Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 185

Thread: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    After 25 years of being a fountain pen free zone, I decided to dip my toe back in the water with a few cheap pens. I started off not really knowing much about them. My knowledge when I was using them earlier in life, consisted of little more than how to fill them up and write with them. On this new journey, each new pen that I got taught me something, either about different pen characteristics, or about my own preferences.

    Over the course of this thread, I'll go into the sequence of purchases, not only sharing what I bought, but what I learned from each new acquisition. Hopefully, this thread might put some of the often frowned upon cheap pens in a new light, because irrespective of how well they write, and whatever their reliability and longevity, they have been a fantastic crash course for someone utterly clueless about the world of fountain pens. Maybe my ramblings might even be useful for others preparing to make their own exploration in the world of fountain pens.

    Some of you may have been using fountain pens for so long, that youíve forgotten what it's like to know nothing about this topic. Most of the things I "discover" may well have been known to you for decades, but there are many of us that haven't even fully realised just how much we don't yet know. This is intended to be a lighthearted account of one newbieís discovery of the questions as well as some answers.

    I hope this will make for an interesting read for both gurus and newcomers alike.

    As a size comparison in all the pictures, I will include a Parker Jotter Ballpoint, as a "standard unit of measurement".
    Last edited by Wuddus; May 7th, 2018 at 10:52 AM.

  2. The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked

    azkid (May 7th, 2018), Decimo_se (May 17th, 2018), dfo (May 7th, 2018), drkipper (July 31st, 2018), JulieParadise (May 12th, 2018), Kazoomi (October 4th, 2018), Marsilius (May 7th, 2018), mlp2147 (August 3rd, 2018), Morgaine (May 16th, 2018), Sailor Kenshin (May 8th, 2018), suzy01 (May 14th, 2018), Wingding (May 18th, 2018)

  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #1 - Parker Vector Calligraphy Set

    IMG_20180429_230623.jpg

    This seemed a good start point for getting back into fountain pens, partially because I thought a named (known) brand might be a much safer place to start, and partially because I remember having fun with a calligraphy set many many moons ago. My intention, should it prove viable, was to use the finest italic nib for general writing, and the two other nibs if I wanted to try getting fancy on greetings cards and such like.

    IMG_20180429_230812_edit.jpg

    When the set arrived, I was happy to discover that the finest italic would let me "push" the nib, and write in my usual handwriting, without being restricted to downstrokes and "calligraphy" writing. Unfortunately there was much to be unhappy about too, and had I not have had far more positive experiences with other pens years ago, I might have thrown this whole set in a drawer and not pursued fountain pens any further.

    IMG_20180429_230656.jpg

    Lessons Learned:

    • I really don't like steps between the section and barrel. The Vector was a very uncomfortable pen for me to use, out of the box, particularly if trying to write more than half a page in one sitting. How can such an established manufacturer think this is a good way to introduce people to fountain pens? I spent a minute or two taking the sharp corner off the barrel with a bit of 600 grit wet and dry, and this did improve it, but I'd still be hard pressed to call this a comfortable writer.
    • I learned how little ink a converter holds. This is particularly relevant when using italic nibs, due to the extra ink consumption. Writing a long letter is tedious enough with an uncomfortable pen, never mind adding in the need for pit stops to refuel along the way.
    • Refilling a long Quink cartridge with a syringe made more sense for me, and gives a longer run time than a converter, without having to clean up the outside of the pen, and without getting ink all over your hands too.
    • A fairly narrow italic or stub nib is nice for writing with, and makes my unrefined handwriting actually look a little more stylish. Unfortunately, in this pen it can run a little dry at times, and it's not uncommon for the feed to be able to keep up with the writing.
    • Wider italics should be reserved for fancy stuff. They don't push well, the feed can't keep up at anything near standard handwriting speed, and after a while you run out of both ink to write with, and profanities to vent your frustration at it with.
    • The nib units on the Vector are sealed, so you can't take them apart to clean them, or to improve the flow, like you can on other pens. It's either good enough, or you get a replacement. However, if it's not good enough, why would you want to spend more money with Parker?
    • Quink Washable Blue seems like it's been washed already. It is a rather watery affair.

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018)

  5. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #2 - Wing Sung 6359

    Attachment 39507

    After much grimacing with the Vectorís stepped transition, this was much more comfortable! This homage to the Lamy Safari was my first gamble with the unknown brands from that far eastern land, and that gamble paid off. The 6359 is a really nice general use pen, and was obviously designed (though not by Wing Sung) to be ergonomic in use. No profanities needed for the section to barrel transition, nor for failure of the feed to keep up with my racing mind and trailing disheveled hand movements. The finer nib meant more time between refilling too.

