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Posts Tagged ‘Eversharp Skyline’

Posted by Dirck on 4 February, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 1 February
  • 2 February
  • 3 February
  • 4 February
  • Second draft of  “Final Resting Place”.
  • Ditto.
  • Second draft concluded.
  • Third draft work on “Harmonic Aliasing”.
  • 60 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 50 min.
  • 45 min.

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Eco-Logical? Eco-Nomical!

Posted by Dirck on 26 January, 2016

I was looking through my personal records for last year, and I find that I got only six new pens.  And two of those were unexpected gifts.  Financial constraints make for less fun.

This year, though… actually, it’s looking only slightly better in the overall sense, and as far as pens go I don’t really expect to do much better.  However, a recent windfall let me indulge curiosity if not greed, and I finally got around to ordering myself a TWSBI Eco.  Here it is:

A clear pen from TWSBI? How unexpected!

For those who find themselves under the shadow of TL;DR, let me give the short opinion: good cheap pen.

Now, let me expand; I was pretty taken with the cost/quality proportions of the Pilot Metropolitan, as I went on about at some length shortly after being introduced.  That sense has continued to the present, to the extent that it very nearly crept into my Desert Island Moderns list with pens costing a order of magnitude more.  Cuddle that for context when I say this– the Eco is, at least at the end of a two-week engagement, possibly an even better bargain.

How’s that for praise?  It’s an honest opinion, though.  We hear, in fountain pen circles, people making noise about the “out of box” performance of various pens, usually in the form of complaints about having to do something to make a pen work properly.  My experience may not be typical, but I literally did nothing to this pen ahead of filling it with ink and writing, and there wasn’t a second’s hesitation from the pen despite the lack of initial rinse.  I got, for reasons too inward to mention, an extra-fine point, and it is as smooth as is in the nature of that size of tipping to be.  Looking at it through the powerful loupe I use when checking out the progress of nib reshaping, I found the tines to be in impeccable alignment.  The piston runs smoothly, without play.

…and that’s a big point.  It has a built-in filler.  The Metropolitan, for all its charms, is a cartridge pen; that has the possibility of convenience, sure, if one has easy access to Pilot cartridges, but even then refilling it requires reducing it to a heap of components.  I do prefer a built-in filler, as prejudiced as that may be, and there sits TWSBI’s rather good expression of the twist-piston in a pen which, depending on where you look, costs the same as or only about ten dollars more than the Pilot.  It is, frankly, a little hard to make out how this thing manages to cost about three-fifths as much as the Diamond without looking very closely.

Well, maybe not THAT closely....

This is why I don’t rely on my device for pictures.  It’s like the camera I used for my old site (shudder).

The packaging is an element of it, being somewhat flimsier than the nice little Sleeping Beauty coffins the other pens come in.  I suppose when viewed in multiples of a thousand, that wrench will show a saving over the flat piece of steel that comes with the company’s higher end units, too, but it will certainly work.  Unlike my other favourite cheap pen, this thing comes with a maintenance kit!

In the pen itself, though, there’s only a couple of cost savings, and one of them is dubious.  The big one is that the body of the pen is cast in a single piece– the clear components are in fact clear component.  That’s bound to save a little on labour as far as putting the thing together.  Also, the point and feed are not set in a little collar to become a removable unit, as is the case with TWSBI’s other pens (and a lot of other, grander pens, too; Edison, Anchora…), but as set into the section individually in a very old-school manner.  This saves a little on materials, but depending on whether TWSBI or the manufacturer is the one cramming things into those collars, I don’t know that it won’t run up the time for assembly slightly.

That’s not my look-out, though, and I’m quite willing to suggest that the fountain pen-curious look in this direction as a good entry to the life of the easy-writing scribbler-about-town.  It’s not perfect, of course, and there’s a couple of things that will bear watching.  Every TWSBI model has a certain number of ghouls attending to it, waiting for reports of plastic failure after the problems with the Diamonds (yes, even mine), so those who listen to the meeping and barking will likely be a little nervous.  My own point of concern is the extraneous o-ring on the tail, which helps to secure the cap during writing– it takes a fair shove to engage the cap with it, and o-rings of their nature do not last forever.

