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Pilot Custom 743 - FA nib


antoniosz
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Days like this make fountain pen life happy :) Few days ago, I saw an ad in the Green Board that said:

 

"Black Pilot Custom 743 fountain pen with super flex 14k size 15 nib, grade FA. No other modern pen made today has this much flex. Brand new never inked or dipped so in mint cond complete with boxes and instructions etc. Only usually available in the Japanese domestic market, so rare outside Japan. Pen will be shipped from the UK. I'm asking only $175 to include FREE worldwide insured shipping which represents a significant saving on list."

 

I have seen several good references to Pilot Customs, I new that 15 size nib is relatively large and I googled to see what really FA means (in fact I posted this message here on FPN, but I did not wait - good pens rarely stay long on the Green Board :) I checked quickly the e-mail address of the seller (I hesitate to buy from hotmail-like address if I do not know the seller). He had an RAF address from UK. The price was right (actually $87 less than this auction :) and I fired the "I want it email". Five days later the pen was in my mailbox. Thank you Ritchie!..

 

The box etc. is not of any importance to me. Actually it was a plain vanilla pen box :) The pen is the typical cigar shape. My words are poor, so here is a comparison with a 146 MB.

http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b325/azavalia/FA2.jpg

The nib... The nib... How does it write? This is what counts!

Here is a comparison of the FA nib with a pink Waterman #7 :)

Note the cuts on the sides of the nib to increase its flexibility.

http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b325/azavalia/2005-11-16FA3.jpg

It flexes :) Here is a sample and essentially a written review of the nib.

Compare if you wish with this review of the #7 pink :)

http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b325/azavalia/FA1.jpg

 

UPDATE

 

As I had already writen in the photo-review above, I write (very) fast (e.g., see here with flex nibs, and contrary to other vintage flex pens, this pen has been missing occasionally a line, particularly along long pressed downstrokes.

I found this to be highly dependent on the ink. Namiki ink was OK (few misses), Noodlers was better at the beginning but after few fills it would become worse and would require extensive cleaning. Waterman Blue-black was also OK (similar to Namiki).

During the last few days, I have tried Diamine and I really like the way it performs, but even this very nicely flowing ink does not completely eliminate the "problem".

Perhaps the issue is that the "capacity" of the feed is optimized for the short japanese strokes rather than the long flourishes of copperplate.

 

I have also been asked by many backchannel to compare this pen with the Namiki Falcon. The two pens are completely different. I believe that the Falcon has a slightly softer nib.

I have only tried the medium Falcon and I was not happy with the contrast but I am sure that the fine would be better. I do hold my pen at a relatively low angle and I

found that the feed was hitting the paper too often, something that I did not like and made me sell the Falcon. In addition to the nib, the 743 is a substantially large pen than the Falcon.

 

Pen (no cap) length Falcon: 122 mm 743: 131 mm

Pen closed Falcon: 136 mm 743: 149 mm

Pen posted Falcon: 150 mm 743: 164 mm

Cap Diameter Falcon: 12.1 mm 743: 13 mm

Diameter at threads Falcon: 11.9 mm 743: 12.5 mm

Diameter at 38mm Falcon: 10.9 mm 743: 11.3 mm

Diameter at 25mm Falcon: 10.2 mm 743: 11.0 mm

 

Dimensions for the Falcon are form JRG's compilation of FP data: http://www.aiusa.com/loesljrg/misc/pendata.pdf

Edited by antoniosz
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  • antoniosz

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great review and nice pen! from the photo, i can't tell which is which, the pilot or the mb. a little case of copycat fever, eh? ;)

 

wowwowwow, your handwriting is incredibly beautiful. i'm speechless.

"i love the smell of celluloid nitrate in the morning...you know, the smell, that camphor smell, it smells like...victory."

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Nice review. Great pen. As usual, incredible handwriting!

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)
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great review and nice pen! from the photo, i can't tell which is which, the pilot or the mb. a little case of copycat fever, eh? ;)

 

wowwowwow, your handwriting is incredibly beautiful. i'm speechless.

