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Posts Tagged ‘TWSBI Diamond 530’

Exciting Local News

Posted by Dirck on 12 May, 2011

I should have mentioned this earlier– Paper Umbrella has Rhodia pads in stock!  I am extremely pleased with the one I’m carrying now, although the orange cover does rather show through my shirt pocket.

Today’s pen: TSWBI Diamond 530
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis

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Spotty Reception

Posted by Dirck on 10 May, 2011

A little while ago I was mentioning The Great Backing Up as a necessary preliminary to reworking the website.  I actually managed this over the weekend.  I’ve also got, in a slightly hidden location, the software necessary from WordPress laid into my host’s server to get things underway.  Now there is only one thing I need to complete The Colossal Updating….

Several hundred man-hours of effort.  Can you spare a cup or two of human effort?

As little as I like the prospect, the only solution I can see to the combination of time demands that this and the rest of my foolishly over-stuffed life press upon me is to use my lunch hours this vast opus.  That means putting a lot less effort into this aspect of my online presence.  I’m not inclined to nor intent upon vanishing utterly, but for a while it’s going to be more in the line of telegrams rather that letters.  If I’m terse, it’s nothing you’ve done.

The Grand Re-Launch will of course be announced here, which will roughly co-incide with the end of my profligate and slightly fraudulent over-use of capital letters.

Today’s pen: TSWBI Diamond 530
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis

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Not Actually Here

Posted by Dirck on 15 February, 2011

Today’s pen:  TWSBI Diamond 530 (hey, look, he’s actually put a page together for it… but it’s somehow familiar)
Today’s ink: Diamine China Blue

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Harry the Hat, and Snorkels vs. the Modern User

Posted by Dirck on 22 November, 2010

A two part entry today, because one bit doesn’t have a lot of meat on it.  Harry the Hat was in town over the weekend, and he conned me out of some money.  How did he manage this?  By being brilliantly funny.

I speak of Harry Anderson, who is generally remembered the judge from Night Court, and who did a show at the local casino.  Apart from proving that I might go into that place while still conscious, his presence also convinced me to buy some slightly overpriced drinks and some grossly overpriced appetizers.  I am not grumbling, though, because his show was worth every bit of it.  To judge by some audience response, some of his references were understood only by the table I was sitting at, and I suspect I was the only one in the place that knew what his passing reference to Borsalino referred to that which sat upon his head most of the evening, but that’s the crowd and not the man.  The city may be coming along somewhat, but it is not yet quite sophisticated.  The only disappoinment in the act was the absence of the Hat-Pin gag, and his tribute to Erich Weiss more than made up for it.  Also, to please the master of the Noughtilus, I will mention that Harry sported a white pocket puff throughout the exercise.

On to pens, then.  I was wrestling with a client’s snorkel a bit yesterday, and fell to thinking about pen use back in the heyday of the pen, versus the ways of the modern users as I know them.  The Snorkel, which is a brilliant if over-engineered way of getting ink into a pen, is the ultimate expression of the way pens used to be treated, and this makes it a slight trial to the modern user.

Consider the mechanism– a tube to draw ink from the bottle, and then to conduct it to the feed.  In fact, Sheaffer even called the feed in a Snorkel “the secondary feed”, the primary being a little item hidden inside that tube.  What’s the big deal?  There isn’t one, if you follow the ways of fountain pen use in the bygone days.  You bought a pen (note the singular form of the noun) and a bottle of ink (ditto), and you were set.  Fill from the bottle at regular intervals to avoid the pen running out.  When that bottle of ink ran out, you were like as not going to get another of the same, repeat until the pen breaks or you find yourself no longer composing letters but merely decomposing.

The Snorkel is magnificently set up for this lifestyle, and if you are that kind of pen user will save you a quantity of time in the wiping of the front end.  Most modern users, though, tend to change inks from one fill to the next.  For this, the Snorkel rather sucks in a figurative rather than literal sense.  The “secondary” feed is a devil to flush, and a decent cleaning is an evening’s leisure or a very serious twenty minute’s work.  The Parker 61 is a similar item of its time.

