Ink & Pen Notes: Pilot Custom 823 and Pilot Blue-Black Ink

Pilot Custom 823 fine nib with Pilot Blue-Black InkThe Pilot Custom 823 has been one of my favorite fountain pens since I got it. It;s currently number two on my Favorite 5 Modern Fountain Pens list. For some reason I’ve grown accustomed to using Pilots own inks in the pen, and I’m not talking about their Iroshizuku line of inks. Pilot Blue-Black was my most recent choice.

I filled the pen with Pilot Blue-Black ink way back on April 5th, so the ink has been in the pen a long, long time. Even though I truly like this pen & ink I often reach past it for another fountain pen. This, combined with the large ink capacity is why it took so long to write this pen dry.

The Custom 823 and Pilot Blue-Black ink combine to provide a pleasing writing experience, although it does lack excitement. The pen is very comfortable in my hand and it’s a light pen despite its size. I can write endlessly without my hand getting fatigued.

Despite the ink being in the pen for over four months the there wasn’t any staining. The vacuum filling system can make this a tedious process, but this time around it was quicker than I expected. Less than 10 minutes to get all traces of the ink out.

I’ll probably ink the pen up again in the next few days. I may go for an ink that’s slightly more exiting than a blue-black. On the other hand, based on my history, I’ll want an ink that can safely stay on the pen for months.

Sunday Notes and Links

Franklin-Christoph Model 25 with a bottle of Sailor Storia Ballon GreenSailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LEPilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)

I didn’t play favorites this past week and I ended up writing three pens dry, although one was a bit of a cheat since it just had a partial fill. I’m down to six inked fountain pens and that includes the dip pen sitting in the inkwell on my desk. I haven’t actually checked, but this has got to be the lowest number of inked pens in a long, long time. I haven’t been anxious to ink up new pens because I really enjoy what I still have inked.

Some links of interest…

Putting Together a Correspondence Kit – Letter Writing Supplies – Wonder Pens

How Franklin-Christoph Made Me a Loyal Customer · Penucopia – // I’m also a fan for many of the same reasons.

A few lines a day – 5 Year Diaries – these beautiful pens

How to Manage Your Fountain Pen Collection #PenGeekProblems – Goldspot Pens

Review: Pilot Murex — Alt. Haven // These pens have gotten a lot of buzz lately. They’re nice but I won’t be competing for the limited supply.

I Found Your Pen — Paper Mate InkJoy – The Cramped // A cool concept although I doubt we’ll see any fountain pens reviewed.

Ripping off the Band-Aid – Anderson Pens // Congratulations to Brian (or should it be good luck), in any event it will be good for the pen community.

The Best Notebook Ever – A Rollbahn Notebook Review

Lamy Pur Fountain Pen – 14k Nib – Pete Denison

Paper Republic Grand Voyageur Notebook Review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

I like seeing what other people actually use:

Today’s Tools – 8/8/15 — Reverenced Writing

Monthly Load Out: August 2015 — Gorgeous.Ink

Check out all of this week’s links at Fountain Pen Links. If you’re looking for information about a specific pen or ink be sure to visit Pennquod.

Ink and Pen Notes: Franklin-Christoph Model 19 and Sailor Storia Balloon Green

Franklin-Christoph Model 25 with a bottle of Sailor Storia Ballon GreenI picked the Franklin-Christoph Model 19 (1901) with a broad stub nib to test out the new Sailor Storia Balloon Green ink. It was over a year since I last inked up the Model 19. The broad stub nib was the optional Mike Masuyama grind that Franklin-Christoph offers. The nib is a little wide for my tastes so even though I like the stub I generally pass it over when picking my next pen to ink up.

I figured the broad nib would be a good choice to try out this ink. This fountain pen is also easy to clean and while I trust Sailor inks I figured better safe than sorry when trying a new waterproof ink.

I filled the pen July 27th so the ink lasted less than two weeks, but that’s because I didn’t completely fill the converter. I pulled the ink to about 1/3 of the converter, so that plus whatever the feed held is what lasted nearly two weeks.

The pen was used just about every day, it may have gone one day without use but it was kept active so the ink didn’t get a chance to dry out. I never had any hard starts even though the pen was stored nib up overnight. I did have some occasional skipping on the sugarcane paper in a Staples Sustainable Earth notebook. Most of my writing was on this paper so it certainly had more opportunities to skip on the sugarcane paper than any other. The skipping was very occasional until the ink level was low (about 1/2 a page left) when it did become more common. I also wrote several pages on Tomoe River paper and there wasn’t any skipping at all.

