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.


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.

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.

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 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. 

Mini Review: Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black Body

14 03 2014

I feel like I’ve referenced this pen in one way or another enough at this point that it ought to have its own review of sorts. I bought my stealth matte black Pilot Vanishing Point with a medium nib (an excellent decision, as I love the M nib for general use), but I’m not going to re-review the M nib just because it’s a different color (refer to this Vanishing Point review with the black plated nib; they behave the same). This will focus instead on the infuriating mercurial beauty of the matte-black Vanishing Point body.

Neither the cat nor the sunlight wanted to cooperate today for a more dynamic photo of this unusual pen box

Neither the cat nor the sunlight wanted to cooperate today for a more dynamic photo of this unusual pen box

The box it comes in combines a strange attractiveness with maximum space inefficiency—too cool to throw away, and too bulky to easily store. It would be great to display on the mantle…if I had a mantle.

9 out of 10 ninjas recommend it

9 out of 10 ninjas recommend it

The matte black rides that ineffable line between class and badass. That look was why I bought it— I wanted a Vanishing Point to be my motorcycling pen. It looked good. It felt good; wonderful to hold, so smooth to the touch. I kept the pen well protected in various pockets, but discovered after one trip that the finish was so delicate that it had worn away in several places down to the brassy metal of the barrel. It looked horrible. But the good news was that Pilot responded with great customer service—I took the pen in to my local pen shop, he mailed it off, and it returned to me looking brand new.

And then I ruined it again

And then I ruined it again

In spite of being fixed, nothing could change the fact that this matte finish is just too darned delicate. Despite taking extra care this time around, you can already see more wear on the body. It hasn’t gone completely through the finish yet, but it’s not looking good.

Here's what the regular 18k M nib looks like, for your reference

Here’s what the regular 18k M nib looks like, for your reference

Looks cool, but too high maintenance. Unless you’re a delicate person/don’t actually intend to use this pen, think twice before going for the matte black finish.

I got mine from Office Supplies and More, but the matte black Vanishing Point is widely available online (the Goulet Pen Company, JetPens, and Goldspot all carry it, just to name a few).

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen – White Body, Black M Nib

21 02 2014

Diamine Ancient Copper is an awesome color

Since my first Pilot Vanishing Point, I’ve come around more on my opinion of this pen, which should be abundantly apparent when you consider that I now own four of them. For this review, I’ll focus on my most recent addition, a white body Vanishing Point with black medium nib.


White like the snow we got stuck under last week

The look has grown on my over time. The aesthetic is clean and modern, while still being high class. There is a white body available with matte black accents instead of the rhodium, but I can tell you that the matte black finish isn’t as durable. An everyday pen needs to be durable. The black nib, though subtle, gives me that sporty white/black look without sacrificing the pen’s general usability.


Black like the night. I am the night. I am Batman.

I still don’t necessarily like having the clip on the writing end, but I understand why it has to be there. You get used to it. The payoff is having a retractable fountain pen, which is the greatest convenience a fountain pen can have. This is my #1 work pen of choice.


18K black plated stylish magic, with a few spots of dried ink

I own broad, medium, and fine Vanishing Point nibs, and the medium is by far my favorite for everyday work use. The nib is tactile on the page, smooth but not so smooth that it’s out of control. I had no finicky problems like I did with my broad nib (which has behaved well since I took it to Richard Binder)—the flow is good, and the ink doesn’t stop until the pen is totally out of ink.


Fancy writing just waiting to happen

The Vanishing Point is attractive, reliable, and convenient. It’s a bit premium-priced, but with no competition in terms of other retractable fountain pens, it’s worth the price for such a high-quality pen.

Looking around briefly, it looks like the best way to get this combo online is through the Goulet Pen Company. Here’s the white body, with your choice of size and color nib. I got mine from Office Supplies and More, which sort of requires you to either show up in person (and probably call ahead and tell him what you want, etc.—he might have to order it) or catch him out at one of the pen shows.

Ink Drop Soup: Category Killers

3 08 2013

I want to do a brief lineup, a shout-out and nod to products so exceptional that it becomes almost impossible to review anything in their category without mentioning them, without adding a disclaimer acknowledging that the product under review certainly isn’t a so-and-so. Compared to the category killer, everything else lags behind in a competition for second place.

Mechanical Pencil: Uni Kuru Toga

Alpha gel grip for bonus points

Alpha gel grip for bonus points

It rotates the lead as you write. There’s an Alpha Gel grip model. All other mechanical pencils can go home because for me, this pencil reigns supreme.

Ballpoint Pen: Uni Jetstream

As close as a ballpoint can get to perfection

As close as a ballpoint can get to perfection

Your mileage may vary. I’ve heard some people complain that the Jetstream is too smooth, in what I assume is much the same tone that rich people use when they complain that they just have too much money. There may be good competition in the super smooth world, tolerable substitutes even, but a ballpoint pen can’t fall in my hand without being measured against the Jetstream.

Convenient Fountain Pen: Pilot Vanishing Point

  CLICK click CLICK click

CLICK click CLICK click

I love a lot of different fountain pens, but when it comes to convenience, the Vanishing Point is the undisputed champ. I own three now. Send help.