The source of nebulous concern can be seen here. Also to be seen, the usually hidden unmentionables of the piston mecanism.

The source of nebulous concern can be seen here, just inboard of the filling knob. Also to be seen, the usually hidden unmentionables of the piston mechanism.

However, I can put aside that sort of worry.  It’s a piston-filling pen that costs less than US$30, and it at least feels as solid as a low-end Pelikan.  I am toying with the idea of using it as the primary first-draft composition pen for my fictional pursuits, giving that elderly Sheaffer cartridge pen a rest after… gosh, is it two years on station?  Possibly less.  In any event, it may be time to set it aside for a while.  It is, after all, a eyedropper in its current duty, and even more of a problem when reloading time comes around that a cartridge pen.

If I find troubles with the Eco, updates will follow.  For now, though, I’m a happy writer.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Herbin Perle Noire

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Posted by Dirck on 15 January, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 12 January
  • 13 January
  • 14 January
  • 15 January
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle.”
  • Ditto again.
  • Ah, the climax shines just below the horizon.
  • Yep, and not quite enough time to bring it to a conclusion.  Scriptus Interruptus!
  • Six manuscript pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • Nine pages!
  • 35 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 45 min.

…and I promise I’ll do a little more next week than silently scribble.  But this one is rolling so nicely, I hated to interfere with it.

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Posted by Dirck on 8 January, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 6 January
  • 7 January
  • 8 January
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle.”
  • Ditto.
  • It’s shaping up to be one of these slow, stately affairs.
  • Very nearly two manuscript pages.
  • Six pages.
  • Five pages.
  • 20 min. (non-contiguous).
  • 40 min. (unopposed!).
  • About 30 min.

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Grey It Like You Mean It

Posted by Dirck on 8 October, 2013

Yesterday’s unwonted moment of vague hopefulness is past, and I’m returning to the familiar ground of inveighing against things I can’t possibly affect.  I have to apply a context-generating prologue to the matter, though, so bear with me.

When I picked up today’s pen, it pondered for a moment when the last time was that I had used a grey pen.  It has been a while, hasn’t it?

There’s a reason for this, too– I’m not a great fan of grey.  I have a number of grey pens, certainly, but the motivating factor has always lain in the combination of a model I’m anxious to try (or which I think is easily restored) and a price I can manage.  Colour is a consideration only in so far as it might hint at something going wrong with the material.  I don’t choose a grey pen for its greyness, and I don’t think I ever will.  Grey only has a few places in my sphere where it is readily welcomed– at the moment, all I can think of is hats, suits and socks, and that last one is pretty iffy.

Grey is defeat given a place in the visible spectrum.  A black pen, while not necessarily any more exciting to look at, is at least a bold statement.  It has defined edges.  I can aspire to sleekness, and possibly even mystery.  I don’t get the choice of grey, where other choices exist.

I may have been less down on grey in the past, as this increasingly active hostility to the… I’ll allow it “colour”, I guess… isn’t something I recall from even my recent past.  I believe it’s because we’re suffering a plague of grey.  My wife pointed it out to me, a few years back, on a drive through a new neighbourhood to get to a particular shopping destination.  Not only were the houses deeply similar to one another in shape (and each one little more than a vast garage with a hint of accommodation at the back), but they were all painted from the dullest palate imaginable.  Any colour the heart could desire, from ercu to dark putty!  A veritable rainbow of dull!

Yep, that's right pretty, that is.

Yep, that’s right pretty, that is.

Vivid!

Vivid!

Recently, with a strange inclusion in our television watching of home repair shows, we find that this urge to bland has crept indoors as well.  There’s one fellow, whose show I won’t link to, who swings in and does a costly renovation of one room of his victims‘ chosen recipient’s house.  There’s not a word to be said against the workmanship, and the materials are all of highest quality, but it’s always and ever variations on monochrome.  I think after a week with a kitchen involving greige walls, dun marble counters, dove grey cabinets, and stainless appliances, I’d be opening my own arm just to get a splash of colour about the place.  Adding to the bafflement are the persistent cries of the apparently delighted owners of these joints; they call out things like, “Oh, nice!  Grey!  Just what we were hoping for!”