The Sailor Storia Balloon Green ink was OK. It was free to me (with the recent purchase of my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe) and its not an ink I otherwise would have purchased since it is kind of expensive. It’s a nice shade of green and this nib adds some line variation. It’s waterproof which is nice, but not a requirement I have for my green ink. So really, nothing about this ink stands out which is why I say it’s OK.

The F-C Model 19 is easy to clean. Sailor Storia, being a pigment ink, is waterproof and potentially hard to clean. The ink didn’t have time to dry out in the pen but it did take a little longer than a normal fountain pen ink. It took 9 or 10 flushes with the bulb syringe plus I did have to use a cotton swab to get some ink drops off the nib.

While I still have Sailor Storia Balloon Green in another pen it will be awhile before I put it in another pen.

As for the Franklin-Christoph Model 19, I did enjoy writing with it. I’m debating whether to ink it up with a different ink or put it back into storage.

Ink & Pen Notes: Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LEThe Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe is another new pen for me. It arrived in mid-July and I immediately inked it up. I wrote it dry yesterday. It took just under four weeks for this which is a little quicker than average for me. This nib is thinner, and therefore more miserly with ink, than my average nib so this was a little quicker than I expected.

My Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip has a extra fine nib which means it’s thin, as is typical with Japanese nibs. My Pelikan M805 extra fine nib feels like a broad nib in comparison. The Pro Gear’s nib has a little bit of softness. It’s not as springy as the nib on my Pilot Custom 823 so I wouldn’t say it’s springy. The one adjective I’m sure of is great. I love this nib.

The Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink is one of my favorite inks, just behind Montblanc Bordeaux. Performance in this fountain pen was fantastic – great flow, no hard starts or skipping. I could pause my writing for a couple of minutes and the pen would immediately write when the nib touched the paper again.

The ink was easily flushed from the pen with a bulb syringe. It actually took longer to clean the traces of the ink from the converter. It would have been easier if I took the converter apart but I dislike doing this as a matter of routine so I didn’t even try.

The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip is a great fit for my hand, combined with the nib this makes it a joy to write with. I also love the R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink. I’m tempted to refill the pen with the same ink since it’s not currently in any of my other pens. But since the pen is new I’ll probably opt for variety and pick something else. I will be re-inking the pen sometime over the weekend, I’m just not sure which Ink I’ll use.

KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE Pen Stand

KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE pen stand underside with logoThe CU13BE (the 13 looks like a ‘B’) is a collaboration between KarasKustoms & Dudek Modern Goods. The 13 comes from the atomic number of the element aluminum. KarasKustoms now calls it the “CUBE” on their website and I find writing CU13E annoying, so I’m going to call it “CUBE” from now on. The all caps is less annoying. The CUBE is machined from a solid block of aluminum (well, except for the brass version) with holes for nine pens.

Despite KarasKustoms experience, this wasn’t the smoothest Kickstarter project and it was plagued by delays and other problems. Delivery was estimated for March so it was four months late, five if you want to get technical, but August is only a few days old. There were some comments that the rubber feet fell off in some cases, although mine seem solidly attached. A bigger problem, at least in my opinion, is that those who ordered the the silver anodized version received a raw aluminum version that wasn’t anodized because the anodizing ending up being dull, unlike the samples. Another commenter mentioned that their CUBE looked dinged up before the blue anodizing was applied. While this wasn’t mentioned on the Kickstarter, and the pictures look smooth and shiny, the KarasKustoms website does mention this should be expected as they are now calling them Stonewashed or mentioning that they are tumbled before anodizing.

I ordered the tumbled raw aluminum version which was’t affected by most of the problems since it wasn’t anodized and the finish is purposely rough. And very cool. The only impact was the delay since all the CUBEs were shipped at one time. I didn’t pick any of the anodized versions because I expected this to take some abuse and I thought even the slightest ding would stand out and ruin the look. Plus, I just plain have a preference for the look of raw metals.

Being solid aluminum, the CUBE is heavy, 1 lb. 14.5 oz. to be specific, with nine pen holes drilled into it.. The pens holes are 0.563“ (9/16”) in diameter and two inches deep. There are Delrin inserts in each pen hole to protect the pens from scratches. Delrin is a Dupont product which they describe as…

Delrin® acetal homopolymer combines lubricity and wear resistance with the stiffness and strength needed in parts designed to replace metal.
They feel like smooth plastic and are held firmly in place. They didn’t budge when I turned the CUBE over and shook it.

KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE pen stand Delrin inserts

I have several Dudek Modern Goods pen stands and I like them a lot. All are made of wood. In general I like the wood better, but that’s just a personal preference. The aluminum is heavier, much heavier, which gives it more stability. It will take more than a nudge to push it off a table. This weight was the main reason I decided to buy it. I’ll use it on my workbench where the stability will come in handy.

The Delrin liner also provides protection for pens that are wider than the holes. While the wood is soft in the wooden versions and not likely to scratch a pen, I didn’t like it when a pen tapered enough so it didn’t reach the bottom of the hole and was held up by the edges of the hole. For example, my Franklin-Christoph Model 25 is too wide to reach the bottom of the hole but it is secure and I don’t feel like it will be scratches.

KarasKustoms is selling the CUBE on their website for $85, a bit more than the Kickstarter price. Brass ($350) and Stonewashed ($95) versions are also available. Eighty-five dollars is a lot for a pen holder but it is solid aluminum so the price does seem reasonable. I did really want the brass but I couldn’t even come close to justify the expense for me. I did internally debate the $75 Kickstarter price but decided to go ahead and get it. I am happy with the result and the Tumbled Raw Aluminum CUBE that I received.


Additional Reading

If you’re interested in wooden pen stands I previously reviewed the Dudek Groove and the Dudek Display stands. While there are a few Cube reviews all the ones I found were pre-production units and considering there were manufacturing issues and changes I’d hesitate to trust those if you’re considering buying one. They are arriving in people’s hands at the moment so reviews of the various finishes may begin to appear.

Ink & Pen Notes: Pilot Vanishing Point Left Oblique and Pilot Blue Ink

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)I purchased the Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo back in early June and had the stock medium nib ground to a left oblique at the same time. I’ve only had them about 8 weeks but the Cherry Bamboo has easily become my favorite Vanishing Point body and the left oblique is my favorite Vanishing Point nib. While swapping nibs between VP bodies is easy, even when inked, these two seem made for one another. (Although no doubt I will be swapping them around sometime in the future.)

Even though the photo shows Pilot Blue ink in a bottle I actually used the blue cartridge that came with the pen. Blue is not a favorite color of mine (the bottle came with a pen) but I do like Pilot ink (sometimes sold as Namiki branded ink). I expected to be pulling the cartridge early and use a more exciting color. But the flow was excellent, skip free and no hard starts, so I left the cartridge in until I wrote the pen dry. It took just under 8 weeks which surprised me, I thought I was using the pen quit a bit and it wouldn’t have lasted this long since it puts down more ink than my typical thin nib.

In retrospect, since I don’t use the pen for note taking, my most common pen usage by far, I shouldn’t have been surprised in lasted so long. I’d often use it to write one or two sentences, mainly because I enjoyed using it and I didn’t want it to go unused for an entire day.

I especially liked the way it wrote on the Tomoe River paper in my Nanami Seven Seas Writer Journal. Since it puts down more ink than I’m used to it does take longer to dry, especially on this fountain pen friendly paper. Since this isn’t a pen I use for notes or quick writing this wasn’t a problem for me. I just had to remember to pause a bit before turning a page.

I cleaned out the pen and will let it dry a bit before I refill it. As expected, the pen was a breeze to clean. The Vanishing Point nib units are quickly flushed out with a bulb syringe and the R&K ink is easy to clean. It’s actually not the drying that I’m waiting for, I’m still undecided on which ink to use next. I typically use cartridges in my Vanishing Points. They’re convenient and hold more ink than the converter options so they are a good fit for the utility of the Vanishing Point. But with this nib I want an ink with more character. Once I pick the ink I’ll put the pen back in the rotation.

My complaint about the pen? I’ve been wanting to ink up different fountain pens just for the variety. I like this pen Cherry Bamboo Vanishing Point with the Left Oblique nib too much. It won’t be making room for a different fountain pen. I guess that’s not really a complaint.

Ink Notes: Sailor Storia Balloon Green

Sailor Storia Balloon Green open bottleSailor has released a new line of pigmented inks they are calling Storia. At least they’re new in the U.S. There are eight colors in the Storia line. All are pigmented inks and can be mixed with each other, Sailor says not to mix them with non-Storia inks. Itoya, Sailor’s U.S. distributer, was running a free ink promotion when I bought my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip fountain pen. Since my only expense was for a postage stamp there wasn’t any reason not to get the ink. I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the color samples but liked the Balloon Green the most. All the colors seemed rather washed out.

The Sailor Storia ink is just becoming available in the United States. I noticed it first at JetPens where it’s an astronomical $32 for a 30ml bottle. Pen Chalet recently listed it for $24, which is cheap only by comparison. I have seen forum mentions where it’s as low as $13 from sources in Japan, but that doesn’t include shipping.

The packaging is nice, which no doubt accounts for some of the cost. The bottle is heavy frosted glass. The bottle is wrapped in paper and placed inside a heavy cardboard round container. It’s a nice presentation.

I picked two stub nibs to use for testing this ink. Both are Franklin-Christoph pens with the Mike Masuyama ground nibs. The Model 25 has the medium stub and the Model 19 has the broad stub. Even though Sailor’s Nano pigment inks work fine in my thin nibs I didn’t want to try this new ink in a thin nib, especially a green ink which I may not use every day and could dry out.

The Model 25 has an recessed nib so I don’t dip it into the ink, instead I fill the converter directly. The ink still hadn’t reached the nib after an hour of being nib down so I forced the ink down by twisting the converter and the ink finally reached the nib. This made me a little concerned about the flow but I haven’t had any problems.

The bottle has a plastic insert (common is Sailor inks) that can be filled with ink by inverting the covered bottle. This raises the ink level so it can cover the nib even when the bottle itself is low on ink. That’s the theory. The nib on the Model 19 was too big for the insert. I had to remove the insert and then I could cover the nib with ink and fill it. (This was a nearly full bottle.) Since this was filled via the nib it was immediately ready to write.

Since this ink is potentially my most expensive (per milliliter, if I had paid for it) I didn’t fill either pen completely. Being a pigment ink I’m also concerned that if I ignore the pens for a few days I may have to flush them out, so no sense wasting liquid gold.

I rather like the balloon green color in the thicker nibs. It has some line variation and doesn’t look nearly as washed out as the swabs do. It has good flow and is pleasing to write with. As much as I prefer thin nibs I really liked this ink in the Model 19’s broad stub. I used it to write the draft of this article along with several or multi-page writing sessions.

I’ve carried the thinner Model 25 in the pen loop of my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. This gave me a bright color to use for notes without having to take up a slot in my pen case. This also worked well for me.

The ink is very waterproof. There was any trace of green in the water and none of the ink washed away.

Dry time between the Doane Paper and the Rhodia Paper didn’t vary by any significant amount. Typically the more absorbent Doane Paper dries quicker, but not in this case. Considering these nibs are wider than I typically use the 12 to 15 second dry time isn’t terrible. These aren’t pens I’d use for note taking where I want dry times of less than 5 seconds.

[Updated Aug. 7 – Cleaning]

This ink wasn’t any harder to clean from the pen than other pigment based ink, but it did take longer than normal fountain pen inks. I’m also a little paranoid with pigment (or iron gall) ink that I will leave a trace behind and it will lodge itself in the pen causing a significant future problem.

I cleaned the pen about 12 hours after writing the pen dry so the ink didn’t have much time to dry and solidify or stain the pen. It took more flushes with a bulb syringe than usual, about 9 or 10, to remove all traces of green when I shook the pen (like an old mercury thermometer) into a tissue. Then I noticed a few drops of green still on the nib surface. These were easily removed with a damp cotton swab. They didn’t require hard scrubbing to remove, although the incidental contact with the tissue wasn’t enough.

Because of this I then gave the nib a brief bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I didn’t notice any traces of green coming from the nib so this wasn’t necessary, but like I said – I am paranoid.

Wrapping Up

Storia ink is ridiculously expensive, at least here in the United States. Even at $24 for a 30ml bottle the ink is one of the more expensive ones out there. That’s a whopping $0.80 per milliliter. Caran d’Ache ink, one of the more expensive ink brands, is only about $0.67 per milliliter and Montblanc Limited Edition inks seem downright cheap at $0.57 per milliliter. Even if what I’ve read is true and it’s about $13 a bottle in Japan that’s still $0.43 per milliliter.

If you have a use for mixable waterproof inks then the Sailor Storia inks may be worth checking out. Platinum has a few pigment based ink colors but Sailor Storia is the most complete color range that I know of.

I liked Sailor Storia Balloon Green more than I expected. It’s a pleasant green. It’s nice to have a waterproof green option. That said, I don’t foresee replacing the bottle when I empty it and I don’t plan on trying any of the other Storia inks.