The Pilot has the round ball on the clip.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)
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Hi,

 

Congratulations on your 743FA. I have only a plain medium nib but love mine.

 

Do you know why it isn't marketed in the US? Perhaps Pilot is concerned that Mont Blanc would file suit against them for too closely copying the Meisterstuck.

 

Regards,

Jeen

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Thanks, antoniosz, for your great review. The pen is worth spending on. And it got obviously into the right hands. Nice writing - that of a 'Kaligraphos' :)

Edited by saintsimon
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Hi,

 

Congratulations on your 743FA. I have only a plain medium nib but love mine.

 

Do you know why it isn't marketed in the US? Perhaps Pilot is concerned that Mont Blanc would file suit against them for too closely copying the Meisterstuck.

 

Regards,

Jeen

I think, all three big Japanese pen manufacturers have their share of trouble with Montblanc. MB doesn't hesitate to send their lawyers into battle. And importers are not happy when at fairs those lawyers show up and ripp off the problematic pages from their catalogues. I believe, that is the reason behind the change of design of the Sailor 'King of Pen' or the Sailor Pro Gear not looking like an MB.

 

The Japanese way of 'honouring' a good product by copying it is not really clever on export markets anyway. The good thing about the lawsuits is, that it forces those companies to develop their own style. If I want an fp that looks like an MB, I buy an MB, not a Pilot.

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Thanks to everyone for your kind words :)

 

 

Jeen you said:

Hi,

Do you know why it isn't marketed in the US?   Perhaps  Pilot is concerned that Mont Blanc would file suit against them for too closely copying the Meisterstuck. 

 

I am not sure but I do not believe that there is a problem with MB - there are many black cigar-shaped pens in addition to the MBs. It appears to me that the market strategy of Namiki (Pilot) in the US is very clear. They attack the very high end market with the Makis then they have the Bamboo and the Sterling collections, and at the "bottom" they focus on the VP. Presumably if they introduce more models they would "fragment" their market (the US FP market is small). Have a look at their price catalog to see what I mean. Maybe others more knowledgeable can tell us what they think.

Edited by antoniosz
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Wow! I think I am more impressed with your handwriting than the pen itself. Do you really write like that on an everyday basis?

http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/606/letterji9.png
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If I want an fp that looks like an MB, I buy an MB, not a Pilot.

While agree the Pilot 743's Meisterstuck like appearance doesn't win innovation points, the 743 and the MB 146 are different. One may prefer one over the other, but I personally wouldn't categorically exclude a pen based only on its stylistic resemblance to another.

 

Regards,

Jeen

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If I want an fp that looks like an MB, I buy an MB, not a Pilot.

While agree the Pilot 743's Meisterstuck like appearance doesn't win innovation points, the 743 and the MB 146 are different. One may prefer one over the other, but I personally wouldn't categorically exclude a pen based only on its stylistic resemblance to another.

 

Regards,

Jeen

NB doesn't offer a nib like this, and I like the Japanese quality anyway. I would not hesitate to buy the Pilot.

Also I'm not that categoric, either, but a lot of people are - those who want a luxury pen as a status symbol and consequently the 'real thing'.

 

Recently I've seen a German tv documentary featuring Montblanc, showing not only the factory production but also a German MB-lawyer's raid on an exhibition booth, but I don't remenber which Japanese pen company's importer was affected. It was quite embarrassing for them. And I think legal battles in the US are also no joke.

 

Painting those pens with Maki-e results in something truly Japanese and MB has to shut up.

 

But who knows ...

Edited by saintsimon
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Do you really write like that on an everyday basis?

 

Of course not :blush: I have a legible print and a semilegitimate italic hand for regular writing. This copperplate-like hand needs slow speed and some attention to the forms.

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:o "Wow" is right! Your handwriting is amazing, Antonios.....

Have you seen other pens with slits cut on the nib to increase flex? I've seen a Duke/Uranus pen model with that type of appearance, but I don't think its nib is flexy...

 

(edit: yep, it's the Uranus 311--a/k/a the "Blue Confetti" model)

Edited by Maja
Vancouver (B.C) Pen Club (our website)
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Hi Antonios,

Its very nice pen and stylish handwriting.Thanks for the pics

Greetings from İstanbul

the pen is in my avatar is LAMY Studio Palladium 14K

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Hi,

 

I believe it is flexible. (a little bit) I suppose we can safetly reccommend the Vortex or Birdie for everyday writing.

 

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Will someone with the name of "Jay" who emailed me through the email system provide me an email address? There was no email address provided, so I can't write back.

Dillon

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Could someone please describe the nib and if it is suitable for everyday writing?

The nib is semiflex based on vintage standards. This is an excellent nib for someone with relatively small handwriting that desires to produce a line variation. If you have a very light hand it may also be a good pen for general work.

 

Answers to requests for recommendations are not useful, unless you tell us "exactly"

 

1. What kind of writing do you do (note taking, correspondance, etc.)?

2. How does your writing look like and what you want it to be?

3. Are you left or right handed?

4. Do you have large or small hands (etc.)?

5. What is your price range

6. What is that you want to accomplish with the particular pen?

 

It is very easy to fire a name or two of either an inexpensive or an higher end pen that are considered as trustworthy. The beauty of this hobby, however, is in the variety that vintage and modern pens offer. My suggestion is (if you are a newcomer to this hobby, otherwise forgive my "paternalism") to post a new topic post containing the information suggested above and I am sure many people will offer useful recommendations.

 

P.S. Wonderful penmanship!!

Thank you :)

Edited by antoniosz
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Let me take these questions one by one:

 

Types of writing: I do all types of writing. I am a graduate student, so I take notes aplenty. I'm also journal between 20-30 pages a week. Also, I'm getting into a letter writing stage.

 

What does my writing look like: Well, it is sorta' a cursive italic, if there is such a thing. I tend to alternate between the "pure" cursive that we are all taught around 3rd grade and a linked form of printing.

 

I am right handed.

 

I suppose my hands are medium size. I can use a Pelikan m800 comfortably. I also use a Sailor 1911 everyday.

 

Price range: I can afford around $280 for a good pen, but I'm looking for a pen to write with, not one to display or use only on special occasions.

 

What do I want to accomplish: I'm afraid I don't know how to answer that question. I hope to use the pen as a workhorse pen that I will carry in my breast pocket and use it daily. I would also like to develop a better, more disciplined hand than I have at the moment, and I I think I might be able to adapt a more formal penmanship for my everyday use.

 

(I have used a Namiki Falcon with a medium nib, but the line is too broad for my liking.)

 

I apologize for the length of the posting, and for its lack of polish. I need to get back to my reading ASAP.

 

Thanks.

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One of the possible recommendations is the raw ebonite Dani-Trio perhaps with the flex nib (perhaps even with modification to cursive italic). This would definitely suite the letter writing - it might be a bit tricky for note taking (because of the shut-off valve - but it is not too bad). This might be a tad larger than what you want.

 

Another possibility is the M600 which takes Binder's custom nibs. It is smaller than the M800 but not by much. The advantage is that it takes the custom nibs from Binder's.

A 0.6 stub is great for notes and you can swith to a larger stub or cursive italic for fancier work. Also the italifine might be practical for both :) Custom binds from C. Burton add an interesting dimension.

 

On the M800 size - I will be a heretic and I may recommend a MB 146. They can be found for about $150-175 and they are solid writers.

 

I also love the mid range Pilot/Namikis. The Custom Impressions, and the Impressions are beautiful pens and solid performers - with customization you go even a step up - their celluloids might be a bit too fashy for some.

 

The pen I reviewed above would be a very good pen for someone with a light hand and/or good hand control.

 

And then there is the vintage world which offers thousands of choices....

I hope others will chime more.

You may want to make this a seperate topic to get more advice from others.

 

Have fun.

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