What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Posts Tagged ‘Wahl’

More OMAS, Maybe.

Posted by Dirck on 2 August, 2016

A quick note about an exciting development– a little while ago, I mentioned that OMAS was being shuttered.  I didn’t mention directly that it was being done in a very hostile way, and that there was little hope for the company to emerge from the flames of its destruction.

Well, we hear that there is an egg in the ashes, and that it may be a phoenix.  Over the weekend, there was a post on the FPN from the chap who gave Eversharp a bit of a shove at the end of the previous century and what looks like a more permanent reanimation a couple of years ago, revealing that he had successfully concluded a negotiation with the disgruntled Chinese owners of OMAS for whatever had not yet been irretrievably smashed.

He also noted that to run up some of the necessary capital to refloat OMAS, he’s planning the sale all the unsold finished pens now in his hands, limited editions included, at various discounts running from comfortable up to ridiculous.  Even at a ridiculous discount, my own funds don’t run to OMAS buying but if you’ve got some spare heaps of cash to devote to what is for the pen world an excellent cause, the rebirth of a long-standing pen-maker (and employer of specialized artisans) under benign management, keep an eye on omasoutlet.com; the site isn’t functional yet, but should be soon.  You may get a grail pen in the bargain, which you had thought lost forever!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 1500 Lifetime
Today’s ink: Skrip black

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Big and Flabby

Posted by Dirck on 6 June, 2013

The current desk pen, a Wahl Oxford with a pleasant semi-flex point, is not an efficient creature.  I find that I have to fill it on a three day schedule, unlike the various Sheaffers and Parkers I’ve used previously which have gone for a week or two.  This has turned my thoughts to the idea of capacity, and since I’m a fussy pedant about some things, I can turn up actual objective data:

Pen Capacity in ml
  • Wahl
  • Sheaffer fat TD
  • Sheaffer Snorkel
  • Parker 51 vac
  • Parker 51 aero
  • 1.3
  • 1.1
  • 0.8
  • 1.5
  • 1.5

No wonder, then, that I’ve had a “51” run for more than two weeks between fill-ups.  I put the Wahl’s relatively poor mileage down to plenty of evaporation around a pathetically simple feed (seven shallow cuts a side!), but as my thoughts are more on tank size than consumption, I need to point out a thing related to size.  Let me lay a couple of these pens side-by-side:

Sheaffer Snorkel

Wahl Oxford

“51” Vacumatic

Alas, no x-ray view, but the slight difference in size of frame is there to allow me to admit the Wahl at the same scale as the other two– it’s a long pen.  It’s also got the least non-storage space inside it, with a very simple lever filler.  The Snorkel’s sac doesn’t reach back much beyond the CO. in the impression, and is wrapped in three layers of steel so of course it doesn’t hold much.  The “51” has about a third of the space between the clutch ring and the barely-visible tail seam filled with filler, so its ink-bearing space is rather limited relative to its exterior dimensions.  The sac in the Wahl reaches very nearly all the way back to the end of the marbled body, and is not much under the diameter of the barrel.  So… why so little ink?

The answer, I believe, is because it’s a very large sac.  The filler relies on the power of the rubber to retain its shape; it draws ink while returned to that shape after being flattened.  Extremely large sacs have a vast internal capacity, but it seems to me that once a certain weight of ink comes aboard, the rubber can’t support any more, and just wobbles around trying to hold onto what it’s managed to take.  A big pen doesn’t necessarily hold a vast ocean of ink.

One more example, with another couple of pens side-by-each for close examination:

Sheaffer 8C (quite old)

Sheaffer No Nonsense (rather less old)

Similar in size and shape, yes?  The old fellow is a little bigger, certainly, and like the Wahl relies on a lever and a sac for filling.  The sac takes up the majority of the interior space of the pen, and pulls in 1.4 ml of ink.  The No Nonsense, if treated as an eyedropper and devoting all interior space to ink, can carry a sloshing 3.6 ml.  I’m reasonably sure, without committing an act of scientific investigation, that the mechanism of the lever and other dead space inside in the oldster doesn’t account for 2 ml of volume.

