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Review: Modified Ranga 8b


Charles T
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Review: Modified Ranga 8b

 

 

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This review is about my experience with a Ranga 8b fountain pen that has been my primary daily writer for about a year. I will discuss my thoughts on the pen, the experience of ordering from Ranga, and the modifications that I made to it to fit my writing needs. I won’t be assigning scores to various categories of performance; while that approach is certainly popular and useful in some contexts, I think a general discussion of my experience might be more valuable for the reader. Additionally, I won’t be discussing the stock version of the pen very much. So, if you need information on size and other specifics, one of the many other reviews of this pen is probably a better source of information.

 

The Ranga 8b is an artisan made pen, manufactured in Thiruvallur, near Chennai / Madras India; like many high-quality pens from the region, it has been hand turned from an ebonite rod. I ordered my pen in a brushed mat black finish.
  
I truly appreciate handmade, high-quality writing instruments that small makers like Ranga produce. Ranga is not attempting to sell a brand name nor do they really have a marketing department. They only have the promise of making well-made pen that truly fits your needs. I ordered the pen directly from their website at https://rangapens.com/

 

I found Ranga to be particularly responsive in their communication. After placing my order, I was contacted by the company to confirm my preferences and to give me updates about when it was being made and shipped. It took roughly a week for my pen to be manufactured, shipped and delivered to my home in California. 

 

General Thoughts on the Ranga 8b


Much has been written about the Ranga 8b pen model, so my experience is not unique and probably confirms most of its positive accolades. The pen itself is beautiful and is very well finished. Most users enjoy the long, hourglass shaped section, and indeed I can confirm that it is my most comfortable pen to write with, in part because of this feature. The shape and balance of the pen in stock form is amazing, especially if you use it unposted. The pen simply feels luxurious, and when I received it, I knew that I would not have to search out a high priced “grail pen” to get what I was looking for in terms of a writing experience.  

 

My Pen and the Modifications I Made

 

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I opted to get the eyedropper model, because it gives me a lot of control in setting up the pen. I write on thick paper (Clairefontaine notebooks and HP32 inkjet paper) and I prefer pens with a generous ink flow. I also find that I much prefer ebonite feeds – they seem to be more consistent in delivering a wet line. And as a material for the pen body and section, I enjoy ebonite because it does not get slick if my hands get sweaty, and because I can make small alterations to the shape of the pen if needed. The pen came with a high quality Kanwrite nib with Ranga engraving, and a simple ebonite feed; the nib and the feed are friction fit into the section. I ordered a medium, which I use most of the time. However, I also have another Kanwrite nib that can fit this pen, which I ground down to a stubbish left oblique (the red cursive in one of the photos was written with this nib, though in another pen at the time).

 
The first change I made to the pen was to replace the feed. The stock feed was reliable, but it was not quite providing a generous enough ink flow. After adjusting it a few times, I opted to replace it with a high quality Kanwrite 6.3mm ebonite feed from Fountain Pen Revolution. At the same time, I also opted to recess the nib, because I wanted it to be slightly shorter. I pushed the nib and feed into the section a bit further than normal, and heat set the section to this nib and feed using boiling water. In other words, I submerged the section in hot water and shaped it around the nib and feed to ensure proper fit – yet another advantage of ebonite. Afterward, I submerged just the nib and feed to heat set them to ensure proper ink flow. Thus, the nib on the pen is set further within than stock, and after heat setting (section and nib/feed), I have no issues with ink leakage.


The second major change I made to the pen was to create an added taper toward the back of the pen body. In some ways, it resembles a less dramatic mid-body taper of the kind found on the Franklin Christoph Model 2 Intrinsic. The stock pen posted securely, but not deeply; it was a bit long for me. And while I enjoyed it, even while posted, I wanted to improve the balance of the pen. I used a very sharp knife to shave off material starting at about two thirds of the way towards to end of the pen. Next, I used a sanding sponge, 80 grit, to remove the marks from this process, so that the finish matched the original brushed, mat ebonite. In hindsight, I probably should have used only the sanding sponge. It was probably sufficient for the job and by using a knife I introduced flaws into the pen that you can see if you look closely. That said, this modification worked wonderfully. My pen now posts fully and deeply, and its balance is perfect for my hand. This modification meant that instead of using the pen periodically, it has become my main pen for everyday work; I barely put it down. 

