Ink & Pen Notes: Sheaffer Balance Aspen (F/M) with Montblanc Permanent Grey

Sheaffer Balance II Aspen (M) with Montblanc Permanent Grey ink bottleI inked up my Sheaffer Balance Aspen (a.k.a. Sheaffer Balance II Aspen) with its usual Montblanc Permanent Grey ink way back on February 13th. So it’s been inked up for a few months. Despite infrequent use over those months there was never any skipping or hard starts.

There’s nothing new for me to say about this pen & ink combination, it’s a favorite pen and ink pairing.

While I’m not usually paranoid about damage to my fountain pens this one is an exception. I’m actively paranoid about damaging this pen which limits my use of it. I keep it ensconced in a Visconti single pen case so it’s out of site and therefore out of mind. I only use the Aspen when writing is my main focus which means the pen will stay in my hand and not be waved around a lot. I never use it while taking notes doing research where the pen might get put down or need constant capping/uncapping, so it’s excluded from a considerable amount of my writing these days. Plus, I always said I would never buy a pen that I wouldn’t take out and about with me, but I have to admit that while this pen has left the house, it’s a really rare occurrence and an honest appraisal says this pen breaks that rule.

The pen was extremely easy to clean, despite having a permanent ink in it for 5 months. Part of that may be because the grey ink is easy to dilute in water so it appears perfectly clean much faster than a bright ink.

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen and Montblanc Permanent Grey will both get a rest. When they return it will almost certainly be together.

Sheaffer Balance II Aspen (M) with Montblanc Permanent Grey writing sample

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Ink & Pen Notes: Newton Eastman (#2314-F & #2442) with Montblanc Irish Green

Newton Pens Eastman (Esterbrook) with Montblanc Irish Green bottleI could be wrong, but I think the Newton Eastman with Montblanc Irish Green ink holds the record for longest time to write dry without a refill. This is mainly due to it’s huge 5 ml capacity. It’s also a pen that doesn’t travel well, so it’s homebound which does limit its use.

The Newton Eastman is a custom fountain pen by Shawn Newton which was built to use vintage Esterbrook nibs that are interchangeable. The pen started with the #2314-F Fine Stub when it was inked on November 2nd of last year. A month later I swapped it for the #2442 which is also a fine stub nib. I had planned to continue swapping nibs every month or so, but this one remained until the pen went dry on June 12th. I liked it.

As expected, the pen has a petulant streak to it. There’s a lot of ink in there, which switches to a lot of air as the pen is used. Plus, these are vintage nibs that were never intended to have so much ink trying to gush through them. While the amount may vary between specific nibs, the ink drips into the cap if it’s bouncing around in my bag. Or rolls off my desk. Or falls off my pen stand. Or any number of other causes. At first I was constantly cleaning out the cap as the splatter in that shiny clear acrylic bothered me. But eventually I grew tired of dealing with it and eventually grew to even like it. My experience with Montblanc Irish Green gave me the confidence that staining wouldn’t be a problem.

The Eastman also has a tendency to burp (drip ink from the nib) while writing once the the ink level dropped to about 3/4 full. This was mostly controllable by uncapping the pen then wrapping my hand around the barrel to warm it up before using the pen. But as the ink level dropped to about 1/4 the burping became more frequent and I had to watch for any ink accumulation on the nib and wipe it off before it dripped or repeat the warming process to let air out as I wrote.

Technically, I didn’t write the pen dry. There was a page or two of ink left but the burping became a real problem once the ink level didn’t even reach the barrel so I flushed the pen.

Despite its petulance I really enjoy using the Eastman. The pen is large but light. There’s no metal (well, just the steel nib), there’s not even a converter to add weight. The large pen is comfortable in my hand and I can use it for extended writing sessions without getting fatigued.

The pen was easy to clean despite being inked over seven months. The only ink that remained after a quick pass under running water was the ink that had worked it’s way into the cap & barrel threads. A quick bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and a q-tip got the ink out of the threads with little effort.

The Newton Eastman will get a bit of a break. I have 11 pens recently inked so there’s a lot of ink I need to run through. Adding another 5 ml would overwhelm me. Montblanc Irish Green has been a favorite green ink for a long time, although it has some recent competition so it may be awhile before it returns to a pen.

Newton Eastman (2314-F) with Montblanc Irish Green Writing Sample

Newton Eastman (2442) with Montblanc Irish Green Writing Sample

Ink & Pen Notes: Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) and Montblanc Bordeaux Ink

Montblanc Meisterstuck Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux bottleMontblanc Bordeaux is the only ink I’ve used in my Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand fountain pen with its oblique medium nib. This time around it took me over four months to write the pen dry. The long duration was due more to a drought in my writing than any dislike of the pen & ink. The pen is better suited, at least for me, to sit at the desk and just write sessions than taking notes. There just hasn’t been much of that prior to June.

Because of this the Ultra Black spent a lot of time sitting unused on my desk, or nib up in a pen case. Yet it wrote perfectly when I did uncap it for use. There wasn’t a hit of a hard start, ever, and it was completely skip-free.

The oblique nib is at a good angle for my typical writing posture. Medium nibs are a bit wider than my typical choice, but I’ve grown to like them more as I’ve used them. This isn’t a pen I use to take notes while holding a pocket notebook, but it’s a solid writer when I’m at a desk or table.

There’s really not much else for me to say. The pen is a piston filler so cleaning is tedious as expected, but it was relatively fast. It was time to give the pen a cleaning, but I didn’t obsess over it since it will soon be refilled with the same ink.

The Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand and Montblanc Bordeaux will again be paired and soon return to the rotation.

Montblanc Meisterstuck Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

Ink & Pen Notes: Sheaffer PFM I with Montblanc Lucky Orange

Sheaffer PFM I (capped) with Montblanc Lucky OrangeIt’s been awhile since I flushed a fountain pen of ink before I’ve written it dry. I’ve been writing them dry unless they become annoying to use. My vintage Sheaffer PFM I with its fine nib and Montblanc’s new Lucky Orange ink became that annoying pen and ink combination.

Other reviewers have mentioned that Lucky Orange has a tendency to dry out on the nib but it did OK in my Sailor King of Pen so I decided to give it a try in a thinner nib. The PFM I would be dry after spending the night stored nib up. But then gravity would quickly bring ink to the tip and the pen would write perfectly the rest of the day. So it wasn’t annoying or especially unusual.

The Sheaffer PFM I was in use for a couple of weeks, during which I enjoyed using it. The find nib and bright line meant it got used every day, even if it wasn’t a lot of use. Typically short notes or marking up a document. Then it spent a couple days flat on my desk and needed more than gravity to get going.

Sheaffer PFM I (extra fine) with dried Montblanc Lucky Orange

Dried ink clogging the feed

I could see the dried, crusty ink between the nib and the feed. A dry towel wasn’t enough to get things going. A little water would have fixed it, I’m sure. But I put the pen aside and picked another. When I did bring the pen to water it was to flush it out. I have little patience for finicky fountain pens these days. A problem that makes me get up from my desk to resolve is unforgivable.

As expected, cleaning the pen was a pain. This pen is a pain to clean even with the easiest to flush ink. In this case it was made worse because there was still plenty of ink in the pen. Staining wasn’t a problem and the crusty ink washed away quickly. But the orange dye remained, and remained. Once I got most of the ink out I started filling it with water and leaving it nib down in a tissue for several hours, then repeating whenever I get around to it.

I like the Montblanc Lucky Orange ink and will use it in another pen, although I’ll pick one that’s easy to clean and has a wet nib. The Sheaffer PFM I remains a favorite writer. The nib and size are ideal for me. I’ll stick to known well-behaved inks.

Sheaffer PFM I (extra fine) with Montblanc Lucky Orange writing sample

Sheaffer PFM I (extra fine) uncapped with Montblanc Lucky Orange

Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple bottleI inked up the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Lavender Purple back on December 8th and was immediately disappointed. One thing I’ve liked about most Montblanc inks was their ability to have a little “pop” along with line variation, even in my fine and extra fine nibs. Not so for this Montblanc ink, at least in this pen with this extra fine nib.

The line put down was more of a dark blue-black than purple, with no line variation. Then to make matters worse it’s slow to dry, leading to many accidental smudges. Those smudges do bring out the purple in the ink, so at least there’s that. If I use white paper in good light I can call that thin line purple. I’ll give the ink a try in a medium nib. There are those who love the ink so I have no doubt the right nib will improve the color, although it will probably lead to even longer drying times.

There was heavy show through, especially considering the thin nib, in the Write Notepads wire bound notebooks I use for much of my business note taking. There wasn’t any actual bleed-through.

There was some rumors of a reformulation when the ink was unavailable at retailers a couple of years ago. This was a recent purchase, so if there was a reformulation I certainly have the reformulation, not an older bottle.

The Homo Sapien has a power filler, like a vac filler, and does not come apart for cleaning. I wouldn’t normally make this a first pen for any new ink, especially a purple which has a reputation of being a harder to clean color, but Montblanc inks have always been easy to clean (waterproof inks aside). So I gave it a try since I wanted to try this ink and keep the pen in the rotation. This was easily the most tedious of my inks to clean from this pen. After 15 minutes of filling and flushing I gave in and held the nib in the ultrasonic cleaner for another 15 minutes or so. After this and a couple more flushes and shakes into a tissue the water seemed to run clean. I filled the pen with water, wrapped it in a tissue, and left it nib down in a shot glass overnight. In the morning the tissue was caked with ink, mostly from where the feed inserts into the section. Lots of ink in those nooks and crannies. So some more flushing and it’s back in the shot glass tonight. If there’s still signs of ink I’ll give up and just fill the pen to get it back in the rotation.

Except for drying slower than I would like the ink performed great. Flow was excellent and problem free. I plan to give the ink a try in a medium nib next, I suspect it will look a lot better. I’ll also pick a converter pen to make cleaning easy. It may be awhile, but the ink has potential so I will give it another try.

The Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age is a favorite, so it will be back in the rotation later today, although I haven’t picked the ink yet.

The Homo Sapien Bronze Age is long overdue for a full review, but there’s more information and pictures in my year old This Just In post.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age (EF) with Montblanc Lavender Purple writing sample

Ink & Pen Notes: Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux bottleI matched this fountain pen and ink back on November 25th, when the pen first arrived (This Just In post with my first impressions). It seemed only fitting to pair the new Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand with my absolute favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux.

It took a long time to write this pen dry, over two months. This is much longer than I would have estimated. Even though it’s a large capacity piston filler taking two months to write dry gives the impression that I didn’t like the combination. That would be the wrong impression.

Montblanc Ultra Black Fountain Pen oblique medium nib front viewThe oblique medium nib is a factory nib, not a custom grind. The pen fits my hand well and the oblique nib meets the paper perfectly with my natural grip. But it’s a finicky nib. If my writing position isn’t stable it will skip a lot. I often write on a lap desk, or on the unstable left side of an open notebook. In these situations I often have to work too hard for the writing experience to be enjoyable. My note taking can also be a little haphazard so I avoid the pen for that too. I’m writing the draft of this article at my desk, on a sturdy Doane Paper writing pad and it’s a great experience.

I already refilled the Montblanc Ultra Black with the same Montblanc Bordeaux ink. Curiosity may drive me to try another ink in this pen, but I think these two will have a long-term relationship. I still have three unopened bottles of the long-discontinued Bordeaux (ink, not wine). I did mention that it’s my favorite ink, didn’t I?

It’s a great fountain pen and nib for the times I want to just sit down and write (at a sturdy desk or table).

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand (OM) with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

Ink & Pen Notes: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M) with Montblanc Lucky Orange

Sailor Pro Gear KOP (M) with Montblanc Lucky Orange bottleLucky Orange is Montblanc’s latest Limited Edition ink and a recent addition to my ink accumulation. I picked the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with a medium nib as the inaugural fountain pen for the ink. It’s the sixth ink for this pen and it’s third straight orange.

I have to say, Montblanc Lucky Orange is my favorite orange ink so far, although it hasn’t been perfect. I admit to having a bias towards Montblanc inks since they usually perform consistently well in my pens, especially my typical thin nib, and I expected (and want) to like this ink.

Dried Montblanc Lucky Orange in the feedAs usual the Sailor KOP performed well. Lucky Orange is a straight-on, vibrant orange. There wasn’t any real shading or line variation with this nib. The flow was consistently good. This was despite the feed showing signs of the ink drying out more than usual. I didn’t have any problems with the ink drying out on the nib when I was using the pen, even with pauses of about 2 minutes. The ink was easy to clean from the pen.

The ink seems to go onto the paper nearly dry but that’s an allusion. I had a few accidental smudges while taking notes as the dry time is longer than I expected. I needed about 30 – 45 seconds to avoid smudges, depending on the paper. The drying time is my only complaint about this ink.

The ink lasted well over a month. I typically used the pen to write headings as I took notes. I did use it for regular writing on occasion, but a full page of this bright orange is a bit bright if I (or anyone else) wants to read the page.

I considered giving it a second fill of Lucky Orange but decided to try the ink in a thin nib next. I already know I like it with this one and I’m curious about how the ink will do in a fine or extra fine nib.

Montblanc Lucky Orange is a Limited Edition ink, but like most LE inks there’s not much of a clue as to how limited it is (or isn’t). Since Montblanc doesn’t have an orange in their ink lineup I decided to risk a purchase of two bottles. I don’t regret the purchase.

Both Montblanc Lucky Orange and the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen will soon return to the rotation, just not together.

Sailor Pro Gear KOP (M) with Montblanc Lucky Orange writing sample