Review: Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln EXT

Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln

I’m a fan of the Retro 51 Tornado Roller Ball pens and the Lincoln version of that pen tops the list. So when I saw there was a fountain pen Lincoln I couldn’t place the order fast enough. My only other Retro 51 fountain pen was a Double 8 which had one of the poorest build qualities I’ve encountered. But since the copper Lincoln was in the tried-and-true Tornado design I wasn’t concerned.

Why I Got It

It’s a fountain pen version of the Lincoln Tornado Rollerball. The only reason I needed.

What I Got

Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln mib

A copper colored metal fountain pen with a medium nib. Retro 51 calls the finish “antique copper”. The pen can use a standard international convertor (and comes with one) or short international cartridges and comes with two cartridges in the barrel. It’s a Schmidt nib.

I bought my pen from where it was priced significantly less then other reputable sellers, although they only had the medium nib version.

The “EXT” in the name just indicates that this pen is longer than the original Tornado pens (extended).

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.452″  (138.50 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.945″  (125.60 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.255″  (158.91 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.670″  (17.02 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.366″  (9.31 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near threads): 0.406″  (10.32 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.468″  (11.90 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.518″  (13.17 mm)
  • Cap Length: 2.299″  (58.40 mm)

Using The Pen

It’s a heavy pen, it is made of metal after all. The nib was surprisingly smooth out of the box. Not the smoothest ever, but one of the smoothest I’ve had in a pen under $50. The pen is very long when posted and also a bit top heavy. I don’t typically post my pens so I may not be the best judge, but this doesn’t seem well balanced when posted. But unposted, which is my preference, I find the pen to be quit comfortable.

I used the supplied blue cartridge for a couple of days. The pen wrote well with the ink. But I soon swapped it out for a more interesting ink. I picked J. Herbin Perle Noire in a cartridge. (Yes, black is interesting, especially when compared to blue).

The pen was problem free with the Perle Noire for the first couple of days. Then one morning the nib and feed were completely dry. I ended up having to flush the nib and feed with a bulb syringe. The pen returned to normal when I returned the cartridge. So there was probably some debris in the pen.

The nib does often skip on the first stroke after being uncapped for use, but it’s fine after that. This became more common as the ink level in the cartridge fell. The ink does evaporate off the nib a little quicker on this pen than others I’ve used this ink in.

I have been using Iroshizuku Tsukushi in the convertor and the slow starts have been non-existent so far (about 4 days) . The ink does still evaporate from the nib quicker than I’m used to. I have to cap the pen when I put down or pause for more than 30 seconds.

The pen is heavier than many of my other pens, but not so heavy I get fatigued. It would be considerably heavier and less balanced if I posted the cap. It’s a threaded cap which fits securely although sometimes the cap needs a little extra care to line up the threads properly to screw on the cap. It takes about 2 twists to uncap the pen.

Cleaning the Pen

Cleaning was easy. A few flushes of the nib unit with a bulb syringe and it was ink free.


J. Herbin Perle Noire in a cartridge is the ink I’ve used the most in this pen. There was the need to flush the pen but this was probably paper fibers or something else clogging the feed. There were hard starts, just a brief skip on the first stroke. They got more frequent as the ink level in the cartridge went down. This was annoying but not a huge problem since the writing was consistent after that first miss.

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi was used in the converter. There wasn’t any skipping on the first stroke or any other time.

Wrapping Up

I really like the copper look of the pen and expect it to develop a distinctive patina similar to the rollerball. The nib is good, very good most of the time, but not great. This is a pen I’d be willing to have the nib worked on, maybe stubbed or ground to a fine or extra fine. That would cost nearly as much as the pen but I think it could join the ranks of my favorites after that. It’s already a favorite in the looks department.

8 thoughts on “Review: Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln EXT

  1. I’ve got one on order from a local shop, Shapiro’s, the only Retro 51 reseller in all of Idaho. Pen shoudl be here in a another week. I am paying full list, probably $55, because it’s important for me to buy from local retailers. I work at a public utility; local firms have no options to buy from anyone else in my business and $10-11 is not much of a premium and, who knows? maybe they’ll stock a few more fountain pens.

    I shall be back in a few weeks to comment on my first Retro 51 pen and compare it to my many Sheaffers. Thanks for your post. There are not enough online resources for Retro 51’s FPs.

    • Hi David. Glad you have a local dealer. I have no local fountain pen dealers and to be honest I didn’t think of checking with a Retro 51 dealer to see if they’d order one. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Good point on maybe they’ll stock them. I’d have paid the full price if it was a B&M store, like you said, not really that much of a premium.

      I’d be interested in how you like it. Like you said, not much info online.


  2. My Lincoln EXT fountain pen, from the Tornado series by Retro 1951, arrived 2013-12-13. Lovely item, good solid feel, smooth medium nib which lays down a wet and glistening line. So much ink the pen cannot be used on Moleskine’s terrible paper, just soaks through. That’s okay with me, I only use the recto side of any page. I will be writing with Sheaffer’s turquoise, using the convertor (included), after the installed black universal cartridge is expended. I like the screw-on cap but, posted, the whole thing is quite long and heavy at the top end; too heavy for me to use comfortably. Not a problem, I have other pens that cannot be used posted. The brand, finish and color are unique in my collection, I’m a Sheaffer guy. But I’ve wanted a copper-clad or -colored pen for several years just because it’s, you know, COPPER. More later.

    • David, glad to hear about your Retro. Agree it’s a wet writer, more so than I usually like. I’m still debating getting the nib ground down to a fine or extra fine but I’m liking the medium more an more. Not for every pen, but working for this one.


  3. Ray, the only thing that’s bugging me is the section–it’s slippery. Compared to my Sheaffers, the Retro Lincoln’s nib is a long way from where my fingers naturally fall. The section is black plastic and is buffed to be nearly frictionless. I shall probably scuff it up with an abrasive to keep the pen from sliding around in my lose grip. This thing lays down a lot of ink!

    • Hi David. I hadn’t really noticed the positioning of the nib/section as being different than my other pens. But I just pulled out a new Sheaffer Intensity (which I’ve yet to ink up) and it is a significantly bigger nib as it is compared to my Snorkels. Scuffing up a pen seem sacrilege 🙂 but in this case would probably help on the plastic and be worth it. It is certainly smooth and potentially slippery. I’m still considering getting some nib work done to make it a fine. It does lay down more ink than I’m used to but I’m kind of growing to like it, since it is different than my other pens.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Pingback: Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln | That One Pen

  5. Pingback: Retro 51 Tornado Lincoln Copper Fountain Pen Review | THE UNROYAL WARRANT

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