I don’t really have a point, which is usually the case with these little rambles, apart from sharing the enjoyment of a little paradox; a bigger pen does not necessarily carry the most ink.  As least, not so long as there’s a sac involved.  It’s just fun to know stuff.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène (which is reasonably large, as pens go)
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis (although the teeny little 0.6ml cartridge is nearly exhausted)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Winning Against the Odds.

Posted by Dirck on 6 May, 2013

But for some happy developments yesterday, the title of this entry would be “Who is Russell Stover and why is he doing these terrible things?”  On a whim, I picked up a box of that confectioner’s products, and it seems that it was mislabelled as Assorted Creams.  Experience shows that it was actually a box of milk chocolate-enrobed Personal Weakness Agitators; my wife had one and was beset by her asthma, while I spent about 25 hours in the grip of a migraine thanks to the single sample I made.  There was no mention of kryptonite or holy water in the ingredient list, either.

To wrap up the whine portion of today’s blurb, the migraine was the sort that defied all remedies and the efforts of Morpheus, so did not sleep at all Saturday night.  This led to a certain amount of creeping about on Sunday, but that creeping about was a manifestation of wanting to be very careful and not inadvertently damage myself or anything I interacted with– very much like the wise drunk, who is aware of incapacity and thus declines to drive.  However, unlike the wise drunk, I did not decline to engage upon surgery.

The surgery in question was, of course, on pens, so the stakes were much lower than in actual medical practice.  I was also committed to act, since yesterday was a firmly-set deadline for finishing up on a client’s pen I’ve mentioned a few times previously, a contrary and even wicked Waterman Citation.  The problem with it was my old nemesis, India ink; mere application of ultrasonic cleaning wasn’t doing the job, and the only answer was to knock out the point and feed.  The problem with that was two-fold; the inherent difficulty of doing this usually trivial operation on a Taperite section, and the bleeding India ink.  Not only was it clogging the channel, but is added a brake to the feed.  All my previous efforts had accomplished was to get the feed about 20% moved, and there it jammed, and it seemed no application of  mallet nor heat nor lubricant nor invective could shift it.  I had one last trick to apply, and if it didn’t work I would have to admit that I could not do the job, period.

The trick is an inversion of the usual response to a resistant pen– apply some cold.  Saturday, moments before downing the delicious Asbestos-Curare Creme, I had nipped the offending part into the fridge.  With the careful slowness that characterized yesterday, I got all the necessary tools laid out, retrieved the section from cold storage, and very briefly applied heat to the section.  The theory is that the section itself would expand while the as-yet chilled feed would remain slightly contracted, and the two could be separated during this window of microscopically-increased clearance.

It isn't something I'm eager to try to replicate, though.

Mission accomplished!  It isn’t something I’m eager to try to replicate, though.

Theory became merry practice.  Those who have missed a whole night of sleep will know the dullness that wraps around one’s heart, and so will understand how any small uplifting becomes magnified.  I was able to assert “be careful” over “caper about the room in a transport of glee”, but inside I was a colossal So You Think You Can Dance audition.  Buoyed up by this little victory, I was able to concentrate almost as one who has slept on the cleaning up and the matter of reuniting the parts, and press on with a couple of personal projects (resacking a Wahl Oxford desk-pen, soon to be seen on a desk near me, and unbending the tines of an Imperial desk pen that I got at the same time as that enormous jug of ink) before the effort of holding a pen up near my face became more than I could support.

Is there a big moral lesson in this?  “Observe personal deadlines vigourously,” or perhaps “You’re more capable than you realize?”  The only ones I think I’ll cling to is “Being extra careful pays dividends” and “Working on a Taperite feed is as much fun as a land war in Asia.”  I do, at least, have confirmation of the utility of a new tool (the nib-block attachment to hold the section without beating it up) and of an approach to coercing unwilling components, which may be Fate’s way of balancing the damage to my system done by going a full 36 hours without sleep.