What particularly adds to my confusion over this trend, at least in my neck of the (we have not got any) woods is that we start out here at a substantial colour disadvantage.  New England for example is, I understand, about to revel in a riot of autumn foliage if they’re not at it already.  Not here.  The trees go yellow, somewhat, in an effort to match the pale fields of wheat stubble that stretch to the infinitely flat horizon, and then snow comes.  There’s a few month of slightly greener to mark early summer, and that’s it.  Why we aren’t living in a mad bewilderment of gaily daubed houses to rival anything San Francisco has to offer (and I’m using “gaily” in the older sense, despite the location) is a constant source of amazement to me.

The only thing my wife and I can figure is that people are hung up firmly on the hook of resale.  One dares not do anything daring, like paint a house blue (fetch the smelling salts!), because that would cut out a quantity of potential buyers who don’t like that colour.  If the shows we really shouldn’t be wasting valuable time on tell anything, its that there’s an illimitable ocean of unimagination in the house-buying world.  “Well, it’s in a great neighbourhood, the price is well below my budget, the kids’ school is a block away, and it’s half again as big as we were expecting to be able to afford… but the trim in the bathroom is red.  Yuck.  No sale.”

Our own sweetly pink house showed some signs of this when we bought it.  The kitchen, happily, was the robin’s egg blue that had gone up in 1952, but the living room was not-quite-white.  It was tinted very slightly blue-grey, and the unavoidable association was the membrane one finds around organs.  We both said “yuck”, then looked at the pleasing shapes under that colour, and decided that a day of painting would see it right, and so we got the place for cheaps.  I’m sure one day a future buyer will pass through the door of the place, look about, say, “Butter yellow?! Yuck.  No sale.”  But until that day comes, we have a little armour against the enforced blandness of winter.  Pink on the outside, diverse colours on the inside; it’s a cozy refuge when home, and a welcoming spectacle when returning for a day of trudging over snowdrifts.  Have we considered the resale value?  Nope.  Until we sell it, that’s a far lesser consideration than what it does to buoy us up.  I suspect people driving into their half-million dollar garages don’t get quite the same effect.

Yep.  That's right pretty, that is.

Home is where the Gulag is.

Today’s somewhat uninspiring pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink chosen for pure irony: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

(ps– lest the donors of the ink suspect I’m been putting a glad face on the receipt of the gift; as with most things, a little bit in moderation is a good.  It’s dark enough to at least have some body, and on the page it’s mellow rather than the tedious a whole wall of it would produce)

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Quality Quontrol

Posted by Dirck on 28 February, 2013

One other item of pen-repair achievement from the previous weekend.  The friend I mentioned having recently given a Hero 001 to came around for a visit, and she brought her pen with her.  Broken.  Not working.  Can I fix?

The first step is diagnosis, which calls for a lookin’ at.  She told me that she was pressing down to get it to work, and with any other pen that would be the big “Ah HAH!” moment, but with this pen is merely suggestive.  There was clearly something askew with the tipping, and when I applied magnification the askewness came clear; one of the four tines was bent.  How’s that happen?

Since the mechanism didn’t instantly appear, I went to work on the symptoms.  It took very little work to get all the tips back together, but when test-writing to check on the trueness of the alignment, that same tine jumped up.  That’s not so good, and it took some studying.  To explain what I found, let me turn to geography.

My own personal "You Are Here" arrow is around the back.

My own personal “You Are Here” arrow is around the back.

When looked at head on, the tipping of a Hero 001 should look something like a globe with only the equator and the prime meridian showing.  This particular example was OK in the longitude department, but the cross-cut was more sub-tropical than equatorial.  When I’d tested the pen prior to giving it, my habit of light-handedness hadn’t uncovered the problem, but the friend had not hitherto used fountain pens.  A steep angle and the pressure of a habitual ballpoint user got the necessary purchase on the paper, and the weak high-latitude tine peeled right back.

