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Posts Tagged ‘Esterbrook’

Backward Compatible?

Posted by Dirck on 12 August, 2020

Exciting news! The Playstation 5 will allow use of Playstation 4 controllers! Apparently! For older games!

While this is all true, according to an article I saw the headline of through someone’s tweet, it’s not really the point of today’s uncommon foray into the olden-style content on this site. On Sunday, I was rattling around in my Pit of Solitute, deciding what was going to step in for dear old Duofold that exhausted its ink last week. The conclusion was Parker 45, as it’s been an age since I had one out for a run.

Choosing a 45 means deciding on what sort of point it’s going to have fitted, and that led to me poking around in the box I keep various loose point-units in. Esterbrooks, Osmiroids, and others, all rolling around together and never a hint of ill-feeling between them. I found the bead-tube I was after, the one with the little 0.8mm stub I ground… and it lay between a couple of TWSBI points, a situation which made me frown.

The front part of a fountain pen in a plastic carrying tube.


I knew I had one, because I had a clear memory of this picture on the page for the TWSBI Diamond– I updated it very recently, after all, and even if I had not, the mention of “TWSBI point” brings a clear reproduction of the above image into my mind, for I am not saddled with aphantasia. The frown came because I had absolutely no memory of having two.

Another reason the memory of one sticks is that it represents… well, not a failure, but a failure to attempt. I was intending to experiment with re-profiling the shoulders of the point to make it more flexible, but ambition never (yet) transformed into action. I had a reason to have one. I had less reason to have a second.

There’s also not a lot of pressing reasons to have more fountain pens than fingers, either, so I can’t say no reason.

It turns out that at some point in the past, I ordered a stub for a TWSBI Diamond. I then promptly slung it into storage and forgot its very existence.

In the time since, I got a TWSBI Classic with a stub, and discovered that it’s a really nice point. I was therefore less vexed with my lapse than excited with my discovery, especially since I had a Diamond in battery at the moment.

But… the Diamond in current rotation is a 580 ALR. The newest of the breed. The point, assuming I got it with the never-touched experimental item, may be contemporary with the release of the 540 in 2011. It could be older. Can they possibly swap around, across such a yawning chasm of time?

Evidently, yes.

I should probably say “Yes, but with qualifications” because you’ll notice the textured shell of the ALR is attached to the stasis pod’s platform, and the transparent old-style shell is on the pen. There are some differences in the two sections construction that make me unwilling to try switching the point/feed units around in the shells, especially given the older Diamond’s reputation for cracking.

I’m still very pleased with the arrangement, because this stub is just as pleasant as the one on my Classic. I had it in mind that TWSBI changed the source of their points more recently than this one would have been made, but if they did it wasn’t the writing properties of the stub that prompted the switch.

I’m still a little worried about the utter blank in my memory regarding the purchase of the section, but I guess I’ll have to accept that I’m as fallibly human as the next goldfish. HEY THERE’S A CASTLE OVER THERE NEAT!

Today’s pen: A somewhat hybridized TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR
Today’s ink: Pelikan HEY THERE’S A CASTLE OVER THERE NEAT! Violet



Posted in Armchair Quarterslack | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Posted by Dirck on 10 May, 2018

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 7 May
  • 8 May
  • 9 May
  • 10 May
  • Second draft of “Stuckman’s Miracle Men”
  • The entirety of “Seeds of Empire
  • 3,047 typed words.
  • 1,472 typed words.

That’s a pretty productive week in the fiction department. I also got a somewhat gummed up Parker “51” Vacumatic done and on the way home, and a SERIOUSLY gummed up Speedline filler working in a Vac Debutante which the friend who so often gives me pens handed me about a month ago.

What I didn’t do was get a picture of it or the Esterbrook “Transitional J” she also gave me.  Dang.

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Idle Hands and all that

Posted by Dirck on 29 March, 2017

I thought I’d share a little craft project I did the other day– I made a blotter.

Someone at Regular Job has a stamp with outdated information on it, and wondered if there was any protocol for disposal.  “Nope!” said I, having zero notion if there were or not.  “Leave it with me, I’ve got a use for it.”  I rooted around my desk for some promotional coasters which I have absolutely no idea why Regular Job ordered (we’re nothing to do with beverages at any level), and with a little bit of amendment of both…

Step one

Step B

Test drive

…and I’ve got a nice little blotter which I will almost never use.  Here it is with the rest of my archaic desk accessories of the moment:

Not shown: the stapler that little bronze Buddha keeps reminding me not to throw at people

