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View Full Version : 40NN (and also the 400) is scary



mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 02:46 AM
I have 3 400NN tortoises and have been using one of them extensively for the last few day with Diamine Red Dragon. I have enjoyed it very much. It has a KM nib which is not one I would normally choose, however it has been very satisfying.

Having said all that, I cannot understand why Pelikan went from a brilliant 100N design to pens such as the 400 and 400NN that have no ink window. I live in constant fear that I will run out of ink because I cannot see how much is left. I have started to clip 2 pens into my jacket inner pocket whenever I leave the house with a 400 or 400NN.

Has anyone found a better way of handing this stressful situation?

Jon Szanto
February 11th, 2015, 02:56 AM
Yes: don't worry about it. After all, there are places where people fear running out of food.

Seriously, count your blessings that you have not one, but three 400NNs.

mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 02:59 AM
Yes: don't worry about it. After all, there are places where people fear running out of food.

Seriously, count your blessings that you have not one, but three 400NNs.

Oh, I worry about people running out of food as well. But one problem at a time.

The other day I came across a bloke who worried about there possibly being no more V8 cars in the future. If I see him again I will tell him about my ink problem.

whych
February 11th, 2015, 03:00 AM
If you hold the pen up to the light you should be able to see how much ink is left in it.

mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 03:07 AM
If you hold the pen up to the light you should be able to see how much ink is left in it.

I have trouble with this. I really cannot see the ink level, even with dark inks. Old age eyes, I think.

What I am curious about, though, is why Pelikan changed the 100N design capability to eliminate the ink window. Would the 400 and 400NN have lost aesthetic value or was it a cost issue? I am wondering about over the form over value judgement.

whych
February 11th, 2015, 03:47 AM
If you hold the pen up to the light you should be able to see how much ink is left in it.

I have trouble with this. I really cannot see the ink level, even with dark inks. Old age eyes, I think.
Whe the pen is empty, is the pen translucent and clear when you look at it? You should be able to see the piston as well as through to the barrel on the other side.
If there are dull patches, unscrew the nib and use a cotton bud to clean the inside of the barrel. (Make sure you use one that has the cotton stuck to the stick. Some of the cheaper ones come off when wet.)
You do need a decent enough light behind the pen to be able to see through the barrel, but you should be able to see the ink level.
I find the modern blue and red stripe barrels give a problem and need a pretty good light to be able to see through them.



What I am curious about, though, is why Pelikan changed the 100N design capability to eliminate the ink window. Would the 400 and 400NN have lost aesthetic value or was it a cost issue? I am wondering about over the form over value judgement.
I think it's a combination of cost and production streamlining.
They had figured out how to make a strong enough striped translucent one piece barrel. The 100(N) used a clear/translucent barrel with a sleeve that fitted over it.
This meant the piston needed to screw onto the top of barrel.
Using a completely striped barrel meant they could cange the piston to a push fit into the barrel, saving production time and the number of parts needed.

fountainpenkid
February 11th, 2015, 03:45 PM
As whych said, the whole barrel is the ink window on these pens--quite an elegant and creative solution I think. I have had vintage 400s, in black stripe, green, and brown tortoise, and all of the clear striations were very effective for this purpose. Just make sure the inside of the barrel is clean.

tandaina
February 11th, 2015, 04:20 PM
Yup, the whole barrel should be translucent enough to see the ink level when held in front of a light source. Try turning the pen and you'll see the shadow moving.

mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 05:01 PM
I think it's a combination of cost and production streamlining.
They had figured out how to make a strong enough striped translucent one piece barrel. The 100(N) used a clear/translucent barrel with a sleeve that fitted over it.
This meant the piston needed to screw onto the top of barrel.
Using a completely striped barrel meant they could cange the piston to a push fit into the barrel, saving production time and the number of parts needed.