    To me, the Safari style pens don't capture the aesthetics that a fountain pen should have. It's the comfy slippers of the pen world. Not meant to be pretty, just comfortable in use when appearances don't matter that much. That's my take on it anyway, I'm sure others will disagree. Irrespective, it's a much nicer pen to write with than the Vector - so long as the cap isn't posted!

    Attachment 39508

    Lessons Learned:

    • Some pens really aren't comfortable when the caps are posted. The cap on the 6359 falls just at the wrong height for me, and the lip of the cap is constantly rubbing against the side of the knuckle on my index finger. Even rounding off the edge on a little bit of 600grit wet and dry to remove the sharpness, didn't resolve this. It just sits at the wrong height for my hand. Anyone with larger or smaller hands might not have the same issue. With the cap laid to one side, or clutched in the other hand, the pen feels fine. When the cap is posted, it's even more annoying to write with than the transition on the Vector.
    • Lighter pens make my hand cramp up after a while. Although it's comfortable in your fingers, it doesn't just sit there freely of it's own accord, you do have to hang on to it. Not as cramp inducing as a marathon session with a ballpoint, but still noticable. However, this might be partially due to ..
    • I don't like pens that dictate how they should be held. While the two facets (Not three like a Safari) are close to where I want to place my fingers, they're not exactly how I want to hold the pen. As such, my index finger keeps creeping off the facet onto the top corner edge, or I start to rotate the nib slightly.
    • It's not just cartridges where use of a syringe can be beneficial. Refilling a converter with a syringe is a less messy job than dunking the pen into your ink bottle too. Less ink gets wasted on the clean up rag, and you get a better fill, as the first third of the converter's capacity, isn't just the air that was drawn up from the feed.
    • Writing with light coloured or vivid inks from a black pen, is just wrong. It's more wrong than having blue or teal ink coming from a red Vector. That seems fairly tolerable, but Diamine Amaranth or Burnt Sienna from a black pen just feels like wearing a tuxedo and wellies at the same time. It's just not cricket.

  6. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018), Marsilius (May 7th, 2018), suzy01 (May 14th, 2018)

  7. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #3 - Jinhao X450

    IMG_20180429_230415.jpg

    My first fat and heavy fountain pen. This is a far more substantial pen than the first two, and a very different writing experience as a result. Although the cost was less than £2 it does feel as though it should have cost more. There are less refined elements to the pen though, for example the textured/grooved areas of the section that are intended to provide grip, are a little coarser than they probably need to be, and may benefit from smoothing out the tops a little. Also, this can sometimes be a wonderfully smooth writer, but sometimes be a little dry and scratchy. I haven't quite nailed down whether it's the feed or the nib that needs a little TLC. All in all, this is a good purchase for less than £2 delivered, but a little refinement would likely make a big difference.

    IMG_20180429_230459.jpg

    Lessons Learned:

    • Balance makes a difference, particularly with a heavier pen. Unposted, this is a lovely pen to wield, but post the cap and it becomes tail heavy
    • This seems to be more comfortable for extending writing periods, with the previously mentioned exception of the toothy grips on the section. I'm sure a little application of wet and dry paper would sort that out though.
    • Nibs can be swapped, even on these cheap pens. I haven't done this, as one new nib costs roughly the same as eight of these pens, but it was something that I became aware of when reading up on these.
    • Nibs can be tuned. I wasn't aware of the "baby's bottom" issue with nibs until I started investigating why this pen could sometimes be a little temperamental. This lead me to order some of the multi-grit nail buffers for nib tweakage. There's no obvious baby bottom issues with this pen, but I figured the nib would benefit from a little fine tuning anyway.

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018), Marsilius (May 7th, 2018)

  9. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pens #4 & #5 Ė Wing Sung 3008 Demonstrators (2018 Version)

    IMG_20180429_230138.jpg

    I heeded the lessons learned so far in the acquisition of these two TWSBI (?) inspired piston fillers. They seemed to have the preferred size and shape of the section, free from steps or toothy grips. The weight and balance looked right too. The lessons learned served me well. These are very comfortable pens to write with, and these two became the daily go to for a general use pen about the house. I keep one upstairs, and one downstairs, and unless I'm writing a letter, or wanting a pen to put in my pocket when leaving the house, these two are the ones that I reach for first.