I do not for a second suggest that the Snorkel lineup be avoided.  I just think it’s a good idea to know that you have to somewhat accomodate yourself to the habits of the pen.  Which is true of any writing instrument, if you think about it hard enough.

Today’s pen:  TWSBI Diamond 530
Today’s ink:  Herbin Vert Empire
…which comes about through my son demanding a great deal of attention this morning.  The TWSBI was handy, being the at-home standby pen, and just happened to have the same colour of ink in it as I used on Friday.

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Sick Day

Posted by Dirck on 7 October, 2010

I went into the Regular Job today, and after the co-workers had stopped screaming and scrabbling at the walls, the supervisor told me to take my virus-addled head and its attached conveyance on home.  I wasn’t feeling bad when I left the house, and as it turns out I wasn’t feeling as bad was open to me when I headed out on the return.  That’s that, then.

Today’s pen, happily long enough to use as a crutch:  TWSBI Diamond 530
Today’s ink, an unexpectedly appropriate colour:  Herbin’s Vert Empire.

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Diamond Seal 1.5

Posted by Dirck on 22 September, 2010

Gosh, that title sounds like some kind of game sponsored by Tom Clancey, doesn’t it? Mentioned in yesterday’s mad flail of an entry, I got something neat in the mail…

Little pieces of rubber! Oh, boy!!

The reason this is exciting is that they are the replacement seals for the Diamond 530, which in its big splash appearance here in July I mentioned as being in need of. Here sits the pen with the new parts and a nice little free bonus– a TWSBI button.

As you can see, I replaced the Fuyu-Syogun that was in it in July with some Herbin Violet Penseé, being more festive.  You will also see that there are two of the new seals.  Why-for?  I speculate, but I think in the nature of TWSBI, there was an urge to make up for any disappointment the bum seals (version 1.3, it seems) may have caused.  More stuff is generally thought of as better, so here’s two triple-tested and ready for action, along with an odd item of pen ephemera.  There is probably also an understanding that may people are afflicted to a greater and lesser degree with fumblefinger, and sending two means the pen owner can get back to writing without serious delay even if the effort includes seeing a seal vanish into a heating register or go down a cat.  If, as in my case, no mischance befalls the replacement, there’s one on hand for the distant day when regular cycling of the filler eventually wears the seal out.  The little plastic tube the seals came in is just small enough to store in the understory of the pen’s box, along with the rest of the maintenance kit.  Magna cum laude for wise planning, TWSBI.

A quick close-up of the actual problem with seal 1.3 is in order, too:

You see how the ink has slunk in around the pointward part of the seal.  While there are only a couple of reports of the tailward seal also letting ink through, it is rather nervous-making.  Seal 1.5 has a much wider contact pad at both ends, the front one appearing though the wall of the pen to be 1.5mm across, which is rather more than double the width of the one in the picture.  It doesn’t sound like much, just a dime and a half, but the effect on one’s comfort level while carrying the pen is orders of magnitude greater.

Installation is dead easy, too, so if you’re still waiting for your 1.5 to show up, you can relax in the knowledge that it’s the work of perhaps 10 minutes to get it in place, including the cleaning out of whatever ink you might have been using.  I’m not just speaking as a guy who has regular spasms of pen repair, either.  I think most people with full command of their thumbs will have little trouble with this.

Since I seem to be arrogating myself a role as unpaid advertiser for TWSBI, I’ll add a link to their blog, which an item of paperwork in the envelope mentioned.  This will be a permanent feature in the side-bar, too, for those aquiver to find out when their vacuum filler is going to appear.