I think you might have it nailed (so to speak). Having said that, it is a most unGermanic step to go from the simplicity and elegant design of the utilitarian 100N to the flair yet less pragmatic usefulness of the 400 series. I am pretty certain that what happened is Waterman wormed a French designer into the Pelikan team right after WW2 with the intention of sabotaging Pelikan. So, while Montblanc stayed with an ink window and morphed into an enormously successful fashion accessory company, Pelikan required rescuing by the Malaysians. This seems the most likely scenario to me.

I find the M series barrels, with their simpler Stresemann stripes, much easier to judge ink level with than the earlier 400 series. As I said, tired old eyes, and all.

mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 05:04 PM
As whych said, the whole barrel is the ink window on these pens--quite an elegant and creative solution I think. I have had vintage 400s, in black stripe, green, and brown tortoise, and all of the clear striations were very effective for this purpose. Just make sure the inside of the barrel is clean.


Yup, the whole barrel should be translucent enough to see the ink level when held in front of a light source. Try turning the pen and you'll see the shadow moving.

If the 400NN had been designed by Apple and called the i400NN it would have an internal light bulb that could be switched on to make the ink level shine through the stripes more clearly. Of course it would only work with Apple ink.

fountainpenkid
February 11th, 2015, 05:22 PM
I think it's a combination of cost and production streamlining.
They had figured out how to make a strong enough striped translucent one piece barrel. The 100(N) used a clear/translucent barrel with a sleeve that fitted over it.
This meant the piston needed to screw onto the top of barrel.
Using a completely striped barrel meant they could cange the piston to a push fit into the barrel, saving production time and the number of parts needed.

I think you might have it nailed (so to speak). Having said that, it is a most unGermanic step to go from the simplicity and elegant design of the utilitarian 100N to the flair yet less pragmatic usefulness of the 400 series. I am pretty certain that what happened is Waterman wormed a French designer into the Pelikan team right after WW2 with the intention of sabotaging Pelikan. So, while Montblanc stayed with an ink window and morphed into an enormously successful fashion accessory company, Pelikan required rescuing by the Malaysians. This seems the most likely scenario to me.

I find the M series barrels, with their simpler Stresemann stripes, much easier to judge ink level with than the earlier 400 series. As I said, tired old eyes, and all.
I don't know if you were joking, but the 400 and its elongated variants brought Pelikan a lot of success for a good number of years; their existence was beneficial to the company. (source:http://www.thepenguinpen.com/pelikan/pelikan_history.jsp)
Also, I don't understand what you mean by 'simpler Stresemann stripes'--the basic stripe positioning and usability on the vintage pens is exactly the same as it is today.

mustud52
February 11th, 2015, 06:02 PM
I don't know if you were joking

I am, of course, absolutely serious.

:)

mustud52
February 12th, 2015, 03:21 AM
I have been thinking about what fountainpen kid said about the striped barrels on the vintage and new Pelikans being very similar. I had a 400NN with me today and made a note to do a side by side comparisons when I got home between the stripes on my vintage 400s and 400NNs with M400s, M600s and M800s. I have at least 2 in each category so I think this is a fair comparison.

OK, so this is my, admittedly very individual, observation. While the spacing of the striping is similar, to my eyes the more plain striping pattern on the M models when compared to the more complex striping on the vintage pens makes the judging of ink level on the vintage pens significantly less straightforward. The modern pens can be judged with a cursory glance. The vintage pens require a hard look, and on the tortoise 400 and 400NN models it is downright difficult because of the way the patterns work.

Don't believe me? You should have my eyes.....but then again you may decide that swapping is not such a good idea. :)

KBeezie
February 15th, 2015, 04:15 PM
You think you have it bad? I can't even hold up the M640 to a bright light to see what I have. :D It's just all solid from top to bottom.

I had wondered about the same on the 400NN but then I saw the translucency in the pictures when the pen is empty. Or if left sitting upright for a while you should be able to see it the first time of the day when you go to pick it up.