Pilot Vanishing Point Clipectomy

31 03 2018

I’ve done about 25 clipectomies now, so I suppose it’s past time to share my thoughts about the process for those others who may be interested in taking the clips off their Vanishing Points.

I save the clips like trophies. But in a good, sportsmanlike way, not a serial killery way

Step 1: Read Richard Binder’s guide. Read it many many times.

Step 2: Purchase supplies. This included K-D Tools 135 Sprk Plug Terminal Pliers from Amazon (I should get Amazon affiliate links going, shouldn’t I?), a rubber mallet from Home Depot (because leather and rubber are basically the same substance right), then one by one from Michael’s so I could use a coupon each time: G-S Hypo Cement, a heat gun (no, Michael’s Store employee, I do not mean a glue gun), and some chain nose pliers.

Thus begins the tribulations

Step 3: Attempt to follow the instructions. Embrace despair. Realize the instruction statement “some nozzles can be very stubborn” is a vast understatement. Some nozzles are possessed by demons of a most perverse nature, glued together by a bond as yet unaccounted for by mere physical forces. Hallucinate that progress is being made. The hallucinations will keep you from giving up.

The hardest part about a clipectomy is…every part. Literally every part. Especially whatever part you’re working on at the moment.

Step 4: After much suffering, the nose cone will come off. Or it won’t. Still waiting on my original matte black, my yellow, and a blue carbonesque for Alan to reach this step. I’m trying to get better at identifying some tell that will help me figure out which VPs will be easy to take apart and which ones will prove to have been fused together at an unbreakable molecular level. Nose cones that don’t seem seated as tightly, for instance. But I’m not always right. This is the primary reason I have yet to offer/advertise doing clipectomies for other people, because the amount of effort involved is a wild unknown. A tip: put something, like a bit of masking tape or a soft cloth, under the clip where it touches the body, unless you want the wiggling action of trying to get the nose cone off to cause the clip to rub off some of your matte black finish. Oops.

::laughing crying emoji here, and everywhere, segues to just crying emoji::

Step 5: So You Managed to Get the Nose Cone Off. Great! Lay down on the floor and contemplate existence, because there’s a too-good chance that took way too much effort to accomplish.

VICTORY

Step 6: Removing the little retaining clip. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to use any tool under the sun to pull this clip out. I have always had to knock the clip out (typically using a small nail turned upside down so the nail head is able to push down on the retaining clip, inserted from the small end of the nose cone, propped on a nib block, and hammered with a smallish metal hammer), except in one memorable instance where I had to file the little wingfeet off and knock it out the opposite way. That was a tremendous hassle.

This is the fun part

Step 7: The nose cone is free of clip. This is the home stretch. Sunshine and angels singing. Now to decide what color to paint. I like to pick colors that pop. I use either Testor’s enamel paint, or random assorted fingernail polish. Both have served me well.

So fun! So Fancy!

Step 8: Once the paint is dry, reassemble the pen as per Richard’s instructions. Don’t put TOO much glue on or you get a mess of glue oozing out when you reassemble. Oops again.

I’d like to say it gets easier. No, I’d like for it to just actually be easier and I can just say nothing

Step 9: You did it, enjoy! Or, if all this is too much for you, you can always buy one of the clipectomy VPs I’ve done for Crazy Alan’s Emporium. There will typically be a couple available per pen show. I’m glad I learned how to do this procedure, because it would be prohibitively expensive for me to have someone else taking the clips off all my Vanishing Points. And it has allowed me to make my Vanishing Points uniquely mine.

 

Warning: lacking clips, these Vanishing Points will roll away if given the opportunity. Pen rests, pen stands, sleeves, cases, etc. are recommended to keep them from escaping to the wild.

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Pilot Falcon – Red – Rhodium Trim – Soft Extra Fine Nib

30 11 2017

Am I trying to accomplish feats of miniature, or am I just being lazy about making a written portion of the review?

For a pen I’ve kept quite regularly inked, I haven’t said much about the Pilot Falcon. I wasn’t looking for a Pilot Falcon when I bought it last year. Pretty sure I was helping Crazy Alan set up the tables at the Baltimore Washington International Pen show last year when I saw this bright red pen I hadn’t seen before and went, “What is this? What do you want for it? Put it on my tab.” I haven’t been much of a fine/extra fine fountain pen user of late—I want big bold nibs that really show off my inks. But I went for this soft extra fine anyway.

img_2435

Look at it! How could I not?

Fantastic, warm, firetruck red

I’m always a fan of the Pilot aesthetic. Solid, attractive colors with minimalist decoration, dependable pens that are well made. The clip is sturdy; the rhodium bands on the body, cap, and grip look sharp; and the decorative cap band gives it a subtle, unique flair. And the metal disk on top of the cap doubles as a mirror.

Admire my blue-ringed clip-on iPhone macro lens

This weird nib. Let’s talk about this weird nib. I was hoping the Pilot website would have some sleek explanation of how the curvature of the 14K gold nib exactly creates the physics required to produce a soft, semi flex writing experience, but no. So, to make one up, the angle of the metal creates a quantum tectonic microshear in the fabric of space, time, and human decency that makes for a nice, springy nib. There’s line variation to be had for you lucky ducks blessed with the ability to write all flexxily, but for the rest of us it’s just nice to write with.

And periodically attempt to make fancy flexxy writing with

What has made this pen so essential to my life is how well it pairs with my Hobonichi. The monthly spread pages have small boxes. Small boxes require small writing. Perfect for the soft extra fine nib. The Falcon is lightweight and comfortable, with threads that don’t get in the way of my grip style. My go-to ink choice has been Rohrer & Klingner Salix iron gall ink, but I might get in on this Scabiosa and Salix mixing I see the cool kids doing online.

I gaze at myself in my fountain pens until I become one of the cool kids. Is it working yet?

The only thing I’d like to see from the Falcon is Falcons in colors besides red and black. Dark purple? Turquoise/aqua/minty blue green? Warm cheesy yellow? Feel free to make any of these, Pilot. You know where to find me.





Pilot Guilloche Vanishing Point (2016 Limited Edition)

6 10 2016

As long as Pilot keeps coming out with limited editions that I like, we’ll make this particular mini review a yearly tradition. The design isn’t as flashy as last year, but the ombre fade of the Twilight Limited Edition would have been hard to beat. Taking a different direction entirely was probably the best choice.

This year will focus on a complete lack of color altogether


Again, as in at least the past 3 years, the limited edition comes in this honking big box. The details on the box match the pen design, this year being black with guilloche pattern imprint. On to the main attraction:

Cue either seductive music or carnival music, depending on how the phrase “main attraction” has you feeling


Because I intended to make this VP a daily use pen, the clip had to go. I tried using it with the clip on for about half a day, and it just wasn’t working out. Once I wiggled the nose cone off, I was surprised to see something slightly different than what has heretofore been beneath modern VP nose cones.

See the difference. Dare to compare. What conspiracy have I uncovered?


This is the only limited edition VP that I’ve clipectomized so far. Is this a limited edition thing, or is this a change in Pilot’s Vanishing Point design thing? Too soon to tell, but if this is permanent, I may change my clipless VP decorating game plan.

Gentle lighting brought to you by the only sun-facing window in my house, conveniently located next to the red dog bed


I love the guilloche pattern. It’s like my pen is wearing a sweater. The texture provides excellent gripability and makes it more visually interesting than some simple black. The standard limited edition comes with a medium rhodium-plated 18k gold nib, but I got mine from my local pen store with the black-ionized 18k gold nib in fine, for maximum cool factor. Sunglasses are sprouting from my eye sockets as we speak.

It hurts but that is the price you pay to be ineffably cool


I highly doubt the Guilloche will be as sought-after or worth as much money as the 2015 limited edition, but 2015 was unexpected gangbuster hotcakes. The 2016 is a cool, classy limited edition, that sips martinis and generally exists somewhere in the aesthetic crossing of James Bond and Mr. Rodgers.





Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib

10 07 2016

Remind me to upload a scan of this sample later, rather than a picture of it

If you have a very good memory, you’ll recall that I’ve reviewed the Kaweco Sport before. Years ago, in fact. So why am I reviewing a Kaweco Sport again? Well, it’s the Skyline edition with different colors and this one has a clip and it came in a different box all the way from Australia.

It's pretty much an entirely different pen

It’s pretty much an entirely different pen

First off, a general update on the durability of the Kaweco Sport — my original survived a trip through the washing machine without damage and without coming open/putting ink all over my clothes. When the feed broke (for no apparent reason) after 5 years of service, Kaweco saw my Instagram post and got me in contact with their customer service, who sent me a new feed/nib/grip assembly. Great customer service. Very durable little pen.

Stealthy

Cool container, Kaweco

I don’t know if this is the box specific to the Skyline edition, or perhaps specific to a certain geographical distribution area, but this is a cool box. Matte black, stealthy metal tin. Much nicer than the tin my Liliput came in.

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It's super effective!

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It’s super effective!

This pen also came with a clip. When I bought my original Kaweco Sport, I could have ordered the clip separately. Maybe I will. I still can. I’m glad this one came with a clip–it’s sturdy and secure, and help makes the pen easy to find, clipped to the side of a pocket rather than lost in the bottom of a bag. It’s not a clip that will be easily or accidentally knocked off.

cool

Believe me, I tried

The color scheme is refreshing. I prefer silvery accents to gold, so this is more up my alley. And it pairs nicely with the soft mint blue. Can mint be blue?

Sufficient!

I say yes.

The Kaweco Sport is lightweight, being plastic, and pretty comfortable for a compact pen, with its round, slightly curved-in grip. The flat sides on the octagonal cap don’t dig into my hand when I’m holding the pen in my horribly abnormal grip. There is definitely a sweet spot to this nib, and for most of the handwritten version of this review, I’ve been falling off it.

Look close and witness the madness

When it’s on, it’s good stuff. Nice flowing tactile nib. But when it’s off, what a pain. My overwriting angle may be partly to blame. But I probably won’t be entirely satisfied until I’ve fiddled with this nib. Your out of the box experience may vary. Oddly enough, I seem to have little to no problem when I’m using it to jot a quick note, be it at work on a post-it, or on the back of a receipt while on the side of a mountain on a motorcycle trip. It’s just this more longform stuff that brings out the less cooperative aspects of this nib.

Here’s where I’d put a good converter, IF THEY MADE ONE

The biggest drawback to the Kaweco Sport is the lack of a good converter option. The pen takes standard international cartridges, but the body is too short for a proper converter. There’s a squeeze converter available, which doesn’t hold much ink and isn’t the most convenient thing to use, and a mini twist converter that similarly fails to get the job done.

Competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo

A selection of competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo. Most expensive pen in this pic: the Kaweco

The Kaweco Sport (without clip) used to cost $15 when I bought my first one, which made it a competitively priced entry level fountain pen. The higher that price goes, the harder it is for the Kaweco Sport to remain in that category. It doesn’t have much competition in the compact/pocket size entry level fountain pen front, but for how long? At least you know the money gets you something durable backed by a responsive company.

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

All in all, the Kaweco Sport remains a decent little fountain pen well suited to everyday carry. The Skyline colorway is a welcome addition to an enduring product line.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib at NoteMaker

(Notemaker provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Lamy Dark Lilac Fountain Pen and Ink

2 05 2016

I could have reviewed the nib, but ive already swapped on a slightly crisp stubby italic that I ground ahead of this pen’s arrival, which gives you no insight into how it writes right out of the box

A review for the much anticipated Lamy Dark Lilac Safari doesn’t need to be long. Here it is: just buy it. Unless you hate purple, or purple murdered your parents outside a movie theater forcing you into a life of vigilante justice against purple-jacketed villains, then you can pass, but everyone else? You probably ought to get this pen, and the ink to go with it. I hate triangular grips, and I still think you should get this pen.

Heck, I might even get this pen again

Ultimately this is still a Lamy Safari, and my opinions about the Safari haven’t really changed (though it’s no longer the sole best contender for a beginner fountain pen, not since the Pilot Metropolitan hit the streets). But I will tell you what makes this particular Safari a winner among all other Safaris.

I recommend pairing this pen and ink with a Rhodia Ice pad for maximum cool factor

I don’t know if the success of the Pelikan M205 Amethyst led them to this conclusion or if Lamy came up with this one all on their own, but special edition pens can be made in colors other than green. With fantastic results! I couldn’t ask for a more perfect shade of purple.

I could ask, but no one would be able to give it to me

The entire pen is finished with the same matte texture as you’d find on the charcoal Safari. It’s a wonderful texture that doesn’t show fingerprints the way the glossy finishes do, and adds comfortable grippability to the plastic body.

I’m going to sleep now and dream of this most perfect purple

The black nib, clip, and finial seals the deal. Silver accents would have been too showy. The stealth scheme lends the pen an ineffable air of coolness.

SHEEN, BABY, SHEEN!

Lamy ink is one of my favorites for everyday use — it’s vibrant, it shades, and it’s fairly quick drying. The only downside to Lamy ink is the limited selection of colors available — or, that was the downside, prior to the arrival in the past few years of matching special edition inks. Now I have the purple I’ve wanted to exist since I first learned about Lamy inks. Bonus? The ink has a golden sheen.

This pen and its matching ink are everything I hoped for. My only problem is that they didn’t come out with it sooner.