The solution then became easy, although it’s not quite in line with the sort of things I managed in the entries at the start of the week.  I simply hauled unscrewed the section from another I’d bought to have on hand as a Johnny Fountainseed hand-out, after peering though the magnifier to check on balanced cuts, put it into the barrel of her preferred colour, and off she goes, although I don’t think she quite believed my insistence that it was not her fault that this had happened.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Hero, either, since this model is one of their cheaper offerings.  I’ve seen Watermans and Parkers, and even some vintage examples, with the slit a little bit astray.  The fact that the wandering cut in this case was in the same plane as the metal of the point was unfortunate, but understandable.  There’s a task-master in me who is in a bit of a state, as he agrees with this only up to the point that the pen was assembled and put out into the world… and I can also see his point.  I guess this is the sort of price we pay when we buy cheap.  If there were someone tasked with making sure this sort of thing never got mounted into a pen going to market, the cost would inevitably go up on the pens that got sold.

Heck… it might even double.

Today’s pen, double-checked at the factory (or so the maker claimed): Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

post scriptus: InCoWriMo ends.  I’ll probably do a debrief (oooh!) on Monday, but for the moment I will merely say with some smugness that I’ll be putting in a request for my Certificate of Achievement.

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Still Making Stuff Up

Posted by Dirck on 26 February, 2013

Carrying on with yesterday’s promises, I shall answer the question posed in The Princess Bride (albeit Wesley was a couple of layers deep in rhetorical usage at the time and not thinking of fountain pens at all).  That thing…

Just in case you'd forgotten the graphic horror.

Just in case you’d forgotten the graphic horror.

…is the mechanism of a Big Ben, a pen whose age I can’t pin down very well, and which apparently tried to sneak into the UK market by pretending not to be Swedish.  The big black cylinder screws into the tail of the barrel, the silvery shaft drives up and down, and the two remaining bits of seeming charcoal are the seals that render a piston-filler functional… if they’re not made out of charcoal.  The fact that there are two sealing items makes this quite interesting; evidently the forward cap is there to keep ink off the shaft and to keep the annular seal in place.  This latter aspect is important, as the mechanism relies on the pressure of the seal against the barrel to actually work.  There’s no guide inside the mechanism, which if you look at this old Lamy you’ll get a sense of; the piston has flattened sides, and the hole it passes though in the spacer is also oblong.  Without that guide, and without the friction of the seal, the shaft of this mechanism just spins in place.

Unlike yesterday’s feature, there’s no commercial replacement parts, and the Big Ben brand is odd enough that finding spare parts in any better shape seemed unlikely.  A very kind Great Name in pens offered, on a forum we both look in at, to recommend the right specification of O-ring if I sent along the diameters of shaft and barrel, but that would then require me tracking down a source of O-rings.  Yes, yes, the internet can provide, but there’s delays… and I have a big sheet of extremely ink-resistant silicone rubber right at hand, some punches, and a drill-press.  That makes for speedy resolution!

A litteral

It’s not much less mystifying when it’s all back together, is it?

The problem– my sheet of silicone rubber is not as thick as necessary for the upper cap, so I had to get three pieces to serve in place of two.  The upper two take the role of the cap, and the foremost is a cap indeed.  The drill-press was used to put a partial-thickness hole into the material, and a secondary ring was cut of half-thickness to make up the space.  The forward two are, as you can see, rather narrower than the rearward seal, since I wanted there to be no risk whatever of them catching on the barrel and getting dragged out of place.  The rear seal was actually a good deal wider when it was cut– the drill-press also got forced into the role of a lathe, so I could turn the seal down and round it out a bit.

You’ll also see that the forward two parts are shiny.  In an effort to keep them in place and keep ink from penetrating, I gave them a very literal as well as a figurative shellacking.   The real test, the drawing up and maintaining of ink, was passed, and I sent the pen back to the client with instructions to keep the barrel regularly greased.

Finally, I will now reveal the secret of using a ballpoint pen without guilt.  The secret is easy… attack it with a knife!

I find myself with a growing collection of Vacumatic mechanisms with a damaged pellet cup.  Since about half of that sentence is obscurely technical, I’ll beg you to bear with me, and if you’re really interested, read the whole tedious explanation of how to refit a pen with that sort of filler.  It was discovered, happily, that the all-important pellet cup happens to share some internal dimensions with the front end of a really cheap Papermate ballpoint.

