Pen & Ink Notes: Pilot Custom 823 with Pelikan Blue-Black

Pilot Custom 823 fine nib with Pelikan Blue-Black ink bottleMy Pilot Custom 823 (review), with its fine nib, was inked up back on Sept. 19th and went dry on Dec 2nd (yes, I’m slow in getting this posted). A run of 70 days on a full tank of ink. I picked Pelikan Blue-Black (the 4001 line, not Edelstein) rather than my typical choice of Pilot ink for this fountain pen.

I’m conflicted about the Custom 823. It’s a terrific writer and very comfortable in my hand. It’s great for long writing sessions. Yet, nothing about the aesthetics appeals to me. It’s a colored plastic demonstrator which I don’t like, although it’s brown which I do like. It’s got gold trim which I don’t like, but it works with the brown color. I don’t think it’s a ugly fountain pen, but it doesn’t catch my eye. And this helps explain why such a great writer took 70 days to write dry, it just doesn’t catch my eye.

I like the Pelikan Blue-Black ink. I’m not a enamored with it as many people are. I like dry writing ink, although I used to like them more in the past. My tastes are changing and I prefer a little more flow these days, at least when I’m writing long form (as opposed to notes and lists). The Pilot nib is a good writer but not a wet writer, so the combination is on the dry side. It never skipped, or even felt like skipping. The ink isn’t available in the Unites States (I believe this applies to Canada and Mexico too since the distributer is in the US). It uses a chemical that’s not on the right EPA list. Technically it’s not banned, just not tested and that testing would cost money.

Despite spending 70 days in the pen the Pelikan Blue-Black was easily flushed out. I did cheat a bit. I wrote the pen dry Wednesday morning. Rather than let it sit until the weekend I quickly flushed it a couple times to remove most of the ink, then left it filled with water until I cleaned it on Sunday. The remaining ink was easily and quickly flushed from the pen. The Pelikan ink has a reputation of being super easy to clean, so this soaking may not have had any effect.

The Pilot Custom 823 will be returning to the pen case for storage. It will be back, no doubt about that. The Pelikan Blue-Black is nice enough but I don’t foresee it returning to this pen but it’s already in another of my fountain pens.


Ink & Pen Notes: Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with P.W. Akkerman Oranje Boven

Pilot Vanishing Point Red Bamboo with Akkermann Oranje BovenBoth the Cherry Bamboo Vanishing Point and the Left Oblique nib are relatively new, arriving in June. P.W. Akkerman Oranje Boven is only the second ink for this pen and nib. I like the color orange, but it seems like orange fountain pen inks never live up to my expectations. I’ve also never tried an Akkerman ink so picking Oranje Boven as my first Akkerman ink was a leap of faith.

I picked the left oblique nib for this ink because I figured the bright color would benefit from the wide, at least for me, nib and the line variation would go well with any shading. Well, there wasn’t any shading to speak of. Other than that I found it to be a nice ink. There was just a bit of feathering on some paper and the line wasn’t always true to the nib size. The nice bright color made up for these minor deficiencies.

Still, this ink & pen combo never really grabbed my attention. I inked it up back on August 10th. I took about six weeks for me to write the pen dry (I’m a little slow getting these notes posted). Considering that the capacity of the con–20 converter is relatively small this tells that I wasn’t enamored by this nib and ink.

I currently have over a dozen pens inked so the Vanishing Point and the left oblique nib will get a bit of a rest. I do like the nib and the pen so it will be back in the rotation soon enough.

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.

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 & Pen Notes – Pilot VP Maplewood w/XXXF nib and Pilot black

Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood XXXF writing sample with Pilot Black InkI wrote the Maplewood Pilot Vanishing Point dry faster than I expected, it was just over a month ago that I inked it up. These days my pens tend to stay inked longer than that. Especially considering the XXXF nib is miserly and puts down a ultra thin line so the ink lasts a long time. The Black ink cartridge is the option with the largest ink capacity for the Vanishing Point. (Although the con–20 aerometric converter can equal it if it gets a maximum fill.)

Despite the ultra fine nib this pen never had any hard starts or skipping. The Pilot black ink was dark enough to put down an easily visible line. The nib is thin so smooth is a relative term. I’m not sure any XXXF nib could be called smooth but I actually like the feed back I get from this nib and enjoy the writing experience it provides. I use the nib on a variety of paper that I encounter during the day and rarely have a problem. Some cheap or course paper can cause problems, such as fiber getting stuck in the nib, but luckily this is rare. Cheap paper doesn’t mean copy/printer paper, which this nib handles just fine.

I can use the nib in any pocket notebook no matter what the paper is since bleed and show through aren’t a problem with such a fine line. A thin line also means the ink dries quickly, so no smudging when I close the notebook right after writing the note.

While I don’t mind a little nib creep and even enjoy some ink splatter on the nib, this pen experience serious nib creep as can be seen in the photo. I noticed this when I went to swap the nib with my Cherry Bamboo VP and ended up with ink all over my fingers. (I ended up not swapping to avoid getting ink inside both pens.) This was my one complaint about this pen, although I didn’t flush out the pen because of it.

Pilot Vanishing Point XXXF nib custom grind showing Pilot black ink nib creep

Vanishing points are super easy to clean since the nib unit is removable. I used a bulb syringe to force water through to clean the inside and cleaned the ink off the outside of the nib unit in short order. There was ink inside the barrel in this case, thanks to the creep, which I cleaned with cotton swabs. I hesitate to use water or pen flush inside the VP for fear of rusting or corroding the trap door assembly. I’ll modify that policy if dried ink does eventually clogs the VPs trap door.

The functionality of the Pilot Vanishing Point is well served with this nib and ink. It’s very utilitarian and works consistently all the time. I tend to use the pen for notes, often quick one-sentence notes. With this pen and a notebook in my shirt pocket I’m less likely to reach for my phone to take quick notes since it’s faster.

I also use the pen for longer note taking sessions such as in meetings or training classes. As it happens, this combo is usually used when I’m emphasizing speed over almost everything else. My writing also happens to be generally smaller in these case, or maybe that’s because of the nib. While I do have a light touch with the nib, a trait that helps with ultra thin nibs, I sometimes find myself pressing a little harder when I’m concentrating on the subject of my notes rather than the writing itself. This nib also handles that without a problem.

I tend to not use this XXXF nib for pure writing sessions, such as the draft for blog articles or other long form writing. But I did try it out and found that it performed well and was comfortable for what turned out to be about a hour long writing session. Some of this is just because I used the VP a lot during the day and want to use a different pen. But while the line is very thin and immensely practical, it’s not very exciting.

This fountain pen, ink and nib combination is nearly perfect for what I use it for. In this case it’s less the pen barrel than the nib and ink, but I’ve grown to really prefer the wooden Vanishing Points over the metal barrels. The Maplewood is comfortable to hold and has a nice warm feel to it.

Despite being nearly perfect I decided not to immediately ink it up again. Mainly because I want to give my other pens a chance. I have two new pens due this week, one of which should be a very thin nib such as this one. While it won’t be as quick to action, it will serve much the same purpose.

I reviewed the Maplewood VP, but with medium nib, here. The nib is a custom grind from Richard Binder and has not been reviewed.