    Personally, I don't find demonstrators to be particularly good looking, but there is an added function of seeing which inks are in each pen, and how much of that ink is left. That said, the added bonus of these two being "general scribblers", means that I get to use the "fun" inks which I don't necessarily consider appropriate for correspondence, and those are the inks that probably look best in a transparent pen and feed. For general use about the house, looks really aren't a priority.

    IMG_20180429_230258.jpg

    Lessons Learned:

    • You don't have to spend big money to find pens that you really like. These were £1.40 each delivered from the other side of the globe. The total cost for all five pens so far only comes to roughly £16.
    • I now know what baby's bottomed nibs look like in real life! One of them suffers more than the other, but should be an easy fix once the multi-grit nail buffers arrive. They are the same nib as the Wing Sung 6359, and should I gnarl up the tuning or fancy a different nib profile, they should accept standard Lamy nibs.
    • Piston fillers hold a huge amount of ink, and I estimate that these two each hold the equivalent of three standard international cartridges, so be sure you like the ink, and it's one you are prepared to use often, before filling one of these up.
    • Piston fillers aren't great when you get towards the end of your ink bottle, so be sure that you own another pen that you're prepared to put the fun inks into, and make sure that it can be filled with a syringe.
    • Some pens don't fit far into a 30ml Diamine bottle. I'm going to need to get a couple of 80ml bottles to fill these from once I've decided what my everyday inks are.
    • Who cares how cheap a pen is. Good is good, and I think these are brilliant. A little fine tuning wouldnít go amiss, but these cost less than a Platinum Preppy, put down a nice line, and are really comfortable for me to use.
    • DON'T FIDDLE WITH IT! Mindlessly twiddling with the pen while on the phone, can result in the end of the pen being twisted, the piston being depressed, and ink being forced out!

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018), Morgaine (May 7th, 2018)

  11. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Inks

    There was a lull in pen acquisitions, while I absorbed what I had learned, and spent a little time getting more acquainted with what I'd already got. It makes sense to discuss the inks here, and understanding what I wanted from both pens and inks, directed where I should focus my attentions next.

    Lessons Learned:

    • It's very easy to get carried away with inks! After recently receiving 6 different bottles, I was still looking at more colours. Why???
    • Swatches and ink reviews can be very misleading. You can see one review and think it's perfect, and then see another and think that it's not what you're looking for. It seems the best way to approach this, is look at a wide range of reviews of the same ink, and they different way that same ink appears, and assume that you ink will fall somewhere along the spectrum of different images that you've just seen, dependent on your own pens and paper. If you like both ends of that spectrum, you're probably safe to buy a bottle. If you like it in some images but not others, it's probably best to get a sample first, and try it with your own inks and papers.
    • It's only when you get a pen fuelled up and start putting ink to paper, that you start to think "When the hell am I going to use this?". Or at least that's the way it happened for me. Thankfully there was only one colour that I wished I hadn't bought.
    • It's very easy for me to feel overwhelmed in terms of feeling that I have bought too much. At the same time as wondering what I'm getting next, I'm wondering just how long it's going to take me to work through what I've already got.
    • A 30ml Diamine bottle = roughly 35 standard international cartridges, and a 80ml Diamine bottle = roughly 90 standard international cartridges. At roughly 2 carts/week, I already had enough ink for about 2 years.
    • It is possible to really like a colour, but not feel like you'll ever have call to use it, and that its really not worth filling a converter with never mind buying a bottle of.
    • Generic cartridges are perfectly fine. They're just a little bit boring. Buying the ultra cheapo ones can be even cheaper than getting Diamine inks in bottles, but the Diamine inks look so much better, and at a running cost (for me) of £5-£10/year, they don't break the bank either.
    • For me, pens that only accept OEM cartridges are a turn-off. If I need to keep different cartridges for different pens, that's too much hassle for me. I either want to be able to fill from a bottle, or use a standard international cartridge.
    • I started thinking about the "purposes" of pens and inks, and ended up with three categories that I wanted to satisfy:

    • Pocket Pens for carrying away from home. Conservative ink colours Ė mainly blues, blue-blacks, and blacks.
    • Desk Pens for writing letters and other stuff that might be seen by others. Comfortable pens, with several nib options including italic. Saturated inks that stand proudly off the page, but nothing too colourful or too wishy washy.
    • General Pens for general scribbles that no one else would see. No specific inks. Good excuse (only opportunity) to use fun colours.

    • Based on everything that I had learned so far, I decided that I needed to get hold of the following items next:

    • 80ml Diamine bottles of everyday inks that I can fill the piston fillers from.
    • A better italic pen instead of the Vector. Must be more comfortable for extended writing times, and ideally have a longer run time between fills.
    • A non-piston filler general pen, suitable for filling with the "fun" inks (uncoloured, or neutral coloured pen barrel) with a syringe, to avoid the difficulties of piston filling towards the end of a bottle.
    • At least one "pocket pen".

