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Pilot Custom 823, One of my Favorites

19 Aug

First Impressions

I sought this pen out for its filling system rather than for its looks. Upon first seeing the pen I was struck by its simple elegance. This is a large pen, which really appeals to me.

My first 823 was the Smoke colored 823. I bought it used. The transaction was a bit of a debacle as the seller sold the pen to me with an imperfect nib, and he did not disclose it at the time of sale (big no no). Thankfully, Mike Masuyama was able to fix it for me. So, I have to admit that that experience affected my first impression of the pen.

My Amber 823 was purchased new. It came in a padded presentation box, and a bottle of Pilot Blue ink was included with the pen. The Amber translucent pen is really gorgeous. Pictures do not do the pen justice.

Appearance

Pens of this shape belong to a class  of pens whose shape draws its inspiration from the first cigar-shaped pen, the Sheaffer’s Balance of the 1930s. This design has persisted for so long because it is not only pleasing to the eye, but it is comfortable in the hand.

These pens come in three colors. Smoke, Amber, and Clear. All three are translucent. The Smoke and Clear 823s were imported into the US in very small numbers. They have since sold out. You can, however, get the Amber 823 at most Pilot retailers. If you want the Clear or the Smoke you have to order them from international dealers.

The nibs are 14k gold and the furniture is gold-plated. I usually hate gold plating, but it goes perfectly with the Amber resin. I just wish there had been a rhodium option for the smoke and clear versions.

Design/Size/Weight

This is a large pen at about 1/2 inch wide, 5 5/8 inches capped and 5 1/8 inches uncapped. Posted this pen is 6 3/8 inches. It is very well-balanced whether you write with the cap posted or unposted (I never write with my pens posted.)

In terms of size, this pen can be compared to the Sailor Full Sized 1911, MB 146, Pelikan M800, and the Edison Herald. This is the size pen I prefer.

Like the fountain pens of old, these pens are meant to be used as daily writers. Most of them were are not meant to be on display, and honestly, they aren’t meant for you to change inks constantly (although you certainly can if you want).

Nib

This pen comes with Pilot’s largest nib, the #15 nib. It is made of 14k yellow gold. This nib is soft, but not flexie. Impacts to the page feel cushioned. This pen is only available in Fine, Medium, and Broad.

Originally, I chose the Broad nib size. As I mentioned earlier, this nib was adjusted by Mike M. He did a wonderful job on this pen, it is now very smooth with a touch of tooth. It’s perfect for maintaining control of the pen without making the writing experience uncomfortable. The flow is quite consistent and juicy.

My new Amber 823 came with a medium nib. It is a superb nib right out of the box. Just like its big brother, it is super smooth with a little feedback to help keep the nib under control.

I’ve discovered, that I am very quickly becoming a huge fan of Pilot nibs. Really, it is hard to beat a Pilot nib especially one of their gold nibs. While the broad writes like a western medium, the medium nib writes more like a western fine. There is a considerable difference between the two. I love the broad nib most, but sometimes you just need something a little finer. The medium nib serves that purpose quite readily.

I use these pens a lot and for very long writing sessions. They perform admirably. I’d definitely recommend a Pilot Custom 823 to folks who also do a lot of writing. This is a great pen with a great nib!

Filling System

For me, the plunger system is the reason I originally bought this pen. I love integral filling systems, and the plunger system has to be my favorite of them all. This mechanism is very smooth, and you can add some silicone grease to the barrel to ensure it stays that way. This filling system is simplistic and efficient. With the right technique, these pens can hold a lot of ink.

I made a quick video to demonstrate how it works:

As I mentioned in the video, one depression of the filler yields 1.5ml of ink, but if you use the two-step method, you will get 2.2ml of ink, and the pen will  be filled to capacity.

Now, a word about cleaning these pens. I have heard it said that these pens are difficult to clean. The plunger filler takes in and expels a lot of water to get the barrel clean, and the nib and feed pull out so that you can clean out any ink that gets trapped in there. It is also possible to unscrew the section, but I wouldn’t advise it. If you are too rough with it you can crack the barrel at the section threads. The grease used to lubricate the thread will stain with ink. You will not be able to clean it out unless you disassemble the pen (I would not advise this since you may crack the pen). This little bit of grease staining has only been an aesthetic concern for me. It has never interfered with my ability to use different inks in the pens.