Today’s pen: Parker Vacumatic
Today’s ink: Waterman vintage blue

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Colour Out of Mind

Posted by Dirck on 16 April, 2013

Well, I got my little project  from yesterday finished, and somewhat oversold it in the bargain (no cures for dread maladies here), and I can think about other things again.  What I’m thinking about currently, in the persistently monochrome setting we’ve got around here (the very very little melting we’ve enjoyed has revealed the brown drifts of road sand applied in great lashing since early November), is colour.

This contemplation harks back to the recently announced Edison Pens 2013 LE Morgan.  I’m not given to LE envy, so despite the general charms of Edison’s products (I’ve had a couple under my hands) this isn’t something I would normal consider at any length.  However, in stumbling past this notice, I found my eye caught in a very nearly literal way, by one of the examples:

Sizzlin' hot!

Sizzlin’ hot!

It’s not unattractive, but it isn’t a pattern that I instantly associate with the concept of “pen”.  My own powers of association are, however, somewhat reactive, so once I saw this thingI started thinking of other unlikely colours for pens.  I got…

…which are all, when one thinks about it, rather unlikely.  There is this to be said for them, though– they’re all festive enough.  I comprehend the decorative element in them. Looking at some other colours that pens have emerged in, though, I do a little head scratching.

Sheaffer’s 1950s pastel blue, for example, is fairly uninspiring. It is a colour, at least…

…while grey is sort of by definition a non-colour.

Having frequently spouted off about the capacity for personal expression which pens represent, I’m not going to do anything other than scratch my head over those.  To say (outside a fairly specific fictional setting) “That’s a funny colour” is to instantly invoke subjectivity.  I don’t have anything profound to wrap this up with, or at least nothing more profound than a vague gesture in the direction of the diversity of human opinion regarding what’s attractive, and the capacity of humans to throw stuff together in the pursuit of making things that are attractive.  We’re a funny old bunch.

Today’s pen, in an appealing dark blue: Parker VS
Today’s ink, which few in their right mind would use: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Modern Vintage Old New Love Hate

Posted by Dirck on 6 March, 2013

There’s a statement of theme, eh?  I have only a couple of items to consider through the filter of the title, and that’s probably a good thing.

Thing one– yesterday’s pen.  This guy:


This is a very complete blend of Modern and Vintage, Old and New, since the carcass is an all-new production of a vintage shape, and it has been filled with the guts from a 1943 pen with some body problems, and the refitted filler mechanism I was going on about last week.  It’s pretty neat… to look at.

I find, however, that I cannot wholly endorse the Kullock-made vacumatic body.  I won’t go into tedious detail (as you know I’m capable of) but will merely say that the machining of the tail is such that getting the blind cap and the body to present a smooth face took far too much wrestling, and even getting the filler to fit at all was a misery.  For those who know the process– the only way to keep the diaphragm from twisting was to set the pellet in the cup after the assembly was in the barrel.  Yeah.  Honestly.  It looks neat, but it’s not worth all that effort.  The aero shells are probably less of a struggle to deal with.

But… I love it in a way, because it writes so nicely.  Getting the writing parts mated to the body also took more work than I welcome, but it seems very happy in there.  This doesn’t reduce my simmering low-grade hate the shell, because those parts have been writing sweetly since before the Axis surrendered in Tunisia, and do so now less because of what they’re mounted in than despite it.

Thing two—


I discovered yesterday something very exciting about Wahl-Eversharp Pens:  they exist!

This is not the result of my having a mild stroke at some point after writing my site’s reference page about the company. Rather, I had not noticed until the very day that the new website got up and running that the company is once again a going concern.  Happily, I kept my excited, fannish squealing internal, and thus avoided unemployment and likely commitment.  I’m more excited than I can say about this development, this modern revival of a old marque, turning out vintage designs in new materials.  Even better, the pens are… well,  not inexpensive, but within the realm of possibility for even a low-income pen loonie.  The most expensive, all-metal, plated versions will only require me to put up a dollar a day to get one within the next year (and, since I’m not convinced that those have the same cool blind-cap access for filling, I may get a lesser model all the sooner).

So… love the pens, love the fact of their production, love the prices (with limited fervor).  Where’s the hate? Oh, Ive got it, and it’s the pure stuff– self-loathing.  This is an item of startling news to almost no one who isn’t me.  Somehow, despite my constant creeping about of fora and intent sniffing of the virtual winds for the scent of pens, this long-growing and far-from-secret effort at regeneration eluded me.  The website’s appearance was, it seems, the final event in the process; the culmination of all the chatter I totally missed was really a grand unveiling at the LA Pen Show back in mid-February.

Apparently I’m still watching too much TV.

...and I've got it set up the wrong way up, too.

…and I’ve got it standing the wrong way up, too.

Today’s pen: Parker Falcon 50
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Short, Dark, and (Reasonably) Handsome

Posted by Dirck on 29 January, 2013

Those who fought their way through to the end of yesterday’s odd entry (cabin fever, folks; don’t underestimate it!) will have noticed that I am now publicly admitting to the Kaweco Sport I was given in the Yule-proximate time just past.  I thought, since someone has had their breath bated since the beginning of the month, I’d utter a couple of less formal thoughts as an appendix to what I’ve got on my site.  Let’s have the little fellow in front of us, though– I’d hate to be accused of talking behind his back:

To the uninitiated, it hardly suggests “pen” at all.

For a start, I think this is one of the best combinations of unconventional looks and appealing configuration I’ve run across.  I could look at that all day long… or rather at the actual item, since the flattening effect of photography somewhat reduces the appeal.

I’m also quite pleased with the portability aspect of it.  I’ll probably be able to resist the urge to pitch it into a trouser pocket to be beaten about by keys and change, but it’s one of the few pens I’ve got that will lie in the pockets of the waistcoat I’m wearing today.  I’ve got a couple of smaller ring-tops, but they’re vintage and I dare not leave them untethered, which means they tend to not lie flat.  This waistcoat is of excellent material, but the pockets are painfully shallow; if my tiny metal Wahl peeks up out of them, there’s little hope for other pens, and yet the Sport snuggles down in them and stays put.

I’m also happy enough with the performance.  It’s not an big-deal expensive pen, so I’m not expecting a lot out of it, and as I’ve said time and again it’s the low expectations that get fulfilled to admiration.  When it was delivered, there were expressions of regret that it was a medium, but I have to say that this is a very restrained medium point for a modern pen.  It’s almost Japanese in its interpretation, perhaps even vintagesque.  The sole worry I have is slight dryness, and this might be an artifact of the Kaweco brand ink I’ve used thus far in it.  It’s not such a problem that I’ve been moved to attack it with the tools of remediation.

The last thought I have to offer at the moment (I only have so many each day, after all), is connected with the looks once again.  I do not show any pictures of the pen sans cap.  I don’t recall ever having seen such a picture, and I don’t intend to address this lack any time soon.  The Kaweco Sport without its cap is rather like a hermit crab without a shell; not very useful, a little nervous, and funny-looking to the point of grotesquery.  Few people will think to use it without the cap posted in any event, so there’s little danger of espying it in it’s undraped state.

Today’s pen: Kaweco Sport (with its shame firmly covered)
Today’s ink: Kaweco blue-black (no profile page for these inks yet, so it’s just a visual sample)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Reading Suggestion for a Creepy Night

Posted by Dirck on 30 October, 2012

Even as I type this, I’m listening to a discussion of one of M.R. James’s cracking yarns and looking out the window at some extremely uncommon fog; it’s not unseasonal, but it’s been there for hours, and we just don’t do that here.

I’m going to be very brief today, for want of any real inspiration of my own (as far as this enterprise is concerned; I’m almost crawling with little bits of fiction that need to be slotted into the various stories I have on the bubble).  All I really have is the titular suggestion, and a brief agrument for it.

The suggestion is a story I’ve known of for ages, but was finally moved to look at by a series of thematically-linked movie reviews at one of my favourite sites for that sort of thing.  The thematic link, which won’t last once he updates again, is films based in a greater or lesser degree on Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla”.  Most of these movies are from the 1960s, a time of increasing creative liberation, and the reason for the confluence of time and tale is the purported undercurrent of, if I may be briefly indelicate, HAWT girl-on-girl action!! in the source material.

…which, as I’ve seen none of the films, may be present in them.  I suggest the story itself not on this basis; while I’m not a prude, I leave it to seekers of HAWT girl-on-girl action!! to discover it for themselves, and a moment of reflection will suggest that a story published at any point during the lifetime of Sheridan Le Fanu (d. 1873) is unlikely to be the kind of thing which that sort of seeker is going to be at all interested in.  Indeed, having now read it, I will reassure my own readers that the undercurrent, while perceptible by a willing mind is hardly present enough to give even Her Imperial Majesty Victoria a moment’s pause (assuming the one I looked at hasn’t been bowdlerized, which I doubt).

I recommend it because, when Le Fanu finally gets down to business on the vampirin’, it is some really good vampirin’.  There’s no sparkles, there’s wasting away, there’s unnerving imagery, and while there’s also a hint of romantic tragedy it doesn’t cloy.  It is, in fact, very damn creepy, and makes for nervous glances into dark corners of the room.  Exactly the sort of thing one wants at this time of year.

If you want a look, here’s the link.

Say, that wasn’t so brief after all.

Today’s pen: Wahl 326AW
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Job Well Done

Posted by Dirck on 10 August, 2012

Before getting down to Friday frivolity, let me be absolutely sincere– I find that my website has served one of the major purposes for which it was created.  Unfortunately, this is not one of the wealth-generating purposes, so Regular Job continues to figure in my life.  However, that was really only a minor purpose.  The major purpose, which is served by the appearance of this as one of the “Top Searches”…

what is the difference between silicone and vaseline to lubricate the piston in a fountain pen

…is the preservation of pens from well-intentioned but mis- or unguided efforts at preservation and repair.  To save having to go look at the full answer; the latter is deadly poison to a pen.

And now, I think, a little bit of a lullaby to see us all through to the end of the work-day. 

That concluding pen is, by the way, why people get so excited about Eversharp Skylines.

Today’s pen: Parker 75 Insignia
Today’s ink: Herbin Lis de Thé

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

…Lizzie Borden.

Posted by Dirck on 12 July, 2012

How can I resist closing yesterday’s ellipsis?  The title, though, has some basis, although less red-handed than the purportedly-patricidal lass.

I will first, though, briefly return to yesterday’s entry.  Mice, prior to the invention of the germ theory of disease transmission, were seen in many cultures as at very least an indicator of prosperity; after all, if you’ve got enough food lying about to keep mice on, you’re doing rather well in the view of most of humanity through most of history.  Mice, or their larger cousins, are seen in Japanese myth as the messengers of the Fukujin and are often depicted in conjunction with the odd wish-producing mallet of Daikoku (it’s hard not to picture him saying, “Just close your eyes, and your wish shall be granted” in one of Mel Blanc’s voices).  I may, therefore, be forgiven in associating the handling of a pair of mice– the gentle, humane handling– with a couple of items of good fortune which came my way.  Post hoc ergo propter hoc may be a logical fallacy, but it’s extremely persuasive.

The mail, rather than a possibly comic mallet, brought my good fortune to me.  Two packages, whose contents were to some degree expected, but exceeding the expectations in so many ways, and both entirely free of the lackadaisical want of care that so many of my deliveries experience.  The less impressive is a Peter Pan fountain pen; it is less impressive, though, because it exceeds expectation in the direction of how very very very small it is.  I thought I had handled small pens before, having had contact with pens revelling in the names Dinkie and Bantam.  The Peter Pan, though… man, that is small! That it was in a mostly intact original box and came with its original glass filling dropper compounded the joy.

The other item was one of those online auction flutters that so often ends in disappointment.  The pictures were not terrible, which is unusual for this sort of gamble-purchase, but what they showed was an unremarkable black rubber pen with a point that almost certainly had long since shed its tipping.  There were a couple of things in the pictures and descriptions that made me think is was of more interest than a mere semi-anonymous cheap pen from the early part of the last century.  Unwrapping it from the gratifying mountains of padding, I found that not only was it in much better shape than one finds many black rubber pens in, but my suspicions about the nature of the item were entirely justified.

The pictures showed a lever-filler, close to… but it was oddly far down the barrel.  Inspection proved the reason for this was because it wasn’t a lever-filler at all, but… a hatchet filler, bearing the “Fount-Filler” impression of the John Holland company.  Not the sort if item one is going to deliver a set of death blows with, unless one is H.L. Mencken, but as I had no example of the system yet, to have one on hand in such good shape was happiness indeed.  There is even still tipping on the point.

“How about some pictures?”  I must disappoint.  Apart from picture-taking being a weekend, while the son sleeps, activity, there is the perilous weather.  It’s darned hot here just now.  Not quite the killing heat that the US has been having, but hot enough for discomfort.  While old hard black rubber is mostly indifferent if not welcoming to human skin oils, I’m disinclined to handle the pen much with hands quite so sweaty as mine are.  Not only does warm fluid in volume tend to discolour black hard rubber, the sweat also serves to lubricate the finger/pen interface to the point that I fear the outright destruction.  When conditions allow, there will be pictures, but I don’t want to associate this particular hatchet with a tragic dismemberment.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lis de Thé

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Technicolor Smile

Posted by Dirck on 16 November, 2011

When I have a free moment, I like to expand my viewing of silly films.  Over the past few days, I’ve made my way through one I recorded about a week before Hallowe’en, which I think gives a sense of how my few and far between my free moments are.  The film in question is questionable indeed– Doctor X, a fine lashing together of Jack the Ripperesque murderer-seeking mystery and mad science.  What moved me to record it in the first place was a review I read a while ago which, while not exactly fulsome with praise for the film, indicated that the good bits were the sort of thing I rather enjoy.

It had been shown on Turner Classic Movies, which is increasingly what I think of as “what’s on TV tonight”.  They do seem to make a serious effort to show oddities of ages past, and in the case of Doctor X they commited a bit of a coup; it was presented in the original two-strip Technicolor version.  The odious comic relief/lead male (yike!) was thus balanced by some delightfully mellow images showing colours of a time we have trouble imagining as non-monochrome.  Alas, the specatcle couldn’t take the sting out of the tacked-on romantic conclusion.  The colours are no more realistic than the later fully-expressed Technicolor would offer in the 1950s, but rather an extra layer of artistic sense is granted to the enterprise of film making.  I certainly appreciate the effort to reproduce this sensation in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow more fully, which has the same flavour of pulp-magazine cover art.

I may be off base, I suppose.  The T in TCM is the evil genius behind colorization, the devilish technology that seemed bent in the 1990s on removing the charm from black and white films.  What I saw could have been an application of an improved modern technology, one that doesn’t make everyone’s eyes the same colour as their cheeks.  If that’s the case, it is at least an indication that colorization is not irredeemably wicked.  However, the very fact of the depth of colour and the unlikely choices leads me to think that it was the real deal.

I did manage to draw a couple of lessons about the early 1930s from the film, too.  While I couldn’t make out any pens sufficiently to identify them (I believe Lionel Atwill had a Wahl metal pen in his lab coat, but I wouldn’t swear to it), but I can say that lab assistants carried a lot of different pens.  The real astonishment, of course, was in the colours of the men’s clothes.  Because of the predominant lack of colour in the media of the period, we are inclined to think that people dressed in a drab manner, even though the clothes themselves are still extant and sometimes even worn.  I was thus very interested to see Doctor Xavier and his colleagues/fellow suspects gadding about in… diverse grey suits.  I guess just because one has colour doesn’t mean one will use it.

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger, a festive celluloid pen in… black and grey
Today’s ink: vintage Quink Washable grey blue

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »