TWSBI VAC 700 Fountain Pen Review

The TWSBI Vac 700 ‘s introduction a few years ago was met with both excitement and frustration. I remember Fountain Pen Network being extremely excited by the prospect of a value priced vacuum filler, but the initial release had problems with the nib and feed resulting in many Vac 700s writing extremely dry. The clear demonstrator Vac 700 was delayed for several months while TWSBI worked out the kinks. I finally got around to purchasing the Vac 700 after the major price drop last year.

TWSBI Vac 700

The Vac 700 boasts a vacuum filler system and a monstrous ink capacity of 1.5 ml. The pen is available in clear, smoke, sapphire, and amber plastics with black accents. The nibs are German made nibs from JoWo and are available from Western EF up to 1.5mm stub. The nib size is a standard #6.

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Platinum #3776 Century Fountain Pen Review

One of the boring things about university life is the fact exams should be written in blue, blue-black, or black ink. For a fountain pen geek who enjoys the full rainbow of colours, the choice is either keep a school ready colour in constant rotation at all times or partially fill a pen each time a test or exam rolls around. There’s a third option, find a pen that can be left inked and unused for long periods of time!

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Platinum’s #3776 line of fountain pens are made from plastic with a classic style. The old #3776 pens were replaced with the slightly more expensive #3776 Century model, which feature the “Slip ‘n Seal” cap system. The system will be familiar to those who have used Platinum’s disposable Preppy pens. The inner cap is spring loaded, creating an air tight seal that dramatically slows evaporation. According to Platinum, such a seal with a snap type cap is not a difficult task; however, creating a screw on cap with the same seal system, on the other hand, was apparently a small feat of industrial engineering.

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Inked Up – March Edition

Please welcome Brandon Postal of the blog Go With Postal as our March guest! Although his blog is only a little over a month old, it’s been buzzing with tons of great posts with lots of coverage on vintage pens.

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Brandon was kind enough to let me take a peek at his current load out of pens and pencils.

From left to right:
Montblanc #22 – Private Reserve DC Supershow
Blue Sheaffer Snorkel Valiant – Noodler’s Lexington Gray Esterbrook LJ 9668 Renew Point – Diamine Oxblood Parker Shadow Wave Green Vacumatic – Diamine Sherwood Green Parker 51 Demi – Noodler’s Heart of Darkness
Parker 51 Demi Pencil – 0.9mm Lead

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A big thanks to Brandon for participating! Be sure to check out his blog at Go With Postal.

Sailor Jentle Sky High Review

Unfortunately I can’t seem to get a really great photo that shows off the incredible red sheen this ink has. It’s absolutely addictive!

Sailor Jentle Sky High Review

Sailor Jentle Sky High
Paper: Clairefontaine 90g
Pen: Century 3776 EF/TWSBI Vac 700 w/ Knox 1.1mm Stub
Flow: Slightly Wet
Shading: SomeBleedthrough: None
Feathering: None
Dry Times: (Long)

Cheap Paper Notes
Sky High fares well on cheap paer with minimum feathering and bleedthrough. However, cheap paer usually misses out on the best part of the ink. SHEEN!

Notes
Sailor’s Jentle Sky high is a vibrant shade of blue. Some recommend it as a cheaper alternative to Kon-Peki, but it deserves to stand on its own right due to its good behaviour, lovely colour, and amazing read sheen. Too bad the bottle makes filling larger nibbed pens impossible.

Sailor Jentle Sky High @ Amazon (Affiliate) or Amazon (Generic)

Tech Force Pens Achieves Goal on Kickstarter

Kickstarter is home to some of the coolest new stationery ideas. CNC pens are all the rage there and Josh Wilson is venturing into the fray with his Tech Force Pen and ruler concept. The Tech Force Pen consists of a triangular ruler with metric and imperial markings along with a pen that accepts Pilot Hi Tec C refills. When not in use, the pen stores in the ruler with a little help from pneumatic pressure.

The Tech Force Pen will be manufactured in the United States. The brushed aluminum finish is available for $50 and the black anodized finish will cost $75. Shipping within the US will be free, international shipping is $5. Each pledge will come with 3 Hi Tec C refills in different sizes: 0.4mm, 0.3mm, and .25mm. No word on what colour ink will be available. The pledges are scheduled to ship out in May 2014.

Josh has hit his funding goal, so this project is a go. There are 19 days left in the project and no word yet on the post-Kickstarter plans. The current price is very reasonable at $50, but I doubt the $50 price point will be around for long considering similar products that were also Kickstarted are now sold for $150.

Tech Force Pen

Pilot Cavalier Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Cavalier is probably one of the most underrated fountain pens in Pilot’s line. It is almost completely ignored in favour of the Pilot Metropolitan, the offerings from TWSBI, and the Lamy Safari. I originally purchased the Cavalier after my positive experiences with the Hi Tec C Cavalier. The pens are available in a variety of colours with gold trim with prices starting at $28 USD. The nibs are unique to the Cavalier and are available in Eastern fine and medium.