I am contemplating staging a give-away of that button– in my pre-teen years, I was a bit of a button collector, which may prove that collecting as a general behaviour is a predisposition… perhaps it’s time to think about that Psych masters’.  Currently, however, I’m not too hot on buttons (yes, that is a sad pun.  Please don’t point), and yet another item of clutter in the house is not very welcome.  I hesitate because it is an item of ephemera from the very earliest days of what promises to be a cracking good pen manufacturer, and I’d hate to do the equivalent of idly throwing out a Waterman watch fob.  A few days of contemplation won’t do the matter any harm.

Finally, a semi-rhetorical question for the physiologists in the room– how is it that sitting for eight hours in a somewhat uncomfortable chair makes one’s knees hurt?  I understand why, after yesterday’s seminar, my hips and back might hurt, but my knees?  That’s over-egging the agony batter, frankly.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 530
Today’s ink:  Herbin Lis de Thé (not as festive as the Violet, but I’m less hesitant to take it out in public)

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Greasy Kid Stuff

Posted by Dirck on 10 August, 2010

Another unexpected lunch with the Regular Job staff, so I must be brief. Referring to the TWSBI pen and its potentially leaky seal, there is an interim solution while awaiting the replacements being sent out by the maker.  I mention that the pen comes with its own little supply of silicone grease, but what I do not mention is that this is an extremely high-quality liquid manifestation of the material.

What I more generally use is a slightly lower grade grease that is in texture much closer to petroleum jelly than anything else (but never use the latter in place of the former– they are not interchangible).  The thicker texture of this stuff acts as a much more effective barrier than the super-good grease supplied.  A erring in favour of quality has proven, briefly, to be an error.

This is not my idea, but that of one of the other inmates of the Fountain Pen Network.  I’m just reporting my results.  As soon as the replacement seal arrives, I’m switching back to the good stuff.

Today’s pen:  Waterman Thorobred
Today’s ink:  Herbin’s Lis de Thé

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Diamond… Mine!

Posted by Dirck on 22 July, 2010

Today (and also some of yesterday ) I’m doing an uncommonly full review of a pen. This is the first product of a new pen maker, TWSBI, which has as part of their business model been sampling the brains of the Fountain Pen Network. This must be a frustrating effort, because a nuttier squirrel academy to seek opinions from is hard to imagine– we are very certain about what we like, but we all like very slightly different things.

What they have come up with is, to avoid hyperbole, utterly amazing. I’ve made up a little photoplay of what you get in the mail when you order one of these things. After removing the outer wrapping, there is the exterior box with the company logo printed on it. I can’t decide what that logo reminds me more of, an item of Imperial blazonry from Star Wars or a biohazard warning:

This is as much as a Lamy Safari gets for a box– there’s nothing wrong with that, and Lamy is fairly clever about it, but in this case, this is just the first layer. Within the cardboard, the actual plastic box is further protected by foam and a thin-film wrapper:

Once you’ve fought your way past all that, you find the pen suspended in a little cradle in the plastic shell. This, I imagine, is what they expect you to get to see in the display shelves of any store than might carry this pen. You will notice a couple of design award markers cluttering up the otherwise minimal interior of the box. The Golden Pin is apparently a thing instituted in Taiwan (whence TWSBI) simply to pat upon the back any product their Ministry of Economic Affairs thinks is cool, but the Reddot is an actual big international deal, which has also been given out to heavy hitters like Apple:

Having released the pen from the box, you’ve got a jolly big pen, with extremely good finish. It is slightly larger than the Pelikan M600, and has much the same internal mechanism (the Pelikan, by the way, costs about six times as much as the Diamond). The barrel of the pen is faceted, a reflection of the pen’s name, in alternating triangles and lozenges, which are not only decorative but also help to keep the pen from rolling to briskly off a desk if put down without the cap attached at either end. That’s not something I do a lot of myself, but it’s a nice little feature all the same:

I refer again to the Lamy Safari, because this pen costs about the same as that German product, which is frequently suggested as an entry-drug for the prospective pen addict. I don’t want to run down the Lamy, which is a good pen, but the little bits of trim on the Diamond elevate it to something rather more wearable than the wire-clipped school pen so many of us enjoy. The point is made for TWSBI by Schmidt, a firm which specializes in making parts for fountain pens; it’s imprinted with the same slightly sinister logo and the maker’s initials, with no claims of German origin in sight. This is not as firm a point as that found on the Lamy—it’s not flexible in any sense of the word, but there is the springiness associated in modern pens with the higher-class gold point.

I should mention that the haziness of the section is a result of having test-filled the pen with water and then emptying it before taking this picture. It’s just condensation, not something inherent to the pen.

What really makes this pen is what lies beneath it… literally. In the space under the box is a very detailed instruction sheet, along with some maintenance items– a spanner and a tiny bottle of silicon grease:

These items are a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because they make it clear to the average user that this is something that is not inherently disposable. The maker has provided the tools to keep the thing in operating trim, so why not maximize the return on your investment by giving it a little attention now and then? A curse, because it encourages idiots like me to take the thing apart every twenty minutes. In fact, I hadn’t had it out of the wrapper that long when this happened:

Now, it’s not wrong to do this. It is encouraged. But it is also unnecessary… sort of. This is one of a pre-production set of 300 released to FPN members (if the writing on the wrapper has any meaning to it, this one is number 231). While they were in transit, the maker put a public announcement out that some of the piston seals, the little black object at lower left, are not quite up to the correct tolerances, and may allow ink through to the “dry” side of the barrel’s interior. Part of the public announcement was a request to be informed of the problem developing, so a replacement seal could be sent. How’s that for customer care?

I should mention at this point that I don’t altogether recommend completely undoing the filler mechanism as I’ve done here. It’s a bit of a Chinese puzzle (if I may be facetious) to get it back together again, not in as much as getting the parts to cling together, but in getting them aligned in such a way that the piston has the correct length of travel. Happily, if you’re one of the folks awaiting the replacement seal, you don’t have to take it that far apart—until the blind cap is entirely unscrewed from its base, and the base is the part that the spanner serves to remove from the barrel, the filler remains a contiguous unit, and the seal can be replaced without the full strip-down seen above.

I haven’t had this pen long enough to be able to recommend it with a straight face– heck, I don’t know yet whether mine has one of the bum seals, and I’m as yet aglow with the happy sensations of a new pen. Demonstrator pens are a bit of a conundrum for me in general– while one is entirely aware of what is going on within, which negates a lot of the crummy surprises a pen is capable of springing, it is something like a hairless cat in that you’re seeing stuff that’s not always appealing, with every blemish and thumbprint manifest. I am reasonably sure that when the honeymoon ends I’ll still like it, and will certainly offer a link to their English-speaking online store if for no other reason than to help them become known in the world of pen enthusiasts. At very least they’ve managed to make a pen competitive in performance with pens twice its price.

On the subject of becoming known– TWSBI? That’s a lot of letters, isn’t it? The maker’s representatives on FPN suggest “twisbee” as a pronunciation, the first part as “twist” without the final letter, and since it’s their name I won’t suggest otherwise (despite an inclination to assume something with that many consonants must be Welsh). “Bi” is pen in whichever flavour of Chinese language holds sway in Taiwan, and the remaining letters are for “San Wen Tang”, the meaning of which I’m unclear on and the reasons for the inversion remaining obscure.

Future developments for the company include diverse colours of barrel for the 530 (all, for the moment, transparent), and more interestingly a projected vacuum-filling pen, which promises to be a lot more service-friendly that the Sheaffers of the 1930s and ’40s, and hopefully a little less dear that the Conid pens out of Europe. I think I mentioned previously that there are some signs of the writing instrument pendulum swinging back from cheap’n’dreary, and TWSBI is certainly a hopeful indicator in that direction.

much later: Ah-hah. It is one with a duff piston seal, and I do recommend it with a straight face all the same.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 530, on its maiden flight.
Today’s ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun (although I now think a more festive ink would have looked better)

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