Minor Catastrophe

Something went wrong with my Word Press set up; anyone who has been trying to visit here since 20 February has likely been seeing a perfectly blank screen. Well… I SORT OF fixed it. I initially had a small attack of the marthambles when it looked like all the content had evaporated. This is not the case.

It’s just all been turned into slightly illegible posts.

Which means I’m going to be a while getting the site looking like something useful again. Whatever you’re looking for is still here, but it’s hiding.  The only thing I can suggest is scrolling through the news archive, because EVERYTHING is in there.  All the internal links are broken, too, including the ones to pictures, so… well, it will be a while before we’re back on our feet here.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9968

Sic Semper Taranis

Well, I appear to have undone the damage done by Jerk MacJerk of Clan MacCreep, but I\’m still trying to sort out the damage done by the WordPress update it required.  For example, I\’ve just noticed that what used to produce a different coloured background text box now doesn\’t, so there are several pages with mysterious <important> instructions now appearing in the text.  I\’m sure I\’ll get it sorted eventually.

On a happier note, I have several fresh pen profiles up.  One is very fresh indeed, for the fresh out of the over Lamy Aion.  The others are not quite so warm with the heat of their own creation, but all are definitely recent models; the retrospective Kaweco Student, the psst hey buddy do you want a cheap pen Wing Sung 3008, and the get it while you can Sheaffer Taranis.

The title of this entry is almost completely without meaning, by the way.  Just me playing with allusions.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9927

3008

Maker: Wing Sung.

We might take from this pen that the TWSBI Diamond is a reputable and well-regarded pen now, because the Wing Sung 3008 is clearly meant to be riding its coat-tails.  At with the 233,  which is just as clear in its point of inspiration, no one is going to think they\’re buying a TWSBI when looking at this pen, because there are some differences in the specifics of shape and the labelling is honest– although the maker\’s name only appears in Chinese characters.  I suspect that this is meant for domestic consumption rather than export.

It is, as low-price look-alike Chinese pens go, extremely ambitious; a functional piston filler is not as simple a mechanism as a press-bar.  The integration of that mechanism with the pen is one of the points where one sees how the money has been saved; the silver collar between knob and barrel holds it in place, clinging to a very thin set of threads at the end of the barrel.  This collar is very easy to undo accidentally when turning the piston down in the initial phase of filling, calling for a degree of operator care one doesn\’t see in most piston pens.  On the plus side, this arrangement makes for very easy relubrication of the seal.

However, I do find myself wondering how often relubrication will come up, because there is a troubling sense of fragility to the pen as a whole.  Those who have handled pens of various materials will have a notion of what I meant when I say the plastic feels brittle (even a ballpoint user, I think, will feel the difference between a Bic and a no-name object of similar shape).  I don\’t expect that it will collapse under common use, but I would also not expect it to survive a drop that most pens would consider trivial, and I think anyone who habitually drums on the desk with the back of the pen may want to look elsewhere for a pen.

That\’s not a big deal, of course; something that is cost-competitive with a Pilot Varsity isn\’t the sort of thing one expects to be handing down to the grandkids.

On difference I notice between this pen and the other Wing Sungs I have looked at is the air resistance of the cap.  Unlike the 233 and the 612, the 3008 doesn\’t have any penetrations of the cap that aren\’t stuffed full of screw, and with the o-ring at the base of the threads on the barrel, this pen is likely to be able to rest for a few days between uses and start well.  On the subject of the cap– it is possible to post the cap while writing, but I\’m not sure I\’d recommend it.  It doesn\’t post deeply, and it really only contacts the piston knob; apart from the possibility of moving the mechanism inadvertently, the cap may slip off and fall an unsurvivable distance.

At the writing end, one finds a point rather more like that of a Lamy Safari than a TWSBI.  This is good in the area of proving you\’re not trying to fool anybody into buying a different pen than they expect.   It is possible, if one doesn\’t like the point, to swap in a Lamy, although they are a slightly loose fit on the Wing Sung feed. As far as the writing qualities… well, I\’ve only got one, and it shows itself as firm, smooth and damp.  I expect \”firm\” will be consistent, but given the quality control issues that dog the inexpensive Chinese pens as a whole, \”smooth and damp\” might be a little hit and miss.  I have read, while researching, a lot of people seeking direction on how one goes about enhancing flow.

Production Run: Unknown start– I will guess broadly at c. 2013, and in current production.

Cost When New: Mine cost $4.00 including shipping from a Chinese eBay vendor.  MSRP remains a mystery.

Size: 14.2 cm long capped, 17.1 cm posted, 13.0 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: Piston, capacity approx. 1.5 ml

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If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site\’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it\’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9952

Student

Maker: Kaweco.

The Student could be thought of as a budget-minded version of the company’s Dia 2, although that more expensive pen has a slightly different silhouette; both are large pens with an extremely traditional silhouette.  The presence of the company logo as a jewel on the cap gives it, in my highly subjective appreciation, little boost of retro-styling.  The barrel is actually a relatively modern shape, swelling below the joint before tapering down to allow cap-posting, but this is so subtle it is hard to notice unless someone like me points it out.