  12. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    hungrynerd (May 15th, 2018), Marsilius (May 7th, 2018), Sailor Kenshin (May 8th, 2018)

  13. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #6 - Dollar 717 Calligraphy.

    IMG_20180429_231604_edit.jpg

    As the Parker Vector was so far my least comfortable pen to use, and the one that felt the most cheaply built, even though it was by far the most expensive pen to date, I felt another italic nibbed pen should join the array. I stumbled upon a deal for a Dollar 717 Calligraphy pen, which was not only italic, but was also a piston filler, and would give me longer run times between fills. Worth a gamble for £2.00.

    When it arrived it was clear that this wouldn't suffer the ergonomic issues of the Vector. The section was smooth and comfortable, yet the pen was just as light, and the cap could be posted with no ill effect. However, this pen felt the most cheaply built of everything I had acquired so far. This was the first pen to feel like it actually SHOULD only cost £2. This is NOT a pen to throw in a pocket or bag with keys and other pen killers. While small enough to be a shirt pocket pen, the screw on cap engages with only a few threads, which are plastic, fine, and three-start. This means the cap goes from on "tight" to fully disengaged in just 3/4 of a turn. A pocket disaster waiting to happen. This pen has to stay desk bound.

    As a desk pen there could still be some potential, providing it performed OK. It didn't. It performed terribly. I couldn't get more than half a line of writing from it before the nib would be completely inkless for sometimes up to a minute. My first out and out fail, or my first opportunity to start tweaking stuff?

    Lessons Learned:

    • Sometimes I can be a real IDIOT! It's hard with the 30ml bottles to see how far into the ink you've dunked the pen. When I lifted it back out of the Diamine Grape, I was furious to discover that it had dyed the first part of the blue plastic, and wouldn't clean off. Stained. Permanently. It was several more minutes before I remembered there was a clear window there, and it wasnít stained at all. I was merely looking at the ink through the ink window ... Fool!
    • The pen has an oblique nib, an italic ground on a slant, which after further reading I discovered is intended to be used differently to a regular stub or italic. With an oblique the nib should be oriented vertically, or with the chisel edge pointing to the top and bottom of the page. Trying this still didn't make the pen behave though.
    • First fountain pen repair! I pulled the nib and feed out (just a friction fit), and cleaned both up. I then ran some fine emery up and down the feed channel to clear out any factory gunk, and open it up a little to ensure it was wide enough to keep the italic nib fed. SUCCESS! The pen now writes beautifully, with no discomfort, stammers, or other malfunctions over a test run of a full A4 sheet of ruled paper. It can be a hard starter if itís not been used for a while, but once it gets going, the ink continues to flow perfectly.
    • If this pen disintegrates on me, or suffers cracks or other problems in future, I'll stick an italic Lamy nib in one of the TWSBI clones, or maybe even try to regrind one to an italic/stub. This really is a CHEAP pen, and while it writes very well now, it might not last very long. I shall however strive to get as much enjoyment from it as I can.



    IMG_20180429_230859_edit.jpg
    Dollar nib compared with the Parker Vector nibs

  14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018), Marsilius (May 7th, 2018), Sailor Kenshin (May 8th, 2018)

  15. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #7 - OHTO Tasche

    IMG_20180429_231640_edit.jpg

    IMG_20180429_231702_edit.jpg

    I knew this thing was going to be compact, but it still surprised me just how compact it was when it arrived. The size is brilliant for a pocket pen, but is also very comfortable when writing with it too. Despite several reviews out in the wild about writing dry or leaking, this pen showed none of those issues with the generic black cartridge it came with. It is a really nice pen to write with, never stutters or farts, and just has a wee bit of feedback.

    The overall pen is light, but what weight there is, is nice and low. Very nicely balanced. The ink flow could be a little more generous, but I wouldn't call it dry. This might be a false impression with the black cartridge it came loaded with though, which brings me on to...

