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Ink And Pen Links

05/29/2016

The Anderson ink comparison tool is well worth saving for future reference. They carry a good assortment of inks so there is that reason to return as well.

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What Do Ink Samples And Shotgun Shells Have In Common?

05/26/2016

They both fit in a 25-round multi-gauge ammo box from MTM Case-Gard. There are other configurations and sizes, but this box has a removable grate that keeps the vials from wiggling around. It comes in green and clear smoke with model number #S25D or #S-25-12D.

I learned about ammo boxes on FPN and ordered a few from Amazon at $4.50 a piece. Now my samples are sorted by brand though I might switch to color in future. My test tube racks have been retired as the ammo box is much more useful for storage purposes. Kudos to whoever discovered this find and posted about it on FPN.

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Online Retailer/PayPal Warning

05/25/2016

Warning! This is a rant related to items not in inventory. It has been edited for strong language and inappropriate graphics.

Twice I’ve been caught off-guard by an issue between PayPal and merchants that tied up my credit for an unacceptably long period of time. No need for you to go through what I have so here’s what happened.

In both situations I used my credit card through PayPal to purchase merchandise from online retailers. The first retailer did not have the inventory that was offered on his website but still debited my account for the unavailable item. It took in excess of two weeks to get a credit.

Merchant claimed PayPal and the credit card issuer were slow. The merchant has/had outdated software and the item should not have been loaded into my shopping cart without a back-order warning. I missed buying the item at a comparable discount while the parties involved controlled the available credit on my credit card. Eventually the credit showed up in my PayPal account but not on my credit card. Hrumph!

The second incident happened with a much larger retailer. One item was clearly listed as back-ordered in my shopping cart with the expected shipping date. No problem for me and I liked the upfront information as well as the opportunity to cancel at any time. Unfortunately, the retailer requested full payment from PayPal despite the website stating that would not happen until the item shipped. The “so what” response from the retailer to my query about the charge did nothing to handle the situation and soured our budding relationship. All I can do now is cancel the item and hope that someday my account will show a credit.

The issue seems to originate at the merchant level when the merchant requests full payment despite having no inventory on hand. They can blame PayPal and claim it is slow to issue credit. But the truth is full payment should never have been requested by the merchant. I have had it take up to a week to get a refund from my card issuer with a direct purchase. Add the intermediate step of getting the refund through PayPal and you can see where this is going.

Through PayPal I have paid for hundreds of satisfactory eBay purchases. The problems have only happened with retail purchases when merchants put through transactions for items not in inventory. That’s a shabby way to do business under any circumstances. Paying through PayPal just complicated the situation.

Both retailers thought it was my bad luck to have ordered something that was not in inventory. Again, hrumph!

My friends, you have been warned.

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Sunday Links From An Asteroid To Starbucks To The Queen

05/22/2016

A few tidbits…

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A TWSBI Diamond 580 And The Eco

05/22/2016

After almost a year of use, it’s time to tell my TWSBI tale. Of the two on hand, the 580 beats the Eco easily. However, both are good value for money though with caveats.

Both models are piston-fillers so they start out even on that score. A visual comparison reveals no difference between the two fillers, so ink capacity will be identical. The pistons move smoothly and draw ink from a bottle easily. Filling them reminded me how well a piston in a long barrel can pull ink from a tall bottle like Noodler’s. It won’t get you to the bottom, but it will get you closer than other fillers.

The 580 comes in a variety of colors while the Eco comes in black or white. I will say the white Eco looks very appealing with a fill of aqua or turquoise ink. The black is rather common (Who doesn’t have a black fountain pen?), but looks more exciting with a fill of red or orange ink. Diamine Soft Mint is particularly attractive in it.

The Diamond 580 is a clear demonstrator model with enough metal to be a little heavy though balanced when writing without the cap. Tuck the cap on the end and it becomes overbalanced in a small to average hand. It has a very solid feel to its construction though I haven’t played darts with it to see if it is durable. It has either been in a case, on my desk or in my hand which is an easy life for a fountain pen.

The JoWo 1.1mm steel nib is smooth with decent though not copious flow. The sweet spot is a little undersized for the angle at which I write resulting in an occasional missed start to a stroke. This might be an issue peculiar to me and not a problem with the nibs since other users have not mentioned it. The line is slightly less crisp than a Lamy 1.1, so I would rate it a cursive italic. From a practical perspective, the JoWo is better for general use in part because the line is more narrow. Some italics have sharp corners that catch. Not so with this nib, which adds to its ease of use.

For months the 580 has been filled with Diamine Violet which is a very good match for the nib as well as the clear barrel. I like to twirl it in my fingers just to see the colorful ink slosh around. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?

