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Posts Tagged ‘Sheaffer Stylist’

Posted by Dirck on 29 June, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 18 manuscript pages (thin air up here.  Thin indeed).

The annual summer silence is about to descend on this enterprise, as my two weeks away† from The Regular Job begin on Monday.  Of course, the way things have been running lately, the interruption will be almost imperceptible.  As it ever the case, I’ll hope to get some writing done around the expectations of family and fabric of the house without expecting to.  This will make for a good deal more physical work than last year, carting the giant heap of paper home and then shifting it out of the way while doing whatever it is that gets in the way of writing is; we remember that another translation of codex is “lump of wood.”

We will try to overlook a more colloquial use of the word by native Latin speakers; blockhead.  I’m sure I shall feel like one in a fortnight when I’ve failed to advance the work beyond its current state, however much I hope to.

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Posted by Dirck on 15 June, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 21 manuscript pages.

No profound thoughts this week; I do find myself having to tamp down impatience to be bloody well done this first draft, and not just because I’d like to get onto the back-up-able phase and silence worries about fire, flood and nesting rodents.  The calendar pages are flying off the wall!  Other stories want writing!

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Posted by Dirck on 8 June, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 26 manuscript pages.

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Unfashionable Political Views

Posted by Dirck on 5 June, 2017

A funny thing happened here over the weekend, and of course, “funny” can be variously interpreted.

…as in “unusual or uncommon”:  I got about thirty times the usual amount of traffic.  The behind-the-scenes stats reveal that this is a result of sudden notice being taken by people considering fountain pens on Reddit.  More to the point, people were looking at an old entry in which I write in a fairly loose manner about my Soyuz accordion-filler, and coincidentally about western perceptions of the way things got made in the old Soviet economy.  We can put this down to a freak spasm of the internet, of course; the all-seeing eye of humanity’s collective online presence passing over something of mine in such a way that I actually noticed it.  Apart from the strange up-tick of status, no big deal in the grand scheme, although there is an odd inward twinge of pride mingled with performance anxiety.

…as in “amusing”:  Because my stats let me look at the Reddit entry… well, I looked.  And then I had a giggle.  At least one of the commenters there urges me to get over the fact that there isn’t a Soviet Union anymore, I guess because I express doubts about capitalism being substantially better than Marxist Leninism.  The giggling is that someone would think I was pining for the good ol’ days of the Cold War based on the fact that I’m not convinced that capitalism is super-awesome (on the basis of income inequality, environmental degradation, and that even the IMF isn’t enchanted with all aspects of current fiscal thinking), or even, good heavens, that I was pining for a chance to join the fellowship of the long queues for black bread and dodgy vodka.

Seriously, no thanks.  In as much as my memory stretches back that far, I also remember the sort of literally life-or-death risks people would take to get out of the Soviet Union and its satellite states.  I may not be a capitalism cheer-leader, but if what called itself communism in the USSR is the alternative, I’ll definitely stick with what I’ve got.

For the record, I think we’re in the throes of some kind of socio-economic paradigm shift brought on by corporate capitalism’s inclination towards cannibalism; I’m not much happier about that than I am with the current state of play, because paradigm shifts tend towards discomfort.  I’m also in no position to suggest what that shift is towards, since they’re inherently opaque from one side, and I just hope that when it settles it’s something a little more humane than what we’ve got currently.  If I were to express a hope, it would be utterly Utopian, something like Scandinavian socialism writ large with some of the more benign aspects of the Federation of Planets thrown in… but that’s wishful thinking.

And, no doubt, I will offer some amusement for someone else, now that I’ve written all that down.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist (a company that practiced (GASP!) profit sharing with the employees!)
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue (giving away my paradoxical inclination towards monarchy as a foundation of government!)

PS: I also have a notion that the failure of my humour to transmit properly might be down to a shift in the terrain.  In 2012, when that entry was written, post-Soviet Russia wasn’t an entity we were taking anything like as seriously as we’re taking it in 2017.

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Pure Fabrication

Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2015

The close observer of past entries may have noticed a bit of an anomaly lately.  While Bleu Pervenche remained the ink in use, the pen changed.  This may have nurtured curiosity in that close observer’s heart, and I can now clarify the events.  I did indeed have a moment of frivolity in my choice of pen and ink when I brought the Stylist out of storage on the 10th, although I only admitted to it for the ink.  This frivolity was repaid shortly after the entry for that day, when I found my fingers festively blued… but the source of the ink was the joint of the pen.