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Inked Up – February Edition

This month, I have very lucky to have Ed Jelley of EdJelley.com showing off his loadout. Here’s what Ed had to say about his current loadout:ilaikepens.com - Inked Up - February 2014 - Ed Jelley of edjelley.com

Left to Right:
Nakaya Neo Standard in Kuro-Tamenuri – Medium Soft Nib – Diamine Oxblood
Conklin Crescent Filler – 1.1mm Stub Nib – Stipula Verde Muschiato
Lamy 2000 – Binderized Medium Nib – Rohrer & Klingner Salix
Karas Kustoms Ink Prototype – Medium Nib – Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
Karas Kustoms Render K G2 – 0.4mm Black Pilot Hi-Tec-C Refill
TWSBI Mini Classic – Fine Nib – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun
Tactile Turn “Mover” Prototype in Raw Aluminum – 0.38mm Pilot G2 Refill
Field Notes Drink Local Edition IPA

A Letter to Sailor

Dear Sailor,

Look Sailor, we need to talk. I understand you tried to remedy this situation with that little plastic adapter inside the ink bottle, but it isn’t cutting it. Seriously, a vast majority of my pens are simply too tall to actually use the bottle to fill. Sure, the bottle looks unique compared to the legions of tall bottles, but we have a bit of a problem. Even with a full bottle of ink, I can’t fill my pens. Why bother even putting that plastic adapter when I probably will have to use a syringe or just put the converter directly into the bottle? I’m sure I could have gotten at least an extra converter or two of ink if you ditched the plastic bit. Your ink is great, but your design department needs to visit the engineering department once in a while. Please look into redesigning the bottles. Until then, your ink will have to reside in another container.

With love,
Laike

Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium – Cheap Paper Review

 

Liberty’s Elysium – Cheap Paper Review

Paper isn’t cheap. In university, students can chew through hundreds of sheets in a semester, easily. What is a student to do? So here is Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium on the cheapest paper I could find, Hilroy loose leaf college rule paper. I am using a Japanese EF to write this review. You can already notice some slight feathering, but the level is very reasonable.

For comparison’s sake, here is the same ink in a medium Lamy Safari. Feathering is much more noticeable compared to the EF nib. So would I recommend Liberty’s Elysium for those of us on a budget? Yes! Even at a nib this thick, the feathering doesn’t detract from the hand writing. It is still clear enough to read. I probably could get away with a stub nib with this ink, but no more than a 1.1mm. 

In regards to bleedthrough, you can see a bit with the medium nib. There is some mild ghosting with the EF nib. With cheap paper, you probably won’t be able to get away with using both sides of the paper with most inks. Short of a very wet stub, the bleedthrough should never soak the next page. 

Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point Review

A surprising fact! I actually own pens that aren’t demonstrators. Really, I do. However, black and silver bodies tend to be my staple. I’m just not really that adventurous. So, when I laid my eyes on the Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point, it was love at first sight as the curved matte black body with the black plated nib reminded me of the famous SR-71 Blackbird.

In school, I tend to take my notes with a keyboard, but copying graphs and diagrams into a digital form is a time consuming task. It is a task best left for an analog input method. That’s where the Pilot Vanishing Point comes in. As probably the only click (is that an official term?) fountain pen in existence, the Vanishing Point deploys in a snap and tucks away as quickly as it appeared. 

The Pilot Vanishing point is a thick pen. According to my measurements, it’s 1.3 cm wide, 14 cm long and just a few mm shorter when the nib is deployed. Those who don’t use a traditional tripod pen grip may struggle with the Pilot Vanishing point as the pen clip sits on the top of the pen, providing an effect similar to the Lamy Safari’s triangle grip. The entire pen weighs in at a heft 30 g. Some have complained that the matte black body scratches easily, revealing the brass underneath. With gentle use, my body has yet to suffer such an extreme scratch, though a few faintly shiny black scratches have appeared.

Disassembling the Pilot Vanishing Point is a little different from most pens as the nib unit runs the length of almost the entire pen body. The nib unit could technically be considered a pen in its own right due to its size, though it would be next to impossible to use comfortably. To disassemble the pen, unscrew the body and slowly separate the two pieces as not to cause the nib unit to shoot out unexpectedly. Once the nib unit is removed, the cartridge/converter can be removed. The Vanishing Point is compatible with cartridges, the CON-20 converter, and the CON-50 converter. When using a cartridge, the metal cover included with the pen will need to be used to ensure the click mechanism works properly.  To reassemble the pen, simply line up the notch in the body with the protruding piece of metal in the nib unit, and screw the body back together.

Filling the pen will require disassembling the pen. The filler hole is actually located about an inch above the nib’s tip and will require a rather tall or full bottle of ink to fill the pen properly. It is pretty difficult to check the ink level in the Vanishing point as the CON-50 converter only has about a cm of exposed clear plastic near the piston to check the ink level. When using a cartridge, it is covered in by the metal cap, hiding the ink level.

Using the pen is very easy. The button is requires a long and solid press to deploy the nib. The nib then pushes open a trap door and pops out. The trap door does help slow evaporation, though I do not believe it is very air tight. I have yet to have the pen leak, even though it has been jostled around in pockets and backpacks.

One of the features of the Vanishing Point system is the ability to swap pen bodies and nib units with little hassle. The 14k gold nibs are available from Japanese EF to B with rhodium plated, black plated, and gold finishes, The bodies come in an array of colours and materials. Limited edition Vanishing Points are released each year, providing plenty of opportunity for collectors.

My nib of choice is the Japanese EF as I tend to use really cheap lined paper for most of my school note taking. Even for its fine size, the EF nib is incredibly smooth. There is no scratchiness to the nib, just the slight feedback expected from a nib so fine. The flow out of the box is nice and balanced. The line width is closer to a .4 Pilot Hi Tec C on Clairefontaine paper.

The Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point has an MSRP of $175 USD and a street price of $140 USD. It is definitely not a cheap pen, but personally I think the unique click mechanism makes it worth it. However, I do wonder how much the price would drop if Pilot made stainless steel nib units available vs the 14k gold.

The Recap

 

Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point, EF
Ink: Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium

Paper: Clairefontaine 90g

Likes
+ Unique click mechanism
+ Fast deployment
+ Smooth nib
+ Modular design
+ Great every day carry pen

Dislikes
– Hard to check ink level
– Difficult to use if grip is different from traditional triangle grip

Recommended?
YES!