The least traditional elements of the pen appear when the cap is off.  The point, the same sort as found in the Sport, is a little small to be proportional to the rest of the pen. It’s not grotesque, but it is noticeable even with the distraction of that very shiny section.  I don’t honestly understand why the section is chrome-plated, other than perhaps as a mark of the relatively low-cost nature of the pen; if you choose to spent less, your thriftiness will be marked with a somewhat garish section.

The performance of the pen is bound up with both these elements.  The section may be slippery to some, thanks to that plating.  I have not found it a problem, but I also find that when I write with this pen I hold it well up so that I get some finger onto the cap threads.  Those who prefer to hold a pen very close to the point may find this a problem.

As small as the point is, though, it delivers nice writing performance, even to the extent of exhibiting a little bit of spring.  My example also has a remarkably willing feed; there was hardly any delay between fitting a cartridge to the dry pen and being able to write with it.

Production Run: 2010 (?) to present.  I can’t find any reference to the model earlier than 2010, but if someone has a firmer start date I welcome correction.

Cost When New: About $65 (Kaweco is not forthcoming with the MSRP).

Size: 13.1 cm long capped, 16.0 cm posted, 12.0 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 ml or 1.4 ml (international pattern). A converter is also supplied.

Kaweco Student: this photograph suggests a brighter blue than the sombre reality

 

 

If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9940

Aion

Maker: Lamy.

I have been somewhat hard set to do a write-up of the Aion, because it doesn\’t seem to have much of a reason to be.  It is very like the Studio in terms of looks and cost, and where it departs from the Studio it inclines toward the 2000.  There are only two points where it departs from either of those pens.

The first is in size; it is not vastly longer than either of those other pens, but is it substantially broader in diameter than either.  Whether this is a bowing to the modern trend toward big fat pens or a response to actual consumer demand is something I do not know.

The other point of distinction is the utter smoothness of the uncapped pen.  Neither the Studio nor the 2000 are notably jagged in their profiles, but the former does have a small step at the joint, while the latter exhibits the cap-grabbing \”ears\” which give some users great trouble.  The Aion has a flush joint between barrel and section, with nothing to catch on the fingers.  This may, once again, be a response to customers begging for a pen without a substantial step somewhere along the barrel, or it may just be Lamy feeling the urge once again to produce a super-minimalist pen.

The minimalist nature of the pen does bring along a slightly nervous aspect to the cap.  The Aion has essentially the same cap-gripping arrangement as the Studio, a tiny lip right at the front of the section.  However, the small step on the Studio provides a little back-pressure on the cap, which the Aion lacks.  The result is a cap which seems loose, held on my little more than faith.  I do not say that it is any more likely to drop out of the cap into a pocket than is the Studio, but it rattles around a little as if it is thinking of doing so.

I am pleased to find that despite being the work of a specific industrial designer– Jasper Morrison is named on Lamy\’s own page for this pen, as of early 2018– Lamy have not seized on an excuse to artificially inflate the cost of the Aion.  It actually costs slightly less than the lower end of Studios.  I find it interesting that this remains the case even though the point of the Aion is not the same as that used by pretty much every current Lamy other than the 2000, which one would expect to increase production costs.  The difference lies in the shape of the point\’s shoulders; it seems to have the same mounting, and thus the same sort of feed as everything else, and it certainly writes like a mainstream Lamy pen.

Production Run: 2017 to present.

Cost When New: MSRP $89.00.

Size: 14.4 cm long capped, 16.3 cm posted, 13.8 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Aluminum.

Filler: Cartridge, 1.0 ml. capacity, or converter of approx. 0.7 ml.

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If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site\’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it\’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9938

Taranis

Maker: Sheaffer.

The Taranis was the more avant-garde of two new pen designs Sheaffer released in its centennial year.  Named for a Celtic thunder-god (those of you who are, like me, fans of Asterix, will be surprised to find that Toutatis is a different chap), the pen was designed by the architectural house of Charles Debbas, whose brief clearly called for a family resemblance to Sheaffer pens– it has the same square cross-section at the ends as the PFM, Imperial, and Legacy, which is clearly a conscious choice.  The resemblance to a later version of the Stylist is probably less intentional.

With the cap off, the originality of the design comes clear, and when the pen was released there was a certain amount of polarization on that topic.  Those who fell into the \”don\’t like it\” camp levelled accusations of garishness at the decoration of the section, while those on the other side of the line declared it an interesting exercise in style.  My own take on it is this: it is something like a prototype from the mid-1960s, a pen version of the \”concept car\” to show off what some nebulously futuristic output of the company might be.  I can see the objections of those who oppose it, but I find it pleasant.  I should also mention that the clip was another polarizing factor; it is astonishingly long, but it is also functional and lacks any goofy excrescences as one finds on the Stylist.