The other thing I’ve been filling small moments of my workdays with, segments between actual duties too short for a nap, is writing up some notes regarding my thoughts on some pen manufacturers.  As I mention on the page in question, these are even more subjective appreciations than the profiles on my site (yes, that is actually possible).  I probably won’t get beyond a half-dozen or so entries; if I don’t have strong feelings, it’s hardly worth the effort of typing.  As with everything else here, it’s only interesting for a very specific value of the word “interesting”, but chances are if you’re reading this at all, you accept that value.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant TM
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black 

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Capability: Brown

Posted by Dirck on 5 January, 2015

The colon indicating, of course, that I am not claiming to be reworking the entire landscape of a nation, but that my personal threat level is very low.  And only a threat if you’re one of the things I mean to accomplish– generally I’m a benign presence and a threat to none.

There is not one of my conscience-soothing grids to offer, because the entire holiday period was taken up with holiday activities.  Were this a food blog, I’d have plenty of stuff to offer, what with the cooking and eating of things accomplished over the week of absence.  However, since it’s an (intermittently) fountain pen and (increasingly) writing blog, I have very little to contribute.  As to the latter, I glanced occasionally at the note book in which a first draft languishes unregarded since the 23rd and I thought writing thoughts about that novel I mentioned that’s now leaning across the partition separating the pilot from the cargo and whispering “Are we there yet?” with increasing force.  Cowboys & Lovecrafts isn’t a completely untouched field, but I may actually be able to do something marginally original with it.

As far as pens go, there was a little actual production.  I produced a huge disappointment for a client, which I should confirm with an email as a permanent situation, in discovering that the glue holding the section in his Esterbrook J wasn’t letting go, but I had managed to release the glue that was holding shut the crack in the section.  I also prove myself fully capable of wonders and blunders in the very same pen.  But let me press a mental image on you first.

Imagine, if you will, a pen somehow dropped in such a way that the tines curl in toward the feed and also cross over.  It is as if the pen, angered at its ill treatment, is starting to make a fist.  This was the state of a pen the chap at The Paper Umbrella handed me back at that clinic; stock that had to be withdrawn from his shelves, which I said I’d make something of a project of.  The project would be to uncurl a flower bud made of thin steel, returning it to the specific shape of a pen point without inducing stress cracks in the material.  Mental picture formed?  Great!

Because I if I had taken a picture of it in that state, it you would have a real basis of comparison, and then this might be impressive…

Oh, look.  A blurry picture.  It is an alien, or bigfoot?

Oh, look. A blurry picture. It is an alien, or bigfoot?

…rather than a mere testament to the sort of peaks of incompetence I and the old camera (much easier to mount on my teeny tripod) can sometimes achieve.  This is more on me, since if I had looked at the picture before rushing the pen to its home, I could have tried another.  However, photographic goonishness aside, I take a leaf from Leonard McCoy’s book in feeling that getting this pen back into functional shape is very nearly like curing a rainy day.

That is, by the way, an excellent sensation to start a year with.

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600

Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue (which does a great job of standing in for Pelikan blue-black, as far as looks go).

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Very Well Indeed

Posted by Dirck on 10 November, 2014

This does not describe me.  There is, frankly, something wrong with my thinking parts.  How else to explain the purchase of yet another Esterbrook desk well?

Esterbrook W407

It’s colossal! It’s stupendous! It’s… redundant.

Actually, there is something in the looks that appeals to me rather more than the simplicity of the late-model 444 I’ve had on the desk at The Regular Job for yonks now, something between an aircraft part and an Art Deco motorcycle fuel-tank.  It’s pretty darn cool.

But “cool” isn’t the same as “useful.”  So why, with the perfectly functional 444, did I pull this thing out of the river of Life as it was bobbing past?  The only viable reason I have is an effort to stifle a foolish phobia I have of this sort of well.  The one I’ve been using keeps the ink, sensibly, in the lowest part of the unit.  This one, and many others, keep the ink above the dispensing hole.  This makes me rather nervous, and I felt I should overcome this weakness.

Esterbrook W404op

It’s explained in this diagram. Supposedly.

Through practicing with water, I now accept that it works.  I even follow the physics of it; once the access of air to the reservoir is occluded by the pool in the bottom, the dropping of the fluid induces a partial vacuum inside, and the flow stops.  Not entirely unlike the flow of ink out of a fountain pen not happening unless writing is happening, in fact.  I’m not sure I quite believe in it yet, but I comprehend it.  Phobia damped, then, if not quite quelled.

Something I’m having a little more trouble with, now that I’ve been able to play with it for a little while, is working out how this ever got marketed for home use… which it did.  I absolutely get it as an industrial resource, since having Smithers out there filling the bank’s wells more than once a week takes him away from other mildly abusive duties, but for the normal person’s normal uses, it’s ridiculous.  The 444 was faintly ridiculous, with its 30 ml capacity.  When I’m in the absolute throes of writing, as has happened now and again over the course of the past year, I’ve managed to get through about one milliliter an hour.  That extremely productive hour produces something between 1,500 and 2,000 words, so a 444 offers the possibility of a smallish novel worth of writing.

This 407 holds seventy-five milliliters, only three pen-fillings less than a huge Diamine bottle carries.  If you’re transcribing The Shining, you’re set.  How many grocery lists and “Your Mom Called” notes does that run to?  Heck, even though I’m not a normal person putting the thing to a normal use, I question the wisdom of installing it on my desk.  I reloaded the old well about once every six months, and that was mainly down to evaporation.  This thing, with its ocean of ink, is very well.  Profoundly well.  More well than, perhaps, I can deal with.

…and then there’s the other problem with this thing.  The running of ink from reservoir to dispensary pool is governed by the depth of the pool, yes?  For the system to work properly, it needs to be resting on a firm, level surface.  Like the top of a desk.

Unlike the floor of an automobile, even one being driven conservatively over smooth streets.  Turns.  Accelerations.  Drive-way slopes.  The net result is of the 35 ml or so of ink I put into it yesterday, having drained both the 444 and the remainder of the huge Diamine bottle of Classic Red, now rests below the reservoir.  This is not an ink well that enjoys travel, and to be honest I feel the phobia starting to reassert itself.  I’m not sure I’m feeling altogether well….

Today’s pen: Parker 75
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green


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Posted by Dirck on 15 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 9 pages of manuscript.  It’s a long ‘un, too; I don’t think I’m much past half-done.

HOW LONG: About 50 min.

Today’s pen: Esterbrook J fitted with an Osmiroid sketch point.
Today’s ink: Herbin Lis de Thé

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Posted by Dirck on 7 May, 2014

WHAT: First draft of short story  “Yard Light”.

HOW MUCH: 5 pages of manuscript.

HOW LONG: About 40 min.

Today’s pen: Esterbrook J fitted with an Osmiroid sketch point.
Today’s ink: Herbin Lis de Thé

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Posted by Dirck on 2 May, 2014

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find Theo Jansen’s kinetic art fascinating.

Also, like most Dutch people of my acquaintance, he’s got a sense of humour that not everyone could tolerate.

Today’s pen: Esterbrook J fitted with an Osmiroid sketch point.
Today’s ink: Herbin Lis de Thé

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Manos: The Hand of Writing!

Posted by Dirck on 7 April, 2014

If you’re anything like me, I’m sure one day a cure will be found you like silly old horror films.  In that genre, few are sillier than one made on a bet by an El Paso insurance salesman called Manos: The Hands of Fate.  Very difficult to watch in its undiluted form, it is much what you’d expect of a film made by a man with no experience in film-making who had to keep his budget under $20,000.  I can’t remember if it’s Joel, one of the Bots, or a reviewer who pointed out that the title basically means “Hands: The Hands of Fate”….

This outfit always reminds me of a beach blanket I had as a kid, a Green Giant Vegetables promotional item.

This outfit always reminds me of a beach blanket I had as a kid, a Green Giant Vegetables promotional item which a herald might describe as argent, a human footprint vert.

In any event, when a client recently offered to send me, merely for the joy of sharing it, what she described as “the most horrible pen to use in the world” which bore the trademark… Manos!

Apart from the connection to the well-loved (or at least fondly-regarded) film, the idea of something that might be worse than my hated Apis was intriguing and intimidating, and I all but begged for it to be sent along with the pen that was intended to be fixed.  Want to see it?

Manos, the Pen of Cheap!

Manos, the Pen of Cheap!

Made in Austria, eh?  Well, we won’t hold it against the Austrians.  The client was of the opinion that it was made in the 1920s, and I can’t really say otherwise.  It looks like black hard rubber, but the smell test suggests it’s not; this would be more conclusive if the last thing my son brought home from his school’s Advanced Viral Infection Crafting program hadn’t done some long-lived mischief to my olfactory powers.  The cap suggests an earlier date, as it was only prior to 1913 that Montblanc gave up on efforts to trademark an all-white cap derby and switched to the bird-splat device.  I make a vast assumption that the all-white top on this pen is an effort to latch onto Montblanc’s huge velvet coat-tails, an effort with bears diminishing fruit the longer past 1913 the production date of this pen is.