Cost and Value

These pens can be quite expensive. The MSRP is about $360. If I’d had to pay full price, I probably would never have owned one. My pen budget very rarely extends that high. Each of these pens was under $200. If you can find one for around that price, then this pen represents a tremendous value for the money. You get a super smooth 14k nib, an exceptional plunger filler system, and a well-crafted high quality pen. Those qualities rarely meet for $200 or less these days (especially with the skyrocketing price of gold and the depreciation of the US Dollar).

**Hint! Pam at Oscar Braun Pens is going out of business. She has the Amber 823 marked down to $199. Supplies are likely limited.**  Sorry guys. She is sold out!

Conclusion,  (10/10, A+!)

It’s not often that I buy two of any one pen. The fact that I have is a testament to how much I love these pens. The Pilot Custom 823 represents my perfect everyday writer. They are substantial pens with a girth of .5 inches or more, they have an integrated filling systems that work exceptionally well, they have gold nibs (my preference), and the nibs are smooth right out of the box. My smoke 823 has been inked with the same ink (Noodler’s Navy) for over a year now, and I use it just about everyday. The Amber 823 is new, but it is settling in as well. I fully expect it to be in permanent rotation just as soon as I find the right ink for it.

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My Writing Arsenal *Updated*

9 Dec

In February I put up a blog post about my arsenal. That is the list of the items in my accumulation that I could not live without. Needless to say, my opinions have changed with my collection. In addition, as I get deeper and deeper into my school work, my needs have changed tremendously. So, it’s time for a bit of an update (OK, more than a bit of an update. This is a long post. You’ve been forewarned!)

Pens:  Pilot VP, Pilot Custom 823, Pilot Prera, TWSBI Diamond 530, Edison Glenmont

Until I started this posted I had not realized just how much I use and rely on my Pilot pens. I would have never described myself as a Pilot fan, but I guess this makes me one doesn’t it?

The VP remains the perfect note-taking pen. The click/retractable nib mechanism makes it perfectly suited for jotting down quick notes in a meeting or when on the go.

I purchased the 823 (review forthcoming) specifically for use in drafting my long papers, articles, and chapters. It is really perfect for that task. It holds over 2ml of ink when I use my Visconti Inkpot (review forthcoming) to fill it. The Broad nib is juicy and smooth which makes writing fun while also forcing me to slow down.

My little Brown Prera (review forthcoming) is my editing, grading, and marginalia pen. It’s super fine and smooth nib makes it perfectly fit for that purpose. It’s also a comfortable little pen.

The TWSBI was also purchased with long writing sessions in mind. Boy is it a winner! I love that thing. I use it most everyday.

My Glenmont remains a favorite especially for letter writing, but then I designed it myself, so why wouldn’t it be?

The Stipula Vedo and Levenger Plumpster have fallen off the list. I still like them quite a bit, but as my workload has changed so have my writing instrument needs. The Vedo’s nib is a bit too sharp for long writing sessions and the Plumpster lacks the ink capacity I need for lots and lots of writing.

Inks: Noodler’s Navy, Noodler’s #41 Brown, J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune

Noodler’s Navy has become my workhorse ink. It’s near-bulletproof, so I don’t have to fear for my writing’s longevity. It’s an unassuming and relatively nondescript dark blue, so it’s not at all distracting. It’s extremely well-behaved no matter what I throw at it. To me, this is the definition of workhorse. I’m seriously considering ordering a 16 ounce bottle of the stuff… maybe I should make that 32 ounces just to be on the safe side?

Noodler’s #41 Brown is a great dark brown. It’s very well-behaved and bulletproof to boot. I’m entering a phase in my writing where I need to know that it will survive the odd spill (I’ve got a story behind this, but that is for another time).#41 accomplished this goal while still being nice to look at.