And Tobi’s only problem is that the ink isn’t meat-flavored


I got mine from my local enabler, Crazy Alan’s Emporium. He might have some in stock if you give the store a call. Otherwise you can find this pen for however limited a time at any fine retailer where Lamys are sold, but not yet sold out. 





Pilot Twilight Vanishing Point (2015 Limited Edition)

19 10 2015

I wasn’t expecting to get this pen today, and yet it had only been in the store ten minutes when I got there. It knew I was coming, and rushed to meet me there, I’m convinced. Pretty sure that’s some form of fate, destiny, or other predetermined grandiose excuse for buying pens when I don’t need them. This is my first limited edition Vanishing Point, and without ever meaning to it appears I’ve become a small collector of Vanishing Points.  

sweet marmalade ive figured out how to add captions from the wordpress phone app

 

There isn’t much to review at this point; it works just like all my other Vanishing Points. The main differences are this one came in a fancy box:

 

AND THE FANCY BOX CAME IN A FANCY BAG WHOA

 
And that fancy box has a little drawer:

 

To hide things in

 
And all the usual retractable goodness comes wrapped in a wicked cool color fade

 

I think kids these days are calling it ombre, which I thought was how you pronounced the Spanish word for man or dude or something heck I really don’t know Spanish


The purple is a warm, luscious shade filled with sparkles

 

I would also accept a pen entirely this color

Which then fades to an icy blue (which I admittedly am less enthusiastic about, such is my deep and unending love of purple)

 

It’s a nice blue, it’s just not purple but what can you do

And each pen of the series is individually numbered. 

 

So if you see anyone else with pen 1880 they’re either lying or they stole my pen

It’s a beautiful pen up close, and perfect colors for winter (which we seem to have skipped right into in my weather zone, so I guess I ought to ink this up now)

 

each picture in this post is a game of spot the iPhone

It’s a pleasing pen, and I hope this is only the beginning of more Vanishing Points in this coloring style. 





Pilot Kakuno – Fine Nib – Black Body / Light Green Cap

12 05 2015
Don't ask me how to pronounce "Kakuno." I promise you however I'm saying it is wrong.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce “Kakuno.” I promise you however I’m saying it is wrong.

I’ve had various color combinations of the Pilot Kakuno languishing on my JetPens wishlist for a while, but it took being stuck home sick in a syrupy haze of cough suppressants for me to actually decide to order one. Which I ordered from my Amazon Prime, for whatever reason.

The reason was money

The reason was money

Although I picked everything about this pen based on what option was cheapest on Amazon at the time, I like the dark grey and lime green combo. The color is fun without feeling childish. Not that there’s anything wrong with childish—this is designed to be a kid’s pen. But the design isn’t aggressively elementary school; it’s a minimalism that holds a broad appeal.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

There’s no clip, but the Kakuno is hexagonal and the cap has an unobtrusive little nub to help discourage the pen from rolling away. The grip is shaped in a roughly triangular hexagon, with all edges (if you can even call them that) quite rounded—the guidance from the grip is subtle and comfortable. The pen itself is lightweight, yet the plastic feels reassuringly sturdy, as far as this price point goes. It’s no luxury resin, but it’s also not some cheap, fragile crap.

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Here’s the most unavoidably adorable part: the face of the nib. Literally. A smiley. face. (unless you have one of the soft body colors; then it’s a winky face) — it’s another point of guidance for the novice fountain pen user: if the pen is smiling at you, then you’re holding it right (or at least not upside down). Maybe not everyone is confident enough in their adulthood to rock out such a happy pen on a regular basis. I’m not here to judge you. But it’s really only noticeable to others if you point the face out. Or if they stare at your hands obsessively.

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t take this pen as my prime writer in a Serious and Professional Meeting of Important Business, but right now it’s my favorite no-worry knockabout pen. I toted it around on a trip to the mountains. I’ve thrown it in countless bags, back pockets, and cup holders. It writes reliably, neither too wet nor too dry, and the fine nib is perfect for everyday use. The performance of the nib itself was surprisingly pleasant (not sure why I was surprised, I should have known Pilot wouldn’t let me down), a sort of tactile feel on the page without any scratchiness or sharp edges.

Impulse purchase yours today!

Impulse purchase yours today!

If you’re looking for a specific color or nib size, JetPens has the full selection. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and aren’t picky, you can likely find a Kakuno on Amazon for under $10 (right now, the winning combination is a fine nib White Body Soft Blue cap with free Prime shipping, clocking in currently at $9.46).

Pilot Kakuno — medium and fine nibs in multiple colors — at JetPens

Pilot Kakuno Fine Nib Fountain Pen Black Body Light Green Cap at Amazon