There are still categories out there where a single winner hasn’t seized my heart. Gel pens, rollerball pens, felt-tip pens, hardcase wooden pencils (though the Palomino Blackwing is pretty strong), lead holders (though I have a soft spot for the Ohto Comfort Sharp), highlighters … I don’t yet know the end-all champion in those realms (gel pens may never be settled, as there are many good gel pens). But now, henceforth, you all know when I review a mechanical pencil, ballpoint pen, or fountain pen touting its convenience, unless that product is the new category killer, it will go without saying that it isn’t in the same league as these fantastic writing utensils.

Ink Drop Soup: Raleigh Pen Show

7 06 2012

BABY’S FIRST PEN SHOW! (Beautiful pens from the Anderson Pens booth)

My very first pen show, and I made it all three days, even though I worked Saturday and Sunday nights (and was asleep most of the daytime, thank you night shift life), I still brewed up extra coffee, woke up early (for me), and made my way over. The only other kind of major convention I’ve been to before is an anime convention. The main difference is that no one here was dressed up as a pen.

Spoils of war!

It was great meeting other pen enthusiasts in person—usually I am otherwise skeptical when someone in person shows interest in the office supply world. I make a very good attempt at raising one eyebrow, and ask in my most dubious voice, “Are you sure you really want me to go on about this? Don’t lie, because I will go on at great length. The full wrath of my pen-ADD will be unleashed upon you.” But here was a whole room full of nice people who also like to talk about pens! It was like living inside the internet.

The majority of the goods

The pen holder/binder/whatever this is called, along with a pack of purple Sheaffer cartridges (not pictured, except for the one inside the wee Sheaffer pen) I picked up from the booth of  Bertram’s Inkwell. The Lamy Pur EF nib fountain pen to the far left (and the Clairefontaine notebook in the previous picture) both came from the booth of my local pen store, Office Supplies and More (I’m still trying to convince him to have an online presence, still to no avail). The two tiny coral-pink items are a lead pencil and fountain pen set by Arnold’s of Petersburg, VA. They are alleged to be from 1825…which I’m going to have to call horsefeathers on, as I’m pretty sure either the plastics or whatever material these two are made of weren’t available in 1825, OR (/and) lever-fill fountain pens didn’t even EXIST in 1825. It’s very clearly written on the price tag, but maybe whoever did this meant to write 1925 and had a moment. Alas, I forget the name of the booth where I got the Arnold’s mini set, but it was only $25 for the both of them (and I don’t know a blasted thing about antique pens, so that sounded good enough to me, especially considering they are both in working order).

Beautifully overwhelming quantities of pens everywhere. I wonder if my pens would look this awesome with dramatic lighting and majestic-colored resting spots in wooden trays.

The little iridescent-purplish Sheaffer pen and the blue Esterbrook (and the Sheaffer converter, which I apparently decided was worth including in the picture) all came from the above collection of one Arthur D. (Dan) Reppert. I’m thrilled with both of those pens, and I’m especially happy with my very first Esterbrook. Clearly I will have to look into Esterbrook more.

Me: “Oh, you need paper? I have some—“
Martin (rummaging for Rhodia notebook): “But this is good paper—“
Me (waving a spiralbound Clairefontaine): “Yeah, so is this!”

I finally got to see some Snorkel pens in person! And even though I didn’t buy one (it’s going on the long-term want list), I did pick up a Hero 616 from Martin‘s booth. He’s a cool guy who understands the importance of good paper and the dangers of Private Reserve fountain pen ink. Like talking to a brain mirror.

So many tempting colors….

Being still almost completely clueless about how things work in the vintage fountain pen market, I tried to keep myself from getting sucked in too deep (read: buying too many / too expensive pens), so I was thrilled to see TWSBI pens and accessories. My TWSBI up there is still the same ole Diamond 530, but thanks to Anderson Pens it now has a brand-new fine nib, and an ink buddy.

The silver will match any ink color I decide to put in there. Pen accessory and ink coordination is a fine art.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a terribly big ink presence, so someone like me looking for the rarer/stranger/more out there colors of bottled ink was a little boxed in. Aside from the Sheaffer cartridges, I didn’t buy any ink (not that I really REALLY need more ink…)

Pen wizardry

You may recall my early vexation with my otherwise lovely Pilot Vanishing Point—so it was no contest as to which pen I’d pick for my very first customization of a nib. What was once finicky now freely flows, and it’s incredible! Richard Binder is truly a god among pens.

Pens yet to come…

And finally, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Alan Shaw, and explain to him the as-yet-fruitless grail quest I’m on for the perfect, dark-purple-bodied fountain pen. Since he is a maker of custom pens, and I am in search of a custom color, well….let’s just say…there’s a good chance I might be getting into my first custom fountain pen here in the future! He’s got a lot of custom pens with really creative materials. If I made business money, there was a pen of his there with huge bird feathers in clear resin that I would’ve snatched right up. Why I didn’t take a picture of it, I don’t know. To instill regret in myself, I suppose.

All in all, a very fun and exciting first pen show! Now I need to start plotting out when the other East Coast pen shows are, see if I’ll be off. I’m hooked now.

Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen

27 03 2012

For some reason, my scanner and Photoshop colluded in a conspiracy to make this ink look much more bright blue than it looks in reality. I was powerless to stop their scheme.

It ain’t easy being left-handed.

I resisted the Pilot Vanishing Point for quite some time. Every time I’d pop in the local pen store, I’d always scribble with the Vanishing Point kept on display, and every time I’d leave without one. Didn’t like the look. Didn’t like the clip. But here we are. I blame the particular shade of warm yellow, because as soon as I held it and saw it up close, I had to have it (once payday rolled around). Here’s a tip for whoever’s in charge of these things at Pilot: the fight would have been over months earlier if I’d been pitted against a turquoise Vanishing Point. Special edition color perhaps? Think about it.

CLICK (that sound you hear is a thousand ballpoint click pens weeping in the presence of their god)

I don’t know what to say about the general aesthetic design of the pen. It gives me feelings; I just can’t quite understand what they are. It’s simple. I like simple. I like this pen, but at the same time there’s some nagging thing; I wish I could say more but something about this design doesn’t visually balance perfectly, and I can’t put my finger on what I’m even going on about. Let’s just focus on the yellow: this is a warm and wonderful yellow. Nice weight, though not as heavy as the Lamy Dialog 3 (that will, I promise, be a review for another day). Feels solid and well built.


What’s the big deal about this pen? It’s retractable. “So is this,” comes the inevitable reply from your average non-fountain-pen-person, as they whip out some cringeworthy retractable offering. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND,” you are legally required to shout, as you knock their plastic abomination from their hands into the depths of a conveniently-located nearby furnace, “THIS IS A FOUNTAIN PEN AND IT IS RETRACTABLE.” It makes a big difference, being able to click (and it is a mighty click), write something, click, and throw the pen back down without having to worry about it drying out, while still being able to use a fountain pen. This means I can use a fountain pen at work, where emergency situations require that, if you’re jotting something down, you have to jot it down NOW and keep moving. You don’t have time to unscrew caps, to make sure they’ve been put back on properly and whatnot. “Why don’t you just NOT use a fountain pen in those kinds of situations?” you may wonder. Look, buster, if we followed that kind of thinking, we’d still be living in trees, eating termites off sticks, and covered in hair.


If you’re right-handed, I’m pretty confident you’ll have no problems whatsoever with the writing of the Vanishing Point. You are free to skip ahead to the next picture. If you’re left-handed, like me, it would greatly behoove you to extensively test this pen out in a store before you buy it. I’ve been trying just about every writing angle and grip combination I can conceive of, but short of learning to write mirrored right-to-left across the page, à la Leonardo da Vinci, I am unable to figure out how to get an ideal and consistent performance out of this pen (as is abundantly obvious in the writing sample above). Of course, as I’m typing this up I’m also scribbling phrases with the pen, and it’s being unusually well behaved right now. I don’t know if there’s some kind of breaking-in phase that I’m having to endure here or what. I’ll have to return to this pen in a later update, perhaps in a few months, and see where things stand. Hoping it’s a phase, and that I won’t have to shell out extra buckos to get the nib ground.

Normally I am a fan of miniatures, but the line of absurdity has to be drawn somewhere

Clips and nibs do not belong on the same end of the pen together. They belong on opposite ends, the way Thoth intended. But then on pens like this and the Lamy Dialog 3, you’d have the nibs pointed down in pockets, just tempting fate to leak onto shirts and all over pockets. So onto the nib end it goes. The clip gets uncomfortably in the way of my natural grip. But my natural grip is wrong, HARRUMPH, and the clip is just ever-so-perfectly situated for the heavenly-ordained ideal tripod pliers grip.

Fun fact: this nib will sometimes squeak on the paper when writing, like a little metal mousey

The nib really doesn’t seem to go along with the rest of the pen, but given that I didn’t buy this pen for the beauty pageant factor, I’ll let it slide. It does its job.

Why did I turn the nib unit around? It's a flippin' mystery

Once unscrewed, the nib unit slides right out. Very simple. Takes Pilot cartridges (for which it has that silver cover pictured….for inexplicable design reasons….given that no one sees it) or converter (comes with both, in a fancy leatherette jewelry-like box). Given that I find Pilot cartridges to be some of the easiest to refill, and that it comes with a cartridge and a converter, I’m not too bothered by the brand-specific cartridge requirement. This isn’t exactly an entry level pen. We’re beyond cartridge wars at this point. It doesn’t take a standard international cartridge? I don’t care.

This review, and all you need to know about the Pilot Vanishing Point, can be summed up in four words: WORKING RETRACTABLE FOUNTAIN PEN. That’s it. Everything else is minor details and quibbles. It’s not perfect, but it remains the only click retractable fountain pen. I’m not going to sit down and draft out  a copy of the Constitution with it, but for quick-jot notes, it’s by and far the best.

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pens (including my wonderful yellow) at Goldspot Pens