    Lessons Learned:

    • To judge an ink flow in a pen, you really need to be using inks whose behaviour you are familiar with. New pen loaded with new cartridge, doesn't tell you which characteristics are the pen, and which is the unfamiliar ink.
    • Writing with a fountain pen with black ink is somewhat disappointing. I had gotten very used to my array of Diamine inks, and those look like they're not standard inks. It makes sense that a fountain pen has put them on the page. With a black ink, it's just black ink. It could have come from a gel pen, or some other kind of pen. Remember when I said that an ink that really doesn't match the barrel of the pen it came from, just looks wrong? Well, to me this looks like fountain pen ink that is trying not to look like fountain pen ink. Also wrong. I'll be glad when the cartridge is empty, and I can refill it with my own ink Ė both for a little character, and also to properly judge the pen.
    • The downside to a long sectioned pocket pen, is that it covers most of the cartridge. Even by opening up the pen, you can't easily see how much ink you have left.
    • I really like pocket pens. Specifically, I really like THIS pocket pen. The slim section is no disadvantage in terms of comfort, it's like holding a ballpoint pen, but with a nib. I got it for a steal too. The RRP is £17.99, and even if you knock the 1 off the front, I still got it for less than that! Well under half price. This is absolutely going to be a favourite, and I just hope it doesn't stop me using the other pens that I like.

  16. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Pen #8 - Jinhao 250

    IMG_20180429_231734.jpg

    Yet another pen that feels way more expensive than the meagre £1.80 purchase price. A very classic look too. Not perfect in fit and finish, and could do with a little refining of the nib, but more than sufficient in looks, feel, and function. Slightly more comfortable than the X450, and none of my inks feel out of place coming from this pen, be they Twilight, Chocolate Brown, Sherwood Green, or Burnt Sienna.

    Posting is more secure than on the X450, but again, it does render the pen a little tail heavy. It is still usable with the cap posted, but the balance feels better with it removed. The nib came a little on the dry side, and this left the inks a little starved of their true nature, and with a little too much feedback on the page. The cap also doesnít feel quite as secure as some of my other pens. Itís OK for rattling round the house, but I wouldnít trust it in a bag or pocket. I think that might be a disaster in waiting.

    IMG_20180429_231758.jpg

    Lessons Learned:

    • Buoyed by my earlier success at modifying a feed, I decided to attempt the same on this pen. The feed however was different, and there wasn't a channel deep enough and wide enough to get fine emery in like I could on the 717. I ended up scoring down and scraping over the feed slot with a sharp blade, and springing the nib tines slightly to open them up. Another success. The 250 now delivers just the amount of ink I was hoping for. Some inks are slightly drier than others, but the balance across my range of inks is about perfect.
    • With the plain metal body, and medium nib, it's perfect as a general use scribbler for clattering about the house, and getting the odd knocks and bangs from not being in the ďsafeĒ environment of a desk. Itís great for taking down notes on the phone, exploring my thoughts and general doodling, or making out a grocery list so I don't forget the eggs. I like plain stainless pens a lot better than I though I would.
    • This 250 nicely sums up everything that I want from a pen. Unpretentious, comfortable, reliable, and affordable. It doesn't matter what colour ink flows from it's nib, or whether you're wearing jeans or a suit. If it got lost, I'd be disappointed but not heartbroken. I'm not frightened of it getting scratched or feeling it needs any special treatment. It serves a simple purpose without putting undue demand back on me. I find that quite liberating, as I was a little apprehensive that I might feel "confined" by my pens, and having to "baby" them too much, but this is a open that sets you free of all that.
    • Thatís it. Iím done. I now have all I need Ė in theory. Each ink can be used by piston or syringe, and each bottle can be used to the last drop, regardless of colour. I can write long letters comfortably in fine, medium, or italic. I have pens I can put in my pocket, regardless of where I'm going or what I'm wearing. I don't need heirlooms or my written word to last forever in an archive, I just want to enjoy my pens and inks, and not feel restricted by them.
    • Unfortunately, Iím still not feeling 100% content yet.

  17. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Conclusions:

    If your budget, or your principles, prevent you spending £50+ on a pen, there's still nothing to stop you enjoying using fountain pens. IĎve had a lot of success exploring the ultra cheap pens. Yes, some of them needed a little refining, but over several months I got a good range of different pens for less than £30 total. Yes, I could have gotten one low end TWSBI instead, or maybe one half decent vintage pen, or even one cheap pen and then upgraded the nib, or I could have tripled that amount and just got one nice Platinum 3776.

    I'm really glad I didn't.

    Not only did I get 7 very different pens (plus a few duplicates) for less than £30, I now have a much better understanding of what I like and what I don't in a fountain pen. I have different options for different moods or different writing tasks. I have also learned to refine and swap out nibs, write with obliques, and fix a choked feed. If I had spent the same money on one lower-mid range pen, I wouldn't have learned any of this, and more importantly, I wouldn't have had as much fun.

    Money. Well. Spent.