 

Final Thoughts


The pen is my ideal writing instrument, and certainly the most comfortable I have ever used. The only time I do not use it is when I need to write in direct sunlight, or to use thin, cheap paper, such as when I grade student work (I am a history teacher). For these tasks I use a cartridge converter pen instead of an eyedropper. Much is sometimes made of using an eyedropper pen for everyday use, and I am not sure I have much to add on the subject. I have for years used an eyedropper every day, with few if any problems, as do thousands of other people. Doing so takes some knowledge and patience, so as they say, your mileage may vary. 


I will be ordering another Ranga 8b pen, even if it is just to have one in reserve. This pen is by a large measure is my favorite. That said, since I prefer to post this pen, I will ask for my next one to be made with a slight taper towards the end to facilitate deep posting. I think that this ability to customize an order, combined with receiving a very high-quality product for a reasonable price, is one of the major advantages of ordering from a small artisan like Ranga. Needless to say, I am a very satisfied customer, who is just trying to spread the word. If I were to order this pen again for the first time, I would probably purchase the stock version, to see if I would prefer to use it posted or unposted. I obviously liked it enough to take the time to modify it, rather than simply buying a new pen, which I think speaks to its appeal.

 

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Lovely pen 👍 I too have a Ranga 8b, with a bock nib, and it's a nice pen.

 

I am a fan of eyedropper pens too.

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Thanks for the review - I've been very happy with the Rangas I've purchased over the years (though personally I prefer cartridge converters, and am OK with the "trade-off" of having a plastic feed).

 

Mr M.P. Kandan is always happy to customise pens for his customers - if you buy another, you might want to ask him to custom taper the back of the pen for you rather than do it yourself?  That way the finish will be absolutely consistent all over the pen!

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Thanks K Singh and Jamerelbe, I appreciate it. And yes, I plan on ordering another 8b, modified by the pen maker rather than doing it myself. Another huge advantage of ordering from a pen maker like Ranga. 

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thank you for the review, the 8B is a lovely pen and one of my favourite Rangas.

Your review rightly mentions that among the advantages of buying Ranga there is that "opportunity to play around" with the pen setting that attracts some of us... :) (I have a few customized Rangas and a number to which I've swapped out the nib with something else...)

I also do enjoy the eyedropper easy flow (It's so nice when a pen writes as soon as the nib barely touches the paper).

 

Just to confirm it is one of my favourites... :D

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5 hours ago, sansenri said:

Just to confirm it is one of my favourites... :D

The 4th,5th and 6th from left look superb 👍 

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Beautiful pens, thanks for sharing! The while and blue one in particular is gorgeous.

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On 6/18/2022 at 3:47 AM, K Singh said:

The 4th,5th and 6th from left look superb 👍 

yes, those are three of the premium ebonites

the "purple" one is called "pink, blue, pale yellow" (because probably those are the "starting materials")

the one with orange in it is "blue, white, green, orange" (same reason)

and the last of the three is the blue, white, which is one of the nicest premium ebonites available at Ranga.

Ranga has now given those colours number codes (but I forget which...)

The Blue white with the smaller model 8 in same finish

large.685627512_P1170138-3Ranga8and8Bbluewhite.jpg.2c56a07eea3491e892b2be8cecc761a3.jpg

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10 hours ago, sansenri said:

yes, those are three of the premium ebonites

the "purple" one is called "pink, blue, pale yellow" (because probably those are the "starting materials")

the one with orange in it is "blue, white, green, orange" (same reason)

and the last of the three is the blue, white, which is one of the nicest premium ebonites available at Ranga.

Ranga has now given those colours number codes (but I forget which...)

The Blue white with the smaller model 8 in same finish

large.685627512_P1170138-3Ranga8and8Bbluewhite.jpg.2c56a07eea3491e892b2be8cecc761a3.jpg

Ranga does mention all the colours in their group buy forms (They share it almost everyday in the Facebook groups). Their premium ebonites look excellent 👍

 

Both model 8 pens look beautiful. 

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