I love purple inks, so it’s only right that one be on this list. Poussiere de Lune is just the ticket. I have a lot of purple inks, but this is one of my favorites. It also has a good measure of water resistance. That is a must.

Visconti Blue has fallen off the list, but I still believe it belongs in every ink collection. It is the perfect medium dark blue to me. It is exceedingly well-behaved, and it is vibrant enough to set you part from the crowd while still maintaining its professional air. The only problem for me is that it offers absolutely no water resistance. It this point, water resistance is non-negotiable.

MB Violet has fallen off this list as well. I still love it and it still holds all the sentimental value it did before, but I just don’t use it as much as I used to.

Journals: I still haven’t found “the one.” I do still use and quite like my Exacompta Basics sketchbook, but I’m not sure it is the one. I’ve tried and loved the Rhodia Webnotebook, but I haven’t had it and used it long enough to know if it is really “the one.” After I finish the Exacompta, the Webbie is going to become my dedicated journal. We’ll see what happens.

Stationery: American Stationery Business Monarch and Crane’s 90gsm Pearl White

I still use the Business Monarch as much as I did.  I’ve also developed a fondness for the Crane’s paper. Lately, I’ve been using it almost exclusively. My pens and inks love both these papers, and the papers certainly look the part.

Paper for everyday use: HP LaserJet 24lbs.

I simply cannot say enough good things about this paper. All of my pens and inks love it. It is smooth and it resists feathering and bleed through. At $9.99 per ream of 500 sheets it is quite affordable. The local big box office supply stores often run 2 for 1 specials on it, so that’s 1000 sheets for $10. That’s some of the better rates I’ve seen for good quality consistent paper. I go through a lot of this paper, and it does not break the bank. This is always a good thing when it comes to the student budget.

Staple’s Bagasse has fallen off the list. It has become a bit inconsistent, and I’m no longer a fan of its thin crispy feel and lined rule. It also bleeds like crazy.

Planner: This category is presently in flux. I had been using and loving a Quo Vadis Septanote, but I thought I’d do better with a pocket planner. This academic year I’ve switched to the Quo Vadis University. It is quite similar to the Septanote, but it’s pocket-sized. So far so good, but I still need a desk planner I love. I’m trying out the Quo Vadis Principal, but I’m not sure I like it.

Misc.: Circa Desk Punch, Rollabind discs, Large Staples Rolla Notebook

When I made my first arsenal post I speculated that the Circa punch would become a staple. Well, it has in a big big way. I was able to get one of the older versions for $30 from the Levenger Ebay Outlet. That plus Rollabind discs also from Ebay had me all set to punch and organize. Covers were and are, to some extent, an issue. Levenger covers are expensive, so I went on a search for cheap cover options.

While at Staples I noticed a Rolla Notebook. It is, of course, disc bound with a stiff yet padded black faux leather cover. It fits 8.5×11 paper, so it seemed perfect. I got it home, and I tried it out. The paper sucks SUCKS, so I recycled it and refilled the Notebook with my beloved HP LaserJet paper. PERFECTION!!!

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So there you have it. These are the writing products I cannot live without. How about you? What are you using and loving these days?

Noodler’s Navy

30 Jul

[tweetmeme source=”dizzypen” only_single=false https://dizzypen.wordpress.com%5D

This is Noodler’s review 3 of 3 for this week.

I never even planned to try this ink, but that all changed when I received a letter written with it. Now, I’m sure it had something to do with the letter writer’s amazing handwriting, but I really fell for this shade. See, I like blues, but I love them even more if there is a hint of green to them. Noodler’s Navy is just that: Navy. It is a dark blue with a touch of green.

It is very well behaved. I’ve had it in a Pilot Petit 1 for at least 3 weeks straight, and it is still going strong. I carry that little Petit 1 with me everywhere. I use it to sign receipts, jot down quick notes, or anything else that requires a pen. This ink performs admirably even on less than stellar paper.