    In another thread on this forum, I mentioned that I wanted to learn all these lessons £1 or £2 at a time, and not spend big money finding out what doesnít work for me. I also said that by the time Iíd spent £50, I wanted to have discovered at least one of my ideal pens. As it happens, I found one by the time Iíd spent £30. That was the OHTO Tasche. Three pens is really what I wanted to achieve. A pocket pen for away from home, a general scribbler for grocery lists or phone notes, and a desk pen for writing letters. I thought I had found my ideal pens for all of these three categories, plus have others to play around with too. But I hadn't ...

    Close, but no coconut!

    IMG_20180429_231900_edit.jpg

    In theory, these three should have been it. Job done. Unfortunately, I was only really satisfied with one out of the three. I'm also going to bring inks back into the equation here too.

    The OHTO Tasche is a perfect choice for pocket carry should I chose to leave the house armed with a fountain pen. Iím really chuffed with this purchase. For this pen I use what I consider to be fairly conservative ink colours. Good looking inks, but not too informal or off-piste. Being a blue bodied pen, it made sense to stay within the blue spectrum with inks. I already have Diamineís Twilight, and Teal, and plan to add Sargasso Sea. All three should look great coming from this pen. I have now tried Teal, and it was flowing a little too dry, so I'll probably tweak this pen similar to what I did with the 250. If I can get the flow the same, I'll be as happy as I can get with this pen

    Cheap as it is, the Dollar calligraphy pen is the nicest writing italic pen I have, and it has the good sized piston filled tank too. While it looks and feels cheap, as a desk pen, nobody else see that. It's comfortable, the ink flows freely (now) and the oblique nib adds a little extra character to my writing. However, I still wasnít completely happy with it. It just feels TOO cheap, even for me - and that's saying something! One evening I sat staring at it, giving it the evil eye. Why couldn't it feel like the 3008? Those piston fillers cost even less, and yet felt like far superior pens. If only the 3008 had an italic nib ... and that's when the penny finally dropped. I shopped around on ebay, and for a couple of quid, I found a 1.5mm stub nib to fit to one of the Wing Sung 3008 Demonstrators. While even cheaper than the 717, the 3008 feels a much nicer pen to use on those long letters to penpals, and now I should be able do that with a nice italic nib. In fact I liked the 3008 so much, I ordered another couple of spares for £1.23 each in case I canít get them in future, bringing the total to four 3008s Ė three with F/M nibs, and one with a 1.5mm stub. For writing with this, I can either use the conservative colours listed for the Tasche, or my slightly more adventurous yet still elegant inks, namely Chocolate Brown, Grape, and potentially Oxblood too, but I still haven't pulled the trigger on that one yet. All these inks stand proudly off the page, with just a hint of non-conformity. Stylish, elegant, different.

    The Jinhao 250 is perfect for chucking any ink in, including the dregs in the bottom of a bottle (by using a syringe) that the piston fillers canít access, and just being a general purpose scribbler about the house. Itís also smart enough to chuck in a pocket, irrespective of what Iím wearing, and Iíd be less upset about losing that than the Tasche. Being of a bulkier size, itís a lot less pocketable in summer when pockets are sparse, but itís still another option if I donít fancy carrying the Tasche for any reason. In fact, I would go as far to say that the 250 would be a perfect one pen solution for me, if only I could trust that cap. If I had to pick just one out of my entire array and ditch the lot, this £1.80 bargain would probably be the one so far, with the Tasche a close second. For inks, I can use any of those listed above in the 250, of either of my two ďfunĒ inks, Diamineís Burnt Sienna and Sherwood Green. Those eight inks should cover everything I ever want to do with a fountain pen. They give me a good working spectrum, with plenty of options to suit my mood, but without me hoarding more ink than I'll ever get through.

    That leaves the Parker Vector set relegated to a drawer where it belongs, only seeing light of day for the occasional greetings card written with a broad italic nib. Unfortunately, it also leaves the spare 3008 Demonstrators, the 6359, and the X450 (all pens I really like using) relegated to the sidelines too. Time will tell if these all continue to get occasional use, or get gifted away, or just reside in a drawer waiting for one of the others to break or get lost. Out of everything I bought, only two were disappointments. These were the Parker Vector (the first, and most expensive acquisition), and to a lesser degree the Dollar 717 Calligraphy. However, these two pens account for about 40% of the total spend. With the other 60%, I got eight pens that I really like. Thatís all part of the learning curve though. Iím just glad it was a cheap learning curve.