Functionally, it was described as filling a drop or two at a time,  which I said must reflect some disablilty.  Client replied that she thought it was doing what it was supposed to.  I did not give outward voice to my next thought, “Fiddle faddle, no fountain pen takes aboard one drop of ink by design,” and that’s a good thing because I’m wrong.  When it arrived, I had a ponder of it, and I thought two things: first, might it be a twist filler; second, there’s not much of a joint at the back of the section, and that will make it a pain to open up.  Since I didn’t have direct experience with the model, it was time for the research which proved that a drop or two at a time is about it.

I found a thread on a forum from someone in a state of confusion similar to my own, and the response was an eye opener.  It’s here, for those that want to see the insides of a Manos pen, and the upshot is it’s sort of not quite a fountain pen, but more of a dip pen with a range extender.  I could saw, “Ah hah, see, it’s not a fountain pen so I’m right” but that’s grasping for straws.  As small as it is, there is an interior ink reservoir, so I have to admit it as a technical fountain pen; the theory is the same as my Esterbrook puck, but the details are different.  That thread also warns against attempting to break into one of there pens, as they are designed to be unfixable– a very early example of planned obsolescence.  Where this would move one to buy another Manos rather than go and get a proper fountain pen is extremely debatable.

Sadly, I can’t quite decide whether it’s knocked the Apis from its throne at the nadir of pens.  It’s very old, possibly old enough to support a claim of not quite knowing how to do fountain pens yet; the Apis has no such crutch.  With a plated point that replaces tipping with a dimple in the metal, it is really not a brilliant pen for writing with, and the mechanism does appear to be on its last legs… but it is still nicer to write with than the Apis.

It’s conundrum enough to make Torgo stand up straight.

Today’s pen: Parker 75 Insignia
Today’s ink: Herbin Poussiére de Lune

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Accomplishment and Recognition

Posted by Dirck on 29 May, 2013

I’m in the testing phase, at long last, of my work to discover the knack of the Nishimura method of Sheaffer vac repair (which I go into a little more in the previous mention of the effort).  The long delay was prompted in part by the difficulty of getting at shellac locally, and isn’t that a sad comment on where I live, and also by having more pressing fish to fry in the realm of both pens and household tasks.

That’s behind me, though, and now this pen…

...which is, yes, rather showing it's mileage...

…which is, yes, rather showing its mileage…

…is resting upon  a sheet of paper towel, with 1.5ml of Pelikan Royal Blue within its walls.  If it doesn’t prove incontinent, I’ll likely take it out for a field test in the next couple of days.  The ink was chosen with this in mind, as it’s one of the most easily gotten out of shirt of all the inks I own; a static seepage test is usually sufficient, but the contrary nature of the mechanism makes me want belt, suspenders and a hazmat suit.  If it gets through the shakedown in good shape, I’ll probably refill it with a more festive ink for a long-term use, and then be very nearly ready to suggest it as a service I can provide.

Nearly.  Replication of the effect is needed; luckily, I’ve got two Vigilants and a bigger, cheaper Commandant to try my hand at.  I don’t quite know why most of my non-functional Balances are military clip models, but it’s probably mere coincidence.  I also want to get a lot of cycles on the filler before I entirely trust the cement that keeps it in place.

Next, check out the thing I saw on Etsy this morning:

Identity of seller hidden for diverse reasons

Identity of seller semi-concealed for diverse reasons, some of which may be thought of a laudable by a disinterested observer

I don’t usually look into postings for Eight Balls, since I’ve already got a couple, and in this case I don’t think it was altogether coincidence doing the driving.  My response to the above was to stock my beard and say quietly, “Say… that sounds familiar.”  Let’s have a quick look at my own site’s profile of the DB offerings of Esterbrook:


Highlighting not appearing in original… and you don’t get to see the (Edit Page) link, either.

Why, yes, that is familiar!  What’s more, that awkward second paragraph in the Etsy posting is explained if you see some of its content in the original context:


…although I’ll admit it’s not exactly Shakespeare come again.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this.  I should probably be storming around and demanding a link or a citation or… something, but the effort/reward ration to that doesn’t really push me to action, and there’s also this amusement tamping down the warmer emotions the whole thing arouses.  The lifting of this little bit of my content is, after all, something of an acknowledgement of status– my site is worth having content snatched from it!  The seller is also not trying to get too much more than this sort of thing is worth out of it, which after seeing a Sheaffer “Dolphin” on the flog for over $300 about a minute earlier makes me better disposed towards him/her/them.

I may possibly leave a note for the person selling the thing along the lines of “Glad I could help.”  Passive-aggressive, the sort of thing that leads to prolonged waiting for a second shoe to drop, and that quite suits me.

Today’s pen: Parker 75

Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Blue

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