The Details:

  • No feathering or bleed through. Even in poor quality papers.
  • Good flow and even better lubrication.
  • Fast drying at under 5 seconds.
  • There is a little shading depending on the nib, paper, etc.
  • This ink is not waterproof, but it is VERY water resistance. The blue rinses away, but a blackish line remains. It is very easily legible.

(click to enlarge the photo)

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Pilot Vanishing Point in Blue Carbonesque

8 Oct

This is one of my favorite pens in my accumulation. It is also one of the more popular pens in pendom. Reviews abound on nearly every website and nearly every blog. I decided to do this review because this is truly a great pen not just a gimmick. I hope you find this somewhat useful though I freely admit that there isn’t much new to say about this great pen.

Pilot Vanishing Point

First Impressions
I can’t really give an accurate account of my first impressions with this pen. I saw it in person several times before I finally decided to buy one. I do remember thinking 1. this pen is heavy and 2. that clip *is* in a weird place isn’t it?

Appearance
I have to tell you, this is not the sexiest fountain pen on the block. It looks like an oversized ballpoint pen! (OK that was harsh.) I just don’t care for the appearance. BUT, I do like the Blue Carbonesque finish. It is very attractive.

Design/Size/Weight

VP open

The best thing about the design is the retractable nib. It just functions well. This is really my favorite part of the pen. You can operate it with one hand and you don’t have to keep track of a cap. This mechanism especially comes in handy for taking notes in a meeting or in class. HIGHLY functional. But, there is one slight drawback. Ink can get caught behind the trap door. As a result, you will need to rinse out the pen body occasionally. A tampered pipette works great for this purpose. [Note: Make sure you let the barrel air dry before reassembling the pen.]

VP open profile

Now about the infamous clip. There is no two ways about it, either you love the clip or you hate it. If you have a “schoolhouse” tripod grip, the clip should not get in the way. If you hold your pen any other way you might want to “try before you buy.” The clip doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I actually find it helpful.

The size of the pen is average at 5 1/2”. The barrel diameter is about 1/2”. It’s a comfortable size.

Many people have complained about the weight of this pen. It is about 35 grams (with ink and converter), but it feels much heavier. This is largely because of its metal construction. It is a dense pen to be sure, but not at all uncomfortable so far as I’m concerned. I use this pen to take notes in a 3 hour seminar and suffer no fatigue. YMMV

Nib

VP Full Nib

This little itty bitty nib is 18k gold. This is standard in the US, but older models and LE models can be had with rhodium nibs. My pen is a M. It writes a true medium line width, so don’t expect the “Asian nibs are a size smaller” mantra to apply here. [Note: From what I understand the fine nib does actually run finer than a western fine and the broad nib does actually run finer than the western broad, but this does not apply to the medium for whatever reason.]

VP nib

The nib writes just like I like it. The flow is VERY generous. The nib is smooth with just a hint of feedback. It’s just enough so that you know you’re writing, but not enough to make you think the nib is scratchy or toothy. [Note: If you want something ultra smooth that will “glide” effortlessly across the page you might to buy this pen from one of the famous nibmeisters and have them tune it for you.]

Filling System
Well, the filling system is cartridge / converter. Nothing to shout home about. It works exactly how it’s supposed to. I just prefer something different. One drawback to this system is that Pilot uses a proprietary cartridge/converter, so you have to use their stuff.

This pen comes with a CON-50 piston converter installed. It holds a little less than 1ml of ink. A CON-20 Squeeze converter will also fit. Many people refill Pilot cartridges with their preferred ink because this increases the ink capacity. Personally, I just use the CON-50. It’s simpler for me.

Cost and Value
I paid significantly less than MSRP for this pen at Oscar Braun Pens and would highly recommend them. They offer fast service at an affordable rate. At the $100 I paid for this pen I consider it to be a fantastic value for the money. The convenience factor is unparalleled, the construction is solid, and the nib is excellent.

Conclusion (9/10, A-)

This is an excellent pen. I recommended it so long as you try it first to make sure the clip is not an issue for you. So far as I’m concerned, this is one of those instances where a gimmick product is actually worth the hype.

I use this pen mostly for note taking. This pen just works every time without fail.

VP Closed profile

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