Brian Gray announced his latest Signature Line pen, the Menlo Pump Filler, just before the Washington DC pen show. It interested me because it was a different filling system from Edison. I already have Parker Vacumatics which are similar to the Menlo filling system, so it wasn’t new for me. I had budgeted for a new Signature Line pen this year but was holding out for DC since I wanted to check out the available materials in person. While the filling system is very Vacumatic like, Brian makes it clear that this isn’t intended to be a Parker Vacumatic pen. That said, the filling system is so Vacumatic like that the same tools used to repair a Vacumatic can be used take apart the Menlo filling system.
One thing going against the Menlo, at least for me, was that I prefer thin nibs. Parker Vacumatics with thin nibs are less expensive than the $350 price of the Menlo. So I wouldn’t be getting one just for the filling system. Still, I looked forward to checking it out at the show.
Obviously I changed my mind once I saw them in person.
Why I Got It
Number one reason – the pen is gorgeous. But there was more.
I’m a fan of Edison Pens, this is my seventh, the second that’s a Signature Line. For my next Signature Line pen I was looking for an acrylic that had some translucence. Not a demonstrator, but some translucence. This particular material fit the bill perfectly.
The design has the classic cigar shape which I also like and find comfortable to hold and to write with. This ended up being the design I wanted.
What I Got
Since I could see the material I never thought to ask what the official name is, but I’m pretty sure it’s the red tortoise acrylic. The pen has an extra fine steel nib which I have found to be smooth writers suitable for daily use. They aren’t a Japanese extra fine, but thin enough for me. They aren’t a wet noodle, but they are some of wetter extra fine nibs that I have.
As usual, there’s some wiggle room to avoid scratching the pen with the calipers.
- Length Capped: 5.755″ (148.18 mm)
- Length Uncapped: 5.131″ (130.34 mm)
- Section Length (incl threads): 0.776″ (19.73 mm)
- Section length (below threads): 0.564″ (14.33 mm)
- Section Diameter (top – below threads): 0.446″ (11.33 mm)
- Section Diameter (near nib) 0.380″ (9.68 mm)
- Barrel Diameter: 0.514″ (13.07 mm)
- Cap Diameter (at band): 0.564″ (14.33 mm)
According to the Edison Pen website, the pen weighs 21g with the cap and 15g uncapped.
Using The Pen
Like my other Edison Pens, the Menlo is a light pen, made of acrylic with very little metal. It takes two twists to unscrew the cap. Not two full rotations, but two twists of my fingers. The pen is comfortable and a good size to use unposted. The cap does post securely, although friction is the only thing keeping it on the pen. It didn’t seem to heavy or unbalanced when posted but that’s from someone who uses their pens unposted..
The nib and feed are smooth and easily keep up with my writing, putting down a consistent line.
The pen has a large ink capacity and is easily filled to capacity. Although doing so may have been a mistake. I’m still working on that first fill. It takes awhile with a extra fine nib.
The threads are high on the section but my thumb still touches them a bit. I hadn’t noticed because they aren’t sharp at all.
One thing to note, the nib/feed units are modified and the nibs from other Edison Pens can’t be used.
As I mentioned, the pen is still on its first fill. The only ink I’ve used so far is Montblanc Toffee Brown which gets along really well with the pen. I also like the way it complements the pen material.
Cleaning the Pen
I’ve yet to clean the pen but since the nib section comes off it should be easy to clean out any stubborn ink residue. A supply of silicone grease is provided so it can be applied to the threads when reattaching the section.
Even though I can, I’d prefer not to disassemble a pen every time I clean it. Based upon my Vacumatics I don’t think it will be too difficult to flush it out, although the repeated filling and emptying may become tedious. I’ll probably take it apart if I’m cleaning it in preparation for storage, but cleaning for a color change shouldn’t be too difficult.
No disappointments at all with the pen. It’s light and comfortable and for long writing sessions the ink capacity keeps it going.
Appearance is subjective, but I still really love the material and the look of the pen. Gold accents aren’t typically my first choice but in this case it works well with the color. My eyes ignore to accents and are drawn to the red tortoise material. The inner workings and ink show through just enough to add character. I also like the way the nib shows through the cap. It’s not blocked by any inner cap except at the very top, where it’s still somewhat translucent and the inner cap looks to be the same color as the pen. I find myself staring at the pen just admiring it and getting lost in the acrylic.
If I had to find a complaint, it would be that the red tortoise acrylic looks like ink has leaked inside the cap when I look quickly. Not really much of a complaint, especially now that I’ve gotten used to it.
The problem with doing a review so soon after getting the pen is that I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I haven’t noticed anything that I expect to annoy me over time but will update the review if I do.
I was eager to ink up the pen and didn’t get any photos pre-ink, so the barrel’s translucence is disguised by the MB Toffee Brown Ink but it’s similar to the cap. While the pen is inked in the photos, only the barrel has ink inside, the rest is the design of the pen and not ink splatters.