Rich old man meets unwilling organ donor; say, isn't this an episode of CSI?

Rich old man meets unwilling organ donor; say, isn’t this an episode of CSI?

There’s even a very convenient step on the outside, which the Vacumatic cup has as a landmark.  The only problem is that the metal component of the ballpoint dismounts out the front, while the goo-containing reservoir tube is drawn out the back of the needed part.  I still have a slightly discoloured finger from the effort of cleaning out the ichor.  Once those bits are out, it’s time for the choppy-chop.

Off with his head!  And everything below a certain point!

Off with his head! And everything below a certain point!

I don’t want to think too hard about the stack of coincidences that led to that ballpoint section having two different interior diameters that correspond so exactly to those of the pellet cup.  In the final picture, the pellet-receiving hole is a little fuzzy; an artifact of filing the cut off to a rounder profile.  Purely cosmetic, and since it’s not only down the inside of a pen but also covered in a fold of rubber, who cares?

One of these things is, once again, very much like the other.

One of these things is, once again, very much like the other.  Functionally identical, in fact.

Unlike the original instructions for this conversion, I fixed the cup in place with shellac (again).  Superglue would probably last, hygroscopic though it is, and epoxy certainly would but since there are starting to be sources for commercial, after-market pellet cups, I’m a fan of easy reversibility.

The pen that the newly-fixed filler went into is another fabrication, a fantasy indeed, although it’s not of my making:

Japanese scientists have apparently done this to a breed of frogs.

It looked like my best chance to get a double-jewel version.

That’s a Kullock “Fantasy Demonstrator”, and apart from wanting to show off a little, I’d like to ask the passing throng; does this belong on my “51” profile page?  It’s not made nor endorsed by Parker, so there’s a strong argument for exclusion, but I’ll bet any web page looking at the Lincoln Futura will mention the Batmobile.  I’m in a quandary about it, and I welcome the internet’s opinion on the matter.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Felinatarianism

Posted by Dirck on 22 September, 2011

I’m taking brief advantage of my public pulpit here to point some attention at a good cause.  A friend of a friend of an acquaintence (and I am indeed counting on my fingers at this point) works with feral cats, and over the past weekend suffered an electrical fire in the garage she kept all the her cat-wrangling equipment.  The garage was mostly destroyed, along with the contents; those contents included, alas, a few cats that were in for recovery from de-gendering.

The friend of the acquaintance has a fund-raising enterprise on Etsy, which I want to direct people’s attention to.  So, if you want to support people who try to reduce suffering amongst feral cats and get some rather cute little folk-art for around the house, check out Marjoram’s Colony.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Lamy blue-black

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Change of Attitude

Posted by Dirck on 20 September, 2011

I got a little auction lot of writing implements yesterday.  The prize, a Parker “51”, was as recoverable as the slightly blurry pictures had made it out to be, and I discovered with some glee that there was a slightly exotic Esterbrook included which I’d not noticed.  For less that  $20, a darn good haul.

There were also several mechanical pencils, including three Eversharps from before 1930; the ornate, nail-shaped things that Victorians would recognize as pencils.  Two are working freely.  One is jammed.

…and I’m desperate to discover how to set it right!  This is a new thing, since I’ve previously been no more than cordial with pencils; I feel some small joy if one appears as a pen’s consort, but the absence or malfunction doesn’t worry me too much.  Didn’t worry me too much.  I wonder if this is a sensation specific to this one pencil, which is quite a confection of silver plate and chevronnel chasing, or if it marks a hitherto unnoticed revolution in my view of things?

For financial reasons, I really hope it’s the former.

Today’s unaccompanied pen: Eversharp Skyline (I was in a mood for a flex pen, and this is my most limber)
Today’s ink: Lamy blue-black (also part of the mood)

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Self-Impeding

Posted by Dirck on 22 July, 2011

I should probably stay away from subjects like yesterday’s.  I am now slowly going mad trying to decide what covert message is inherent to the choice of the most sought-after (yesterday’s) and most popular (today’s) pens of wartime USA.  Using Freud’s “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” as a mantra doesn’t seem to help.  I return to The Great Work in hopes of distracting myself.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

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