Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Red

The world does not need one more review of this pen. It is ubiquitous. I had to get one. It cost less than $30 at Take Note. Admit it: the hot red with the hot pink band is kick butt. I appreciate the snap cap. It came with a horrible squeeze converter. Fortunately, I have a spare Pilot Con-50 Piston converter lying around (makes me shake my head: where on earth did this come from?) Also have sunk to using a syringe to fill the squeeze converter. You have to prime the nib if you do this but beats the alternative.

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This photo captures the only negative thing that can be said about the Metropolitan–that step down from the barrel to the section is just crazy.

Of course I couldn’t wait to ink it up with my new KWZ Grey Plum. I really wanted some Noodlers’ Violet but could not find it anywhere. Gummiberry was far too light. Grey Plum very much reminds me of Brown Pink. I digress. Point is, once the squeeze converter is empty, I will replace it with the twist converter.

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Writes smooth and wet.

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As stated everywhere, it writes quite well. I am not even tempted to tweak it. I chose the medium nib over the fine in part because I seem to be sliding over to the broader part of the nib world and in part because I hoped to get more mileage out of my shading inks. As luck would have it, there is really no shading to the Grey Plum.

The owner of Take Note advised that Pilot may be coming out with speciality nibs for these pens in the upcoming months but she was not sure if the nibs would be sold as nib units or if you would have to buy a whole new pen. No doubt I will be in regardless of how they have to be purchased.

 

 

Waiting for the Postman

I did it. I sent my Visconti Rembrandt off for a nib tweaking and it has been done! Waiting for it to arrive back home at this point. A little bit excited. Okay, okay, a lot excited.

I sent it to Mark Bacas (at Nibgrinder).

I have a Visconti Rembrandt Medium steel nib. I do not like this nib. I have never liked this nib. It misbehaves constantly, hard starting, skipping and the like. It has made me dislike this pen (I would prefer to dislike it for other reasons, of which there are quite a few for me but if the nib worked I believe I could broker a negotiated peace with it. As it stands, it deserves nothing but baleful stares.) Is it possible to grind this to a smooth cursive italic? I don’t care about the size of the resulting stub; in fact, the smaller the better. If it is possible, is this something you would consider doing? If not, could you tune up this woefully underperforming nib?

He was extremely responsive to my email inquiry. I did delay sending it for a bit–I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled about throwing it in the mail. And of course, the shipping cost. Ouch! Before I could turn around, I got an email from Mr. Bacas saying he had received the pen and reground it. But what made me jump up and down was he included pictures of the pre-worked pen clearly showing what was wrong with it and a video showing the post-work pen in action! I literally skipped around the kitchen when I saw it.

Mark pointed out that the two tines were not identical: one was larger and sticking out a bit.

I can’t upload the video unless I upgrade my plan which I don’t plan on doing unless I up my photography skills. Suffice it to say, it is one of the best movies I have ever watched, laughing!

I immediately reviewed my pens to see what I am going to send him next…

Noodler’s Ahab

I bought my Noodler’s Ahab second hand at a Pens & Pints meet up. I had read a little bit about it and was intrigued by the flex nib. From the get go, I liked the look of the pen. I have a soft clear blue (Truk Lagoon). The whale shaped clip entranced me and I am not much of a clip girl. I have to admit that Nathan Tardiff’s video intrigued me.

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I have had lots of interesting experiences with my Ahab. I have to admit, in the spirit of the pen, it is the pen I have mucked around with the most. Which isn’t saying much because I haven’t mucked much. I did try to eyedropper it and that has never worked. The last time I tried it, a couple of weeks ago, I watched aghast as my sample of Robert Oster Khaki went rushing into the sink.

I have only had one good eyedropper experience which is with my Franklin-Christoph Model 66 and a good thing too since it has no other filling system. Necessity may be playing a big role here. My other Franklin-Christoph (a Model 20) acts much like my Ahab when eyedroppered, which is to say a straw. Ink in, ink out. In one fell swoop or, equally distressing, in huge erratically spaced blobs. Eyedroppering is one of my 2017 goals.

I don’t know why I am fond of my Ahab. I just am. I like it and I like to write with it. So, I went back to using the piston filler that came with it. I got the bright idea of replacing the nib only because I liked the look of the Nemosine torched nib and loved the idea of a .6 stub. I bought one from Goulet Pens.  I think that my Ahab is one of the few pens I own that I could stick this nib in. Which I did. And then I tweaked the nib with mesh and Mylar.

Regardless of my loving attentions, the pen still squirted ink like an octopus. I decided to go all out and heat set the nib to the feed. It took a long time to get up the courage to do this but I did and, lo and behold, it seems to have worked. The pen is still an incredibly wet writer. I think it is the wettest pen I own. But it is not uncontrollable. My nib tweaking was not quite as good as I thought and every now and then the nib catches a little. I don’t think I will do anything more than write with a piece of mylar at hand to do single strokes as the catches happen in the hope that over time I will iron out the rough spot.

It is currently inked with my J. Herbin Lie de Thé but that is the ink that I polluted by accidentally dumping in a dark Robert Oster (not sure if it was Chocolate or Dark Chocolate) converter full of ink. Yikes. The “new” ink is a straight dark brown with no real character at all. Since I ran through gallons of ink trying to get the Ahab to work I thought it best to do the fill with a throwaway ink. But now I think the time has come to ink it up with an ink that loves to be in a wet pen. I will have to give that some thought.

In the meanwhile, it occurs to me that I have become a bit like the pen’s namesake in my obsession with this pen. Yes, given its price and the fact it was adopted, this is a bit ironic. The latest thing to capture my attention is the narrow rod at the top of the piston. It is full of ink. The rest of the piston is only a quarter full. I lost the breather tube and am unsure if this is connected to the issue. It could also be a Robert Oster issue that I have noticed with another pen. I am totally curious whether or not this ink will eventually drop down into the piston to be used or if it is going to hang there. Storing my pen nib down overnight to see what happens. IMG_0576

Pilot Custom 74

Yes, another new pen. I tried to take a picture but I will have to try again. It was ghastly! I did not intend on buying a new pen. I had my shorts in total knots arguing with myself about purchasing a Montblanc Noir et Rouge. I had tried it out twice. I admit it might be my grail pen. Regardless, I just could not swallow the purchase price which is over $1,000.00. It stuck in my throat. On Saturday I finally decided. I was not going to do it.

So, with a clear conscience I headed off to Wonder Pens with the intent of buying a new nib for my Kaweco. I hated my Kaweco.  I also needed to purchase a new Leuchtturm or two. My ink journal was almost full and I am filling up my journal pages like crazy. And I wanted to try a few more ink samples: Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Diamine’s Imperial Purple, Lamy’s Dark Lilac and Noodler’s Apache Sunset.

What I actually purchased was a Pilot Custom 74 Medium Nib in the clear orange colour, a full bottle of Apache Sunset, and a sample of BSIAR. So much for shopping lists.

Wonder Pens does not stock the soft cover Leuchtturms. They did have Life Notebooks. I had to throw away $25.00 to try them. I had never heard of them before. They deserve their own entry and will get one. Let us just say it was $25.00 well spent. The BSIAR is already gone. I eyedroppered my Ahab and it virtually just ran out the end. I concluded I had very much mistaken where to place the feed. Sob.

I explained to the salesperson that I had bought my Kaweco there but had no receipt. I wanted a new nib because I hated my Kaweco. I was sure it had baby’s bottom (actually, I had written in my journal before I set off that I suspected that it could also be a feed problem). The salesperson disappeared into the back room with my pen. Some genius back there fiddled around with it and it writes 90% better. They adjusted the feed. I have no doubt it would write 100% better if I was more patient. They urged me to write as much with it as needed but my patience is just not that great. I am pretty darn pleased with 90%. So much so that I have chosen it to be my EDC this week. That is a huge leap forward.

While I was waiting for my pen, my eye caught a holiday gift set in the display case. An orange Pilot with a bottle of Apache Sunset for a reasonable price. I knew nothing about the Custom 74. Nothing. But I have complete faith in the Pilot brand. As part of my journey to the broad side, I chose a medium nib. So far, I can’t really review the pen as I inked it with Apache Sunset as soon as I got home and that is not a good ink to test a pen with. It is just too “out there”. I am going to load it with Iroshizuku Syo-ro (Dew on Pine Tree) when I am done this post and give that a try.

Lamy Safari Pink

I wonder how many fountain pen addicts began with a Safari? My first was a Lamy Joy that I picked up to experiment with mixed media journalling. I didn’t get too far with that but while I was nosing around the store shortly thereafter, I picked up this bright pink Safari. I was advised that it was a limited edition. I didn’t know what that meant exactly and I still don’t. I do know, from the finial, that this is the 2009 limited edition and that seems about right timing wise. The fact that there have been several of these limited editions (and hence the finial identification) lifts my eyebrows at the designation. Right now it can be purchased on JetPens.

I have nothing new to say about this pen: the internet is stuffed to exploding with reviews and opinions.

For me, my Lamys (I had a yellow Safari that I lost and I just acquired a Dark Lilac) have been workhorses. I have multiple converters and multiple nibs and I have never had a single problem with filling them, cleaning them, ink flow, changing nibs, or starting.  They just work every time, all the time. The triangular hold doesn’t bother me, nor does the cheap plastic (I grudgingly admit that the matte finish on the Lilac at least makes it look like a grown ups pen). Everything: pen, nib, converter is all quite cheap and it is easy to acquire an entire menagerie. I have not been tempted to purchase the aluminum version or the demonstrator version.

Changing nibs is easy and there are plenty of instructions out there on how to do it including YouTube videos. The converters are sturdy and last forever. They hold a good amount of ink. The ink viewer in the barrel of the pen is extremely functional. It takes no skill to break this pen down, clean it entirely and put it back together again.

Sometimes, things just work.

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On Hand

  1. Lamy Joy (Calligraphy) 1.1, 1.5 and 1.9 steel nibs
  2. Lamy Pink Safari Limited Edition 2009
  3. Lamy Lilac Safari EF nib
  4. Lamy 2000 F gold nib
  5. Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 with steel 1.1 stub
  6. Franklin-Christoph Model 20 (special edition for Wonder Pens) F steel nib
  7. Pelikan M200 Cafe et Creme F steel nib
  8. Pelikan M600 Red and Black M gold nib
  9. Pilot Namiki Falcon SM gold nib
  10. Pilot Cavalier F steel nib
  11. Pilot 95S EF gold nib
  12. Pilot Custom 74 M gold nib
  13. Pilot Metropolitan Retro M steel nib
  14. Pilot Metropolitan Retro I steel nib
  15. Pilot Plumix I steel nib
  16. Sailor Pro Color F steel nib
  17. Sailor Pro Gear Slim F gold nib
  18. Noodler’s Ahab Flex flex steel
  19. Platinum 3776 Century Yanamaka M gold nib
  20. Platinum 3776 tortoiseshell F gold nib
  21. Platinum Balance Rose Crystal F steel nib
  22. Visconti Rembrandt Smooth Cursive Italic steel nib
  23. Parker 45 M gold nib
  24. Parker 51 Vacumatic Debutante F gold nib
  25. Conway Stewart Dinky M gold nib
  26. Twisbi Mini  F and 1.1 steel nibs
  27. Twisbi 580 AL F steel nib
  28. Kaweco Sport AL 1.1 stub steel nib
  29. Graf von Faber-Castell Tamitio M gold nib
  30. Edison Beaumont 1.1 stub steel nib
  31. Jinhao 188 M steel x 2 (crazy)
  32. Edison Pearlette M steel nib
  33. Monteverde Jewelria M steel nib

Kaweco Hate

An offshoot of my TWISBI love. Wouldn’t another small pen give me another great stub? I never really liked the look of the Kaweco. I especially dislike the faceted cap. The utility of it cannot be denied. The pen stays exactly where placed. But the cap is ugly. It is impractical to use this pen unposted. So, it must go cap in hand so to speak. I was willing to swallow my aesthetic misgivings to get my hands on another small stub nib.

I picked the grey. It is almost a taupe and truthfully, the colour of this pen is the only thing I like about it. If they had had a stonewashed version I would have spent the extra money and bought it. In retrospect, I am grateful I didn’t get the opportunity. I had read enough to forego buying the converter. I did pick up a package of Kaweco cartridges. I vehemently dislike this ink. It is Paradise Blue which is an overly green turquoise. I didn’t realize the pen came with one cartridge; otherwise I would also have foregone the cartridges. It was my intention from the get go to syringe the inks I wanted into a used cartridge.

From the very first time I picked it up to write, the nib has been a complete and total disaster. I went through all the usual motions: tried a new cartridge, cleaned it, squeezed the cartridge, changed my grip. My very first scribble notes that it skips at the start: why am I missing the beginnings… this pen is hurt, it is hurting my hand and my neck…I need to…and later: This is impossible, what is wrong with this pen, making me nuts…what a pain in the ass.

Every now and then, I hit a sweet spot and I can write a paragraph. But then it goes crazy again. I turned to the internet and find many pages of discontent. Seems like baby’s bottom is a real problem with Kaweco. Many unhappy customers. Count me as one of them.

Much praise for how well built the pen is but from my point of view, I could care less if I can’t write with it. I could take it back and try to get another nib. Some who tried have still not hit the right nib but I guess it is worth a try. I do not want to try to fix it myself.

Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66

I went to Take Note on the weekend to pick up a Lamy stub nib. The prior weekend I had bought a Lamy lilac Safari in lieu of a Kaweco (which Take Note did not sell) and I got a steel black EF nib to replace the one that got lost with my yellow Safari. But I wanted a stub nib which wasn’t in stock at the time. Fast forward.

As soon as I approached the pen case, a group of three pens caught my eye. Bright yellow-orange, green and blue toned semi translucent. What are they? I asked. Franklin-Christophs came the reply and my heart sank a little because they are not cheap. I could not stop my (grasping) hand from reaching out for the orange one. It only came with a 1.1 nib.

I put on a brave front. I explained that my stub for my 580 AL was ginormous, more like a bucket, and this nib looked ginormous too. But the proprietor did not miss the gleam in my eye and she inked it up. Oh my. It was wonderful. The nib does look LARGE on this small pen but it wrote like a dream. Needless to say, the Pocket 66 left the store in my pocket along with a small bottle of J. Herbin Lie de Thé. My passing nod to austerity. And my Lamy stub nib. And a Midori diary paper journal.

I decided to do some research on this pen and on my Model 20. A definite cart before horse approach to purchasing. I could not find my pen on the internet. It seems, from reading their site and bits and pieces that the company does limited runs of whatever catches its fancy from time to time. Everything I read praised the company for its service and dedication to quality.

Max thinks the pen is ugly but I dare to differ.img_0335

No one has described the scuffed up interior of the FC acrylic pens better than Leigh Reyes, “The irregularity of the inside surface makes me think of a transparent moon, with ink leaving mysterious tracks.”

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According to their website, their design philosophy is to achieve austere simplicity while maintaining uniqueness. I think they accomplish that in spades.

This pen is much smaller than the Model 20. It has a threaded cap (thank goodness) but the threads are located at the very bottom of the section, out of the way of fingers. Apparently this is not only good for fingers but is designed to limit the amount of air in the cap thus slowing the process of the pen drying out.

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It walked out in my pocket even though it had no cartridge and no converter. Given my debacle with my Model 20, this is an indication of how smitten I was. So far, I have not had any leakage at all. I did stumble on the FC video on how to set up an eyedropper pen and I had done it backwards both times (why am I not surprised to discover this?) but regardless, it has not leaked with the Pocket 66. It has given me the courage to try again with my Model 20 once I have run out of ink (it is inked in Ajasai which I only had in a sample bottle and it is so beautiful I cannot bear to waste it).

I have not stopped writing with my Pocket since I got it. Even my current ambivalence about the ink has not stopped me from grabbing it and usually that is a show stopper for me.

Since its initial acquisition, this pen has never been un inked. Max bought me a bottle of Sailor Jentle Kin-Mokusei for Christmas. It has had a variety of browns tossed in it. A couple of greens. And some turquoise. For whatever reason, I have just not found the “perfect pairing” for it yet.

Perfect Pairings

  1. Pelikan Café Crème M200 Fine with Robert Oster Caffe Crema. I have changed this pairing constantly!
  2. Noodler’s Ahab Flex with Noodler’s Navy
  3. Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Fine with Montblanc Purple Lavender
  4. Sailor Pro-Gear Slim Fine with Iroshizuku Ajisai (Hydrangea) or Asa-Gao (Morning Glory)–obviously, everything goes perfectly with this pen
  5. Parker 1952 Vacumatic Debutante Fine with KWZ Brown-Pink
  6. TWSBI Mini 1.1 Stub with Lamy Turquoise
  7. TWSBI 580 AL Fine with Robert Oster Bronze
  8. Pelikan Souveran M600 Red and Black Fine with Sailor Jentle Shigure (Rain Showers)
  9. Pilot Namiki Falcon with Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine?
  10. Lamy Lilac 1.1 Stub with Noodler’s Violet

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta

Writing this blog and looking back on my journal entries makes me realize that my pen obsession is a bit like my golf obsession. I seem to like things that I am not very good at, that are much too technical for my skill set and come with difficulties and challenges that taunt me.

And so it is with my Franklin-Christoph (Special Edition Model 20 made exclusively for Wonder Pens in Toronto, Canada). I am not sure what first drew me to this pen. My initial reading and browsing on the topic was so scattershot. But I had definitely heard of it and I did like the Wonder Pen exclusive model. Of course I picked it up on a whim. The saleswoman convinced me that it was easy-peasy to turn into an eyedropper and I bought a little tub of silicone grease to give it a go.

Disaster. All round. No matter how much grease I put into it, it spewed ink. All over. Some times. Other times it merely dribbled. Or burped. I have to say that it looked amazing as an eyedropper pen. It has a scuffed up translucent barrel in a greyish tone and filled with a dusky purple ink, it was stunning. But stunning is as stunning does as they say and I am totally down on pens that don’t function. Form, for me, is only half of the equation. So I popped in a converter. It definitely breaks up the beauty of the barrel but it works.

Part of the reason it might have spewed so much as an eyedropper was my mishandling of the cap. It simply “fits” on and there are no threads. I am not in love with this. I am never sure if I am putting it on tight enough. And sometimes to get it off I have to really work it (which can cause ink to jet out). This has caused me so much grief I now open it over a blotting cloth just in case. I must be doing something right because it writes off the bat when uncapped. The cap must be on tight enough. But is it too tight? Who the heck knows. If I can get some time alone with someone at Wonder Pens, I might be able to figure it out.

I did take the pen back when it was still eye droppered and asked the clerk if I had done it right. She took it into the back room to consult with somebody anna-aspnes-potpourri-paperie-2014and came back with a “if it isn’t leaking, it is okay” which was not helpful at all. It sort of leaked. Kind of. I tried to pay attention to how I was carrying it and capping it and uncapping it but I couldn’t isolate the problem. I feel like I did enough investigation, including going back to the store. For now, I will leave it in converter mode.

Of note, it did make a perfect pairing with J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and has been entered into the Perfect Pairing List (so far, only 5 entries). I really enjoy the fine nib I have on it and the markings on the nib look great.