That’s not good.

Over the weekend, I moved the ink from a modern converter which wasn’t seating excellently into a cartridge, cleaned up the pen, gave it a couple of hours of lying on its side… and found that the ink was getting out into the barrel.  The cartridge went into the Agio and I had to put on my thinking cap.

My history with Sheaffer cartridge pens betrayed me slightly in this.  There is not a lot of dismantling to do with the old school pens nor NoNonsenses, both of which were companions of my youth.  I was thus slightly blind to the anatomy of the Stylist, but when presented with a leak, there must be a source, so rather than relying on the wisdom of the ancients (that’s me!) I actually looked inside the section.

There I found a suggestive slot on either side of the steel fang that enters the unsuspecting new cartridge.  Suggestive indeed, because it suggests that with the right tool, one could unscrew… something.  Well, unscrewing something is what inquisitive apes like to do!  There was, however, the issue of that rather important fang in the middle of the thing.  Here we meet the title of the piece, because I had to take a piece of brass tube left over from a previous bit of cleverness and make a tool to the purpose by grinding away bits of the end  until left with two protrusions.  The tube goes over the fang, the protrusions engage the groove, and I get to plumb the mysteries of the Stylist.

Anatomy Stylist2

They’re not THAT mysterious.

There’s more buffering in there than I had given it credit for.  The source of the problem was that seal mounted towards the inward end of what I will call the feed because “collector” is a part of a different pen and I think properly has to be separate from the bit that conducts ink from reservoir to point; this thing appears to be all one piece, because the threads are at the far end from the slot.  The seal is similar to ones found in Imperials and Targas, and in those situations I find it isn’t quite eternally reliable either.  I think it’s made of nylon.  My remedy, thus far functional, was to try reviving it with some silicone grease, although if that starts to fail I think the best alternative is to pack some wax into the seam between the walls of the section and the feed rather than take it apart and try to mount some kind of o-ring.

The tool I am not showing because it is extremely ugly.  It is functionally similar to the Conway-Stewart cap tool or the Visofil nut tool made by The Pen Practice, but without any of the evident skill of construction found there.  I’m shy about my limitations.  If I were to make another, by the way, I’d probably find a tube closer to the outer diameter of a Sheaffer cartridge, to get better leverage.

While I had the thing apart, I made an interesting discovery about the contact between the point unit and the feed.  There’s less of it than I thought:

Quite a gap, eh?  You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too.

Quite a gap, eh? You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too, just short of the right end of the feed.

The stem at the back of the point unit is bottomed out in its cup on the feed.  I don’t know if that’s some clever use of dead space to insulate the feed and add buffering space, or if it’s an idiotic leaving of places for ink to dry and cause trouble.  It saves the need to line up the little vent hole in the lower part of the unit with the air-return on the feed, and I guess that’s what the reason for it is, but it troubles me.

While fabricating things this week-end, I also ran up a tool to ease the dismantling of Snorkels, as I’ve a sick one in hand from a client.  It’s a stick with a slot in it, and a hole drilled in it.  That one I just forgot to get a picture of, which is a shame because it’s damn useful.  Maybe later.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche

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Stark Raving Russian

Posted by Dirck on 10 April, 2015

Today’s film drifted past me in the course of the week, and I can’t think of anything better to celebrate the apparent return of authentic spring than with a mad short about something driven by a spring?  Also, if you’re anything like me (and who, given the choice, would be?), you have zero clue where to get LSD and no money to spend on it anyway, so this counts as a next-best selection.

There you go.  Horizons expanded.  Now we can all wait for the terrifying flashbacks.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche (the nice weather has made me run riot)

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Posted by Dirck on 3 June, 2011

Since I’ve been gold-bricking the past couple of Fridays, I thought I’d do penance in the form of a week-in-the-making comparision of this week’s pens.  The Parker 45 and the Sheaffer Stylist were meant to be direct competition for each other (at least, that appears to have been Sheaffer’s notion), and I thought it might amuse to examine them in that light.

In this corner: Sheaffer Stylist 404C, the challenger

In that corner, the Parker 45GT; holder of the field through getting there first

Round 1: Getting ink in, and keeping it there

It so happens I have period-appropriate converters for both of these pens.  Parker uses a steel-cage press-bar type, functionally similar to the Aerometric filler in the “51” but of rather lesser capacity.  The Sheaffer converter is a very trim cylindrical job with a button filler (the sort of mechanism patented by Parker decades earlier), and I will admit that I’ve never been in the same room with one before I got this week’s Stylist.  Looking at the hard plastic fore-end of it, I thought to myself, “I wonder how that seals?”

The answer is– poorly.  I got a quantity of ink on my fingers on Tuesday, but happily none on my clothes.  Since my wife is currently using all my other Sheaffer converters, modern screw-piston numbers, I had to resort to filling an empty cartridge to use the pen two days later.  Was this a problem when all was new?  Possibly not.  Probably not.  But I know a converter that’s becoming a mere historical oddity in my house.  This round to Parker, although I have seen some very whimsical herniation of the sac in a Parker converter and it is thus only a marginal victory, and one of the moment.

Round 2:  Who’s a pretty boy, then?

Aesthetics is a very subjective thing, and I should hate to come across as the arbiter of fashion… in pens… made in the 1960s.  Actually, that job may well be open.

That aside, I should rather be comparing the Sheaffer to a Flighter model of 45 than to this week’s (slightly) more common plastic barrelled version.  I do find the brushed metal with gold highlights an extremely attractive finish on a pen, and this does incline me slightly towards the Sheaffer.  There is, however, a fly in that particular ointment.

The clip.  The very reliable, deeply utilitarian, and hideously ugly clip on the Sheaffer.  It’s no better on the lesser model I’ve got than on this 404C, but in this case the gold plating somewhat highlights the want of beauty; it’s like gilding a wrench.  The fact that the way it’s mounted leaves a lot of pen sticking up out of the pocket is a minor issue, as we’re at least a generation past caring about the US Army’s pocket-flap rules, and it’s not the cap of the Stylist that moves children to tears.  Still, the clip in form and function is a big strong point for the Parker.

The trim-ring at the joint of the pen is also something of a sore spot for me, and this is literal.  In the Sheaffer, it is slightly recessed, and winks out of a gap between the cap and barrel (I assume this is how it’s meant to look, as closing it flush leads to the inner cap getting stuck), while in the Parker it is more or less flush; there’s a gap, but it’s not tactile.  I quite like the looks of the Sheaffer approach, but the effect is to put a rather sharp barrel edge out where it can catch your fingers.  In the less expensive Stylist, there’s a step in the barrel which makes for a flush cap, but a similar irritant.

For all that, if we turn the clips to the wall, I still incline towards the Sheaffer, finding the treatment of the ends a little more congenial than that of the Parker.  I shall have to call this round a draw which was contested in a very grim manner.  Both have the Star Fleet futurist-cool of their era (down to the the point badge on the Stylist), and if one finds that sort of thing appealing, it’s hard to choose between them.

Round 3: Make It Go!

The real test of a fountain pen is the making of marks upon paper.  In this, these pens are pretty close matches, especially when looking at the steel points for the 45.  I don’t want to encourage the point-snobs in the room by suggesting that the Parker’s access to gold points is a great mark in its favour.  The gold points on the Parker can have a bit of spring to them, and that’s nice but that can be as much a detriment as a benefit.  A springy point is more likely to become a sprung point in an enthusiastic hand.  Since I’ve been using each pen at The Regular Job this week, this has been something I’ve had to watch.  Steel points are rather better at filling in a three-layer form with confidence, and material aside I have to give the Sheaffer the mark in this very particular sub-category; that simple, flat point, supported top and bottom and more at home with a high writing angle is much better for manifold documents.

When in the past I was complaining about the Stylist, one of the major heads of complaint was flow.  This example is less culpable in that regard, and I’ll admit that I’ve run into some 45s in which shrinkage of the section has compressed the inner passages in such a way that they were extremely contrary, but the Parker seems to be ahead on this all the same.  I find that the Sheaffer wants a little tap on the paper after any length of capping to get things running, and that’s not good performance.  The 45 starts pretty much immediately after a full day set aside.  This relative willingness is balanced by the smoothness of the point, in which I find the Sheaffer has a very slight advantage; once the Stylist is convinced that it is time to write, it does so very nicely.

On a more subjective point, I find the Stylist slightly more controllable.  They’re both comfortable pens in use, but for reasons I can only imagine as connected to the slightly more cylindrical section, the Sheaffer obeys me better when I’m making an effort at decent writing.  I can’t really take that as a point in the Sheaffer’s favour, since it’s specific to me, and I think in general terms this round comes down to a draw as well.