TWSBI pens can be a bit delicate. Before engaging in any activity other than filling, take a few minutes to read the included instructions or watch a video or two. My 580 arrived with a barrel and nib that would spin with little provocation and would not tighten. It took a day at FPN, several posts and some help from friends to figure out how to stabilize it without risking damage. The pen should have arrived ready to rock and roll. It didn’t. Since another FPNer had the same problem, you might, too.

The Eco does not write quite as smoothly as the 580. In fact the one I have is a dry writer that needs a somewhat upright hold and slight rotation to produce a consistent line. I often rotate a pen so that isn’t a disqualification for me. However, the upright angle is not comfortable so the Eco loses marks for that bit. Unfortunately, it isn’t good enough to get regular use. Perhaps a different ink will make it a better fit for my writing style.

The 580 has no flow or nib issue and has a more substantial build. It is slightly heftier in the hand and I think more attractive. The turning knob on the Eco is functional, but a bit clunky in proportion and design. That could be said of the cap as well. The 580 has a more balanced and sophisticated design. Go for that one if $60 fits your budget. If you want an inexpensive carry pen or one as a first foray into italic nibs, the Eco at under $30 might do.

So that’s my TWSBI tale of two pens.

The company has an excellent reputation for customer service, but hopefully you will never need it.

Amazon offers a variety of TWSBI models and nib sizes.

More on the 580 from The Pen Addict and a review of the Eco from Dan Smith.

 

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Another Benefit To The Platinum Slip & Seal Cap

05/21/2016

After several attempts to get ink to dry in a Platinum Century Slip & Seal pen, I give up. It just won’t happen, but I did discover a welcome additional benefit while giving it a hard time. Because the ink doesn’t dry in the nib and feed, the pen rinses out in record time even after being left idle for ages.

My Century Nice Pur B had Diamine Wild Strawberry in it with no use for months. Months! There was a faint ring of ink at the edge of the piston and dregs in the section. In any other pen, rinsing and soaking for hours if not days would be expected for such neglect. Darned if the pen didn’t rinse clean in less than two minutes total. Filling the converter with tepid water eight to ten times and then giving the nib a rinse in a stream of water removed ink from every nook and cranny. Is that pen amazing or what!

Thank you Luxury Brands USA for sending the Platinum Century Nice Pur. Slip & Seal is a brilliant mechanism for a beautiful fountain pen. Kudos to Platinum for ingenuity as well as execution.

The Nice and Nice Pur are currently on special at Nibs.com. It is a limited edition release, so grab one while you can.

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Modern Pilot Fountain Pens

05/19/2016

That is my collection of Pilot/Namiki fountain pens. Nice variety to it, but they seldom get inked. In comparison to other pen makers, I’ve experienced more flow issues with their modern pens than any other brand. While the fine nibs can be temperamental, the wider nibs and flexy ones are the most frustrating.

With more than thirty Pilots having passed through here in the last few years, I am certain their feeds and nibs are not created equal. The nibs write well enough but the flow is not able to keep up. The pens are too often hard starting and skip mid-word even failing for a full word or occasionally even several. This has never happened with my Sailor and Platinum pens. It has been a rare issue with a vintage Western pen but that could be attributed to careless handling by a former owner. My Lamy, Waterman, and Levenger True Writers have had very rare flow issues though matching ink to pen has helped in a few cases.

Pilot Elite pocket pens from the 1970’s are not so quirky though some of the Script nibs write dry and especially narrow. The ink flow keeps up nicely maintaining an even line. The pretty, decorated ones have had a higher than acceptable rate of cracked barrels so that’s a different kind of warning. However, my Socrates, Isaac Newton, and Black Striped models have been especially good writers and aren’t at all picky about brands of ink. That sort of versatility puts them on my list of favorite fountain pens.

This doesn’t mean all of their pens have flow issues. However, this post can be considered a caveat to my previous pen recommendations from the Pilot Custom 742 to the Custom 74 to the lower end Prera and 78G and the bottom of the line Plumix. Even the Namiki Falcon Soft Broad (SB) nib unlike the Soft Fine (SF) has a flow that is inadequate for the amount of ink that should be laid down. A nib adjustment might help though I’ve experienced mixed results on that score.

A free-flowing ink can improve performance a notch. Pilot Iroshizuku ink is a good match though some Diamine and J. Herbin inks have proven up to the task as well. Waterman Blue-Black is my standard test ink and one that can bring out the best in a multitude of pens so that’s a good one to have on hand. Unfortunately, ink won’t fix a pen but it can improve one that is borderline.

This isn’t meant to dissuade you from buying a Pilot or Namiki fountain pen but it is a warning. Your sleek, new pen may need tweaking to be the best it can be. Or it may only take finding the right ink and paper combination to bring out its most charming qualities. Even better, you could get a pen that is perfect from the start. Shouldn’t they all arrive that way?

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