    My concern about the cap on the 250, led me to try out one more uber cheapo pen, and on order with the italic nib for the 3008 is a Baoer 388. That again was ridiculously cheap, another stainless bodied pen, but with a cap that is renowned for being stubborn to remove. With the new nib for the 3008, and with this last pen, that SHOULD be me finished. If the new nib isn't great, I'll tweak it. If I'm still not happy, I'll risk regrinding the original nib on that pen. One way or another, I will get one of the 3008s up and running to replace the Dollar 717. As for the Baoer 388 and Jinhao 250, they'll do battle, and the best of the two will become the everyday scribbler. I am now confident that I've got what I want, and I will have gotten there without hitting £35, and with learning a lot in the process. As of right now, I am still waiting for the nail buffers, the italic nib, the extra 3008s, and the Baoer 388 (which altogether cost less than a tenner). However, I am still enjoying my array of new pens each and every day.

    At the moment, I have no desire to "progress" to more expensive pens. If I do, one of two things will happen. I'll either buy something that'll make me disinterested in pens that I currently enjoy using, or I'll keep using the old stuff, and feel I've wasted my money on the more expensive buy. Either way, I'll not feel I'm getting full value from my purchases. However, as so many pens that I like using have already been demoted to "secondary" choices, this really is a good incentive for not buying any more pens. I got back into fountain pens to use them instead of ballpoints, not to fill drawers with them.

    So this is my journey so far. Cheap, fun, and hopefully the start of many more years of fountain pen use. Enough choice to not get bored, but so much as to feel swamped, and owned by my own possessions.

    Thanks for following along, and even if my choices and preferences differ from yours, I hope it was worth taking the time to read.

  18. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    amk (May 8th, 2018), catbert (May 7th, 2018), Crocker7 (May 9th, 2018), ddr (October 11th, 2018), dhon27 (May 8th, 2018), fereous (May 8th, 2018), jodylud (October 16th, 2018), mlp2147 (August 3rd, 2018), Sailor Kenshin (May 8th, 2018)

  19. #11
    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    693
    Thanks
    1,069
    Thanked 571 Times in 274 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Definitely worth it and quite interesting to read your approach and experience. Thanks for taking the time to describe your journey!

  20. The Following User Says Thank You to azkid For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 8th, 2018)

  21. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Thanks azkid.

    I was initially going to wait until those last few items arrive before posting this, but I got tired of saying "I'll tell you later" in a few other threads recently.

    I'd be interested to hear where people think I might be being hasty in my decision making, and should maybe give second thoughts to certain aspects. I'd also be interested to hear where others made similar discoveries, or discovered things that I haven't encountered yet, but am likely to based on the steps taken so far. We all see different things, even when we walk the same path, and it would be interesting to contrast my own journey with that of others.

  22. The Following User Says Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    mlp2147 (August 3rd, 2018)

  23. #13
    Senior Member azkid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    693
    Thanks
    1,069
    Thanked 571 Times in 274 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    I personally think it's great that you found good, enjoyable, usable pens quickly without a lot of cash outlay. I don't know about hastiness.

    If anything, I have been hasty in regards to Chinese pens. Your posts have given me some models to check out at some later date. Thanks.

    My approach is different (but then isn't everyone's). I am always fascinated with older things so I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with only modern pens and would have to try some vintage models. That's the focus of my current acquisitions.

    Each pen has had a few or more lessons. For example, the Wahl Ringtop was everything I'd hoped for in a flex pen. Easy flex, fun writing, vintage looking writing. The Sheaffer Balance Jr. feels quite different by comparison. It does flex a little but feels more springy without as much line variation. The Wahl gives a firmer impression, yet flexes massively more. That makes no sense to me but that's how it feels.

    For both, I've learned: they're too small! I mean I can use them but I really prefer full length pens. At least I can use the Junior unposted wheareas the Wahl is 1/4" short of touching the web of my hand . But it is way too fun to care a lot. I like the thin profiles of both.

    I am keeping an eye out for a long skinny flexy pen as well as a full size Balance to try out. I even want to try a dip pen which supposedly is the ultimate in flex as a baseline.

    Another lesson is these gold nibs strongly resist permanent deformation compared to the SS nibs I've tuned. I did not see that coming. Now I have to go look up relative yield strength. The voices in my head are compelling me to find an explanation.

    The Lamy Safari was interesting. I got it out of frustration with the 599 drying up mid sentence all the time. Then the Lamy did the same thing! So I guess not every pen comes out of the factory perfectly. I was able to spread the nib tines and it writes fine now. I could never get the 599 to work right. If it had I would've liked it at least as much as the Safari, though.

    I encountered other lessons. Maybe I'll share more later.