The Decision

Well, since the Parker actually took one round, we’ll have to call it the victor.  It appears that the invisible hand of the market (which I generally despise and shun) agrees with me, since the Stylist was unable to sustain a run of even five years, while the 45 was in production for nearly five decades.  While I suspect that the looks of each pen was a decisive factor in this reception by the public, my own inclination is to follow the ink.  A reliable filler was certainly not outside Sheaffer’s grasp, and I find as I wrap up the week that there is a little question with the seal between the cartridge and the nipple– Sheaffer had been at cartridges rather longer than Parker, and this shouldn’t have been a dark mystery for them.  I’ll never say that one should avoid a Stylist, but I think it is more of a curiosity than a pen for regular use.

Today’s pen:  The Winner! 
Today’s draught of victory: Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis

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“noodler ink in esterbrook”

Posted by Dirck on 2 June, 2011

One of the searches that brought someone to my virtual door last night reads thus.  I will relate what I know, in hopes the seeker will wash back this way.

Noodler’s inks are in general fine things, perhaps too abundant in colour particles for convenient washing of the pen, but otherwise unobjectionable (some view this saturation as one of their sterling virtues).  However, the initial release of the Bay State line of inks made by Noodler’s, the blue, was offered as a throwback to the days of extreme pH in inks.

There is a single case I’m aware of as being attributed to an early release of the ink in which the cap of an Esterbrook J-series pen loaded with Bay State Blue went saggy.  This is proven only by process of elimination, but it seems to be established.  However, the formulation has since been amended, and I have a correspondent who uses the stuff freely in a variety of pens (including a Sheaffer PFM) without any complaint.  I should worry more about an Xbox catching fire.  If you’re truly worried about it, try Herbin Eclat de Saphir– it’s pretty enough.

Today’s intact pen: Sheaffer Stylist 404C
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet

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Posted by Dirck on 31 May, 2011

There is a postal strike looming here in Canada.  I mention it here rather than in the more political blog I (now infrequently) maintain because of the very direct effect upon me and my pens– pens aside, I count it as an early manifestation of the troubles to come with the new majority rightist government.  Without the mails, I am thrown upon the rapacious courier services to move client’s pens to and fro, which can cause a serious disruption, when a couple of these piratical enterprises routinely charge a “customs brokerage fee” higher than the cost of repairs (or in one case higher than the pristine value of the pen itself) for moving the pen across what we’re told is a border between two partners in free trade, and the others seem to make a point of stacking parcels with the heaviest at the top.  Without the mails, I am cut off from my correspondents, international and domestic, and the encouraging news that their letters bring (I hear that spring is actually fully engaged in Europe!).

I’ve listened to both sides of the argument, and I think they’re both being unnecessarily contrarian.  The union is bent out of shape over a request that it no longer be possible for the workers to bank sick days without any limitation.  Management is making poormouth over the drop in letter-mail (17% over the past 5 years!) and the reduction of income that represents.  I suspect the latter on two fronts:  first, there’s always a line at the post office, so people are using the service; second, if reductions in usage rates are causing trouble, why court a strike which will drive people into the arms of alternatives?  This second head can as easily be thrown in the face of the union.  Guys, you’ve both got some valid points, but you’re also both acting like only one side can win in a situation where both can easily end up losing.

Not that there’s any actual alternative to a hand-written letter.  A treat for all the senses!  Even famous song-writers agree!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist 404C (not the same one I had previously complained about)
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet

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Style, not substance.

Posted by Dirck on 4 February, 2010

Yesterday’s pen is one of the least pleasing Sheaffers I’ve run across, and that’s saying a lot. I think, with my powers of retrospective at as full power as a throbbing left eye will allow (migraine will lead to a short entry), I have the reason sorted.

The Stylist was meant to be a response to the Parker 45, a sort of workhorse upon which gay costumes might occasionally be draped but which was at its core meant for the masses. Part of the 45’s appeal was the interchangible point, and so in challenging the 45 it was decided that the Stylist should also have an easily-unscrewed forepart.

All well and good, and we get to the bit where I should have taken some pictures. When the point of a 45 is undone, a rather spindly little feed component comes out with it, one which reaches well into the section. The Stylist has almost nothing beyond the level of the threads, and I think without something to guide the ink across the transition from section to point, the pen isn’t that willing to start.

It could be that I have a bum example of the line, of course. It was the cheapest Stylist one could get. Still, my inkster sense tingles….

Today’s non-irritating pen: Parker Duofold Senior
Today’s ink which sadly does not cure headaches: Lamy blue-black

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