodies are ill liked by both factions.

 

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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