The point and feed are rather unlike Sheaffer\’s usual output, and indeed one is hard pressed to find any kind of precedent for them in the company.  They\’re more like something from a Taperite Waterman of the 1940s, although without the possibility for flex found in those older pens.  One might also look at the Eversharp 10,000 Word Pen for a vaguely similar point– in truth, the Taranis looks something like that pen with the arrangement of the point relative to the hood put right.

The performance of the pen is certainly of the sort one expects from a steel-pointed Sheaffer.  My exemplar has a fine point, which exaggerates irregularities in the writing surface, but it is certainly smooth enough and offers a damp line.  I suspect there is not a lot of buffering in the feed, as attaching a cartridge to the pen in a dry state saw a very quick transmission of ink from inside to tip.  However, this suspicion is not borne out by giving the pen a good hard shake, which saw no drops of ink at all thrown onto the page.  The balance is also quite good, and despite it having an all-metal body this is not a heavy pen.  A very sensitive soul might find the texture of the name-plate atop the section troubling, if they also don\’t pursue the modern version of the tripod grip. That same sensitive might also object to the odd degree of reverberation which seems to attend writing; my example, at least, is a lot louder than a smooth-writing pen pen normally is.

The one qualm I have in recommending the pen is the price.  For a steel-pointed pen with no internal filling mechanism and performance which is only slightly beyond adequate, it is rather expensive.  Since it has all but been dropped from the line-up, I am probably not the only one who feels this way.

Production Run: 2013 – present (although one might start looking at 2017 as the end date).

Cost When New: The 2013 MSRP was $145.00 or $165.00, based pretty much on the colour of the trim.  The only model available after 2015 appears to be a Ferrari-branded model, selling for $140.00.

Size:  14.1 cm long capped, 15.0 cm posted, 12.2 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Brass (although the cap looks like it may be aluminum).

Filler: Cartridge , capacity approx. 1.1 ml.

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If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site\’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it\’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9883

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Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9914

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Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9912

Touched by a Jerk

If you are here to find out why the hell this site has been bugging you to buy stuff, I\’ll say briefly: Some jerk got through my defenses and has been annoying people without my knowledge or consent.  I have a slightly more detailed version of this event over at my blog, if you are interested in a bit of a rant against that jerk and similar creatures.

A side effect of the jerk\’s attentions it that there\’s no way to contact me through this site at the moment.  I am working to correct that.  Part of the attempt at correction has left the place looking a little different than it had, which I am also working to correct, because at very least the Galleries are all askew.

If you\’re not here out of anger, but for the usual reason of seeing what\’s new: there\’s now profiles for the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 and the TWSBI Classic.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9888

Classic

Maker: TWSBI.

The Classic is, in rough terms, the mechanism from a Diamond mounted in a rather more conservative body; this seems a sensible thing to do, because the very strong house style of TWSBI does not necessarily appeal to everyone who might like an inexpensive piston-filling pen.

The body style of the Classic is, in fact, quite similar to the Venezia, a pen TWSBI made before it had quite become TSWBI.  That earlier pen was brass-bodied, however, and the Classic does lean in the direction of the house style, as it has faceting which the Venezia lacked– the body and cap have an octagonal cross-section.  Also unlike the Venezia, there is an ink window at the base of the section.  This doesn\’t give as complete a sense of how much ink remains as the clear bodies used in most other TWSBI models, but is it definitely sufficient to warn of low ink before it develops into a pressing need.

In August 2014, TWSBI amended the design of the filler-knob of the Classic.  When the pen was first released, the knob was entirely smooth, and the cap did not post well, a feature/bug common to TWSBI.  The amendment was the addition of a pair of o-rings on the knob which provide the cap with purchase.  This certainly provides the current version with positive posting, although I harbour some concerns about the long-term durability of the o-rings.  They are, after all, experiencing friction each time the cap is removed, and when the pen in not in use, they\’re exposed.

The points and feeds are the same as those found in the Mini and Eco, and the writing performance is similar to those models; firm and generally smooth.  Whether posted or not, the pen has good balance.

[important]When removing the cap of this pen, I would suggest gripping the ring rather than the plastic of the cap.  In my example, it takes a great deal of torque to get the cap free of the body, and I suspect the ring/cap interface is a likely point of failure.  Since the cap threads are part of the ring, and the ring had good grippy facets, applying the force to the ring itself should avoid that potential for failure.[/important]

Production Run: 2013 to present.

Cost When New: $50.00, or $55.00 with a 1.1 mm stub point (2017 MSRP).

Size: 13.8 cm long capped, 16.6 cm posted, 12.8 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Plastic.

Filler: Piston, capacity approx. 1.2 ml.  If you go through the necessary gymnastics to get all air out of the reservoir, TWSBI suggests 1.4 ml is possible.

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If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site\’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it\’s full of bad information.

Permanent link to this article: http://dirck.delint.ca/beta/?p=9892