TWSBI is a brand that has a loyal following on the pen forums and their new releases are eagerly anticipated. I haven’t shared that enthusiasm despite having a couple of their pens. At least that was the case until I got the TWSBI Vac 700, which I love.
Why I Bought It
It’s a relatively large pen, which I like. It’s also a clear demonstrator so there’s a nice view of the ink sloshing around in the pen. Finally, the vacuum filling system is unique in my accumulation.
Where I Bought It & What I Bought
I bought the clear demonstrator with an extra fine nib from Goulet Pens. The pen came with the newer Jowo nib. Later I added 4 more nibs for the pen since it’s so easy to swap the nib. This gives me EF, F, M, B and 1.1mm nibs. None of the nibs require replacing the inner cap that came with the EF on the original pen.
- Capped Length: 5.78″ (146.83 mm)
- Uncapped Length: 5.20″ (132.28 mm)
- Posted Length: 6.86″ (174.36 mm)
- Diameter at Cap Band: 0.6365″ (16.16 mm)
- Diameter of Barrel: 0.59″ (15mm)
- Diameter of Section: 0.421″ (10.69mm) at top tapers to 0.3985″ (10.12mm) near nib
I wrote a more extensive fist impression back in February. I like the pen and the metal plunger bar doesn’t ruin the demonstrator effect for me the way a convertor does.
The vacuum filling system took a little getting used to, but it was kind of fun. While opening and closing the seal is straight-forward my initial curiosity caused a few minor ink accidents.
The pen wrote a little drier than I expected. Not poorly, just dry. The nibs seem to be more along the lines of Asian rather than European nib sizes.
As mentioned, it’s a vacuum filler. It’s easy to use and one plunge gives me more than enough ink. If you’re the type who wants a full pen it’s a bit more complicated. Brian from Goulet Pens has a video on getting a complete fill. See the links at the bottom of this article.
I find one cycle of the piston gives me enough ink. The photos in the gallery show the pen just after I filled it with one push of the plunger.
How I Use It
I use it as a daily writer with the extra fine nib, The pen is comfortable for long writing sessions. I use the pen unposted and it’s very light despite its size.
It’s also become my pen for ink testing, thanks to the five nibs. Typically I test the ink with all the nibs and then use the extra fine nib as my writer for the next day or two.
Swapping the nibs is easy, the entire section unscrews and is swapped. The inner cap doesn’t need replacement even though the nibs range from EF to 1.1mm. I do empty the ink back into the bottle before swapping nibs, This isn’t necessary to swap nibs but I do it because there’s still a lot of ink in the feed and I don’t want to waste it.
The pen comes in the typical TWSBI box. A cardboard box over a plastic case holding the pen. The case also holds a small amount of silicone grease, extra o-rings for the filler, and instructions. There’s also a wrench for removing the vacuum filler at the blind cap. Not elaborate, but functional and in keeping with TWSBI’s tradition of user serviceable pens.
The pen is plastic but well made. It feels solidly built and is comfortable to hold. I don’t post my pens and the barrel is plenty long enough for me. The cap does post securely although it seems a little too back heavy. But that comes from someone who doesn’t post.
The screw cap takes about 1 1/2 turns to cap/uncap the pen.
The vacuum seal has to be opened for longer writing sessions. I get over 3 pages with the seal closed while using my extra fine nib. For longer sessions the seal is opened by turning the blind cap. I unscrew it until it’s just at the top of the threads, I don’t physically pull the cap up. I did pull it up slightly when I first got the pen which seemed to force a bit extra ink back into the feed or even out of the pen when closing the seal later.
I noticed a significant amount of ink in the cap at the end of the first day that I carried the pen out and about. While I didn’t notice any problems when closing up the pen I suspect that since I had the seal open a little too far extra ink was forced into the feed and it spattered out while the pen was being carried. This hasn’t returned since I just unscrew the blind cap and didn’t pull it up off the threads.
I wondered what would happen if I forgot to close the seal while carrying the pen. So I filled it with water, opened the seal a little more than normal, and carried the pen in my pocket for a day. No water leaked from the opened blind cap. The pen cap did have some condensation in it.
There doesn’t seem to be any silicone grease on the section threads, but I haven’t had any leaking or ink creeping along the threads.
Writing With The Pen
I find all the nibs to be on the thin and dry side, more like Asian than European nibs, which I like. Even though I said the nibs are on the dry side the flow is consistently good. It puts down enough ink to read and reflects the shading and line variation properties of the ink.
The pen is comfortable to hold. My fingers do touch the threads slightly, but they aren’t sharp so I don’t notice them.
Despite its size, it’s relatively light. My hand doesn’t feel fatigued after using the pen awhile.
Cleaning The Pen
The pen is easy to clean. With some inks I just needed to repeat a few filling cycles with water. For a thorough cleaning the section can be removed so the nib/section with a bulb syringe and the barrel can be flushed. If really needed, the pen can be completely disassembled , although I’ve yet to do so myself.
Since it’s my standard ink test pen my resent ink notes have used it – J. Herbin Cafe Des Iles and Lie De The’ along with Diamine Strauss. I didn’t have problems with any of the inks.
I really like the TWSBI Vac 700. Part of the fun was the learning the quirks of the vacuum filling system. I have no desire to completely fill the pen, which means it’s extremely easy to fill and still have three times as much in as a typical convertor.
The Vac 700 comes with silicone grease, a wrench and extra o-rings. So I assume there will be wear and tear over time which will require maintenance. But the pen has been great out of the box.
My main hesitation with TWSBI has always been two things. First, they’re described as great pens for the price. And second, they have great customer service but it seems to be needed a lot. While neither is necessarily bad, both also sound a lot like back-handed compliments. For me, the TWSBI Vac 700 is a fun pen to use, a good writer, and a great value at $80. No customer service needed, I can see why people like TWSBI.
Goulet pens has a few videos about this pen.
Getting a Full Fill
Removing the Vacuum Filler O-Rings – To avoid needing to open the seal. Not something I tried, I like seal.