  24. The Following User Says Thank You to azkid For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 8th, 2018)

  25. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    The 599 and Safari sound like feed issues, not nib issues to me. If I have a pen that's dry, I'll hold the pen with the nib down for a few seconds, or maybe even give it a little downward shake. If when I start writing there's plenty of ink, and it dries back out after a word or two (which mine have done so far), I go straight for the feed rather than spreading the tines. If it puts decent ink flow for the first couple of words, the nib is capable of doing what I want, it's just not been fed enough to sustain it. I'd only spread the tines if it can't deliver the goods even with a full feed... then do the same checks again. I might need to do this a little with the Tache. I am still feeling my way with this though, and will probably do a little more playing around with a few of mine.

    I've steered away from the vintage, because I know nothing about them. On top of whether the pen is right for me, there's the issues of what condition it's in too... and I'll be paying more money (over what I've been paying) for that extra uncertainty. What might be perished, or prone to cracking, or needs careful cleaning, or might be a feed that unscrews instead of pulling out, or shouldn't come apart at all.... That's too many unknowns for me.

    Interesting thoughts on the stiffer nib getting better flex. Wider tines? Shorter nib slit? I wouldn't have a clue with that stuff. I never thought of gold as a springy material, I thought it was malleable and would deform a lot more easilly.

  26. The Following User Says Thank You to Wuddus For This Useful Post:

    azkid (May 8th, 2018)

  27. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Norwich UK
    Posts
    662
    Thanks
    1,213
    Thanked 476 Times in 255 Posts
    Rep Power
    7

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    That's a fantastic set of posts which I really enjoyed reading. I'm not a Vector fan either :-)

  28. The Following User Says Thank You to amk For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 8th, 2018)

  29. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Thanks amk, much appreciated.

  30. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    503
    Thanks
    224
    Thanked 234 Times in 122 Posts
    Rep Power
    6

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Enjoyed the read it's quite impressive the lessons learned on such a small sum. On the subject of the vector, it's by no means an impossible task to pull out the feed. Just need something grippy.

    Any interest in going down the vintage path there a few gold nibbed vintage Parkers such as Slimfolds, 45's Newhaven Duofold and 21's for under £20. Bought carefully there is little risk as you will normally get back what you paid for them minus postage if resold.
    Last edited by top pen; May 8th, 2018 at 04:15 PM. Reason: Typo


  31. The Following User Says Thank You to top pen For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 8th, 2018)

  32. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    GB
    Posts
    409
    Thanks
    202
    Thanked 354 Times in 158 Posts
    Rep Power
    1

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Quote Originally Posted by top pen View Post
    Enjoyed the read it's quite impressive the lessons learned on such a small sum. On the subject of the vector, it's by no means an impossible task to pull out the feed. Just need something grippy.

    Any interest in going down the vintage path there a lot of quite a few gold nibbed vintage Parkers such as Slimfolds, 45's Newhaven Duofold and 21's for under £20. Bought carefully there is little risk as you will normally get back what you paid for them minus postage if resold.
    Thanks, I wasn't aware of that with the Vector. I got the impression that they were sealed units that weren't meant to be dismantled.

    If I think back to when I first started driving, I always wanted someone who "understood" cars to come with me when I was buying a second hand one, so I didn't buy a lemon. That's kind of where I am with the vintage stuff. I wouldn't know the first thing about what to look out for. I'm also reluctant to go up to £20 on anything at the moment.

    Once I've got a couple of years in, I might start venturing into deeper waters, be that in price or age, but the sub £10 new stuff is keeping me happily entertained for now

  33. #19
    Senior Member manoeuver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Near Midwest, US
    Posts
    1,084
    Thanks
    321
    Thanked 422 Times in 199 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    good writing. thanks for sharing!

  34. The Following User Says Thank You to manoeuver For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 9th, 2018)

  35. #20
    Senior Member VertOlive's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lone Star Planet
    Posts
    3,456
    Thanks
    3,410
    Thanked 3,195 Times in 1,389 Posts
    Rep Power
    9

    Default Re: What I've Learned So Far - A Noobs Tale

    Re: Dipping one's toe into vintage: I set myself a price limit and watched the forum sales (including FPN) until I saw something that appealed to me visually and which was advertised to be in working condition. Then I jumped in. I have never gotten a bad pen and I learned a lot about what I like from the three I have now.

    I suppose some may think it somewhat random and risky, but that's how I do.

    Nibs.com also has a nice vintage section on its site and there might be less risk in buying from an actual company.
    "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life"?óMary Oliver

  36. The Following User Says Thank You to VertOlive For This Useful Post:

    Wuddus (May 9th, 2018)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •