The Lamy Safari Terra (EF) still has the Lamy ink cartridge that came with the pen. I should write it dry later today. The remaining ink doesn’t fill in the tapered section at the end of the cartridge. I will now face the dilemma of which fountain pen (or pens) to ink up. I have too many nibs that haven’t touched ink. My recent habit of using a fountain pen every day until dry will be hard to maintain. I am certain that whatever pens I ink up will be Lamy. It doesn’t help that my current practice is to avoid waste and use any ink that came with the pen as its first fill. At least with converters I can load less ink.
While I wrote more lists than usual, my overall fountain pen usage was down this week. I did journal every day, although I only filled about five pages.
This week I learned Lamy sold Lamy 2000 fountain pens with factory oblique medium nibs. Less than a year ago, I sold off my Lamy 2000 (Fine) because the nib’s sweet spot was small. In addition, the nib isn’t visible, so I didn’t have a visual queue to keep the nib oriented correctly. It was very annoying to use. I figure the oblique nib will align with my grip as it does with other pens.
The two pens that I sent to Mark Bacas for nib work have been returned. One was a Lamy steel nib ground to a needlepoint. The other was a Sailor KOP sent for nib repair. While I inked the Lamy nib, it hasn’t been used beyond the initial testing.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:The Guns at Last Night, The War in Western Europe 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I’m enjoying the book, but only listened for about 4 hours this week, with podcasts getting most of my listening time.
Lamy 2000 with an oblique medium nib.
Out of Rotation
Lamy Safari USA (NP) with Waterman Intense Black ink. This pen is just back from Mark Bacas. While the pen design is my least favorite Safari (which is why I picked it to send off for 2 months) I like to use the nib “as received”. This way, if it performs poorly after moving to a new pen I will know it’s my fault. Needlepoint nibs are less smooth by nature, especially on the typical paper I use, so it won’t be a daily writer. I picked a black ink for visibility, and Waterman since it’s the perfect brand for testing.
My fountain pen usage, and journaling, were down a little this past week. I had ambitions of getting this week’s daily driver (Lamy Safari Terra) down to an ink level that could be easily used up in the week ahead. The ink level has barely reached the top of the ink window, so I don’t expect it to go dry this week. I am getting tired of the standard blue ink included by most manufacturers, so I may remove it early.
I’m down to five inked fountain pens. There’s a good mix of ink colors among them, so I didn’t see a need to ink up any others. My brain is still locked into wanting to pick a pen and use it until dry. And with two pens having evaporated dry, and requiring extra effort to clean, I’ll stick with what I have. I might ink up another Lamy sometime during the week. I have a second 14kt medium-oblique nib and a 14kt extra-fine nib that I need to test out.
I also have several new pens and nibs that have yet to be touched by ink. This puts me in a conundrum. I like using a pen as received before I start swapping nibs. This lets me know if any problems were caused by me or the factory. But, now I have three unused Lamy pens and two unused Lamy gold nibs. I can’t try those new Lamy nibs on the new Lamy pens.
I’ve also have a Retro 51 fountain pen that has yet to be inked. By my count that gives me eight nibs that need to be inked up. This helped me skip the Anderson Pens virtual vintage pen show, although I did review the pens. My avoidance was helped along by the lack of any Sheaffer that remotely interested me. I’m sure most of the pens have been sold, but if you want a visual tour of vintage pens, there’s this 90+ minute video of the pens that were available for sale.
I also have two fountain pens on their way back from Mark Bacas (nibgrinder). Hopefully, they’ll arrive this coming week. A Sailor KOP bent nib was repaired and a Lamy steel nib was ground to “as close to a Platinum UEF as safely possible.” These will be added to the “to be inked asap” queue once they arrive, especially that needlepoint.
Housekeeping – I move this blog back to WordPress self-hosted a while back and have been doing some cleanup since then. I’ve started cleaning up broken external links, such as the Trail Long (aka Sunday Notes and Links) posts and the resource pages. This may result in some weird references in old link posts or articles, such as “the following three links…”, while there’s only one link left.
I also scaled back the resource pages considerably. It was a little depressing to see how many of the listed websites have gone away. Keeping up with them is a time suck, and some are now linked to sketchy websites. So, I took the lazy way out and did a mass deletion, keeping a few I currently read and know are active. Links may return if I can find a semi-automated way of keeping them fresh.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:The Guns at Last Night, The War in Western Europe 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I’ve made some progress, about 6 hours into a 32 hour book. Reading:Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. Finished this one last Sunday. It became more interesting during the last few chapters. But it became even more morbid in those final chapters and had a rather gruesome ending. I shouldn’t be too surprised, since it is a murder mystery. I’m guessing the two main characters will last throughout the series. So, viewed as an introduction to the characters, the slow parts may be forgiven. It has nearly 11K ratings on Goodreads and a 3.89 (out of 5) rating, which is the second-lowest among the nearly two dozen books in the series. I did finish it and it improved for me at the end, so I’d give it 3 stars, 2.5 if that was possible. The 24th book in the series is due out this year, so I’m obviously in the minority. If you like historical mysteries set around 1895 (based on the mention of Roosevelt just becoming NYC Police Commissioner) you’ll probably like this more than I did.
Out of Rotation
Lamy AL-Star Bronze (EF) went dry last Sunday as expected. It was inked with the included Lamy blue cartridge way back in late January. It spent most of the time as a spare pen I left in my office desk. Between infrequent office visits, and never forgetting my pens, it never got used. So I brought it home and made it my daily writer until it went dry.
Esterbrook Estie (MV Adapter w/Esterbrook #9314M nib) A modern Kenro era Esterbrook, the nib is vintage. I find the MV adapter and converter to be finicky. I kept the pen inked to use as a comparison when reviewing the Journaler nib. That review has been delayed so long that this pen dried out. The converter has separated from the feed, so there was some ink in the barrel and a lot in the cap. It wasn’t too tough to clean, although I did have to take the pen and converter apart to get at the dried ink. I hate taking a pen or converter apart for what should be a routine task.
Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe (EF) stopped writing after being unused for nearly two months. There was a little Yama-Dori left in the cartridge. But not enough to make it worth salvaging, so I just flushed out the pen. It took a lot of water before it ran clear going through the feed.
As I mentioned in the last couple of Trail Logs, I become rather infatuated with the Tennessee Red pencil from Musgrave, triggered by this review. Yes, a pencil post is strange for a blog with this name, but in my defense, I learned about the review in the Pen Addict newsletter. This then revived a dormant interest in pencils. I’d previously had a very short-lived pencil interest about 6 years ago. I sharpened a couple pencils (maybe), and either put the rest into storage or gave them away. After reading that review I added a box of Tennessee Red pencils to my shopping cart at CW Pencils, and left them there. A few days later I was looking forward to their arrival, so I returned to the shopping cart, added a couple of things to my cart, and placed the order. They arrived on Monday.
The main problem I have with pencils is that when I’m using a pencil, I’m not using a fountain pen. The second problem I have is that pencils, and the lead, can be as varied in performance as pen and ink. I’m not going to like them all. And, I’m not about to do all sorts of research before buying them. I much rather learn by doing instead of reading. But a big plus is that pencils are considerably less expensive than pencils fountain pens (with exceptions of course).
I had some pencils still around from my previous foray into pencils, almost all were untouched by my sharpener. I usually write the first drafts of any posts about a pen using the pen I’m writing about. So it would have made sense to write the draft of this one with the Tennessee Red, but I didn’t. Instead, I used one of the pencils from my earlier foray. I’ll include my thoughts about the pencil later in this post. But first, here’s the pencil-related stuff that I’m starting with…
The CW Pencils (full name CW Pencil Enterprises) order that arrived on Monday:
A box of 12 Tennessee Red pencils.As the review said:
It is perfectly usable
In regards to the lead, and
It isn’t a good pencil. Yet it is unusual and compelling…
Regarding the pencil overall.
I expected to find the cedar scent pleasing, but I did not. I neither liked, nor disliked the scent. I also would not have identified it as cedar. When I was a kid the house had a cedar closet and my memory is that thoroughly enjoyed the scent. These pencils contain cedar sapwood and cedar heartwood. Maybe the closet contained a different variant. I did pull out all my pencils to organize them, and while I can’t blame the Tennessee Red specifically, over time the scent from the pencils on the table near me did start to bother me. More of a minor throat and nose irritation than a bad smell. That was a bit depressing.
While I knew the pencils had two different wood types, and I had seen pictures, I was still struck by the variations between each pencil in the box.
The CWPE Sample Set with seven different pencils.
I figured that a selection of pencils for comparison would be a good idea so I ordered this sampler set. Of course, this assumes that my pencil interest doesn’t flame out in a week. What clinched this sampler set for me is that I wanted to try a Caran D’Ache Scots Pine pencil, but a box was far too expensive just to satisfy my curiosity. The Scots Pine is made with wood slats that are different than what’s used for other pencils. I can already tell, my interest is being drawn to the bad, and what’s different.
A 12 pack of Cub Mini Jumbo Pencils
Like fountain pens, I thought I might find a girthier pencil more comfortable to use if I started using pencils for longer writing sessions. Besides, six of them are green, my favorite color. Although that’s balanced by the other six being blue, and while there are worse colors, it isn’t a color I seek out or choose.
Möbious + Ruppert (M+R) Brass Bullet Sharpener along with a 3-pack of replacement blades
This sharpener was mentioned in the review as one that could handle the Tennessee Red pencil, while others could not. The sharpener is relatively inexpensive, and I have a hard time saying no to anything brass. The replacement blades may be more aspirational than practical, but I tend to buy consumables with the product if they aren’t too expensive or hard to store. I have little doubt, that this will be a lifetime supply of sharpener blades.
Pencils Pulled From Storage
I pulled the following pencils from my storage boxes:
I have a Palomino Sample Pack of 9 pencils: two Prospectors, two Golden Bears, and one each of Forest Choice, Blackwing 602, Palomino HB, Palomino Blackwing (no other description), and Blackwing Pearl.
I also have a small assortment of other miscellaneous pencils from Field Notes, Write Notepads, and some others.
Blackwing Vol. 1138 This was the third Volumes edition that Blackwing released. I was drawn in by the look of the pencil, along with the story behind it, so I got a box of 12 back in 2015. I removed one from the box to sharpen and still have it. I don’t remember my thoughts back then, but it’s telling that I barely used it. I used this pencil to write the draft of this post, and my thoughts are below.
Blackwing Vol. 1138 Thoughts
I am completely unqualified to do a pencil review, so this isn’t one. Rather, just my experience and thoughts after trying the pencil and lessons learned.
I bought this pencil on looks and back story alone. I like the grey/black ascetic. It’s based on an early Sci-Fi movie that set new standards for movies in general, way back in 1902. While the pencil was already sharpened when I pulled it from storage yesterday, I didn’t remember what it was like to use. The fact that I couldn’t remember, and that it was barely used, meant that I certainly wasn’t inspired to keep using it.
The draft of this post took three 8 1/2″ by 11″ sheets of a Doane Paper Writing Pad. I did not enjoy the experience and had to force myself to finish the draft with the pencil, and not switch to a fountain pen. Rather than switch, I decided to do some basic research to find an explanation for my discomfort, and see if there was a solution. (Spoiler: the solution is a different pencil.)
First off, I found that the pencil uses a soft lead, much more suitable for drawing. I knew the lead was “soft” just from using the pencil, but the pencil and box didn’t have any grading information. My big box store Ticonderoga pencils are certainly preferable, with a harder, pointier lead. The soft lead is the root of all my complaints.
The lead wore down quickly, and I was forever sharpening it. It’s been years since I sharpened a pencil, so I’m sure my lack of practice played a part, but this pencil was a pain to sharpen to a sharp point. And if I did get a sharp point, it didn’t last long, which is depressing and made me feel like I was wasting my time. The constant interruption to my train of thought was also a problem. This pencil wants to be a broad nib, and I hate using broad nibs (to put it in fountain pen terms).
Of the sharpeners that I have, I found that the new M+R Brass Bullet sharpener gave me the most pleasing results. Although that may be because I tried it last, so I had some experience with the others. The Staedtler tub sharpener I tried also did a good job. Two small metal Kum sharpeners of unknown origin were terrible, although that may have been due to my inexperience.
In any case, I had to sharpen this pencil far too often for my tastes. And it annoyed me, even once I got the hang of using the sharpener.
Soft leads are not for me. Not at all. Never buy another pencil with lead described as soft. I should probably be referring to this as “cores”, but for now I’ll stick with “lead” since this is the reference my brain wants to use, even though it isn’t made with lead. If for some reason I needed to use a pencil with soft lead I’ll need to sharpen them by the dozen so I can simply pick up the next pencil and keep going. Write by day, sharpen by night.
Pencil sharpener performance varies (not unexpected). I’ve little doubt that sharpener performance will also vary by pencil. Since I like thin nibs I’m going to be drawn to sharpeners that can deliver a long, pointy pencil tip. If my interest in pencils sticks around more than a month or two, I may start searching for a long point sharpener. Maybe I’ll switch to using a knife or a Høvel pencil plane.
I liked the experience of using the pencil to see what I do and don’t like, then researching the pencil’s characteristics as I use it. Reading about the pencil first could bias my thoughts, or keep me from learning from my mistakes. I like to learn from mistakes since the lessons tend to stick.
I like the ferrule’s design. A flat erasure that’s easily removed and replaced. Although, my history with pens still has me crossing out, rather than erasing. I did try the eraser, it was fine. I don’t plan to buy spares.
I’ve yet to sharpen one of the Tennessee Reds that re-started me down this rabbit hole. My biggest problem with pencils is that when I use one, I’m not using a fountain pen. The process of exploring and learning about pencils will keep me interested for a while. I have plenty of pencils to keep me going, so I don’t plan to buy anymore until I’ve at least tried the ones that I have.
Now I have to decide: do I ink up sharpen several different pencils, or work through them one at a time.
As expected, the Lamy Aion did go dry last weekend. It’s been cleaned out, but not re-inked. I’m going to see how long I can go before it pulls me back. I have a lot of extra-fine nibs inked up, so I can’t use that as an excuse to ink it up.
My primary writer this week was a Lamy AL-Star Bronze with an extra-fine nib and the Lamy cartridge included with the pen. It’s nearly empty and should run dry today. If not, then early in the week. My brain is now locked into writing pens dry, so rather than rotate my pens daily I pick a pen and use it until I can’t. Next up will be the Lamy Terra, which has an extra-fine nib and is still on that included ink cartridge.
The Sailor Ringless Epinard (Zoom) and the Diplomat Green Aero (14k Fine) saw limited use. The Sailor when I needed a thinker line for emphasis and the Diplomat for when I wanted to mark something up in a different color (Montblanc Emerald Green). The Sailor has Sailor Shikiori Yodaki, which is a color I like with the zoom nib.
I’ve been using the Nock Co Lookout to hold my daily pens. I wondered if I would really use it since I rarely venture out these days. But I carry it around between workspaces in the apartment. I’ve taken to sliding my daily index card into the strap as a constant reminder of my task list. This helps keep me on track, at least until it’s been there so long I’ll mentally block it out, like web ads.
Last week I mentioned that reading about the Tennessee Red pencil peaked my interest and I had a box of them sitting in my shopping cart. Earlier this week I found myself looking forward to their arrival. So, I went ahead a ordered them, along with another a sample pack and a pencil sharpener. They’re due to arrive early this week.
I’ve gotten frustrated with having to hunt for items lost in my apartment, so I’ve started adding storage options. The first was the Moppe mini storage chest from IKEA. It’s relatively small and, unlike most IKEA stuff, is prebuilt. I’m using this for small things like loupes, converters, spare nibs, and non-pen things. I also got a KLÄMMEMACKA from them. They call it a “desk organizer”, but that seems wrong. It reminds me of a sewing kit my mother had or a toolbox. This does need to be assembled, which hasn’t been done yet. I plan to use this for pen cleaning and repair supplies.
Finally, I went to Harbor Freight and bought a Windsor Design 8 Drawer Wood Tool Chest. I’m debating how to use this. Ideally, I’d like to use all 8 drawers for pen storage, although I may use the large drawers to store any pen supplies that don’t fit in the Klämmemacka while using the smaller drawers for pens. I already have some slotted pen trays from Go Pens, which I can cut to fit the drawers for pen storage. It looks like the small drawers will hold 11 pens. They won’t be permanent, so I can be flexible and move stuff around. It’s not the best-made piece of storage. There are noticeable chips in the wood and uneven gaps between parts, although it seems sturdy enough for normal use while sitting on a shelf most of the time. At just $80 it seemed like a fair deal to me.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening: No new audiobooks. I picked up a couple of new podcasts to try. (See links) Reading:Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. I’ve made some progress, reaching the halfway point. I still don’t care who did it, although the main character is slightly more interesting. The cop is more interesting which helps a lot since I expect him to be around for the whole book. The book is due back on Tuesday. If I don’t finish it by then, it will still go back to the library. It’s very unlikely I’ll continue with the series or the author.
Out of Rotation
Lamy Aion Dark Green (EF): I love this pen. Proven by the fact that I drained the ink cartridge in about 2 weeks, which is almost unheard of for me, especially since Lamy cartridges hold more ink than standard International cartridges.
Podcasts: Talking about pens and other stuff – Chicana Writes // A couple of pen podcasts mentioned and I’m trying them out. The Bent Tines is about an hour long while The Nib Section seems to exceed 90 minutes on a regular basis (but has some episodes closer to an hour). While I did enjoy both, I’m not sure how often I’ll listen to future episodes since there’s a lot of competition for my ears.
My fountain pen usage was way up this week. Almost all the ink was applied with the Lamy Aion Dark Green pen. I also kept the Diplomat Aero (F) and Sailor Ringless Epinard (Zoom) available for when I wanted a different colorer a thicker line. They were rarely used.
In addition to the usual notes and lists, I did journal every day, but only resulting in about five B5 pages. I did write a lot using a Doane Paper Writing Pad, I use the larger size. While the paper can’t be called fountain pen friendly, I like the way my fountain pens perform & feel on it. I also find the pads conducive to writing.
The Aion should run dry later today. That would mean the cartridge was used up in just under two weeks, a real feat for me. If not, it’s already close enough that I won’t feel guilty flushing it out sometime today. When inverted, the remaining ink just fills the tapered section of the Lamy cartridge. I have other already inked pens that I want to use, so I’ll put the Aion aside for a bit. I want to see how long I can go before missing it so much that I have to ink it up. I had said in a previous post, I liked the Aion’s nib so much that I might not follow through on my plan to swap it for a 14k Oblique-Medium. When I do ink it up again, I will be swapping it. I have a new OM that I want to test, so I’ll use this pen. I don’t have any obliques inked up, and I’m missing them.
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
Listening:Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson (audiobook). I finished it. Finally. Despite the length of time it took to read it, I enjoyed it and downloaded the third (and final) volume in the series, but haven’t started it. Reading:Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. I haven’t made much more progress. I’m still not engaged with the story. It’s a relatively short book, yet my two-week library loan ran out. I debated, then renewed it since there wasn’t a waiting list for it.
Retro 51 Vintage Metalsmith, Lincoln Antique Copper (Fine): Over the years I stopped at many tag/garage/yard sales, keeping my eye out for fountain pens, among other things. I don’t remember ever buying one at a tag sale. This year I’ve made two stops, and bought two pens. I already have the stub version of this pen, and was not on the lookout for this pen. But at a tag sale price, and still sealed in the packaging, I bought it.
Out of Rotation
I changed to name of this section since I may remove pens from the rotation before they’re actually written dry, and changed the name of the next section to maintain the theme.
Retro 51 Vintage Metalsmith, Lincoln Antique Copper (stub): Stub nibs, especially 1.1mm stubs, aren’t for me. So, I haven’t used this one in awhile and the ink is mostly evaporated from the cartridge. I cleaned it out before it evaporated completely. One reason I got the pen is to see if the new supplier (for the pen) nib performed more to my liking. It is, much less wet, with an ink line that’s appropriate for the nib. My previous Retro 51 Lincoln stub was a gusher.
I’m a Red Sox fan, so I had to include this. No link, since this won’t last very long, I had to grab Saturday’s standings for posterity. Especially with that last place team. And yes, I fully expect this to be fodder for ridicule in October.